Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A call to prayer

Human experience is the matter through which we can evaluate our life and give it a direction.  As Christians our human experience is informed, enlightened and enriched by Revelation. God, through Scriptures, gives us the loving guide on how to understand human experience, correct it (as it is subject to Original Sin) and redeem it, obviously through the merits of Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Church, who founded by Christ is entrusted with continuing his salvific mission, interprets Scriptures to purify our experience and its understanding.
The recent problems among some confused Christians is the fact that they want to divorce experience from the corrective light of Revelation and put the former on an equal footing or worse still making human experience as the main guide of the way we live as Christians. All the present day problems stem from this confusion. The ordination of women to the priesthood is one such example. The Scriptural images of God and Israel as groom and bride which are perfectly fulfilled in Christ the groom and the Church as bride have been all  pushed aside and sacrificed on the altar of (false) equal rights and political correctness. Stating the obvious for many of us, this is not a question of who can do the work of a priest but who can be a priest, above all it is a question of the sovereignty of Christ as Lord of history who was always free to choose who to be priests, as he was free to choose who to be witnesses of his resurrection.
As the Church of England initiated a healthy debate about the admission of women to the priesthood some 50 years ago and when it entered upon a period of discernment and reception, I saw this as a healthy way in which to enable the Universal Church to visit the issue. The Church in East and West (Rome) made their reflections in the light of Scripture and Tradition and found against it. Rather than working for unity in charity as is the Dominical command and listening in humility to what our brothers and sisters in Christ were saying, the Church of England, and some but not all, of those in communion with it, decided to go their own way. In 1994 guarantees were put in place for those who felt that Christian fundamental issues are to be dealt by the Universal Church rather than by a local one. This, I believed, would provide a corner from which some people might witness for the historic faith by working together and showing that there is a different way on how Christians run and order their life. The beauty of Anglican comprehensiveness would enable all of us to keep in charity and in joy to proclaim Christ afresh to this generation.
In the last two years or so this has changed in a big way. The powers to be in the Church of England seem unwilling, though they do understand our well argued position, to provide security for us. The question is not any longer on who can be ordained or married. For me it is a question of faithfulness to Christ. A few months ago an Anglican clergyperson said, in a gathering in which I happened to be present, that it might be time to acknowledge that in some matters Jesus might have got it wrong.
As I am engaged with all my might in proclaiming the kingdom in the lovely parish that, while unworthy, has been entrusted to me I feel more and more marginalised by a Church that shows no sign of repentance or willingness to secure a solid future for me or my successors in order to continue this proclamation to happen in integrity and mutual trust.
In all this uncertainty and lack of charity, the Holy Father has offered the secure structure that we badly need in order to continue to be faithful to Christ as he enlightens and purifies our common and individual human experience.  The Church of England, who seems not willing to offer securities, might now offer a respectful and honourable way for petitioning Parishes to form the welcome Ordinariate. We heard several times that we are a tiny minority in the CofE, almost insignificant, so why do some people seem so afraid to allow this to happen. Is this the story of a new Pharaoh not willing to set God’s people free? It feels as if some people are opting for the un-Anglican way  (or is it?) of forcing doctrine on people, that is why I see a blessing in the opportunity to be Anglicans in full communion with the Holy See; this is an answer to prayers that have been offered to God for over a hundred years.
We have now no excuses to make. If we were honest in what we worked for and stood up for, the Ordinariate is not a possibility to be ignored. The road ahead is not clear and neither smooth, it is a birthing experience. That is why, more than ever before, we need to be able to trust God and allow the Holy Spirit to purify and inform all human experience and our experiences now.
This is why I recommend to you the call to prayer from our bishops especially on the 22nd February, the feast day of the Chair of St Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.

1 comment:

Antient Scholar said...

O God, who by delivering to Thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, didst confer upon him the pontifical power of binding and of loosing, grant that, by the help of his intercession, we may be freed from the bonds of sin and separation. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ...