The Canonisation of John Henry Newman this coming October will be an important event in the life of the Church in England. Newman is for both Anglicans and Roman Catholics a seminal figure in the lives of our churches. His writings both as an Anglican and as a Roman Catholic continue to inspire and influence the life of the Universal Church, as well as encouraging the work for unity between our churches. With his canonisation will come new studies of Newman’s works and greater interest in his life. It is to be hoped that Anglicans will take a keen interest in this and that this will deepen our own understanding of our place in the life of the church. As Anglo-Catholics perhaps our own ‘2030 Vision’ should be a reassessment of our history as a movement and the part that has played in the life of the Universal Church, through a mutual enrichment of traditions and our own patrimony. Elsewhere in this edition of New Directions, William Davage asks whether the time has come for a history of Pusey House to be written. Already this year histories of the Catholic League, the Society of St John the Evangelist (Cowley Fathers) and, a reprint of the history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham have appeared. These all serve as a reminder of the part played by the movement in the Church of England in the wider church. It is to be hoped that these histories alongside parish histories and the work of groups such as the Anglo-Catholic History Society will help us to understand our history and our combined contribution, thus far, to the building up of the Kingdom. We suggest this not in order to fossilize our movement or to hold it back in some sort of ‘golden age’ dreamworld but rather to serve as an inspiration for the future and to help today’s Anglo Catholics understand a little better their history and the contribution made by so many ‘Giants in the Land’. This sort of historical study can help us to understand where we are going as a movement and offer us a time of reflection on what God’s call is for us in this generation.
The place of the Shrine of the Our Lady of Walsingham in the life of our national church was highlighted this year by the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop in his sermon at the pilgrimage reminded us not only of the importance of the history of the Shrine but also the vital part pilgrimage plays in the life of the Christian. The Shrine offers a place where people can explore their Catholic faith and heritage with fellow pilgrims who may be in different places on their own pilgrim journey. Once again this year the Youth Pilgrimage was a time of renewal and discovery for young people from across the Church of England, when they were encouraged in the faith. On the Solemnity of the Assumption the Archbishop released a video of his pilgrimage to Walsingham and encouraged Anglicans to explore devotion to Our Lady. Indeed, it might be the first time in history that an Archbishop of Canterbury has used the medium of Twitter to mention the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and encourage a time of reflection upon the feast. Mary, the Archbishop reminds us, has a leading and vital part to play in the building up of the Kingdom of God. As Anglo Catholics we follow her example in doing this.
The 2030 vision for Anglo-Catholics must be about building up the Kingdom of God where we are. To do this we need to understand our history and traditions but we also need a vibrant and current faith. Through pilgrimage to Walsingham and other Shrines, Mary points us to her Son. In these places we are refreshed and renewed in our faith and enable to serve more fully in the Church and for the Kingdom. We can, in looking to the future, not do better than echo the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury when he wrote on Twitter: ‘I pray that the example of the mother of God will draw us to Jesus afresh.’