Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
With Bishop John Hind of the Church of England at first Evensong of ICCA.
Notes for Sermon at the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, at Saint Andrew’s Church, Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday 16th July 2015.
Praised, blessed, and adored be Jesus Christ on His Throne of glory, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and in the hearts of His faithful people: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
In the 1992 United States Vice-Presidential debate, James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate, introduced himself to the eager audience in these words: ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ Needless to say, there was a rather shocked reaction from the crowd. Well, at this International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, we know precisely who we are and exactly why we are here.
We are Anglican Catholics and lay claim to the Anglican Catholic identity.
Anglo-Catholicism is entirely about Jesus Christ; it begins with Jesus, proclaims Jesus in mission, evangelism, and ministry, seeks to make Jesus known, loved, and adored, and ends with Jesus.
Anglo-Catholicism is not a wing, party, or sect, but the fullness of the Faith of the Apostles, the wholeness and completeness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of His Holy Church. It is a movement, but more than a movement; it is the Church in movement. This claim is not an assertion of triumphalism, but a fact of history.
Anglo-Catholicism is, if we will, ‘mere Catholicism,’ not just mere Christianity. It is kata holon, katholikon, according to the whole. Catholic is as Catholic does: genuine Catholicism is about what Saint Paul describes in his Epistle to the Romans as ‘the obedience of faith.’ Catholicity is obedience to the Holy and Apostolic Tradition.
Catholicism is not about ‘smells and bells,’ as fine and fancy as those things undoubtedly are. Authentic Catholicism is about obedience to the Truth as it is in Jesus. It should not be labelled ‘High Church,’ but - Deep Church.
Anglo-Catholicism is that to which all Anglicanism has always tended, the fulfilment of the Vision Glorious that is the Ecclesia Anglicana; it is Anglicanism fulfilled, and brought to its proper, highest vocation, embodying as it does the insights of the ancient and patristic Church, the English Reformation, the Non-Jurors, and the Evangelical and Catholic Revivals.
‘Why drive a Gremlin, when you can drive a Mercedes-Benz?’ ‘Why eat a packet of crisps, when you can dine on caviar?’
Anglican Catholics take their place in the universal communion of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church:
The Scriptures: interpreted by the consensus of the Undivided Catholic Church.
The Creeds: and with them the consensus fidelium of the Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils.
The Sacraments: all Seven of them.
The Apostolic Ministry: the preservation, and where necessary, the restoration of which in Apostolic Succession in the Sacrament of Holy Orders is paramount.
This is a sensitive point, but we must always speak the truth in love, and so here we speak the truth in love and in charity, for the welfare of our beloved friends. The ‘ordination’ of women to any grade of the Apostolic Ministry must be called what it is, a false doctrine, and more than that – it is a heresy, because it is a violation of Catholic consent. But let us remember, please note, that the word heresy arises from the Greek word for choice. And we must choose, we must make a choice, the choice, to accept and believe the Faith revealed by God in Scripture and Tradition.
The ‘ordination’ of women must cease, because Holy Orders guarantee the validity of the grace-bearing Sacraments; they provide the sacramental assurance of grace. The Ministry is covenanted to us by Our Lord in His Church’s sacramental system. We must maintain the Divine Revelation of the male Apostolic Ministry.
On the basis of agreement on this nature of the Ministry, the Anglican Province of America enjoys full sacramental communion with the Anglican Church in America and the Reformed Episcopal Church: we invite others to join us in this communion of the fullness of Catholic Faith and Practice.
Now that we have that out of the way, let us move to the heart of the matter and of this sermon: Anglo-Catholic Mission.
Here are ten ideas presented for our consideration regarding our ongoing mission in and for the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Personal Communion with Jesus: ‘Are you born again?’ “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?’ Every Anglican should be able to say most earnestly that he has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to cultivate a personal relationship with Our Lord and with other people – conversion of life effects evangelisation.
2. Personal Holiness. The Holy Fathers affirm that the greatest means of evangelism is holiness of life. People at large will be attracted more by the holiness of our lives than by anything else, for personal holiness has a power to attract, convert, and transform. We sanctify ourselves so that others may be sanctified.
3. Bible-Centred Religion. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, lives in His written Word. Saint Jerome pronounces, ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.’ Let us soak ourselves in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible should serve as the unique resource for the faithful Anglican Catholic. Let’s go to Bible Study!
4. The Sacramental System. We should seek to receive the Sacraments regularly and frequently, with faith, love, and repentance, devout use leads to devout living. A true Christian life is one nourished with the Sacraments. Genuine evangelism is sacramental evangelism.
