Here in the Church of England, a very large percentage of our churches is dedicated to our Lady under the simple and gracious title of St Mary the Virgin. Post-Irish-immigration RC churches tend to prefer to be our Lady of something-or-other or the something-or-other of our Lady. Which is why, Fr Allan Hawkins tells me, his Anglican Usage Catholic parish in Arlington, Texas, is sometimes misdescribed as "St Mary of the Virgin". The elegant Englishness of "St Mary the Virgin" was deliberately chosen by his congregation when, in the 1980s, they entered into full communion with the Holy See (they were previously St Bartholomew's). This process was equally simple and elegant: on Pentecost Sunday they celebrated their last Mass together as Anglicans; a fortnight later Father became a priest in good standing with the RC diocese of Fort Worth and St Mary's resumed its communal life of witness to the Catholic faith as that has been received by Catholic Anglicans.
It seems quite English and very Anglican in a pleasantly old-fashioned sort of way ... the Angelus after the Sunday Parish Mass sung in our traditional melodies; more of Mass at the High Altar than at the Seat; use of the biretta ... and of course the use of the Prayer Book (the 1979 American Prayer Book, with the Roman Eucharistic Prayers, called The Book of Divine Worship). Any Anglican of a "Catholic" inclination - but not too "extreme" - would find himself completely at home here. The only thing that might slightly surprise her would be the size of the congregations; these have become very much larger since St Mary's swapped Canterbury for Rome; a hundred or so at both 8.00 and 6.00; a couple of hundred at 10.30. These people are not all former Anglicans; not unnaturally, quite a few Roman Catholics have found the worship, traditions, and style of St Mary's to their taste. Church life is vibrant, forward-looking, and immensely friendly and welcoming. Fr Hawkins (formerly of Stevenage and Swindon) maintains very warm relationships with his Bishop (a fairly new and 'traditionalist' appointment who has massively increased the number of seminarians under his wing and is very fond of the 'Anglican' parish he inherited) and with neighbouring clergy, both Anglican and RC.
It is difficult not to hope that this experiment ... no, it has been going for a generation; this highly successful adventure will prove transplantable to an English context. An Anglicanism reconciled to a greater Christendom - and showing how it can be a true ecumenical bridge - is just, surely, what the Holy Spirit is calling for. Go and look at Arlington if you aren't sure it's possible. What in the last resort is so impressive is that it has bedded down to look so natural and, in the best sense of the word, so ordinary.