Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas!

A blessed, joyful and Happy Christ-Mass to all of you. May our True God, the Incarnate Lord born of Mary, bless and keep you in this holy season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Sanctus

Courtesy of my brother, Father Brandon Jones, comes this seventh instalment in a video series on the new English translation of the Novus Ordo Missae. In another wonderful Anglicisation, the original text, 'Lord God of Hosts,' is returned to the Sanctus in the Eucharistic liturgy. The new translation sounds more and more like the traditional Book of Common Prayer, which incomparable treasure embodies the ancient Western Rite.

Fifteen Years of Priesthood...

The Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, Saturday 21st December 1996, on bright clear glistening snow-covered morning in Lexington, Virginia, I was ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church at Saint Paul’s Church by the Most Reverend John Thayer Cahoon, Junior of the Anglican Catholic Church. What a glorious day it was!

You go with me to the Altar of God today as the Holy Sacrifice is offered in thanksgiving for fifteen years of participation in Christ’s Holy Priesthood. Please pray for me on this day. Thank you very much and God bless you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

SSC 2011

From the September 2011 Provincial Synod of the Society of the Holy Cross, sermon at Saint Mark's Church and Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul, Charleston, South Carolina.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Episcopal Consecration in the Polish National Catholic Church

The Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Paul Sobiechowski on 18th October 2011 at Saint Stanislaus Cathedral, Scranton, Pennsylvania. The PNCC is historically the sister Church to orthodox Anglicanism.

An Ethos Peculiar

In the end the Elizabethan settlement endured by reason of its own spiritual integrity. By 1593 the Church of England possessed an ethos peculiar to itself, characterized less by mere negations on the side of Rome or Geneva than by a coherent and distinctive embodiment of the Christian tradition that claimed continuity with all that was best in the Middle Ages and in the ancient Catholic Church. Bred within the comprehensive limits of the Elizabethan formularies, nurtured upon the spirituality of the Book of Common Prayer, the generation that came to manhood in the ‘nineties brought Anglicanism to its maturity. A scornful condemnation of the late Elizabethan Church as a position born of compromise timorously defended, and maintained only because the political exigencies admitted no deeper commitment, cannot stand in the face of the piety, learning and loyalty that flowed in the first generation of men whose religious experience was wholly within the life of Elizabethan Anglicanism. Bilson, Field, Mason, Hall, Morton, Montague, Overall, Andrewes, Laud – here is a numbering of the stars in the firmament of the early Stuart Church.

Powel Mills Dawley, John Whitgift and the English Reformation (1954), p. 193

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Illogic of Anglican Papalism

The most recent pastoral letter issued by the Bishop of London is well worth reading, and brings to mind a statement I first published in 2006, which I amend here:

Anglo-Papalists, who comprised much of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the United Kingdom, were essentially Roman Catholics separated from the Pope of Rome by what they saw as an historical accident, that is, the English Reformation. Anglo-Papalists belonged to the Church of England or her daughter Churches, but believed unreservedly in the Papal Claims and Roman Dogmas. They accepted as dogmatic, de fide, the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, the Corporeal Assumption of Our Lady, expiation fire-purgatory, indulgences, the treasury of merits of the saints, and other distinctively Latin doctrines. Oddly enough, they also accepted the dogmas issued by the First Vatican Council of 1870, to wit, the immediate, universal, and absolute jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, and Papal Infallibility. We Traditional Anglicans, Catholics who believe in the consensus of the First Millennium Church, reject these dogmas as unsubstantiated by Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. Anglo-Papalists were 'Roman Anglicans,' who used the modern Novus Ordo Roman Rite and included the commemoration of the Pope in the Canon of the Mass. They worshipped, prayed, taught and thought as Roman Catholics. The only Romanist theological position with which Anglo-Papalists disagreed was the Papal Bull of Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae, in which Anglican Orders were declared absolutely null and utterly void. In other words, Anglo-Papalists believed Rome is infallible except in the matter of the validity of Anglican Orders and Sacraments. For this reason, and seemingly this alone, many had not, until recently, 'poped.' As Father Colin Stephenson, sometime Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, succinctly put it in one of his classic works, the Anglo-Papal position is, to most Anglicans, wildly illogical. And indeed, I contend it remains wildly illogical to Traditional Anglicans such as ourselves. There is a clear dividing line between Catholics who look to Anglicanism as being a true Catholic Church in her own integrity and tradition, most especially the Anglican Catholics of the Continuing Churches, and those Papalists who see Rome as the true source and centre of the Church and who thus see Anglicanism as an historical interruption of communion with Rome, or worse yet, an historical mistake.

