|Mass at Pusey House|
By TH (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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.