By Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB
This is an excerpt from a homily given at Holy Rosary Cathedral June 30.
This evening we are celebrating an especially joyful, even historic, occasion: the reception into full communion with the Catholic Church of 11 members of the Traditional Anglican Communion in Canada.
Their journey to full communion with the Successor of Peter, our Holy Father Benedict XVI, has been a long and sometimes trying one, yet one brimming with hope. I would especially like to express my gratitude to Father Bruce McAllister, who has guided them with such wisdom and concern in their journey.
We give thanks to the Lord for their patience, their perseverance, and above all for their faith.
We are grateful for your witness to the gift of the ministry which the Lord confided to His Church as the office which ensures the unity of His people in faith and charity, the office which will prevail against the forces of the underworld. This is what Jesus promised to the Apostle Simon when He said: "You are Peter, the Rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church."
The recent history of this pilgrimage of faith began five years ago, in October 2007, when the bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion formally expressed their desire to enter into full unity with the See of Peter without losing the core of their Anglican distinctiveness, especially its liturgical and spiritual patrimony, and declared their adherence to Catholic doctrine as authoritatively outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Two years later, in reply to their request, Pope Benedict signed the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus Nov. 4, 2009, enabling those Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church as a body while retaining their heritage of worship, devotion, and pastoral practice, and providing for a governing structure which would allow them to do so.
The reason for this special provision is the spiritual richness that exists within the Anglican Communion "which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share and to seek together in the Tradition of the Church."
You bring to us, dear friends, and will share with us your distinctive ways of expressing the faith which will enhance our appreciation of the inexhaustible treasures bestowed on the Church by Christ.
The structure envisaged by the Pope has not yet been established in Canada, but even so, tonight this courageous group now joins us as part of the universal communion of churches united throughout the world by our reverent obedience to the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.
Indeed, I would like to point out that visible union with the Catholic Church does not mean absorption into a great monolith; nor does it mean doing away with a treasured and lived patrimony. It is not as if you are lost in the greater whole, the way a drop is lost in a gallon of water.
On the contrary, visible communion with the Catholic Church is better compared to the music of an orchestral ensemble. Some instruments, like the piano, can play all the notes. There is no note that the piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments together play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic.
So is it within the one Church of Christ. The admission to full communion of former Anglicans adds to the beauty of the great symphony which is the Catholic Church governed by the See of Peter.
Welcome home, welcome to the Catholic Church, dear friends who are soon to make your profession of faith and become one with us.