“Who cares?” if Anglicans become Catholic says the Archbishop of Canterbury

How things have changed since 2009, when news stories about Pope Benedict’s plan to erect personal ordinariates for Anglicans wishing to become Catholic described the move as the Pope “parking tanks on the lawn of Lambeth Palace,” the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

That was then. Archbishop Rowan Williams, an Anglo-Catholic, was the ABC then. In March 2013, the same month Pope Francis was elected to the papacy, Justin Welby was enthroned at Canterbury as the new spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.

In a recent interview, Archbishop Welby tells the Spectator he doesn’t really mind if an Anglican becomes Catholic.

Not so long ago, it would be unthinkable for the Archbishop of Canterbury to be quoting agents of Rome, but times change. The two churches have been holding talks about possible reunion since 1970, but since the C of E admitted female vicars their paths have tended to diverge. Ten years ago, the Vatican made it easier for vicars to defect to Rome. Hundreds did so and now, by some estimates, one in ten Catholic priests is a former Anglican vicar.

I ask what he thinks about all this.  ‘Who cares?’ he says. ‘I don’t mind about all that. Particularly if people go to Rome, which is such a source of inspiration. I had an email from a very old friend, an Anglican priest who has decided to go to Rome. I wrote back saying: how wonderful! As long as you are following your vocation, you are following Christ. It’s just wonderful. What we need is for people to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I don’t really care whether it’s the Church of England or Rome or the Orthodox or Pentecostals or the Lutherans or Baptists. They are faithful disciples of Christ.’

If you think this is an unusual thing for the Archbishop of Canterbury to say, then you don’t know Justin Welby. He is a bridge-builder, so keen on fostering greater unity amongst Christians that he has assembled in Lambeth Palace a group of young Christians of various denominations called the Community of St Anselm. ‘One of the prayers we say every morning is for the unity of the church. That seems to me to be much more important. God called the church into being. We, as human beings, have managed to mess that up and split it up.’

Interesting.

The St. Gregory Prayer Book

Shane Schaetzel has given me permission to re-post this from his Complete Christianity Website:

Not long ago, I was privileged and blessed to sit on the international editorial board that formulated the “St. Gregory’s Prayer Book.” I won’t mention who the other men were, as I don’t wish to speak out of place. Some of them may wish to remain anonymous, others may wish to speak in their own time. I’ll let them say so when they’re ready. As for me, I didn’t do much. My job was to represent the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS) as I was on the Board of Directors at that time. I made a few suggestions, but that’s about it. The bulk of the work was carried out by a prominent liturgical scholar, an American layman, who served as our chief editor, and two distinguished clergymen who also made contributions from the UK and Australia. The product is a forthcoming devotional, schedule to be released in late February of this year.

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English Catholic Patrimony at the USCCB retreat

I now have some time to look at Fr. Cantalamessa’s talks at the USCCB retreat, and came across this in the first talk:

The Cloud of Unknowing, at the beginning of his treatise on contemplation, gives to his readers an advice which is fundamental also for making a good retreat. In order to pierce the cloud of unknowing which exists above us, between us and God, we need to put first “a cloud of forgetting beneath us”, living aside for a time every problem, project or anxiety we may have at the moment. (Footnote to Chapter 5 of the Cloud of Unknowing)

I remember coming across The Cloud of Unknowing while in college, perhaps as a result of a course in religion.  I loved it and its exhortations continue to speak to me.

Here’s a link to the whole work translated by Evelyn Underhill,  an Anglo-Catholic who was an expert in Christian mysticism.  Perhaps we can claim her and the Cloud of Unknowing as part of our patrimony in the Ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican Tradition.

Here’s an interesting article from the Evelyn Undermill Association on whether it’s possible to be a do-it-yourself Christian mystic:

Carl McOlman writes:

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way. The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that’s how it rolls.

Community. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. Recently a reader of this blog forwarded me an email from a friend of his who criticizes some of Evelyn Underhill’s ideas in her book Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. These two people, whom I’ll call “the reader” and “the friend,” were looking at a passage in Mysticism where Underhill describes two core mystical principles. I’ll post the complete email at the end of this post, but for now, here’s just the highlights.

