Visit the Shop at

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Just a Brief Pause in my Ongoing Pursuit of "Porn and Gays"...

Mass at Pusey House
By TH (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Today was a challenging day. To start off, there was a freeway closure which prevented our attendance at mass. So, instead of receiving the Holy Eucharist, we sat on the freeway (at a standstill) worrying about whether we would run out of gas. (We didn't.) In the midst of that stress, I clicked upon this.

I'm not going to present any sort of argument against the content of that post. There are reasons that there are more than a few "disaffected Anglicans," and Mr. Archbold notes some of them. I'll not deny that. Incidentally, I like Mr. Archbold's writing: there is a reason his post came up in my feed.  What I will say, though, is that such barbed titles are not helpful.

There are Anglicans spread throughout North America and elsewhere who have recently sacrificed property and pensions and security in order to hold white-knuckle-fast to biblical truth and to seek to follow our Lord. (Search "Anglicans lose building" and you'll get a feel for what I'm referring to.) Thousands of us have walked a trail of tears, leaving behind cherished places that hold corporate and personal memories while facing derision and mockery in our communities in order to cleave to what is true, right, and virtuous. Friends, for many of us that is the Anglican way.

An extensive argument could be presented regarding the history of corruption in multiple ancient Christian traditions, and of the fact that such issues are regularly met with explanations that "the leadership is not the Church." But, I'm not going to do that here. I am choosing to say nothing of rocks and glass houses. I have no impetus for doing so, because I call myself catholic-- and I'm only leaving that "c" in lower case to avoid stirring feelings in others which are similar to those stirred in me today. Mudslinging in either direction only weakens the Body of Christ. At any rate, I'm all about seeking points of commonality in each of our neighborhoods of Christianity and celebrating them. Regular readers of this blog know that.

Anglican Solemn Evensong
By James Bradley (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Instead, I'm going to say this:

Due to the (cataclysmic) fractures that are occurring in the Anglican communion, those of you who are Catholic are likely to meet an Anglican visitor to your parish one day. I assure you that he or she is almost certainly not immersed in, or advocative of, 'the way of porn and gays.' Instead, he or she is likely wandering in a forest of hurt and uncertainty at that time. He or she is leaving behind, or considering leaving behind, much.

Dear Catholic friends,
Here are a few of the things that he or she is at risk of losing:

1) Liturgy that is Sublimely Beautiful.

Now, there are folks who get upset when some refer to Roman Catholic masses with words like "guitar" and "happy clappy." Such references are, in fact, not at all fair, because such expressions of the mass exist in all traditions. Last week, we attended mass at an Anglican parish which is very close to our home. The person next to me brought a paper take-out cup of coffee in to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and I nearly swallowed my tongue. (I may have actually. Will someone please check?) My point is not to criticize this local parish; my point is to say that there are a range of expressions of the mass in every tradition--Anglicanism included. Nonetheless, the Anglican tradition has a way with the sacred. Walk into an Anglican parish and there is a pretty decent chance that you will witness something that is uniquely reverent and resplendent. You are likely to gain a sense that you have been in touch with a way of prayer and worship that is ancient and heavenly. The language, liturgy, and chant of the Anglican churches, done well, are glorious. It's difficult to walk away from that, especially when your journey with Christ has been informed and shaped by it these many years.

St. Mary's Anglican Church, Wellngborough
nick macneill [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2) His or Her Catholic Identity

Does that sound odd to Catholic ears? Perhaps. But, whether one accepts the philosophy or not, many Anglicans consider themselves to stand side by side with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters as holders of a very choice and beautiful repository of Catholic tradition. If you came across the blog (perhaps this one) of an Anglo-Catholic, you may not have know it -- until she told you. We have the same feasts and Sacraments (you don't recognize their validity -- I get it, but bear with me here). We have an almost identical church calendar. We're asking for the prayers of a great multitude of the same Saints. There are vestments and paraments, and nuns. There are the creeds, and prayers, and babies in christening gowns. There is the Blessed Mother in all her graceful goodness (some Anglicans fail to give her due heed-- but still.)

I respectfully acknowledge that in its very foundations, Catholicism rejects the validity of Anglican Catholicism, and I'm not trying to minimize the significance of theological differences or the inconsistencies within and across the Anglican Communion.  Nonetheless, when an Anglican walks into a Catholic church and is treated like a pure neophyte, it rocks his or her personal foundations. It represents the very loss of ones identity. I'm not asking you to affirm that Anglicans are Catholic (or even that most consider themselves to be--not all do); I'm just asking you try to understand.

St. Peter Anglican Church, London
John Salmon [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

3) All of the Sacraments, save Baptism, that He or She has Thus-far Received.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine having to come to a place spiritually where you must embrace the notion that you have never received the Body of Our Lord? You were never confirmed. Your marriage might be considered by some to be non-sacramental? Your confessions made, and absolution received, are meaningless and ineffectual? Can you imagine? You have lived a life of faithful Catholic devotion and practice (Catholics would refute this -- I get it) and now it means NOTHING.

