A MIDWEEK MESSAGE FROM THE PASTOR -- November 9, 2011
My dear people and friends of the Newman Fellowship,
I would like to repeat the spiritual challenge that I have on many occasions put before you: “Be open, pray, and learn.” Know that I place that challenge before myself as well, because it is essential in the life of any Christian – especially for us in the Newman Fellowship.
We have, as a corporate body of Anglo-Catholics, a trajectory that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit through the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. We and all Anglo-Catholics have been graced with the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus – a trajectory in which the instruments for the greater unity of the Church of Christ are found.
This gift is the opportunity for all of us to “come home” to the Catholic Church, bringing with us the fundamental elements of our Anglican Patrimony. In the Traditional Anglican Communion’s College of Bishops’ Petition to the Holy See in November, 2007, we asked the Catholic Church to provide a way forward to achieve Eucharistic communion with the Catholic Church, while, at the same time, “Maintaining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline, and theology that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world.”
In the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus, we read the following (which recognizes the legitimacy of the request I have cited): “…many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her [the Catholic Church’s] visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”
Later in the document, there is more specificity: “Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as 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” (AC, 5, III. – my emphasis).
We should all be most thankful for this response and provision which affirms and welcomes the Anglican Patrimony “as a treasure to be shared.” Here is the opportunity to truly share it in Eucharistic communion with other Catholics. Praise God!
Our response to the Holy See’s generous response to the Petition cited (and to the others that were made) is for all of us to be in a process of learning what is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is, as set forth in Anglicanorum Coetibus: “the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate” (AC, III). We all need to be involved in study and learning opportunities provided within the Newman Fellowship, in order that we know what is taught and why it is taught by the Catholic Church to which Anglo-Catholics may find a secure home. The goodly number of the Fellowship’s members who have done so are profiting and enjoying this enterprise. Not to engage in this opportunity leaves one in a state of ignorance, misinformation, fear, and, possibly, that of prejudice. Obviously, that is beneficial to no one; and is, I must say, a form of rejection of what the Spirit of God has put before us, and is leading us to – as a body of believers.
Again, “be open, pray, and learn.” All three are elements of and for mature Christian growth, and the steps necessary for these times which the Holy Spirit has authored.