Universal and Particular – 4


St Paul’s word’s haunted me. “There is one bread and one body. We who are one body

share in the one bread.” (I Cor. 10:17.) Eventually I accepted that the only way for my

personal vision of Jesus to be enlarged to a universal experience of the risen Lord was to

be received into full communion and personal union with his Body on earth–the

universal Church.


The next few months were terrible time of indecision. Together my wife Alison and I

contemplated the future. We had planned on a settled and happy life of ministry in the

Anglican Church. I hadn’t trained for any other career and if we left the Anglican Church

there seemed nothing but an uncertain future. Could we possible leave everything and

step out into the unknown? Surely it was possible to stay in the Anglican Church a bit

longer. Then one Sunday evening I went to Quarr Abbey—a local Catholic Benedictine

Abbey– for Vespers and Benediction. The modern abbey is built just a few hundred

yards from the ruins of a medieval abbey. As the monks chanted I agonized over the

decision to leave the Church of England.


“Why this call become a Catholic?” I cried out to the Lord. “ I only wanted to serve you

in the ancient church in England!”


As the incense wafted heavenward and the Christ’s body was lifted for us to adore, the

still small voice replied, “But THIS is the ancient church in England.”

Then the struggles ended. My mind was made up, and in the Autumn of 1994 my wife

and I began our course of instruction to be received into the Church.


When I became an Anglican I felt my Bible Christian background was being completed

not denied, and as we prepared to be received into the Catholic church I realized that the

same was true as we became Catholics. I could still affirm everything my non-Catholic

friends and family affirmed, I simply could no longer deny what they denied. F.D.

Maurice’s little snippet of wisdom had brought me across the Tiber, and in becoming a

Catholic I was affirming all of Christ’s truth without a shred of denial. Furthermore, I

felt that I had stepped into a church as vast, ancient and full of fascinating detail as one

of the medieval cathedrals. The vistas were huge and there seemed to be more and more

and more things to affirm, and that joyful affirmation, not sour denial was one of the

basic rules of this new country.


Our reception took place in a quiet service one February evening in the crypt of Quarr

Abbey church. That night all was harvest. There as the monks sang, and we were finally

received into full communion, the simple faith of my Mennonite forebears, the Bible

Christians’ love of the Scriptures and the ancient beauties of Anglicanism were all

gathered together and fulfilled in a new and dynamic way in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic

and Apostolic Church.