"To Catholics and to especially [sic] my fellow converts, since we often carry the biggest chips on our shoulders, who want to rage about the evils of Anglicanism and want people to come crawling, chastened, and cowed, remember that it is the Holy Father himself who has chosen to kill the fatted calf. It seems that the least we can all do is make merry. Reviewing the parable of the wages of the laborers in the vineyard might do us all some good."
That former Anglican has made, frankly, a terrible admission. The rage he describes, and the desire to punish, seem to come from self-loathing that reminds me of Frank Schaeffer's never ending adolescent tirade against his parents. Aside from that, I feel inclined to take this unfortunate commentary as an opportunity to teach. The first reference is to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, in Luke 15:11-32. *
The obvious meaning of the parable is that a sinner who comes home to God is forgiven, and "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." (v.10) The prodigal's life of sin is described in the words, "wasted his substance with riotous living." He goes as far as working with unclean animals, pigs. This indicates that he disobeyed the Law of God very openly. The father in this story clearly represents God the Father; and if the slain fatted calf represents anyone it is no one less than God the Son in his role as the sacrifice and atonement.
Brother Stephen has so interpreted the parable as to make of our Anglican affiliation a life of sin, a waste and uncleanness. He has identified the father as the pope, sneaking that in gently with the term "the Holy Father." Confusing the language of Scripture with "lingo" that has grown up in various customs, is a very subtle trick indeed, making a certain kind of deception all the easier to perpetrate. He writes, "it is the Holy Father himself who has chosen to kill the fatted calf. " And, he has ignored the true meaning of the parable.
Sadly, there seems to be a host of Brother Stephens out there, ready to twist the scriptures, ready to treat former Anglicans as repentant sinners coming back to the father's house-not God the Father, but "the Holy Father" in Rome. They will make merry when they see Anglicans repenting of their "sinful" sacraments, and admitting that the elder brother has been right. Such elder brothers will have won an argument.
I am sure this is not what Pope Benedict XVI had in mind when creating the new constitution. I believe he is too gracious for that. On the other hand, the new constitution was an idea first created by Pope John Paul II in response to a request for help from Forward in Faith United Kingdom, back in the 1990s. In those days the Pope encountered obstruction from the British Roman Catholic bishops themselves, and complained to then Cardinal Ratzinger, "Why are the English [RC] bishops so unapostolic?" Overcoming obstruction is what delayed this constitution.
This should indicate that the people who plan to take it as an opportunity to swim the Tiber, by fooling themselves into thinking they get to remain Anglican somehow, are swimming into danger. The levels of bureaucracy that will remain between them and the Pope are occupied by men hostile to a traditionalist invasion (and we have said enough already about Rome's unfortunate choice of Cardinal Levada). And, many who will cheer the swimmers on constitute an army of Brother Stephens, gleeful at winning the argument against their own past, and watching Anglicans "repent" of wasting their living on false sacraments in a heretical church.
I do not consider any one denomination to be, exclusively, the Father's house, and that includes my own. The Universal Church is the earthly expression of the Father's House, and it contains many weird and strange people, relatives we may find embarrassing even though "He [Christ] is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11) Even so, life for the Tiber Swimmers will be very difficult with so many elder brothers around.
* A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger ! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.