Friday, 14 January 2011
Momentous events are happening around us. We are anticipating the setting up of the first Ordinariate to coincide with the ordinations to the Catholic priesthood of John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.
I was hoping to be able to slip into the congregation on Saturday morning, but it seems that a 'flu bug will prevent me from being present at something which is really an historic event -a much abused expression, but on this occasion absolutely justified. I believe this will come to be seen as one of the most significant events in modern church history
To answer a question asked by another blogger,
"Where were you when.........?"
"Staying at home, feeling very sorry for myself, overdosing on Beecham's cold and flu remedies."
As they say in places other than clergy houses and rectories, I am "gutted" not to be able to be there.
So, the process continues and the front of the "caravan" is already arriving at its destination. It's right that the focus of all our attention and our prayers over the next weeks and months will be on those who are preparing to set up the Ordinariate and the significant task before them.
But what of those whose journey is only just beginning? There's a very sensitive post at the blog Valle Adurni about those who will be left behind. As we know, they will not only be those who have rejected the idea of the Ordinariate, those who have definitively opted to stay put, but also include those for whom the time is not yet right, for family reasons and various other practical issues which, as Andrew Burnham's recent interview with Anna Arco in The Catholic Herald illustrates, shouldn't be disregarded or despised. This is a process - the caravan will take a very long time to wind its way across the desert, and part of its purpose is to persuade others to tag along for the journey.
Spiritually and psychologically, of course, this will be a difficult time for those on the move but at a slower pace. It's not always an entirely heartening experience standing on the platform waving our friends off, even if we know another train will be coming along later. "Mind the gap" takes on a wholly new meaning.
In the interim, how honest is it possible to be - with one's people, one's family, one's present superiors, ultimately with oneself? Uncertainty can bring out the worst as well as the best in human nature.
The exodus of Anglo-Catholicism from the Anglican Communion, which we are now witnessing, is an experience of bereavement as well as a setting out in hope. Bereavement, as we all know, passes through various phases, including those of anger and despair. At times like this we all want to be validated by people largely agreeing with us and doing what we ourselves are doing. Differences of opinion can easily be perceived as personal threats.
But despite much talk about those who are just burying their heads in the sand, there is now a great deal of realism around in Anglo-Catholic circles. At a recent meeting in Wales, someone summed up the situation facing us as a stark choice between Rome and a form of "ecumenical protestantism;" it's hard to argue with that. It's also clear that there are those in high office within Anglicanism who are violently opposed to Anglo-Catholics being allowed even the merest fig leaf in terms of an orthodox ecclesiology.
But it's one thing to recognise the historical significance of what is happening around us - the writing on the wall, if you like - another to be able to see our way clearly to extricating ourselves from the mess and confusion of an ecclesial body falling headlong into apostasy.
Those who are travelling in the caravan, at whatever stage of the journey, need to be welcoming, supportive and encouraging to those who have yet to get on board.
Ultimately, wherever we are now, we have to strive to be faithful and to do what we can, when we can, and then leave the rest to God and to the prayers of Our Lady and the Saints.
And above all today, our prayers for those who will be ordained to the priesthood and incardinated into the new Ordinariate in the morning!
Borodin: 'In the Steppes of Central Asia'
A caravan wends its way through the landscape.....