10/20/2009

Time to gather up the crumbs that fall from the table: there's food enough for everyone.

The news today of the impending Apostolic Constitution on a process for bringing into the Roman Catholic Church religious communities from within Anglicanism, complete with their peculiar practices, married clergy (but not bishops), and such, has been a downer.

This process is presented as part of the ecumenical hope for the reunion of Christians into one body, but it really is that hope made a dream, the Roman dream that all Christians might finally return to one church, the Roman Catholic Church. It is a dream of the past, not of the future. The ecumenical hope is not reunion with Rome, but reunion with one another in Christ. This thing is no part of it.

We are all dogs here. Those at the table were Jews, and if we were not so often anti-Semitic we would get it. In terms of the earliest table, we Gentiles get in because, like the dogs, even we get the crumbs that fall from the table. Our patron saint is the Syrophoenician woman who took Jesus on concerning this matter of just who got included in the circle.

We, like she, have no business being here asking for the miracle of healing, the miracle of the bread of life, we just ARE here. We, all of us, are so hungry for the bread of life that we will crawl over the bodies of the dead to get there. We will demand to be fed, even before the children are fed. We have no shame, no manners, no noble sentiments. We want life, and that abundantly. And we know that Jesus offers it.

The dogs are fighting over the scraps again. Rome has commandeered the table and has dropped some crumbs and we are all agog about the whole thing. Who gets the crumbs? How depressing! We forget that the Romans too are dogs, even if they seem to be dogs at table.

We have forgotten that we might do ecumenical work in a more, let us say, dogged fashion. From the perspective of Christendom, we are all beggars for life.

The depressing thing is, Anglicans have always regretted the break with Rome even when they were glad for what it otherwise allowed. If some of the dogs hadn't taken on airs, if they hadn't broken the backs of critical and inspired reformers, if they hadn't done a lock down on doctrine and development of the faith in the West, if, if... If at one juncture or another there had been a recognition of faithfulness (and faithlessness) on all parts, maybe the break could have been overcome. I would have rejoiced at some mutuality in an effort to move ecumenically, but no. Not this time.

This Apostolic Constitution (silly name) business is not about mutual recognition of faith or faithlessness. This is about some dogs throwing crumbs to other dogs and claiming table rights to do so.

Those who wish to eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table are free to do so. Just remember that no matter what the incumbant says, being Pope is not being master. Being Pope is like being head dog.

Amen.

30 comments:

  1. Actually, I would think that the Holy Father would agree with your master/top dog analogy. He knows whom he serves.


    trooper

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  2. The ecumenical hope is not reunion with Rome, but reunion with one another in Christ.¨

    I´m not going to jump through the RC hoop nor pander to any top dog...truth is that I have a lot of fleas to scratch before I deflee and I won´t be seeking a new master to lead me to a false pedigree!

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  3. Actually, I don't know why this news is a downer.

    Look, we are not Roman Catholics, and yet when someone leaves for another church, we cry about "Dividing the Body of Christ." What that says is that we actually(deep down, where we never have to look at it) believe we are the only real church.

    Nobody's dividing. They're moving to a different part of the Body, where they'll actually be of some use, and if they're not, they'll be out soon enough, especially under the Bavarian. The pope is not the RCC. If he is, it's no longer any sort of Christianity at all, so don't worry about they go there. Besides, others will come here.

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  4. Woof! woof!

    Great piece, Mark.

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  5. First cheer yourself up with this dog idea:
    http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/god-and-dog/1746
    & then you can be cheered or not by this:
    http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/end-of-anglican-communion/1756

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  6. Actually, I think the Anglican Communion may have to die in order to become a true communion again!

    The actual collapse of the AC is the only thing I see that will shake loose this utter disaster of an ABC and his co-conspirators - that is why I keep counselling TEC's withdrawal, especially now that there is this uncertainty; it's the only way we'll create a crisis big enough to dislodge Williams. With him gone, we may be able to rebuild the AC between provinces, rather than through Primates, who place their own sense of elevated ecclesial worth above the well-being of their provinces.

