I have published a posting on The Anglican Catholic with the title Ars Celebrandi. It is something I constantly read about from the mouth of Pope Benedict XVI and in Roman Catholic blogs. It is a haunting theme, and the Pope’s words cut no corners. The liturgy is not theatre or showmanship but priestly spirituality.
It is a theme that accompanied me during my seminary days in Rome, Fribourg and Gricigliano. In the 1970’s and 80’s, there were many generous souls with the ideal of a priestly vocation, unsullied by cynicism and disappointment, who sought a way to the Catholic priesthood. My impression as I met some of them at the Czech College in Rome will remain with me my entire life. Between the Czechs who had heroically left their country with documents in one shoe and a little money in the other – and that’s all they carried as they escaped the KGB – and the young French and Swiss deacons looking for an Italian or Eastern European bishop to incardinate them, the sadness was as crushing as their hope was radiant.
The priesthood is our life, whether we are called to parish ministry, teaching or the contemplative life. It is everything to he who has been ordained, something lay folk often find too difficult to understand.
The purpose of the priesthood, what is common between the three main ministry models, is the liturgy – the Mass and the Office. It is something we live to the core of our souls, and it never leaves even the priest who has for some reason relinquished his orders.
The presence of this deep spirituality in the Anglican tradition is something often underestimated and dismissed by Roman Catholics. This is a big mistake.