I grew up Anglican. I began attending Catholic worship aged 18 and was received into the Church aged 19. My husband is cradle Catholic. My family have been supportive of my decision, although it pains them that we cannot always worship fully together as a family.
I have a brother (my only sibling) to whom I am very close. He is a great person and a good Christian. He is an Anglican deacon and will be ordained a priest later this year. Shortly afterwards he will celebrate his first Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper). My husband and I have received an invitation to both of these. We are not sure how to handle the situation and it is one of the rare occasions on which I disagree with him. I am very loyal to my brother and love him very much and I am finding my husband’s attitude to be legalistic and uncharitable.
It goes without saying that I accept the Church’s teachings as regards the status of the Anglican Church (ecclesial community), the apostolic succession (non-existent), holy orders (null and void), and sacraments (mostly invalid, including invalid Eucharist).
My brother is not Anglo-Catholic. He is not one of those who believes that the CofE is the Catholic Church in England. He does not believe in the sacerdotal nature of presbyteral ministry. He does not believe in transubstantiation or the sacrifice of the Mass. He does not hold to a high doctrine of the church or episcopate, although he does believe as a matter of historical fact that the succession of laying on of hands took place. He is not an evangelical or anti-Catholic.
We went through this in a smaller way when he was ordained to the diaconate, but we feel that the presbyteral ordination and the celebration of the Eucharist is a much bigger deal. We are unsure about whether to attend, which parts to attend, how to congratulate him, and what to do about receiving Communion/a blessing.
My view is that we should attend the whole thing and congratulate him on becoming a priest since that is what he is becoming within his own denomination, just as I would congratulate somebody on becoming a rabbi, for example. Also, legally, the law in England says that C of E priests are priests. As for the celebration of the Eucharist, I accept that we cannot receive at Communion. That is the Church’s teaching. But I don’t believe there is anything wrong with accepting a blessing. People say “God bless you” all the time and they aren’t priests. My husband is taking a very tough line and would favour boycotting the whole thing. He has said some very unkind things such as that they are just playing make believe and wearing fancy dress costumes. He has also begun to object to my styling my brother “the Revd” on envelopes etc.
I am really suffering over how to handle this and also really upset that this is causing problems between my husband and me. Yesterday he opened a Bible at Ephesians 5 and pointed at it and asked me to read out from verse 22 onwards. This should be a joyous occasion, but it is turning into a nightmare. Any ideas? Thanks.