Thursday, August 23, 2007

Universality, Antiquity and Consent: On Vincent, Aquinas and Newman

The Church-guiding principle regarding the nature and theological boundaries of that which is the Catholic Faith of the Catholic Church, the Faith as catholicity or ‘according to the whole,’ has been provided to the Church of the ages by the well-known definition of Saint Vincent of Lerins, the oft-invoked Vincentian Canon. How does the Vincentian Canon relate the later development of sacra doctrina as elucidated and explicated by Saint Thomas Aquinas? Is there a relationship between the axiomatic Canon of Saint Vincent and the later theological understanding of Saint Thomas? The purpose of this project is to demonstrate that there is in fact a strong and abiding relationship between these two Fathers of the Faith and their understandings of the development of doctrine, the Church’s Spirit-directed self-understanding and interpretation of revealed truth. The Vincentian Canon, we will show, is itself a deliberately-conceived act of sacra doctrina, a genuine theological task seeking to embrace the whole of revealed truth in a ‘meta-theology’ of life and of the created order of nature and supernature. Vincent’s Canon may well be called a proto-sacra doctrina. The Vincentian Canon forever serves the Church as real holy doctrine, a genuine labour of the Church’s mind in the deliberation to conclusively integrate divine truths into a holistic vision. The evidence demonstrated herein will strive to substantiate the claim that Saint Vincent’s classic definition of the meaning of catholicity is the seed from which the full-blossoming tree of Saint Thomas’ sacred doctrine will grow. Vincent lays the foundation for later scholastic and Thomistic work in grasping the truth of how doctrine rightly and fully develops in the Church of Christ by the hermeneutical guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us observe how the Vincentian Canon takes its rightful place in the series of metaphysical propositions which result in the instrumentality of sacra doctrina for the Holy Catholic Church. Though separated by centuries and entire schools of thought, Vincent and Thomas are co-workers, together sharing a common goal, forming a mutually-edifying and Church-directing movement in the way that leads to the Church’s fullest self-apprehension of the divine Word supernaturally revealed to her. Thomistic ideas did not develop in a vacuum. Rather, sacra doctrina is the final stage of a long and grand historical trek.

First, let us establish the historical foundation, the ecclesiological and doctrinal framework, by which Saint Vincent promulgates the necessity of the modality of Scripture-Tradition as the means by which doctrine must be conveyed and safeguarded. According to Saint Vincent, faithful Catholic Christians have, through the many centuries of the dispensation of the Church, searched for an abiding, certain, and universally-accepted rule or guide by which the verities of the Catholic Faith might be distinguished from doctrines and beliefs which are heretical, being contrary to the Deposit of Faith once for all delivered. In his Commonitorium, Vincent offers to the Catholic faithful throughout the world a two-fold foundation, a firm and solid principle, by which the ‘Faith once delivered unto the Saints’ (S. Jude 3) might be rightly and properly acknowledged: ‘the authority of the Divine Law,’ that is, Holy Scripture and the universal Tradition of the Catholic Church. For the Church, God graciously provides one source of revelation in two modes: Holy Scripture and Ecclesiastical Tradition. ‘I have often then enquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and, so to speak, universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic Faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity: and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether any one should wish to detect the frauds... of heretics as they arise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic Faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways: first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church’ (Commonitorium 2.4).

Notice that Vincent insists that we, Christians, must, ‘fortify our own belief.’ The Christian has a personal relationship to the appreciation and application of the Faith for himself. The believer has an indispensable role to play in determining for himself the truths of revealed religion. The faith is not simply handed to the believer fully-formed and easily packaged. The exercise of human reason and research is demanded of the individual. Saint Vincent echoes the venerable teaching of no less a figure than Saint John the Theologian himself, who writes in his first biblical epistle: ‘But you have been anointed by the Holy One, that you may all know everything. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you do know the truth, and know that no lie is of the truth’ (1 John 2.20-21). Anointed by God the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the Christian as the ‘little Christ’ (S. Cyril of Jerusalem) is given the divine grace to receive, understand, and personally apply the revealed truth of the Gospel, in communion with the Body of Christ the Church. The individual Christian, joined with Christ in Baptism, illuminated by the Spirit in the Sacraments of initiation, possesses the divine unction to live-out and thusly develop the implications of the self-revelation of the Father in His Son and Spirit. Every baptised Spirit-anointed member of the Royal Priestly Body of Christ participates in Christ’s own work of revealing His Nature to mankind. And, hence, each possesses the solemn dignity and responsibility of participating in the work of refining and appropriating the truths of the Faith in every generation: this is sacra doctrina. Saint John’s instruction in turn echoes the divine promise of faith-certitude issued by Our Lord Himself, recorded by the very same beloved disciple: ‘The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my Name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you... When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth’ (S. John 14.26, 15.26). The Church, and the several members of it, will be divinely-led into the truth, and are given power to apply it in lives of Christian practice and virtue. Clearly already, Vincent’s meditation on the Johannine tradition is a vital patristic seed planted which will bring forth the fruit of sacra doctrina in later ages. Vincent’s doctrinal synthesis is familiar and essential throughout the whole history of the Catholic Church - Scripture and Tradition together form the sure and certain basis of knowledge of the Catholic Faith that comes to us from the Apostles and thus from Jesus Christ Himself. Interestingly, Saint Vincent affirms the self-sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is, in and of itself, as he writes ‘sufficient, and more than sufficient:’ ‘But here some one perhaps will ask, ‘Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church’s interpretation?’ For this reason - because, going to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words one way, another in another: so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters... Therefore it is necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various errors, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation’ (Commonitorium 2.5). Again note how the role of the personal interpreter is inextricable from the process of divine revelation. The truth of the Faith can only be registered and understood insofar as it is interpreted and made accessible to the believer. The interpreter, whose dynamic relation to the truth is certainly equal to the task, may go off-track and err. Right interpretation, a personal act of the truth-recipient, demands subjection to and guidance by Catholic Tradition. This also points to the future development of doctrine and the use of human reason within a context of sacra doctrina. The problem posed to the Church, which has always understood that Scripture is sufficient in itself to communicate the divine truth of the Gospel, is that the Scriptures have been wrongly, falsely interpreted by heretical teachers, who draw out of the Scriptures their own faulty interpretations of the meaning of Scripture. Sola Scriptura cannot work, because Scripture, examined alone, is susceptible of a variety of manifold differing and contradictory interpretations. Therefore, the Catholic Church, as the ‘ground and pillar of the truth’ (1 Timothy 3.15), must have recourse to the guidance and teaching authority of Holy Tradition. And what is the definition of the Church’s self-understanding of the nature of this Holy Tradition? Very simply, Saint Vincent describes Tradition as the ‘norm of ecclesiastical and Catholic opinion’ which is ‘that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.’ Hence, we have the famous phrase known as the Vincentian Canon: ‘Let us hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all, for that is truly and properly Catholic’ (Commonitorium 2.6).

This most famous of theological paradigms has itself been woven into Catholic Tradition in its Latin phraseology: in ipsa item catholica ecclesia magnopere curandum est ut id teneamus quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. The meaning of this statement is elucidated most clearly as being subject to three inseparable and indissoluble historical realities: Universality, Antiquity, and Consent. ‘We shall conform to the principle of universality if we confess as alone the true faith professed by the entire Church throughout the world; to that of antiquity, if we deviate in no particular from the tenets manifestly shared by our godly predecessors and the fathers; and equally to that of consent, if, relying on former ages, we make our own the definitions and opinions of all, or at any rate, the majority of, bishops and teachers’ (Commonitorium 2.6, emphasis added). Observe that Vincent states that ‘we’ again, Christians, must ‘make our own’ the teachings of the majority of bishops and teachers - a personal onus of responsibility for doing the work of sacred doctrine rests on the shoulders, and on the soul, mind, and heart, of the individual believer, endowed as he is with reason, intelligence, skill, and ability. The sacred task of discovering the true meaning of revealed truth is commended to the individual believer and is dynamic, personally-involving, and deeply interactive. Sacra doctrina again appears in its embryonic form. For Saint Vincent, ‘Catholic’ truth literally means kaq ‘olon, ‘according to the whole,’ the whole Faith delivered to the whole Church throughout the whole world, throughout all time, by the ministry of all the Catholic Fathers, Bishops, and Doctors who have ever lived. Universality, Antiquity, and Consent provide an unfailing guide by which orthodox Christians may themselves know and personally discern precisely what the Apostolic Church of Christ has always believed. There are ever more highly-advanced, ever-increasing levels of authority, levels which hold more weight and authority than others in the Church’s labour to define and teach doctrine. Priests are above laymen, bishops higher than priests, councils higher than bishops - that which may be believed by all is grounded and located in the more eminent circles of Church authority, as all faith is finally united in the universality of the Church’s teaching Tradition (Pelikan 339).

Recognising the fact that the heretics, who dissent from the doctrinal unanimity of the Great Church of the ages, themselves embrace and invoke the language and practice of precedent, which alone cannot suffice to clarify the faith or safeguard the transmission of the divine revelation. Vincent calls upon the individual Christian to carefully examine the decisions and teaching of Ecumenical or General Councils received by the whole Church. The faithful should prefer the formulated and carefully-deliberated decisions and teachings of the Councils over the more hastily formed or ignorantly-contrived doctrines of heretical individuals and councils which do not have the sanction of universal Catholic authority. The dogmatic decree of the Ecumenical Councils outweighs the selective and private opinions expressed by individual theologians or lesser councils convened apart from the Church as a whole. Clearly, if one reviews the history of doctrine or the writing of the ancient Fathers, one sees that disagreements arise. Individual Fathers contradict each other and diverge from one another’s theological opinions. Vincent takes this unavoidable reality into account when developing his Canon, the rule of determining what in fact represents the universal and consentient teaching of the Catholic Tradition. Universality, articulated through various councils comprised of diverse and representative fathers and teachers throughout the whole Church, overcomes the narrow and private ideas, the theologumenon, of individual Fathers, and certainly, heretics. There is ‘strength in numbers’ when it comes to rightly receiving the depositum fidei. What if a General or Ecumenical Council does not speak to a particular issue or controversy of faith? What if there exists no clear, unambiguous teaching given by the universal, ancient, consentient Church on any given subject? Then the Christian believer must do his homework - he must collect together and scrutinise the views and teachings of representative Church Fathers who reflect the Church’s presence in various ages, places, and times, and from them all gather a consistent and cohesive doctrinal opinion. Such is hard work indeed, but is precisely the scenario laid out for us by Vincent in the Commonitorium. He insists, in the absence of a ruling of a Council or a definite articulation out of Scripture and unbroken Tradition, that only those representative Fathers be examined who, having lived in various places and various times through the ages, have remained in the Faith and sacramental communion of the Catholic Church. The Fathers used by Christians in their theological task must be those who, by the Church’s witness, have been approved as reliable voices of Catholic Tradition (JND Kelly 50).

Trustworthy sources taken together in forming the consensus fidelium can be depended upon: ‘What then will a Catholic Christian do if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud or novelty (Commonitorium 3.7). ‘But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, of a city or a province? Then it will be his care by all means to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council, to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, who though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the Communion and Faith of the One Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equal, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation (Commonitorium 3.8). It is our ‘care’ that we must do the work - the Christian is summoned, commanded to take upon himself the reasonable and exegetical action of sorting, sifting, gathering, comparing, contrasting, and drawing out of patristic resources the essence of the Christian deposit. There is no room in this paradigm for the ‘armchair Christian’ who idly sits by and accepts gratis whatever the Church hands him. Saint Vincent makes it abundantly clear that the Christian has a co-operative task to achieve in the theological enterprise; in fact, the burden of proof, and of the work of the theological effort, lie squarely on the shoulders of the lay-theologian, the man in the pew, the faithful member of the Royal Priestly Body of Christ, the Church. God has revealed Himself faithfully and vividly through His Scriptures, Tradition, and Church, as all is interpreted by the Catholic Consensus of the Fathers and Doctors of the Christian dispensation. But, God having done His work, turns, in a sense, the labour over to the faithful, who must creatively and critically question and filter the truth, dividing it from heresy and error. In the end, the Christian’s duty is accomplished when the disparate voices of the Fathers are united, examined, strained, and ciphered through prayerful research and reason. When the opinions of true Faith are finally distinguished, a true and reliable picture of true things emerges, and then the work is done. It is not our purpose here to raise the difficult questions of just precisely how one gathers, separates, and filters the plethora of patristic writings, sermons, and other sources from which the One Catholic Faith must be ascertained, or what objective tests above them or superior to them all should be used. The Vincentian Canon opens itself, sadly, to the insidious interpretations of which we are warned by Vincent. Suffice it to assert here that we have a very early, fifth-century model of the relationship between divine revelation and human reason which will later take full-fledged form as Thomas Aquinas’s sacra doctrina. In the Catholic Tradition of Vincent, God permits man to work together with Him in order that man may ultimately, by divine help, get to the truth as God intended it to be known and lived. Man is graced with a synergy, a co-operative effort with God as God’s co-worker, in the process that leads to the full dissemination of truth. God so loves and dignifies man that He enables the human race, replete with free-will, to join God in a dynamic relationship of revelation and truth-discerning. God and man work together so God may fully reveal and that man may truly receive and live the revelation. A contemporary of Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Vincent of Lerins actually served as a key player, albeit behind the scenes, of the Pelagian controversy that raged during fifth century. Saint Vincent produces his Commonitorium, under a pseudonym, in order to attack the predestinarianism of Saint Augustine as being a deviation from the Catholic orthodoxy of earlier centuries. We see instantly why it is that Vincent places such a high priority on the free-will and free-intellect of man, in opposition to the radical depravity doctrine of Augustine (Pelikan 333). For his openness to the role of human freedom and free-will in the economy of salvation and in the theological process, Saint Vincent was accused by the partisans of his day, who unquestioningly followed Saint Augustine, as being a ‘remnant of the Pelagian heresy’ (Pelikan 319). Epithets and heated language abounded during the struggle. Vincent tried to stay on-target.

Vincent did not follow Augustine in his extreme views on predestination. Vincent held that Augustine’s more excessive perspective on predestination led to fatalism and determinism, in which the role of human freedom in human salvation is annihilated. Our Saint desired to preserve the reality of man’s free-will in the face of man’s disastrous fall and the curse of ancestral sin, affirming that God’s desire is that all men be saved, and that all men are capable of being saved. Saint Vincent joined the ranks of Saint John Cassian and Saint Fautus of Riez in defending the truth that man has a genuine free-will and can co-operate with the divine initiative in the process of salvation. Man, Saint Vincent teaches, can reject grace and lose his salvation. He can freely accept or reject the loving provisions of God’s grace. Vincent, defending the ancient tradition of the Eastern Fathers, stood firmly against a hyper-Augustinian doctrine of grace, salvation, and human freedom which would eventually, in the course of church history, degenerate into Calvinism (Pelikan 324). The Commonitorium is developed, with its central all-embracing definition of the meaning of Catholicism as universality in both time and space, in order to demonstrate that Augustinian doctrine on predestination must be rejected by the whole Catholic Church as contrary to ‘the interpretations that obviously were maintained by our saintly forbears and fathers.’ Even Augustine the great theologian must defer to the ‘decisions of antiquity,’ for as we have seen, individual fathers and doctors of the Church can and do err, and must be subject to Catholic authority defined as Catholic consensus. Cleverly, in order to show how the principle of Catholic consensus works in relation to Saint Augustine, Vincent uses an example of how a good Catholic thinker can go bad - Origen. Origen, who began as an ‘ornament of the Church’ for his piety, fell from grace and corrupted the ancient faith. If Origen could fall, we are led to presume, others (i. e. Augustine) can fall as well (Pelikan 336-339). Vincent does not judge Augustine guilty of outright heresy, but resists the consequences implied by Augustine’s teachings. In the name of Catholic consensus and Tradition, Vincent challenges Augustine’s extreme views as opposed to catholicity.

