The following came from my answers in private correspondence. It struck me as I had completed it, that parts of it may be useful. The identity of the person to whom I wrote is confidential. The first answer is not to a Non-Anglican difficulty, just a modern one.
About contraception: The fathers were not silent. What they wrote condemns it as sin. I do understand your circumstances very well, because we have four (now grown) children, and at times my one and only source of family income seemed to be no better than desperate poverty. My health was not good, and I came close to death more than once. The last time that happened my wife was pregnant with number four. Someone did bring her to the hospital that night, assuming I might die before they arrived. That was, in fact, exactly nineteen years ago this very day (the feast of the Holy Innocents).
...my answer cannot help but seem superficial. But, it is not really superficial at all. It is that you allow this one matter to help you develop something in addition to faith, namely trust. Whatever God has planned for your family, it is not to destroy you or hurt you. It is not adverse to your well being.
These answer Non-Anglican difficulties:
About Anglican orders: ...The question deals with apologetics, that is, a defensive argument. Argument is not a bad word, and should normally take place between "learned friends." I repeated an outline of very basic arguments in order to inform you. This is a subject that is difficult to put into a few words in an e-mail perhaps, and so I overloaded each sentence with information. This is because I keep this information in my head. If you look at the 2006 archives of the Continuum, you will discover a wealth of information that refutes Apostolicae Curae. I recommend as well that you read Saepius Officio (1897), which was superior in scholarship to the 1896 Papal Bull it refuted. ...the See of is stuck with every document bearing Papal Imprimatur as a precedent. But, the good news is you can ...receive Communion in good conscience from an Anglican priest if you study the Anglican answers.
About the Sacrifice of the Mass: the only thing rejected by the was the plural, "sacrifices of masses." Written in the 16th century, the relevant Article was addressing the flawed understanding of the people, not the theologians in . In modern times, the Church of sees that the was right to reject "the sacrifices of masses." There is only one sacrifice, and only one Mass, no matter how often it is celebrated. The Book of Common Prayer draws from the Epistle to the Hebrews and produces this line in the Canon of Consecration:
"ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world."
Reading through the entire Prayer, the language of sacrifice is clearly present. It is repeated in many ways, so as to include the whole of life, to summarize everything that is offered to God. If not in the Mass, where could we summarize the whole of our lives as an offering to God, in response to His gift of His Son? This includes praise and thanksgiving. It includes the bread and wine on the altar, so that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ. It includes as well our bodies as living sacrifices and our reasonable service of prayer (Rom. 12:1,2).
Excerpts from the BCP, Holy Communion:
"we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make..."
"And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee..."
"And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord..."
That last line is not to be understood as "bounden duty and service" instead of sacrifice; but, in the context of the Prayer, it is an expanded way of saying "sacrifice." We are not worthy to make any sacrifice, but accept this duty and service- i.e. sacrifice- through Jesus Christ who gave himself once for all.
About the Real Presence: Lex Orandi Lex Credendi. See these words of orandi, and so be helped to understand what is actually credo for us:
"AND we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood."
"Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us"
"THE Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life...THE Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."
"ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ."
My point is simple. Despite the theories of various writers, including some Anglicans, the actual Holy Communion service is the Catholic Mass of the Apostolic Church with no gaps in the theology it expresses. This is why the Patriarch of
wrote these words to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1930, delivered on day:"The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account  of the teaching and practice of the and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord’s Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios  (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized."
About the 16th century: It is true that during the days of Henry VIII iconoclasm was caused by the fanatical excesses launched by Thomas Cromwell. The people were mostly outraged by this blasphemy. Of course, later the the was reunited with the Pope. A second break with the See of was caused by the Pope himself. Eager to please the king of Spain, he demanded that Elisabeth be overthrown and put to death, and that the faithful of England plunge themselves into Civil War. The new queen had not split with at that time; but, she was the daughter of Ann Boleyn, and so the king of Spain wanted to use this to claim that her rule was illegal, and he wanted to conquer England. This second split was not like the the earlier one that had been caused by Henry VIII's desire to have a divorce. It was caused by a pope who aligned himself with the empire of , and who made impossible demands for bloodshed, and surrender of a whole country to a foreign power. The iconoclasm of Thomas Cromwell never resurfaced except among the heretical Puritans, a group that was considered to be a threat to the from its outset (even though some people pretend that the Puritans were Anglicans).
So, I would not allow the iconoclasm that had once taken place to cast a shadow over Anglican validity.
You wrote: "Purgatory, excessive devotion to the saints with
novenas, heavy heavy heavy emphasis on works sometimes
at the expense of faith, Mariology taken too far,
indulgences, and a lack of Biblical study have all
concerned me about Roman Catholicism."
Some of these things are simply popular expressions of devotion [which are perfectly good], and some Anglo-Catholics are identical in their practices. The only theological problem that I see in the teaching of , among the items you listed, is the combination of Purgatory with indulgences. It is still taught in the (otherwise excellent) Catechism of the Catholic Church that was produced under . If Purgatory is a punishment instead of purification, and if indulgences are granted on the basis that God owes mankind credit to its account due to supererogation of the saints, what happens to this clear teaching of scripture? "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5:19, 20)." I say, this point of official Roman Catholic teaching is incompatible with the Word of God, and refutes essential truth of the Gospel. It is, also, a point in which the new catechism is self-contradictory, because it affirms those same essential points of the Gospel earlier on, that this section denies. There's that problem of being stuck with every precedent again. They should, rather, just drop the Medieval innovation.
About Papal Infallibility: Like the above Medieval innovation, this modern innovation (1870) is not part of "the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)." It is not in accord with the Vincentian Canon: "Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (What has been believed everywhere, always, and by all)." Conciliar authority was the rule for a thousand years, and no pope [needed to be] present at any of the seven Ecumenical Councils, having sent representatives, and having awaited the written documents to either ratify or reject (with no more or less authority than the other Patriarchs).
On that last question of Papal Infallibility, the subject is more complicated than most people realize. Fr. John Hunwicke, a priest in the Church of England, wrote an article that helps to clarify its meaning. You can read what he has written here.