The erection of the Anglican Use Ordinariates in communion with Rome has now changed the situation for a significant number of Anglican Papalists, who have been willing under the new circumstances to accept the papal judgement on Anglican Orders and accede to re-confirmation and re-ordination in the Roman Communion: thus far, 900 laity and 55 clergy have joined the Ordinariate in the UK, with more to follow there and in the United States. For those Anglo-Catholics who choose to remain Anglican, it would seem to be very meet, right and their bounden duty that they should continue, or where needed, restore, the celebration of the liturgy in the Anglican Rite in the various forms in which it has been transmitted to us by our forebears, forms which have been hallowed by generations of faithful use. The choice to remain Anglican should certainly include an acknowledgement of the full catholicity and orthodoxy of the Book of Common Prayer tradition and of those supplemental liturgies approved by ecclesiastical authority which conform to it. May it be humbly submitted that Anglicans should use a recognisably Anglican liturgy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Incarnatus

Courtesy of my brother, Father Brandon Jones, comes this sixth instalment in a video series on the new English translation of the Novus Ordo Missae. Another rich Anglicisation, the bodily gesture which expresses reverence for the truth of the Incarnation during the recitation of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, is discussed. The practice of bowing or genuflecting during the Incarnatus in the Creed is a widespread and long-held Anglican custom, one which the Anglican Rite has in practice preserved and used since long before the Novus Ordo was introduced. Another happy return to Anglican (and ancient Western) praxis!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

...And the Word was made Flesh

A happy Advent and Christmas to you all! Christ-Mass is not only a wonderful holiday, a time for family and friends, and a joyful occasion for gift-giving – certainly it is all of these things. More imperatively, it is a theological event, a revelation of God, a life-altering reality we again and again re-live through the Church’s liturgy. The greatest challenge to the twenty-first century Church is not the Reformation polemics of the sixteenth century or the rationalism of the eighteenth century, but the theological controversies of the fourth century. Christology will be the focus of the Church in the next generation. The ancient heresies that deny the Divinity of Our Lord are again in vogue and are finding a fresh expression in the purportedly novel methods of what Father Richard John Neuhaus wittily called ‘the sideline churches.’

Whether we consciously recognise it or not, the struggle for Christians in our contemporary age is to recover and promote the old paths, the Old Time Religion. ‘Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls’ (Jeremiah 6.16). Orthodox Christians are today challenged firmly to uphold and boldly to proclaim in ancient and yet ever revitalised ways the truth that Jesus Christ, the Babe in Bethlehem’s manger, is not merely a good person, a prophet, or a noble teacher, but the true God made Man. The Feast of Our Lord’s Nativity recapitulates for us each year the central doctrinal truth and mystery of the Christian Faith, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh. Who is born in Bethlehem on Christ-Mass Day? The Baby in the manger is God. ‘God of God, Light of Light, Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb: Very God, Begotten, not created; O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord’ (Hymnal 1940, Hymn 12).

