Brooke Lunn offers some thoughts on the ‘eucharistic fast’ observed between Ash Wednesday and the Triduum by the first wave of those joining the Ordinariate

Friends and colleagues who are amongst the first to join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham have said that they have ceased to be communicant members of the Church of England on Shrove Tuesday, and will be received into full communion with the Roman Apostolic See at the Triduum. The intervening period, they say, is a ‘eucharistic fast’.

As an Anglican papalist for sixty years now, I am totally committed to seeking full communion with Rome as essential for Christian unity. Anglicanorum Coetibus provides ‘for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner’. That is a key text for Anglican papalists, for it recognizes the need for corporate reunion with Rome, and also, in the two words ‘Anglican faithful’, it indicates a profound change from a hitherto negative attitude towards Anglicans (most specifically seen in the unacceptable use of the word ‘convert’) to a positive view that Anglicans entering into full communion with Rome bring with us an Anglican patrimony which is ‘a treasure to be shared’. So Anglicanorum Coetibus does not make provision for ‘disaffected’ Anglicans.

It is a basic principle that the ends do not justify the means. Anglicanorum Coetibus makes provision for ‘good means’ to achieve that end. For me the above-mentioned ‘eucharistic fast’ is not compatible with Anglicanorum Coetibus, nor with the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. Regarding that last point, give Apostolicae Curae, Anglicans entering into full communion with Rome at the Triduum will be making their First Communion.

How does one fast, give up for a period, something one has not had in the first place? Perhaps ‘abstinence’ would be slightly more accurate? There is, however, a ready-made word which fits this Ash Wednesday to Triduum ‘denial’ – quarantine.

The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary reads: ‘Quarantine. 2. A period of isolation, orig. of forty days, imposed on a person, animal, or thing that might otherwise spread contagious disease, esp. on one that has just arrived from overseas etc or has been exposed to infection.’

My thoughts and best wishes go with those who have set out on Ash Wednesday towards full communion with Rome. I believe that their eyes are set on a good end. But the means?