For our purposes, it is clear that Saint Vincent believes in the goodness and real power of the human will, mind, reason, and intellect - and for this cause he places a tremendous emphasis on the human mediation and appropriation of God’s revealed Word in the Christian vocation. Vincent’s high Christian anthropology plants him solidly in the ‘pro-sacra doctrina’ field. Does the foregoing model of divinely-promised ceritude guaranteeing the Church’s divinely-provided message mean that Saint Vincent of Lerins has no concept or understanding of sacra doctrina as later developed by Saint Thomas Aquinas? No, quite the opposite! Clearly the last option outlined above give us a clear sense of sacra doctrina as it will later be formulated by Aquinas. For, in the absence of any clearly-defined or unambiguously-given formula of doctrine or belief, it is up to the believer, the individual Christian, to weigh and test the various and differing claims and teachings of the Fathers. A human element, an unmistakable use of sanctified reason and intelligence, must in the end be utilised if the Catholic truth is to be rightly and faithfully determined. The Christian has an irreplaceable role to play in his own participation in the theological mystery; the Christian has a theological task, a moral and spiritual responsibility, to carefully examine and scrutinise sundry and disagreeing truth claims, and to personally resolve theological conflicts. There exists a divine-human synergy, or co-operative relationship, a necessary correspondence, between the divine Giver of truth, Who communicates revelation to man via Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition in the Faith, and communion of the Catholic Church, and the recipient of the divine message, who must freely and intelligently evaluate, embrace, and appropriate the truth for himself - even taking upon himself the task of resolving theological/doctrinal conflicts when they arise. This notion of the use of human reason will obviously play a very exacting role in the later development of sacra doctrina. Vincent does not rule out or exclude the possibility that doctrine, and man’s capacity to appreciate, comprehend, or mediate doctrine, may develop and grow. And, again, in this exercise of the gift of freedom for the search and development of doctrine comes responsibility to be faithful that which has been delivered: ‘He is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the Catholic Faith above everything, above the authority, regard, genius, eloquence, or philosophy of every man whatsoever; who sets light by all of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the Faith, resolves that he will believe that and only that which he sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient time; but whatsoever new and unheard-of doctrine he shall have found to have been introduced by some other besides that of all the saints, he will see as a trial, not the truth (Commonitorium 20.48). The Christian’s labour of love in developing genuine interpretation of the Faith requires obedience and humility, as well as consistency. Yes, there is for Saint Vincent genuine progress and development of doctrine, of a specific kind. He uses the example of undisputed Ecumenical Councils as a type of development - because Councils deliberately refine and polish doctrinal propositions. Traditional formulae and concepts receive deeper and fuller explication by the conciliar process. Councils serve to take the original Faith and make it clearer. ‘This is what the Church, roused by the heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils - this and nothing else - she has consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from ancient times by Tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the Faith by the characteristic of a new name’ (Commonitorium 23.59). Doctrine takes on new language and ideas.

For Saint Vincent, innovation of doctrine is by nature heresy, false doctrine. Innovation equals falsity. Doctrines cannot be novel; they cannot be created anew or newly-generated, but true doctrine revealed by God in the Church can be elucidated and expressed in a new and more precise manner. In the conciliar tradition, which perfects and improves the elucidation of doctrine (not thereby making new doctrine), the ancient and venerable truths of the Catholic Faith, the original deposit of Faith transmitted from Christ and the Apostles, are given a brilliant, sharper clarity than would otherwise be obtained. The Canon’s more limited approach to the content of holy doctrine here differs significantly from later Thomistic sacra doctrina, which allows for the introduction of such development in understanding of doctrine that the breakthrough could be labelled ‘new.’ Very strictly, Vincent grants no permission for the expansion of doctrine beyond what is definitively and objectively held in the past ages. Saint Thomas will take sacra doctrina a step further and can, under certain conditions, be interpreted as allowing for the addition, from God, of a new data of revelation in the Church. Therefore Vincent does not hold sacra doctrina in the modern sense; he is ‘proto’ not ‘toto’ sacra doctrina. According to the Saint of Lerins, the Church, by conciliarity, produces a better vocabulary, a higher expression, for the primitive Gospel: Councils declare ‘not new doctrines, but old ones in new terms.’ Non nova, sed nove. John Henry Cardinal Newman will borrow heavily from Saint Vincent in his Essay on the Development of Doctrine by primarily reproducing the Vincentian idea that doctrine organically grows. Saint Vincent allows an organic development of Christian doctrine, one analogous to the development of the human body from the stage of infancy to the stage of old age. He permits the Church to see growth and advancement in the way in which Christian revelation is perceived, understood, mediated, communicated, shared, and participated in by members of the Church. Very guardedly, the Saint of Lerins asserts that development of doctrine is real, but cannot allow even in the slightest any alteration or change in the original deposit of Faith. The original meaning and significance of the divine revelation in the Church must be preserved without any change whatsoever. Any change in the meaning of doctrine would be innovation, and thus, again, heretical (JND Kelly 51). Let us more closely explore Vincent’s concept of doctrinal development. ‘But some will say perhaps, ‘Shall there then be no progress in Christ’s Church?’ Certainly all possible progress... Yet on condition it be real progress, not alteration of the Faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged in itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, as well of individuals as of all, as well of one man as of the whole Church, ought in the course of ages, to increase and have much vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning (Commonitorium 23.54). ‘The growth of religion in the soul must be analogous to the growth of the body, which, though in process of years it is developed and attains to full size, yet still remains the same...they who were once young are still the same now that they have become old, insomuch that though the stature and outward form of the individual are changed, yet his nature is one and the same. In like manner, it behoves Christian doctrine to follow the same laws of progress, so as to be consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age, and yet, withal, to continue uncorrupt and unadulterated, complete and perfect in all the measurement of its parts, and so to speak, in all its proper members and senses, admitting no change, no waste of its distinctive property, no variation in its limits (Commonitorium 23.55-56). Real and determinable progress occurs in the development of Christian doctrine - growth but not alteration, development but not change. The infant grows into the adult, but the person is still the same person. So it is with the Faith: it grows, is seasoned and flavoured with time and age, and matures into the full stature of adulthood. Yet it is discernibly the same truth, the same content, the same reality. See that in this proto-sacra doctrina the children of the Church do the work, engage in the labour, exercise the ministry of discernment of doctrine. Using the planting metaphor we can say the farmers must be faithful in reaping only that which has been sown by God in the Church. Development occurs. In the field of God’s Church the growth of the plant is tangible, visible, demonstrable. And yet, it is only for the harvesters to lovingly and provisionally gather what has been planted and has grown by its own power. The children of the Church cultivate pre-existent doctrine; they do not invent new breeds and kinds. It is farming, not cloning or genetic engineering. They cannot reap what has not been sown. ‘From doctrine which was sown as wheat, we should reap, in the increase, doctrine of the same kind - wheat also.... no change may ensue in the character of the plant... the nature of each kind, through the process of time and cultivation from seed to plant, must remain the same. Therefore, whatever has been sown by the fidelity of the Fathers in this husbandry of God’s Church, the same ought to be cultivated and taken care of by the industry of their children... the same ought to flourish and go forward to perfection. For it is right that the ancient doctrines... should as time goes on be cared for, smoothed, polished; but they should not be changed, maimed, or mutilated. Doctrine may receive proof, illustration, definiteness; but they must retain their completeness, integrity, and characteristic properties (Commonitorium 23.57). John Henry Newman begins in his Essay the programme of explaining how doctrine develops. His focuses on the claims made by Saint Vincent and the way his Canon has been historically utilised by Anglicans in the apologia of their particular doctrinal position. He describes the Canon, as seen by Anglican historians, as ‘a principle infallibly separating, on the whole field of history, authoritative doctrine from opinion, rejecting what is faulty, and combining and forming a theology.’ He admits the Vincentian Canon is ‘a short and easy method for bringing the various informations of ecclesiastical history under that antecedent probability in its favour...’ (Newman 7). He sees Vincent’s rule as providing a sort of lowest-common denominator in the history of doctrine: ‘What [is] more conclusive than that doctrine that was common to all at once was not really their [the ancients’] own but public property in which they all had a joint interest, and was proved by the concurrence of so many witnesses to have come from an apostolical source?’ (Newman 7). However, Newman points out the almost self-evident problem of the Canon - its negative nature. It functions not so much to tell the Church what her doctrine is, but rather what her doctrine is not. ‘Its difficulty lies in applying it to particular cases. The rule is more serviceable in determining what is not than what it is Christianity’ (Newman 8). The Canon may serve to show us what was not contained in the original deposit of Faith as expressed by the earliest Councils and Fathers, but because the Canon is itself open to interpretations from various theologians and schools, Newman claims that it cannot function on its own to demonstrate the actual positive content of the earliest Christian doctrinal Tradition.

‘Vincent alone’ is, to Newman, just as nebulous and unhelpful as ‘Scripture alone.’ Newman’s best point on the subject of the Canon as a guide for perceiving and apprehending the development of Christian doctrine is found in his Anglican work, The Prophetical Office of the Church, which he quotes in the Essay. There, Newman more specifically explains the difficulties raised in the application of the Canon to particular doctrines and historical circumstances. ‘The Rule is not of a mathematical or demonstrative character, but moral, and requires practical judgement and good sense to apply it. For instance, what is meant by being ‘taught always?’ does it mean in every century, or every year, or every month? Does ‘everywhere’ mean in every country, or every diocese? and does ‘the Consent of Fathers’ require us to produce the direct testimony of every one of them? How many Fathers, how many places, how many instances, constitute the fulfilment of the test? It is, then, from the nature of the case, a condition which never can be satisfied as fully as it might have been. It admits of various and equal applications in various instances; and what degree of application is enough, must be decided by the same principles which guide us in the conduct of life...’ (Prophetical Office in Newman 8). Newman highlights the crux of the matter in connection to sacra doctrina: the use of the Rule of Saint Vincent requires moral, intellectual, philosophical, and theological judgement, the discerning and wise application of the will, heart, mind, and soul in the process of determining religious truth. Man must co-operate with God in the sacred discipline of developing and translating sacred doctrine into the human idiom. Although the Rule undoubtedly has its limitations and contingencies, it demands of the individual Christian and the Church alike a real co-working relationship, a personal connectedness and cohesiveness with God, in order that holy doctrine may be known and lived. Here it can be said in response to Newman’s questions that certainly serious and problematic troubles arise when the precise requirements of the Canon demand fulfilment in the practical sphere of history. It is true that the Canon has a negative effect; its purpose is to weed out heresy from the general consensus of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal Tradition of every age - the Canon does in fact serve to exclude heresy more than its does to positively affirm the substantial and defined content of the Catholic deposit. Vincent leaves that process of determination, or refinement and definition, to the Church convened in General Councils, which for him serve as the supreme tribunal of Catholic truth. The Canon preveniently goes before Councils, searching out and extricating that which does not belong to the Traditio Apostolorum. To be fair to Vincent, we must admit that the Saint of Lerins is not altogether ephemeral and unrealistic in laying out the conditions of the Canon. He does supply guidance for its application in a concrete context, as we have seen. In an almost ‘private judgement’ sort of manner, he places the onus of responsibility for judging the times, places, Fathers, the ideas of universality and collective consent, upon the individual researcher, who has, Vincent believes, both the supernatural ability to do the research and the access to the necessary information to make a correct judgement possible. The faithful Catholic Christian bears the moral imperative to ‘work for truth,’ to gather information from every age, every particular Church, every Church Father acknowledged to have been in communion with the Catholic Church as she understood herself in the earliest centuries, and from reliable information available make a sound determination as to the content of the Faith. Like the kenosis of Incarnation, God wills to rely on human nature.

The rules are plainly laid out, granted. But, Newman is undoubtedly correct in highlighting the perplexing conditions and requirements of a task which seems, in itself, vastly beyond the capacities of the average Christian. This author contends that the Canon is, to a much greater degree asserted by Newman, self-explanatory and self-directing. Sacra doctrina, later exposited by Thomas Aquinas, finds itself rooted and grounded here in the fertile soil of Vincent’s Canon. Development and reasonableness of doctrine rely on the effort and intelligibility of man. Vincent’s insistence upon the autonomy and free-will of man in the pursuit of truth, and his essential relationship to the divine initiative in revelation, makes more for the human element than other paradigms of doctrinal discovery (i.e. Augustinianism). Let us give credit where credit is due. The Canon’s description of genuine doctrinal development becomes, in the course of time, the basis for real developed knowledge and application of doctrine, and the human mediation and participation in divine truth. Newman again questions the Rule by using the example of the Anglican divines, who use it to exclude, on one hand, the novel claims of protestantism, and, on the other hand, the assertions of the Roman Church regarding Papal dogmas. The Canon, Newman posits, cannot be used to reject some Church Fathers’ teachings while accepting those of others: ‘It cannot at once condemn St. Thomas and St. Bernard, and defend St. Athanasius and St. Gregory Nazianzen’ (Newman 8). Though Newman says that the Canon cannot honestly be used in this manner, Saint Vincent does make such a claim for the Canon’s function, as was seen earlier in the case of Saint Augustine and before him, Origen. Newman, by repudiating a decisive decision-making role for the Canon as it stands historically, seeks a way out of the authoritative and interpretative use of the Canon by Anglicans to call into question the universal supremacy and infallibility of the Bishop of Rome. Against the idea that the Canon always objectively works in the promotion of a particular doctrine, he invokes the doctrines of Original Sin and Purgatory, claiming that Anglicans can either reject one or both doctrines according to how they employ the Vincentian Canon (Newman 15). In another place, however, Newman seems to concur with the notion that the Rule of Vincent can and does work, that is, in special reference to the dogma of the Blessed Trinity - he admits a ‘consensus of doctors’ from separate testimonies of differing Fathers through varying times and places which creates the presumption that the Trinitarian doctrine existed before its solidification by Council (Newman 10). This positive appraisal is the exception, not the rule, of Newman’s thought on the subject. Newman generally refuses any practical reality to the Canon’s utility. But in so doing, this writer argues, he may very well be missing the original point, or purpose, of the Canon. Vincent clearly does grant to his Rule the ability to distinguish for the Church the collective and consentitent, consistent mind of the greatest majority of Fathers from that which is merely the isolated opinions of an individual Father or even a smaller but unrepresentative number or group of Fathers put together. Without the foundation which the Canon procures for the Church, Christianity could fall into the trap of doctrinal creation, doctrinal innovation, not genuine doctrinal development. However cloudy or indecisive the Canon’s stipulations may be, they cannot and should not be ignored - for to do so would be to imperil the ancient Catholic Church’s own doctrinal standard and to place the modern Church into the error of thinking herself more advanced or more faithful to the original Christian Tradition than the original Tradition itself. Newman’s psychological reaction against the Vincentian Canon, because of its uses by Anglican apologists for the defence of their non-Roman or even anti-Papal theological positions, should not at once cause the Church to recoil at it or to ignore its irreplaceable safeguarding of truth. The Vincentian Rule, fraught with philosophical or even practical difficulties as it is, still should provide the norm, the solid bedrock, for approaching to the Catholic dogmatic vision.
Although its tone and demeanour are apophatic in nature, offering a via negativa defence of catholicity against error, the Rule or Canon of Saint Vincent of Lerins serves as the backdrop for the positive theological development of the patristic and medieval Church, which will ultimately evolve the concept of a full-blown sacra doctrina. Unfortunately, Saint Thomas Aquinas, in developing his metatheological worldview in the Summa Theologicae, never directly refers to Saint Vincent or his Commonitorium. Nevertheless, the Thomistic achievement would have been impossible without the firm basis laid in the work of a fifth-century monk, whose writing has gone on to impact the Catholic doctrinal treasury for century upon century. Saint Vincent displays for us today a theological landscape wide and broad, of limitless potential and yet ever faithful to the first truths of the ancient Religion of Christ. We begin to see in the Saint of Lerins the first planting of the vineyard of sacra doctrina. Saint Vincent, representative of the undivided Church, is the doctor of a proto-sacra doctrina.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Eucharist and Charity

‘A new commandment I give you: that you love one another and I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (S. John 13.34). Our Blessed Lord promises the gift of divinely communicated love, charity, to be the source of supernatural life and of the unity of His People, the Church of God. The Lord imparts charity as the bond which unites men to God and each other. How does God impart this transforming and unitative theological virtue of charity to man? The answer of Christ’s Church has always been unequivocal: sacramentally, in the Sacrament of Charity and Unity, the Eucharist. Does God give to mankind the theological virtue of charity through the Holy Eucharist in the Catholic Church? Undoubtedly. How does the ‘Church-making’ Sacrament of Jesus Christ, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Eucharist, actualise the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the communion of charity by the infusion of the theological virtue of charity? Or, more precisely, how does God, through the instrumentality of the Eucharistic mystery, bind together His children in the communication of the divine gift of caritas or agaph, making them participant in the life of the Holy Trinity which is Love? Is there an ecclesiastical dimension related to the Eucharist in which the theological virtue of charity is received, lived, and manifested to the new creation? These questions are posed and beautifully answered by the most imminent theologian of the Western Church, Saint Augustine of Hippo. This project intends to explore, in the light of Saint Augustine’s sermons and writings, and in comparison with other writers, the meaning of these questions and the answers which have been supplied by the Catholic and Apostolic Church for the better part of two-thousand years. The Sacrament of the Altar as the sacramentum unitatis, the Sacrament of Unity, has been held to be the constitutive power holding together the Church’s common bond of perichoresis, of mutual-indwelling-in-love of the members of the One Body, and, most profoundly, of mutual indwelling in the Life of God Himself, the Blessed Trinity, since the beginning of the formulation of Christian doctrine. The Church, as the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, is made one in Christ by the sacramental Body of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist. Church and Eucharist are inseparable realities, both being Christ’s Body. Through the ecclesial Body and Eucharistic Body of Christ, God the Holy Trinity imparts his own divine gift of love, from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, the theological virtue of charity, thus forming human beings into a participant reality in the Life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Church and Eucharist, infusing and implanting the grace of charity, cause man to be divinised, deified, to enjoy the supernatural transformation of qewsis: ‘God became man so that man may become God’ (S. Athanasius). The supreme gift of God, His own love, transfigures redeemed human nature to become by grace what God is by nature. By God who is Love the human person, united to the divinely-glorified humanity of Jesus Christ the God-Man present as Gift and Offering in the Eucharistic Solemnities, is made to become God-like in love.