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  7. I'm not certain how this will affect us in our current state. Yes, Mr. Ratzinger has pulled a seeming coup, but how many people are we talking about? Since this whole ACNA, et al mess started, it hasn't amounted to a huge number of disaffected people. I flew back to Anglicanism after 23+ years in the Orthodox Church. If these people would like to taste the bitterness of absolute authority, let them go and feast on it.

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  8. Apparently, some dogs are holier than other dogs, and stand on the backs of those other dogs to reach the Table.

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  9. I'm with Mark Brunson. Moving to another bedroom in your parents' house is not the same as leaving home.

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  10. You really must be a depressing type of priest - all your posts are sour, critical and without the joy of salvation. Yes there are hard things happening in the world. But as a fellow priest in the Epsicopal church I exalt you to rejoice today that you are a sinner who has been saved by grace alone through the blood of Christ - what joy!!!

    AJM

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  11. Well said by the two Marks, Harris and Brunson.

    We Christians tend to forget that we were grafted onto the olive tree.

    The new process is not a reunion, but, like Mark Brunson, I don't believe that it is necessarily to be lamented, either. We'll see how it goes.

    The manner in which it was done is unfortunate, surely, and the attempt at cover-up by the ABC for being surprised by those he believed had different intentions is unfortunate.

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  12. MarkBrunson views this as Christians simply moving from one branch of the church to another. Most Christians would view it as Christians moving back into the Body/Church from those marooned in a former branch that has lost its way.
    George

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  13. Mark Brunson, as unhappy as I am with the ABC, I don't think TEC should withdraw from the AC. The relationships with other provinces are what make us Communion.

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  14. I have never quite understood why somebody would object to a church being as generous as possible to people who want to join it. Why is it a bad thing for the Pope to allow an Anglican Use to develop within the Latin Rite of the Church? The Pope isn't forcing anyone to join it. The Pope isn't even calling for anyone to join it. He is simply making it available, at the request of a group of Christians who once had been part of the Anglican Communion but who no longer were. Why is that a bad thing?

    If the Pope wishes to enrich the Latin Rite of the Church with the glorious liturgical patrimony of the Book of Common Prayer, why is that a bad thing?

    Anglicanism has enriched itself in recent years with a greater appreciation for the "Catholic" elements of liturgy and spirituality. Should the Pope object to such enrichment on the grounds that vestments and Palestrina "belong" to the Catholic Church? Or would a proper response be to rejoice at common riches discovered by fellow Christians on the way to Christ?

    Seriously, how does it diminish the Episcopal Church or the Church of England if provisions are made for people who no longer want to belong to those churches to find a home within the Catholic Church?

    I would note that the Episcopal Church has for a good long while provided a welcoming home for Catholics who, for whatever reason, decided that they could no longer remain within the Roman Catholic Church. Is that bad? Should the Episcopal Church, when confronted with Catholics who want to join the ECUSA, turn them away and say, "sorry, you can't gather crumbs here, you have to gather crumbs over there, preferrably in Latin?"

    So a few Anglicans who want to be Catholic will now do so, retaining a modified version of the Book of Common Prayer and a married clergy. How does this harm anyone? How is this a grand offense against ecumenism? How is this a bad thing?

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  15. Tiber Swimmer and Fast21/10/09 6:39 PM

    Pope as head dog, eh? What does that make your Bossess?

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  16. AJM -- Mark is anything but a depressing and sour priest lacking the 'joy of salvation.' He is not afraid to ask the questions and for that I am glad. Unlike many out there, he is one of the most non-anxious people I know. So please put aside your misperceptions of my friend and colleague.

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  17. Amazing that the ailing Episcopal Church can't inspire even 1/2 of its members to darken the door...and that there HAS NEVER BEEN A PLAN offered to address this reality on this blog or any other enlightened site. Just shots at those who don't agree with the wizened commentary or liberal cause du jour.

    We bleed members by the thousands and can't keep the ones that we have coming through the doors. That applies to Delaware and New Jersey, and EVERYWHERE else except South Carolina; the one and only diocese that is growing in members and God forbid that anyone take a lesson from them.

    ...and you said WHAT about Rome?

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  18. I'm sure they do, George.

    They're wrong.

    Have a good day, and see you in the New Jerusalem!

