I went for a run last night in the rain. It was only my second real run since my high school cross-country days (and boy am I out of shape!). Since the spider episode I’m much more committed to improving my fitness so with that behind me and the good example of M before me, I’m out pounding the pavement again.
It gives me space, an open place, to think as I run.
Last night my mind kept drifting back to the English decision on women bishops and to this post on the matter by Third Mill Catholic. If not accepting women bishops and clergy is the distinguishing mark of catholicism, then Young Fogey and others are right—it is done within Anglicanism, now and forever. If we’re honest, it was a done deal back in the ’90s but the implications are only now moving towards their inevitable conclusion.
If women can be priests, then there is no logical reason why they cannot be bishops. If they can be bishops, there is no reason why they cannot be archbishops. If they can be archbishops than it is only a matter of time before one sits upon the throne of the See of Canterbury.
In England, the Anglo-Catholics who remain will be further indulging themselves in a game of “let’s pretend”. In America, the “true” catholics are acting like congregationalists and joining themselves to to a Protestant province or hooking their hopes to an evangelical organization who won’t hesitate to turn on them once it’s convenient. (If liberals who like to play dress-up and swing-the-censer without an embrace of catholic theology are AffCats, we’ll shortly need to come up with a new word for evangelicals with similar tastes.)
I suppose in the midst of all of this, I’ll just keep on being what I am: a faux catholic. I’m resigned to never meriting being a real one as I’m not against the right things. I’ve irrevocably sold-out the faith by maintaining the silly notion that what grounds and guides Christian morals is the practice and cultivation of virtue, rather than ticking boxes on vice lists. I’ve betrayed Christianity in my belief that the power of the Holy Spirit and the firm promises of Christ are efficacious even without the presence of a penis. I’ll just keep understanding scripture in light of my three creeds and seven councils. I’ll keep on reading the Fathers.
But the readings from Matthew we’ve been moving through in the Office sound the louder note: it’s not about our words or the faith that we profess. It’s not even about our deeds of power. It won’t matter at the end of the Day what back-stabbing little faction we’re part of—the key is our fruits.
When we look at others do we strive to see Christ; when Christ looks at us, does he recognize himself?
Another thing rolling around on my run was words I’d read on the bus ride home from work:
Since all of our Lord’s sacred utterances contain commandments, why does he say about love as if it were a special commandment: This is my commandment, that you love one another? It is because every commandment is about love, and they all add up to one commandment because whatever is commanded is founded on love alone. As a tree’s many branches come from one root, so do many virtues come forth from love alone. The branch which is our good works has no sap unless it remains attached to the root of love. Our Lord’s commandments are then both many and one: many through the variety of the works, one in their root which is love. He himself instructs us to love our friends in him, and our enemies for his sake. That person truly possesses love who loves his friend in God and his enemy for God’s sake. (Gregory the Great, Hom. 27)
The love of which Gregory speaks is not some gooey emotion, a set of excuses for bad behavior,or a label to cover over a different agenda. It’s a way of life. It’s a fundamental orientation. It’s a burning engine that impels and compels us to do even that which we do not wish to do. And from where I sit it seems in precious short supply. God knows I lack it in spades, but that seems to be not uncommon around our Communion either.
Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not calling for an end to Christian factionalism. After all, it has a long proud history: every single writing in the New Testament mentions it at one point or another. It’s more traditional than Tradition itself!
What I do wish is that we have an awareness: every time we pull out the long knives—whatever we achieve—-we always carve away a piece of ourselves in the process…