Saturday, January 31, 2009

Evangelical Catholics

The word 'evangelical' has been unhappily usurped by ecclesial bodies and persons as an exclusive moniker in much the same way that the term 'catholic' has been monopolised by Romanists. The Church is certainly evangelical and must be evangelical if she is to be true to herself. The word in its essence simply means 'of the Gospel,' 'of the Good News,' and indubitably the Church, if she is to be faithful to her vocation as the Body of Christ, must be faithful to the Gospel and must embody the Gospel in her mandate to preach Christ to all nations. We should feel as natural and comfortable in using the term 'evangelical' as we do 'Anglican' and 'Catholic.'

Sadly the term has been taken over by sociologists and by Christians themselves to denote and identify one particular brand or style of protestant Christianity - and thus the term has entered into our common and colloquial vocabulary in this way. The use of the term in popular speech today seems to imply that Christians who are not modern neo-protestants of a very specified variety are not therefore 'evangelical,' and nothing could be further from the truth. The same is true of the term 'catholic,' which is used in vulgar speech to imply that Christians who are not in communion with the Pope of Rome are not catholic. We, the Eastern Orthodox, and Old Catholics vehemently disagree, as does the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed! We should proudly own the term 'evangelical' and use it as does the New Testament itself, the Church Fathers, and the ancient and medieval Church. For example, medieval and contemporary catholicism emphasise the 'evangelical counsels' of poverty, chastity and obedience, the way or Rule of Life in religious orders based on the example of Our Lord and the Scriptures. The ancients and medievals certainly knew and understood the term evangelical and employed it in its original context - the context of the orthodox Church of the Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Liturgy.

The earliest Lutherans, of course, people of far greater catholic substance than any modern neo-evangelicals today, designated themselves the 'Evangelical Church' in opposition to the Roman Communion. The later term 'Lutheran' was a nickname and an epithet, a term of derision applied to them by their opponents. The Book of Concord and the Augsburg Confession make it clear that the Catholic Church of the West, to which Lutherans claimed they belonged and for which they professed their loyalty and fealty, is by her very nature 'evangelical.' These Evangelicals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with their powerful emphasis on the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, their belief in baptismal regeneration and sacramental grace, and their retention of liturgy and ministerial order, would hardly meet the latter-day definition or standard of what passes for 'evangelical,' and yet it is they who first used the term in its modern application.

The same is absolutely true for Anglicanism - orthodox Anglicans have always described themselves as 'Evangelical Catholics,' combining the best of both worlds. From the ancient Church we derive our Catholic Faith, Creeds and Sacraments, and our concern for Apostolic Order and Tradition, and from the English reformation we derive our renewed emphasis on the centrality and authority of Scripture, personal conversion and faith, and the Gospel message of salvation for all men for all time. To be truly catholic, the Church must be evangelical; to be truly evangelical, the Church must be catholic. To be authentic, the Church of the Great Commission of Saint Matthew 28 must deliver to all men the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints of Saint Jude 1.3. That which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all, what is truly and properly catholic, the fullness and totality of the Gospel for the fullness and totality of the human race across the globe and throughout time and space - such is the heart of the evangelical Church. The catholicity of the Church is her evangelical mandate and commission: 'because it is universal, holding earnestly the Faith for all time, in all countries, and for all people; and is sent to preach the Gospel to the whole world' (BCP 291). That is what it truly means to be an evangelical Christian. We should pray that all those who today call themselves 'evangelicals' will someday be restored to the faith and practice of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church whose doctrine and tradition is from Our Lord and the Apostles, and is vertiably the plenitude of the Gospel, the fullness of the Evangel, the Good News of the New Life in Christ.

We are Evangelical Catholics and we should never hesitate to say so clearly and distinctly.

TAC and Rome: Possibilities and Problems

Here are a few simple thoughts on the rumour that the Church of Rome is prepared to offer a personal prelature status to the Traditional Anglican Communion, and by extension, to Anglo-Papalists worldwide...

1.The possibility of a personal prelature, like that of Opus Dei, for Anglo-Papalists who desire to enter into communion with the See of Rome is a welcome and exciting gesture from the Pope, should it actually materialise. It will be an answer to the fervent and faithful prayers of many devout Anglicans. However, the creation of such of prelature will be of no practical significance or consequence for those Anglo-Catholics in the Continuing Churches who cannot, as a matter of faith and conscience, accept the 1870 definition of the I Vatican Council concerning the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome. For Anglo-Catholics who maintain the Tradition of the Undivided Church and thus by necessity reject the modern Papal Claims, the prelature would represent a positive breakthrough in ecumenical relations, but nothing more. For them, the modern Papal Claims remain an insuperable barrier to full communion with Rome.

2.The jurisdictional situation created by a personal prelature would be difficult to resolve in practical terms. According to Roman Canon Law, the local Ordinary of the Latin Rite diocese must give his approval for the erection of any personal prelature parishes within his diocese. The bishop in question would have to give his assent to the implementation of an Anglican Use parish in his local church. Given the animosity of many Latin Rite bishops toward the Anglican Tradition, particularly in the UK, the likelihood that many Anglican Use parishes will be free to establish themselves without restriction or condition is very slim indeed.

3.The Traditional Anglican Communion itself is divided on the matter of communion with the Roman Church – many of the parishes and laity of the TAC, especially in the USA, are not Papalists at all and will refuse to submit to the merger. The Romeward movement is primarily clergy-driven. Like every other Continuing Church, the Anglican Church in America possesses a diversity of theological and liturgical expressions, ranging from Anglo-Papalism to Prayer Book Catholicism to Latitudinarianism to ‘low church.’ Only convinced and enthusiastic Papalists will likely be willing to proceed into communion with Rome. The others will probably depart TAC/ACA for other Continuing Churches. In the end, only a smaller group from within the original Traditional Anglican Communion would actually progress to being received into the Church of Rome.

4.The invalidity of Anglican Orders is now a set dogma of the Roman Catholic Church and is held to be a definitive and promulgated teaching of the ordinary magisterium of the Papal See. The doctrinal commentary on the motu proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem of 1998, written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and approved by Pope John Paul II, declares Apostolicae Curae to be an infallible teaching of the Roman magisterium. ‘With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints, and the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the apostolic letter Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations.’ The practical consequence of this teaching is that every cleric of the former TAC would be required to submit to absolute (or in some rarer cases, conditional) ordination. The potential reiteration of the indelible character of Holy Orders is for many Anglican clergy a sacrilege impossible to countenance, one which would in turn prohibit otherwise interested and desirous clergy from moving into full communion with Rome. Rome simply will not recognise the validity of Anglican Orders – and that is now an immutable fact.

5.The canonical quagmire of married bishops and divorced and remarried bishops, priests and deacons would be extremely difficult to sort out. It is clear that married bishops would not be permitted in any scheme of reunion between Anglo-Papalists and Rome, and celibate priests would have to be chosen by papal mandate and consecrated to serve any personal prelature. Every single case of divorced and remarried clergy, or of clergy married to divorced and remarried wives, or both, would have to be examined, reviewed and resolved according to Canon Law and the usual marriage tribunal system, a process that could take years to accomplish. Clergy in marriages deemed invalid would not be allowed to be reordained or even to be received into full communion: for example, persons in marriages determined to be invalid would have to refrain from receiving the Holy Eucharist. The prospect of such a situation would indeed be a painful one for all involved. But a painstaking process of this magnitude would be necessary in order for any kind of corporate reconciliation to take.

6. The hierarchy of the Roman Church in England and Wales would likely oppose any such measure as a personal prelature: the Roman bishops of those two countries are generally modernist and liberal, and eschew traditionalist Anglo-Papalists and the threat they pose to the modern post-Vatican II agenda. UK Anglo-Papalists are on the whole vastly more traditional and orthodox than their average Roman counterparts. The single best book on the subject of British Roman Catholic episcopal antipathy to Anglo-Papalism, as demonstrated by its uncooperative response to the priestess crisis of 1992, is undoubtedly The Roman Option by William Oddie. Anglo-Papalists as a whole should not expect a warm welcome from the official hierarchy in Great Britain. In North America and Australia, one expects the situation would only be slightly better.

7. The liturgical issues would also have to be addressed. It is presumed that any Anglican prelature would be based on the Missa Normativa, the Novus Ordo Missae, with the possible use of the Extraordinary Form and the Book of Divine Worship. Elements of the Anglican Rite would probably be retained in places where they are desired, but most of British Anglo-Papalism is already completely Roman Rite. Overall, the liturgy would differ little in structure from regular Latin Rite parishes, although it must be admitted that the ethos and liturgical expression of the prelature would be greatly deepened and enhanced by the Anglican penchant for beauty, reverence and precision.

8. Buildings and properties would be an area of concern and potential conflict as well. In the USA, Canada, Australia and other countries, those parishes of the TAC which already own their own buildings could bring the properties along with them into communion with Rome. In the UK, Anglo-Papalists within the Church of England still inhabit buildings and properties belonging to the Established Church. The effort to move Church of England properties to Rome would be complex, expensive and litigious. Many Anglo-Papalists in the UK would face the grim necessity of leaving behind their ancient parish churches for rented space or more modern facilities were they to enter into full communion.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Saint Charles of England, King and Martyr

Saint Charles Stuart I (1600-1649) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1625. On his accession to the throne, King Charles found a considerable party amongst the clergy disposed to abandon the Calvinistic views which had been predominant in the previous century and to welcome a theological position much near to traditional Catholicism. The King, who personally favoured the new movement, took decisive steps to silence religious controversy, meanwhile promoting Anglo-Catholics, or High Churchmen, to important positions. In 1633, he gave the See of Canterbury to Blessed William Laud, the leader of the catholic Anglican movement. Archbishop Laud’s vigorous policy in enforcing a fixed standard of liturgical ceremonial, including Altar rails, Altar lights, bowing to the Altar and Cross, the Eastward position at the Mass, and the restoration of true Altars and sanctuaries, and repressing Calvinism, earned him wide unpopularity, while the King, whose administrative, financial, and foreign policy had been as distarous as it had been well-intentioned, suffered with him. The fact that the Kings’ wife, Henrietta Maria, was a Roman Catholic added to the difficulties, since Saint Charles, torn between her demands for complete toleration for her Roman co-religionists and the violent anti-popery of the mass of his subjects, unsuccessfully compromised. The only result of this policy of compromise was popular indignation at the difference between the half-hearted enforcement of the recusancy laws against Roman Catholics and the rigour with which the Star Chamber, under Archbishop Laud’s direction, passed sentence on Puritans, even though such sentences were lenient in comparison with those which Romanists and Puritans alike has suffered under Elizabeth I.

Saint Charles’ Scottish policy was equally unfortunate. In Scotland the earlier agitation against Episcopacy had died down, but between his coronation in 1633 at Edinburgh and the revolt against the Book of Common Prayer in 1637, King Charles, himself a Scot and son of King James VI of Scotland, enflamed the situation. His coronation was carried out with the fullest Anglican ceremonial; he absolutely insisted that Scotland should adopt the English or a similar Scottish Book of Common Prayer, and should conform to the Laudian liturgical usages in all externals. He insisted on a uniform Anglican Catholicism for both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. His goal was to make both the English and Scottish Churches Catholic, united in the fullness of Catholic faith and order under the authority of King and Bishops. The King, most dangerously, insisted that the government and policy of the Church of Scotland were to be dependent upon the See of Canterbury or upon Scottish Bishops controlled by the King and the Archbishop. The result of this unbending policy was the National Covenant of 1638, which forever plunged Scotland into Presbyterianism and Calvinism. Saint Charles’ policy backfired.

The Civil War, which broke in England in 1642, was only in part caused by the ecclesiastical situation, but the defeat of the King in 1645 meant the disestablishment of the Church of England and the loss of the Prayer Book and the Apostolic Ministry, and the establishment of Presbyterianism in their place. The failure of Saint Charles to negotiate successfully with his enemies in the following years is in part evidence that he was not trusted, but it was due even more to the fact that his principles refused to let him consent to the loss of the Episcopate in order to conciliate the goodwill of the Scots and the wealthy English laity. He was unwilling to sacrifice the Apostolic Ministry of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in order to save his own life – he could have done so and preserved himself, but he did not. For this reason, he is venerated as the Royal Martyr of the Anglican Church, whose death secured the preservation of Apostolic Succession. Because Saint Charles died as a Martyr for the sake of Apostolic Order, the Anglican Church is branch of the Holy Catholic Church, and not a sect.

In the words of Father Vernon Staley: ‘It is sufficient to say, in conclusion, that humanly speaking, the very existence of the Church of England as an integral part of the Catholic Church, is due to King Charles I. It is true of him that "he that will save others, himself he cannot save." By consenting to regard Episcopacy as merely a useful institution, and not an institution essential to the Church's very being, and by suffering the Presbyterian theory of Church's ministry to be established in the land, King Charles the Martyr might have saved his life. Had King Charles yielded upon this point, the Church would have been destroyed. To forget the Royal Martyr on this day of his supreme sacrifice, is to be guilty of utter ingratitude.’

"True son of our dear Mother, early taught

With her to worship, and for her to die,

Nurs'd in her aisles to more than kingly thought,

Oft in her solemn hours we dream thee nigh.

"And yearly now, before the Martyr's King,

For thee she offers her maternal tears,

Calls us, like thee, to His dear feet to cling,

And bury in his wounds our earthly fears."

--Blessed John Keble, The Christian Year

Saint Charles’ murder, an illegal action carried through by fanatical army leaders, has been justly considered a martyrdom, since in the end it was conditioned only by his resolution to defend the Church and to save the Catholic Priesthood and the Prayer Book liturgy. His personal character, though marred by indecision, imprudence, and, at times, confusion, was, in his private life, of the highest moral purity and beauty, and in his public position, of such religious principle and personal responsibility which appeared to full effect in the dignity of his last days.

On the day of his death the Eikon Basilike, a hagiographical memoir was published as the dead King was acclaimed widely as a Martyr. From 1662 to 1859 a special service for 30th January, the day of his martyrdom, was annexed to the Book of Common Prayer by Royal Mandate – it ordered an annual day of national fasting. Saint Charles, King and Martyr, is still commemorated on 30th January in the Anglican liturgical Kalendar. At least five Church of England parishes have been dedicated to him and many others are dedicated to him throughout the Anglican Communion; numerous shrines to him exist throughout the Anglican world.

Remember! Saint Charles, pray for us!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sign your (episcopal or presbyteral) name...

The practice of affixing crosses to the names of bishops and priests in Anglicanism is a relatively modern practice; however, for bishops specifically it has a much more ancient and venerable precedent. The practice of signing the episcopal name with the cross at the front of the name was certainly a common practice in the Western Church by the High Middle Ages, a symbol of the sacramental nature of the episcopate and of apostolic jurisdiction, and was taken over by Anglican Bishops in some places at the Reformation. The practice was almost certainly universal within the Anglican Communion by the nineteenth century, as it was in both the Roman and Eastern Churches by the same time. It is Catholic custom. Today, the cross at the beginning of an episcopal signature has come to signify the episcopal dignity and the status of the episcopate in all Catholic Churches, Eastern and Western. The practice of priests signing their names with a cross at the end is peculiarly Anglican and is, to my knowledge, found nowhere else in Catholic Christendom. The practice probably arises from the Oxford Movement of the nineteenth century, when Anglicans reasserted the sacramental and sacerdotal character of the Anglican presbyterate. I do not believe priests of the Roman and Eastern Communions have ever signed their names with the cross. Another wonderful Anglican eccentricity!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Our Wedding Sermon

A photograph of my two sons, Aidan and Owain, and a lovely discovery - the sermon preached by the late Archbishop John T. Cahoon Junior of the Anglican Catholic Church at our Solemn High Nuptial Mass is still located on the website for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States...

Archbishop Cahoon delivered this message at the wedding of Fr. Chad Jones and Megan Baskwill.

The Prayer Book's service for Holy Matrimony preaches the most effective sermon possible on the subject. God and Jesus and St. Paul all agree, for various reasons, that Christian marriage is a good thing. As a result, following the Prayer Book, each member of the couple makes promises to God and to each other which concern his moral will.

They are promises he cannot possibly keep on his own. So by blessing the marriage God says, "As long as you have the will to keep these promises, I will give you the grace and the help you need to do it."

Today's wedding points out a custom which the Church of England and her lineal descendents share which is unlike the custom of any other Catholic church on earth. That is the custom that her clergy may marry. In the Roman Communion priests are not to marry, but married men can in some cases serve as priests. In Eastern Orthodoxy a married man may be ordained priest, but no priest may get married.

Our church's rule is that, since Holy Scripture in no way forbids it, the clergy are permitted to apply to themselves the same standards which St. Paul lays out for all Christians in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. St. Paul says some people are called to be married, and some people are called not to be married. Each state of life is a gift which carries its own advantages and disadvantages.

God doesn't think that either of the states is superior to the other. He leaves it to you and the Holy Ghost to figure out which gift you have and then act accordingly.

Father Jones stood before me when I made him a deacon and ordained him a priest, and he promised that his home and his family would be wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ. Today he and Megan are taking a momentous new step in that direction.

Article of Religion XXXII, titled "Of the Marriage of Priests," says that it is lawful for the clergy as it is "for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness."

Let us pray that the marriage begun here today will indeed serve Megan and Father Chad better to their own personal godliness, and that it will always stand as a wholesome example and pattern to us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


'That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven' (Saint Matthew 16.18-19).

The promise of Our Lord to Saint Peter is not a promise of personal infallibility to Peter, or to the Bishop of Rome in his chair or office; it is a promise of indefectibility to the whole Catholic Church of Christ in which the Lord assures us that the Holy Ghost will never allow the whole Body of Christ at any given time in salvation history to fall utterly into heresy or apostasy. The promise guarantees that the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the collection of all particular Apostolic Communions, will be preserved from universal error or abandonment of the truth of the Gospel. To quote the late Fr Richard John Neuhaus, with interpolations:

If God intended to reveal any definite truths for the benefit of humankind, and
if Jesus intended a continuing community of discipleship, then some reliable
means would be provided for the preservation and transmission of such truths
through the centuries. Catholics [Anglican and Roman] believe that God did
provide such reliable means by giving the apostles and their successors, the
bishops, authority to teach in His name and by promising to be with them
forever. [BCP page 561] The teaching of the apostles and of the apostolic
churches, securely grounded in the biblical Word of God, continues to this day,
and will continue to the end of time. [Anglo] Catholics believe that, under
certain carefully prescribed circumstances, ... the whole body of bishops are
able to teach with infallibility. That is a word that frightens many, but I
don't think it should. It means that the Church is indefectible, that we have
God's promise that He will never allow the Church to definitively defect from
the truth, to fall into apostasy. Infallibility, Avery Cardinal Dulles writes,
"is simply another way of saying that the Holy Spirit will preserve the Church
against using its full authority to require its members to assent to what is
false." Without that assurance, he adds, "the truth of revelation would not be
preserved in recognizable form." And, I would add, to obey the truth we must be
able to recognize the truth.

The quote fully and faithfully echoes what Anglo-Catholics believe about the nature of the Church: the distinction is that we locate the infallibility of the Catholic Church in an altogether different place. Whereas Romanists locate the infallibility of the Church in the office and person of the Bishop of Rome teaching ex cathedra in communion with other Romanist bishops, we locate the infallibility of the Church where the historic orthodox Church of Christ has always centred it, in the undivided episcopate of the whole Catholic Church and in the expressed teaching of the Seven Ecumenical or General Councils of the Undivided Church, and beyond that still, in the consensus fidelium, the common sense of the People of God, the common theological consent and consensus of the whole Church throughout the ages and across the globe. Only that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all is truly and properly Catholic (Commonitorium, Saint Vincent of Lerins) and thus truly and properly infallible - as the Church has been led so to believe by the Holy Ghost.

Anglicans are conciliarists who believe the Holy Ghost makes known the authentic interpretation of the Gospel in the general consensus of the Apostles, Fathers and baptised faithful. 'It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us' (Acts 15.28) Were the totality of the world's Catholic and Apostolic bishops again to meet in ecumenical council, an infallible or indefectible decision on questions of faith or morals could certainly be achieved. Until that happens again, we are uniquely bound to the previous declarations, decrees and judgements, the dogmatic statements, of the Seven Holy Councils.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Advice on Prayer

Dear N.,

Thank you for your enquiry. To help you in your spiritual life, I highly recommend the classical work on Christian spirituality designed to introduce beginners into the life of mental prayer: An Introduction to the Devout and Holy Life by St Francis De Sales.

This book was the first book on the spiritual life I ever read, and its ideas and teachings have stayed with me all throughout my Christian pilgrimage. Please obtain and read this book to your soul’s health. I should also recommend that each day you begin to use the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer as found in the Book of Common Prayer faithfully and regularly. They will build the foundation for a strong prayer life that will remain consistent in spite of the vicissitudes of life and changes and chances of feeling and emotion.

The supreme act of prayer, the summary and substance of the Gospel, the source and summit of the Christian life, is, of course, Our Lord’s own Prayer to the Father, the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, the Eucharist. I should recommend that you attend Mass daily, or if that is not possible, at least weekly and as frequently during the week as your schedule will allow. Making a good Holy Communion and a good sacramental Confession regularly will do more for the soul and the prayer life than anything else. There is freedom, joy and spontaneity in prayer only in order, and the Eucharist and Offices, the common prayer of the Church, will so order your prayer life that within such a structure you can begin to grow and deepen in your personal prayer.

Personal prayer is never private – it is always linked to the Church, to the Communion of Saints, and to the liturgical expression and worship of whole New Covenant Israel of God. Do not be afraid to pray with Our Lady, the chiefest and holiest of believers, and with all those holy ones who have passed beyond the veil and now stand round the Throne of God and the Lamb.

Prayer becomes exciting in this way even when it seems at times and seasons banal or routine, for prayer is a more than an experience, it is a discipline and a science to be practised and learned through exercise and perseverance. We must pray as we can, not as we can’t. Begin at the beginning and all will go as it should.

Should you have further questions on the spiritual life or ascetical theology, please free to contact me at any time. May the Lord Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, bless you and guide you in your journey.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Shield of the Anglican Province of America

The shield of the Anglican Province of America is based on the shield, or official heraldic symbol, of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America - as the APA asserts herself to be a legitimate heir and successor of the Episcopal Church. The APA shield is in most respects identical to the Episcopal shield. The only difference is the symbolism found in the upper left-hand field: the Episcopal shield displays nine Saint Andrew’s crosses in the shape of a Saint Andrew’s cross in order to represent the nine original Dioceses which signed the 1789 PECUSA Constitution. The Saint Andrew’s symbolism points to the fact that on November 14, 1784, the Episcopal Church in the USA received its first bishop from the Non-Juring Scottish Episcopal Church. Bishop Samuel Seabury was consecrated for the American Church as Bishop of Connecticut – he also introduced the Scottish Eucharistic Liturgy into the American version of the Book of Common Prayer. Hence, the Apostolic Succession of the American Church and her Liturgy are Scottish in origin.

The APA shield replaces the Scottish symbolism with that of Holy Scripture: the Alpha and Omega refer to the Divine Person of God the Son, Jesus Christ, God made Man (Revelation 1.8). The Chi-Rho (XP), meaning ‘Christ’ in Greek, Christos, was used by Constantine the Great as the symbol of his Christian civilisation. The Chi-Rho is one of the most ancient Christian liturgical and theological symbols. Because the Anglican Province of America sees herself as an essential continuation of the Anglican Church in her American expression, the similarities between her shield and that of the Episcopal Church have been purposely maintained. The shield reproduces the Cross of Saint George in red, the symbol of the English nation as well as the Church of England – the Cross represents the Faith of Christ Crucified, the Gospel, and, at same time, connects the American Church to her history and roots in the Church of England, from whence we ultimately received Apostolic Faith and Order. The blue field represents America, as the overall effect is like that of the American flag. Again, the Chi-Rho and Alpha and Omega represent the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, the Head of His Body the Church. The Christocentric symbolism emphasizes the fact that the Church is founded solely upon the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, and all revelation and truth flow from Him. Obviously, the red, white and blue represent the colours of the American flag.

In particular, the APA shield is a new form of the original shield of the American Episcopal Church (the original name of the Anglican Province of America) which was created c. 1982. The American Episcopal Church united with another traditional Anglican jurisdiction named the Anglican Episcopal Church in North America in the early 1980s. Part of the fruit of that merger was the creation of our original shield. Originally our shield possessed the red cross, but the upper-left hand field was white and contained a red Chi-Rho and a blue Alpha and Omega insignia. Bishop Grundorf changed the colour scheme to its current configuration when the Anglican Province of America was given its current name and canonical structure in 1998.

Friday, January 16, 2009

UECNA Consecrations

The United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) made three new suffragan bishops on January 10th 2009. The three men were elected by the lay and clergy representatives at the UECNA's recent triennial Synod in October of 2008.

Participating in the consecrations were the Most Reverend Stephen C. Reber, Sr. the Archbishop and Presiding Bishop of the UECNA, as well as the Right Reverend D. Presley Hutchens, Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Catholic Church's Diocese of New Orleans, and the Right Reverend Dr. William Wiygul, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Southern States of the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

Consecrated bishops were the Reverend Peter D. Robinson, Rector of St. Paul's Anglican Church, Prescott, Arizona, the Reverend Harry Samuel Seamans, Rector of St. Thomas Church, Mountain Home, Arkansas, and the Reverend Wesley L. Nolden, II, Priest-in-Charge of Trinity Anglican Church, Evansville, Indiana.

The service was held in St. Louis, Missouri with over 140 in attendance and occurred only two miles from the site of the signing of the Affirmation of St. Louis. The consecration of these bishops emphasizes the growing positive cooperation between the three jurisdictions which have had intercommunion agreements since 2007. The three new suffragan bishops will not only work for Archbishop Reber, but will be available to assist diocesan bishops in the other two jurisdictions should the need arise. The approval of Archbishop Reber will be required as well as either Archbishop Haverland, or Archbishop Provence depending upon the jurisdiction requesting the assistance.

The Way of the Fathers

Which Church Father are you?

Here's mine...

You are St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What Makes A Church Catholic?

Dear N.,

I am unspeakably delighted that you have come to the personal realisation, through prayer and objective study, that historic Anglicanism is simply the Orthodox Church of the West, with a faith, order, tradition and sacramental system derived directly from the ancient and undivided Church. Anglicanism is indeed Apostolic, and has no need to rely either on Rome or Constantinople to garner any credibility or authenticity, and more, she should not compare herself to the Churches of Rome or the East, for she has her own unbroken continuity in the Apostolic line and has no need to seek approval or approbation from any outside source.

We are Catholics in our own right by virtue of our own inheritance from the Lord, and we do not require the permission of other legitimate Churches to be Catholics. We are legitimate because we have faithfully received and preserved the only necessary legitimacy, the Deposit of Faith, Holy Tradition.

The ancient legends of Britain claim that Our Lord Himself, the Blessed Virgin and Saint Paul all visited and evangelised the Albion Isle. Saint Joseph of Arimathea is reputed to be the founder of the Church at Glastonbury and the first bishop of the British Isles. But beyond these legends we know for certain historically that bishops ordained by the Apostles erected the Church in Britain and constituted dioceses in the second and third centuries. Origen, Tertullian and St Irenaeus of Lyons all testify to the antiquity and apostolicity of the British Church. There were three English dioceses represented at the Council of Arles in AD 314. Saint David of Wales is held to have been consecrated Primate of the Celtic British Church by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saint Augustine of Canterbury was consecrated by mandate of the Bishop of Rome. Saint Theodore of Canterbury, an Eastern Rite Christian, was consecrated by the Latin Church. There is absolutely no question as to the historic foundation of the Ecclesia Anglicana.

As to Anglican Orders, we can have moral certainty that they are indisputably valid. The Roman Church is the only Catholic Church which has refused to recognise the validity of Anglican Orders, which originate in the pre-reformation Church of Britain. The Eastern Orthodox Churches provisionally recognised the validity of Anglican Orders beginning in 1922; the Old Catholic Churches of the Utrecht Union recognised the validity of Anglican Orders in 1924; the Assyrian Church of the East, in a proposed concordat of intercommunion, recognised Anglican Orders in 1910. In 1896, four of the eight theologians on Pope Leo XIII's commission on Anglican Orders believed they were valid - their inevitable verdict in favour of validity was usurped at the last minute by the Roman Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vaughn, and Cardinal Merry del Val, the papal secretary of state, who believed the imminent decision would be disastrous for the Papal Claims in England. Politics, not theology, determined the outcome and thus Apostolicae Curae was promulgated.

We should remember that Apostolicae Curae only condemns the 1550 Ordinal of Edward VI, not the 1662 Restoration Ordinal with its clarified sacramental forms for the episcopate and priesthood. Today Apostolicae Curae is a practically moot point, for from 1932 in England and from 1946 in the USA, the Old Catholic episcopate has routinely participated in Anglican consecrations, infusing the Old Catholic line, which is recognised by Rome, into the vast majority of episcopal consecrations and priestly ordinations in Anglicanism. Virtually every Anglican bishop and priest alive now possesses Orders which Rome is theoretically obliged to recognise as valid. You need not worry about the Anglican Orders question ever again.

Time does not allow me to address sufficiently the complexity of the Papal Claims, but you are absolutely right. Saint Augustine of Hippo, in common with all the Church Fathers, teaches that the Church is built upon the Faith of St Peter's Confession in Jesus Christ as True God and True Man: it is the Apostolic Creed, the Faith of the Incarnation professed by Peter, on which the Church is built (St Matthew 16). 'The rock' refers to Our Lord Himself, St Peter's person, St Peter's ministry, and St Peter's confession of faith. There are many equally correct interpretations of Christ's words to Peter.

Saint Cyprian of Carthage teaches that the Chair of Peter, the Petrine ministry, is really the Apostolate, the undivided episcopate of the whole Catholic Church: every bishop of the one Church is 'Peter' and shares in the Petrine commission and authority because of episcopal consecration. No one bishop can claim to be the successor of St Peter in an exclusive sense, because it is the episcopate itself, the apostolic college of bishops, which holds the priesthood, authority and consecration of St Peter.

Saint Gregory the Great, a Bishop of Rome, states there is no such thing as a 'supreme bishop' or a 'bishop of bishops' above the episcopal college.

The Bishop of Rome is indeed the Bishop of Rome, no more, no less, the chief representative bishop of the Catholic world. His role is analogous to that exercised by Peter amongst the Twelve. He is a representative voice, a spokesman, a primate, first amongst equals, primus inter pares. He holds the 'primacy of love' proclaimed by St Irenaeus of Lyons, the 'primacy of honour' affirmed by Saint Cyprian. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ, but not in a unique or exclusive sense again, for every bishop, every latter-day Apostle in the episcopal college, is a Vicar of Christ, the sacramental representative of Our Lord in his local particular Church. For his Diocese, every bishop is Peter, every Bishop is the Apostle. And, according to Sacred Tradition, all bishops are equal in sacramental power and jurisdictional canonical authority within their own local Churches. Such has always been the consentient teaching of the orthodox and catholic Church of Christ.

The modern Papal Claims are just that, modern. The dogmas of papal infallibility ex cathedra and the immediate and universal jurisdiction of the Pope were created at the First Vatican Council of 1870. They are neither universally-received nor ancient. They are novelties, innovations added to the Catholic Faith. Rome has the essential Faith of the Catholic Church, but has added to it that which it should not.

As regards the nature of the Church, the Orthodox Eastern Churches have always maintained rightly that orthodoxy and catholicity are not determined by sacramental or canonical communion with any particular See or Diocese, but rather by the possession and expression of the Apostolic Faith. Over time, Churches that possess the Catholic Tradition grow into unity and communion and recognise in a mutual way that catholicity which already inheres and exists in each. This is how it has always been done. It is for this movement that we pray concerning both Rome and the East. May they both come to recognise in us what they themselves possess, the full manifestation of the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles - for we undoubtedly have the Apostolic Faith, and all that obtains with it.

That you have once more discovered and reaffirmed these truths is a work of the Holy Ghost. Grace builds upon nature and when we allow it to do so, it will guide us into all truth. The intellectual search for truth can bear fruit in the spiritual and affective life, and so it has for you, praise God...

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Anglican Church in North America and Women's Ordination

A stunning presentation from Dr Ann Paton, Liturgical Assistant of the Church of the Ascension, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in which she admonishes the new jurisdiction to which she belongs, styled the Anglican Church in North America, to authorise the consecration of women to the episcopate. In the sermon Archbishop Robert Duncan, inaccurately, is extolled as the sole defender and supporter of women's ordination in the ACNA.

Currently the provisional canons and constitution of the ACNA permit those constituent dioceses and jurisdictions which have practised women's ordination before the creation of the ACNA to continue to ordain purportedly women priests and deacons after joining the new church. The same documents currently prohibit the election and consecration of a woman bishop.

Surely the sermon, which an orthodox catholic must deem heretical, speaks for itself... as the preacher asserts that women's purported ordination is the 'whole Gospel.'

Trinity Sunday Episcopal Visitation - Saint George the Martyr Church, Simpsonville, South Carolina

Trinity Sunday Episcopal Visitation to Saint George the Martyr Church, Simpsonville, South Carolina.