My dear people and friends of the Newman Fellowship,
Our Epiphany celebration was indeed spirited last Sunday as we made the necessary adjustments to a new worship space. Thank you all for your fluidity as we carry the words of Blessed John Henry Newman in our hearts, “One step enough for me.” I’ll repeat what I said last week that I truly believe we’ll look back on these times as a blessing and opportunity for our growth in the knowledge and love of God.
The discussion session after Mass on the Ordinariate seemed to be helpful for the goodly number in attendance. Your questions were very good, and I saw many heads nodding when the questions asked were those of others. It was joy to see a real desire to understand more of what this is all about.
I want to emphasize what I said about people making decisions about reception into the Catholic Church. Such decisions are individual ones, or are made as a couple or family. There is absolutely no requirement whatsoever that a decision for or against entering the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate is time-oriented. That being the case, allow me to put a few questions before you at this time:
1. Do you believe that God is calling Christians to fulfill the prayer of Jesus, “…that they all be one”?
2. Do you believe that the Anglican tradition needs a secure home for its maintenance and growth?
3. Do you believe that Christians are to walk by faith, which leads to a greater intellectual and theological understanding; and that there are many elements of Christian and Catholic doctrines that one will never fully understand?
4. Do you believe that the Church needs to have a reliable authoritative source for her teachings to guide and protect her people from private judgment and the spirit of the age?
5. Do you believe the words of Jesus to the Apostle Peter: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (St. Matthew 16:18-19)?
These are, I believe, some of the critical questions to ponder and answer, but above and beyond these five questions is the most fundamental one: “As you have been part of the Newman Fellowship, and have understood its trajectory, do you see God leading you with your brothers and sisters as a community of faith into the Catholic Church?”
In light of both the five questions I have posed and with the last critical one, please know that I want very much to spend time with any of you, or refer you to someone, to help you respond to these questions, or to respond to other questions and concerns you may have. Dr. Patrick Burke and I might suggest some reading material beyond the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Compendium, and the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.
From conversations I have had with some of you, and in listening to your questions in the Catechism classes, and then thinking more about them later, I sense that for some there is a degree of anxiety and an element of fear regarding the taking of such a big step. I don’t perceive that such anxiety and/or fear is rooted so much in theological or ecclesiological issues, but has more to do with issues of juridical change and Catholic culture, and with what the reactions may be from family and friends. I share with you in this. Please know that. You and I both know that change causes more change, but the change and changes before us (we increasingly realize and joyfully anticipate) are most positive in so many aspects – beneficial aspects and new relationships that will be discovered in time. Please remember and claim that one’s peace of heart and mind is to be in Christ Who gives us a peace that the world cannot give.
I think it fair to ask the question: “Who among you is devoid of some prejudice against or suggestion about the Catholic Church?” Please know that there’s nothing wrong in wishing in one way or another that some things within the Church were different. That’s normal, and to be expected. I shared in a sermon recently something that G.K Chesterton said: “Only when he [a man] has entered the [Catholic] Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside.” He also said (in so many words) that once men cease to pull against the Catholic Church, they feel the tug towards it.
The Catholic Church is a living organism. Its understanding of itself and the way it expresses its teachings develops, as Newman so clearly taught. One sees the effect of his teaching throughout the pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Always remember that who we are as a Fellowship and the way we liturgically express our corporate worship need not change. The relationships we have, and which have been strengthened over the past few months, are to endure and be even stronger and deeper, which is why we all need to see what God is doing and why He is doing it. The way we worship is one of the primary elements of the Anglican Patrimony that Pope Benedict XVI values and affirms, and expects us to bring into the Catholic Church as a gift to the Church.
Our Lord Jesus prayed to the Father, “Thy will be done.” We pray this daily. We need to pray it with pure intention and sincerity of heart. God bless you.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.
+David L. Moyer
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