So having talked about the Anglican Ordinariate and the sorry state of the Anglican communion. I feel I should also mention something that Fr Ray pointed out on his blog.
The high number of Anglican converts who serve the Altar.
Part of the reason I think is quite simply one of catechesis, converts, especially those desperately seeking the Church for its concrete theology, are often some of the few people who have actually been given any proper formation, often by themselves. Converts have to slog their way through all the beliefs of the Church, one by one, in quite a grueling process of conversion that takes a great deal of resolve.
Anglicans often arrive into the Catholic church already with a solid belief in transubstantiation and convert because they want their Church to reflect that fundamental Christian belief.
The prerequisite RCIA course, in my opinion, is almost totally irrelevant and redundant for Anglicans, who are converting precisely because they already believe the contents of that course, and could be far better catechised by being instructed in more peculiarly Catholic devotions, the stuff it seems everyone should know, so nobody ever teaches it to anyone…
What is more worrying for Anglican Converts is the Anglicanisation of the Roman Catholic Church in England… things like the Alpha Course being held in Catholic Church’s. That course is not Catholic, yes it does cover fundamentals, but in a subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) non Catholic way. It has no place in a Catholic Church.
Catholic priests spend so long in a seminary that any priest worth his salt should be able to put together a better course for Christian formation than the Alpha Course, given half an hour and a Catechism.
In a more abstract sense, the biggest tragedy of the reformation was the splintering of Christian communities. We have been spread thin, separated into small groups whose power of witness is thus reduced. What is worse is that people through the logic of having a choice of Christian community to make, will obviously choose the community that best appeals to their personality. Christianity has become consumerist, people choose according to taste.
Evangelical chuch’s don’t spend their Sundays in mass, so they can be more evangelical. They are so much better at converting the average Joe off the street as a result (that and there always seem to be the moral undercurrent that if you aren’t out street preaching you are somehow failing as a Christian). Perhaps they also attract more people whose vocation has a more evangelical nature? That is perhaps the biggest nightmare, that people with particular vocations are being compartmentalised into separate denominations unable to serve each other and the Church as a whole.
People only tend to convert from evangelical Church’s to the Catholic Church when they are looking for Christianity with a little more substance to it. Imagine what it would be like if everyone was in one Church and all brought their different gifts to serve that one Church, just imagine what that Church would be like? it would be incredible! Perhaps that is another reason, in addition to miracles and the blood of martyrs, why the early Church spread so quickly???
The Vatican, and the Pope have just set up a department for the re-evangelisation, of the world. Perhaps it could think of ways which can appeal to people particularly the laity who do have that evangelical gifting and vocation to be encouraged to use those gifts within the context of Roman Catholicism. The Laity have to be the ones doing the work of evangelisation, but we need to be equipped to do it, we need to know the faith intimately if we are to pass it on.
What Evangelicals and indeed a lot of Catholics don’t understand is that there are a lot of things that evangelicals do that are all good in and of themselves. Praying over people, house prayer groups, worshiping God enthusiastically, bible study, and if they were done in addition to going to Mass would be a wonderful addition to the faith and there is no reason why the shouldn’t be used in a Catholic context.
Having said that, personally modern “worship music” makes me want to reach for the sick bucket, I find it to be emotionally manipulative and theologically bankrupt, but if evangelical converts want to have worship sessions in addition to Mass I see no reason why not, so long as I be forewarned so that I can run to the hills. 😀