The Times appears to persist in viewing the Apostolic Constitution as an act of papal aggression- something clearly has them worried. In today's issue there was an obvious effort to dissuade or discourage Anglicans attracted to the Catholic Church. It was mentioned how many converted in the 90s following the vote on women priests and then the numbers who after a while returned to the C of E. The story was told of a vicar who converted but then found the Catholic Church unwelcoming. He was quoted as saying that he went to Mass on Sunday but whereas in the Church of England there is an expectation that someone will talk to you in the Catholic Church "not a priest, not a man in the congregation, no one " spoke to him. As a fully mobile roaming Catholic I find that hard to believe. Getting out unnoticed after Sunday Mass these days is fraught with difficulty because more often than not one finds oneself blocked on one side by the celebrant and on the other by the retiring collection or someone trying to get one to sign a petition or add one's name to a list of volunteers. A few months ago, while visiting friends in the West Country, I thought I'd escape such encumbrances at the end of mass by making straight for the door bang on the dismissal only to find that the launch of that parishes annual raffle had put a string of volunteers across the path just outside. Well I might be a tight-fisted old skinflint in a hurry but they were so pleasant a bunch of people that I couldn't but stop, buy some tickets and engage in the inevitable chat. Inside, of course, things are different. Perhaps he hadn't noticed that in the church building we Catholics have someone more engaging than our neighbour.
I suppose we have different expectations. I have noticed when staying with non-catholic friends and returning from Mass how they will ask such questions as "Was it a nice service?" How to answer? How indeed should one answer when the music was of stomach turning ghastliness, the readings were delivered without understanding, the sermon was ill-prepared, there were children misbehaving and so on? Of course I politely answer "Yes, thank you." There is,however, a part of me that wants to say, "Nice? NICE? It was terrible, dreadful, frightful, awful, ghastly...but the most sublime thing this side of Heaven."
And I couldn't do without it.
Correcting Fr James Martin SJ - Fr James Martin SJ is a very popular Catholic priest who is an activist for gay liberation. He has written a book called Building a Bridge–which advocates ...
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