Those are the simple, but stirring words of British blogger Fr. Sean Finnegan, who was present as several people — including three Anglican bishops, wearing simple neckties — joined the Catholic Church at Westminster Cathedral on New Year’s Day. For a groundbreaking moment of Catholic and Anglican history, it was all surprisingly low key.
From his blog Valle Adurni:
There was a little rehearsal beforehand, and Mass duly began. There was absolutely no reference whatever to the elephant in the room (the reception of these notables) from Bishop Hopes or anyone else. It was simply a Mass for the feast of the Mother of God; a little note in the menu simply observed that there would be a reception in the middle. Finally, once he had preached, Bishop Hopes said a word about what was happening.
The reception was very low-key. The journalists turned out to be photographers, and put their heads over the screen behind the choir stalls, setting the volume of their shutter clicks to Maximum and Extremely Distracting. Only the three active flying bishops were received, all modestly and humbly in ties, together with some members of some of their families, plus the three sisters from Walsingham. I was surprised to see that even John Broadhurst, baptized a Catholic, was received along with the rest. They were then confirmed—some in accord with tradition took confirmation names; one of the former bishops took Benedict, another Joseph, others used their baptismal names—and they returned to their places to gentle applause. One of the sisters, descending the steps grinned at the congregation and gave two thumbs up.
They were then introduced to a great Catholic tradition; the collection. With masterly tact, a large African woman in a great pink headdress descended on the poor sisters (who if Dame Rumour speak true* had been turned out into the snow in their shifts) and menaced them with a collection bag. A fellow brigand went to mug the former bishops.
We all received communion, (five of our new brethren, including all three former bishops, on the tongue) and, lo, it was done. We are in communion.
Welcome, one and all! Come on in, the water’s fine!