Yesterday, the last Sunday after Pentecost (or Christ the King, if you're a Novus Ordo Catholic), I had the opportunity to spend the day with some very good friends of mine and a very new friend of mine. I would like to elaborate, because this is a perfect example of what we, as Catholics, should be doing with regard to the inherently Catholic idea of Religious Tolerance.
One thing before I start; I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating:
1. Ecuemnism = Religious conversion of the Orthodox
2. Evangelization = Religious conversion of the non-Christian
3. Catechesis = Religious education and reversion/conversion of the Protestant
This is a story about catechesis and how being Catholic is enough.
I had the chance yesterday to go to Holy Mass in Des Moines and assist at the TLM. Once Holy Mass was complete, my friends the Nandell's and I made our way over to St. Aidan's Anglican Church. There we met (the Nandell's for the first time) Fr. Chori (pronounced Cory) Jonathin Seraiah (pronounced Ser-I-ah) and his family. They truly are a wonderful family and his conversion story is amazing. I would have you read his blog, The Maccabean to get a good idea of his views...
As we met at St. Aidan's we find their "Mass" finishing up. The sanctuary is small and the Church is tiny, but the Mass, from all intents and purposes looks Catholic. Father is saying the post communion, and making the final blessings as Dave, Heather, the boys and I are walking in. Immediately both boys get wide eyed, if only for a moment and Harrison says something to his mom about how cool it looks. That is a good sign.
We go downstairs and the conversation as the gets going I can see my two sets of friends starting to become comfortable and when Fr. Seraiah makes a comment about a particularly sensitive subject about Catholic teaching, I literally see all of the apprehension wash away from the room. The Catholics and the Anglicans are getting along.
We move to the Seraiah's home for more conversation and a meal (which was absolutely fantastic) and the conversation continues to be inquisitive, because David and Father are still getting to know one another. (I should mention that the two wives are having their own conversation in the kitchen and the children are outside and downstairs playing). As the conversation continues, I sit back and listen to how Catholic Father Seraiah is and I listen and watch David get more and more comfortable. Bottom line, a new friendship is born and I think that it is a good thing.
We start comparing notes on the similarities of the two worship services and the inherently Catholic nature of that which isn't Catholic, yet. With the exception of roughly three prayers and the omission of one prayer, the Masses are exactly the same. Caveat: I am speaking of the TLM, not the Novus Ordo. The biggest difference, with the one glaring issue (validity), is that the TLM is in Latin and the American Missal (Anglican) is in English. Not modern English, but a very High Elizabethan English. So, it isn't exactly the vernacular, but it is still intelligible. If one is not used to hearing it or reading it, it can be difficult to hear, because the modern person is not used to the styling. And that is a good thing. On another note, there is nothing prohibiting Mass in Latin, they just normally don't do it.
Back to the conversation though...as we progress through the meal, come to find that the oldest daughter is as astute about religion as anyone. She has a very traditional sense about her and it is very developed. I would like to commend her for not abandon the importance of religion...there is certainly something refreshing in seeing what she had to say. It wasn't much (for she is a child and she knew that she should pick her words carefully, not that she shouldn't be heard or speak, she certainly has that right), but it was very good to see a young person who understands the nature of religion.
As the time together grew short and as the friendship became clear, the reality sunk in, St. Aidan's is coming into the Catholic Church. Fr. Seraiah and his family are converting. Fr. Seraiah and his parish are converting. St. Aidan's, in Des Moines, is going to become part of the new Anglican Ordinariate, which will be erected on January 1. There are a number of steps that must be followed, and the time frame on these steps will become exposed in the next few weeks. The erection of the Ordinariate must happen first and there is a date! That is exciting. Fr. Seriah will become a Catholic priest. St. Aidan's will become a Catholic Ordinariate parish.
We are on the cusp of something that has not happened in a millennium. We will see an entire ecclesial communion become Catholic. This is the reason for understanding Religious Tolerance. We simply cannot, as Catholics, live and let live. If salvation is to be found only in the Catholic Church, then we must look at this process as necessary. We have a privilege in Des Moines, that we can observe and participate in this first hand. It is through a proper understanding of Religious Tolerance that the leaders of the Anglicans who are coming into the Church made their decision and it is through a proper understanding of Religious Tolerance that the Holy Father initiated this.
As Fr. Seraiah is quick to point out, they already feel Catholic, now they just need to be received. That isn't an ecumenical view, that isn't an evangelical view. That is the view of a group of people who think they are Catholic and simply need to be catechized. That is a catechetical view.
May all of this happen quickly. Please pray for the parish of St. Aidan's. Please pray for Fr. Chori Jonathin Seraiah. Please pray for his family. Please pray that this unifying action is a concrete example for other ecclesial communions.
It is amazing that the bounds love God has for his creation is unlimited. Welcome home, St. Aidan's, welcome home Fr. Seraiah. Yesterday (11/20/2011) was a wonderful day!