I would like wish Geoffrey a pleasant holiday, and to thank him for his forthright comments on what I have written. I should also like to thank him for not travelling by the usual paths. I might surprise him, but Catholics are not blind to the follies of the past. It edifies no one to get into a ‘you too’ sort of game. Not a single one of us is responsible for what divides us; each of us can be responsible for taking stept to do something about it. I did. I joined the Catholic Church.
I did so not because I was blind to its faults. No one with any historical sense can be blind to them. I did so not because I thought its liturgy wonderful and ancient. It has an ancient liturgy which is wonderful, but for most of the time where I live it uses a form of service which is something of a penance. Do not mention modern hymns; do not mention what Jessica calls the ‘rugby scrums’ before communion. As for most homilies, again, do not in your charity, dwell on that either. But if, as I am convinced it is, this is the Church Christ founded, what is all of that set against Christ? Indeed, if I have to give up all the vain things that charmed me most for Him, then is that not just what I am called to do?
I am not unmindful of Geoffrey’s points about the ‘fatal itch’ for precision. I heard them often enough in Orthodoxy. Less often does one mention the fatal tendency to mystical obfuscation where the germs of heresy lie. There is a place for precision and for mysticism. We should not see them as antitheses.
Pope Francis rightly pointed out that it does not matter how many good works we do, if we do not do them in the name of Christ then we are no more than an NGO. There’s no room for equivocation there; precision is a good thing. I recall, as an Anglican, endless droning on about women priests, and the mental fog into which we used to descend kept everyone onside just long enough for one lot to realise they’d been fooled. Precision is a good thing at times.
Unlike Geoffrey, I do believe that Christ is present at the Eucharist; I believe that I receive Him there. As for Transubstantiation, I agree it is not a satisfactory explanation, but I agree with Geoffrey that there isn’t one, so why balk at this one? What matters is that we receive Him. We don’t do it in blackcurrent juice and crackers.
I agree with Geoffrey that humility is a good thing. It does not seem to me that any of the last four Popes have majored on lecturing to the rest of the world, although they have surely been lectured at. For all Jessica’s hopes and those of other ecumenists, I cannot see far enough ahead to see how unity could come. There are signs that Pope Francis may have some ideas. Well, he’s an older man and may have the optimism of the elderly.
For those of you who have not had a sufficiency of arguments on the Pope’s place, there is an excellent discussion here by Jessica’s friend, Joseph, and links to splendid material here on Servus Fidelis.
I have sought to set out the basis of the Papal claims and to ground them in Scripture and history, which is where they originate. Of course, for those who found their faith on their own personal experience, that might count for nothing; for myself, that is not so. I am like that Ethiopian St Philip encountered – unless someone explain it, how shall I know?