In both cases there were things which set them apart from many Catholic parish Masses. In both cases, the care with which the liturgy was celebrated stood out. In both cases the active involvement of the congregation – not only those taking part in some form of ministry, but in general – was evident. In both cases, the quality of the homily was high: each contained a clear Scriptural text, a clear challenge to change; each was well thought out and well delivered. To put those two points together: the clergy and the congregation were in both cases expressing a real care for and commitment to the Mass, and to the Church.
Walsingham is, of course, a place of pilgrimage. Whilst this was the Parish Mass, it was also one at which quite a few pilgrims were present, and those those more committed and caring towards their faith are more likely to take the trouble to leave their homes, even for a weekend, to travel to a place of pilgrimage.
Yet we are told that the Church is a pilgrim Church; that Catholics are a pilgrim people, wherever they happen to be.
The Ordinariate is a pilgrim community, in a very real way: they have left behind something they valued, but of which they no longer felt fully part, and they have been drawn to a place where they hope to find a welcome, and the truth.
The fact is that pilgrims are challenging. They challenge those with a merely comfortable faith; one which does not call them to pilgrimage. They challenge clergy – there is a sense that they will not tolerate a badly-prepared homily, or be fobbed off with a few off-the-shelf anecdotes with no real message. They have stepped out of line to celebrate a Church and a Faith – the practical contempt for the liturgy of that Church which is all too often expressed in Catholic parish churches is not good enough for the pilgrim.
There is comment in serious English Catholic blogs – such as this one – that the Ordinariate has not been welcomed as fully as it should be by the hierarchy of England and Wales. If the sense of pilgrimage they bring were to be shared by the rest of the Catholics in England, it would energise the Church massively. One has to wonder whether the Bishops of England and Wales consider their clergy not up to dealing with an energised, pilgrim Church; and at many parish Masses, one would have to think they might just be right.