5. Orthodox Liturgical Worship. The liturgy should be celebrated ‘in the beauty of holiness,’ the ars celebrandi, in which the fullness of the Tradition is expressed and embodied with all the reverence that it deserves. We should give our best to God.
6. Active and Involved Christian Formation. To divorce preaching of the Gospel from the Sacraments is to empty the Sacraments of their potential power and to reduce the sacramental life to the mechanical. All Churchmen should therefore take care that those who receive the Sacraments be afforded the maximum level and quality of formation and catechesis.
7. Avoidance of Private Judgement. Catholic Christianity is a revealed Religion. We must submit all private judgement to the authority of the Tradition of the Undivided Church. We are the children of the Church, called to live, worship, work, obey, and pray in the heart of the Church. We are Churchmen, not sectarians.
8. Faithful Discipleship. We must live in such a way that we reject the world, the flesh, and the devil, and seek to live a genuinely Christian life, which is a totally different life from that proposed by the pagan post-Christian world round us.
9. Personal Evangelism. Our determination to welcome other individual persons into the Church and to encourage them to follow Jesus, as well as our eagerness to teach the Faith, should be essential components of our Christian witness. Personal relationships translate to witness.
10. Commitment to the Anglican Tradition. Rigorous commitment to the classical Book of Common Prayer and to the patrimony and ethos of orthodox Anglicanism should define our mission and our efforts. We are Anglican Catholics, Anglicans, and we should inculcate our own ethos.
Christ saves from sin and for communion in His living Body, the Church. The end and purpose of mission is the salvation of souls and bodies joined to Jesus’s Body. Our mission for Jesus is sacramental and ecclesial, to bring people into His mystical Body.
At the first Congress in 1920, Father N. P. Williams powerfully described the position of Anglo-Catholics concerning the nature of the Church’s belief and authority.
He invokes ‘the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils,’ and then proceeds to quote the saintly Non-Juring Bishop Thomas Ken as a representative voice: ‘I die in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith, as professed by the whole Church before the division of East and West.’
He says, ‘the chief of the Oxford movement’s preliminary tasks on the intellectual side is that of convincing all members of the Anglican communion that ‘primitive Christendom’ cannot mean anything other that ‘undivided, pre-1054 Christendom.’ It has been the special work of the Oxford Movement to elucidate this appeal to antiquity... ‘We believe in the Catholic faith as contained in the Scriptures and expounded by the primitive, that is, the undivided Church of the first Christian millennium’.
For Father Williams, this is the meaning of the Church in its fullest sense, the Great Church of the ages: ‘The doctrine of the Great Church includes first of all, the main fabric of Trinitarian and Christological dogma, including, of course, the beliefs of Our Lord’s virginal Birth, bodily Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven; the presuppositions of Christian soteriology known as the doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin; belief in Christ’s atoning Death as objectively bringing within our reach that salvation which we could never have earned for ourselves; the doctrines of the Sacraments as the means of grace, of the Real Presence and the Eucharistic sacrifice; of the grace of Orders and the necessity of the Episcopal succession from the Apostles; of the Church’s absolving power in Penance; of Confirmation and Unction; of the Communion of Saints; and of last things, Heaven and Hell, and the intermediate state, and the Last Judgement. There is surely enough information here to satisfy even the most passionate cravings for dogmatic authority; the map is surely definite enough for even the most timorous sailor to steer by.’
Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar professes: ‘We now stand for the Catholic Faith common to East and West. We stand or fall with Christ’s Church, catholic and apostolic. And we wait patiently till the Holy Father and the Orthodox Patriarchs recognise us as of their own stock. We are not a party: we are those in the Anglican Communion who refuse to be limited by party rules and party creeds. Our appeal is to the Catholic Creed, to Catholic worship and Catholic practice.’
Let us pray in union with Our Blessed Lady of Walsingham…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
15 July 2015
Psalm cxxxiii, verse 3 - Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I was trained to believe that sermons are not meant primarily to prove or to instruct, much less to argue. Rather sermons are primarily meant to proclaim: to proclaim the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection of our Lord. I hope this idea animates my Sunday Mass sermons. But Evensong or Evensong and Benediction are somewhat different from Sunday morning. We read in a delightful miscellany on the Church and clergy by A.N. Wilson of a priest who for forty years ‘preached on a variety of themes at his morning Mass, but thought it inappropriate, at…Benediction, to preach on any subject other than the Empress Josephine.’ (A.N. Wilson, ed., 1992, p. 240) I don’t plan to be quite that bad. But when Bishop Ackerman invited me last year to this event I told him that I would have to address what seems to me the central problem with most of the efforts of Forward-in-Faith and its precursors and now also with the ACNA. I was invited nonetheless, so here is something with a bit of polemic in it, as promised. I will not say with Trevor Huddleston that I have naught for your comfort. But neither will I speak smooth things.