I. The Teaching of Saint Augustine of Hippo
‘O Sacrament of Piety! O Sign of Unity! O Bond of Charity!’ (In John 26). Because in the Eucharistic celebration the baptised are united to Christ’s offering of himself to the Father, they are therefore united to each other in Christ. For Saint Augustine, the offering of the Holy Eucharist enables the baptised to enter into the one perfect Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his self-Oblation to the Father. By reception of the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ, Our Lord under the sacred species of bread and wine, the baptised communicants are formed by divine charity into the ecclesiastical or mystical Body of Christ, the Church. The Sacrament of Unity, the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, when received as charity and with the right predisposition of charity, forms the communion of charity, the Church. ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion in the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the Communion in the Body of Christ? Because there is one Bread, we who are many are one Body, for we all partake of the one Bread’ (1 Corinthians 16-17). ‘The chalice, or rather, what the chalice holds, consecrated by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through those Elements the Lord wished to entrust to us his Body and Blood which he poured out for the remission of sins. If you have received worthily, you are what you have received.’ (Sermon 227). ‘This food and this drink Our Lord would have us to understand as the fellowship of His Body and members, which is the Church of His predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones’ (Sermon 272). ‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ... Now you are the Body of Christ and individually members of it’ (1 Corinthians 12.12,27). Augustine borrows the ancient image of the second-century Syrian Didache in order to explain the efficacy of the Eucharist in creating the unity of the Church in love. He uses the image of many grains of wheat being gathered into one loaf of bread, this loaf being offered in the Eucharist as a symbol of the Church’s unity. The Saint of Hippo uses the typology of the Didache in his Easter instructions of the newly-baptised, neophytes who have just received the Holy Communion for the first time. ‘Our Lord betokened His Body and Blood in things out of which many units are made into some one whole: for out of many grains one thing is made and many grapes flow into one thing’ (On John Tract 26). In his teaching and preaching to new members of the Church, Augustine explains in detail: the neophytes are themselves the many grains threshed by oxen when the Gospel was preached to them; then they were stored in barns as catechumens when held back from sharing in the Eucharistic offering. Ground by exorcism and fasting, moistened with baptismal water and shaped into one lump of dough in Holy Baptism, the baptised were baked by the fire of the Holy Ghost into the Lord’s one loaf of bread by the sacrament of Confirmation. In a powerful metaphor, Saint Augustine describes the integral unity of the faithful as they are together forged into one indissoluble Body in the mystery of the Church and her sacramental life. ‘So by bread you are instructed as to how you ought to cherish unity. Was that bread made of one grain of wheat? Were there not, rather, many grains? However, before they became bread these grains were separate. They were joined together in water after a certain amount of crushing. For unless the grain is ground and moistened with water, it cannot arrive at that form which is called bread. So, too, you were previously ground, as it were, by the humiliation of your fasting and by the sacrament of exorcism. Then came the baptism of water. You were moistened, as it were, so as to arrive at the form of bread. But without fire, bread does not yet exist’ (Sermon 227). The Church as the mystical Body is created by Jesus Christ in the sacraments of the Church’s initiation.

The wine to be consecrated in chalice, Augustine explains, symbolises the oneness of heart, mind, and soul experienced by the primitive first-century Church as related in Acts of the Apostles 4.32: ‘Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common.’ Many individual grapes are pressed together in the winepress into one cup of wine that tastes lovely. The Eucharist gives the quintessential unity to this ecclesiastical reality made by the power of God in the Gospel of his love. The faithful are placed in the Eucharistic elements upon the Altar with the whole communion of the Body of Christ. They enter into the mystery of the Eucharistic oblation as being that oblation themselves. ‘If you are the Body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond ‘Amen’ (‘yes - it is true’) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, ‘the Body of Christ’ and respond ‘Amen.’ Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true’ (Sermon 272). In his love and mercy the Lord Jesus has commended to the Church the gift of his Body and Blood in Holy Communion so that we may be transformed into him. ‘The one who is properly said to eat the Body of Christ and to drink his Blood is the one who is incorporated into the unity of his Body...’ (City of God 21.25). The Body and Blood of Christ are what the Christian becomes when he receives the Blessed Sacrament: ‘This is what he even made us ourselves into as well’ (Sermon 229). The Eucharist is the singular mystery which signifies the Christian’s being-in-Christ. The Christian sees himself and his own mystery upon the Altar. The faithful must give their personal assent to what is done on the Altar as pertaining to their being. The Christian receives what he is in Holy Communion. Another way of phrasing it would be, simply: ‘Be what you can see and receive what you are’ or again, ‘Behold! There you are in the Host! See! There you are in the chalice!’ Although there is a multiplicity of Masses celebrated on thousands of Catholic Altars throughout the Christian world, and therefore thousands of loaves of bread consecrated in the Mysteries in different places, there is still only One Bread because all faithful Christians together form the One Body of Christ. ‘Although many, you are the One Bread’ (Sermon 228). Participation in the Holy Eucharist as the Church-making sacrament effects the unity of the Body of Christ. The ecclesial Body of Jesus Christ is created or formed into a special unity by the sacramental Body of Christ - in charity. The two manifestations of the One Body are inextricable. Thus Saint Augustine admonishes the newly baptised: ‘In order not to be scattered and separated, eat what binds you together’ (Sermon 228). Christ joins his Body to himself and each member to the other member in the ‘Bond of Charity,’ the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The precise and specific purpose of the Lord’s Supper, the exact property of the Eucharist, is unity; the Eucharist orders itself towards the unity of the one Body. ‘By being digested into his Body and turned into his members we may be what we receive’ (Sermon 57). The Christian faithful are literally united to Jesus Christ and each other by eating Christ’s Flesh and drinking his Blood; the unitative efficacy of the Eucharist radically depends on the Real Objective Presence of Our Lord in the Mysteries of the Altar. Only a really, truly, and substantially-present Christ can cause his members to corporally participate in him and therefore be made One Body with him and each other. The Bishop of Hippo calls the Eucharist the ‘Sacrament of our peace and unity’ (Sermon 272) and declares it to be the means by which the Body of Christ is made one. The moral impact of the Eucharist is so profound and transformative that we receive this admonition: ‘Any who receive the sacrament of unity and do not hold the bond of peace, do not receive the sacrament for their benefit, but for a testimony against themselves’ (Sermon 272). If the Eucharist is received in a wrong or sinful state, and without the proper readiness and intention, the Mysteries become not a saving ordinance but a token of the sin of the receiver, a sign by which the bad communicant incriminates himself and publicly professes his wickedness. To be what they receive, the communicant faithful must receive Our Lord in Holy Communion worthily. Saint Augustine repeats the solemn warning of Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: ‘Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord.’ Charity and the bond of unity can only be maintained if the reception of the Divine Sacrament is accompanied with faith, hope love, repentance, and the right dispositions. The sacrament unitatis causes a unity in the Lord’s Body the Church, being ‘the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body’ (as Augustine loves to describe it). The Body of Christ is made one by the ‘harmony of charity’ (Sermon 272). It is the theological virtue of charity which Eucharistically binds the Church together as a unity. There cane be no unity without this harmonious charity being present and active in the Body. Charity is the necessary prerequisite for beautifully and rightly receiving the Blessed Sacrament: ‘The wedding garment is charity out of a pure of heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned... Question yourselves; if you have real charity, you may be without fear in the Feast of the Lord [the Eucharist]. Let charity be born in you, let it be nourished, fostered, increased. Love the Lord, and so learn to love yourselves; that when by loving the Lord you shall have loved yourselves, you may securely love your neighbours as yourselves’ (Sermon 40). ‘So then Jesus both gave us his Body and Blood a healthful refreshment... let them eat and drink Life... love and God shall draw you... eat, drink, live!’ (Sermon 81). The Church is fashioned by Christ to be the permanent repository of charity, to be the Home of Charity, the Abode of God’s Love. ‘It follows after the commendation of the Trinity [in the Creed], ‘the Holy Church.’ God is pointed out, and so is His Temple. This same Temple is the Church, the one Church, the true Church, the Catholic Church, fighting against all heresies: it abides in its root, in its vine, which is charity’ (On the Creed). And yet, this charity can be broken, thus severing the unity of the Church. Charity, the supernatural love of God, given by God directly and personally, lived in God, holds the Church, the Body of Christ, together as its unifying principle. ‘Charity pertains to the unity of spirit and the bond of peace whereby the Catholic Church is gathered and knit together...’ (On Patience). The divine love, charity, is infused in the Christian by the grace of God. It is communicated to man by God himself. ‘Love, which is a virtue, comes to us from God, not from ourselves.’ (On Grace 20). Love is the communion of the first Lover, God, and the beloved, mankind. (On the Trinity 8.10, 14).

Let us observe in more detail the relationship in Augustine’s theology between the Eucharist as sacramentum unitatis or communio and the gift of divine charity. Love, for Augustine, is at the very heart of the Christian life and the Church. Charity should not confused with the sacraments themselves or outward visible acts of religion - for charity is interior to the person and is reflected in charitable action. People may approach the Lord’s Table and receive the Eucharist, but they can only be called Christian to the extent that they truly act out of love. Charity alone guarantees living the good life. The mode of life demonstrated in faith, hope, and charity, or of the lack thereof, shows what a person truly is or is not (ep. Jo. 5.7, 7.6, 4.4). Charity is inclination, movement, and striving. Propter seipsam rem aliquam appetere; motus ad aliquid; ad aliquid moveri (div. qu. 35.1 in Augustine 509). Love becomes concrete by the object which is loved: the Christian life must be a life of genuine charity practised in good works, lived-out visibly. The outward sacramental signs of the Christian Faith are no automatic guarantee of charity or holiness. The charity conveyed as grace must be co-operated with and exercised in a tangible way. Charity is the force of the soul, the source of life. Love is the basis of our life; charity determines what kind of life we live, whether good or evil. Charity is a matter of the will (Augustine 327). It is the gift of God, the greatest of all gifts: ‘Charity, which you have been given, surpasses all things’ (Sermon 95). The more we desire charity, the more it increases in our life and soul. What, specifically, is charity? Saint Augustine supplies a careful answer: ‘Wherefore whoso names the Father and the Son ought thereby to understand the mutual love of the Father and the Son, which is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Charity. And do not count charity a cheap thing. How indeed can it be cheap when all things that are said to not be cheap are called dear (chara)? Therefore what is not cheap is dear, and what is dearer than dearness itself (caritas)? (On John Tract 9). Charity, then, is God Himself, present in His own virtue of love. It is the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Trinity, the Love of Father and Son Who is charity, imparts charity, and unites the Church as the Body of Christ in the Trinitarian communion of love. The Spirit effects the union of the Church, as Body, with its divine Head, and with its members, as the Body of Christ is jointly united to the Father and the Spirit himself. Charity exists as a Trinitarian reality, encounter, and experience. ‘We therefore have the Holy Spirit if we love the Church; but we love the Church if we stand firm in its unity and charity. Before all great things the Apostle Paul has put charity. Have charity, and you shall have it all; without it, whatever you have will profit nothing. The charity we are speaking of is the Holy Spirit’ (On John Tract 32). The Holy Ghost is the source and bond of charity, being Charity Himself. Augustinian tradition is a theology of ecclesiastical charity, of the life and love of the Holy Spirit appropriated and translated into practice via the Holy Catholic Church as the Home of the Holy Spirit. This communio ecclesiae is bound together as one entity by the Eucharist, the ‘Sacrament of the Lord’s Body.’ Charity is the essence of God’s Being, incomprehensible and immutable, loving all creation. We are loved as members of Jesus Christ by the Father in the Spirit. Charity comes from God to us, God having loved us first. As God’s gift to us, caritas or agaph is the means by which Christ loves his Church - He endows the Church with this distinctive and particular gift of his Spirit. By charity, God sets apart his Church and his Saints from the world. Its ultimate effect is obedience to God. It is the source of unity and brotherhood in the Church. Charity is given us for God’s sake that we may love God for his own sake, and in so doing, charity perfects believers and unites them in the Spirit. Charity is the bond of the Trinity Himself and all virtues. Saint Augustine’s teaching finds eloquently summary in the Anglican liturgy: ‘Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee’ (Collect for Quinquagesima, Book of Common Prayer). Charity is infused into the believer that he may be like Christ, the New Man, and an heir of the New Testament People of God. It sustained the Saints of the Old Covenant and now transforms the world through the New Covenant. By loving each other, we come to enter the love of God. (Augustine 509). The inner heart and life of God himself, and the Bond of the Trinitarian Unity, the Holy Spirit, are conveyed to Christ’s new redeemed and transfigured creation, the Church, through the divinely-appointed instrumentality of the sacramental life as the extension of the Incarnation. As the reality of the Incarnate Lord Jesus, Who breathes on the Church the Holy Spirit, is expressed and re-presented by means of the Eucharistic liturgy, the People of God receive unity by the power of charity. ‘What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony.’ The unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion: common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments.’ (CCC 815).

II. The Holy Eucharist as Trinitarian Communion in Love
What theology underlies the teaching of Saint Augustine? It is the theology of the Eucharist as a communion with Divine Communion himself, the Trinity, through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Trinitarian reality, of God as One Communion of Three Divine Persons, is the mystery of the self-communication of God economically and of the internal life of God eternally. God gives and receives Himself within the Triune Mystery of His own Godhead. The Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Tri-Personal God, is the Divine Love that emanates between the Father and the Son. He is, according to Saint Augustine, the ‘Bond of Love’ between Father and Son. As such, the Spirit is God’s own Love for God, God’s enjoyment of being God: He is the joy of God being Himself. The Spirit of Love, being Himself the Bond of Love between Father and Son, is imparted to redeemed mankind, the baptised, through Jesus Christ. Our Lord sends the Holy Ghost upon the Church from the Father. ‘But when the Comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me’ (S. John 15.26). The Holy Spirit effects our share in the very life of God, that we may live in the shared of life of God’s enjoyment of being God. The mutual-indwelling, this participation in the life of God, is granted by God Himself as the principle of mankind’s divinisation or deification, qewsis. This perichoresis, or mutual interpenetration of life and love, means that the Father and the Son give us share in their love of each other and Their joy of being God, which is personified within the Godhead as the Holy Spirit. We are thusly lifted up to God, into the love and life of God. God gathers the Church up into Himself, into the mystery of His very Tri-Hypostatic Being, to live and love in Him, not losing the members’ individual identities and realities in the process, but having them transformed to share as participants in God, who is Love. The Father and the Son know each other and are known by each other; in theosis, the Love that is given each to the other, the mutual Father-Son acknowledgement and joy of God being God, the Holy Spirit, embraces the redeemed. The baptised and confirmed Christian initiates live in the embrace of the Father and the Son for each other - the Holy Spirit. We possess in an ineffable manner God’s own sharing of God’s own life in common with God.

