facebook; and also for the prayers which I have clearly received . . . though whether or not I deserve them is a rather different question, of course !
However; following something which a friend and I were discussing over the weekend, it occurred to me to give you just a little bit of history, which may, amongst other things, clarify why it took me so long to find my way home to the Catholic Church.
Being quite honest, I think that the answer is that I didn’t ever become an Anglican; so that although I wasn’t a Roman Catholic – in the sense of being a member of Holy Mother Church – until two years ago, I don’t think I ever really had the theological position of the Church of England . . . which is probably why it took me so long to realize just what the position was, and what effect it had on me.
Being honest, I think that the Methodist minister who was responsible for suggesting that I should go to the local Anglo-Catholic Church was entirely sensible : it was just (as in ‘a couple of weeks’) before the introduction of the new English Mass in the Catholic Church, with all the confusion that that was going to cause, so it was probably wise of him to send me to the Anglo-Catholics instead, where I would find continuity and stability . . . which in turn led me on, albeit through one or two odd (but entirely typically) Anglican places, to a particular (and famous) Anglo-Catholic church which, in retrospect, was probably entirely atypical, and allowed one to ignore the realities of much of the C of E . . . as in fact I did.
The move was in the mid-1970s, and I then stayed there, with various temporary moves connected with work, and local problems, until about the time of the problems in the C of E in the early 1990s . . . which coincided with a spectacular change in life anyway, so that the separation was just part of a much larger picture.
By the time things had calmed down I had found myself back at another Anglo-Catholic church which was, again, rather ‘out of touch’ with much of the rest of the C of E, and then life moved me a little further and I ended up at another one which I remained at, with an old friend as PP, until I finally managed to make sense of things, and made my submission to the Holy Church two years ago . . .
. . . but the crux of it all is that, looking back, none of the Anglican churches to which I really felt I ‘belonged’ were centres of ‘Anglicanism’, but rather ‘Anglo-Catholic’, so that I was able to ignore many of the ‘Anglican’ issues . . . and as I look back now, I realize that I don’t think that I was ever really an ‘Anglican’, but just a ‘Catholic’ within the C of E, who finally (and gratefully) managed to find his way home . . . as, as I look about, have so many others as well.
So, looking back over the last two years, I am grateful that I found my way ‘home’; but have to recognize that I was never really an ‘Anglican’, but rather a ‘Catholic’ who may have been technically within the C of E, but probably had, in reality, little or nothing to do with it . . . which doesn’t stop me being grateful for what I did get from it from time to time, but also, at the same time, makes me acknowledge that I was probably never really a ‘member’ of it in any meaningful sense.
I’m home now, though; and for that I am utterly and totally grateful, and can only continue to thank God in my prayers for all the love and support I had before I arrived, and have had continuously ever since; and to offer my intercessions that all my friends who aren’t in Holy Mother Church yet will find their ways here sooner or later . . . and preferably sooner !
(And the picture of Our Lady of Walsingham is there simply because I love Mother, and owe her so much; and not because this statue is an ‘Anglican’ one . . . because it isn’t, actually : but that’s another story, which I’ll deal with another day !)