If it isn’t about the salvation of souls, why bother?

Had an interesting conversation with one of our new board members via Skype last night and one thing we discussed was the mission of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

The mission of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is:

  • To offer independent and loyal support to the Personal Ordinariates established under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

  • To foster relations among the members of the Ordinariates worldwide and encourage communion.

  • To evangelize by encouraging and supporting patrimonial communities outside the Ordinariates which may become communities in formation for the Ordinariates.

  • To promote and where possible to provide an environment where thinking, pondering, discussing, informing, educating, creating, writing and publishing can take place with regard to the entire span of the received Anglican patrimony – liturgical, intellectual, pastoral, spiritual, theological, literary, artistic, musical, social – which the Ordinariates are called to bring into the Catholic Church as a treasure to be shared.

  • To encourage full active participation of lay members of the Ordinariates.

  • To embody the ecumenical spirit of the Ordinariates by reaching out to other Christians who are also custodians of the Anglican patrimony, encouraging them to participate fully in our activities and  become members.

Our new member thought this was too big a mouthful, and that we needed something shorter.

I said my “elevator speech” on the Society is that we’re about promoting Anglican patrimony inside and outside of the Catholic Church.

But then our new member asked, what does promoting Anglican patrimony mean?  Does it mean preserving it like in a museum?

No!

It means handing it on, I said.  That’s what the roots of the word ‘tradition’ mean.

But why? I may not be fairly paraphrasing, but our new member stressed it has to be about the salvation of souls, though with an Anglican flavour or tinge to it—and about finding its fulfillment in the Catholic Church.

Well, yes!  Yes!

A priest from Ottawa is attending this event  Kairos 2017 going on now in Kansas City —a big charismatic conference and event featuring speakers from both the Catholic and the evangelical world.   It’s sponsored by a movement called United in Christ.   I know some of the speakers involved, and Pope Francis has encouraged this movement.  In fact, Cardinal Di Nardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is one of the headline speakers.

Alas, the phrase I am looking for is not now on either site, but it went something like this:  Tradition means handing on the fire not the ashes.   

I’m going to steal that, though it means something different in this context.  The purpose of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is to hand on the fire.  But the fire is kept and nourished with the equipping we need to ignite the fire, keep that fire burning in us and pass the fire to subsequent generations.   We are equipped through our beautiful liturgy; our encouragement of lay participation in the daily offices; our community life; our passion for Holy Scripture and sound teaching; our theologically deep hymns;  the beauty of our musical heritage; and our openness to supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.

So let’s hand on the fire!  This means that our music should never only be a performance; that our preaching should never only be a dry academic exercise; that our community life should never be about clubbiness and cliques; that all the treasures we have as Catholics with Anglican heritage are not merely polished off and displayed for our own benefit but for the salvation of souls.

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “If it isn’t about the salvation of souls, why bother?

  1. In last Sunday’s homily at the local abbey, the Abbot Emeritus made a remark, without attribution, that I heard from another student when I was studying theology years ago. He said, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” While the point is clear, I have always found the last word of both sentences to be theologically problematic: those who have gone before us to eternal glory are not “the dead” and those who preserve the practices of previous generations but lack personal relationships with the Lord are not “the living” in the sense of the Kingdom.

    But the tag line that “Tradition means handing on the fire — not the ashes!” (I’m not persuaded that this line is old enough to be deemed an adage…) nails it perfectly! Indeed, that is the very mission of the Church.

    From the OP: A priest from Ottawa is attending this event  Kairos 2017 going on now in Kansas City —a big charismatic conference and event featuring speakers from both the Catholic and the evangelical world.   It’s sponsored by a movement called United in Christ.   I know some of the speakers involved, and Pope Francis has encouraged this movement.  In fact, Cardinal Di Nardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is one of the headline speakers.

    We need to be praying for this conference, for the organization that is sponsoring it, and for all of the participants. Our Lord’s last will, stated to the disciples at the Last Supper, is that all who believe would be united in one body — ut unam sint, and this conference and its sponsoring organization are working toward that goal.

    Norm.

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    • The original quote was from the eminent scholar and church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, who spent most of his life as a Lutheran pastor but about eight years before he died entered the Orthodox Church as a layman along with his wife.

      Yes, we should most definitely pray for an end to all heresies, schisms and apostasies, and a conversion of all the enemies of the Church, both within and without. There’s never been a need not to pray for that throughout Church history.

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  2. The Google machine says it’s a quotation of Gustav Mahler, interestingly: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” You’re quite right, it is indeed a very apt way of putting it.

    Our Anglican tradition is certainly a way of being Catholic “with an Anglican flavour”, as you say. I would only add that our Anglican tradition is not tangential to the salvation of souls, as a flavour is an accident of food, but is its means; as the particular cultural and ritual form of our lived faith, it is more essential to our salvation than flavour is essential to food. Our Anglican tradition itself, as Pope Benedict said, “impels towards Catholic unity”. Similarly, our Anglican tradition itself conduces to our salvation, particularly as it has been taken up by the Catholic Church, and that is in fact precisely why it has been so taken up.

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  3. I happened to have just read a version of your apt quote: “Composer Gustav Mahler said that “Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame.” from: https://aleteia.org/2017/10/18/i/ – not that different a context, and I think your use of it right on target.
    The features of our Patrimony that you list in the last sentence of your penultimate paragraph have nourished us in the faith and practice which led Pope Benedict XVI to recognize them as gifts to be shared with the wider Catholic Church. Thus we need to both embrace the practice of them for the good of our own souls, and also share them for the sake of others who could benefit, shining forth with the light of this fire.

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