This communication in God and with God is deification. God loves us with his own theological virtue of love to the degree that he offers Himself as perfect and eternal intimacy with man. The very life of God is infused into ‘in-Christed’ man. Man is the Image and Likeness of the Trinity, and so Divine Communion or Community, the inner reality of the heart of God, reproduces itself in the human person by creation, and redemption. The Trinitarian life is the life of a Divine Family, a Community of Three Divine Persons in One Life. Therefore, the Holy Catholic Church as the Body of Christ is communio, participation, communion, shared life in Christ. The Church, People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, was fashioned directly by God as a divine reality, a divine society and family, through which human beings may come into communion with the Divine Trinity. The Church is the extension of the Tri-Personal God, the extended life of the Trinity to man. Through the Church as communion, as participation, as unity-in-diversity, God extends the divine Communion of His Tri-Personal Being to His ‘Icons’ in the created order. The microcosm of this mysterious self-giving in God as Trinity towards us is the Holy Eucharist. The divine Mysteries of the Altar, the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ, are the Gift of Christ’s Life to his purchased and possessed people, his new creation in Him. Being gathered into Christ as many members of one Body in Christ, we, by participating the substantial essence of Christ are carried into the perichoresis of the Trinity. Therefore, communion with Christ in the Holy Mysteries of the Eucharist is communion through the Son, in the Spirit, with the Father: The Eucharist is a Trinitarian mystery. Through the Son Jesus Christ we share in the life of His heavenly Father through the outpoured gift of the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father through the Son. The Eucharist constitutes in sacramental form the Trinitarian reality of God. The Eucharist is genuine participation in the Trinity, and is thus the means of divinisation, the ‘medicine of immortality’ (S. Ignatius of Antioch). The centre, source, and summit of the Christian life, the Holy Eucharist is Holy Communion, divine participation in the One Divine Person in two natures, human and divine, of Jesus Christ. The Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - who is Love, Charity, Himself. The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ realises the unity of our nature both with Christ and at the same time with all the members of the Church (Lossky 180). Saint John Chrysostom reiterates the teaching of Blessed Augustine on the subject: ‘We become one body; members, it is said, of His flesh and of his bones. This is effected by the food which He has freely given us. He has mingled His Body with ours that we may be one, as Body joined to Head’ (S. John Sermon 46). The One Church really appears by virtue of the Eucharist’s unitative power to be a single human nature united to Jesus Christ -- the Church becomes One Body and Blood with Christ (S. Cyril of Jerusalem, Myst. Cat. 2), one with the human nature of the glorified Son of God. The Eucharistic union fulfils the nature of Christians by virtue of union with Christ. The members of Christ find their fulfilment in Eucharistic conjunction with Christ. In the Church and through the sacraments, and particularly the Eucharist, our human nature enters into union with the Divine Hypostasis of the Son of God, Who is the Head of his mystical Body the Church. Our humanity becomes one in essence, nature, with the divinised humanity of Christ, and thus we are united to the One Person of Christ. The deified human nature is Christ’s own Gift to us in the Eucharistic species. What the communicant receives in Holy Communion is nothing less than the Person of the Divine Word, complete with both natures human and divine. Our human nature is united to Christ in the Church which is His Body, a union consummated and fulfilled in the Eucharistic life. In the Eucharist, Christ analogously causes to be reproduced in his human members what exists in the Trinity: the Church becomes compromised of a multiplicity of different and separate hypostases or persons all united in one Life, Christ, just as Christ is One Person with two natures who lives with and in Two other Hypostases in the Life of the Trinity, which shares One Essence of Life. We are called to be conformed to Christ, to posses a created nature filled with the fullness of divine grace, and to be as the Church a multiple collection of hypostases united in the grace of the Holy Spirit (Lossky 180). The multiplicity of the Church’s persons can only be fulfilled in the unity which comes about by the Holy Spirit. One new nature with a multiplicity of persons is created by the Spirit Himself by the Eucharistic union, which is the most perfect of all. The Church is the microcosm of the Trinity as a unity of persons united to God. In a single foundation in Christ, the persons of the Saints, the divinised, assimilate the fire of the Holy Spirit through the Eucharist (Zizioulas 78-80). God’s very life being conferred on us by the Holy Spirit, the Church is the work of Christ and the Spirit by which many human persons in the Spirit are united to the one human nature of Jesus Christ the God-Man. The Church is a single Body and therefore a single nature united to the single divinised human nature of Jesus - this single nature of redeemed man is united to the whole Person of Christ as well. The Eucharist relates to our nature as received into the Person of Christ (Lossky 183).

Or more simply put, in the Eucharist, Christ gives to individual human persons His human nature which is perfectly united to His divine nature and has been deified by divine grace. Our Lord’s divinised human nature, which participates in the Deity of the One Person of the Son, is our spiritual food in the Blessed Sacrament. By receiving the Eucharist, individual human persons come to share in the human nature of Christ and are thus made into one nature in Him: many human persons becomes one nature in the human nature of Jesus. But, Jesus’s human nature is in perfect union with his divine nature in His One Divine Person, and so the Church becomes one with Christ’s whole Hypostatic Union, and thus one with the whole Christ, totus Christus (as Saint Augustine describes it), and thus one with the Divine Trinity, for Christ is ‘One of the Holy Trinity.’ The Eucharist is union with the Son and therefore with the Father and the Spirit. The Eucharist is divinisation, communion with the life-giving Trinity. In a very real sense, charity is the bond of union within the Godhead, the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, who unites the Father and Son. This supernatural bond of charity, which is created for man, as Saint Thomas teaches (II-II, Q. 23, Art. 2), unites us to Christ and each other in the Holy Spirit by virtue of the Eucharist, which makes-present the ontological existence of unity in the Church. There can be no unity without charity, and charity is communicated to man via communion with God Eucharistically. The theological virtue of charity is therefore God’s gift in the Eucharistic mystery, which is itself the mystery of the Trinity anamnetically presented to us. Love presupposes a similarity between the persons concerned: ‘All love culminates in union and begins in likeness’ (S. Gregory Palamas, Homily 56). Christ nourishes us in the Eucharist with his Body and Blood. The faithful are therefore joined in one flesh with Christ, and joined in charity to his Likeness. ‘He has bound us to himself and united us as the bridegroom unites the bride to himself.’ Our union with Christ in the Holy Eucharist is not simply a moral union, a union of wills or intentions, but one of supernatural charity. By receiving the Divine Communion we become ‘Christlike.’ Man is united to the divine and divinising flesh of Christ Eucharistically and made to love God and love one’s neighbour as oneself. In the end, we come to know God as the Blessed Trinity, living in his life of love by loving God. It is by love, divine charity, that we both know and live in the Mystery of God as the Tri-Personal Communion of Love. Saint Augustine expresses the truth of this reality in these terms: ‘No other thing is required to know the Trinity but true love, real love. This is true love - that we may cleave to the truth and live righteously...we should be prepared to die for others... therefore man must above all else, to know God, love God....’ (On the Trinity 8). Love, charity, is the very essence of God as Trinity. ‘What of the very fountain of love in the Father and the Son? Is it still not more so here that the Trinity is one God? For thence, of that Holy Spirit, does love come to us. If then the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us, makes many souls one soul, and many hearts one heart, how much rather are the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, one God, one Light, and one Beginning? (On John Tract 39). The Blessed Trinity, our life, is the Communion of Love given and exchanged in One Essence. The Trinity is Love: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. By the theological virtue of charity, men are formed into a union, a family relationship, like that of the Holy Trinity. In God-likeness or Christ-likeness, the Church receives divine love, the binding power of God’s own Being, to be made a unique Unity and reality. The Church is the Icon of the Holy Trinity, by love. Ad relatio, we relate and are related to other human beings, to other Christians in the communion of the Church, and to God Himself in the Trinity, just as the Trinitarian Persons of the Godhead relate to each other - in charity. As Saint John succinctly puts it, ‘God is Love.’

III. The Teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas
Let us note the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica on the nature of the Eucharist as the sacrament of charity and of ecclesial union and participation in Christ. ‘The reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical Body, without which there can be no salvation: for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church... The Eucharist is the consummation of the spiritual life, and the end of all the Sacraments’ (III.Q. 73, Art. 3). ‘With regard to the present the Eucharist has another meaning, namely, that of Ecclesiastical unity, in which men are aggregated through this Sacrament: and in this respect it is called Communion or Sunaxis, For Damascene says that it is called Communion because we communicate with Christ through it, both because we partake of His flesh and Godhead, and because we communicate with and are united to one another through it... the Eucharist is called Metalhyis, Assumption, because we thereby assume the Godhead of the Son’ (III.Q.73, Art 4). ‘Men are united with Christ through this sacrament as the members with the head.’ The Eucharist serves to unite the communicant in a real and objective way with whole Christ, the One Divine Person in two natures. The Flesh and Blood of Christ, supernaturally present under the form of bread and wine, communicate to the recipient the human nature, flesh, and divine nature, Godhead, of the Eternal Son. The members of Christ’s Body the Church are integrally united to their Head in Holy Communion. Saint Thomas affirms the Augustinian tradition in vivid and unmistakable terms in his cumulative teaching on the nature and purpose of the Eucharist. He proclaims the Eucharist as the Sacrament of Charity in this way: ‘The sacrament confers grace together with the virtue of charity. Hence Damascene compares this sacrament to the burning coal which Isaiah saw: For a live ember is not simply wood but wood united to fire; so also the bread of Communion is not simple bread, but bread united with the Godhead. But as Gregory observes... God’s love is never idle; for, wherever it is, it does great works. And consequently through this sacrament, as far as its power is concerned, not only is the habit of grace and of virtue bestowed, but is further aroused to act, according to 2 Corinthians 5.14: The charity of Christ presses us. Hence it is that the soul is spiritually nourished through the power of this sacrament by being spiritually gladdened....’ (III. Q. 79, Art. 1). Saint Thomas views the Eucharist as not only the instrument by which Our Lord unites His Church with Himself in one Body, but also the means by which the theological virtue of charity is infused into the human person, to ‘gladden the heart’ and to rouse the Christian to charitable action towards one’s neighbour. Simply put, the Eucharist as Communion with Christ and his members the baptised participants of the Body, effectually causes the infusion of divine charity into us, enabling us to love God and one another in genuine action. The Eucharist functions as the bond of love between Christ and Christian and between Christian and Christian. The Holy Mysteries compel love into action and actualise the reality of charity in the human person; the Body and Blood of the Lord, being Christ Himself, have a causal effect on the communicant by the grace of divine charity as love is spiritually imparted in an objective way, motivating the receiver unto good works and the charitable life of Christian holiness. The charity of Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament, the love of Jesus concealed in the Host, urges the member of the Body on in the life of Christian holiness and love, which is itself translated into good works. As the Anglican Eucharistic rite prayer of thanksgiving after Communion reverently describes this fundamental truth: ‘And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship [of the mystical body of thy Son,] and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in...’ (BCP 83). This whole Thomistic tradition imbibes the spirit and the theology of Saint Augustine of Hippo. The Eucharistic offering and sacrament embody uniting love in action.

IV. The Moral Implications of Eucharistic Charity
The practical implications of Saint Augustine’s teaching, supported as it is by the consentient voice of Catholic Tradition through the centuries, are clear and manifest: the Eucharist has a powerfully moral dimension. Charity is born in our souls through the devout and regular reception of Holy Communion. The Blessed Sacrament engenders a living charity in the Christian soul which unites the soul to God and to other believers in the communion which is Christ’s Body. The Holy Eucharist becomes a weapon against temptation, equipping and enabling the communicant to resist the tests of the devil (Harton 61). The divine charity born in our souls through Holy Communion eliminates envy as it enables the believer to have fervent charity amongst all men. Our Lord concealed in the Eucharist, uniting us to the Father and Holy Spirit as well as Himself, supernaturally empowers us to desire the good of others as much as our own and to truly love our neighbours as ourselves. Our wills are moved in love toward God and neighbour by the right partaking of the Sacrament. In doing so, in putting charity into practice through pious and faithful reception of Christ in the Holy Mysteries, we resist temptation and grow in holiness. Charity is the root cure for all sins and the sure-fired preventative against any kind of temptation. The divine Love of God infused into our souls frees us to co-operate with divine grace and to freely correspond with God in the living the Trinitarian and Christocentric life intended by God in the gift of His divine Self by charity. In the act of Holy Communion, as the Sacrament of Charity, we must ever keep in mind the three joined together in this union: Christ, the Church, and the individual communicant. Charity, which begins in the desire, and in the will of Christ towards us, now makes itself present supernaturally in His Objective and Corporal Presence on the Altar. In the Eucharistic presence of Charity Himself, we adore and love Christ. In the action of receiving Holy Communion we receive Our Lord in order to more fully give ourselves to Him in self-oblation, in union with Christ’s self-Oblation made sacramentally present. Our Lord withholds nothing from the communicant in the act of Communion, for He gives not only divine grace in the means of grace, but Himself, whole and entire. Jesus gives us the complete and total gift of His Person, which in turn demands the whole and complete gift to Christ of our own persons: we receive Christ in order to give to Christ, an act of real caritas. The Sacrament energises us to desire to give the most complete self-gift to Christ of which we are capable, and thus the Eucharist by its grace of charity draws charity from us and stirs in us the increase of our generosity towards God and man. This mystery of Christ’s self-giving grace in us requires human correspondence and co-operation with grace (Harton 133). The more open our hearts are to Our Lord and His Gift, the more of the Gift we receive, and in turn the wider the doors of our hearts are flung open. The more we allow, the more we receive. This process can and should culminate in sanctity, holiness, and, ultimately, deification, as we are conformed more and more closely to the Likeness of Jesus Christ by our charity which is inspired and activated by Christ’s Eucharistic Heart. If we persevere in this divine exchange of the virtue of charity within us, we can become heroic in our virtue and in our self-oblation in union with Jesus, and become Saints. Sainthood is what is offered to us by the charity produced in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, if we are but willing to receive it. In properly receiving Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament, we must be predisposed to have charity for God and neighbour.

We must, immediately after receiving the Body and Blood at Mass, focus solely on Jesus alone - Who is our most precious Gift. We should be occupied with praise, thanksgiving and adoration of Him Who now lives in our hearts. Christ’s goal for us, by providing supernatural Food in his Body and Blood, is that our whole being may be concentrated upon Him so that we may be changed into the shrine of His presence, the living tabernacle of His own Charity to both God and man. Our Communion prayer should be, ‘Lord, make me an instrument of thy charity.’ We should endeavour to carry Christ within our souls and bodies from the Altar rail into the world at large, and to bear Christ’s self-donating charity toward God in service and love of all men. The Eucharist as the Real Presence of Our Lord’s Body and Blood is vouchsafed to us that we may advance on the illuminative way to genuine holiness by real charity, in which we more deeply and powerfully love God and in so loving God love each other. The Lover of our souls gives us all He has to give, Himself, so that we may love with His love: ‘Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant does not know what his lord is doing: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known unto you’ (S. John 15.15). By virtue of Eucharistic Communion, the Christian faithful enjoy God’s Presence and Reality and are made to be the true friends of God. Saint John of Damascus, in his On the Orthodox Faith calls the Eucharistically-fed Saint ‘the Friend of God.’ We are Christ’s friends if we do what he commands. Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us that charity is fundamentally based in relationship; charity is friendship. ‘Since there is a communication between man and God, inasmuch as He communicates His happiness to us, some kind of friendship must needs be based on this same communication. The love which is based on this communication, is charity: wherefore it is evident that charity is the friendship of man for God’ (Summa, II-II. Q. 23 Art. 1). We are Christ’s friends at the Altar of His Sacrifice, the Mass. In divine charity made-present in the Mass, the Christian, related to God, becomes God’s friend as he is befriended by God and is made God’s friend. The level of charity advanced to us in the Eucharist should compel the Christian believer to spiritual perfection in love. We are commanded by the Eucharistic Lord of Charity to love the downtrodden, the poor, the suffering, the disabled, the abused, the persecuted, the rejected and disdained. We are to love all men with the love of Jesus Christ. Transformed by unconditional love into Icons of the Trinity, we are to be loving as God is loving, to be merciful as God is merciful. Saint John Chrysostom admonishes us: ‘You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognise your brother. You dishonour this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful’ (in CCC 233). This teaching is echoed by the saintly Anglo-Catholic missionary Bishop of the early twentieth century, Bishop Frank Weston: ‘If you are Christians then your Jesus is one and the same: Jesus on the Throne of his glory, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus received into your hearts in Communion, Jesus with you mystically as you pray, and Jesus enthroned in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down the country. You must walk mystically with Christ, mystically present in you, through the streets of this country, and find the same Christ in the people of your cities and villages. And it is folly - it is madness - to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacrament and Jesus on the Throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children. You have got your Mass, you have got your Altar, you have begun to get your Tabernacle. Now go out into the highways and hedges... Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus in them. And when you have found him, gird yourselves with his towel of fellowship and wash his feet in the persons of his brethren’ (ACC 1920). The life of the Holy Trinity which belongs to the Church in the communication of the Eucharistic gift is a life of utter self-giving in love to the other, the gift of self. As partakers of the self-donating kenotic Christ, Who condescends to become present in the Eucharistic elements and to again present his one Sacrifice in every Mass, the communicants of Christ must seek to live out the moral implications of this wonderful Food. The Eucharist is the extension of the Incarnation. It extends in space and time the loving kenosis of the self-abandoning Jesus. The Christian should strive to be the Imago Christi, the charitable image of the loving and self-sacrificing Lord. ‘This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and neighbour. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: ‘Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.’ (CCC 1889). Saint Augustine asserts the same: ‘we may expect to be united with the risen Christ, but first we have to pay attention to him lying in the street’ (Sermon 239). We must love totus Christus, the whole Christ, Christ present in all human beings. We love Christ’s members and thus love Christ Himself. When we love Christ, we love the Father. Saint Augustine says the Church is one loving reality: ‘the One Christ, loving Himself’ (ep. Jo. 20.55). And, hence, we have the answers to the initial questions posed at the beginning of this project. God the Holy Trinity, the Catholic Church, and the Holy Eucharist co-exist as a mutually-interpenetrating mystery of charity. They together conform us to the Likeness of God... and God is Love.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Continuing Churches Are Churches: A Reply to Pope Benedict XVI's CDF Clarification and Pope John Paul II's Dominus Jesus