Here are Underhill’s two principles, from Mysticism:

  1. While mysticism is an essential element in full human religion, it can never be the whole content of such religion. It requires to be embodied in some degree in history, dogma and institutions if it is to reach the sense-conditioned human mind.
  2. The antithesis between the religions of “authority” and of “spirit,” the “Church” and the “mystic,” is false. Each requires the other. (pages ix-x)

Underhill goes on to say:

The “exclusive” mystic, who condemns all outward forms and rejects the support of the religious complex, is an abnormality. He inevitably tends towards pantheism, and seldom exhibits in its richness the Unitive Life. It is the “inclusive” mystic, whose freedom and originality are fed but not hampered by the spiritual tradition within which he appears, who accepts the incarnational status of the human spirit, and can “find the inward in the outward as well as the inward in the inward,” who shows us in their fullness and beauty the life-giving possibilities of the soul transfigured in God.

What Evelyn Underhill is doing here is very simple: she is drawing a distinction between mysticism in a generic sense, and mysticism as specifically manifested within Christianity.

I was a do-it-myself Christian mystic in a sense during about a decade where I had a regular contemplative prayer discipline but no orthodox  Christian community where I was prepared to sign on the dotted line that I believed any particular creed.

One one hand, I benefited greatly from the practise of entering that Cloud of Unknowing, and I believe God honors any honest searching for Him, regardless of the context, whether it’s in a big charismatic revival or through sitting still in a room, gently trying to stay aware of the present moment, the way I was doing.  But the best and fastest spiritual growth came when I was anchored in a Christian community and learned how important it is to believe in order to understand rather than understand as a pre condition for believing.

Anyone else familiar with this book?  With a similar contemplative practice?

Making your support real and not theoretical

Last Sunday, we had a visit from two young men who had attended publicly-funded Catholic schools.  The one I spoke to at length said the effect of that education left him an atheist.  But his interest in an ancient sport prompted him to do some reading and he discovered how many knights of old were deeply Christian.  His reading and searching led him to discover the Traditional Latin Mass, and he is now a member of our local Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP) parish in Ottawa and very happy there.

He and his friend, however, had decided to visit other churches in the area and since someone had left a little leaflet in their apartment building about our Christmas season liturgies, they visited us and stayed for our Epiphany Dinner that followed our Mass and the Baptism of our youngest member, little Phoebe.

They were pleasantly surprised by our Mass and what a delight it was for us to meet these delightful young men who are eagerly growing in the Catholic faith, and who rediscovered it through traditional liturgy.

We also have some regular visitors who participate in our parish life but are active members of other parishes in Ottawa.  We welcome them. They are our friends, part of our community and they support us.

In recent days, however, I have had some conversations with some people involved in Ordinariate life about those who tacitly support the Ordinariates, or the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society but tacit support is as far as it goes.

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On how Christians are depicted . . . in art, on Netflix and in the media

IMG_20171217_114420If a visitor came to one of our Ordinariate communities, what would they see?  Would they see warm, welcoming, joyful people?  Or would they see contentious, negative and cliquish people?  Would they see worship that makes them sense the Presence of a supernatural, Loving God?  Or would they see a bunch of people reciting prayers by rote with hearts far from entering into the meaning of the words and gestures?   Would they find people acquainted with the mercy of God?  Or would they find self-righteous judges who believe others should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps the way they  did?   Would they see people who believe in miracles but also how even more important is desiring God’s will above their own?  Or would they see people whose faith crashes and burns when confronted by serious challenges?

I’m thinking about this because of what I’ve seen over the holidays in how Christians are depicted. Continue reading

The A.C. Society’s role in ‘Healing the rift’

On social media this morning,  I discovered news of an Episcopal minister, Canon Andrew Petiprin, who is entering the Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee in the New Year.   This is a reason for great rejoicing and I trust he and  and his family will receive the same warm welcome we did when we became Catholic nearly eight years ago.

I see among his Facebook friends a number of Ordinariate members, but you’ll see in Petiprin’s testimony, there is no mention of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Continue reading