I wrote this on my Facebook page, but I think it is worth posting here:
i have often thought of our little Ordinariate parish community of faith as a finder’s religion. It’s an oasis and pearl of great price for people who have been searching for a long time and found, finally, beautiful liturgy, reverent worship, great meaty preaching, priests who believe what they pray and proclaim in the Liturgy of the Word, a community open to the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, and Catholic Communion.
Yet I was so benefited by exposure to a seeker’s religion, a Baptist Church that chose to be seeker-friendly so as not to scare off the self-admitted heretics and cafeteria Christians embracing all kinds of false ideas like I was until Kanata Baptist Church loved me out of them and exposed me to the crucial basics of the Christian faith. We are at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary the “deep end” of the pool; Kanata Baptist provided a “shallow end” with lots of “deep end” lifeguards there to ensure nobody drowned even in a few feet of water. I wonder had I not had the preparation, the “swimming training” at Kanata Baptist if I would have been able to recognize the worship at Annunciation for what I see it as now, the worship of heaven? Or would I have run off, dismayed there are no women in the sanctuary, that people recite prayers from a book, and the Eucharist is only open to Catholics in good standing?
So, how do we who have a closed Communion, provide a shallow end for seekers? One way we are trying out is to have twice a month Evensong followed by a reception. It’s a good liturgical celebration to invite people to that does not require you to say, “oh, but you should not go forward for Communion” since it isn’t a Mass.
I love what St. Benedict’s in Halifax does—they use the Alpha Course to evangelize people, and get them involved in Connect Groups so they can be further prepared for reception of the sacraments. This parish ensures people are included and mentored and brought to a personal relationship with Christ.
I also wonder if Pope Francis is shifting the Catholic Church’s focus to the shallow end of the pool, and to those Catholics who jumped out of the water after having swallowed some and nearly choked, or who were dunked or pushed or thrown in the deep end when they were not ready.
The key for Kanata Baptist’s success was the well-trained leadership, the devout Christians who shepherded the seekers and exposed them to true doctrine after their conversion to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.