In 1977, a group of devoted and concerned Anglo-Catholic churchmen gathered in Saint Louis, Missouri for what would be become the catalyst of a movement to ecclesiastically reorganise Anglicanism in North America in the wake of the widespread heresy developing in the Anglican Communion. The group was called the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen. The meeting was called the Congress of Saint Louis. Out of the deliberation of that conference, a document was forged which may forever impact the continuing theological development of the Catholic Tradition within the Anglican Church. The Affirmation of Saint Louis was born in the midst of theological and ecclesiastical strife, with the purpose of re-affirming the nature of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in her Anglican expression. An ecclesiological document of tremendous importance to the history of Anglicanism since the 1970’s, the Affirmation, the founding doctrinal formula of the Continuing Anglican Church, has, according to the knowledge of the author, never been the subject of a serious ecclesiological study. And thus the purpose of this presentation is established. The Affirmation of Saint Louis serves as the primary doctrinal statement of the Continuing Church, and the Continuing Church is the theological and doctrinal heir of the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement, or Catholic Revival, in the modern day. We shall explore in depth the meaning and theology of the Affirmation’s ecclesiological assertions in the light of contemporary Roman Catholic doctrine. The purpose of this presentation is not to debate or bring into question the dogmas and claims related to the Papal Office of the sole Patriarch of the Western Church, the Bishop of Rome, whose rightful role of primacy and leadership in the Church Catholic has yet to be fully appreciated by the Anglican Communion. This paper will serve to highlight the positive ‘family traits’ that exist between the Anglo-Catholic ecclesiology of the Saint Louis Affirmation and the ecclesiology of the Roman Communion, the disputed role of the Papal ministry for our purposes being exempted. Here we shall dwell on agreements, not disagreements. First, an examination of the text itself in is order, as its basic ideas are compared with and contrasted to Roman Catholic ideas - by holding it up to its greatest and most influential relative, the Roman Catholic Dogmatic Constitution on the Church issued at the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium. We will also introduce teaching from the Roman Catholic Catechism and relevant ecumenical documents. A selective historical review of the origins of the Affirmation’s teachings in Anglicanism’s Catholic Revival of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will ensue. Finally, we will see how the ecclesiology of the Affirmation of Saint Louis, and the historical doctrine and practice it manifests, affects the relationship of the Continuing Anglo-Catholic Churches, which were organised in the 1970’s in order to resist the rejection of Catholic Faith and Order within segments of the official Anglican Communion of Canterbury, with the Roman Catholic Church in the light of the recent Vatican Declaration, Dominus Iesus. A profound similarity of thought will shine through the teachings we examine. We shall see why it can be rightly postulated that the Anglo-Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches are by far the closest living relatives in the family tree of Western Christendom.

I. The Affirmation of Saint Louis in the light of Lumen Gentium and the Roman Catholic Catechism

We gather as people called by God to be faithful and obedient to Him. As the Royal Priestly People of God, the Church is called to be, in fact, the manifestation of Christ in and to the world. True religion is revealed to man by God. We cannot decide what is truth, but rather (in obedience) ought to receive, accept, cherish, defend and teach what God has given us. The Church is created by God, and is beyond the ultimate control of man. The Church is the Body of Christ at work in the world. She is the society of the baptised called out from the world: In it, but not of it. As Christ’s faithful Bride, she is different from the world and must not be influenced by it’ (The Affirmation of Saint Louis, 1. The Nature of the Church). It is important to note the striking extent to which this fundamental statement concerning the nature of the Church, written by Anglo-Catholics, both reflects and is influenced by the Roman Dogmatic Constitution promulgated at the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium. A brief review of the basic similarities will demonstrate the remarkably close affinity shared by these two texts. Arguably, the Affirmation produces the highest ecclesiology ever formulated by an Anglican synod or council. It sees the Church as a divine-human synergy, to be carefully distinguished from any merely human society or organisation. The Affirmation declares for the Catholic Church a unique existence and character as a Divine Society, the Family of God created and maintained by God Himself. The basic truths of the divine nature of the Church as inspired and guided into all truth by the Holy Ghost, of the Church as a divine reality separate from human control, and of the fundamental fact of divine revelation given directly to the Church by God are vehemently maintained. Its aggressive tone and somewhat self-defensive position are reasonable, considering it was written in the heat of debate and during the onslaught of heresy within the Anglican world. As we shall see, the Affirmation’s ecclesiological content is guardedly faithful to Holy Scripture, the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, the tradition of the Catholic Revival, and the teaching of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Affirmation’s first section, ‘The Nature of the Church,’ takes a firmly Catholic perspective on the essence and purpose of the Church and utilises very familiar images used throughout Lumen Gentium and other Roman Catholic formularies. One notices instantly that the images as used in the text almost constantly interpenetrate each other and use one another in interpreting each other. In one sense, it is an artificial endeavour to separate the images, as they mutually indwell and inform each other, as we shall see. The images before us are very closely interconnected and are woven together to form an inseparable unity describing the Church. Together, they comprise a beautiful mosaic picturing the Church in her God-given splendour as the extension of Jesus Christ Incarnate and the Gift of His Divine Life.

Section one of the Affirmation first refers to the Church as Ecclesia, ekklesia, the ‘called-out’ of the Lord. The Church is envisioned as God’s covenant people, the New Israel, called-out from the world by God to be His very own unique assembly and reality. The Church is ontologically distinct from the world, set apart and consecrated as God’s own possession. This choosing-out, or election, referred to many times in the Old and New Testaments, figures prominently in Anglican formularies and in Lumen Gentium. ‘Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God (election), be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season: they through God’s grace obey the calling’ (Article of Religion XVII). ‘All the elect, before time began, the Father ‘foreknew and predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren’ (Romans 8.29). He planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. At the end of time the Church will gloriously achieve completion, when... all the just will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church’ (LG 2). ‘It was in the Son that all men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains’ (LG 3). The Church’s nature as a gathered-out and assembled people, endowed by God with a divine blessing and consecration, ennobled to be the mediative instrument of God’s grace in the world, by which the Lord Himself communicates His nature to mankind, is a principal concept in Lumen Gentium and in the Catholic Catechism as well as the Affirmation. The Church’s existence is in a sense anterior to the membership of any particular member joined to Christ’s mystical Body in Baptism - the Church as ecclesia represents the familiar nature of the Church as a covenantal people and a covenanted means of grace. As the Family of God organically united to its Head, the Church is a pre-existing reality into which we are born by supernatural grace, not an organisation into which we gain membership by voting or by being received through collective assent. The Catholic Church as Ecclesia is not a ‘voluntary association of believers.’ Rather, it is God’s very own Tribe, the Christian Race, the redeemed family of a redeemed humanity which we enter by being joined baptismally to our Divine Head, as His members of His own human, glorified, and mystical Body by the infusion and unifying power of the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. The Church is fashioned by God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son in the Holy Spirit to be a living participation in the Holy Trinity as the extension of the Incarnate Life of Christ. The Church is fulfilled in herself, in her own constitutive being, by sacraments, liturgies, rites, and structures, a visible and spiritual covenantal relationship first established by God with His chosen People in the Old Testament. The Catholic Church is the new and true Israel of God, united to God through Israel’s Messiah and personification, Jesus of Nazareth. ‘The word ‘Church’... means a convocation or assembly. It designates the assemblies of the People, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God his holy people. By calling itself ‘Church,’ the first community of Christian believers recognised itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is ‘calling together’ his people from all the ends of the earth’ (CCC 751). ‘‘The Church’ is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.’ (CCC 752). ‘All men are called to this union with Christ...’ (LG 3). Thus, the Church has been seen as ‘a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’ (LG 4). The Church is ‘called-out’ from the world to be God’s People; she also ‘calls-out’ to all men to make them God’s children and to bring them into the life of divine Sonship.

The Church is also named ‘the Royal Priestly People of God,’ combining three separate images of the Church invoked by Lumen Gentium. In the Office of Instruction in the Book of Common Prayer, we have a rare reference to this image of the Church: ‘[I believe] thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me, and all the people of God’ (BCP 285). In the Bidding Prayer, the ‘Good Christian People’ are described as ‘Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, the blessed company of all faithful people’ (BCP 47). The liturgy prays for the unity of ‘God’s People’ (BCP 37). ‘And to all thy People give thy heavenly grace...’ (BCP 74). The Eucharistic assembly, the microcosm of the Church universal, is named by the Anglican Eucharistic rite as ‘the mystical Body of [the] Son, the blessed company of all faithful people’ (BCP 83). The Saint Louis Affirmation uses the distinctive images of the Church developed most fully in the Second Vatican Council. The entire second chapter of Lumen Gentium is devoted to the theme, ‘On the People of God,’ and so it is unnecessary to review in specific detail every concept contained therein. Samples from the Dogmatic Constitution, utilised also in the Catechism, should suffice to demonstrate how central and vital a theme the ‘People of God’ is to the proper apprehension of the Church. ‘All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the People of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation’ (LG 13). ‘One enters into the People of God by faith and Baptism. ‘All men are called to belong to the new People of God’ (LG 13), so that, in Christ, ‘men may form one family and one People of God’’ (CCC 804). ‘Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, made the new people ‘a kingdom and priests to God the Father’ (Revelation 1.6; 5.9-10). The baptised, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, in order that through all those works which are those of the Christian man they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the power of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvellous light’ (1 Peter 3.15-20) (LG 9). ‘The Baptised share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that they may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers’ (CCC 1268). ‘[God] has willed to make [men] into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness. He therefore chose the Israelite race to be his own people and establish a covenant with it. He gradually instructed this people... All these things, however, happened as a preparation for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ... he called together a race made up of Jews and Gentiles which would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit’ (LG 9). ‘The People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection. Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all... For the Christian ‘to reign is to serve [Christ],’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognises the image of her poor and suffering founder’ (LG 8). The People of God fulfils its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve Christ’ (CCC 786). The Church as the Royal Priestly People of God ‘is’ in a real and living sense, Christ Himself, His own continued Incarnation, participating in an inseparable and ontological way in His own threefold office as the Messiah: Prophet, Priest, and King. The Church, being the very Body of Christ, authoritatively teaches the ‘Faith once delivered unto the saints’ (S. Jude 3), the entire and uncorrupt deposit of the Christian revelation, the message and Person of Jesus Christ Himself, infallibly guided in her prophetic, pedagogic task by the protecting and preserving aid of the Holy Spirit, Who supernaturally leads and guides the Church into all truth (S. John 15, 16). The Church as a priesthood, a priestly race and body integrally united to her Head the Great High Priest (Hebrews 5), offers the acceptable sacrificial worship of her own life, and makes-present in the Eucharistic oblation the Eternal Sacrifice of Christ whose merits are thus applied to the bodies and souls of men, in union with the One Priest and His All-Sufficient and Perfect Offering. The Church as Christ’s priestly instrument restores mankind to his priestly function as the royal priest of creation. The Church’s priestly character is manifest as she shares mystically in One Priesthood of the One Mediator, Advocate and Priest, her Lord and Head. The Church governs herself in penance and self-denial, a sign of Christ’s loving dominion, and spiritually governs in charitable service the entire universe as the representative vicegerent of Christ, the created order’s Creator, King, and Master. The rule of Christ as self-sacrificing love stretches itself through creation by a Catholic family-kingdom. The Church is Jesus Christ, present and extended in space and time, as the King-Priest-Prophet Messiah of Israel and of all men. She exercises Christ’s own offices in His own Name and Person, being His voice and action. As Christ is, so is the Church through which He continues to pray, intercede, work, sanctify, consecrate, hallow, preach, heal, restore, teach, and rule.

The Church is described as the Body of Christ, which is comprised of all the Baptised. The Book of Common Prayer readily develops an understanding of the Church as Body which is centred on the mystery of Baptism. Baptism is the essential sacrament which establishes the communion of the Church as Christ’s Body, being the means by which we are grafted into Christ, made to participate in his regenerating death and resurrection by the power of the Holy Spirit, and joined supernaturally to the Head of the Body. This theological theme is taken up by the Affirmation. ‘The Church is the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head, and all baptised people are the members’ (BCP 290, Office of Instruction). ‘They that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church’ (Article of Religion XXVII). ‘[Call upon God] that this child may be baptised with Water and the Holy Ghost, and received into Christ’s holy Church, and be made a living member of the same.’ (BCP 274, Ministration of Holy Baptism). ‘May this child receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful children’ (279). ‘We receive this child into the congregation of Christ’s flock.’ ‘Seeing now that this child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church...’ (280). ‘We yield thee hearty thanks that it hath pleased thee to incorporate him into the holy Church... so that finally, with the residue of thy holy Church, he may be an inheritor of thine everlasting kingdom’ (281). The Affirmation of Saint Louis reiterates the necessity and Church-forming nature of Baptism as the Sacrament of New Birth and ecclesial incorporation into Jesus Christ: ‘In particular, we affirm the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist (where they may be had) - Baptism as incorporating us into Christ (with its completion in Confirmation as the ‘seal of the Holy Spirit’)’ (2. Essentials of Truth and Order - Sacraments). The nature of the Church as the living and mystical communion of all the Baptised united to Christ the Head of the Body receives its most prolific explanation in the text of Lumen Gentium. ‘In the human nature united to himself by the Son of God, by overcoming death through his own death and resurrection, he redeemed man and moulded him into a new creation. By communicating his Spirit, Christ made his brothers, called together from all nations, mystically the components of his own body. In that body the life of Christ is poured into the believers who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ who suffered and was glorified. Through Baptism we are formed in the likeness of Christ: ‘For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body’ (1 Corinthians 12.13). In this sacred rite a oneness with Christ’s death and resurrection is both symbolised and brought about: ‘For we were buried with him by means of Baptism into death,’ and if ‘we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be so in the likeness of his resurrection also’ (Romans 6.4-5)’ (13).

