Sunday, 21 April 2013

Anglican Book of Common Prayer

Anglican Book of Common Prayer

As a result of my trip down memory lane the other day when I went to visit St. Boniface Anglican Church in Germiston, South Africa, I felt led to pull out from my bookshelf, in my study, my old Anglican Book of Common Prayer. I think that the last time I looked at this Anglican Book of Common Prayer, with any degree of seriousness, was in 1987.

It deserves a place of prominence in my bookshelf because it, along with two Anglican parishes, an Anglican religious order and a handful of Anglican clergy, steadily led to my conversion to Catholicism. 

I frequently pray prayers of thanksgiving for the two parishes, the religious order, the Anglican clergy and the Anglican Liturgy that played such a significant role in leading me home to Catholicism.

It should be noted that my conversion was never influenced by any Catholic. 

It was only the good and holy example and teaching of Anglicans that ultimately caused me to come to the realisation that I was at heart Catholic and not Anglican.

When I look back now it seems obvious that I was already a Catholic at the early age of 12, when I first received the sacrament of Reconciliation on 16 June 1979, from Fr. Alan Radcliffe, in the parish of St Francis of Assisi in Alberton, South Africa. 

There are many Anglicans who played a valuable formative role in my life when I was an Anglican. However, when I think about those who specifically influenced me and played a role in my eventual conversion to Catholicism, I think of these people who I now list in the order that I met them.

Fr. Alan Radcliffe, Fr. Thomas Amoore, Bishop Timothy Bavin and then Bishop Simeon Nkoane. 

Next I also got to know the monks from the Community of the Resurrection. In particular Fr. Timothy Stanton and then Fr. Nicolas Stebbing – my spiritual director and confessor for at least 2½ years. (Note that Bishop Simeon Nkoane was also a monk from the Community of the Resurrection.) 

Then there was Bishop David Beetge and Fr. Peter Lyness, from St. Boniface Anglican Church, who I mentioned in my earlier post here.

These people, though they may not have specifically realised it or intended to do so, slowly influenced me through the little things that they said and did, or even those things they didn’t say or do, until their example collectively accrued and became so significant that I was naturally led to convert to Catholicism. Their collective wonderful holy example led me home.

So too the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which was my companion in my prayer life as an Anglican, influenced me. 

I have already included herein some random photographs that I have taken of portions of this prayer book. These illustrate how close the Anglican Liturgy was to what we know in the Catholic Church and highlights my point that, as an Anglican, I was slowly and steadily saturated with Catholicism so that eventually it became only natural that I return to where Anglicans had begun.

It is however the next two photo's that truly show the amazing similarity between Anglicans and Catholics. Show these two photo's below, which display the prayers for the Feasts of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and the Falling Asleep (Dormition) of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), and most people automatically assume the photo's were taken of a Catholic prayer book or missal. Yet these feasts were very much part of the Anglican Tradition I was used to.

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

The lesson I take from all of this. This Anglican Book of Common Prayer was not written to convert me, or anyone, to Catholicism. It was an aid to help Anglicans, including me, in their prayer and worship. The Anglican clergy, parishes and religious order I speak about above did not set about on some grand plan to convert me to Catholicism. They simply lived good holy lives, serving our Lord to the best of their ability. 

God used their holy lives and their work in ways that they had no way of knowing it was being used. So too we must make it possible for God to do so. We must devote our entire life to the glory of God. Devote every single little aspect of our life, no matter how small or insignificant some of what we do may seem. No matter the fact that most of what we do each day is completely unrelated to religion or God. Each and everything we do is important and despite not knowing the way in which God will use it, we know for certain that for God nothing is impossible and he will use it for the greater glory of God. 

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