Aldersgate Day (24 May)

 Newman, John Henry - aquarelle young Wesley, JOhn

Thoughts on Aldersgate Day, which celebrates the day, 24 May 1738, when John Wesley attended a group meeting in Aldersgate, London, and experienced a conversion in the form of an assurance of his salvation.

I confess that my own bias leans away from interpreting the “Anglican patrimony” of Anglicanorum coetibus as being broad enough to include the Evangelical wing of Anglicanism and Methodism. Though I hope Anglicanorum coetibus will prove to be the first of similar, concrete steps towards reconciliation between the Catholic Church and our “separated brethren,” my own perhaps limited and perhaps overly-cautious viewpoint regards Anglicanorum coetibus as having the best chance of establishing long-term growth if its limited resources are focused on integrating the Anglo-Catholic/High Church wing of the Anglican patrimony rather than trying to take on the entire breadth of the Anglican tradition, which the Anglican communion has arguably not succeeded in doing on its own terms.  In part, my bias rests on the fact that the Catholic Church’s understanding of the Eucharistic liturgy as the “source and summit” of Christian life is already so integral to Anglo-Catholicism.  A thumbnail sketch of the Evangelical and Wesleyan spiritual perspectives, on the other hand, is that—and even in spite of the fact that John Wesley had a stronger appreciation of Eucharistic theology than the Methodist tradition has generally recognized—preaching and a ministerial view of holy orders are more important in that perspective than liturgy, the sacraments, and a sacerdotal understanding of holy orders.  (To put myself in even more hot water, I’m also unconvinced that the Anglo-papalists, on the other side of the Churchmanship spectrum, will, in the long run, find themselves truly at home under the aegis of Anglicanorum coetibus.  But that is a provocative statement I make here only for the sake of suggesting there’s more work to be done on sorting out the meaning of the term “Anglican patrimony.”) 

Just because I have tried to reflect seriously on these questions doesn’t mean my thinking isn’t misguided. And perhaps the doers who forge ahead with establishing, say, Ordinariate groups that are more “Methodist” than “Anglo-Catholic” might prove us thinkers wrong.

            An essay by Neil Dhingra (“a Roman Catholic, [who] is a doctoral student in education at the University of Maryland”) suggests there are complexities to thinking about this issue that challenge too easy a reliance on thumbnail sketches.  A helpful quote in the following essay: “[W]e can injure what we mean to defend through making it one-sided, or narrow and provincial.”

 

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