The 1984 Dublin Agreed Statement of Anglicans and Orthodox asserts, ‘The Church is ‘the Body of Christ.’ The head is Christ and his members are those who in faith respond to the gospel and are baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and are united with Christ and with each other through participation in the Eucharist. Through this union they are being conformed to his true humanity, filled with his divinity, and made ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1.4, qewsis)’ (10). Baptism infuses the very Life of Christ, the Head of the Body, into His members, making them to be organically united to Him in His Person and natures. Totus Christus, Head and Body, are One Divine Life and organism. The mystery of Baptism is union with Christ Himself, by which we are adopted through the Son of God as the children of God. We become, by virtue of the Baptismal gift, ‘sons in the Son,’ adopted sons of God by grace. We become by grace what God is by nature. The Holy Spirit forms Christ’s Body through Baptism (CCC 798). ‘Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: ‘Therefore we are members of one another.’ Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal font is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes:’ For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body’ (CCC 1267). In a supernatural manner, all persons who validly receive the sacrament of Holy Baptism are grafted and incorporated into Christ Jesus and divinised as the sons of God in Him. ‘In that body [of the Church] the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and, who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification’ (LG 7). Although all the Baptised may not enjoy full sacramental communion with the Holy Catholic Church in her visible totality, nevertheless, every Baptised person is ordered to the Church and shares in the Church’s organic grace-filled life to a certain extent. There exist various levels of participation in the life of the Body, ranging from full visible communion to merely the ordering to the Church given by virtue of any valid Trinitarian Baptism. But every Baptised Christian, even if baptised by heretics or in schism, has ‘put on Christ’ in the sacramental mystery, and thus owns the Name of Christ and Christian. The reintegration of all the Baptised into one, full, visible, sacramental, organic fellowship is surely the greatest ecumenical mandate set before the Church Catholic, as she is called to herself call all the Baptised into her life-giving communion. We call to mind the prayer of Our Blessed Lord that we may all be one (S. John 17). From the womb of the baptismal font, the Church, our Most Holy Mother, One, Catholic, Apostolic, and Orthodox, births new children of God unto the supernatural eternal life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the communion of the Body of Christ, the Church, is fulfilled and created by the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Anglo-Catholicism, through the Affirmation, makes this abundantly clear: ‘The Eucharist is the sacrifice which unites us to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood’ (2. Essentials of Truth and Order). ‘Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with him and with one another. ‘Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread (1 Corinthians 10.17). In this way all of us are members of his Body, ‘but severally members of one another’ (Romans 12.5)’ (Lumen Gentium 7). The Eucharist, the divine Action of Jesus Christ Himself in which He, as Head, unites His own mystical Body to Himself in the sacramental anamnesis of His One and Eternal Sacrifice forever pleaded before the Father in heaven, is the means by which the Church is made an organic supernatural reality; in the Eucharist, Christ the Head and His Body the Church are made inextricably One, as Christ unites the faithful in heaven, paradise, and earth to Himself in own perfect self-oblation, gathering the whole Christ, Head and Body, and presenting it self-sacrificially to the Father in the cosmic sweep of the qusis eucaristikon. The Eucharist is Christ, as He enters His own family, through His own sacrificial action, into the Life of the Blessed Trinity: the Eucharist is the very Act of Christ’s own sacrificial self-offering, mediation, intercession, and Incarnation, perpetually present in a sacramental mode on the Church’s Altars until the end of time - ‘To the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.’ The Eucharist serves as both the Sacrament of Christ’s objectively present and substantial Body and Blood under the form of bread and wine and as the Sacrifice which when sacramentally pleaded joins the earthly and ubloody oblation of the Church on earth to the One Sacrifice of Calvary, the Empty Tomb, and the Heavenly Intercession. The Affirmation re-establishes by precedent the Anglican tradition of distinguishing the Dominical Sacraments or ‘sacraments of the Gospel,’ Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, from the other five sacraments, where are sometimes called ‘lesser sacraments’ or ‘ecclesiastical sacraments.’ ‘The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance, and Unction of the Sick, are objective and effective signs of the continued presence and saving activity of Christ our Lord among His people and are His covenanted means for conveying His grace’ (2. Essentials of Truth and Order). These five other sacraments are true sacraments, communicating divine grace by virtue of outward, visible signs, but are different because they are not necessary for the salvation of all in the same way the Greater Two are. This distinction, based on the fact that Our Lord directly provides the form and matter of Baptism and the Eucharist in the Gospels, is shared by the Orthodox Churches of the East, which call Baptism and the Eucharist ‘the pre-eminent divine mysteries’ (Istavridis 108-109). Baptism and Eucharist are acknowledged within Anglicanism to be ‘generally necessary to salvation,’ (BCP 581) that is, necessary to salvation for all who have access to them. As regarding the Church, the doctrine of Eucharistic mutual-indwelling caused by participation in the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 10), which makes the Church the Body of Christ, is most beautifully articulated in the Anglican Eucharistic rite, and especially in its Canon of the Mass, ‘we offer ourselves... that may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell is us and we in him’ (BCP 80), in its Prayer of Humble Access, ‘grant us so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us’ (82), and in its Thanksgiving after Holy Communion, ‘we most heartily thank thee that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us... with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour... and dost assure us thereby that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful (baptised) people’ (83). ‘As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and in the sacrament of the Eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ is both expressed and brought out’ (LG 3). The Eucharistic Doctrinal Statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission forcefully brings home this point, ‘The identity of the Church as the body of Christ is both expressed and effectively proclaimed by its being centred in, and partaking of, his body and blood. When we gather around the same table in this communal meal at the invitation of the same Lord and when we partake of the one loaf, we are one in commitment not only to Christ and to one another, but also to the mission of the Church in the world. The elements are not mere signs: Christ’s body and blood become really present and are really given. But they are really present and really given in order that, receiving them, believers may be united in communion with Christ the Lord’ (ARCIC 3, 4, 5).

The Objective Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood, and the Eucharistic anamnesis which makes Christ’s perfect Sacrifice present, function to make the Church into the Body of Christ. The Church is never more the Church than when she is making Eucharist. The Eucharist creates the Church, and the Church makes Eucharist - for the Church, the Body of Christ, and the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, are one and the same Body, inseparable and indivisible. By feeding, under the form of bread and wine, on the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, the One Person of the Divine Word and Son of God, in the Eucharist, the baptised are made to participate in the divine nature, and to be literally transformed by grace as they are knit into the divine organism of Christ, His Body the Church. The Eucharist energises, manifests, and actualises the Church. ‘Through the Eucharist, Christ unites all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body’ (CCC 1396). ‘The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all his members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church’ (CCC 1407). As Saint Augustine of Hippo teaches: ‘You are what you eat, for you become the Body of Christ by feeding on the Body of Christ. See, there you are in the Host, there you are in the Chalice’ (Sermon 272). Or in the words of Saint Leo the Great: ‘The partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ does nothing other than make us to be transformed into what which we consume’ (Sermon 16). The Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church as the source of the Eucharist, and Eucharist itself form one profound and Incarnational unity.

The Church is finally characterised as the faithful Bride of Christ. ‘This is a great mystery: I speak of Christ and the Church’ (Ephesians 5.31-32). ‘Matrimony... is an honourable estate... signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church’ (BCP 300). Lumen Gentium states: ‘The Church is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up that he might sanctify her’ (Ephesians 5.26). ‘Christ loves the Church as his bride, having become the model of a man loving his wife as his body; the Church, indeed, is subject to its head’ (7). Again echoing Lumen Gentium, Anglicans have agreed also with the Orthodox Churches in the use of the ‘Bride of Christ’ image of the Church: ‘The New Testament also speaks of the Church as Christ’s bride, whom he presents to himself ‘without spot or wrinkle or any such thing’ (Ephesians 5.27; 2 Corinthians 11.2). In this connection Scripture looks forward to the consummation of history as ‘the marriage of the Lamb’ when the bride will be prepared to meet her bridegroom in glory’ (AOD 10). As the Catholic Catechism succinctly puts it, ‘The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is... expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride... The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of the Body, as a bride ‘betrothed’ to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. [Christ] has joined [the Church] with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body’.... ‘Christ and the Church are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union... as head, Jesus calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself ‘bride.’’ (CCC 796, quoting S. Augustine). ‘The Church is the Bride of Christ: he loved her and handed himself over for her. He has purified her by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God’s children’ (CCC 808). The biblical image of the Church as the Virgin Bride of Christ resonates throughout the doctrinal statement documents of the Second Vatican Council and is picked up and used forcefully again by the Saint Louis Affirmation. The Mother-Bride image instantly recalls to the Church’s collective memory such descriptions as the Church as the heavenly Jerusalem adorned for her husband, Christ, as a Bride (Revelation 21.2), and the Church as that heavenly Mother of all which is above and free (Galatians 4). This cherished biblical and Catholic appellation given to the Church is asserted by Anglo-Catholics with fresh insight in their efforts to affirm the divine and supernatural nature of the Church as contradistinct to merely human societies. The Holy Church, pure Bride of God and Virgin, infallibly teaches and sanctifies in the beauty of holiness, feeding her children on the whole milk of divine truth.

A proper conclusion to our comparison of the Affirmation of Saint Louis with the teaching of Lumen Gentium and related texts should evaluate the final ecclesiologically-significant statement in the Affirmation, that which regards the Sacred Hierarchy and Sacrament of Holy Orders as essential to the life and nature of the Church. Past ambiguities within Anglicanism concerning whether the Apostolic Ministry and Episcopate are of the plene esse, bene esse or the esse of the Catholic Church have been forever eliminated. ‘The Holy Orders of bishops, priests, and deacons are the perpetuation of Christ’s gift of apostolic ministry to His Church, asserting the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession (or a priest ordained by such) as the celebrant of the Eucharist - these Orders consisting exclusively of men in accordance with Christ’s Will and institution (as evidenced by the Scriptures), and the universal practice of the Catholic Church. Bishops are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. Their duty (together with other clergy and the laity) is to guard and defend the purity and integrity of the Church’s Faith and Moral Teaching’ (2. Essentials of Truth and Order - Holy Orders, Bishops). This statement, in defending the male character of the apostolic ministry as received by Our Lord and the Apostles, reproduces almost word-for-word the teaching of the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores (1976): ‘The Church holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.’ ‘The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology - thereafter always followed by the Church’s Tradition - Christ established things in this way.’ The Priesthood is male by the will and mind of Christ.

The Affirmation agrees with Pope John Paul II’s 1994 Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: ‘Priestly ordination, which hands on the office entrusted by Christ to his Apostles of teaching, sanctifying, and governing the faithful, has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone.’ ‘I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.’ Hence the teaching - ‘Only a baptised man validly receives sacred ordination.’ ‘The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The Church recognises herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord Himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible’ (CCC 1577). ‘The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptised men, whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been fully recognised’ (CCC 1598). In fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church of the ages, orthodox Anglo-Catholics affirm the threefold apostolic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons to be of Christ’s own will and institution, and male in character, because Our Lord and the priestly Apostles whom he chose and ordained were all male. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is a ‘gift of Christ’ to His Church - and must therefore not be in any way altered or changed - for it is established forever according to the mind of Christ revealed in Scripture and Tradition: ‘Thou art a Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek’ (Psalm 110). And, in consequence, because the mystery of the Eucharist, as the sign and cause of the Church’s unity and supernatural communion in Christ, was entrusted to the Apostles and their successors the Bishops, the instruction of Saint Ignatius of Antioch holds good as an essential dimension of the communion-life of the Church: ‘Let that be accounted a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the Bishop or by one delegated by him.’ (Letter to the Smyrneans 8). For Catholic Anglicans as well as Roman Catholics, only bishops and priests of the Apostolic Succession may validly offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The third chapter of Lumen Gentium is devoted to the same doctrinal truths proposed in the Affirmation. ‘Jesus Christ established his holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as he himself had been sent from the Father, and he willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in his Church even to the consummation of the world’ (LG 18). This specific verity is itself echoed in the Anglican liturgy: ‘O Holy Jesus, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church, and hast promised to be with the Ministers of Apostolic Succession to the end of the world...’ (BCP 572). Lumen Gentium first treats of Bishops (episkwpoi), teaching as it does an uninterrupted Apostolic Succession from the original Apostles to the Bishops of the present-age Church: ‘Bishops with their helpers, the priests and deacons, have taken up the service of the community, presiding in the place of God over the flock whose shepherds they are, as teachers for doctrine, priests for sacred worship, and ministers for governing. The apostles’ office is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops... bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church’ (20). Through the Bishops, as modern-day Apostles, Christ Himself continues to preach the Word of God and administer the sacraments of redemption. The apostles were given a special grace of the Holy Spirit, imparted by the laying-on-of-hands and which is transmitted to this day in the Church by sacramental episcopal consecration. The Episcopate is the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, possessing the plenitude of the Apostolic Ministry and its powers. With episcopal consecration comes the powers of the Apostles in teaching, sanctifying, and governing the Church (LG 20). ‘A bishop, marked with the fulness of the sacrament of orders is the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood, especially in the Eucharist, which he offers or causes to be offered and by which the Church continually lives and grows. Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is regulated by the bishop, to whom is committed the office of offering the worship of Christian religion to the divine majesty...’ (LG 26). Bishops preach the Word of God and the Catholic Tradition which are especially entrusted to them, regulate the distribution of all the sacraments, administer confirmation, orders, and penitential discipline, teach the faith, and are to form a good example to the flock. The bishop is the real and direct pastor of his people in the local church, with full authority in the pastoral office (27). Lumen Gentium goes on to explain that Our Lord caused the Apostles, and thus, Bishops, to share in and partake of His own consecration and mission from the Father, and has established a threefold ministry: ‘The divinely established ecclesiastical ministry is exercised on different levels by those who from antiquity have been called bishops, priests, and deacons’ (28). (The author invites a comparison of this statement with the Preface to the Anglican Ordinal of 1550 - an almost identical statement as to the origin and design of Orders.)

Priests (presbuteroi), who do not have the fulness of Holy Orders and are dependent on bishops for the exercise of their ministry, are united with the bishops in ‘sacerdotal dignity.’ They are consecrated to preach the Gospel, shepherd the faithful, and celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament. In persona Christi, they exercise their sacred functions of proclaiming the Word and offering the Mass. As priests of Jesus Christ, they unite the prayers of all the faithful with their Head and apply the all-sufficient and complete Sacrifice of Christ to the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist (28). The priests, as the instruments, aides, and co-operators of the Episcopal order, form one priesthood in communion with their bishop. They make the bishop present in their ministries and extend the bishop’s pastoral office in their ministrations. The sacraments priests administer and the office they exercise belong properly to the work of the bishop, whose representatives they are (28). Finally, Deacons are sacramentally ordained to the ministry of service (diakonia) to the bishop and his presbyteral college, not to the priesthood itself. They are ordained for various ministries, sacramental and pastoral, according to the assignment of the bishop, to whom they are intimately connected by ordination (28). Bishops, priests, and deacons constitute Christ’s own apostolic ministry, and have done so from New Testament times. Compare this teaching with that of the Book of Common Prayer and an unmistakable similarity emerges. ‘What orders of ministers are there in the Church? Bishops, Priests, and Deacons; which Orders have been in the Church from the earliest times. What is the office of a Bishop? The office of a Bishop is, to be a chief pastor in the Church; to confer Holy Orders; and to administer Confirmation. What is the office of a Priest? The office of a Priest is, to minister to the people committed to his care; to preach the Word of God; to baptise; to celebrate the Holy Communion; and to pronounce Absolution and Blessing in God’s Name. What is the office of a Deacon? The office of a Deacon is, to assist the Priest in Divine Service, and in his other ministrations, under the direction of the Bishop.’ (BCP Office of Instruction, 294). The interrogations asked of candidates to Holy Orders are also worth perusal, as they reflect the very same ideas conveyed in the Dogmatic Constitution. For Deacons, pages 532-533, for Priests, pages 541-543, and for Bishops, pages 554-555 in the Prayer Book. The core meaning and functions of the three sacred orders are outlined in these passages in vivid detail. The Saint Louis Affirmation is faithful to the BCP as well as to Anglican, and therefore, the Catholic doctrinal and liturgical tradition regarding the ministry since the Reformation and before. Finally, a selective peek at the Catholic Catechism will again prove the tremendous similarity in teaching. ‘Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.’ (CCC 1536). ‘Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church (Saint Ignatius, Trallians 3.1)’ (CCC 1593). ‘By the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is given in such wise that bishops... take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as Christ’s representative... Bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith, and have been made pontiffs and pastors’ (CCC 1558). ‘Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord’ (CCC 1411). ‘Since the sacrament... is the sacrament of the apostolic ministry, it is for the bishops as the successors of the apostles to hand on the ‘gift of the Spirit,’ the ‘apostolic line.’ Validly ordained bishops, those who are in the line of apostolic succession, validly confer the three degrees of the sacrament...’ (CCC 1576). This catechetical content is identical to the historic Anglican doctrine of the ministry as clearly enunciated in the liturgy and formularies of Anglicanism. Anglo-Catholicism brings into clear focus the centrality of this truth.

The Saint Louis Affirmation, as evaluated in the light of the Dogmatic Constitution, possesses an undeniably Catholic character. If the writers and organisers of the Affirmation did not seek to reproduce in toto the theological ideas and teachings of the Second Vatican Council, they at least resorted to those texts of Vatican II which are historically consistent, both in use and theology, with Anglo-Catholic ecclesiology as explicated in the last two centuries. They leaned on Vatican II very heavily indeed. It is the task of the historian, not the theologian, to determine whether or not the framers of the Saint Louis Affirmation actually placed Lumen Gentium and other Roman Catholic documents before themselves when drafting their unambiguously Catholic formulary. The theological task, made very simple by the content of the Affirmation itself, is to critique and examine the theology of the Affirmation in the light of contemporaneous and applicable documents from the sister Church of the Anglicans, Rome. Clearly, the Affirmation is heavily influenced by Lumen Gentium, to such a degree that it could be fairly argued that, the role of the Papacy being excluded from its content, the Affirmation can be called the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in condensed form - a radical and history-making step in the development of Catholic Anglican ecclesiology. Another aspect of the Affirmation to be left unexplored for another project is the question of whether or not the Affirmation is in fact consistent with earlier Reformation or seventeenth-eighteenth century Anglicanism or is, in truth, an abrupt break with earlier pre-Tractarian Anglican theological tradition. As it stands, the Affirmation represents an unparalleled agreement between Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the nature of the Church, Sacraments, and Ministry, arguably superior even to that of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Surely dogmatic unity between the Churches would be hastened were the whole Anglican Communion willing to embrace this crystallised statement of Catholic doctrine and practice. Vatican II’s impact on the Anglo-Catholic movement, it is hoped to be have now been shown, is undeniably beyond any doubt. The Second Vatican Council has forever reshaped and redesigned the theological expression and language of the Anglo-Catholic theological tradition.

II: The ecclesiology of late nineteenth and early-to-mid twentieth century Anglo-Catholicism

Having evaluated the remarkable theological agreement shared by the Affirmation of Saint Louis and the teaching of the Roman Church as expressed in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and the Roman Catholic Catechism, let us proceed to review the historical theological position of Anglicanism’s Catholic Revival, which led to the formulation of the Affirmation. It is the contention of the author that the Affirmation of Saint Louis teleologically fulfils the long-awaited and final stage of the development of a precise, unambiguous Catholic ecclesiology for Anglicanism. The ambiguities and confusion caused by the Elizabethan Settlement of the sixteenth century are finally clarified and reversed by the explicit Catholic doctrinal stance taken by the Affirmation. This development, however, certainly did not occur in a vacuum. The Saint Louis Affirmation is itself the culmination of a theological tradition and a unbroken succession of doctrinal teaching stretching back to the English Reformation, and which was intensified and accelerated in a most profound way through the course of the Catholic Revival from the end of the nineteenth century through the mid twentieth century. One can see very easily through a cursory review of the basic doctrinal teachings of some of the more prominent representatives of the Catholic Revival, that the Affirmation of Saint Louis is no novel document, and contains no ecclesiology original to itself. The nineteenth century British Prime Minister William Gladstone could write in 1842, ‘Great Catholic principles distinguish our Church [of England] from many other Protestant bodies: such, for instance, as the doctrine of grace in Baptism, of the real sacramental Presence in the Eucharist, of absolution, of universal or Catholic consent, of the Apostolical foundation of the Episcopate, and of its being the source of lawful Church power and of a valid ministry’ (Rowell 7). An Anglican John Henry Newman, the principal architect of the Tracts for the Times and the most influential mind of the Oxford Movement, explains that the whole purpose of the Catholic Revival, and of the famous Tracts in particular (for which the Movement is often given the name Tractarian), is simply ‘to stir up our brethren to consider the state of the Church, and especially to the practical belief and preaching of the Apostolical Succession’ (Rowell 55). The initial purpose of the Catholic Movement is to restore to the living memory and practice of the Church of England and her daughter Churches her own ancient and Catholic roots, her apostolic lineage, and her unbroken continuity with the Church of the Apostles, which she perpetuates through the Apostolic Succession of her episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate. The Tracts concern ‘the practical revival of doctrines, which although held by the great divines of our Church, at present have become obsolete with the majority of her members’ (Rowell 55). Newman and his colleagues in the Movement do not claim in any way to introduce new doctrine or novel ideas into the English Church - their goal is to revivify and renew the tradition and practice of an Apostolic Church, a Church whose authority, grace-filled sacraments, and teachings derive, though obscured through the course of history, directly from the Apostles themselves. The Catholic Revival is, according to its progenitors, not the creation of a new system of doctrine and belief; it is the restoration of the original Faith and concomitant practices of an Apostolically-commissioned Divine Society. The Church of England is not an Eratsian, state-controlled institution or an organ of the state. Rather, it is, essentially, a part of the Body of Christ, founded on the Apostles and Fathers of the Primitive Church. It is the Catholic Church of the English-speaking race. Thus, the clergy of the English Church should not rest on the authority of the state, their own personal gifts, or on their own convictions, but rather on that essential quality which sets apart the priest from the layman: ‘our Apostolical Descent.’ Here is the beginning and the end, the whole purpose, of the Oxford Movement - to reassert the true Catholic Apostolic nature of the Anglican Church and her ministry as given by God, not man. Newman describes the Orders and Sacraments of the Church as the ‘keys and spells’ by which men are brought into the presence of God’s saints. The Church functions as the Great Sacrament of Christ, in her life, ministry, and worship. (Rowell 8). Newman envisions the Church as the school for saints, edified by the sacraments, ministry, and creeds of the one Church; an early Newman perceives the Anglican Church’s appeal to the antiquity of the first four centuries of the undivided Church as of the essence of Anglicanism - for him, the via media, the defining theological path of Anglicanism, consists in the English Church’s steadfast loyalty to the ancient Tradition of the earliest Church, as opposed to the rigid systematising of Rome and individualistic and atomising tendencies of protestantism. For Newman, the via media is, simply, appeal to the mantra, the well-repeated war-cry of the Anglican settlement, ‘the ancient and Undivided Church.’ ‘Ancient Consent, is, practically, the only, or the main kind, of Tradition which now remains to us’ (Rowell 62). The Anglican Newman readily identifies the Anglican via media with the Church of Antiquity, which alone, he originally believes, possessed the fullness of Catholic consent, conciliarity, and truth.

The poetic heart of the Movement, the great John Keble, son and heir of the old High Church tradition within the English Church, who heralded the beginning of the Movement in 1833 with his famous Assize Sermon against National Apostasy, identifies the Kingdom of God with Christ’s Church, a visible, organic, sacramental communion of grace: ‘The kingdom is a real visible company, united within itself by rules and ordinances, and varying in the ranks and degrees of its members; spiritual indeed and heavenly in its origin, and in the powers which quicken and move it, but having an outward frame and operations just as open to men’s notice as any society in this world.’ (Tavard 148). Keble is clear on the exact meaning of the reality of Church of Christ and where it fully subsists, as he proclaims, ‘Christ’s Holy Catholic Church is a real outward visible body, having supernatural grace continually communicated through it by succession from the Apostles, in whose place the bishops are’ (Rowell 8). Nowhere could a more succinct and profound definition of the Church be found in the history of ecclesiology. Keble effectively binds together all the essential characteristics of the Church in her sacramental or outward and visible quality. It almost goes without saying that for the Oxford Movement fathers, the divine Life of Christ is intimately connected to and instrumentally transmitted by the Church’s sacraments, orders, and ministry, for the Church is nothing less but the very Body of Christ, the extension of the Incarnation. Such a strongly-worded sentiment is unequivocally echoed by the Saint Louis Affirmation. According to the great Tractarian father and theological leader of the Oxford Movement, Dr Edward Bouverie Pusey, ‘the English Church preserves the entire faith, such as Our Lord left it with the Apostles, to evangelise the world. She believes all which the undivided Church believed, as of faith.’ ‘We could not imagine ourselves to have lived a day out of the communion of the Church of St. Augustine [of Canterbury].’ ‘[This Church] has been the home of our faith, our affections, our understanding, now to grey hairs. Like God’s Word, so that undivided Church of God satisfies our whole selves. There are no clouds there. In its faith, we have been ever at rest.’ Pusey, like the rest of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, firmly believes that Catholicism is the Faith of the ancient and undivided Church of the first millennium, the Church of the Fathers. As such, the Anglican Church is the heir of the Church of the Apostles and Fathers. This theme of the antiquity, and thus, Catholicism, of the Anglican Church, will resonate with passion and clarity throughout the Catholic Revival. ‘But if the whole Church, including the Greek and Anglican communions, were to define... any points to be de fide, I should hold all further enquiries to be at an end. I should submit to it and hold it as being, by such universal consent of the whole Church, proved to be part of the Apostles’ faith’ (Tavard 181-182). In the fulness of time, this doctrinal standard for Church authority, related by Dr Pusey, will be unambiguously affirmed by the Affirmation of Saint Louis: ‘Tradition: The received Tradition of the Church and its preachings as set forth by ‘the ancient catholic bishops and doctors,’ and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, to the exclusion of all error, ancient and modern.’ (2. Essentials of Truth and Order). Anglo-Catholicism’s doctrinal standard eventually leads it to claim itself ‘more Catholic than Rome.’

Hence, the Catholic Movement has finally and irreversibly aligned itself with the theological vision of the Eastern Orthodox Churches in the matter of what constitutes the supreme tribunal of authority in the Catholic Church. The supreme authority in the Church, for the continuing Anglo-Catholic, is the Ecumenical Council, and, specifically, the Seven Holy Councils held when the Church was fully united dogmatically, hierarchically and sacramentally - Nicea I (325), Constantinople I (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553), Constantinople III (680), and Nicea II (787). These councils uniquely represent the whole mind of the whole Catholic Church when the Catholic Church was visibly one. The Seven Councils manifest the Catholic Antiquity, Universality, and Consent required by the Canon of Saint Vincent of Lerins - that which is believed ‘everywhere, always, and by all.’ Anglo-Catholicism officially embraces the Trinitarian, Christological, iconological, and canonical orthodoxies of the universal Church of the ages. Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. As Pusey writes, ‘The Anglican divines appeal to the authority of the Universal Church as long as it was one’ (Tavard 153). This is the Faith of the ancient and undivided Church of the first millennium, the Church of the unanimous consent of the ancient Fathers and of the undisputed councils. What emerges from the teaching of the founders of the Catholic Revival, enshrined in the Affirmation, is fundamentally a via media which in many respects continues the via media of earlier Anglican centuries, with more clarity and self-confidence. Rejecting, on one hand, the protestant mythic notion of sola scriptura, a self-interpreting Bible devoid of tradition and church as authoritative guides to the true handing-on of revelation, and on the other, the ultramontane doctrines of papal infallibility and the absolute and supreme universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, Anglo-Catholicism promulgates a middle-way mediation of truth, an authority of antiquity and catholic consent, the mainstream and universal tradition of the undivided Church of the Fathers, as its very own. Neither papal nor protestant, the Anglican via media becomes ‘Holy Tradition, apostolic and orthodox, as ecclesial authority’ in the fullest meaning of the phrase. One controversial manner of describing this Tractarian appeal to the undivided Church would be: ‘where Rome and Orthodoxy agree together, there Anglicanism squares with them.’ Anglo-Catholicism’s closest relative, doctrinally speaking, as opposed to historically, would therefore be the Chalcedonian Churches of the eastern patriarchates. Anglicanism, thus self-understood, discovers herself to be the western counterpart to the Eastern Orthodox, or, to be indulgent, the Orthodox Church of the West, or ‘Western Orthodoxy.’ The position renders Anglicanism the sole Patristic Church of the West. Such confidence in the Anglican Catholic position led Pusey to quip, ‘The Church of England has been placed as the single guardian of the Catholic truth in the West’ (Tavard 159). Triumphalistic as it may sound, the Catholic Revival engineers stalwartly believed Anglicanism to be the unique Church, defender and transmitter of ancient and Apostolic Tradition, in the West, opposed to the theological innovations of Rome and the theological subtractions and omissions of extreme protestantism. Her doctrinal authority is the same as that of the Apostolic Church from the beginning. Consistent with his Anglican theological formation, Pusey strongly asserts that the branches of the one Catholic Church, although divided hierarchically and administratively, still possesses the sacramental and spiritual unity of the Body of Christ: the so-called ‘branch theory’ - ‘Well then may we believe that the several Churches, owning the same Lord, united to Him by the same sacraments, confessing the same faith, however their prayers may be hindered, are still one in His sight.’ (Tavard 182). The classic formulation of the branch theory, which first made its appearance in the early seventeenth century, and refined by the Non-Juring High Churchmen of the eighteenth century, will unleash its full theological force in the Catholic Revival. Succinctly put, Anglo-Catholicism innovated no new notion, but inherited and elaborated the immediate post-reformation English concept that the Catholic Church is divided on earth into three great branches: British, Roman, and Eastern. The famous Bishop Lancelot Andrewes of the seventeenth century will pray in his Preces Privatae for the three branches of Christ’s Church : ‘Western, Eastern, and British.’ More specifically, only those true Apostolically-rooted Churches which possess Apostolic Succession through episcopal consecration are considered to be true Catholic and Apostolic Churches, and these Churches are later exclusively grouped by the Oxford Movement fathers into the Latin, Eastern, and Anglican communions. Later on, the Old Catholics would be added to the list after the First Vatican Council in 1870.

Father John Mason Neale, founder of the religious order called the Society of Saint Margaret and the most important liturgical scholar of the Revival, sees the Anglican Church as opposed to protestantism: ‘What protestants, as protestants, protest against, that the Church of England holds... and what protestants, as protestants, hold, that the Church of England protests against. Take it which way you like, negatively or positively; and the fact is the same. Our Church has no claim to the epithet protestant. The Church of England never was, is not now, and, I trust to God, never shall be, protestant’ (Tavard 179, 183). In 1915, Henry Swete, a well-respected theologian of the Revival, characterises the Church this way: ‘The title ‘catholic’ must be vindicated for all churches that retain the great sacraments, the doctrine of the catholic creeds, and the succession of the historic episcopate: and it must be denied to bodies which, however great their spiritual efficiency, do not fulfil these necessary conditions of genuine catholicity’ (Swete 41). The founder of the famous ‘liberal catholic’ school which sought to introduce the whole of human science and knowledge into the realm of catholic orthodoxy, Bishop Charles Gore of Oxford, a giant of the second generation of Anglo-Catholics, edited in 1889 a now-classic work, Lux Mundi, which sought to evaluate and re-affirm catholic claims in the light of modern times, and create a synthesis between faith and science. In that work, Gore professes his loyalty to the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism: ‘We have written this volume not as ‘guessers of truth’ but as servants of the Catholic creed and Church, aiming only at interpreting the faith we have received’ (17). From Lux Mundi’s vantagepoint, we can see a consistency in the teaching of Bishop Gore on the nature of the Church. ‘I mean by Catholicism the establishment of a visible society as the one divinely-instituted home of the great salvation, held together not only by the inward Spirit but also by certain manifest and external institutions’ (Tavard 187). Gore, like his theological forbears, perceives the nature of the Church in reference to her historicity and sacramental nature. ‘We believe that Christ instituted a visible Church, and intended the apostolic succession of the Ministry to form at least one necessary link of connection in it; we accept the Catholic creeds and the declared mind of the Church as governing their beliefs; and we believe in the sacraments as celebrated by the ministry of apostolic authority in its different grades, as the covenanted channels or instruments of grace’ (Tavard 188). The Saint Louis Affirmation almost quotes the last phrase of this statement in referring to the sacraments as ‘covenanted means of grace.’ Gore explores the concept of the Church as the Sacrament of the Great Sacrament, Christ Himself. He sees the Church as having both an outward and visible and inward and spiritual nature. The Catholic Church must be visible, Gore teaches, because the Incarnation which it continues and extends was visible. The Church and Incarnation are inextricably one mystery: ‘The idea of the visible Church, the idea of the sacraments, the idea of ministerial succession, cohere as indissoluble elements in one idea and one institution. And this idea and institution cohere in turn with the Incarnation. So the visible Church is the embodiment of Christ - the extension of the Incarnation’ (Tavard 190). Gore’s Catholicism, bringing access to all truth, is wholly Incarnational.

Bishop Charles C. Grafton, one of the luminaries of the Catholic movement in America, defends a view of the Catholic Church which emphasises its institutional and sacramental character. Catholic Christianity is defined as ‘the episcopal government of the Church, the three sacred orders of the ministry, the preserved apostolic succession through Episcopal ordination, the Christian priesthood and the real presence and Eucharistic sacrifice’ (Grafton 144). Bishop Grafton sees the Church as a visible and sacramental society, fully functional and full of authority even in spite of the various divisions or branches which comprise the one Catholic Church. ‘[The Catholic Church] is not a dead but an authoritative and living voice. She is ever proclaiming, in the midst of the world’s tumultuous babel of contending utterances, the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Grafton 145-146). In 1920, the first of a series of six Anglo-Catholic Congresses was held in England with the purpose of reinvigorating the Catholic Movement intellectually and spiritually. For the first time, Anglo-Catholic scholars and theologians gathered en masse to demonstrate the presence, influence, and achievements of the Revival. At that most important of meetings, 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’ (ACC I, 68, 70). For 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’ (ACC I, 67). The 1920 Lambeth Conference’s ‘Appeal to all Christian People’ drew this very technical description of the true membership of the true Church as a response from Dr Darwell Stone and Father F. W. Puller, SSJE, two highly-venerated Anglo-Catholic scholars. Notice how closely it resembles, with the exception of reference to the Papal office, the teaching of Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis (1943): ‘The Church militant is a society consisting of all those who believe in Christ and have been validly baptised, and are in fellowship with one or other of those organised groups of Christians which possess a legitimately appointed ministry deriving its authority through an unbroken series of successive ordinations from the Apostles, and profess the truth once for all delivered to the saints’ (Stone and Puller 25). In 1921, the official Anglican representatives who created a document of Suggested Terms of Intercommunion with the Orthodox Churches developed a direct profession of faith, declaring the nature of the Church: ‘We accept the Faith of Christ as it is taught us by the Holy Scriptures, and as it has been handed down to us in the Creed of the Catholic Church, and as it is expounded in the dogmatic decisions of the Oecumenical Councils as accepted by the Undivided Church’ (Istavridis 97). Anglicanism shares with Orthodoxy a high regard for Ecumenical authority.

