Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For the Journey Home

Posted by Webster 
Every time I watch “The Journey Home” on EWTN, I learn more reasons why I did not become Catholic. Which is to say, I realize more deeply how quirky and individual my own journey has been. And I gain renewed respect for the intellectual and spiritual depth of other Catholic converts, who frankly had better reasons than I did.

Last night was no exception. Marcus Grodi’s two-part show (the second part to be shown next week) featured interviews with three American Catholic priests who had converted as married Anglican clergymen: Frs. Eric Bergman, Dwight Longenecker, and Ray Ryland. The occasion for this show was the Vatican’s recent opening to the Anglican communion.

It is one thing to have converted, as I did, through the intercession of movies, angels, Popes, musicals, rosaries, pastors, a loving wife, a grandmother named Mary, mentors, amazing women, books, saints, other miscellaneous fragments of Christian culture, and the enduring love of God. (Can you spell personal-history linkathon?)

But these guys—Fathers Eric, Dwight, and Ray—they have deeply considered reasons for having converted, complex ideas they had to struggle to come to terms with as highly educated and passionately committed Anglicans. What an impressive trio! I am proud to be considered one of their company as a fellow convert, though I am not worthy to wash their theological feet.

The idea that came like a revelation to me last night—you’ll laugh at my ignorance—is that these three priests converted, bottom line, because each came to realize that in the Anglican or Episcopal Church, there is no ultimate authority. No Pope, no Catechism. So we are left with the sad spectacle of the entire Anglican experiment in America (called Episcopalian after the Revolution to distinguish it from the British experiment) splintering likc kindling under the axe of Paul Bunyan.

If I were still an Episcopalian today, as I was over 40 years ago, I don’t know what I would do.