Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., receives the candidacy to holy orders of Mr. Luke Reese (left)Tuesday, Feb. 24, at Holy Rosary Church. Fr. Patrick Beidelman (right) assists the archbishop with the Rite of Candidacy.
Archbishop Tobin (far right) incenses the altar with Fr. Beidelman’s assistance while (left to right) Mr. Reese, Charles Wyeth, Matthew Wahoske and Mark Bockstahler sing. Even-song, the Church’s evening prayer in the Anglican Use, accompanied the Rite of Candidacy.
An open letter from a candidate to Holy Orders:
Understanding the practice of a married priesthood
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As many of you know, Archbishop Tobin will be at Holy Rosary this Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. to accept my candidacy to the priesthood. Many of you also know that I am a happily married man and father of seven lovely children. This possible pairing of vocations to priesthood and marriage may have raised questions among the faithful, and so I am writing to-day to provide an explanation by which to foster understanding of how combining both of these vocations is possible.
First of all, I am able to pursue a path to the Catholic priesthood only with the special permission of both Archbishop Tobin and Monsignor Jeffery Steenson. Archbishop Tobin is, of course, our local bishop. Monsignor Steenson is the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter and, as such, my personal ordinary. (In ecclesiastical law, an “ordinary” is a cleric with ordinary jurisdiction, authority over a specified territory, who has most of the authority of a bishop but lacks the episcopal consecration or ordination of a bishop. An ordinary is, in turn, permitted to extend a call to holy orders with the blessing of the Vatican, although a bishop must ordain those he calls.)
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI created, via Apostolic Constitution, what are called “Personal Ordinariates.” The Holy Father was seeking to provide a home for thou-sands of Anglicans who were seeking both a means to heal the breach caused by the Protestant Reformation and a way to retain the devotions which had spiritually nourished them. We Anglicans sought, through a direct petition to the See of Peter, a means to fulfill the prayer of Christ, “That they [Christians] may all be one” (John 17:21). Pope Benedict XVI looked favorably upon our petition and mercifully granted us a home in union with Rome. We who comprise the Personal Ordinariates show what practical ecumenism can look like — an ecumenism of return to Mother Church which also retains its liturgical and spiritual traditions (many of which are pre-Reformation) along with the beauty, goodness and truths of its spirituality.
We have been allowed to retain a married priesthood, a practice not unknown in the ancient Church. Jaroslav Pelikan, in his commentary on Acts, in the Brazos Theo-logical Commentary series, wrote:
“… for centuries compulsory celibacy was not a rule for the clergy, or even for bishops: Saint Peter was married (Luke 4:38-39; 1 Cor. 9:5); Saint Gregory of Nyssa was married; and Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder, father of Saint Gregory the Theologian, was a bishop. Nevertheless, the imperative of έγκρατεια [celibacy] also in this respect acquired institutional form with the rise of Christian monasticism.”
It is important to stipulate that a man can-not marry after he has been ordained to the diaconate, and a married cleric whose wife dies may not remarry; the Church has never wavered on this practice. However, there has always been an allowance given to bishops to ordain men who are already married.
The married men of the Ordinariates that have been or will be ordained priests in the Catholic Church are not interested in challenging the discipline of clerical celibacy; we believe it a praiseworthy practice. All that we desire is to discern and respond in humility to the call to ordained ministry that we believe God has made to us, and is available to married men only when they were clerics in their respective faith com-munities before entering the Catholic Church.
Two significant events this week
This week marks two significant events in the life of our Ordinariate community’s life. On Monday, Feb. 23, at 7:50 a.m. is the celebration of Mass for the American Ordinariate’s patronal feast, the Chair of Saint Peter. As mentioned at the beginning of this letter, on Tuesday evening I will undergo the Rite of Candidacy to Holy Orders which is the first of several significant steps to-ward ordination to the priesthood. Everyone is welcome to attend the services on Mon-day and Tuesday, as well as a light reception in Priori Hall on Tuesday following the Rite of Candidacy.
Both services will be conducted in the liturgical forms that make our Ordinariate distinctive. Like the style of Latin used in the Extraordinary Form, the English we use in our services is a liturgical (hieratical) form of our language not spoken in every-day life. Even in the time when our liturgical English was created in 15th century England, English as it was commonly spoken in everyday life sounded much more like our modern vernacular.
As Catholics, we share all the same goals as the Catholic Church. In fact, we converted and came into full communion with the Catholic Church because we believe that She alone expresses the full Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our previous ecclesial communities were lacking in several aspects of their authentic relationship to the Church founded by Christ upon the rock of Peter (Matthew 16:18). Please pray for our community as we seek to perfect God’s will in our lives and that our continued service in the Holy Rosary Parish community may reflect the love of the Most Holy Trinity.