On the Feast of the Annunciation 2020 England will be re-dedicated as the Dowry of Mary, a wonderful way to celebrate devotion to Mary the Mother of God and to pray for the re-evangelization of England. How might we as Catholic Christians in the Church of England prepare for this event, and how might we play our part in the mission of the church to our land? We can begin, as all Christians should, with prayer. It would be a wonderful thing if we took the 2020 date to heart and had waves of prayer and novenas in order to prepare ourselves spiritually beforehand. Whilst the fruits of these prayers are in God’s hands and His providence we can allow ourselves the opportunity to consider areas about which we might want to pray and work in the coming years. Bishop Philip North has spoken eloquently about the need to ensure that there are priests and people in every parish across the country and especially those in the most deprived areas of the country. A good place to start then would be to consider vocations. Yes, we want to pray for more priests to serve in our parishes but that is not where vocation stops. Our Catholic Movement continues to need faithful lay people who have heard God’s call to serve in the church: running or helping with church plants, running youth clubs, teaching, writing for New Directions (yes, might you be called to do that?!) and most importantly praying and living lives of witness to God. There is also of course the vocation to the religious life which is so important to the health and vitality of our Church. We should not be afraid to share ideas and perhaps try things that will not work out as we first expected, those first Anglo-Catholics were not afraid to take risks and were not afraid to challenge. As a Movement perhaps we need to regain something of that spirit; not a carping or derogatory spirit but rather one that is positive about what we have to offer the church and confident in proclaiming our beliefs. What is clear is that now is not the time to sit by and imagine that someone else will get on with the job. The time for work and action for each one of us is now. What might God be calling you to do for His church here and now, and will you, like Mary say ‘Yes’ to him, take a chance and see where it leads you? It may even be as simple as putting pen to paper for New Directions.
The challenge facing Christians in the public eye was brought into clear focus by the treatment of Jacob Rees-Mogg after he spoke publicly against same-sex marriage and abortion. The media and the listening public seemed unable to hear him when he repeated Our Lord’s words: ‘let him without sin cast the first stone’. It seems that the moral and social teaching of traditional Christianity is to be further relegated by the world (and indeed parts of the church), and so to believe what the Church has always taught to be true is seen to be ‘abhorrent’ and ‘disgusting’. As part of our commitment to the Catholic Movement we hope here at New Directions always to challenge and debate the issues of the day; we are also recommitting ourselves to explaining clearly for our readers current theological and moral issues and what is the teaching of the Church. There will inevitably be some nuances required, and readers may not agree on every point, but it is important that we at least show that debate is possible, debate that is respectful and that does not condemn the other point of view. We hope in our parishes that there is room for teaching about these fundamental ideas of Christian teaching. If we don’t talk about them and teach about them then we leave people unable to defend themselves against the onslaught of those who seem unable to grasp, let alone respect, the teaching of the Church. As part of our preparations for 2020 we can really make a difference with programmes of Christian education in scripture, Christian theology and moral and social teaching: our task is to offer that to the Church and to world, to fail to do so at this stage would be a grave mistake.