Anglo-Catholic Hui

Some of those present at the Anglo-Catholic Hui in Dunedin

A recent conference called by the new Anglican Bishop of Dunedin, Steven Benford, focused on mission and ministry. It was called an Anglo-Catholic Hui.

You can read about it here (link off this site).

I was asked to give an address about spirituality. My talk covered some of the themes that regulars here are familiar with: the lack of letting people (including our own community) know about Christian spirituality; our weakness in online mission and ministry; apophatic and cataphatic being complementary; theosis – growing into God.

But, in this post, I wanted to suggest (from my talk) 6 points for a new era.

In the nineteenth century, Anglo-Catholicism fought for six points:

  • altar candles,
  • Eucharistic vestments,
  • the eastward position (the priest at the altar with his back to the people, rather than standing at the North side of it),
  • wafer bread,
  • the mixed chalice (adding water to the wine),
  • and incense.

All except incense have been essentially “won”. Many (“catholic-minded”) would use leavened bread. And when it comes to the eastward position, most now prefer standing around the altar.

The battle for the centrality of the Eucharist has been “won”. The Lord’s own service for the Lord’s own people on the Lord’s own day.

There are still some battles:
Formation, training, and study are ongoing issues. As is reverence for the Eucharist, issues with ordination, the lectionary, the use of wine, and reservation. Furthermore, Catholic Anglicans can be some of the most congregational of all.

Whilst externals are not unimportant (internal catholic spirituality is expressed and nourished by externals), Anglo-Catholics can still be perceived as fussy and obsessive. A bigger warning: externals (the 6, or whatever number of points) do not make one catholic. There are those without a catholic theology or spirituality wearing chasubles, with candles on their table, adding water to the wine, and/or using wafers.

And we need to be honest: catholic spirituality is struggling within Anglicanism.

Catholic Anglicanism answers yearning for holistic, positive, spirituality; intelligent spirituality – where science and religion are NOT brought into conflict; where, for ethics, one does more than simply quote Bible verses, and with ethics that goes beyond the bedroom. Catholic Anglicanism has a social justice tradition so desperately needed in a world of climate change, poverty, and refugees.

So, here are 6 new points sketched out for 21st Century Anglo-Catholic spirituality, six dimensions/aspects of catholic spirituality for Anglicans. They are both characteristics and challenges:

1) Sacramental & incarnational
2) Orthodox – that includes reclaiming the word; Trinitarian – not individualistic
3) Disciplined – spiritual direction; confession; learning from great traditions of religious orders: Benedictine, Franciscan,…
4) Social justice – back to 19th century roots connected to Christian Socialism; poor; urban – now including environmental issues
5) Comfortable with mystery, ambiguity, non-literal, doubt, uncertainty, being wrong
6) Humour – parties (including Jesus’ example and teaching)

What do you think about those six points? Do you have different ones? A different list?

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