JONATHAN – THE WILDERNESS YEARS

Pinch, punch, first day of the month.

It is now two years since I was manipulated out of the priesthood by Bishop Wharton of Newcastle. It is two years since I last presided at holy communion in a church. At the end of that service I told the congregation that it was the last time I would be celebrating communion with them and probably the last time I would ever celebrate communion anywhere. At the time I was being a bit of a drama queen and didn't really believe that I would never celebrate communion again. Now, I know that I was in fact predicting my true future.

I applied for seventy new jobs but did not get one. I moved to the diocese of Durham, hoping a new start would result in my return to an active priesthood. But after nine months I still hadn't received permission to officiate and it became obvious, even to a stubborn fool like me, that I was not wanted here, that I was perceived as a problem and potential danger to the church. Nobody makes a person they want wait so long. So, during Easter this year I came to the conclusion that if God wanted me to be a proper priest God would not put up so many barriers in my way. Okay, it is common for Christians to go through a wilderness experience but, heck, even Jesus was cast out for only forty days. I realised that I was just being silly and gave up pushing.

Every morning, when I wake up, I think about what I have lost. Every night, I lie awake thinking about it. The searing pain is like a knife in my heart.

I have kept a sort of ministry going on the internet but it's lonely and doesn't pay enough for me to live on. That my faith in God has continued, grown stronger, despite the callousness of his so called shepherds who don't give a toss about the pain I'm going through, amazes me and sometimes leads me to feel proud of my tenacity. But mostly it just makes me realise how stubborn and stupid I am.

Comments

JONATHAN – THE WILDERNESS YEARS — 10 Comments

  1. I grieve that it has been two years that you have been on this wilderness journey. The institutional church (not the mystery part) can be so harsh. I am into my seventh month without a congregation or altar, though at least I supply occasionally and I am in one discernment process… being able to preach and celebrate from time to time enables to me to remain in touch a little with the fact that I am still a priest and always will be — just as you always will be. I can relate to the desert sense of what it is to be a priest without a cure. To add to the fun, I have to start hunting again for a place to live because my lease is up 15 August. I hold you in my prayers.

  2. I hold you in my prayers, Caminante. At least I have a roof over my head and will have as long as my wife remains employed. My disappointment is that I was always just an assistant and I never got the chance to use my own imagination as a parish priest. I will never know if my ideas would have worked.

  3. {{{MP}}}

    My own struggle thru life has been made just a bit harder, w/ the sudden disappearance of Buster the dog from my life. It was literally only a couple of hours after I got back from Hoffman Park w/ him (our 2nd weekly hike together there), when his pack leader Kathy excitedly knocked on the door.

    Big Wonderful News: a kidney had become available, and she was immediately going in for surgery. Yay, TBTG, may God grant all graces to the surgeons, and strength in her recovery (and a massive Thank You to the donor, living or eternally-living).

    …but this meant her family was coming to take Buster away. I hope he’ll be back in a couple of months, but I don’t know. I miss him already.

  4. Tenacity, stubborn, stupid… I would say that each trait, in your case, manages to glorify God. Paul/Saul of Tarsus – though not my favorite apostle by a long-shot – had these traits in spades and in the end can be considered to have been a success for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While the “prison” you find yourself in at the hand of a perverted CoE old boys’ network is confining indeed, you have an effective ministry, and you know it. Press on, mate.

  5. You ever find yourself on this side of the pond, stop in and you can celebrate communion at my parish.

    In the meantime, I pray something comes your way that would make you soar.

    • Yes, Small Farmer. And I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t taken the plunge mainly because of pure snobbery. Having been an Anglican all my life I know what Anglican priests say about such groups. I think I would have problems believing I was for real. But these are my hang-ups and I am going to have to face up to them and look into the matter more seriously.

      I am slightly worried about the weirdness of some members of these groups, especially the theosophical stuff. And the more mainstream groups may not want me anyway.

      Thanks for your comment. I will look into it.