The central problem of which I just spoke is a lack of theological clarity and consistency and, to be blunt, catholicity. That is a rather provocative assertion. Let me offer an initial qualification, if not apology. I know that the religious world is filled with huge problems which are of much greater apparent importance than the intramural fusses of soi-disant Anglo-Catholics. In a world of resurgent and violent Islam and a secularizing America, our intramural differences may seem minor. I do not wish to indulge in the sadism of small differences. But then I happen to think that Anglicanism is central to the fate of the West, and that the near collapse of orthodox Anglicanism since the mid-20thcentury is at least indirectly tied to our wider troubles. So, back to the question of theological clarity, which I do not think is in fact a minor problem.
The Anglican alternative to the paths taken by Forward-in-Faith and ACNA is Continuing Anglicanism. Despite all of our checkered history and with all our failures, I think we Continuers have theological integrity. That integrity is not a subjective or personal matter, but rests on an objective theological base, expressed clearly in the Affirmation of Saint Louis. This foundation situates us irrevocably within the central Tradition of Catholic Christendom. All Anglican formularies are seen by the Affirmation through the lens of the central Tradition. Anglican formularies are not a kind of Occam’s razor to limit what is acceptable in Catholic tradition for Anglicans. Rather the Catholic consensus and central Tradition are the lens through which we read and appropriate our Anglicanism. This central Tradition is found in the Fathers and the Seven Councils and in the consensus of East and West, ancient and modern and living still. For us, the central problem of the Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion is not Gene Robinson or an error concerning any particular person or issue. Rather the fundamental problem was an implicit assertion, decades ago, that the central Tradition of Christendom is at the disposal of Episcopalian Conventions or Anglican Synods or Lambeth Conferences. It is not. The Affirmation and my own Church’s formularies firmly, decisively, and forever reject doctrinal ambiguity, comprehensiveness, or the attempt to make our peculiarities decisive and determinative. We are not Anglicans first and Catholics second. We are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church first, and Anglicans second. We will vigorously pursue unity with all others who share this central belief. No unity, at least no full or Eucharistic communion, is possible or desirable with those who do not share this starting point.
I congratulate the ACNA for leaving the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. Every one of you who made that change did a good thing and one, I hope, that you do not regret. But that departure can only be a good first step. For ACNA is really not a Church but a coalition of dioceses. The coalition is for some purposes only, and the communion of the dioceses is impaired and imperfect. The ACNA has retained the central flaw of the recent Lambeth Communion because it permits member dioceses to ordain women to the three-fold ministry, and therefore implicitly claims that the central Tradition is not decisive and may be set aside. ACNA is not a return to orthodox Anglicanism, but only a return to the impaired state of the Lambeth Communion that began in 1975 and 1976.
Continued ambiguity or confusion about the central tradition and women’s ordination is very dangerous. It is very dangerous because it encourages Catholic churchmen to compromise themselves in a variety of ways. Perhaps just as bad, fine, bright, and consistent Catholics will perceive that there is no certain trumpet, no clear ecclesiology, and no real future in a world of such compromises – and so you will continue to suffer the death by a thousand cuts, as people go to Rome or Orthodoxy or the Continuing Church or just stay home.
There are excellent reasons to be both Catholic and Anglican. Anglo-Catholics enjoy the great strengths of the Anglican patrimony. We have the Authorized Version of the Bible and the classical Book of Common Prayer. Together these are not only compelling literary and cultural monuments, but also provide us with a well-balanced spirituality. In some Christian bodies the Bible is loosed from tradition and from the praying Church. Of these bodies Richard Hooker wrote:
"When they and their Bibles were alone together, what strange fantastical opinion soever at any time entered into their heads, their use was to think the Spirit taught it them." (Laws, Preface, VIII.7)
The Prayer Book tradition in contrast provides an anchor, an objective interpretative lens, and a prayerful setting for traditional and orthodox interpretation of Scripture. In other Christian bodies the sacraments have been loosed from Scripture and its constant fertilizing influence. Scripture is neglected and the jewel of the Eucharist is pried loose from its golden setting in a round of offices centered on the systematic reading of Psalms and Scripture. But for Anglican Catholics the sacraments are truly Scripture so prayed and read and presented as to be a large part of the very sacramental forms through which God pours forth his grace into our hearts. In short, our tradition has an almost perfect balance of Bible and sacrament. We begin with the Bible as presented in and with Common Prayer, but then add our Anglican patrimony of architecture, music, literature, spirituality, and theological method. Those are formidable strengths. How sad that so many neo-Anglicans have jettisoned the bulk of this patrimony by abandoning the classical Anglican liturgical tradition.
