John Pearce is sorry to see friends leave but glad of so much they have shared
Many of you will soon be going home, having been welcomed so generously by this visionary Pope. As you go, I want to say ‘thank you’ to my friends for all that you have done. Of course I have had my disagreements but I shall miss you as, with your going, the CofE becomes overwhelmed by liberals (in the wrong sense of the word) and unbelievers. Ever since the Non-Jurors and before them, there have been Catholic-minded members of the Church of England, but the Oxford Movement crystallized a party with clear aims, many of which have been achieved.
The call to holiness
But I want to thank you for a variety of things which are fundamentally uncontroversial but which were much needed. First of all, I thank you for the recovery of serious prayer and meditation. It was not so long ago that any serious Catholic parish would begin each weekday with Matins, Meditation and Mass. But it is also true that you reminded us of the great purpose of serious prayer which is: ‘I look at him and he looks at me.’
Thank you also for a new dedication and aspiration for holiness. Some of the most godly people I have ever met have come from your tradition – ascetic men and women whose sole aim was the glory of God: ‘Lord let thy kingdom move on – over my body.’
The retreat movement was also one of your great gifts to the English Church, and I think with deep thanksgiving of many retreats such as one by the SSJE in that sacred chapel in Marston Street and of Fr Algy SSF, at West Mailing. It is profoundly sad that this insight is being lost as more and more so called ‘retreats’ become mere discussion times.
The foundation of the Religious Life was a remarkable phenomenon in England, with large numbers of men and women seeing this life and work as their calling from the good Lord. And again this most significant part of the life of the church is now being lost.
The re-establishment of the Holy Communion as the major service of worship is owed to you, as it is also to John Wesley. Now, instead of thrice-yearly communions, it is normal for most Anglicans to communicate every Lord’s Day.
No less important was the re-discovery of moral theology and a serious ap–roach to go•ly living for the laity as well as the clergy. Alongside of this, was the re-discovery of the pra›ice of private confession and serious self-examination. Sadly a real sense of human sin is in fact disap–earing from our liturgy and our church generally. Do you remember how we used to begin our preparation for our Sunday Communion on Fridays?
While some of the exuberance of our Anglo-Catholic parish churches owed more to Spain than to English tradition, it is nevertheless true that you reminded us of beauty as an eye-gate to God, so that now most churches are places of peace and beauty, where we can go and pray. Nevertheless there are an increasing number of churches which are losing this insight and becoming li±ered places of meeting with man rather than God.
We owe you so much, but we hope that you will be hap–y in your new home. Be thankful for what the English Church has given you. We shall miss you sorely, my friends, not least that we shall not be able to argue with you over the epiklesis and the anamnesis and the true nature of ‘Apostolic Ministry’!
Go home with God, and with our love.