St Anne's 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.
|Sanctuary seen from the Lady Chapel |
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.
|Lady Altar at St Anne's Brockenhurst|
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 he 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.
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