The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Communion as sign of unity in faith

Fr. Phillips details some correspondence he's had with an Anglican pastor, and the question of intercommunion that came up.

"...that they all may be one..."

I had a brief exchange of emails with an Anglican clergyman. His parish is, I think, part of the American group that's in a pastoral relationship with some of the Anglicans in Africa. I don't really understand all the connections, and I don't know who's in communion with whom, but he's a very nice man and a cleric who plainly loves Christ.

He had expressed some interest in attending the information day on Anglicanorum coetibus that we're having here on December 12th, and he mentioned that he'd like to stop in and meet me sometime soon. I let him know I'd be delighted to see him, and we exchanged some possible dates and times. One of my suggestions was a time right after a weekday Mass which is attended by the students in our parish school. "In fact," I said, "maybe you'd like to come to the Mass, and we can meet right afterwards." That sounded like a great idea to him, and I thought we were set.

Then I got another email. "Am I ok for Holy Communion?"

I knew what he was asking, and I wondered why he would even ask. "Sadly, no," I wrote back, "I'm a man under orders, as I know you understand."

His response? Here's what he wrote: "This is one of the things that stands in the way of real unity—the RCC treats other Christians as though they aren’t really Christians—denying them the Body and the Blood...

Read Fr. Phillips' response, another good exposition of Catholic ecclesiology reflected in the Church's practice of Holy Communion, at his blog Atonement Online.

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