There has been much discussion of just what the "Anglican Patrimony" consists. Is it the beautiful tradition of hymnody, the choral tradition, and the Book of Common Prayer? Is it all the delightful English cultural traditions — Oxford and Cambridge and the country church, the crumbling, romantic monastic ruins, the magnificent cathedrals and "is there honey still for tea?" Just what is the Anglican Patrimony?
I would not like to dismiss all the things I've mentioned above — and as a hopeless Anglophile, I could add a list of many more. However, these things are not the only elements of the patrimony of Anglicanism. Part of the patrimony lies in the spirit and sincerity of the Reformers. It is true that they were the pawns of a wicked king. It is true that they fell into heresy and schism. It is true that the were sometimes unscrupulous and manipulative.
But there are some qualities there we can admire, and which remain part of the patrimony. They loved Christ and his Church. They loved the people of God and worked for the salvation of souls. They had an evangelical spirit. They were willing to risk all for Christ and his gospel. When people are divided by polemical words and ideas it is easy to forget the goodness and graces of 'the other side.' But Anglo-Catholics, if they are to embrace their Anglican Patrimony, must see that the good things they love within that patrimony have, as their starting point, these more indefinable qualities of Christian zeal, love of the Sacred Scriptures, love of the church, and love of truth. The martyrs on both sides of the conflict exhibited these traits.
If these qualities are at the heart of the Ordinariate, then it will succeed beyond everyone's wildest imaginings. It will become a dynamic and lively force of reconciliation and unity in Christ's Church. It will burgeon and spread throughout the whole of the Anglican world — bringing into unity Anglican brothers and sisters not only from the Anglo-Catholic wing of the church, but also from the Evangelical. It will bring in not only those Anglicans in the Western church, but Anglicans in the developing world.
As I attend the inaugural Mass of the Ordinary here in Houston this morning, this is my prayer — that Anglicans coming into full communion will not only bring to the Catholic Church their beautiful language, liturgy and music, that they will not only bring their prayer books and poetry books and high culture — but that with all these things they will bring their love of Christ and his gospel — and a burning zeal to spread that gospel and renew Christ's Church with the fullness of their gifts of grace.
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