Ez. 2:2-5
2 Cor. 12:7-10
Mk. 6:1-6

Trinity V – July 8, 2012

“And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.’”

In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Well, we made it. In the door, that is. Now we have the really hard work ahead of us. But let’s not think about that for a second. Let’s reflect on where God has brought us. As most of you remember, we had our first Evensong on May 29, 2011 as the Anglican Use Society of Orange County. And on Tuesday of this past week, many of us were received into the Church and Bl. John Henry Newman Catholic Church became a reality. Here we are for our first Mass together as a new parish, and my first Mass as a Catholic priest! The trials and difficulties and sacrifices many of you have endured to get to this point today are still recent wounds, but on last Tuesday and with today’s Mass, the true incarnate reality of the goal you were working towards and all that you sacrificed to achieve it, is finally here. That goal, ultimately is Christ incarnate himself under the form of bread. You all have started the first wave, here in Southern California, of not only saving your own souls, but by bringing in, corporately, our Anglican patrimony into union with the Catholic Church, countless souls to come.

You personally have begun to reverse five hundred years of Christian separation. It begins small and grows steadily, but grow it shall! And because of your faith and willingness to step into the unknown, you made history where others have not. But those of us, who did step out, must build a home for the others to come join us when they are able.

Continuing to reflect on where we’ve come from, I’d like to ask for your prayers for the repose of the soul of a dear friend of mine, and a dear friend to the Anglican Use movement, The Rev. Canon Eugene Beau Davis. Most of you probably did not know Fr. Beau. He was a long time member of St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles who was ordained late in his life. He devoted much of his life as a physician’s assistant helping AIDS patients.

He led many of them to Christ before their deaths, most of whom became his godchildren. He was the Canon Liturgist for the Anglican Diocese of the West and worked behind the scenes on liturgical texts, which later became the basis for the first drafts of the Ordinariate liturgies, though he never lived to see the fruit of his labors used so productively. Fortunately, before he passed, he passed his work on to others and myself, who saw the obvious use of it for our purposes. Before he became terminally ill, he reconciled with the Church, becoming a modern-day Moses figure for those of us blessed to know him. A parishioner from St. Mary’s, Mr. Garry South, designed a beautiful Mass set in Fr. Beau’s memory, which will be used here for our more solemn festivals, and Msgr. Steenson blessed it for us.

The point I’d like to make is that we should never forget our past, where we’ve come from, and who made this possible. People like Father Jack Barker, Father Christopher Phillips, Father James Moore, who are still alive to see the fruits of their early endeavors thirty years ago come alive more fully than they could have ever imagined! Father Moore, the founding priest of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, never could have imagined that his small group of fifteen people would build the future Principal Church of a nation-wide diocese specifically for the Anglican Use! Father Phillips could never have imagined that he and his eighteen parishioners (including his wife and children) would compose the seeds of the largest Anglican Use parish!

Father Barker, who was at our reception on Tuesday, never imagined that he’d live to retire from the Diocese of San Bernadino and be able to once again celebrate the Anglican Use liturgy in the Catholic Church to help the Ordinariate in California! And the same goes for us. Who knows our future, but God. Many of us have lost dear friends and connections with family members because of our choice to come into full communion with the See of Peter. We know it was the right thing to do, have tried to tell others about it, but for various reasons, it not only did not convince them, but they cast us out. And that is what happened to our Lord as well, especially in today’s Gospel lesson.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.’”

Our Lord’s words also bring to mind the parable of the sower. If you recall, the seeds were spread around on different types of soil that brought about different results. But we are to spread them everywhere, nonetheless. God is the harvester and one never knows which seeds will bring forth a good harvest. And this is what we all, myself included, need to keep in mind for the future, as well as reflecting on the past. The term “New Evangelism” has been tossed about, and myself, Msgr. Steenson, and others have used it with regards to the Ordinariate.

The term basically refers to ways in which Catholics are called to creatively think of new ways to reach out to separated Christians and non-Christians to fulfill the Great Commission. We know, and must effectively communicate to them, that unity of Christians and unity with Christ (what our Evangelical friends often call “being saved”) are two sides of the same coin. This was the genius of the Ordinariate project. And the particular mission we have as Anglo-Catholics in full communion with the Church is to perpetuate our best, and shed our worst. Our best being that we are able to present the Catholic faith (which is the Gospel) in a non-threatening, familiar, and attractive manner to others.

People doing this intentionally (always trying to attract converts) and using our particular English ethos, is what made Anglo-Catholicism work so well, and is ultimately what converted the hearts and minds of so many to the Roman Catholic Church. Anglo-Catholicism, at its core, has always been an English-flavored Catholicism that reaches out to save others, and us. The liturgy has thus served two purposes: to worship God with the best that we have and become holy by virtue, and to attract non-Catholics and the fallen away back to the throne of God. Anglo-Catholic mission work quite literally transformed individuals and their surrounding neighborhoods. But it was when complacency set in, that corruption and then collapse followed.

It is not a coincidence that the official Anglican-Catholic dialogues ended while Anglo-Catholicism collapsed. It is not a coincidence that when morality and doctrine changed, that Anglo-Catholics began to disappear. But it is also not a coincidence that when Anglicans began rediscovering Catholic beliefs, that mission work went beyond generational peaks of church attendance and planting congregations in the colonies; it started creating saints, cleaning up crime, fighting poverty, establishing schools and reviving the transcendent in the national consciousness. This is lasting evangelism informed by the Incarnation. This is our mission once again, but this time we are exhorted to do this by the Vicar of Christ. And that, my friends, will make all the difference!

In a short time, we look forward to having more received and confirmed to be a part of us. As we grow, my hope is for Bl. John’s to regularly participate in the mission of St. Vincent de Paul here in Orange County – in their work with the homeless in particular, and to creatively evangelize the Catholic faith to others in ways such as Theology on Tap, Ecumenical Evensongs, outdoor processions, Evangelistic Evangelium, and other ideas. But the main way we will fulfill our purpose is for you to invite your non-Catholic friends. It seems so basic, but relationships are what work. The success of the Ordinariate depends completely on people converting other people – in making the attractiveness of the truth, well, attractive to others. There’s no secret to it.

But it requires all of us to bring in others to the Church that is saving us. It will require each of us to shed any temptation of complacency because we know that the salvation of souls is on the line. And if we approach our new future with this attitude, we can join in with St. Paul from today’s Epistle lesson in the Lord also saying to us: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

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