Today is the Feast of S. Augustine of Canterbury, the man who brought the Faith of the Holy Roman Church to England; and in view of the current state of affairs in the Church of England, and the impending Synod discussions which seem bound to make matters more difficult for many, I thought it was a good day to bring to your attention a passage from a Homily by (I believe) F. Ignatius Harrison, Provost of the London Oratory, which was preached on the Feast of the Chair of S. Peter this year :
‘Faith is a supernatural gift from God. So non-Catholics who are considering their position in relation to the Catholic Church must do so, not in the spirit of simply “reaching a decision” as if this were just like any other human decision, weighing the arguments and assessing the probabilities. They should rather be praying with might and main for God to give them the fullness of His gift of faith, a supernatural gift from the Almighty which enables us to believe without doubting all that He has revealed. The fullness of that faith includes the doctrines of the primacy of S.Peter, the necessity of being in communion with his successor the Bishop of Rome, the indefectibility of the Catholic Church as guaranteed by papal infallibility, and all else that flows from those truths.
‘We Catholics are in no position to be smug and complacent about all this. Yes, we have been given the gift of faith. Yes, we are in full communion with the Holy Father. Such undeserved privileges carry with them grave responsibilities, not least the imperative to give the best possible witness to the truths of the faith by what we say and do, and by what we are. We are also bound in charity to pray fervently for our separated brethren and to give them every possible encouragement and assistance, as brethren, as friends, as fellow disciples of the Lord Jesus. Those of us who at different times and in varying circumstances left the Church of England in order to become Catholics, we know that for any number of contingent human reasons it is often difficult to pursue the right path. How deep the difficulties can be is seen in the long journey made by John Henry Newman. He thought, and studied, and prayed. The most efficacious of these activities was, and always is, prayer. It is also worth remembering that ultimately the decision belongs to God and not to us. Dominus dat incrementum.’