The Son of God, the pre-existent Logos, Who became incarnate in the flesh as Jesus Christ, is not a creature, not a being created by God the Father before all other created things or beings. The term homoousios, 'of one substance' with the Father, is used by the Church to affirm that Our Lord is truly God. If Jesus Christ is not God, is not of one essence or substance with the Father, and is not a true divine Person sharing the divine life and communion of the Father by nature, then God Himself did not assume human nature in the Incarnation, and thus man has not been redeemed or saved. The Holy Fathers of the Church teach that 'only that which is assumed can be redeemed.' Our Saviour brought about atonement and the salvation of mankind, for He is God, Who assumes all that pertains to human nature, body, mind and soul. Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Godhead and 'One of the Holy Trinity.' Christmas is the Feast of the revealed dogma of the Trinitarian nature and communion of God, Three Persons in One Essence, one and undivided. The Father is unbegotten, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father alone, and the Holy Ghost eternally proceeds from the Father, and is sent through the Son and rests in the Son. On Christmas, we contemplate the Lord Jesus in His identity and mission: the Word of God, the Logos, Who became Man in the Incarnation is the Most High God.

The New Testament describes Our Lord as monogenes in Greek, 'only-begotten.' This term designates the mysterious and eternal relationship of the Son to the Father within the communion of the Trinity. The Son has for all eternity come out from the Father and derives His eternal existence, His generation, from the Father, the sole Origin, Source and Fountain of the Trinitarian life. The words of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed purposely utilise the language of the New Testament regarding the Person of Our Lord and declare that the Lord Jesus Christ is 'one Lord, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made...' From all eternity, the Son derives His eternal being, glory and majesty from the Father’s essence. He is eternally born of the Father, co-equal, co-eternal. Begotten means 'from God forever,' eternal generation from the Father, not a created status.

‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him’ (Saint John 1.14,18).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God’ (
Saint John 3.16,18).

And what for us is the result of this begetting, the Son eternally begotten of the Father and now begotten in time and in human flesh by the Holy Ghost of the Blessed Virgin? Our own new birth, our begetting by God, our adoption as the children of God by grace. We become by grace what the only-begotten Son is by nature. From Christ’s timeless birth from His Father and His earthly birth of Mary, we are born again in Holy Baptism by Water and the Holy Ghost (Saint John 3.5) unto eternal life. ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him’ (I Saint John 4.9)Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him’ (I Saint John 5.1).

‘Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth’ (Hymnal 1940, Hymn 27).

God bless you!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Bishop Michael Gill - Keynote Address

Please follow this link to the keynote address given by Bishop Michael Gill, Diocesan Bishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa Traditional Rite, given at the World Consultation on Continuing Anglican Churches in Brockton, Massachusetts on Thursday 3rd November 2011.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Day We Know Our Future

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day, a single day, on which we would know the future? A day on which everything about our destiny would be revealed to us with crystal clarity? A day when all the uncertainties, perplexities and fears of life were cast away, as the gloom of darkness vanishes in the light of the bright sun, when all of our doubts and anxieties were answered and recede to the background? Could we be given a day when everything that is confusing and troublesome to us is dispelled and replaced with certitude and joy? For the orthodox Christian, there is precisely such a day, and it is coming very soon.

That Day is 1st November, All Saints’ Day! On that day, as we gather as the Mystical Body of Christ at the Altar of the Lord to experience once more and recapture our family mystery, the Communion of Saints, God unveils for us our past, our present and our future: the barrier of time evaporates and we are joined with angels and archangels and the whole holy company of heaven as we sing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ and ‘Hosanna in the Highest.’ Our great great-grandparents and our great great-grandchildren kneel with us at the Altar rail, and we receive the Lord of time and eternity in the Sacrament of His love, linked in Him, through Him and for Him to believers of every age, generation, clime and epoch in the indestructible bond of love which is the Church. The Communion of Saints is not mythology, but mystery, not man’s dreams and fantasies, but reality, the true reality, higher and greater than any we have ever known on this mortal coil.

