11 November 2009

From Fr. Longenecker's Excellent Blog

Standing on My Head

I wish to commend this article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker which is an extremely important reflexion upon the vocation of the new Anglican ordinariates and those being called by God to the Unity of the Church for which Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed.

A New Missionary Martyr Spirit

What is going to be required for Benedict XVI's Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans to succeed?

First and foremost, I believe that what is required is a 'paradigm shift' on the part of Anglicans.

Very often Rome is perceived as ossified, inflexible, unimaginative and legalistic. Both Pope John Paul II ("Be generous to these men.") and now Pope Benedict XVI have been exactly the opposite. They have put together daring initiatives. They have stepped out in faith and made amazingly generous offers. They've taken risks for the unity of the Church. As the successor of Peter and the focus of unity this is part of their job and they have taken it very seriously.

Now we await the response of Anglicans. There are going to be huge difficulties for many, and this is where the paradigm shift is necessary. There are two seismic shifts in understanding that will be required for many. The first of these is a fresh missionary spirit. Instead of seeing themselves as members of an established, educated and well financed church Anglican clergy and people who hold to the historic faith will need to re-imagine themselves as primarily a missionary people.

To respond to the Holy Father's offer they
may have to walk away from their buildings. They may have to set up and 'do church' in a living room, a school hall or a borrowed or rented or abandoned church building. Priests may have to walk away from a salary and do some other work to get their congregation started. (The Apostolic Constitution provides for this possibility) The priests will need to take leadership and may need to start again and 'plant a church.' They might do this with a remnant of their people from the parish they walk away from or they might have to move to another part of the country or even the world to serve a congregation of like minded faithful.

This new missionary spirit will have to be part of the people's step of faith as well for they will have to work hard and dig deep to finance the Personal Ordinariate. Sacrifices will have to be made. They will have to find a way to pay for their priest and support his family. If they own buildings they may have to hand the keys over to the ordinariate. If they enjoy a congregational form of government they may have to sacrifice some measure of their power. (However the Constitution does provide for a conciliar form of government for the ordinariate)

To do this they will be doing no more than our ancestors in various ages did. Furthermore, they are following in the footsteps of the courageous recusant families who kept the faith in England alive during the penal times. They are following in the footsteps of the courageous, humble and hardworking 'slum priests' of the Victorian Oxford movement. They too stepped out and endured misunderstanding and persecution for their faith. They went into the places nobody else wanted to go and endured poverty and difficulties for our glorious faith. They are following in the footsteps of the great Jesuit missionary priests and the apostles and all the greatest of the Catholic saints.

Please do read the remainder of his very fine post A New Missionary Martyr Spirit.
+Laus Deo.