We Anglicans have cherished memories tied up in christenings and confirmations. We have implored Saints for their prayers and knelt at altar rails for Holy Matrimony. We have stood to recite the creeds and knelt to pray for our dead.  We have shed tears of joy at the reception of the Body and Blood of our Lord. We have examined our consciences and made good confessions. We have called on Our Lady (some of us) in times of desperation and in times of joy. We have been Catholic.

Now, again I say, Catholics wouldn't agree with that last sentence-- I understand that, and we know that there are problems in the Anglican Communion -- that's what all the recent fractures are about. All that I am asking of you is that you understand where that Anglican sitting in your parish pew is coming from. She is your sister in Christ; he is your brother in Christ. Won't you welcome him or her with that in mind? And please, don't suggest to her that her path is one of "porn and gays". Honestly. That is just not helpful.

Pax Christ dear ones,
Love one another, won't you?--and please pray that I, in all my vile sinfulness, might learn to do the same?  Heaven knows I need it.


  1. Hugs Michelle! I wondered... has the ordinate made the move over any easier at all (I admit I really know nothing about it)... I was hoping maybe that it would mean that some of the sacraments you mentioned above would have been considered valid? But again, I've only heard people talk about it... because that would be really, really hard (I'm at a loss for words...)... Hoping today is better than yesterday!

    1. Hi Cam! The Ordinariate is a tremendously generous gift. It is, from my limited understanding, an offer of about as much autonomy from a cannon law standpoint as can possibly be offered, without creating an entirely separate church in communion with Rome (such as the Maronite or Melkite church.)

      An ordinary is a person exercising jurisdiction over the faithful. Generally, the ordinary in a geographic area is the Bishop. The Anglican Ordinariates establish an ordinary for the Anglican Catholics in a country. So essentially, a member of the Ordinariate may live in the geographic region of X Diocese, but is under the authority and care of the Anglican ordinary in his or her country.

      This allows for former Anglicans (if they are lucky enough to live in an area where there is an Ordinariate parish) to maintain their traditions and forms (with some adjustment). However, Anglican (non-Catholic) orders are still considered invalid. A former Anglican who seeks to enter the ordinariate still must go through the same RCIA conversion process as anyone else (adjusted as appropriate) with Sacraments administered as needed.

      If one comes to the point that one views the Roman Catholic Church as the sole repository of all truth and authority, though, making such adjustments is hardly an issue at all. While these factors I’ve mentioned make the transition challenging, one would hardly forgo the process under any circumstances. At any rate, Ordinariate parishes are rare at this point.

  2. Funny because Catholics complain about the same things when they go to an Orthodox church. I can understand how you feel and yet I understand how they feel. When you have managed to protect a tradition for so long from going into complete apostasy you are a bit leery of any combination of those traditions into one communion. That is why it will probably never happen between Catholic and Orthodox. Here is an interesting side note from your post. First off you will never find guitar, clapping or instruments in an Orthodox liturgy...anywhere....secondly, did you know that 50-100 years ago Orthodox without a church nearby were recommended to go to an Episcopal church because it was considered a closer tradition to us than Roman Catholic. Interesting...

    1. Many Anglicans who are searching for a place to go end up in Orthodoxy. This is largely true because Anglican liturgy is in many ways more similar in terms of atmosphere and delivery to Orthodox tradition than it is to modern Roman Catholic liturgy. It is also true because Orthodoxy never acquired many of the doctrines and practices that Anglicanism rejected in its break with Rome. The Orthodox Church feels more like home for many Anglicans than Rome does. However, without question, Rome and Canterbury share a very special relationship. Anglicanism is, after all, a direct break from Rome, so, therefore, much of the mother is written on the countenance of the child. Traditionally, Anglicanism has held a certain favored status among Protestants in the eyes of Rome because she, having cherished and maintained Catholic traditions and practices unbroken, is a special daughter.

      There are the standard cultural roadblocks for some Anglicans approaching the East that any potential convert faces. More significant though, for many Anglicans, ceasaropapism is a huge concern. We have experienced it, in that, at least in England, the government has a history of having a huge influence over the church. How could the case be any different in a body where the King once declared himself head of the church (a tradition that continues in England – somewhat mitigated) today? Certainly, the Eastern churches have their own historic dose of ceasaropapist elements, far more than the Roman church and the churches in communion with her, which (while exerting power and getting a bit tangled with rule over the ages) have generally stood more apart from secular governance. So, there is that, for some people.

      Certainly, Orthodoxy wins the prize for maintaining doctrinal and liturgical observance untouched by time. From a cultural management standpoint, it is one of the primary differences between the Orthodox and Catholic churches. Rome has elected to embrace, absorb, and incorporate the various cultures she encounters into herself while refusing to compromise doctrinal purity. Constantinople has held fast to unmitigated and unvarnished maintenance of her liturgical treasure. Each approach has a ripple effect of differing results to be sure.

      I’m not at all “complaining” about the approach of Roman Catholics to visiting Anglicans. I think that Christians are, for the most part, pretty well-intentioned and welcoming people. With the advent of the Ordinariates, though, I have found many of them to be interested in whom we Anglicans are. I simply thought readers might want to know who was visiting.


Welcome! We love to hear from you. You are embraced here in Christian charity.Your comment will not show up immediately. Rest assured that is has been received and will be published soon.

Pax Christi!