As we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, we commemorate and acknowledge our own future destiny in Jesus Christ – what we are, the Saints in glory once were; what they are, we shall become. In the Saints, we see what it is to be fully human, fully alive to God and to each other, fully united to God and to one another in the communion of the Holy Trinity. There is only one Body of Christ, Head and living members together, totus Christus, the complete Christ, and that Body includes us and them, inseparable, indivisible. The Saints pray for and with us, and we pray for and with them – all under One Head. The Lord Jesus has destroyed death by His own Passion, Resurrection and Glorification, and thus death can never sever our union with those who have gone before us sealed with the sign of faith. All members of Christ are alive in the Son of God and Son of Man, Who is the Resurrection and the Life.

On All Saints’ Day, the veil of time and place is pulled back: we see them, and ourselves, as we are meant to be, made holy by the Holy Spirit, cleansed and purged of sin, purified and made whole, restored and conformed to the Image and Likeness of Christ, perfectly united to God our Father, through His Son, in the Holy Ghost. The love of the Trinity, which is the communion that enfolds the Saints, makes us sharers of God’s very life. God invites us to live within the embrace of His eternal love, and we are made Trinitarian by grace. That is our future… and our present. Heaven, the Communion of Saints, the divine fellowship of the Trinity’s all-encompassing love is ‘realised eschatology’: it not only far off in the future for us – it is now, to be lived and enjoyed at this very moment. ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (I Saint John 3.1-3).

The Holy Trinity, pervading all men from first to last, from head to foot, binds them all together. The Saints in each generation, joined to those who have gone before, and filled like them with light, become a golden chain, in which each saint is a separate link, united to the next by faith, works, and love. So in the One God they form a single chain which cannot be broken’ (Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Apophthegmata).

This mystery of divine love expressed to us in and through the Saints impels our mission to other people, especially to those in need and necessity: ‘For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (II Corinthians 5.14-17).

The measure by which we extend the love of Christ to others proves the measure to which we have absorbed and embodied the love of Christ in the communion of His Saints. The communio sanctorum is not static, but dynamic, love in action – Christ reaches out through us to those around us. ‘And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Saint Matthew 25.40). We are the prolongation of Christ in the world, and our service to Christ in our neighbour is the mark of our profession.

Please join us as we celebrate the Family Feast of the Body of Christ on Tuesday 1st November at Noon and 7pm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ecce, quam bonum!

Let us continue to pray for the full, visible and sacramental unity of the
continuing Anglican expression of Christ's Holy Catholic Church.
Together at the recent Provincial Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church are (right to left):
Presiding Bishop Walter Grundorf (Anglican Province of America), Presiding Bishop Brian Marsh (Anglican Church in America), Archbishop Mark Haverland (Anglican Catholic Church), and Archbishop Peter Robinson (United Episcopal Church in North America).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Union of Scranton

A traditional, orthodox and canonical Old Catholic movement with which Continuing Anglicans should become involved, based as it is on 'the Catholic faith, worship, and essential structure of the Undivided Church of the first millennium...' From 1931 in England and from 1946 in the United States, orthodox Anglican Churches have historically enjoyed full communicatio in sacris with the orthodox Old Catholic movement. May that union of faith, hope and charity soon be renewed, and may the Traditional Anglican and orthodox Old Catholic Churches once again be 'sister Churches' in the fullest sense of the phrase.

Please see here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Bible in Worship

The presence of Our Lord in the written Word, the Holy Scriptures, is real, but different, not only in degree but kind, from His Presence in the Holy Communion, for the presence of the Lord under the form of bread and wine is an objective and mystical Real Presence of His True Body and Blood, a Presence which is unique in salvation history and unlike any other presences of Christ in His Church. There is an analogy between Christ in the Scriptures and Christ in the Holy Sacrament. To be sure, Our Lord is alive and active in the reading of His Word written, and He communicates, conveys His Word to us in Scripture as the one true Word, the Logos, Himself the living Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. One could even say that His operation in the proclamation of the Scriptures has a sacramental quality, which sanctifies us as we hear the Word proclaimed. But Christ's operation in the reading of the Word is on a different level from that found in the Holy Communion, for under the Eucharistic elements Our Lord is present to us, not merely by grace and virtue, but in His very Body and Blood, His human nature and His divine nature, in a way we cannot explain and yet which is Real. We use a corollary to explain why the Church treats the Scriptures with intentional reverence and respect. The Church is herself the great Sacrament of Christ, and she applies the sacramental principle in every aspect of her worship, including the use and reading of the Bible: our outward and visible signs demonstrate the inward and spiritual realities experienced and received in our worship.

