Over at Pontifications there is an interesting thread about Anglicans converting to Catholicism.
It is easy to compare the two churches, thinking that they are pretty much the same, and forgetting that the Catholic Chuch is simply much, much larger than the Anglican Church.
Fr. Newman chucks out this statistic: there are more Catholics at Mass in the three largest parishes in Greenville, SC (hardly a hotbed of Catholicism) than there are Episcopalians at every Episcopal parish in South Carolina combined.
Add to this the cultural diversity of the Catholic Church. We have a huge Hispanic population, we try to juggle the needs of the various Eastern rite churches as well as the cultural pressures of the Irish, Poles, Italians etc. etc.
When Anglicans who are thinking about converting grumble that the Catholic Church is not as pretty as they wish it to be, or the liturgy is not as refined, or the preaching is inferior, or the stained glass is not as nice, or the organ is bad, they must remember that they are coming from a very small, tasteful sect that does the aesthetic thing very well. The Church, however, is far, far bigger than that.
Here’s a metaphor: the Anglican church is a petite little yacht, perfectly appointed and ship shape in appearance. It is populated with the elite who have gathered for a delightful cruise to the Bahamas. The Catholic Church is a great lumbering, antique cruise ship. She’s a bit leaky, the staterooms are sometimes shabby with wear, the once fine restaurants are decorated with plastic flowers, the lower decks are crowded with sweaty peasants, the cargo holds are full of rotten stuff and the engine room is smoky and dark. Nevertheless, this boat is called the Queen Mary, and Captain Peter is at the helm.
The little yacht may be headed for the Bahamas, but the Queen Mary is headed for the farthest West where the sea become sweet and shallow and eternity begins.