Saturday, October 24, 2009

"A Bridge Across the Tiber"

It was announced this week that there will soon be a way for Anglicans who so desire to achieve full communion with the Catholic Church. They would be able to preserve many of their traditions and operate in "Personal Ordinariates". This is welcome news for many faithful Anglicans who have grown disillusioned with the denomination's acceptance of homosexual marriage, contraception, and the like. It is welcome news to Catholics who will be enriched by the reverence, zeal, and traditions of former Anglicans. This is one of the most significant events in the quest for Christian unity since the Reformation. It forces no one to leave, but gives a home to those who have long felt estranged. As a Catholic, I wish to joyfully welcome home those brothers and sisters of mine who will come into the Church.
It is estimated that 12 bishops and 1,000 priests will enter the Church. It is hard to guess just how many lay people will join them, but the number is sure to be significant. The Church already has many former Anglican priests who now serve as married Catholic priests. I have known some of these priests and they are simply amazing. If all of the priests that will join the Church are like them, we are in for an incredible period in the Church.
The press will focus on the question of what this will do about the Church's rules on priestly celibacy. Indeed, a sudden influx of married priests will be significant, but I don't think that celibacy is likely to go anytime soon; the Church has long recognized the great benefits of priestly celibacy. Anyway, to focus on that issue is really missing the point of a reunion longed for for a very long time.
As for the future of the Anglican Communion, that remains to be seen. I would think that there will be two camps- traditionalists who are wary of a reunion with Rome, and liberals such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. The extreme liberals among the Anglicans seem to be steering away from everything for which the Church of England once stood. In my view, they are building on pillars of sand, and they will not be vital for very long. The others, I believe, will eventually join the Church when they see a mass movement towards it, or continue in a significantly smaller Anglican Communion. That's just my view.
The great hope, of course, is that this will facilitate unity with other denominations. I believe that some degree of reunion with the Orthodox churches is possible within our lifetimes, and although there is still a wide gap between Catholics and Protestants in terms of belief, those gaps are much more narrow as we have come to understand each other more and work together in the cultural battles of our day.
Converting to the Catholic Church is often referred to as "crossing the Tiber." Thanks to Pope Benedict, there is no longer a need to swim, because as Fr. Dwight Longecker puts it, the Holy Father has "built a bridge".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Founder of Life Teen Excommunicated

The founder of Life Teen, a youth "movement" within the Church, Fr. Dale Fushek was excommunicated. This may seem like old news to many of us, but as is the existence of my life I'm hearing this for the first time. This arouses in my mind many of the objections I have to the Life Teen program.

My Experiences As A Participant

During my high school years I attended a Life Teen group at a local parish. At the time I was more or less agnostic and mostly attended for the free food they offered after Mass. The Mass itself I must admit was not attractive to me at all. I was agnostic and even then thought it was ridiculous that at a sacred event, such as Holy Mass, there was rock style music played.

It was only thanks to another participant in the group befriending me that I regained my faith and began to grow in faith. Believe it or not the topics at the youth group were presented with such watered down quality that I found that the only reason I was there was to make friends.

My Experiences As A "Core Team" Member

After graduating from high school I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life so while attending the local junior college I assisted with the Life Teen program at the same parish as a member of the "core team." I was still growing in my faith and every now and then was granted the opportunity to share my faith with the teens.

Then came the day I attended Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I as a Roman Catholic saw no harm in what I was doing. I attended a Mass that was not only valid but was in Latin (well, except for the Homily) and not only did I attend but I thoroughly enjoyed it! My fellow "core team" members were not thrilled and banned me from speaking at "Life Nites." At the time I was scheduled to talk about the Mass and it was conveyed that my new found interest in the tradional Mass was a threat to the teens faith. After a while I had to resign my position on the "core team" because of the constant harrassment I was receiving regarding my occasional visit to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I was also labeled as a "traditionalist" and a possible threat to the teens.

The straw the ultimately broke the camel's back was when I was told in these words: "We shouldn't teach [the teens] about all this reverence and devotion because they won't get it. That and it's not that important."

In regards to Fr. Dale Fushek we must all pray for his soul. It is a shame that Life Teen as it exists does not cultivate any long lasting spiritual formation but only satisfies the emotions and passions and leaves the teens faith lives virtually empty and dry. However terrible it is I must say that the program is salvagable and we must pray for all who are involved and I think we ought to be especially cautious of it.

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