Dear friends, if you compromise with the ordination of women, and if you abandon the largest part of our Anglican patrimony by adopting modernist liturgy rooted in the Novus Ordo or, worse, in the Anglo-Baptist ideas of Sydney, there is little to hold people. Then you can only trust in a kind of slightly more decorous imitation of Charles Stanley or the already-fading mega-churches. You’ve given up both your Anglican past and also any future that can be meaningfully described as Anglican.
We must abandon all sectarian, provincial ideas that separate us from the central consensus of the Tradition of the great Churches. We must take this duty seriously by systematically rooting our doctrine and practice in Catholic agreement. Seven Councils, seven sacraments, invocation of the saints, objective sacramental efficacy, the Real Eucharistic Presence, clear moral teaching, male episcopate and priesthood and diaconate: those are all matters of Catholic consensus. That is what we must believe if we take seriously Archbishop Fisher’s assertion that we have no faith of our own.
The Catholic Movement in the Church of England began as an attempt to call all Anglicans back to the fullness of the Catholic Faith. The goal was nothing less than the wholesale conversion of the entire Church to the fullness of the Faith. The partial success of the Movement may have been its downfall. When Anglo-Catholics became too successful to ignore or suppress, and were invited to the table to enjoy a share of the spoils – a percentage of the mitres and deaneries and professorships and plum parishes – Anglo-Catholics too often lowered their sights and quieted their voices. From the conversion of the whole, we became satisfied with a slice of the pie, with a comfortable status as a recognized party. But half-Catholic is as unreal as half-virgin.
If you still are in the Episcopal Church: get out. Get out today. Anything else threatens your soul’s state. Dear friends in ACNA: you must present a clear and unmistakable demand. The ordination of women must end, soon and completely, for it is directly contrary to Catholic doctrine. No grand-fathering – or grand-mothering is possible – because such compromise leaves intact the central, revolutionary, and false implication that the deposit of the faith is negotiable and at our disposal.
Until there is such clarity, there will be no unity among those of us who like to think of ourselves as Catholic and Anglican Churchmen. There will be no unity because you cannot be a pure cup of water in a dirty puddle. That is the simple, basic message of the Continuing Church to the neo-Anglicans. You have gone a very long way down a very wrong path, and that is true even if all the time you were avoiding a still worse path. You have a journey home to make, things to unlearn and to remember and recover. We want to welcome you at home. But there can be no restored communion with us without hard decisions and firm actions from you.
Glory be to the Undivided Trinity. Glory be to Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven and in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. All honor to the glorious and ever-Virgin Mother of our Lord. Peace be to the Holy Churches of God. May God forgive us our sins, which are many and great. May God give us wisdom to discern a safe path forward. May God grant us true humility and unshakable fidelity and great love. May God bring our Church to glorious days and may he bring us to unity with all his holy people, so that Jerusalem may be as a city that is at unity in itself.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Passion Saturday, 28th March
Workshop for Making Palm Crosses, 10am
Men’s Group Retreat at the
Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers
Palm Sunday, 29th March
Sung Holy Communion
and the Blessing and Distribution of Palms,
9am and 11am
Monday in Holy Week, 30th March
Tuesday in Holy Week, 31st March
and Wednesday in Holy Week, 1st April
Holy Communion, 12 Noon
Maundy Thursday, 2nd April
Holy Communion, 12 Noon
Sung Holy Communion,
Stripping of the Altar, and Watch before
the Altar of Repose, 7pm
Good Friday, 3rd April
Morning Prayer, Litany,
and Holy Communion
from the Reserved Sacrament 9.30am
Three Hours’ Devotion, 12 Noon to 3pm
Stations of the Cross, 3pm
Sacramental Confessions, 4pm-6pm
Evensong and Litany, 7pm
Easter Even, 4th April
Easter Egg Hunt, 10.30am
Sacramental Confessions, 1pm-2pm
Easter Flower Ministry, 9am-2pm
Sung Holy Communion of the Easter Vigil, 8pm
Easter Day, 5th April
Sung Holy Communion, 9am
Sung Holy Communion, 11am
Parish Office Closed: 6th April to 11th April
Friday, March 13, 2015
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