I expect you've all seen the Notice of Evensong in the Assumption, Warwick street, at 6.30 on February 8, next Sunday. An occasion not to miss! The place to be seen!
The old High Churchmen made much of their (theologically unviable) 'Branch Theory' of the Church. But, culturally, Sunday's Evensong will be a demonstration of the three 'branches', Roman and Eastern and Anglican, which they chattered so much about.
Joining Keith our Ordinary, the other two Ordinaries are due to be there, hotfoot from the colonial fastnesses of North America and Australia, so that the gathering will represent the three main groups of us Anglicans United But Not Absorbed (what is the collective noun for a gathering of Ordinaries?). His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols will be in choro; I recall those moving words of B John Henry Newman, in his Second Spring Sermon, about the presence of "a Prince of the Church, in the royal dye of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome of Rome's unwearied love, a token that that goodly company is firm in Apostolic faith and hope". The warmth with which Cardinal Vincent supports us means a lot to us.
But .... Hooray! Another splendid thing! The Eparch himself will be present, Bishop Hlib, the Ukrainian Bishop for Great Britain and Ireland, representing the Byzantine Rite, the Eastern Lung of the Catholic Church (it was in 2013 that Benedict XVI elevated the Exarchate to an Eparchate). I say 'splendid' because his gracious presence will be a tremendous witness to the importance of diversity in the Catholic Church. There are still people who sometimes wonder why we Anglicans in Full Communion with Rome can't be content just to be 'mainstream' 'diocesan' 'ordinary' 'run of the mill' Catholics. Why these very obvious differences of ethos? Why these varieties of style? Why these liturgical diversities? Why the irritating little idiosyncrasies of manner? Why the unusual preferences? Bishop Hlib is one of a number of answers to these naive questions. Eis polla ete Despota! And may the Lord's blessing rest upon the heroic Greek Catholic Church of the Ukraine, the Church of the Martyrs! You are a most welcome guest. From you, we have so much to learn!
It's what 'Catholicism', the gathering of all nations, of all Christian cultures, of all Christian traditions, into the One Catholic Church, cum Petro et sub Petro, is all about.
Those bound to the Divine Office fulfil their obligation by being present at any celebration of the Office according to any Catholic Rite. And the Anglican Use is a Catholic Rite sanctioned by Rome, and our Evensong represents both Vespers and Compline (Evening Prayer and Night Prayer) according to the the Roman Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours.
I wrote "the three main groups" because, of course, the good old Anglican Use Provision is still very much alive and flourishing, with its large academy and its vast congregations and its superb liturgy, down there in San Antonio. Never to be forgotten! And unforgettable to those of us fortunate enough to have been there!! The tinkle of the bells on the thurible!!!