So then, I just went to an LGBT Christian act of worship, followed by the obligatory LGBT act of going down the pub, which seems to be the same order of service as straight people, funny that. Anyway, it was, as usual wonderful. The Anglican ‘liturgy’ was as to be expected, rather excruciating, apart from the communion, which to be honest was almost identical to the Catholic communion, except there being no transubstantiation, which tells you something about the protestantisation of the Catholic Church.
There was a cradle Catholic there who felt comfortable receiving communion, but that isn’t for me. I want the real deal, I accept no substitutes when it comes to Jesus. I’m sure that is her view too, but that as she sees it she has a broader mind. I certainly believe that all Christian fellowship is blessed by the presence of God, but sacraments are very specific things, they give me reassurance that it doesn’t matter what the people around me believe, I will be ministered to by God.
I caught myself thinking, as the Anglican priest said the words of consecration (identically to the Catholic Mass) well if he believes in transubstantiation could I receive communion? But no, that’s why I left the Anglican Church, there are too many questions, too much woolly theology, muddling through. I need certainty. I need to know that it doesn’t matter what is going on in my head, that Jesus is 100% guaranteed to be present in the blessed sacrament, whether or not the priestly orders are valid is a thought, but actually not the highest of importance to me because the priestly orders of the C of E are only really invalid because the Anglican Church historically rejected the sacramental understanding of the priesthood and the mass.
We were in a URC church building, and to be honest it looked more like a courtroom than a Church, with a communion table rather than an altar. Because there is so much difference between the two. The effort that is gone to to stipulate that it is a table not an altar is both hilarious and tragic. Seems to me they want their religion without eating it. *boom*
Anglo Catholics have rediscovered the belief in transubstantiation, but again this is a belief that has never gained official backing from the C of E, and when it comes to sacraments nobody should compromise. Jesus said people must eat his body and drink his blood and everyone bar the disciples abandoned him, and when Jesus asked why they wouldn’t leave Peter said “to whom shall we go? we know you have the words of eternal life”. Yes indeed.
Then again, interestingly, the validity of the Mass does depend on the belief of the priest, he does have to believe in transubstantiation to confect a sacrament, which I don’t think all people realise. I’ve seen some dodgy Catholic priests in my time but only one I’d go so far to say I was genuinely worried about their belief in the Eucharist. In fact I once heard the worst sermon of my entire life, but then when the priest moved to the Mass, everything changed, his entire demeanor changed, I knew he believed. Whereas I’ve seen a witty stand up routine of a sermon, followed by a not so witty stand up routine of a communion rite and I decided not to receive communion, the disrespect shown to the blessed sacrament was too much.
As Catholics we have a religion, we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) make it up as we go along. Catholic priests get on with it, and a certain amount of ad lib, is sometimes required, but outside of the Mass. I can honestly say the best priests to altar serve for are the ones who follow the book, because you know exactly what you are about to be doing. There is a reason why things are, as they are. There is a real beauty. We may complain about some of the ‘translations’ but often the beauty and important part is taking the ego of the priest out of things, which I think is a massive relief to any priests who have an understanding of humility. It is Christ who works the sacrament through them, they have to do what the book says because who are they to presume Christ will work through their ego?
Anyway, I get this way every time I go to a protestant service really. Its interesting that I may be an LGBT Christian, but I will hopefully always be a traditionalist Catholic. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive in the least.