Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Blessed and Happy Christ-Mass!

A blessed and happy Christ-Mass to all!

Please be assured of my prayers for every soul that reads this web log. Thank you all for making the year of grace 2008 such a delightful year in which to blog.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, our Incarnate God and new-born King, fill you all with joy and pour out His abundant blessings upon you as we celebrate the great Christ-Mass solemnity.

And remember, let us keep the MASS in Christmas...

God bless you!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood - 21 December 1996

The photo of my first priestly blessing on the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, also the Ember Saturday in Advent, 21 December 1996. Ordained by the Most Reverend John Thayer Cahoon Junior, Bishop Ordinary of the Mid-Atlantic States, at Saint Paul's Anglican Catholic Church, Lexington, Virginia, I am here shown blessing my mother Jo Anne. My first Holy Mass was celebrated the next day, the Fourth Sunday in Advent. This Sunday, Advent IV 2008, marks the twelfth anniversary of my ordination as a Priest in Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

My brother Brandon, interestingly, was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons on the anniversary of my First Mass, 22 December 2007. He celebrates his first anniversary of ordination on Monday. Also, interestingly, the other Father Jones celebrated his First Mass on 8 June 2008, the twelfth anniversary of my ordination to the Diaconate. Providence, certainly not coincidence.

Please pray for us and for our fulfillment of the holy Will of God in our vocations. God bless you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stewards of the Lord

In light of the fascinating and ongoing discussion on Anglican Orders on one of my most favourite weblogs, Father Hunwicke's Liturgical Notes, I thought I would publish my own review of Father John Jay Hughes' unrivalled theological work Stewards of the Lord...

Dear N.

I am so very pleased that you obtained a copy of Fr John Jay Hughes' Stewards of the Lord. I had put off buying a copy of that magnum opus for a number of years, but having finally capitulated and purchased a copy last month, I am eternally grateful to have done so. It is clear from the context of the work that Fr Hughes believes Anglican Orders are undeniably valid, and that his opponents indeed understand his incontrovertible air tight theological case, but are nevertheless insistent on continuing to maintain Apostolicae Curae, even to the detriment of their theological and academic honesty and integrity.

I wish every Roman Catholic bishop and theologian alive were required to read Stewards of the Lord. Not only is it, in my opinion, the best, most lucid and readable, theological and historical defence of Anglican Orders ever written, it is also in its own right one of the best treatises on introductory theology of the Eucharist and Priesthood, as controverted in the reformation period, available in the English language. He manages to cut away five hundred years of polemic on both sides of the reformation to give a balanced and even-handed appraisal of the sixteenth century controversy and why it occurred in the first place. If anything, it is a remarkable and ground-breaking history of the reformation itself, which shows that the English Reformation was not at all a radical break with the Catholic and Christian past, but was as much both a victim of and a doctrinally-faithful heir to the medieval Catholic period as the Church of Trent. He brilliantly shows how the English Reformers were more faithful to St Thomas Aquinas and Peter Lombard than many Roman Catholic theologians of the sixteenth century. And indeed he demolishes the confused and unintelligible theological claims of Apostolicae Curae, using the best Roman Catholic theologians at hand, such a St Robert Bellarmine, and even modern Vatican decrees, to explode the theological ground-shifting of Pope Leo's Bull.

With astonishing ease, he shows how the essential forms of the Anglican Ordinal are valid because they are from the New Testament and are acknowledged to be valid as such by Roman Catholic tradition, and how the essential sacramental intention is valid because of the Preface of the Ordinal (strangely and deliberately ignored by Apostolicae Curae) and its declaration that in the ordination services of the Church of England she has the intention to do what the Church does. He shows deftly that no other intention is needed or required for validity. He demonstrates convincingly that sacramental intention is so easy and basic that one would have to intend fundamentally to reject Our Blessed Lord not to have it. ‘Positive double exclusion of intention,’ sounds like ‘double secret probation,’ a nonsense of speculation, is shown to be a logical and moral impossibility based as it is only on the worst kind of Latin neoscholastic casuistry. In Fr Hughes’ hands, Apostolicae Curae crumbles. In all it is a fantastic contribution to theology in general and, to my mind, the final word on the Anglican Orders dispute. Stewards of the Lord is, in a word, unanswerable in the truth it establishes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Catechism on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism

What is the Sacrament of Holy Baptism? Why did Our Lord institute it?

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is the First Sacrament, the sacrament which enters us into the life of divine grace and makes us children of God, sons of God by adoption, and members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Baptism was instituted by Our Lord in order that through it, a sign causing what it symbolises, we, as the members of Christ, incorporated into His Body, may participate in the mystery of Christ's own Passion, Death, and Resurrection— Baptism supernaturally joins us to Christ in His Death and Resurrection, and makes us to receive the benefits of Calvary and the Empty Tomb. By its mystical representation of burial and death with Christ, and also of resurrection, through our passage in and out of water, Holy Baptism causes what is symbolises and symbolises what it causes. Because this sacrament is generally or universally necessary for salvation, it was most important that Jesus Christ establish a sacrament which is very easy and simple to administer: and so He chose the most basic substance on earth, water, the symbol and substance of life, to be the means by which we are born again and made partakers of the divine life.

Because we are born into this world in a state or condition called Original Sin, meaning that we have inherited, because of the sin and fall of Adam and Eve, a fallen and wounded condition in which we are separated from God, and in which we are separated from each other, filled with selfishness and pride, made subject to physical and spiritual death, because of all this, we can be set free, liberated from this depravity only by God Himself and thus restored to communion and fellowship with the Holy Trinity. We are born into a state of alienation from God, a state of fallenness and corruption. We have obtained by nature an all-pervading condition which has affected the whole universe negatively and has warped and twisted creation from its original design and purpose: we call this sin. Jesus Christ became Man to restore us, in Himself, to communion with God. This Redemption is what He achieved through His Cross, Passion and Resurrection. Our Lord, very God and very Man, One Divine Person with two natures, divine and human, came to reunite God and man, to 're-communion' and re-enter mankind into the very life of God.

By His perfect life of obedience, His sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection from the dead, the Incarnate Lord completed His purpose and effected our living union with the Father in Himself. But, additionally, He desires to share His new glorified life with, and to give the effects of what He has done to, His New People, the family of redeemed mankind, the Holy Catholic Church. He does this in Baptism.
Through the Fall of Adam, mankind lost its original righteousness, its original state of perfection and life in God, and fell into sin. God originally made man in the Image and Likeness of God (Genesis 1-2). Man was both made in God's Image, and shared the Likeness to God. In the Fall, mankind chose by sin to damage and corrupt its likeness to God, the God-likeness of holiness, love, immortality, perfect life and communion with God and man. Man vitiated the virtue and grace that was in him. But man retained after the Fall the original Image of God, the permanent nature of man in which he was made to be the reflection of God's being. Because of the Fall, mankind is by nature like a beautiful, flawless painting or picture, upon which mud has been thrown. The Image and Likeness of God have not been destroyed, but marred, distorted, hurt, warped, misused, damaged, perverted, weakened, disfigured. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word and perfect Image of the Father (St John 1, 14), the Icon of the Invisible God (Colossians 1), has come as Man to restore to the human race to the true Image and Likeness of God. The Likeness to God was brought back to man through the God-Man.

All men are called to be reunited and reconciled to God and to be made sharers and partakers in His eternal kingdom, through Jesus Christ, the Head of the new Body of Spirit-bearing humanity, the Church, the community of those being made like God, those who again now enjoy the full Likeness of God and communion with Him. Baptism is the sacramental way, the sacramental gift, ordained by Christ Himself, which enables every human person to be received into the Kingdom of God and receive the life of grace. We must be given access to this new creation, this new reality, by a sacramental channel, a conduit which gives to us the life of God in our own souls and bodies - as men. A material and spiritual instrument is used by God to give Himself to man, a composite material and spiritual being.

Baptism is the ultimate vehicle of the Spirit, which conveys the life and grace of the Holy Ghost to us for the remission of our sins and the gift of new birth and eternal life. The gift of divine grace in Baptism restores us to the Likeness of God in Jesus Christ, as we are configured and conformed to the divine Image of Jesus, Who is the Image of God the Father. Our Lord directly instituted this Sacrament of Holy Baptism: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world.' (St Matthew 28 .19-20).

Jesus Christ clearly teaches us that the New Birth, Spiritual Regeneration, is effected in the human soul by the means of Holy Baptism. We are saved through Holy Baptism, for sacramental Baptism is the One Baptism for the Remission of Sins of the Nicene Creed. Baptism communicates to us the gift of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of all sins and for union with God. 'Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God' (St John 3.5). Through the action of Baptism, the Holy Spirit applies the Incarnation, Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ to us and by His power recreates us as children of God, refashioning our souls and making them capable of living in the very life of God. We are adopted by God; we become His own children, His own progeny renovated in His Image and Likeness; we now have by grace what we, because of Original Sin, cannot have by nature.

Through the gift of Baptism, we become by grace what God is by nature, icons and images of God, like God Himself - all through the grace of Christ our Brother, the Head of the Body, the firstborn of the new creation. In Baptism, we ourselves become Spirit-bearing, vehicles of the Holy Spirit, God-like. The Spirit comes to live in us, and makes us the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Abode and Home of God the Holy Trinity. We are made to share the Holy Trinity's life and communion. Baptism is the Gate of Life, transforming us to be members of the Trinity's family, the Church. It makes us eligible to receive the other sacraments in the Church and to be nourished with grace. Baptism is the womb through which we are born to life eternal in Mother Church. Baptism makes us 'partakers of the divine nature' (II St Peter 1.4).
'Brethren, what shall we do [to be saved]? Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptised every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2.38). 'Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ' (1 St Peter 3.21). In the wondrous supernatural gift given to us in Baptism, the gift of New Birth, Remission of Sins, and Eternal Life, we are entirely united with the Lord Jesus Christ and caused to receive the power and life of the Cross and Resurrection in such a way that Christ dwells in us and we in Him: we are made one corporate personality with Christ in Baptism. We mysteriously and truly put on Christ in Baptism and are made members of His own Body, the glorified Body of the Resurrection which is Church, made to share in the risen life of the Saviour.

'For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ' (Galatians 3.26-27). 'Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His' (Romans 6.3-5). '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 with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one Body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of the one Spirit' (1 Corinthians 12.12-13).

Holy Baptism confers on us Jesus Christ Himself and the Holy Spirit of God, and brings the regeneration, the recreation, of the human person by the direct action of God in the sacrament. Baptism is the 'washing of regeneration' (Titus 3.5), the laver of the New Birth. Yes. All this actually happens at Baptism— by an outward and visible sign, water, with the invocation of the Name of the Holy Trinity, the human person is made a son of God by grace and adoption, an heir of the eternal kingdom, a child of heaven, a member of Christ. We become filii in Filio, sons in the Son.

Baptism is Christ's appointed act and bestowal of life, given to us as a gift. How does this happen? It is a holy Mystery.

All that Jesus Christ is and has done for us is ours in Baptism.
An adult candidate must believe in the Faith of Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Saviour, and affirm the following about the gift of Baptism; a child must be later taught this and instructed in the following:
1. Baptism gives us the forgiveness of all of our sins, sins both original and actual, our inherited state of sin and our own personal sins committed against God, and gives us the very life of God, the gift of God the Holy Ghost, which makes us holy.
2. Baptism incorporates us into Christ and makes us members of the Holy Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, and therefore sons of God by grace. Baptism makes it possible for us to receive the other sacraments and live the grace-filled Life.
What is necessary for the administration of Holy Baptism? Who may baptise? Who may be baptised? What about infant baptism? Is it right?

All that is necessary for the administration of a valid Baptism, meaning that the Baptism objectively conveys the spiritual grace promised by covenant in the sacrament, is the act of immersing the candidate or pouring water upon the candidate with the simultaneous invocation of the Name of the Holy Trinity - because Baptism enters us into the Life of the Trinity. Any person, preferably a baptised Christian, who has the intention to administer Christian Baptism may validly baptise someone else. Traditionally, only a priest or bishop serves as the ordinary minister of Baptism, a sign of the unity and authority of the Church into which one is born by the sacrament, and the person baptised should have water applied three times, symbolic of the Holy Trinity. The mode matters not at all: as long as water is applied in the Name of the Trinity, the sacrament is valid. This means that all Trinitarian Christian Baptism, whether by pouring, affusion, or immersion, is true Baptism.

When there is a doubt about the validity of a particular Baptism because of a potential defect of form, that is, if it is uncertain that the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost was used, a potential defect of matter, that is, the absence of water, or a potential defect of intention, in the case of sects that deny Trinitarian orthodoxy, then Baptism may be administered conditionally: 'if thou art not already baptised, I baptise thee...' Conditional Baptism only seeks to supply what may be lacking in a previous attempt to baptise and does not deny the possibility that the previous baptism may have been valid. The Church never repeats an indelible sacrament because the deliberate reiteration of a sacrament with indelible character is a sacrilege. The conditional administration of a sacrament brings with it only the intention to perfect the sacrament and to provide the assurance that the sacrament is undoubtedly valid, that is, that it possesses what the Church requires for her own sacraments and that the Church sees in the sacrament her own endowment from the Lord.

Baptisms are certainly invalid which do not use the Trinitarian formula. Modern-day heretics who use such phrases as 'Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier' or 'Mother, Child, Womb' administer unquestionably invalid Baptism. In so using the aforementioned phrases they fall into the ancient error of monarchical modalism or Sabellianism and deny the distinct and self-existent Three Consubstantial Coequal Persons in the Godhead. Baptism conferred by Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are likewise invalid due to a defect of intention to baptise into the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, One in Essence and Undivided. Baptism 'in the Name of Jesus' only, practised by some protestant fundamentalist groups, is also invalid, for it does not use the dominical form instituted by Our Lord in the New Testament. If a person previously received an invalid Baptism, he must be baptised absolutely upon conversion and catechesis in the Catholic Faith.

For those unable to receive sacramental Baptism, two other mysterious participations in the grace of Baptism exist:

1. Baptism by desire. Christians who heartily desire to receive the grace of Baptism but die before they actually receive the sacrament are held to have received fruitfully the grace of Baptism by their own volition. In the ancient Church, catechumens, those preparing for Baptism after adult conversion, who died before receiving the sacraments were afforded Christian burial, a practice reserved usually for the baptised faithful. Some orthodox theologians contend that certain unbaptised persons who have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel and yet seek to live according to the light and truth of God in the conscience may be capable of receiving the mysterious gift of Baptism by desire - although this possibility is ultimately known, of course, only to God and is not part of revelation. The Good Thief on the Cross is an excellent example of the ineffable grace of the Lord Jesus. God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God is merciful and wills that no one should perish. Therefore this mysterious gift, possibly given to some human beings, a gift which is beyond our scrutiny, knowledge, powers of observation, or judgement, lies in the heart of God's love for mankind.

2. Baptism by blood. There are also those who have believed in Jesus Christ and yet were unbaptised who have, in the course of the Church's long history, received the grace of Baptism through the crown of martyrdom. It is possible for an unbaptised believer to be baptised into the saving Passion and Death of Christ through one's own blood, offered in witness for the sake of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. There are many examples of baptism by blood in the earliest centuries of the Church during times of persecution. It indubitably happens today throughout the world. Even without the benefit of the waters of Baptism, some Christians have entered into the Kingdom of God by virtue of their willingness to be conformed to Christ in His salvific Cross and Sacrifice unto death. For some, to die for Christ is to live with and in Him forever.

Remember, Baptism can never be repeated once it is truly and validly administered, because it conveys a permanent unerasable sacramental indelible character, a spiritual seal or mark on the soul, which signs the person with the Sign of the Cross and fills the person with the grace of God, and the Holy Spirit, forever. We believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, never to be repeated. One Lord. One Faith. One Baptism. One can be born in the order of nature only once; and so one can be born in the order of grace only once. The regeneration transmitted in Baptism, the New Birth in the Spirit, can never be effected again once accomplished: it is once-for-all.

May children, and even infants, be baptised? Yes. Absolutely. Baptism is for all men, for every human person created in the Image and Likeness of God. Christ wishes all men to be saved through Him and His Incarnate Life, and to be brought into the full life and communion of His Church, the Body of redeemed and regenerate humanity. This is possible for men covenantally only through Holy Baptism, and therefore God wills children and infants to be made members of His Family by Baptism. Baptism is the act of God, the free act of God's grace upon the human soul; it is neither a work of man nor even a subjective profession of a person's faith in Christ.

Therefore, as the Act of God and the free gift of God's love for man, Baptism should be extended to children, to make them, with their parents, members of Christ and able to receive the grace of God. 'Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of Heaven' (St Matthew 19.14). In the ancient Church, even entire households were baptised together, parents and children, (see Acts 16) and infant Baptism is as ancient as the Church herself. The Church Fathers, such as St Irenaeus of Lyons, record its practice, as early as the second century, as already being a primitive, apostolic practice. God's free offer of life in Christ, which is the medicine of immortality for the curse of spiritual death, the condition of Original Sin, is to be provided for all, including children. Children are called to be members of Christ's Church as well as adults, and are equally in need of the supernatural rebirth and grace of Baptism.

The practice of infant Baptism, in fact, proves like nothing else that Baptism is God's act of grace, not man's act of works, for children cannot merit or deserve anything: they are simply open in docility to the pure self-donating grace of God. When children are baptised, the Church requires godparents to be present with them, sponsors who promise to raise the children in the Christian Faith and oversee their nurture, training, and education in the Religion of the Catholic Church. It is the responsibility of these sponsors or godparents, who themselves should be baptised and practising Christians, to ensure that the children will practice the Faith and be, in adulthood, faithful Catholic Churchmen. They do this principally by bringing the children to the Sacrament of Confirmation.
For a child who cannot exercise personal faith, the faith of the parents and godparents is imputed or extended to the child for his salvation; they share their personal faith with the child as he is baptised into the Faith of the Church. By so doing, the Church herself imputes her own Faith to the child. The believing and worshipping Church believes on behalf of the child unto salvation. For the state of salvation mystically offered in the sacraments is a corporate reality; we are not saved alone nor as solitaries do we come to the Kingdom, but only as members of the saved and sanctified community, the Royal Priestly Prophetic Body of Christ.

Also note that children who are baptised and have not achieved the age of reason are in a state of grace, incapable of committing actual sins. Children in such a state who die having been baptised go directly to Heaven without question. The sacramental grace received by us in Baptism, even as children, is real, true and objective, and lives in us apart from our own personal faith. But for this grace to be effective in our lives, for it to do what it intends, we must respond to the grace given through faith once we are capable of practising the Christian Faith.

If we do not respond by our own free will to this grace, and accept and use it, we simply cannot have the grace do for us what God wishes; it cannot bear fruit in our lives if we do not will it. Baptismal grace is not magic. All grace requires our cooperation, our free will, our free agreement and practice of it, for it to increase in us and make us holy. Baptised Christians have a responsibility to know of this great gift and utilise it in our lives through prayer, reception of the other sacraments, worship at the Holy Mass, and reading of the Word of God. Grace does not transform us unless we allow it so to do; God cannot force His life upon us to transform us. An ultimate act of personal response to the grace of God given in Baptism is the voluntary choice of a young person to receive the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation.
The loss of baptismal grace through serious mortal sin may be healed, and the grace recovered and restored, through genuine contrition and repentance and the use of the Sacrament of Penance.
We treasure in our Baptism all the grace we need to become a Saint. It is in fact precisely for our sainthood, our total sanctification, that God has graced us with His Baptism. Let us endeavour to keep the grace of our Baptism unsullied and unspotted and live it to the full!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merrily on High and Walsingham Way

I have learned just today that Canterbury Press of Norwich, England has this past October issued reprints of two of the most quintessential and entertaining books on Anglo-Catholicism ever written, both by Father Colin Stephenson, sometime Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Both are available at

Merrily on High. When I read this book for the first time in my late teens, there were moments when I literally fell out of my chair howling with laughter. It is the funniest book on Catholic Anglicanism - period. A must have and a must read for every Anglo-Catholic. Over the years I have heard wonderful priests and bishops quote from it by memory. In fact, I recommend it to seminarians as a way by which one may begin to learn the joys and intricacies of our not uncomplicated yet glorious heritage. One simply must have a copy of this book.

Walsingham Way. The definitive and magisterial work on Father Alfred Hope Patten and the restoration of devotion to and the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Any Anglo-Catholic who wants to deepen his appreciation for Anglican devotion to Our Lady must indeed have this book. It supplies information on Father Patten and the Shrine found nowhere else. The book also provides a fascinating rehearsal of the history of the Walsingham devotion in England from its inception, and also offers a very good history, through its narrative of Father Patten's life, of the entire Catholic Movement in the Church of England. Another must have, must read gem.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Catechism on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

Is Christian Marriage a Sacrament? If so, why? How does Holy Matrimony differ from other kinds of 'marriage?'

Marriage is most definitely a sacrament, instituted by God in creation and blessed by Our Lord Jesus Christ, raised and elevated to the status of a sacrament by His blessing and teaching. Actually, marriage exists in nature as the holy estate into which man and woman were intended to enter for life. 'So God created man in his own image...male and female he made him'. 'Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.' (Genesis 1.27, 2.24). Man and woman were made to be together in a natural state of marriage. However, Our Lord blessed Marriage by His presence at the wedding in Cana-in-Galilee (St John 2), and raised the natural estate to a sacrament of grace. 'This Mystery (sacrament) is a profound one, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the Church' (Ephesians 5.32). Please read the entire 5th chapter of Ephesians. In the Christian Faith, Marriage is a sacrament representing the union of Christ and His Church, the Bride of Christ. Matrimony is a sacramental union or bond, which, like the union between Christ and His Church, is indestructible and indissoluble-- it can never be destroyed once validly covenanted or contracted, until one of the two spouses dies.

Our Lord elevated Marriage to a Sign of the unity between Himself and His People in the covenant and communion of the Church. In the Christian Sacrament of Marriage, which is different from non-Christian marriage because it is sacramental, the bride and the bridegroom are the ministers— they, by their totally free and self-giving vow each to the other, establish this holy union and ordinance for each other, and administer the Sacrament to each other. The priest, as the Church's representative, witnesses and blesses the Marriage, giving the witness and blessing of the Catholic Church. Christian Marriage is permanent as long as both parties live: 'till death us do part.' It establishes between the husband and wife a life-long and unerasable bond and union, and a sacramental state of life. God pours His grace into the union to strengthen it, to give to the couple the grace to be faithful to the vows made one to the another. 'I will.' The parties in Christian Marriage vow before God and each other that they will remain faithful to one another for life, and will continue to renew and choose the vow made daily until life's end. The vow is an ongoing commitment and choice made, not once, but for the rest of one's life.

Because man and wife administer this sacrament to each other, each must make a free and willing choice to marry the other person. Anything that would prohibit or impede a free and completely voluntary, informed, and knowledgeable consent to the Marriage by one of the parties would cause the sacrament to be invalid - not a true Christian Marriage. In order for a Christian Marriage to be a true marriage, a sacramental union, both parties must believe that Marriage is absolutely life-long, an indissoluble, indestructible, permanent union, a sacramental bond, before God and man for life, established for the mutual comfort and salvation of one another, for the procreation and nurture of children when possible, for the avoidance of sin, and for the good of the Church and human society. If one of the persons does not believe this, then the Marriage cannot be a valid sacrament and does not communicate the grace promised by Christ in the marital union.

If there exists in one of the persons a disbelief of the Church's faith concerning Marriage, or a state which is contrary to the requirements of true marriage— these are called impediments, stumbling-blocks which prevent the free, informed, and true consent of both parties to the Sacrament and nullify its grace from the beginning, ab initio. There are actually many potential impediments to Christian Marriage: lack of valid baptism in one of the parties, the intention not to have children, force, coercion, immaturity, insanity, the lack of intention to marry for life, undisclosed social disease, homosexual behaviour, withheld information which might affect the choice — anything which prevents a mature, logical, intelligent, free, willing, voluntary choice. If any of these impediments are present at the beginning of a marriage, the Church can later declare after investigation an annulment, an official statement affirming that the marriage was never truly a Christian sacramental Marriage, Holy Matrimony. The Church has the authority to determine that such a union is null and void, and thus not a sacrament.
In the case in which the Church declares nullity, the parties, having obtained a civil divorce, possess the ability to marry again in the Church in order to contract a genuine, real sacramental Marriage, provided they profess the Church's teaching on Marriage and observe the law of the Church. However, if the Church determines that a previous Marriage is sacramental, she cannot bless and witness another purported marriage which either party may attempt to contract with another partner, even if the persons in question have obtained a civil divorce. The Sacrament of Matrimony is a life-long and indissoluble bond— the Church does not recognise civil divorce as a dissolving the sacramentality of Marriage. Civil divorce only dissolves the legal, not the spiritual, relationship. Only by a declaration of annulment from a bishop, which demonstrates that a first marriage never existed sacramentally, can a Catholic Christian seek a new spouse.

Christian Marriage imparts sacramental grace; non-sacramental marriages, whether 1. non-Christian or 2. second marriages contracted after civil divorce without the Church's authorisation, cannot be guaranteed to impart the grace of the Christian Sacrament of Matrimony. Many marriages today, most especially many of those in the latter category, are contrary to God's will and commandments and are therefore sinful.

The Church, of course, does countenance physical separation between husbands and wives who are validly married if there is a serious problem in the union, such as domestic violence. However, if the Marriage is a sacramental union, even such circumstances cannot eliminate its sacramental nature. Please read St Mark 10.1-12: 'Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.'

The outward and visible sign of Matrimony is the making of vows by one woman and one man to each other, to live together in this sacramental bond for life, according to the purposes for which God instituted it, with the exchange of rings and joining of hands as a symbol of their union.

The inward and spiritual grace of Marriage is the union of man and woman, to be one flesh, that each may contribute to the salvation and health of the other, and by the fruit and love of their union to bring forth children in the faith and nurture of God, if it is His will. The grace of this sacrament enables the spouses to love one another as Christ loves the Church; it perfects the love of the spouses toward one another and their children, strengthens their indissoluble union, makes them holy in each other that they may have eternal life. The grace of Marriage is a mystical participation in the Life of the Holy Trinity, Who is Himself a Communion of Persons united in love. Marriage reproduces in the love of husband, wife and children the self-donating and mutual love of the Three Persons of the One Trinity, the God Who is Love. The grace of Matrimony reproduces the mystical communion shared between Christ and His Church. This special grace is given for the good of the couple, the good of their children, and for the good of human society. Marriage is the 'Domestic Church,' where the love and grace of Christ enters most deeply in the human family and builds up the Christian family as the heart of the Church and of human civilisation.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Conception by Saint Anne of the Holy Mother of God - 8 December

From the Orthodox Church in America...

St Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was the youngest daughter of the priest Nathan from Bethlehem, descended from the tribe of Levi. She married St Joachim (September 9), who was a native of Galilee. For a long time St Anne was childless, but after twenty years, through the fervent prayer of both spouses, an angel of the Lord announced to them that they would be the parents of a daughter, Who would bring blessings to the whole human race.

The Orthodox Church does not accept the teaching that the Mother of God was exempted from the consequences of ancestral sin (death, corruption, sin, etc.) at the moment of her conception by virtue of the future merits of Her Son. Only Christ was born perfectly holy and sinless, as St Ambrose of Milan teaches in Chapter Two of his Commentary on Luke.The Holy Virgin was like everyone else in Her mortality, and in being subject to temptation, although She committed no personal sins. She was not a deified creature removed from the rest of humanity. If this were the case, She would not have been truly human, and the nature that Christ took from Her would not have been truly human either. If Christ does not truly share our human nature, then the possibilty of our salvation is in doubt.

The Conception of the Virgin Mary by St Anne took place at Jerusalem. The many icons depicting the Conception by St Anne show the Most Holy Theotokos trampling the serpent underfoot.

'In the icon Sts Joachim and Anne are usually depicted with hands folded in prayer; their eyes are also directed upward and they contemplate the Mother of God, Who stands in the air with outstretched hands; under Her feet is an orb encircled by a serpent (symbolizing the devil), which strives to conquer all the universe by its power.'

There are also icons in which St Anne holds the Most Holy Virgin on her left arm as an infant. On St Anne's face is a look of reverence. A large ancient icon, painted on canvas, is located in the village of Minkovetsa in the Dubensk district of Volhynia diocese. From ancient times this Feast was especially venerated by pregnant women in Russia.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Catechism on the Holy Mother of God

Is Mary not the Mother of Jesus alone rather than God or the Lord, and thus does she fall along with all of us into the state of sinner? Was Mary exempted from sin as the Virgin Mother of God's Incarnate Son from the time of her Immaculate Conception?

'And chiefly in the glorious and most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord and God...' (1549 English BCP).

These essential questions were posed in the fifth century during the time of the great Christological controversies, during which period the Church formulated her internal teaching inherited from Christ and the Apostles into official creedal and dogmatic statements, particularly in the Seven Ecumenical Councils, which represent the mind, tradition, and consentient teaching of the Church from the Apostolic era. The question of the divine motherhood of Mary pertains to the identity and Person of her Divine Son. The question is really about Our Lord and His Person and Natures, and only relatively or secondarily concerns the status of His Mother. The Church has always believed that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, 'conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary' (Apostles' Creed). Jesus Christ is the 'Word made Flesh' (St John 1.1-18), God the Son, Who in the fulness of time assumed human nature, including human body, mind and soul, from the Virgin Mary His Mother.

Jesus Christ, therefore, is not simply a man or a separate human person who was adopted as God's only Son, some kind of 'God-possessed man' whom God controlled from the outside as distinct from the Logos Himself. Jesus Christ is actually One Divine Person, God, with two full, complete, and distinct natures which are not confused and yet are united together perfectly in the One Person: divine and human. Jesus Christ is God, God the Son, God the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, 'who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made Man' (Nicene Creed). Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, God-made-Man, the God-Man. (St John 5.36, 8.58, 14.9, 20.28, Galatians 4.4, St Mark 6.3, Colossians 1.15, Hebrews 1.3, 1 st John 1, Romans 9.5, to cite a few examples).

This, the Deity of Christ, stands firmly as the central and most fundamental dogma, or revealed truth, of the Gospel. Without the truth that the Eternal Son of God, eternally-begotten of the Father, of one substance with the Father (homoousios), actually condescended to become Man for our sake, and assumed human nature without the loss of His Divinity, the Christian Faith would be meaningless. 'God can only redeem what he assumes.' 'God became Man so that man might become God' (St Athanasius). In the fourth and fifth centuries, certain powerful and heretical teachers denied the truth of Our Lord's Incarnation, especially Nestorius of Constantinople, the Patriarch of the New Rome, who reigned in the early fifth century.

To Nestorius is attributed the wrong belief that Jesus was not God Incarnate, but rather a separate human person, a regular man, who was somehow uniquely joined to another distinct Person, God the Son, from the time of His conception in the womb of Mary. Jesus, in Nestorian theology, was in effect a God-possessed human being, a man manipulated and directed by God because of a unique moral union with God - but without an actual incarnation of God in the flesh. This heresy asserts that Our Lord is simply a supreme Saint, a very holy man possessed by God to a greater degree that other Saints. Jesus is thus held to be a temple of God, in whom God dwells, but He is not the Incarnation of God. This heresy rejects the hypostatic union, that God assumed human nature and became True Man, and that Jesus is perfect God and perfect Man in One Person. The Church has always recognised from the teaching of Christ Himself, and from the New Testament texts specifically, that Our Lord is not a paranoid schizophrenic, nor a half-God, half-man monstrosity. Jesus Christ is God-in-the-Flesh.

The aforementioned error led Nestorius to refuse to acknowledge in his public preaching and teaching the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos - Mother of God or God-Bearer. Nestorius introduced a false innovation by referring to Mary as only Christotokos ('mother of Christ') or anthropotokos ('mother of man'), thus denying the divinity of Our Lord in connection to His human nature. The Church has honoured and venerated the Blessed Mother as the God-Bearer from the beginning of the Faith, as we read in the pages of the New Testament. 'And why is this, that the Mother of my Lord (meter kuriou) should come to me?' (St Luke 1.43). Kurios, of course, is the Greek title of honour for God, LORD, transliterated from the Hebrew Adonai, in turn replacing the Divine Name or Tetragrammaton, YHWH, Yahweh. Our Lady is acknowledged by her cousin St Elizabeth to be the Mother, the Bearer, of God Himself.

Mary has been consistently and unanimously honoured with the tittle Theotokos because of the essential truth that the One to whom she gave birth, as a true Mother and not just as an instrument or channel, was no One else but God Himself. She is the true human Mother of Him who is God. If Jesus Christ is God, and Mary is His Mother, then, quite logically, Mary is the Mother of God. The venerable title 'Mother of God' is not intended directly to glorify Mary, although it does rightly honour her in a secondary consequent sense; first and foremost, Theotokos is intended to safeguard the absolutely definitive, prime dogma of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. Nestorius violated the general Christian conscience, the mind of Christ in the Church, by his teaching which ran contrary to the received interpretation and understanding of the Church throughout all the world. As a result, St Cyril of Alexandria, a feisty orthodox bishop, openly challenged Nestorius, and this in turn led to the convening of the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. This Council of Ephesus dogmatically proclaimed the term Theotokos as an article of the Catholic Creed, thus protecting the doctrine of the Incarnation: Nestorius was duly excommunicated.

Since Ephesus, the Holy Catholic Church, East and West, including, of course, the Anglican Tradition, has honoured Our Lady as Mother of God, and continues to worship and glorify her Divine Son as 'One of the Holy Trinity.' Thus, the theological definition of the term 'Mother of God' became the ultimate test of faith, the touchstone of Christian Orthodoxy, the greatest defence both of the Divinity of Jesus Christ and His Incarnation. The term Theotokos in no way implies that Mary is the Mother or cause of Our Lord's Divine Nature. That proposition would be simultaneously pagan and absurd. Theotokos solely safeguards and teaches the truth that the Babe conceived in the womb, suckled at the breasts, and reared on the knee, of Mary, is God. It has been honestly said that those who neglect to honour the Blessed Virgin do not fully appreciate or recognise the Incarnation of God as her Son.

It is also a fact of history and experience that Christian sects that have entirely abandoned veneration of the Blessed Mother ultimately have lost all faith in the Deity and Incarnation of Jesus Christ. 'He who does not love the Mother cannot rightly worship the Son. No one can honour Mary enough, for she is the very Mother of God. He who honours the Mother brings glory and right faith to the Divinity of her Son' (St Ambrose of Milan). The dogma of the hypostatic union, Our Lord as One Divine Person with Two Natures, human and divine, was dogmatically defined and promulgated at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. The Chalcedonian Defintion, too, is a received and essential component of the Catholic Creed.

Now, on to the second part of the question...

Is Mary sinless? Did she ever commit actual sin? Did she inherit original sin, the condition of sinfulness and alienation from God via Adam and Eve our first parents?

These questions are simply not answered in Holy Scripture, and therefore are, for the Anglo-Catholic, a matter of pious opinion and belief. Orthodox Anglo-Catholics are obliged to receive as dogmatic truth, truth revealed directly by God and necessary for the salvation of man, only that which is contained in Holy Scripture. Because there are no explicit teachings in the Bible concerning Mary's sinlessness, these questions become concerns of piety, not of saving dogmatic revelation. We are free, according to conscience, to believe that Our Lady was sinless - and this is undoubtedly the belief and teaching of the Undivided Catholic Church of the first one-thousand years of the Christian dispensation. The Undivided Church and her Faith, the Faith of the Church when the Church, East and West, was one, serves still as the supreme tribunal for biblical interpretation within Anglicanism: we look to the Primitive Church, and to the ancient Catholic Fathers, Bishops and Doctors in their unanimous agreement, for the right understanding of the meaning of Scripture. The Bible is the Church's Book, and is only properly interpreted by the ancient Catholic Church.

The orthodox interpretation of the Church of the first millennium, Holy Tradition, universally asserts 1. that Our Lady never committed actual sins, 2. was Ever-Virgin, the Perpetual Virgin before, during, and after the birth of her Divine Son, 3. and was freed from the condition of mortality and death resulting from original sin by her glorification after death, called in orthodox Tradition the Dormition, Falling Asleep, or Assumption of Mary.

These internal traditions concerning Mary are celebrated within the life of the Church doxologically, that is, in the context of the worshipping life of the Church, in her prayers and Liturgy. Anglicans continue to celebrate these internal mysteries of the Faith through the Holy Eucharist, the Offices, and by private devotion, along with the rest of the Church, Eastern and Roman. However, these beliefs never were, in the Undivided Church, and are not still, within Anglicanism, the subject of dogmatic definition or teaching for saving necessary truth. Anglicans are free to accept or reject them according to conscience, without any impact on their status as Catholic Churchmen.

What of the Immaculate Conception? Interestingly, it does not refer to the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of His Mother the Virgin Mary. That is the miraculous Virginal Conception of Our Lord, taught clearly in Scripture (St Matthew 1; St Luke 1). The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, St Anne. It teaches that Mary was conceived in her mother's womb without original sin, without inheriting the sin of Adam and Eve, in anticipation of the death and resurrection of Christ, that she might be a perfect Mother for her Son. Really all it teaches is that Mary was granted by a special privilege of God the grace of Christian Baptism, forgiveness of sins and eternal life as well as freedom from the spiritual effect of original sin, in the moment she was created.

This peculiarly Roman dogma, proclaimed as necessary for salvation by Pope Pius IX in 1854, is the product of a great deal of theological speculation during the High Middle Ages, and was denied by such imminent theologians as St Bernard of Clairvaux and St Thomas Aquinas. It depends upon a very strict Augustinian understanding of original sin and has not been received by the Orthodox Churches of the East at all. Patristic orthodoxy would tend to see it as needlessly and dangerously separating Our Lady from the rest of the human race and from all of the holy women of the Old Testament, of which she is the supreme culmination. Not only does Mary serve as the Bridge between God and Man, heaven and earth, in her birthgiving of God, but, as Mother of the Messiah, she serves as Bridge between the Old Testament and the New. The novel Roman dogma seems to interfere with the continuity of human nature from Adam, through Abraham and David, to Christ via Mary, and easily leads to a reductio ad absurdum in which we ought to except immaculate conceptions for St Anne, her mother, and so forth all the way back to Eve. And that, logically, would be just plain silly.

The Church does affirm, however, that Mary is Full of Grace (St Luke 1.28) and therefore has no room in her life for sin, as she, the Woman whose Son is the Seed that crushed the serpent's head and who Himself was bruised by the serpent, the Mother of the Redeemer (Genesis 3.15), is perfectly faithful and obedient to the will and plan of God. 'I am the Handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy Word' (St Luke 1.38). Mary, in essence, is the Second and New Eve, who, freed from the power of sin, reverses the disobedience of the first Eve by her own obedience and fidelity to God. 'She loosed by her obedience the knot first tied by the disobedience of Eve' (St Iraneaus of Lyons). 'In the name Theotokos is wrapped-up the whole mystery of the economy of the salvation of God' (St John of Damascus).

The most ancient opinion about original sin in Our Lady was that which celebrated her freedom from original sin at the moment of the Annunciation, in which by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, Mary conceived Our Lord in her now-immaculate womb. This was called Our Lady's purification or katharsis and is still generally believed in the Eastern Churches today. I personally affirm this view, for it is consistent with Scripture. We can summarise the whole subject with St Augustine of Hippo, who said so beautifully, 'Where sin is concerned, I do not even discuss it in relation to Mary.' All the Catholic Churches, including the Anglican, regardless of belief about the details of her conception, celebrate the Feast of Our Lady's Conception with great solemnity on December 8th. What all Catholics adhere to faithfully is the pious belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculate - negatively, free from sin, positively, full of all grace and virtue - whether before or after her own conception, when and how and where being irrelevant to the central beauty of her privilege. So, as the Bible implies it and does not require it, the Church piously and simply calls Mary, the Spotless One.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Our Blessed Lady, Mother of God, Our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ordination of the Reverend 'Father-in-Law'

Here is a photograph of the Altar party at the ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of Father Richard Baskwill, 5 April 2003. From left to right are: Michael Minshall, your blogger, Carroll Browne, Bishop Grundorf, Timothy Browne, the Ordinand, Father Richard Bakley, Christopher Browne, and George Fischer. The picture shows the simple sanctuary of Saint Alban's Church, Joppa, Maryland before its glorious restoration and beautification.

All in the family again...

The first priestly blessing of Father Richard Baskwill, my wife's father, on 5 April 2003, his ordination day. Lucille Andrew receives her blessing as a very proud and delighted son-in-law looks on...

All in the family...

A couple of pictures of your blogger on the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, May 2001, when he was Rector of Saint Alban's Anglican Church, Joppa Maryland. Next to him is Father Brandon Jones, who at that time was Brother Robert Jones, OP. Father Brad was a Dominican Friar from June 2000 until December 2003; today he is a Diocesan priest of the Roman Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Brad+ is, of course, my identical twin brother. We're getting together for Thanksgiving... my what a conversation we always have!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Catechism on the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation

What is the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation? Did Our Lord institute it?

The Sacrament of Confirmation is the Sacrament of Christian maturity, the Sacrament which properly completes Baptism, making us full members of Christ's Church. It conveys to the baptised Christian the Seal of the Holy Ghost, the fulness of the Holy Spirit in His Sevenfold Gift: wisdom, understanding, counsel, spiritual strength, knowledge, true godliness, holy fear (reverence) (see Isaiah 11.2-3 and BCP 296-299). This Sevenfold Gift enables us to know and believe the true Faith, and strengthens our souls and wills to resist temptation and lead lives of virtue and holiness. Confirmation, as the Seal of the Spirit, enables us to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It makes us full members, full participants, in the Royal Priestly Body of Christ, the Church; anointed with holy chrism (blessed oil) we are thus Anointed Ones, 'little Christs' in the Anointed One Himself, the Christ, Jesus— enabled fully to share in the Perfect Sacrifice of Christ, which is the Holy Eucharist (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem). This Sacrament equips us with the fulness of the Spirit's Gifts in order to strengthen us to serve Christ faithfully as soldiers of Christ in the Militia Christi. We are therefore empowered by Confirmation bravely and boldly to proclaim the Faith of Christ Crucified and to live according to the Catholic Religion. The term 'Confirmation' means 'strengthening' from the Latin word confirmare, 'to strengthen.' The Holy Ghost is the Comforter, the Strengthener (Saint John 16). This Sacrament of Strengthening communicates to us the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost so that we may authentically live adult Christian lives of holiness, consecration, and commitment to the Gospel.

It is administered by the bishop, who lays his hands upon the candidate and invokes the Holy Ghost to come and strengthen the person with His Gift. Confirmation is an extension, a continuation, of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. It is a baptised Christian's 'personal Pentecost;' the same Messianic Spirit who descended upon Our Lord and the Apostles now descends upon the baptised person sacramentally, ensuring by promise the gift of Himself. The Sacrament of Confirmation is of Apostolic origin, administered by the holy Apostles according to the commandment and desire of Jesus Christ. Although Our Lord did not directly institute this Sacrament, He intended the Holy Ghost to be communicated to baptized Christians at the hands of the Apostles and their successors, the bishops of the historic episcopate in Apostolic Succession.

Confirmation has always been practiced in the Church from the beginning and must be received in order for baptismal grace to be completed and perfected in the Christian soul: 'Now when the Apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for He had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit' (Acts 8.14-16). '...the Spirit was given through the Apostles' hands...' (Acts 8.18). 'Then they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them' (Acts 9.1-2). 'The doctrine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands' (Hebrews 6.1-2) was essential to the primitive Church. In the ancient and undivided Church, the three Sacraments of Christian Initiation, that is, the three mysteries which together brought a person into the full life and communion of the Church - Baptism, Confirmation, first Holy Communion - were administered together as one rite, one act of entrance into the Church.
Over the course of time, in the Western Church, Confirmation, the completion of Baptism, was separated from Baptism as the regular ordinary minister of Baptism became the parish priest: in the West, Confirmation retained its link with the bishop in Apostolic Succession as its true and rightful minister, in order that all baptised Christians should have sacramental contact with the bishop and receive the 'touch of Apostolic Succession,' a direct grace given by Christ through the Apostles. Confirmation, as the Seal of the Spirit, is, for many Christians, the once-in-a-lifetime gift from God received directly and only from the bishop as the Successor of the Apostles, the High-Priest of the Church, and the chief Shepherd of the flock of Christ.
The Anglican Church restricts the administration of Confirmation to the bishop alone; in the Roman and Eastern Churches, a priest may confirm with the anointing of chrism which is blessed by a bishop. Anglicans seek to preserve the most biblical, ancient and venerable tradition, that of episcopal Confirmation. In our Province, a bishop may confirm the candidate not only with the laying-on-of-hands, the original and apostolic matter or physical act in the Sacrament, but also with the anointing of chrism, scented oil blessed by the bishop. For this reason, Confirmation is also called 'Chrismation,' or Anointing, especially in the Churches of the East; it is the same Sacrament by whatever name.
Like Baptism, remember that Confirmation conveys an indelible spiritual mark on the soul, a sacramental character, which lasts for ever and can never be repeated. Just as a person can receive the Spirit for the forgiveness of sins and regeneration in order to be born again only once, so a baptised Christian can only receive the fulness of the Holy Spirit once for eternity. Confirmation gives us a unique and special quality in that it makes us sharers in the Royal Priesthood of Christ, and it unites and conforms us to Christ the Anointed One in a unique way never to be removed, erased or repeated. It puts us into a relationship with Christ the Priest, and with the Holy Ghost, the Strengthener, which can never be re-established once achieved. We are confirmed only once.
Although we renew our baptismal vows in the liturgy of Confirmation in the Book of Common Prayer, such reaffirmation is technically not a part of the actual Sacrament of Confirmation. Yes, we should re-profess the vows which we made at our Baptism, or which were made for us as children, making them our own again, and we should reaffirm our faith in Jesus Christ, again renouncing the world, the flesh and the devil: Confirmation is the most crucial period in a Christian's life in which this may be done. So, the Prayer Book provides for this to be done. It is an excellent idea, and, for most of us baptised as children, it is fundamental to our personal experience of professing and living the Christian Faith.
But even so, the Sacrament does not directly depend on this very good and edifying practice; it is not necessary for the Sacrament to be valid. Confirmation is the 'key and door to the Altar,' making us eligible to receive the Most Blessed Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion. Only those who have received this Sacrament, or who desire to receive it, may receive the Blessed Sacrament— this is because we are made full members of the Church only by Confirmation, full sharers in the Priesthood of the Body, and thus sharers in its One Sacrifice, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Father Newman, Conscience and Holy Communion

Well, I give up - at the last count there are on Google 689 internet articles regarding Father Newman's bulletin statement and more are added by the second. Listing them all here would require a most strenuous if not superhuman effort. Articles have been published from the Chicago Tribune to the Telegraph and Guardian. I do not think anyone, especially Father Newman, ever expected the amount of media attention his small Sunday bulletin snippet has received. Readers are encouraged to scan the internet for the multiplicity of videos and written articles now available. I shall note here only three new items...

First a video from CNN via WSPA.

Second, a video and article from Fox Carolina.

And third, this thought-provoking essay from Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing...

Monday, 17 November 2008

De-forming Consciences

By Robert Royal

“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of full communion with Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

Who wrote these words? You might guess Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Benedict XVI, on several occasions, not only about voting for pro-abortion politicians, but about those politicians themselves, if they claim to be Catholics. In fact, the words were written by Fr. J. H. Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and inserted into the parish bulletin last Sunday. Fr. Newman was merely expressing the widespread, longstanding, and clear moral understanding of the Church. No good deed, as we know, goes unpunished. Fr. Newman did so good a deed that he’s been rebuked, not only by the usual media suspects, but by the Charleston diocesan administrator.

I have known Scott Newman since his freshman year at Princeton and would personally vouch for his every word. The managing editor of the magazine I ran back then identified him as a promising new student within days of his arrival on campus. He wrote some unusually mature and perceptive articles. I was not wholly surprised when he later decided to become a Catholic, and I was honored to be his sponsor. Scott subsequently worked in the Caribbean under Bishop Sean O’Malley, before going to Rome, where he became president of his seminary class – also not much of surprise.

He’s not only smart, holy, gifted in working with people, but humble. When the controversy arose, he received 5000 emails, “Most of the people who wrote seem to regard me as either a mighty champion of reform or an evil tool of the devil, and I am naturally hesitant to accept either title. In truth, I am but a useless servant of the Lord Jesus trying, despite my frailty, to be a faithful witness to Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He also pointed out that he had not named any particular candidates in the original statement or, as was misreported by the Associated Press, “denied” anyone Communion.

A shrewd man, Fr. Newman put things in writing. After the bulletin appeared, The Greenville News asked him: “Are you saying that you’ll administer a no-communion policy unless Obama voters partake in penance?” He wrote in reply:

I cannot and will not refuse Holy Communion to anyone because of his or her political opinions or choices, even as I continue to teach what the Church teaches about the necessity of being in full, visible communion with the Church before receiving the sacraments. Only those who believe what the Catholic Church teaches and who seek to live according to that teaching should even be interested in receiving the sacraments of the Church, and on the question of the intrinsic and grave evil of abortion, there is and can be no doubt about what the Church teaches.

That “cannot” reflects Fr. Newman’s proper recognition of the Church’s teaching and his overall reply should have put an end to the matter.

The Catholic Thing has noticed how the national media have taken it upon themselves to reinterpret or ignore hard facts this election season – and now beyond. The AP story was an outrage, by simple journalistic standards, and the fact that the “priest denies Obama voters Communion” story was picked up by ABC and other outlets shows how uncritical our media have become. (Recall, in recent weeks, two young bloggers – Eitan Gorlin and Daniel Mirvish -- created a fictional adviser to the McCain campaign, Martin Eisenstadt, and fabricated a story, widely picked up by sympathetic media, that Sarah Palin did not know Africa was a continent.) But the Newman story was not more of an outrage than several dozen others about religion and politics over past months.

What was truly unusual about Fr. Newman’s case was that his own diocese, trying to clarify the situation, has actually furthered confused American Catholic laity, precisely on the crucial matter of conscience. The administrator of the Charleston Diocese, Monsignor Martin T. Loughlin, wrongly construed the case from faulty news reports and publicly repudiated Fr. Newman. He quoted from The Catechism of the Catholic Church that we have the right to act freely in conscience. True enough. But he then went on to say: “Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.”

Technically true, but saying this in an America where everyone already has an inflated sense of his right to his or her own opinion – without a very strong warning that a well-formed conscience means serious prayer and study that will take the average American Catholic a good distance from our popular ethos – translates in public as the Biden-Pelosi school of theology, a Catholic Church accepting of the notion of the sovereign self and, in consequence, moral relativism. Like it or not, that’s how our fellow citizens understand such statements. In other words, they’ve now had their consciences further de-formed.

Fr. Newman’s parishioners came to Mass in large numbers this weekend and applauded so long when he began his homily that they only quieted down when he turned and knelt to the Blessed Sacrament. If you want to know what properly formed consciences are like and what they do, that’s the real story – which you won’t hear about from the AP or ABC.

