Mgr Barnes encourages those on the brink

Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews

St-Anne-Brockenhurst-image-3_mediumSt Anne’s, Brockenhurst, is one of the prettiest Catholic churches in our neighbourhood. Last evening I celebrated their Mass. They have a liturgy of the word and distribution of Holy Communion (what is curiously called a “eucharistic service”) on Wednesday, a Mass on Sunday evening – and that is all. If there were more priests available, it would be a thriving church. Many would love to have a daily Mass. There is a lively community in Brockenhurst, and there is great lay enthusiasm at St Anne’s. What is more they SING; not just hymns, but also the responses to the Sursum, the Sanctus, the Acclamation. Anglo-Catholics would feel very much at home there.

Many Anglican clergy friends of mine are waiting on the brink of joining the Ordinariate; they just want to get this particular job done, complete this child’s education, wait to see just what it will be like when there is a lady Bishop in the diocese, get another year or two onto their Pension provision.

I just fear they might leave it too long. There are so many disillusioned lay people in the Church of England, hoping that some Anglican priest might give them a lead. There are so many Catholic laity, waiting in the hope that their church will not be closed for the shortage of priests. There are Catholic Bishops and our Ordinary involved in a juggling match, trying to ensure the best use of a reducing number of clergy. And still Anglican clerics, entirely catholic at heart, hang on for another year or two, ‘until’. If only we could somehow let them see what a joy it is to be in Communion with the See of Peter. The welcome that awaits them is wonderful. Well the Lord is very patient.

Yesterday’s Mass readings were about Nicodemus. Poor timid Nicodemus, who could only approach Jesus by night (for he was a Leader of the Pharisees – what would people think?). Later, he dared speak up a little (“You can’t condemn a man without giving him a hearing” he said) – and he was berated for his speaking out. Eventually, he came into the light; and outdid the Apostles by joining with Joseph of Arimathea in taking care of the Body of Jesus and giving it decent burial, without bothering what his old friends might say.

I hope there are many who, from timid beginnings, are getting ready to declare themselves and join the Roman Catholic Church – whether through the Ordinariate, or by the circuitous route of offering for the diocesan priesthood. Whichever you decide, once the decision is made, you will not regret it.

(from Antique Richborough, 16 March 2015)

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19 Responses to Mgr Barnes encourages those on the brink

  1. EPMS says:

    I was reprimanded before for commenting on a similar post, but I cannot let this just pass by. I do not know for whom I feel sorrier: the Anglicans ministered to by someone whose heart is not in it but who is waiting until the school fees are paid or the pension kicks in to make a switch, or the Catholics who will finally inherit this man. Think of the married clergymen who “went to Rome” at the time of the Oxford Movement, men who had no hope of subsequent ordination, men whose families had paid large sums for the livings they were leaving behind. I wish we had a few of their blog posts.

  2. Scotrhodie says:

    I know I feel sorry for Anglicans “whose heart is not in it,” since I was one for more years than I care to admit. It was not until I was gone that I realized what an impossible position I had been in for years — or how pyschologically damaging the predicament was. But that clarity came only after leaving.

    Isn’t that usually the way with people everywhere? Change seems arduous and impossible until it has happened — then one sees it as inevitable.

    I would not be uncharitable about those who are wavering on the brink. Being unable to pay the school fees or afford any kind of home to retire to are genuinely frightening prospects, and not everyone can have the heroism of the martyrs.

    God uses the weak more than he does the strong. Think how Moses began, and where he ended.

  3. EPMS says:

    Yes, where did Moses end up? “Perhaps the bald old eagle/On gray Beth-Peor’s height, etc”. The fact that he never made it to the Promised Land is generally regarded as a judgement.

  4. Fr Gerard says:

    Yet, he flanked Jesus at the Transfiguration, having led the people to the Promised Land.
    The wonderful final sermon given by the redoubtable Bishop Louis Campese to his parishioners at the then Cathedral of the Incarnation, Orlando, spoke of Moses on the edge of the Promised Land. The fact that he remains Mr Campese as a member of the Ordinariate shows something of the disappointment of Moses, but also of the deep faith of the man. No more havering on the edge, the community needed to go home.

  5. EPMS says:

    I don’t think the original poster, or Scotrhodie for that matter, was talking about leading a flock anywhere. They were talking about leaving the flock to work for a different sheep farmer. Nothing wrong with that, but not a Moses analogy. He was only brought in as an example of someone who was initially reluctant to obey God’s command, but eventually came round. Of course, his reluctance was due to a sense of personal unworthiness and incapacity, not unwillingness to relocate and pull Gershom and Eliezar out of a posh school.

  6. Personally i find it sad that we seem to have gone back in time to the days when denominations competed for members rather than working together for the cause of the gospel as has happened for the last 30 or so years. Mgr Barnes should be ashamed for attempting to persuade Anglicans to join his church.

    • Fr. Barry,

      To be fair I don’t think that Mgr. Barnes is trying to persuade Anglicans to become Catholics. That is most decisively not what we are about as Ordinariate Catholics. His comments concern those who in their hearts have already made the difficult decision, but are only remaining in the Anglican Church for practical reasons. He is trying to reassure them.

      David Murphy

      P.S. There is, however, a group of Christians whom we would like to persuade or rather to convince to join the Ordinariate, and that is those who – like myself – were received into the Catholic Church in the past and who are enthused about the idea of bringing elements of their former denomination into the Catholic Church as a prophetic gesture. They are numerous and we need their support.

