Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Yesterday I stopped in my local Roman Catholic parish. They open their sanctuary during the day for quiet meditation and have an afternoon each week dedicated to silent prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament called Adoration. I had come from a meeting and had on my clerics so everyone who saw me would have known 'I didn't belong there.' But no one seemed to pay attention and let me just sit before God in a 'comfort zone' of prayer. And in a sense I did belong. And while my personal theology no longer supports the liturgical practice of Adoration and Benediction, the centering quiet is still like mashed potatoes and gravy, or macaroni and cheese for my soul. Christ is there and so am I and that is enough.
Coming from the experience of being a vowed religious, of having lived in religious community and entered into the sacramentality that that life implies, I always found that arch Anglo-Catholic experience of the Episcopal Church very disorienting. All the outward signs of that Catholicism were there, but there was something missing in the inward and spiritual grace. I am not saying that all Anglo-
This 'Catholic Wanna Be' phenomenon I most often saw coupled with a political neo-conservative mind. I always had the impression that these 'plastic catholics' were playing church rather than being Church. They could never have been Roman Catholics because their understanding of obedience, the primary virtue of the RCC, was not consistent enough to satisfy the RC hierarchy. They knew all the right dance steps but they didn't feel the beat. It was the Tea Party at prayer, rather than the spiritual living out of faithfulness.
The almost 4O years' experience of the 1979 BCP has healed some of the wounds of the Anglo-Catholic/Low Church split that was threatening the Episcopal Church following WWII but it has done nothing for the 'plastic catholics' who find solace in 'doing church right' rather than living into the transformative life of the liturgy. The difference can be readily experienced between the real Anglo-Catholicism and the imitation. The bogus conveys feelings of 'coldness' and I hear descriptions of the 'meanness of spirit' and the 'rigidity' that has never been part of any form of any authentic catholicism that I have known.