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His latest book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

President-Elect Obama and Catholic Faith and Discipline

Father Jay Scott Newman, my first cousin and pastor of Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Greenville, South Carolina, has caused quite a stir in the mainstream media with his recent message published on the Saint Mary's website. News coverage has thus far extended to, just as a sample, WYFF, WIS, WRDW, The Charleston City Paper, Greenvilleonline, Lifenews, and Free Republic. Interviews with local and national television are on the way...

UPDATE: USAToday, WSPA (with video), Fox News, AP Google, Yahoo!, AP, Drudge Report.

Dear Friends in Christ,

We the People have spoken, and the 44th President of the United States will be Barack Hussein Obama. This election ends a political process that started two years ago and which has revealed deep and bitter divisions within the United States and also within the Catholic Church in the United States. This division is sometimes called a “Culture War,” by which is meant a heated clash between two radically different and incompatible conceptions of how we should order our common life together, the public life that constitutes civil society. And the chief battleground in this culture war for the past 30 years has been abortion, which one side regards as a murderous abomination that cries out to Heaven for vengeance and the other side regards as a fundamental human right that must be protected in laws enforced by the authority of the state. Between these two visions of the use of lethal violence against the unborn there can be no negotiation or conciliation, and now our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president. We must also take note of the fact that this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for President-elect Obama.

In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two observations:

1. Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

2. Barack Obama, although we must always and everywhere disagree with him over abortion, has been duly elected the next President of the United States, and after he takes the Oath of Office next January 20th, he will hold legitimate authority in this nation. For this reason, we are obliged by Scriptural precept to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us otherwise. Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a clear and present danger to the common good. In the time of President Obama’s service to our country, let us pray for him in the words of a prayer found in the Roman Missal:

God our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help our President-elect, Barack Obama, to fulfill his responsibilities worthily and well. By honoring and striving to please you at all times, may he secure peace and freedom for the people entrusted to him. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


Father Newman

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Anglican Catholicism and the Papal Primacy

The exercise of the petrine ministry of the papal see in Rome will serve in the great Church of the future as a workable central focus for the reunification of the one communion of the catholic Church - this is the current conviction of many in the Anglican world. Unlike many other Churches of the reformation, the Anglican Church has never abandoned a possible role for the Roman primacy, so long as the ministry of the Bishop of Rome is rightly understood, interpreted, and implemented. The ministry of the Bishop of Rome should not be an obstacle, but rather should function as a possible instrument of ultimate Christian unity. Orthodox Anglicanism today acknowledges that the ministry of the papacy is evolving rapidly and could someday be received by the Anglican Church as means tending toward the reconciliation of all Churches. A de facto recognition of the historic papal ministry already exists within the Anglican Communion, which has consistently maintained throughout her history that the Roman Pontiff possesses a station of primus inter pares, ‘first amongst equals,’ a primacy of honour and reverence, though not of jurisdiction or personal infallibility.

In his truly ground-breaking Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II calls for the reunion of the Church based on the reception of the papal office as a petrine ministry of service and unity. The Pope highlights those areas in which further consensus of faith needs to be achieved. Orthodox Anglicans already share an advanced level of agreement with the Church of Rome regarding these common aspects of catholic truth:

1) Sacred Scripture as the highest authority in matters of faith, and Sacred Tradition as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God (see Articles of Religion 6, 20, and 34);

2) The Eucharist as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence, and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Articles 28, 29, 30, and 31, 1928 American BCP pp 73-84, especially 80-82, the Anglican Catechism, and the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal 189, 204, 197, 199-200, etc.);

3) Ordination as a Sacrament to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate (see the Anglican Ordinal, especially the Preface thereof, the Second BCP Office of Instruction, and Articles 23 and 36);

4) the Magisterium of the Church entrusted to the Episcopate, understood as a responsibility and authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the faith (again see the Anglican rite for the consecration of Bishops and Articles 20, 23, and 34);

5) the Virgin Mary as Mother of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual Mother who intercedes for Christ's disciples and all humanity (see BCP 96, 231, and 235, Article 2, and the 1940 Hymnal 117, 599, etc.).

His Holiness’ description of the role and ministry of the papacy in Ut Unum Sint is refreshingly open to a new and more conciliar hermeneutic, and therefore well fits the traditional Anglican matrix concerning the ministries of primacy and conciliarity/collegiality/sobornost. Anglicans are conciliarists at heart who regard as the Church’s esse the principle of conciliar episcopal government.

Although Anglicans are not prepared, based on historical reasons, to affirm of the origin of the papal system what John Paul II does -- ‘the (Roman) Church is conscious that she has preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established as her perpetual and visible principle of unity’ -- nevertheless the Anglican Tradition stands ready to accept the historic primacy of the Bishop of Rome as it was exercised in the Undivided Church. The Pope beautifully states that ‘this designation, servus servorum Dei, is the best possible safeguard against the risk of separating power and in particular the primacy from ministry.’ The Pope asks for forgiveness for the abuse of the papal prerogative of primacy in the course of Church history while affirming the papal office as the ‘guarantor of unity.’ After tracing the New Testament roots of the claim made by the Roman Popes to be the Successors of Peter and Paul at Rome, John Paul contends that the papacy is a ministry of the mercy of God which serves the Church as a whole, functioning to keep oversight over the College of Bishops so that the common good and order of the whole Church may be preserved. John Paul’s interpretation of papal infallibility is very carefully, cautiously worded: ‘He can also - under very specific conditions clearly laid down by the First Vatican Council - declare ex cathedra that a certain doctrine belongs to the deposit of faith.’ The Bishop of Rome reasserts that the Pope must only act in communion with his brother Bishops and is one member, albeit a very crucial member, of the communion of Bishops as a College. Pope John Paul takes herculean steps to accommodate other church traditions in the enterprise of discussion, offering to examine the input contributions of other Churches regarding the papal office. ‘Could not the real but imperfect communion existing between us persuade church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on the subject...?’ Finally, at the end of the Encyclical, the Pope re-formulates the sine qua non of Church communion for the Roman jurisdiction: ‘The (Roman) Church both in her praxis and in her solemn documents holds that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome is - in God’s plan - as essential requisite for full and visible communion.’

Relatedly, and surprisingly to most uninformed observers, the Anglican Tradition has historically taken a rather hopeful view of the Papacy, even in spite of the breach with the papal communion which occurred at the beginning of the English Reformation in 1534 during the reign of the infamous King Henry VIII. The Ecclesia Anglicana, separated from Rome and yet retaining the essential catholic character of the Church, has never lost sight of the need for a biblical, patristic, historical, and episcopal primacy based in the Roman Patriarchate of the West. They are Daughter and Mother. The 1908 Lambeth Conference of Bishops declared on behalf of the entire Anglican Church: ‘there can be no fulfilment of the divine purpose in any scheme of Reunion which does not ultimately include the great Latin Church of the West.’ ‘Catholicism without the Pope is a maimed Catholicism; not, indeed, maimed as a body would be without a head, but maimed as the House of Commons would be without a speaker’ (Bishop KD Mackenzie). With these words uttered at the 1933 Oxford Movement Centenary Congress, an Anglican prelate best summarises the traditional Anglican approach to the role and function of the papacy, a position still maintained today.

These concepts are enfleshed more fully and remarkably by the renown Anglo-Catholic theologian Father Francis J. Hall. Note how his prophecies first spoken in 1923 are being fulfilled in many respects today: ‘Turning to the papal claim, we should distinguish between the ancient and modern elements in it. It is the Vatican position, gradually developed through centuries and finally defined in 1870, that constitutes the main barrier to reunion on the Roman side. Moreover, the removal of this barrier does not necessarily require a formal repudiation of the Vatican Council, and we ought not to require Rome’s humiliation as the price of reunion. It will suffice if Rome outgrows the objectionable elements of Vaticanism and reinterprets its terms by action that will securely establish Catholic liberties. Whether we accept or reject the claim that Christ formally instituted a permanent Papal primacy committed to the Roman See, we have to face the evidence of Christian history that such primacy has been a providential instrument of divine ordering. Moreover, when the Church is reunited, some visible centre of unity and of ecumenical business, such as the Papal See affords, will be needed for efficiency and for safeguarding Catholic unity. We can grant this, and the probability that a permanent governmental primacy over the entire Church militant has been divinely committed to the Roman See. What then interferes with submission to that See (by Anglicans)? Simply this, that the providential primacy of Rome has been enlarged by claims which subject the Church to an unprimitive and unrestrained autocracy - one which has no divine warrant, and which displaces instead of safeguarding truly Catholic government... But these accretions do not inhere in Papal primacy itself, which can survive and function after their removal. The removal is certainly needed, for they have gradually converted Papal government into an autocracy fatal to Catholic liberties. Such a reformation will surely come in time, for Christ has not forsaken his Church. And I believe that the process of outgrowing Vaticanism, a necessary antecedent of this reformation, has already begun.’