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  19. Mimi,

    Sorry, but the only way to get rid of Williams is to cause a crisis in which liberal and conservative both withdraw and remove any props the man may have. The only hope of saving (re-forming) the Anglican Communion is by getting rid of that incredible incompetent and his insane advisors - you do know, for instance, that one of the "learned men" who attacked APA for their stance on reparative therapy was the sole medical advisor to Canon "Listening Process" Groves on the issue of homosexuality? Lambeth is rotten to the core.

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  20. Allen,

    You're a clown with an old act.

    Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

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  21. Please don't accuse me of anti-semitism; this "we" nonsense is only applicable to monarchs and people who think they know better than everyone else, like clergy.
    About these membership switches, the image of rearranging deckchairs on the "Titanic" is a more accurate image than sheep-stealing, although you do have a revealing image of yourselves as unintelligent livestock.

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  22. The Church will be even purer-and that will help you celebrate your diversity by becoming ideologically homogeneous.
    Ok......

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  23. Inclusivity ends at homophobia, sexism, and racism. By definition, inclusivity cannot include those determined to exclude for completely arbitrary reasons. Sexual orientation, gender, and race are determined. Opinions regarding them are chosen.

    Inclusivity declares that all humanity is "proper matter" for the Sacrament, and that no one is "worthy" to receive it except through God's Grace.

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  24. Right on, Counterlight!

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  25. Libby Purves, the Times's exceedingly well-informed columnist, has quite a different take on this business.

    "Attack is the best form of defence. On the eve of another damning report on clerical abuse and cover-up in Ireland, that seems to be Pope Benedict’s tactic. His sudden invitation to Anglican defectors will certainly take the spotlight off a continuing child abuse scandal fed, for decades, by the masculine and intimidating structures of authority in the Catholic hierarchy."

    Purves's piece concludes "Anglicanism was founded on uneasy compromise, and this has, over centuries, made it kindly and even humble: a mixed salad of a faith. Catholicism is older, darker, strong raw meat. It may choke them."

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  26. Brad,

    What is your purpose in posting here? You don't believe in God, you have absolutely no understanding of what you're talking about when it comes to church matters, and you accomplish nothing.

    Just a pot-stirrer? Needing to convince yourself you're right? You convince no one else of anything, here.

    I suspect that you are merely an orthodite playing at being an agnostic/atheist/humanist or whatever you say you are under one of your numerous guises.

    Since you are incapable of grasping anything more complex than "That Bigger! That Better!" why don't you go find some far simpler forum to complain in. Robot fighting, perhaps? An "I-Don't-Like-Broccoli" forum, maybe?

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  27. Anonymous Allen said...

    Amazing that the ailing Episcopal Church can't inspire even 1/2 of its members to darken the door...and that there HAS NEVER BEEN A PLAN offered to address this reality on this blog or any other enlightened site. Just shots at those who don't agree with the wizened commentary or liberal cause du jour.

    We bleed members by the thousands and can't keep the ones that we have coming through the doors. That applies to Delaware and New Jersey, and EVERYWHERE else except South Carolina; the one and only diocese that is growing in members and God forbid that anyone take a lesson from them.

    ...and you said WHAT about Rome?


    Ummm... The Roman Church can't bring in more 10% of its membership in most of Europe, Canada, much of South America, Australia and New Zealand and not much more than 30% in the US (a number that is falling very quickly BTW). The second largest religious denomination in the U.S. nowadays are lapsed Catholics.

    Declining membership is occurring in BOTH liberal and conservative churches. Wake up and smell the java.

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  28. "The ROMAN church"-Apostolicae Curae on the brain.
    Absolutely correct: Churches are declining, unless they're tied to ethnicity/race, all over the developing world, even the US South. Kinda makes you wonder why people bother with fighting over who gets which stateroom on the "Titanic", but then religion is all about the irrational pursuit of pointless, unverifiable ends.

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  29. "...but then religion is all about the irrational pursuit of pointless, unverifiable ends."

    ...sorta like Brad Evans, our resident misanthrope looking for attention and a free ride on everyone else's blog.

    He's been booted off Madpriest's, Mimi's, and mine. I wonder how long before he wears out his welcome here.

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  30. When he does, Counterlight, he'll simply come back under a new name, like he always does.

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