So, to be autobiographical for a moment (and what we are experiencing now is, of course, deeply personal in terms of both our analysis and the decisions we will have to take), on the bright side, albeit in a rather bleak sort of way, I've had two moments of epiphany, a couple of weeks apart; quite trivial on the surface, but enough to tip the balance and stiffen resolve.
First, there were these comments made a few days before Pope Benedict's visit by a columnist on the Daily Telegraph, someone who describes himself as "a Christmas-and-Easter Anglican:"
"Don’t get me wrong – I think that it’s great that the Pope’s coming here, and that the Church of England is engaging with his visit in a constructive manner. But I haven’t heard anyone take the opportunity – at a time when religion’s profile has suddenly soared – to state the basic Protestant case: that faith is, in essence, a matter of active and personal choice, the result of an individual contract with God rather than something mediated through the authority of the Church in Rome."So much for the legacy of the Oxford Movement in today's C of E , one might think - what were this man's confirmation classes actually like, if he remembers them at all? But I would guess it's not an atypical reaction from the average modern Anglican, not consciously influenced by the Catholic movement.
The second moment was yesterday afternoon, stuck in traffic in the centre of Bristol with time to worry about the future. I switched on the car radio and heard the versicles and responses on BBC Radio 3's Choral Evensong sung quite well , if somewhat theatrically, by....... the female officiant. The profound cultural and theological shift in what was once my Church was given voice.
What we have known and loved is over; there is no going back; the only way to preserve and develop it is to go forward.
So, thank God for Anglicanorum Coetibus - this historic opportunity "to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared."
That's a personal view, not everyone will share it; there are honourable reasons for staying just as there are for going and, for many, timing and the care of those closest to them will be the crucial issues. We need to pray for one another and support one another as we move forward.