A succinct affirmation of the catholic nature of the entire Anglican Church and her teaching occurs in a speech presented at the 1923 Anglo-Catholic Congress by Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar, a renown early-twentieth century missionary. He 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’ (ACC 96). Bishop Weston’s ecclesiological masterpiece, The Fulness of Christ, describes the Church as Christ Himself, the divine society reflecting unity-in-diversity united together by the Apostolic ministry of the episcopate. The Eucharist is set-forth as the sacrificial oblation of love which unites the Church of Christ in divine charity: ‘The Mass becomes the necessary centre of worship, for it celebrates the central fact of at-one-ment, and communion with our Lord and one another is the pledge of that unity which our Lord died that we might enjoy’ (Maynard-Smith 53). In 1929, the quintessential Anglo-Catholic position is reiterated in an Open Letter written by the Federation of Catholic Priests, a Catholic society in the Church of England, addressed to the Bishop of London. ‘We believe that the Church of these Provinces [Canterbury and York] is a true part of that Church which received the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost. If the Church is really one, what we assert to be true of our own part of the Church must a fortiori be true of those two greater parts in the East and the West.’ (Hughes 94). This assertion in echoed later in history by no less a figure than the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, His Grace Geoffrey Fisher, ‘We have no doctrine of our own - we only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and those creeds we hold without addition or diminuition. We stand firm on that rock.’ (Hughes 50). The Continuing Anglo-Catholic Churches unequivocally claim that the Church of Christ is ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic’ and also, that such is the character of orthodox Anglicanism. For Anglo-Catholics, what does the doctrine of the Church really mean? Father E. Keble Talbot, sometime Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, eloquently answers this question on the occasion of the centenary of the Oxford Movement in 1933: ‘The Church is central to the Christian Faith and religion. The English Church is a true part of that supernatural society which derives from Christ and his Apostles. Here is the soul of Catholicism - a corporate experience controlled by the insight which divines the whole light, life and love of God incarnate once for all in Christ, offered continuously to the world and entering the life of man through the fellowship of the Spirit’ (OMCC 152). The vision of the Catholic Anglicanism is a pure Christianity of the Incarnation, a Christ-centred, Incarnate, Catholic Church expressed in the mystery of the Eucharist, translated through the work of theology, applied in pastoral ministry, lived-out in prayer, reaching-out in missionary labour, and ever extending itself as it seeks union with those Catholics who also perceive this corporate reality in the tradition of the Eastern and Western Churches.

We conclude our journey through the thought of major representatives of the Anglo-Catholic theological way with His Grace Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, who in 1936 wrote the seminal English Catholic doctrinal text of the twentieth century, The Gospel and the Catholic Church. This study of the Church, its doctrine, unity, and structure refers the ecclesial reality to the Gospel of the crucified and risen Lord. Examining the New Testament, Ramsey arrives at a holistic biblical ecclesiology. ‘Christianity is never believe in Christ is to believe in One whose Body is a part of Himself and whose people are His own humanity, and to be joined to Christ is to be joined to Christ-in-His-Body’ (Ramsey 37-38). Divine life is found ‘through membership in the Body’ (Ramsey 38). The unity of the One Body is rooted in the unity of God; the outward order of the Church expresses that unity. Bishops act as the organs of the Church’s unity and continuity - the Church is ‘an organism of Sacraments, Episcopacy, Scriptures and Creeds’ in which each separate element must be seen as belonging to the others (Ramsey 57). This idea repeats the classic Anglican ecumenical gesture called the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888, which names the Scriptures, the three Creeds, the two Dominical Sacraments, and the Apostolic Episcopate as the four essential ingredients of the Catholic Church. The Archbishop stresses the role of the Eucharist, Episcopate, Liturgy, and Creeds in fixing the Church in heart of the Gospel, the death and resurrection of the Son of God. ‘As he receives the Catholic sacrament and recites the Catholic creed, the Christian is learning that no single movement nor partial experience within Christendom can claim his final obedience, and that a local Church can claim his loyalty only by leading him beyond itself to that universal family which it represents. Hence the Catholic order is not a hierarchical tyranny, but the means of deliverance into the Gospel of God and the timeless Church’ (Ramsey 135). ‘This historic structure bears witness to this [one historical family founded by Christ], and Baptism, Eucharist, Creeds, Episcopate, Scripture are the ‘signs of the spiritual constitution,’ things not Anglican, nor Roman, nor Greek, but things belonging to the one people of God’ (Ramsey 213). The Church’s mystical being is unified and continued in the Apostolic Ministry, which manifests the universal Church locally. ‘Every ordination and every Eucharist is the act of Christ in His one Body, and the Episcopate expresses this fact in outward order. The Eucharist celebrated in any place is the act of the one family as represented in that place; and the validity of the ministry and of the rite is bound up with its meaning as the act of the universal Church’ (Ramsey 223). This is Anglo-Catholic theology at its very best.

III: The Churches of the Saint Louis Affirmation and Dominus Iesus

Now let us briefly examine the theological and ecclesiological consequences of the Affirmation of Saint Louis and the long-standing tradition it completes in relation to the recent Vatican Declaration Dominus Iesus. If the foregoing description of the Church as related and believed by Anglo-Catholics is accurate and historically sound, then Anglo-Catholic Churches, which are orthodox in faith and doctrine, holding fast to the dogmatic decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils of ancient undivided Church, which rightly celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice and profess right faith in the objective Real Presence of Our Lord’s Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament, and which faithfully preserve and transmit the apostolic succession in the threefold apostolic ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, would fall under the category of those genuine, or ‘true particular’ Churches which are henceforth described in the Vatican Declaration: ‘The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church’ (Dominus Iesus 17). Anglican Churches possess, this author affirms vigourously, in continuous line with the unbroken teaching of the English Church since the Reformation, both Apostolic Succession and the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore Anglo-Catholicism would not come under the statement of Dominus Iesus regarding non-Catholic ecclesial bodies: ‘The ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not true Churches in the proper sense’ (17). Anglo-Catholic Churches are ‘true particular Churches,’ not ‘ecclesial communities.’ All Anglicanism has, of course, known the truth of its own ontological state for many centuries, and has always believed itself to have never ceased to have either the Apostolic Succession, which was carefully preserved over and over again through the English Reformation (particularly in the consecration of Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker in 1559 with the clear intention of the Edwardine Ordinal of 1550), or a valid Holy Eucharist, which depends for its validity upon celebration by an Apostolically-consecrated bishop or an episcopally-ordained priest: ‘We make provision with the greatest reverence for the consecration of the Holy Eucharist and commit it only to properly ordained Priests and to no other ministers of the Church’ (Saepius Officio XI, Archbishops of Canterbury and York). Continuing Anglican Churches which affirm the Saint Louis Affirmation as a doctrinal starting-point ought to fall within the perimeters of a description kindly offered by Lumen Gentium. ‘The [Roman] Church recognises that in many ways she is linked with those, who, being baptised, are honoured with the name of Christian, though they do not... preserve unity of communion with the Successor of Peter. For there are many who honour Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They loving believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by Baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognise and accept other sacraments within their own Churches... Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God’ (15, emphasis added). Surely orthodox Anglo-Catholicism comes within the pale of this description. In summary, it may be said quite forcefully that the Affirmation of Saint Louis, in its ecclesiological aspect, breaks radically new ground in the ecumenical milieu shared mutually by the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglo-Catholic Churches. Never before has the Catholic Anglican tradition ever issued such an unambiguously declaration of its own doctrinal and theological Catholicity. The Saint Louis Affirmation could very well introduce a new and dramatically more successful ecumenical dialogue between Anglican Catholics and their Roman brethren. Anglican Churches that embrace the Affirmation are, by far, in the Western Church tradition, the undoubtedly closest living relatives to the Roman Communion. Both Churches agree on such essential catholic truths as the divine origin and nature of the Church, the Seven Sacraments, the male character of the Apostolic Ministry, the necessity for Apostolic Succession, the sacramental nature of the Christian ministerial priesthood, and the indefectibility of the ancient Church’s teaching office. Anglican Catholics and Roman Catholics are very close indeed, too close not to make the effort to understand and ultimately attempt to reconcile with one another. The Affirmation of Saint Louis presents a unique opportunity within the ecumenical mandate for genuine rapprochement.

IV: A concluding commentary on the issue of Anglican Orders

The entire question of the sacramental validity of Anglican Orders, it is respectfully suggested, should now finally be reappraised by the Roman Catholic Church. In his 1896 Apostolic Letter Apostolicae Curae, Pope Leo XIII strangely avoids a review and explanation of that essential portion of the Anglican Ordinal of 1550, which establishes the unmistakable sacramental intention of the Anglican Church in continuing the apostolic succession and the three historic orders of the Church, the episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate, called the Preface to the Ordinal. ‘It is evident unto all men, diligently reading holy scripture, and ancient authors, that from the Apostles’ time, there hath been these orders of ministers in Christ’s Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, which Offices were evermore had in such reverent estimation, than no man by his own private authority, might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined, and known, to have such qualities, as are requisite for the same. And also by public prayer, with imposition of hands, approved, and admitted thereunto. And therefore to the intent these orders should be continued, and reverently used, and esteemed in this Church of England, it is requisite, that no man (not being at this present Bishop, Priest, nor Deacon) shall execute any of them, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted, according to the form hereafter following.’ Apostolicae curae purports a defective intention in the Edwardine Ordinal of 1550 because, it is claimed, the Ordinal does not intend to make bishops, priests, and deacons in the Catholic sense, that is, in the historic sense of the universal Church from the Apostles’ time. As the Preface clearly demonstrates, nothing could be further from the truth. The ‘native spirit’ of the Anglican Ordinal, condemned by Leo XIII, is that of a rite which deliberately seeks to continue the unbroken threefold hierarchy of the ancient Catholic Church aptly described in the letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. The Edwardine Ordinal of 1550 offers three separate and distinct rites to be used for the ordination of the three major orders of the apostolic ministry: ‘the form and manner of ordering deacons,’ ‘the form of ordering priests’ (translated in the 1560 Latin version as sacerdos, the English ‘presbyter’ never being used in the original), and ‘the form of consecrating of an archbishop or bishop.’ These three rites contain the essential matter and form required by Pope Pius XII in his 1947 Sacramentum Ordinis for valid ordination, the laying-on-of-hands and prayer for the grace of the specific order. What was understood in the sixteenth century as the traditional sacramental form of the medieval pontificals for the episcopate and priesthood becomes the form of the Anglican Ordinal: Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ Because of the irrefutable proofs offered by both historical fact and ecclesiastical practice, Father E. M. De Augustinis, SJ rightly established, for the Roman commission investigating Anglican Orders in 1895, the truth that Anglican Orders have been valid beyond the breach from Rome in 1534 and beyond the promulgation of the Anglican Ordinal in 1550: ‘It has been demonstrated, therefore, that the ministers of Anglican ordinations in ordaining bishops and priests intend to do what the Church does; for this reason their intention is sufficient for the validity of the act. We conclude: Anglican ordinations are valid because they have been carried out by a suitable minister, with a valid rite and with the intention of doing what the Church does’ (Orders 148). However, for the sake of argument, we can assure the reader that an unquestionable correction of the purported defects of form and intention occurred in the production of the Restoration Ordinal of 1662, when the three orders of the apostolic ministry, which had been certainly distinguished in the earlier Ordinal, were distinguished even more clearly in the rites of ordination in order to correct the false teaching of English presbyterian puritans who, when using the 1550 Ordinal, wrongly followed Saint Jerome’s faulty assertion regarding the parity of the orders of bishop and priest. An almost universal recovery of the historic Catholic understanding of the Sacrament of Orders in the Anglican Communion and the on-going participation of Old Catholic consecrators in the consecration of Anglican bishops (from 1932 in England and from 1946 in the United States) have drastically transformed the situation evaluated and judged by Pope Leo XIII at the end of the nineteenth century.

Practically every bishop and priest in the entire Anglican Communion can now trace his ordination directly to a bishop properly consecrated, not only by Anglican prelates, but by Old Catholic consecrators as well. In fact, because the entire Anglican Communion has been permeated with a catholic understanding of the sacrament of Orders as a result of the Catholic Movement, the ordination of women controversy in some Anglican jurisdictions notwithstanding, there now exists a general intention ‘to do what the Church does’ as defined by Rome. This verity is revealed in the 1981 Agreed Statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Old Catholic Orders, undoubtedly recognised as valid by the Roman Church, are the orders of every Anglican jurisdiction, given with the proper matter, form, minister, and intention needed for every valid ordination. The valid Eucharist and valid apostolic succession required by Dominus Iesus for the characterisation of a body of Christians as ‘Church’ are thus, the author believes, undeniably present and living within the communion of those Churches which derive from the Anglican Episcopal succession. Historic Anglican Churches are true Churches, not simply ‘ecclesial bodies,’ with a valid episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate, with a valid Eucharist and absolution, and consequently, a valid connection to the Life of Jesus Christ conveyed through the means of grace ex opere operato, the Sacraments. The state of things just described would place orthodox Anglicanism, according to the standards of Dominus Iesus, on par with the Eastern Orthodox and Old Catholic Churches, which have themselves recognised the validity of Anglican Orders. (The Constantinopolitan Ecumenical Patriarchate provisionally, by economia, recognised Anglican Orders in 1922; the Archiepiscopate of Utrecht recognised them absolutely in 1925). These Churches have realised that the Anglican Eucharist, Orders, and other Sacraments convey the divine grace covenantally promised by Christ in the Church’s sacramental life.

Of the various solutions for the problem of Anglican Orders as concerning the Roman Church, Father George H. Tavard suggests as the first and perhaps best option the presumption for validity of Anglican Orders. Such a decision on the part of the Latin Church would certainly place orthodox Anglicans within its perimeters of ‘Church’ and not ‘ecclesial body’ or ‘sect.’ ‘The [Roman] Catholic hierarchy could decide that there is, today, if not in the past, a presumption of validity in favour of Anglican orders. Arguments in support of a presumption of validity may be drawn from several areas: the general predominance of ‘high church’ over ‘low church’ conceptions of the sacraments; the present evidence that Anglican bishops intend to do what the Church does in ordination; the participation of Old Catholic bishops in Anglican ordinations; the growth of a theology of priesthood that is shared by [Roman] Catholics and Anglicans alike, as illustrated by the Final Report [of ARCIC].... and the recognition of Anglican orders by Orthodox Churches by virtue of the ‘principle of economy.’ It could allow the [Roman] Catholic magisterium to declare that, given the contemporary evidence in favour of the presumption of validity, Anglican orders are now recognised, or regarded as valid’ (Tavard - Orders 137). We have mercifully come a very long way from the pronouncements of Pope and English Archbishops alike given at the end of the nineteenth century: ‘Anglican Orders are absolutely null and utter void’ (Leo XIII). ‘Thus in overthrowing our Orders, [Leo] overthrows his own and pronounces sentence on his own Church’ (Frederick Temple). Or have we? Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in his Commentary on the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II Ad Tuendam Fidem (1998), reaffirms the Vatican claim that Anglican Orders are invalid: ‘With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given... the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the apostolic letter Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations’ (Ratzinger 11). This development, from the author’s perspective, is most unfortunate and most unhelpful, being another tragically unhappy barrier placed in the way of genuine ecumenical openness and equality which ought to obtain between Anglo-Catholics and the Church of Rome. The outside observer may find it odd that a reaffirmation of the condemnation of the validity of Anglican ordinations would be deemed necessary by the Vatican at this stage of history - not to mention the fact that the Anglican Orders controversy, to the vast majority of Catholics throughout the world, is at best an obscure and seemingly inconsequential subject. The fact of the reassertion, positively speaking, serves to highlight the influence still wielded by the comparatively small branch of the Church known as Anglicanism. In spite of this unnecessary regression on the path to real Catholic unity, it is hoped that an irenic exploration of the subject of Anglican Orders will not be squelched, but will be allowed to continue, in the theological activity of the Roman Communion. The issue, from every possible point of view, is obviously not dead, as the reassertion of Apostolicae Curae makes clear. The Commentary reveals that a not insignificant number of Roman Catholic theologians are re-evaluating the subject and arriving at conclusions found unpalatable by the Vatican hierarchy. The consensus fidelium may be moving Roman Catholics to a practical recognition of the grace that objectively flows from Jesus Christ through the traditional Anglican sacramental system. In a new age of ecumenical openness and in the spirit of charity, the time has come for a comprehensive review of Anglican Orders within the Roman Church, taking into account the incredibly important developments and changes within Anglicanism during the past century. May it come soon, so that one day all Western Catholics, Anglican, Old, and Roman, may again be united at One Altar, celebrating the Lord’s One Sacrifice and together sharing in the One Body and Blood of the One Saviour. Amen.

Reflection: The 2024 APA Clergy Retreat on G3 Unity

Reflection: The 2024 APA Clergy Retreat on G3 Unity