8 July 2012

Glad to be an Anglican - and why I can never be Roman

If you're not into theology, you might want to skip this post, because I suspect it might get a bit technical.

There are days when I am deeply grateful that I am an Anglican, and today was one such day. I went out to the monastery and was requested not to take communion because I am Anglican, and apparently it is against Roman Canon Law for an Anglican to receive communion in a RC church unless in case of dire need. This is kind of funny because I have received communion many times in RC churches - with the full knowledge of the priest that I am Anglican too. In fact, I can remember several times specifically asking the priest before the service if it was okay and them saying that they had no problem with it.

However, it also makes me quite cross. The table belongs to God, and in Anglican churches the communion table is open to any baptised person for whom it is meaningful. RCs often won't take communion in an Anglican church because they have doubts about its "validity" - meaning that they don't accept the ordination of our priests as canonical/catholic (catholic in the sense of universal). The crazy thing about that is when the Anglicans broke from Rome in the Reformation, all of the priests in it had already been ordained by Rome, so how they can say that we don't have valid orders I don't know! The apostolic succession was handed on from those first reformation bishops.... I looked into the canon law this evening and it appears that certain churches are always allowed to take communion in a RC church - including Eastern Orthodox - which strikes me as completely strange because the Eastern and Western churches split in 1054 in the Great Schism.

I was also quite cross because I am vowed as a Benedictine, exactly the same as the nuns in the monastery, and the sacrament is incredibly important to me. To sit in the church knowing that I couldn't take the sacrament was incredibly hard. I debated for a while whether I would request the blessing in place of the sacrament and in the end I did, but the whole service was spoilt for me.

If you have persevered to this point, you may be wondering why I am glad I'm Anglican when today it meant that I couldn't have communion. I'm glad I'm Anglican because we don't put barriers in front of God's table. It is God's table. If it is meaningful for you, you are welcome to gather with us. If you choose not to take the sacrament, that is your decision, but if you want to, we will never stop you. We won't stop children taking the sacrament as long as it is meaningful for them and they understand it (as much as they are able at their age). It's God's table, and who are we to stop people coming to it?


Anonymous said...

Had to reply here, I too am Anglican, and have explored Eastern Orthodoxy for some time now. Many sundays, attended, but denied Communion because "you're not Orthodox yet; you have to have training and time to truly understand the mysteries" - I felt like an outsider. Then, to my astonishment, something really bothered me - an infant, in her mothers' arms, being taken up to the front of the Church, and fed communion - couldn't even talk yet. I decided, yes, I wish to remain an outsider and stay Anglican.

Pachyderm said...

Dylan, thanks so much for your comment - sorry it took a while to appear (current post will explain why!)

I have explored Orthodoxy a little bit, but mostly through writings rather than experientially. It does bother me profoundly though that God's table is closed to those for whom it is deeply meaningful. Who are we to turn away "one of these little ones"?