THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE ALWAYS WITH YOU! — Is it a greeting, or a farewell blessing? Among Christians it might be either. In this instance, it is a greeting: a welcome into the new life and fellowship of Christ in the Church of Saint Gregory the Great. It was the thought of our Pastor, Father Liias, that there might be a place in our parish’s life for an informal newsletter to fill some blank places in our young congregation’s story: how did our membership come together as it has?
And why? Something as significant as this surely doesn’t just happen. A new Catholic community, Saint Gregory the Great is New England’s first witness, its first response, to the historic message of Pope Benedict XVI to Anglican Christians inviting us to come home again. In a generous vision of Christian Unity his invitation specifies that, entering again into full communion with the Catholic Church, the distinctive elements of Anglican spiritual and liturgical “Patrimony” be preserved for a mutual enrichment of the Church; for, during a separation of almost 500 years (some of them quite bitter) Anglican Christians — guided particularly by the Book of Common Prayer — had come to worship the one Triune God somewhat differently from Christians of the Roman tradition: Pope Benedict did not want the Anglican liturgical inspiration of those years to be lost. Newly aware of our tradition’s need for the Papacy, Anglicans were able to recognize a work of Holy Spirit in Benedict’s visionary offer; and the members of Saint Gregory’s parish have each, in some way, experienced these remarkable events for themselves, accepted that invitation, and entered this new community. How was it made possible for you? How did it come to pass with me? It is a work of Holy Spirit power that ought not to be lost. Perhaps Father Liias’ thought of an informal journal of this kind might help.
In another life, in another venue, it was my privilege as a Pastor to write brief stories of that kind, and when Father suggested I might do the same for Saint Gregory’s I happily responded. Then it was part of a larger parish newsletter, and was named for what it was — a Pastoral Notebook. It contained brief stories about my visits to the homes and people of the parish; new babies born; sick people I had visited with the Sacrament, for whom all should be praying. It was a folksy sort of thing, quite informal, and enabled the larger congregation to share some of their Pastor’s ministry, as well as get to know people they perhaps had not met before. I was always discreet about what I wrote, never sharing anything without having secured permission. In taking up my pen again at Saint Gregory’s, I’d like to think of the effort as inspired by a revealing passage from Saint John’s Gospel when, following the feeding of the multitude, our Lord gives instructions to His disciples: “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” [John 6:12]
The peace of the Lord be always with you!
Father Roger Wootton