The use of physical gestures in honouring the Holy Scriptures goes back before us to the Old Covenant, when the Bible was enthroned in the synagogue in a special place, was handled only with the greatest care, and its reading accompanied by prayer and acts of reverence, a sign of the community's love for and devotion to the Scriptures. We Christians of the Apostolic Tradition have 'baptised' and inherited those ancient Jewish signs and gestures, like so many others, and use them in our liturgical worship. The prime example for orthodox Christians would be the Gospel procession, wherein the Service Book containing the Holy Gospels is processed on special occasions into the midst of the congregation and is surrounded by the Cross and candles, which are used in the procession and the reading of the Gospel to honour the Word and presence of Jesus in His Scriptures. In some churches, incense is used for precisely the same reason, offered to God in honour of His Word. On rare solemnity, the Scriptures are sung, not only to add a level of intensity or clarity to the reading, but to express the sanctity and heavenly origin of the Word of God proclaimed. These are customs which we traditional Anglicans have inherited from the earliest Church and share with other Churches, East and West, which also derive from the Apostolic age.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holy Communion in Both Kinds

We should note with concern an ongoing change in the Eucharistic praxis of the Roman Communion which is reverting it to a practice which has long been held by Anglicans, Old Catholics, Orthodox and other Apostolic Christians to be a liturgical abuse: please see here and here.

As orthodox catholics holding to the perspicuous teaching of Holy Scripture and primitive Tradition, we Anglicans reject the medieval Roman ecclesiastical precedent of withholding the Chalice from the laity: that action is not an alternative for us. Anglicans, following the very institution and very words of Our Lord, always administer Communio sub utraque specie, under the form of the Chalice. Here we agree with the ancient Eastern Churches which invariably administer the Holy Mysteries in both forms. Article XXX strictly prohibits us from following the lead of the Latin Rite in this matter.


THE Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Concelebration of the ACA and APA Bishops

ACA and APA Communion

Communion Accomplished
The Anglican Church in America (ACA), meeting in its Eighth General Synod at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, unanimously endorsed a resolution for inter-communion agreement with the Anglican Province of America (APA). The APA also unanimously endorsed this agreement at its Provincial Synod on July 15, 2011.

Bishop Walter Grundorf, Presiding Bishop of the APA, stated, "This is a result of the recognition that both churches have so much in common theologically and historically and was fueled by the friendships developed by the bishops of both churches. The intent of bringing both churches together in this way is to eventually knit back together that which had been divided." The Presiding Bishop of the ACA, the Rt. Rev. Brian Marsh, said, "We are absolutely delighted to be in communion with our brothers and sisters of the Anglican Province of America. It is God's will that this has been done." Both bishops indicated that work will commence to move forward the hoped for union of the two churches.

The key points of the agreement are:

1. Each jurisdiction recognizes the catholicity and independence of the other;

2. Each jurisdiction agrees to welcome members of the other jurisdiction to participate in the Sacraments, recognizing as well the validity and interchangeability of each others' Holy Orders;

3. Each jurisdiction recognizes that the other holds all essentials of the Christian Faith and seeks to teach and proclaim the same;

4. We commit ourselves to work toward an ever closer bond between our two churches, seeking always to discern God's will for us and for those we serve.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Holy Land Pilgrimage 2012

Please join us as we make pilgrimage to the Holy Land next year: our 2010 experience was truly life-transforming, and our next in 2012 will be even more profound! A Traditional Anglican pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine is the trip of a lifetime...

You may register on this website.

