From Mr Febrin LePadden
I’ve just finished reading through the latest [October 20151 issue of New Directions, with interest and real appreciation as always. I’ve been receiving the magazine for several years now and it’s high time I expressed my thanks for such a worthwhile read. It never fails to inform, nourish, and challenge me.
It’s my one link with the Anglican Communion, which I first encountered as a fourteen year-old, but from which I lapsed a few years later. If ever I ‘return to the fold’ (and even after fifty years it’s not impossible!) it will certainly be largely thanks to New Directions and Forward in Faith: long may they both continue!
FEBRIN LEPADDEN Thornton Heath
From Fr Digby Anderson
The Bishop of Burnley, in your recent issue, provokes us to think about catholic mission and the importance to it of tradition and the Eucharist [Lead Story, November 20151. For that we should be grateful. However both the latter have more to say than he sees in his approach, which I would clumsily call capital congregationalism. He thinks the purpose of the church is to increase the head count of the communicant congregation. The purpose of my Anglo-Catholic church, like others, is to glorify God and to provide Him with a tabernacle: a terrestrial home so His Incarnation may continue among his people. The intention of Sunday Mass is pro populo. It is not for the congregation, but for the parish and all its people whether they attend church or not. The sacrifice, as the canon reminds us, is also for the departed of the church and parish. These people for whom Mass is offered number tens or hundreds of thousands, dwarfing even the most enthusiastic of contemporary missionized congregations.
Again, if congregational numbers are low today then that is hardly the fault of inadequate parish mission. The main means of passing the faith down the generations has always been the family and organized institutions such as schools, hospitals, the law, and adoption agencies, rather than the conversion of individuals. The Church has been edged out of these institutions not only by its enemies but by the collusion of its leaders. If anyone is responsible for the collapse of the Christian family it is not the parish church, but the bishops: so keen to meddle in the fashions of politics; so weak in defending the inter-generational institutions.
Finally, it is not the job of the church to increase the numbers of people who finally come to church and the altar rail, but to be there should those people wish to come. It is the people’s choice, created as they are by a loving God, as free persons. All the Church can do is invite them to the banquet. No; perhaps not ‘all’. It is also the job of the Church to point out to them the consequences of completely refusing to acknowledge and return God’s love. As traditional catholic theology teaches; if a person is determined to place himself beyond God, and dies in that decision, there is nothing that can be done in earth or hereafter to save him for the consequences of his decision.
This obligation to warn was well understood by the Old Testament prophets, by St Paul and the other writers of the epistles, and by the councils and saints of the Church. How often do today’s bishops warn of hell?
Letters to the Editor should be addressed to the Bishop of Fulham.
St Andrew’s Vicarage
5 St Andrew Street , London , EC4A 3AF