I note that some readers have been looking at posts I wrote a year ago on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day. You can look in the archives of this blog. Re-reading the posts, we were all in turmoil and in the thick of polemics surrounding the TAC and the zeal of the new Ordinariate converts. So much has happened in this one year, notably the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis, bringing in another way of seeing things.
As 2013 progressed, I joined the ACC’s diocese in England and found a new ecclesial calling as a priest. It took me out of the polemics. Archbishop Prakash and Bishop Michael Gill in South Africa had both been very kind to me after the déchéance of Archbishop Hepworth, as had Canon (now Bishop) Ian Gray in England. I needed all the same to move on and find my own way spiritually. I will not say any ill of those I have left behind, but will rather commend the TAC to God’s care. I continue to live in the same way as a “solitary” in my home, and now with my spiritual family in the ACC.
Reading the old posts, I remember the agony I went through with the loyalty I felt towards Archbishop Hepworth and with my own vocation. This year, the old ghosts are all in the past and Christmas is celebrated that much more peacefully with my wife and mother-in-law. They are presently cooking in the kitchen and chatting, and we will soon be singing carols around the organ, and then it will be the somewhat anticipated Missa in Gallicantu of the holy night of Christmas. Afterwards, we will be eating some very tasty things.
Christmas is not all joy and heavy eating and drinking. It is a sad time for us all who are bereaved (I think of my father and my family, as my mother passed away this year). Many people are homeless, as the Holy Family was when Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem for their civil duties. I can think of few more depressing things than Christmas spent alone! Those people need our prayers. And that is without talking of people who have been turned out of their homes because the money ran out and their creditors claimed their money back. Life in our day is no more merciful than it ever was in the past.
2013 has been an annus horribilis for me, but there have been grace-filled moments like being welcomed into the ACC and having the moral support of a great Bishop. Whatever any of us has been through this year, there have been good things. Not least for the kind of people who read this blog, we can be thankful for the calm and peace that now reign after all the polemics and squabbling.
Let us go onwards in faith into the new year 2014…