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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Just as I am?

The euphoria of Pope Benedict’s visit is waning but thanks to the internet it is possible to recapture the historic moments of when “Heart speaks unto heart”. After a number of viewings I am still unable to watch the Holy Father entering Westminster Cathedral at the start of the Papal Mass without a tear in my eye. The processional music enthusiastically suggested the Lord’s coming. It was probably the grandest celebration of the Mass I shall ever witness yet essentially it was the same Mass that I attend as an Anglican but in a far simpler form. That is as far as it goes. What to outsiders we may appear to share actually divides us. To participate fully I have to cross the Tiber but I cannot do that just as I am. Despite attending Mass in the Anglican Church more frequently than many cradle Catholics attend theirs I am not allowed to receive the ‘one bread’ that should unite us. My sacramental life means nothing to Rome so I leave my faith in the hands of God through the Anglo Catholic Church. Could this now change?

The prospect of full church unity has faded into the distance following the breakaway decision of the Anglican Church to ordain women. The Ordinariate offers the opportunity for a degree of unity that Anglo Catholics could only have dreamt of a short while ago. But how difficult will the journey be? Personal circumstances and problems with accepting the full teaching of the Catholic Church will almost certainly mean that the Ordinariate is not an option for many. Some will be tempted to bluff their way through. Clearly not all Catholics follow the teaching of their church and there are those who advocate a ‘fingers crossed’ approach. On the one hand I find that hypocritical but on the other one would be entering a church harbouring many shades of opinion but less tolerant of expression. Perhaps a cynic would say you can get over that hurdle in the confessional.

The Blogsphere has seen much praise and enthusiasm for the Pope’s offer but as yet there has been no detail. Despite this, those who hesitate are pilloried along with catholic bishops who are working for a solution within Anglicanism, even if it is on a temporary basis. The fat lady may have sung, indeed she may continue to sing, but some of us don’t recognise the tune. Who in their right mind in any other walk of life would enter into an arrangement without sufficient information to make a rational judgement?

I pray that the Ordinariate fulfils expectations and that due respect is paid to the integrity of worshippers who ultimately answer to God for their actions. Rome has much in its past to be sorry for. A new beginning would be a fitting resolution to the message “Heart speaks unto heart” but at the end of the day, which ever altar we approach it must be with a clear conscience that we say “O lamb of God, I come”.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the heart-felt honesty expressed in this piece and I sense deep feeling of longing throughout.

    AB, I think that your title of 'just as I am?' is a simple but profound question. In my experience, I find that I must try to undergo a daily personal conversion because ultimately I am not trying to be 'just as I am' but rather who 'God wants me to become'.

    In other words, I believe that God calls us beyond the 'as we are' and indeed through conscience we can discern what that calling is. For some anglo-catholics, it appears that their consciences are called to the Ordinariate. You are of course correct AB when you say that 'fingers-crossed' or improper confessional approaches are unworthy of resolving decisions of such importance.

    However, I would beg to differ with your definitive conclusion that "my sacramental life means nothing to Rome". If anything I would humbly suggest that that conclusion should be directed at those who share a radically altered vision of sacramental life to both of us. That said, a difference is upheld in that life between ACs and RCs, but that is far cry from worthlessness as prior experience has shown us.

    I think your conclusion about a new beginning is most apt. Whether this beginning involves joining the Ordinariate or staying within the CoE, I think we are both agreed that Pope Benedict, whether through his UK visit or implementing Anglicanorum Coetibus, has touched us all and shown us what new beginnings are like.