I think it is safe to say that everyone in our group had a wonderful time on 29th January. With shared lunch, then mass, followed by birthday tea, it was a day that was both enjoyable and important for us as a group.
Having spent some time examining the last year and talking about what we had discovered, as individuals and as a group, we were glad for the opportunity to hear something from Mgr Keith.
I think that we have felt as a group, that we have discovered lots of things about ourselves, our faith and something of what God has called us to. However some of it feels as if it is out of our hands. God is doing some very surprising things. On the internet there are plenty of opinions about what the Ordinariate should be doing, what its job should be, what worship should look like and yet, as a group we don’t always fit in to this. Nor does what is happening on the ground fit in with all the shoulds. Even the people we have are not the type of people that should have joined. By and large we haven’t gone down this route for any of the reasons listed by the multitude of blogs, who all seem to know our inner thought processes. In fact, after quite a lot of reading on the internet (which isn’t always very good for me), I sometimes wonder whether we were those the Ordinariate was meant for. Maybe our group slipped in, un-noticed when really it wasn’t for us at all! Some of the group have sometimes thought to themselves “How did I end up here?”
So it was really good to hear from Mgr Keith that our story wasn’t unique. In fact many groups were full of people who were the least likely people to go. Unexpected people have heard a call and followed it, much to the surprise of many, maybe even themselves! Many groups are also, like us at the beginning of discovering what God is calling them to. We are still at the very beginning and everything is new.
Another aspect that Mgr Keith talked about was that all the groups have stepped out into the unknown, trusting God. In doing so, they have discovered that they have been looked after, despite difficult and sometimes painful journeys.
For me, that time of discovery- of each other, of vocations, of our group calling- has come out of that stepping out, trusting the call. It has confirmed that this was the right thing to do. As this process, certainly for me, challenged many of the things I clung onto, God has been able to show me new things as a result, a bit like discovering there are lots of ways to swim, once you take your feet of the bottom of the pool.
Hearing that our experience is shared by others gave me a sense of sharing this special time with others. Being the only group in East Sussex feels slightly isolating. Yet we had a chance to hear what we share with others and that God is working through all of the groups in new ways. As I write it makes me think about the Communion of Saints, something I thought about right at the beginning. We have stepped out in faith, priests and people, and God has walked ahead of us, drawing us onwards. We do this as groups but these are part of a wider group of pilgrims in the Ordinariate. However different each individual is, however different each group is we travel this road together. We make discoveries about each other and ourselves that also draw us closer to God.
After the difficulties of last year we have entered an exciting stage, where God seems to be doing so much. Hearing from Mgr Keith during his visit has been an important part of the learning and seeing different aspects to our journey.