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Hallo again to all.

Claude Monet, The Rue Montorgueil in ParisWe're quite certain there were no Anglicans among the seven elderly inmates of the Bastille when French revolutionaries stormed the prison-fortress on 14 July 1789. Nor were there Anglicans in the crowd doing the storming. Nor, to our knowledge, were there Anglicans in any appreciable numbers turned out of palaces, manors and churches as a result of the revolution symbolised so universally by the storming of the Bastille. Culturally and historically speaking, it would be hard to think of a less-Anglican holiday than Bastille Day.

Indeed, the reaction of English Churchfolk to the French revolution was characterised by fear rather than by participation or active encouragement. The consequent alienation of the French church from its once-prominent role in government was one reason for this; so was the sense that the American revolution had done too much to upset the godly order of altar and throne, mitre and scepter, castle and hovel. John Bull would never countenance repetition of events like the American Declaration of Independence, or the French Reign of Terror with its atrocities like the Martyrdom of Compiègne and the slaughter of deposed rulers and their families.

Yet traditional Anglican antipathy to the French revolution does not keep us today from wishing French Anglicans and Episcopalians a joyeuse fête Nationale. In dozens of European congregations, French-speaking Anglicans carry on a centuries-long tradition of Prayer Book worship in la belle langue, proving by their life and ministry that to be Anglican does not require one to be Anglophone.

Outside the old, small heartlands of French-speaking Anglicanism—Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and some Huguenot exile congregations among them—today the Anglican Communion is thriving in places where French is an official or major language along with local languages. In Haiti, the Congo, New Caledonia, Rwanda, Vanuatu, Québec, the Indian Ocean, Burundi, Cameroon, Guinea, and elsewhere, Anglican faith has taken deep root in soil where by and large the Tricolor flies or flew, rather than the Union Jack or the Stars and Stripes. This slice of our communion is, we'd wager, perhaps less well-appreciated by the Anglophones among us than it might be.

Have a click-look, if you will, at the work of the Réseau francophone de la Communion anglicane, or the rich French resources directory of Project Canterbury. Visit the French-language Anglican liturgical texts maintained by our colleague Chad Wohlers. Look through the websites describing the good life and work of the Church of England's Diocese in Europe and the American Episcopal Church's Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. We feel confident you'll feel a surge of pride in the depth and breadth of Anglican experience worldwide, maybe even a frisson of delight in fresh knowledge of the vibrant faith of French-speaking Anglicans.

More than this, join with us if you can in reflecting on what the cultural heritages of Anglicanism are, have been, or might be. We feel confident more and more that one can be a good Anglican using the English language as it was in 1662, or the Mota language as it was in 1947, or Dakota as it was in 1870. But aside from worship in the common tongue of the people, what other distinctives bind us together? It is no longer Mattins or Evensong, nor rochets and chimeres, nor cucumber sandwiches and sherry, nor boys' clubs or the women's auxiliary. What has taken their place, if anything?

One of our goals in writing these letters is each week is to learn and discern what binds us together, rather than what keeps us far from mutual understanding. Bastille Day seems as good a day as any for us to ask you to write to us with an example of the good ties that bind, those 'bonds of affection' to use one idiom, those 'common' things we share.

See you next week. À la semaine prochaine!

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All of us at Anglicans Online

14 July 2013

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