Mention to some people that your church has incense, and up go the shutters. “I could never go to a church like that. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d feel awkward, embarrassed and out of place.” Then out comes the label “High Church”- which more or less settles it. Yet what could be more scriptural than incense?
A woman came to live in our parish, and discovered to her horror, that the church was (as she put it) “High Church’, and telephoned her mother in some distress. “Don’t worry dear” said Mum, “I used to go to a church like that. Go along; you’ll soon get used to it”. She did, and she is still here.
Mention to same people that your church has guitars, open prayer and prophecies, and up go the shutters. “I could never go to a church like that. I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d feel awkward and embarrassed and out of place.” Then out comes the label ‘Happy-Clappy’ which more or less settles it. Yet what could be more scriptural than prophecy and stringed instruments in the House of the Lord?
One priest stumbled across a Renewal Week by mistake. It was at Walsingham, he said to himself, so it must be all right. He came and was appalled. His was a church where Onward Christian soldiers was considered a bit vulgar. Yet by the end of the week, he found himself at home, and enjoying himself amongst people who were clearly enjoying their worship. And he has been coming ever since.
The Charismatic Movement is really the latest in a series of revivals, by which the Lord has renewed his Church – the Conciliar Movement, the Franciscan Movement, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Evangelical Revival, Catholic Revival, and in this century the Liturgical Movement. Each has taken the Church back to its roots, to Scripture, and thus brought new life. Each has emphasised some portion of the Creed that has become obscured; in the case of the Charismatic Movement “I believe in the Holy Spirit”.
Healings, tongues, prophecies and other Gifts of the Spirit, dismissed by some Reformers as “feigned popish miracles”, have always had their place in Catholicism. But they have tended to be restricted to great saints, or special places of pilgrimage. It might be all right for the Cure of Ars to speak in tongues, or have the Gift of extraordinary Knowledge, but you wouldn’t expect the Vicar to. You might get healed at Walsingham but not in your parish church. Above all, we Anglican church people like order. Once you start all this, who knows where it will all end?
Yet many, from all denominations, have not found this a problem. Things don’t get out of hand. There is a large Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, and there is an Anglo-Catholic one too. And both have found their Catholic Faith enhanced, not threatened by Renewal. For instance, it is surprising (though it shouldn’t be) how, once the Holy Spirit starts touching people, they want to make their confession.
Anglo-Catholic Charismatic Renewal started in a small way in the late 1960’s and has influenced many people, and a number of parish churches. Some bishops, a number of priests, and many laypeople have found renewed strength in their life and ministry.
There are various Catholic Renewal Days around the country. And there is the annual Anglo-Catholic Renewal Week at Ditchingham in August. The Norfolk countryside provides a lovely setting. We celebrate mass and offices, have talks, discussion groups, anointing, and Benediction. While parents are occupied, there are children’s activities. There is swimming, tennis, and country walks. Many have said how welcome they felt, and returned again and again.
It lasts from Monday afternoon to Friday morning. And in 2001 is from
13th to 17th August. For booking forms, and more information, contact Mrs Jo Tullett, 19 Lancing Close,
Lancing, West Sussex BN 15 9NJ (01903) 750107