The Power Of Intention in The Affairs of Men Principally in Religion
Intention will always prevail thanks to the hope springing eternal in the human breast.
This comes in to several aspects of human life namely:-
- The legal concept of mens rea or the intention to commit the crime: (e.g. intent to murder for the crime of murder or intent to cause grievous bodily harm leading to murder) or premeditation as it used to be called.
- The intent behind our prayers i.e. our sincerity and in our actions in life.
- The intent to utter the marriage vows with due gravity and purpose and advisedly not wantonly.
- The intent of each member of the faithful to truly understand and assent to the sacraments apart from infant Baptism and extreme unction which do not require conscious attention.
- The intention to enter legal relations and thereby contract with another.
- Testamentary capacity and the conscious intent to make a Will and stand by its clauses once drafted.
When is intent submerged? If an individual may no longer direct his affairs and is effectively blowing in the wind. This may be due to sickness, drinking, drug taking, medication or duress or overbearing conduct by another. Clearly an elderly person is vulnerable to certain influences and the Law Courts and their Judges bend over backwards to protect the weak and oppressed.
Intention therefore does not mean the rule of the strongest willed. The Courts will always defend the just however deprived.
There is another insight here based on the prevailing power of the light or the Holy Spirit who will champion he who speaks up for the truth in whatever form such truth is epitomised.
5. Anglican Orders
I wish to digress on the interesting subject of Anglican Orders condemned in the late 19th Century by Pope Leo in his papal encyclical. This matter brings to the fore the question of intent. There can be no doubt the Anglican Bishops since the break with Rome have intended to confer Sacrament of Holy Orders on their ordinands in this Sacrament they have carried out. What is the effect if any of this sacred intent? I argue that intent by an Anglican Bishop in the ritual of Holy Orders is sufficient to transmit that Sacrament of Holy Orders to those ordinands. It is not mumbo jumbo but the grace of Holy Orders given to those men and now women because of the binding intent of the Bishop and the informed acceptance and intentional compliance of those men and women. Intent is vital in the Bishop and also the would be priest or the chain is broken.
6. The Apostolic Succession and the one Holy Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church rightly places great importance on the Judaistic concept of “in ordinem Melchizidek” i.e. the line of Bishops and Priests descended and linked to ancient Rome and Saint Peter himself. I strongly support this Apostolic Succession teaching as the nephew of a Roman Catholic Priest and Monsignor who taught at the Beda College in Rome as Vice-Rector for over a decade under three Popes after the War.
7. The resolution of Anglican and Catholic Orders.
They are not different in powers but they are different in line of succession. The Catholic Succession does not make the Anglican Orders invalid which thrive on the avowed intent I have written of. The Anglican Orders may not claim the same “ordinem” but the sincerity of their intent since Cranmer makes then equally valid and true in their own way. I say the Anglican Bishops and priests cannot claim the same Apostolic priestly succession. However the two complement each other – the devout and sincere Anglican priesthood and episcopacy on the one hand and the celibate authenticity of the Roman Catholic priests under the Bishops of Rome since the Petrine office began.
8. Comparison: Sincerity and Authority
I pinpoint this contrast between Anglican genuine charity and Catholic priestly power. Again they are not in conflict but enhance each other. No Anglican priest presently need be driven to Rome. Do the practical thing and stick to your circumstances and your guns. The Anglican Church needs you and your priestly calling. Do not rush away. Then you will find the Anglican Church looks after you. That was your intent at Holy Orders and remains so. Your local Bishop’s intent has reinforced yours. Don’t think the Catholic Church goes quiet on intent either. The Catholic episcopacy is charged with solemn intent and thereby sacramental power by the great weight of history and honour in the Apostolic Succession which succession they must guard fiercely. They will not fail by the grace of God. They should be careful to watch their flock and not let in interlopers however apparently friendly. The Catholic Church is for Catholics and the Church of England for Anglicans. I speak more of Anglican priests becoming Catholic priests rather than laymen becoming Catholics. Once you have been ordained an Anglican priest you should not be spirited away or dissuaded from your Anglican vocation and Orders. Such a priest will be letting himself and his family down by leaving Anglicanism.
9. Newman’s Intention
He agonised for four years in no mans’ land and was probably a special case. You cannot legislate for a man of such depths as Newman. He towers above us all. We have to hand it to him. What would he say today? What he said then? Don’t act in excitement – calm down! The Anglican Church is so much closer to Catholicism now than in Newman’s day. He was driven out of Anglicanism by the Anglican Bishops furious at his Tract 90, where he endeavoured to equate the Anglican Church to Catholicism. He had no choice and arguably found Catholicism difficult but rewarding – that is life. Newman’s message to the contemporary religious world is “don’t change your religion it cost me my precious Anglican Orders”. In the modern age there is no need to do so, I argue. Life is always different. What is round the corner? For Newman he had the courage and profoundly worked out intention to persevere but make no mistake if things had been different he would have stayed Anglican. We never have things our own way – Newman did not either. That is the great fascination of life for every one of us. You cannot perfect the imperfect as Newman realised. You will never be perfect on earth if we are honest – even Newman would concede that.
Without the driving force of intention in our lives we are powerless. Intention takes us into places we never thought we could reach. Let us rejoice that religious intent in the sacraments and prayer and personal intent combine to give us the true satisfaction of those who hunger and thirst after what is right – and Newman is included as its best exponent, Anglican and Catholic.