Perhaps you’ve assumed that the Women’s Guild has lost interest. Perhaps you’ve feared that we have flitted to blogging pastures new. Or, given the recent announcement from Rome, perhaps you’ve assumed that we’ve gathered up our books, embroidery and hymnals and boarded the luxury liner for new, white-and-gold-tinted waters. Well, not so! After a few months during which real-life has caught up with us all, there is now a little more time to reflect and to offer our own take on ‘life, faith and how best to serve’.
Now, I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: the WG prides itself on offering something different in the blogging community. We do not concern ourselves (in this forum at least) with church politics but rather with the day to day life as Christians – be it RC or AC. At the Forward in Faith National Assembly yesterday Father Christopher Kinch spoke movingly about his deep despondency after the Synod vote last July, but emphasised how he returned to his parish and got on with his priestly tasks. This goes for us among laity too – there’s plenty of work to be doing.
Of course, the initial euphoria of His Holiness’s generous – more than generous – offer to Anglicans wishing to be reunited corporately with the Holy See is right and proper. We should celebrate this momentous occasion, indeed not to do so suggests a cynicism and anti-Papalism – in fact, an anti-Catholicism which is certainly worrying amongst those who would appeal in all other matters to the Universal Church. And yet we must also pray: for, although I cannot help but feel that finally we have been offered a Code of Practice looks as if it will do, there are legitimate concerns. We have to wait and see what this will mean in practice. And, crucially, we need to educate those who do not really understand it. There are also serious practical considerations for all involved: fears for loss of livelihood, loss of home, loss of church buildings, loss of the familiar, loss of potential. There will be sacrifice on all sides. Yet how else can we be Christians, in the proper sense, without sacrifice? How can we claim to follow Christ if we do not accept his offer to take up our own cross and live?
The angel tells Our Lady ‘do not be afraid, Mary’ and Mary says ‘be it unto me according to thy word’. So, like Mary, we must sing hymns of praise, thanking God for this new hope, that that which we thought impossible, extremely unlikely at best, is now a real prospect. But also, as Rosemary Parslow reminded us at the FIF National Assembly, we must become, now more than ever, like Our Lady pondering all these things in our hearts. And we, the little flock, must pray: to Our Lady and to the Saints for their intercession. We must pray honestly and fervently, because, as I believe the events of this week have shown quite clearly, prayer can be and will be answered.
Rejoice, O Virgin unsurpassed,
In whom our ransom was begun,
For all your loving children pray
To Christ, our Saviour, and your Son.