Saturday, 18 October 2008

What can I give Him?

As Agnes has said, we had a very jolly time at the Bloggers' Dinner and I'd like to add my thanks too!

There have been some interesting discussions of the Forward in Faith National Assembly online which are well-worth reading. As I listened to the proceedings this time last week, I felt particularly drawn to the closing words of Christina Rossetti’s Christmas poem ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’:

'What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,'

Throughout the National Assembly I listened attentively to a range of people who are working to find a solution, or possible way forward in these difficult times. The Assembly heard from young Seminarians, priests, members of the Catholic Group on General Synod and others, all of whom are playing their part in a practical and useful sense. As the day wore on, I began to ask myself ‘what can I do?’. As a laywoman with no particularly remarkable contacts, no friends in high places, I felt an overwhelming desire to contribute something personally, but wondered what exactly I could practically and usefully do were I to respond to that impulse. I wonder how many people have asked themselves that question. I wonder how many have found a tenable answer.

Well, fortunately enough during the course of the proceedings I got some answers. There were a variety of speeches, questions and responses from which I have gleaned four key areas in which the laity could usefully contribute to the current situation.

1. The first is something which the Chairman of the Catholic Group on General Synod implored us to do: if you feel able to, stand for election to the General Synod in 2010. It is possible to change the balance in the Synod, but only if there are members of the laity who are willing to put themselves forward.

2. Be an evangelist: talk to people who don’t necessarily share our view or even understand our position. If you’re not fully informed, get informed. Know and explain why, as the response to the psalm goes ‘a code of practice will not do’ and why, as in the revised version, ‘only jurisdiction will do’.

3. As Emma Forward reminded us, a huge problem is the perception of Forward in Faith amongst those who aren’t members. I think people's view of Anglo-Catholicism is similarly skewed. There is no sense of the earthy sincerity of faith and desire to serve which is, I would argue, at the heart of Angl0-Catholicism. It is all too easy for others to see us as preoccupied with such weighty questions as who bows when, who wears what, and (more often!) who doesn't. By word and example this view can be altered.

4. Pray, fervently, trusting in Our Lord to carry us through this difficult time. As St. John of the Cross reminds us, “In tribulation immediately draw near to God with confidence, and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction.” I find I can't argue with that.

To end where I started, Rossetti's poem closes with the offer of a glorious and inspiring opportunity:
'Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.'
From the depths of our hearts, filled with the love of Christ, through prayer, fellowship, dialogue, teaching - all of which are at the very core of our faith - you and I, as members of the laity, can play our part. And so we must, for Truth's sake.


  1. Well said, many thanks for this post, I feel truly humbled and joyful and so give thanks to God for you.
    I will keep you in my prayers.

  2. Father Ed Tomlinson18 October 2008 at 19:58

    I too felt humbled reading this- a beautiful response. Thank you and God bless!

  3. This well thought out and honest offering is exactly what makes the WG such a distinctive and extraordinary blog. Please keep up the quality of contribution to our common and ongoing journey.