      • I’m sorry, I still find it offensive. In the UK 95% of people have no church, evangelise them, and do not recruit the priests called and trained by the Church of England. Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church should ask itself why there is a shortage of vocations in their church.

      • Fr. Barry,

        I’m sure you are aware that the Ordinariate was set up at the request of priests and people who were totally disillusioned with the Church of England. It was not a fishing expedition by the Catholic Church.

        The fact that nigh on a thousand priests and a significant number of laity have left the C of E in the last twenty years to join the Catholic Church says more about the desolate state of the C of E than about the shortage of vocations in the Catholic Church, which is something we naturally have to address and are attempting to do through the New Evangelisation, of which the Ordinariates are a part. That Ordinariate parishes across the world are showing considerable growth, especially the return of lapsed Catholics, is a sign of hope. And this includes a dynamic parish which you know well, where despite the sentiments which the priest in charge, sometimes vociferously, shares with Monsignor Barnes, he has not mounted an all-out campaign to poach loyal Anglicans.

      • I quite agree that it was set up as you say, and know the reasons behind it, but what we are now seeing are fishing expeditions by various Ordinariate clergy. What is never taken into account is the damage caused to the churches these people leave, nor the diminished witness to catholic truths within the Church of England. I would be very reluctant to co-operate with a Roman Catholic Church locally if it was seeking to persuade my members to convert.

      • I appreciate your feelings, Father Barry. But please believe that I for one find fishing expeditions, if there are any, totally inappropriate and unacceptable. The problematic relationship between the Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox Churches should suffice to convince any Catholic that proselytisation cannot be our aim. If people join us because they find our worship attractive, because they recognise holiness in our communities or because they are seeking the authority of the See of Peter, that is another matter – that can only be positive.

        David Murphy

      • godfrey1099 says:

        1. “The problematic relationship between the Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox Churches should suffice to convince any Catholic that proselytisation cannot be our aim. ”
        Now, that, in turn, is what I find offensive. Mentioning the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the context of proselytism, considering the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church collaborated with lay authorities in not just ‘encouraging’ people to leave it (proselytism) but simply forcing them out and seeking UGCC extinction with brute force (in both 19th and 20th century), is really, really out of place.
        2. David, Catholic Church’ claims – by definition – have been, are and will remain ‘offensive’. Thus, simply repeating them and stating that thinking otherwise is a delusion (like Msgr Barnes has done) will always generate angry reactions.

  7. David, I agree with you. I am very happy when people decide to change denominations where they can find something that was lacking elsewhere. I can think of about 20 – 30 Ex Roman Catholics who have been members of the churches I serve, including my present Lay Reader. It is good that people worship where they feel most at home, but I would never use their presence as an excuse to try to persuade other Roman Catholics to leave their church.

    • godfrey1099 says:

      “I am very happy when people decide to change denominations where they can find something that was lacking elsewhere. (…) I would never (…) try to persuade other [Roman] Catholics to leave their church.”
      The problem is that for us there is much more to it than simply “changing denominations” or “your” vs. “our” Church. Catholic ecclesiology is in this respect ‘offensive’.
      That is why a lot of people who have come to full communion will not stop saying to those who they left behind that in this world they cannot reach full communion with Christ without coming into full communion with His visible Church (i.e. the Catholic Church).
      If you consider this ‘proselytism’, then we simply define the term differently. For me, ‘proselytism’ means only “unjust means (like manipulation) in persuading other people”, not “presenting arguments to leave their Church” in general.

  8. EPMS says:

    I would agree that this post and others we have seen are trolling for clergy, and there has been notable success, as Mr Murphy points out. Fishing for parishioners in CofE and other Anglican ponds, on the other hand, has not worked as well since the first intake; a few more gathered groups may have appeared but no groups leaving an Anglican parish for the Ordinariates have been reported for years, although a few have had their entry held up in the pipeline until more recently. When priests come, they come alone, and whether they end up in a position to maintain elements of the Anglican Patrimony seems very much a matter of geography and other practical considerations. This cannot have been the vision behind AC.

    • godfrey1099 says:

      1. Well, I’m not sure whether you’re talking about UK or all three Ordinariates.
      If the latter, St. Margaret’s seems like a new group from mostly one TEC parish, all right. And so did the community in Flushing.
      2. As for the UK, in terms of ‘progress’, the CofE is still behind other Anglican churches with the blessing of homosexual couples still in the pipeline. And according to David Porter, (Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation), once this issue is ‘resolved’, “there will be a fracture (…) at either end of the spectrum” (which even he estimates at 20%). So, we shall see what the future brings. The Ordinariate is an open-ended offer.

  9. EPMS says:

    We never heard whether the community in Flushing actually entered the Ordinariate, or the Church, for that matter. The group had about 50 people in it when Fr Contreras died last August. I would have thought their reception would have been newsworthy, had it occurred. They are not on the OCSP “Communities” page, in any event. As for St Margaret’s, Fr Sellers speaks of contacting former parishioners who have “left Anglicanism behind, or are searching”. Are you suggesting most of these people are currently attending St Cuthbert’s, Houston?

  10. EPMS says:

    Yes, the OLW attendance figures are very impressive. I imagine most of the 207 at Evensong were also counted at one of the masses.

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