Monday, 9 November 2009

My initial reflection on Anglicanorum coetibus

The generosity of the Holy Father shines through every word of the Apostolic Constitution promulgated today. It will be only in years to come that we shall be able to appreciate the greatness of this day and of the imagination of the Holy Father in these new measures. For those who for years and very hard prayed for the Unity of the Church, this is the day when their prayer has been answered. What our Synod, our brothers and sisters in the Church of England, have refused to offer to us the Holy Father has granted and so much more.
Our patrimony, spirituality and heritage is not cast aside, we are valued and embraced. It will never get better than this. The barriers of division with the Church of Rome have fallen and now the ball is in our court. This is a journey of Faith. As all journeys of Faith we need to start on our knees and in reflection. Did we really mean the prayers we uttered? Do we really want to allow the Holy Spirit to unite us? Is this a calling to grace and freedom to sing our song as we return home, or is it calling our bluff? In other words, are we really Catholic as we have said since 1833 and before?
I believe that this is a period of joy not of triumphalism. It is a period in which we need to become aware of all the wonderful possibilities ahead. It is that time when we need to allow our eyes to be accustomed to the light of the sun after being in a very dark place. It is a period where we rejoice in the evangelistic and pastoral opportunities that are now available to us. It is a period where we need to be patient with those who cannot or will not see this for what it really is – a blessing.
We now need time to allow those who have the heavy but joyful calling of leadership in the Church to come together in prayer and discussion: a time to exercise true leadership, courageous and imaginative on the example of the Holy Father himself. It will be the start of a patient time of negotiation with some who will be hostile, but like our Lord, we need to enter heaven displaying our wounds of love. We need to be ready to be broken-hearted as opportunities are missed by some and opposed by others. Whatever we face we cannot look back, the only way is ahead, even if steep and rocky, it is the joyful way of grace.
After the July 2008 General Synod many of us prayed for a Moses. Moses was given to us: Benedict XVI. We need to be patient and united in prayer as we seek God’s will in the desert. We need to be gentle as our Lord is with those who will be against us, but we need to keep in front of us that old and wonderful dream of being Anglicans in communion with the See of Rome. Now that dream is shaping up in front of our eyes and it is tangible and real.
So this is a process and a journey that will take its time, we do not need procrastinate but we need to allow some years to make the journey as peaceful as possible, in maturity and with eyes wide open even to that trust that asks for blindness.
The Apostolic Constitution starts by explaining the nature of the Church. What we have been living is a Church problem and now we are given a Church solution. More than ever before is the need for Anglo-Catholics to study once more the nature of the Church (ecclesiology) and the way it orders itself (Canon Law). That is a very good place to start.
So on this historic day I find myself praying with joy for the gift of patience and understanding. The night is far spent and the gentle rays of the rising sun are embracing us as we stand in front of our God in whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden. He will cleanse our hearts by the inspiration of his most Holy Spirit so that with the whole Church across the world we may perfectly love him and worthily, like Mary, magnify his holy name.


Antonio said...

Beautiful post!

Fr. Gregory said...

Dear Father,

First of all your irenic spirit is admirable. Yet I read your reaction to Rome's offer as an Orthodox rather than Anglican priest.

"Our patrimony, spirituality and heritage is not cast aside, we are valued and embraced."

But only in a good deal of externals ... You and all Anglicans are still denied any status as a Church. If sacraments are really the backbone of the Church - which I think they are - you and all other Anglicans are barely Christians by Rome's standards. Granted ... the Orthodox are are sometimes even worse.

"It will never get better than this."

But only because Rome refuses to humbly admit its Apostolicae Curae mistake and repeal it.

"The barriers of division with the Church of Rome have fallen and now the ball is in our court."

Well Rome is taking serious steps and is definitively on the right track. But there is no RE-UNION going on here ... It is still conversion and a joining of the one true Church of which you are denied participation.

Fr. Gregory +