Father Hall continues to describe the ‘Papal See in the United Church’ along lines which could be interpreted as amazingly similar to Ut Unum Sint:

‘Can we describe in advance the position which the Roman See will occupy in the reunited Church? We cannot in detail, and to advocate particular arrangements with regard to the matter is hopelessly premature. Nonetheless, it seems clear that certain requirements ought to be met, and that when their nature has once been generally recognised, they can be met satisfactorily.

A) On the one hand, what is true in Papal claims will have to be acknowledged, and a primacy will have to be accepted which will be sufficiently effective to preserve the Church’s visible unity.
B) On the other hand, Papal authority will have to be brought within such constitutionally safeguarded limits as will adequately protect Catholic liberties from autocratic interference.

The Catholic liberties referred to should include the unhampered local election of Bishops and Metropolitans, and such national and provincial autonomy everywhere as is consistent with Catholic unity and with the preservation of the ancient Catholic Faith and Order; the freedom and supreme legislative authority of ecumenical Councils, and their right to determine the orthodoxy and binding force of Papal definitions and decretals.’ Fr Hall’s standpoint is inherently that still accepted by Anglicanism in the 21st century.

The Anglican Catholic position regarding the papacy today generally perceives the Roman Pope as a visible and primary spokesman for the entire Catholic world, a representative and focused voice commissioned to articulate Catholic Tradition on behalf of the whole collegial episcopate, which consequently transmits and faithfully guards the apostolic deposit of faith. The Pope is thus envisioned, not a super-Bishop who rules over the Church or imposes ecclesial discipline and teaching from outside, but as the First or Chief Bishop of Christendom, who as one select member of the collegial episcopal ministry, from within the Body of Christ, is charged to speak for the Church with the support and consensus of the entire catholic episcopate. According to this view, the Pope does not establish or create Tradition, but is endowed with the charism of the Holy Spirit by virtue of his episcopal consecration faithfully to hand-on that and that only which he has received from the ancient Undivided Church. And as the chief representative of the Apostolic College, his presence and role are indispensable. The Roman Pope therefore can give full expression and articulation to the common mind of the Church, the consensus fidelium of the People of God manifested through the collegial episcopate. Every visible body requires a visible representative, a focal point for unity and collegiality. The Pope potentially possesses such a relationship to the episcopate, and to the Church Catholic as an organic whole. The Pope is a mouthpiece, a ‘PR man,’ of the apostolic Communion of Churches. Hence the Pope is no more sacramentally or jurisdictionally ‘Vicar of Christ’ than any other catholic and apostolic Bishop; but he is, is a unique sense, a ‘Vicar of the Church,’ the Prime Bishop of universal Christendom. Such is the Anglican, and ancient Catholic, perspective.

Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical, calls the whole Church of Christ to re-assimilate the petrine ministry of the papal office as a source and centre for genuine communion, for real Christian unity. This invitation is one which Catholic Anglicans could, given the right conditions, happily embrace. The Anglican model corresponds perfectly with the teaching of Pope John Paul II on the Roman primacy: ‘ Full communion needs to be visibly expressed in a ministry in which all the Bishops recognise that they are united in Christ and all the faithful find confirmation for their faith. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles presents Peter as the one who speaks in the name of the apostolic group and who serves the unity of the community - all the while respecting the authority of James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ, she may be visibly present in the world as the communion of all his disciples. Do not many of those involved in ecumenism today feel a need for such a ministry? A ministry which presides in truth and love so that the ship will not be buffeted by the storms and will one day reach its haven.’

Indeed, the Anglican Tradition, as an ecumenical partner, officially realises the need for this ministry, this newly-re-evaluated papacy. The answer, for Anglicans, of the vexing problem or difficulty of papal primacy is resolved by what Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar termed in the 1920’s a Constitutional Papacy: ‘The ideal Bishop is the Father of his flock, accessible to all, a constitutional governor having a seat in a constitutional General Council, under a constitutional Pope.’ (Anglo-Catholic Congress 1920). ‘Reunion with Rome must wait for the growth of a broader and more enlightened policy within her which will be prepared to modify the present claims of the Papacy, and to demand for the Pope no more than that which the rest of the Church should most willingly concede, the first position of honour and primacy among Bishops. To say that Rome will never so change is to ignore the lessons of history, and to deny that the Spirit of God is guiding the destinies of His Church. (Fr GD Rosenthal, 1927).

The definitive Anglican response to Ut Unum Sint emerges in the 1999 Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission Agreed Statement on Authority, The Gift of Authority - Authority in the Church III. In this document, the Anglican representatives announce they are ‘open to and desire a recovery and re-reception under certain clear conditions of the exercise of universal primacy by the Bishop of Rome.’ The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is declared to be ‘a gift to be received by all the Churches.’ The Roman Pope is affirmed to have ‘a specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth.’ Typical of the Anglican reserve concerning the claim of papal infallibility, the ARCIC statement describes infallibility of the Pope in these words: ‘this form of authoritative teaching has no stronger guarantee from the Holy Spirit than have the solemn definitions of the Ecumenical Councils.’ The Pope’s primacy should ‘help to uphold the legitimate diversity of traditions... unity does not curtail diversity, and diversity does not endanger but enhances unity.’ Anglicans on the ARC Commission profess that the universal primacy of the Pope ‘will be an effective sign for all Christians as to how this gift of God (papal primacy) builds up that unity for which Christ prayed.’ The latest instalment of Anglican-Roman dialogue goes so far as to suggest that the Anglican Church could receive the papal primacy before the two Churches are able to achieve full communion. Although this incredibly optimistic and encouraging stand does not represent the totality of Anglicanism, it does clearly reflect the increasing momentum in which official Anglicanism is seeking to receive and utilise the papal office. However, it must be said unambiguously that the 1870 dogma of the First Vatican Council which enshrines papal infallibility and the universal jurisdiction of the Pope poses an incredibly high hurdle for the Anglican Tradition, a body which emphasises an ecclesiology of koinonia and episcopal collegiality developed in the Church of the patristic age. Most Anglicans will never be able to accept as dogma a teaching which, to their minds, deliberately contravenes the Canon of Saint Vincent of Lerins, that that which is Catholic is that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. With the Old Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Eastern Churches, Traditional Anglicans find the 1870 dogma an almost insuperable barrier to the restoration of full communion with the Bishop of Rome. If the dogma of papal infallibility could be effectively re-interpreted or simply evolved into a even more profound comprehension of ecclesiastical indefectibility, in which the Pope is understood to be within the infallible construct of the Undivided Church, the bearer of a Holy Tradition which in turn receives the universal consent of the Catholic antiquity of the ages, and is not dependent on the personal or official ex cathedra proclamation of the Pope, then perhaps the quagmire the 1870 dogma presents would simply be overcome by being by-passed or made moot through organic development. Could the papacy simply move beyond the 1870 categories to a more holistic vision?

The recovery of an authentic understanding of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as a communion, or koinonia of local particular Churches possessing Apostolic Succession in the historic collegial episcopate, would enable Anglicanism to accept the Bishop of Rome’s primacy as a primacy of communio, a headship and leadership grounded in the integral unity, catholicity and legitimacy of all local churches as both equal and one. To quote Saint Cyprian of Carthage, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome can and should be a ‘primacy of love and honour,’ just as Saint Irenaeus of Lyons venerates the Church of Rome as the one which ‘presides in love.’ The Bishop of Rome’s primacy could, ultimately, be received by the Anglican Church, and, God willing, by all the Churches of Christ, along these lines in the fullness of time. This response has elucidated an explication of Ut Unum Sint from a specifically Anglican perspective, and yet sees the answers which lie herein as a tool by which the reunification of the complete oikumene, the Christian world, should be accomplished. Ut Unum Sint is the future direction which all Christians should seek to embody and practice. A constitutional, collegial, conciliar papacy must be the wave of the future if the Church on earth is ever again to attain to full visible sacramental eucharistic communion. The seating of Anglican Bishops with their brother Roman, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Old Catholic, Assyrian, and Scandinavian Lutheran Bishops, in short, with all Bishops of apostolic succession in apostolic local Churches, in the general council of the Church catholic, must be the supreme goal toward which all Christians must pray and work and for which the papal office must begin to be the catalyst and not the obstacle. In this manner, the papacy would be received by all Churches as the uniting leadership of the elder Brother Bishop, the Father-in-God for and with all Fathers-in-God in the apostolic episcopate. All protestant churches, God willing, may someday take on the historic episcopate and thus the catholic sacramental system, moving them toward a communion of communions in which the Bishop of Rome would be the primate of love and honour as well as of authority and conciliar jurisdiction. Scriptures, Creeds, Dominical Sacraments, and Apostolic Ministry of the Lambeth Quadrilateral.... plus papal primacy? With God all things are possible.

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