Part of being a Catholic in the Church of England is recognizing that we are part of something larger and wider. We relate to the churches of East and West and we draw upon those traditions as well as our own Anglican traditions. Indeed, we are in our own movement a broad church. We are brought together with common belief and we share theological ideals that are the teaching of the Church. We might put a different gloss on them and we might consider them in relation to our Anglicanism in different ways but they do unite us.
We believe in the importance of the Church as the Body of Christ and we seek to protect that Body. We worship in many different ways and with different styles but we are united in our faith. In that sense we are not a pressure group, we are becoming an ecclesial body, we are taking shape as a group within the Church of England devoted to serving her life. We may have different styles and emphasis but that is what makes us able to evangelize effectively in different places and in different ways. This can only be for the good of the Church of England and we must hope and pray that the Church will accept us and help us to thrive and serve God.
We must also be willing to support the efforts of our brother and sisters who do things differently and seek to evangelize in different ways. We might prefer the Book of Common Prayer but we ought not to discount the power of the Anglo-Catholic Charismatic Celebrations. When it comes to mission one style of mission plan may not work in one place but it will thrive in another and we must support all of this.
We must also continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life. Over the past years many men both young and old have offered themselves to serve in the Church. They have answered God’s call and shown a willingness to serve in our constituency. They will work in The Society and we must pray that God grants us more priests and that more men will hear the call.
If we are to survive and if our parishes are to flourish we will need priests. There will be tough decisions ahead when it comes to church closure but we must try to ensure that in most areas there are parishes of The Society to serve our people and the whole church.
We must also pray for vocations to the religious life; that men and women may feel the call of the cloister and the religious mission-fields. We must pray for the orthodox religious who may struggle and be isolated as well as more vocations to orthodox religious houses. And, of course, we must ensure that there are more lay vocations to work with young people, to help in our parishes, as readers and as PCC members and churchwardens.
If we are to go into a period where there are fewer priests in more parishes then our lay people will have to take up more roles in order to keep our parishes open and flourishing so that we can fully serve our communities. We need to make sure we have houses of prayer and that our people are helped and guided to pray for and with the next generation as well as teach them.
It is vital as our new Society takes shape that we work together. It will mean that we must trust our bishops and those who are leading us and we must all work together to make sure we have a firm and stable base on which to build our future. The ball is very much in our court. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide all our efforts as we seek to move forward.
There is much potential and many different skills available to us in our constituency and we must make sure we use it all to greatest good. July of this year will not be an easy time for our movement; there will be much that will hurt and distress us.
We must be ready to support one another as we go through vote and result together. It is only by staying together and seeking our future together that we can hope to grow and spread the Gospel in this new situation.
We need to bring all of our various groups and societies to the table with us and not be afraid of our differences but rather rejoice that we are not a monochrome group but rather a varied one which offers many different ways of spreading the Gospel. It will be challenging but it seems to me it is our call now and for some time to come. ND