Following the Faith
with Bishop Chandler Jones

October 11-20, 2012


Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Courtesy once again of my brother, Father Brandon Jones, comes this fifth video on the new English translation of the Novus Ordo Missae, in which the traditional Anglican translation of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is restored, replete with the theological term used in reference to Our Lord Jesus Christ, 'substance,' for the Greek word homoousion - for Our Divine Lord is 'consubstantial' or 'of one substance' with the Father. Another splendid Anglicisation!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Ordination Photographs

Ordination of the Reverend Doctor Richard Hitchcock

Today, 20th August 2011, was the Ordination Day of the Reverend Doctor Richard Benner Hitchcock, Ed.D. to the Sacred Order of Deacons. Doctor Hitchcock will serve as Deacon of Saint Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody, Georgia. It was a particular honour and delight to ordain Dick, as he shall serve our parish, and the occasion was my first Ordination as a Bishop. In the group photographs, from left to right are: the Reverend Canon William R. Weston, our previous Rector, the Reverend Father Paul A. Rivard, our Curate, the ordaining Bishop, the Ordinand, and the Very Reverend Doctor Charles 'Gene' Mallard, Rector of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, Alto, Georgia. Congratulations and God bless you, Doctor Hitchcock, on this glorious day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts on Article of Religion XXV

...The so-called 'corrupt following of the Apostles' refers to the abuse of the minor or lesser five sacraments in the medieval Western Church: these sacraments were elevated and sacralised by Our Lord and the Apostles to be specific means of grace, but the Church in the West in later ages altered their original use and administration.

For example, the Sacrament of the Unction of the Sick is clearly intended by Our Lord and the New Testament authors to be administered to anyone who is ill and in need of spiritual and physical healing. But the Church of the later Middle Ages restricted Unction of the Sick to the dying alone, in extremis, so that it was transmogrified into 'Extreme Unction,' or a sacrament available only to those at the point of death, contrary to the biblical and patristic tradition.

The Sacrament of Penance was originally given to be a healing balm and a remedy for sin, the 'second plank after shipwreck,' a restoration to baptismal grace and a therapeutic cure and healing ministry of Absolution offered to those suffering from the consequences of grievous sin. But the medieval Church changed Penance into a series of actions performed according to Church law in a legalistic and penal sense, based on a code of justice, judgement and penalty, satisfactions for sins. The performance of penitential actions gradually obscured the heart of the sacrament: the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation with God and the Church. What was originally sacramental, ministerial and pastoral became juridical, judicial, legal.

Another example is the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which from the time of the Scriptures and the Primitive Church has been open to married men and in which state men also could marry after ordination, but which was later restricted to celibate men only in the Western Church.

Again, Confirmation had all but disappeared in several countries and regions within the ambit of the Western Church and had certainly fallen into desuetude in many Dioceses. Often, it was administered only rarely and sporadically, and without due preparation or catechesis.

The point of Article XXV is that the renewed catholic Church of England recovered the biblical, ancient, orthodox and patristic use of these sacraments in their proper place according to the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Tradition. The practice and usage of these sacraments demanded reformation and restoration to their original ministrations, and so they received such due treatment when the Church of England was herself reformed. Once again, the Anglican Church historically claims no faith, doctrine or order of her own, only those of the Primitive and Undivided Catholic Church of the first ages. In Anglicanism, the ecclesiastical sacraments were reinstated, refurbished and revitalised according to the practice of the Church in the first millennium.

The phrase 'states of life' refers to those sacraments which are ordained by God for a particular vocation in the Christian journey, Holy Orders or Matrimony, or both, or for particular needs at specific stages of Christian formation and growth, such as Confirmation or Penance. The minor sacraments are means of grace, but again, are not necessary for the salvation for all or for everyone universally. Baptism and Eucharist are necessary for the salvation of all men where they may be had: Holy Orders or Unction of the Sick, for instance, are not. Some sacraments are only necessary for those especially called to them. God calls men and women to particular states of life and provides sacramental grace to equip and empower those called to a particular vocation...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Holy Angels

Every September, the Church jubilantly celebrates the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. 29th September directs us to the truth that we are not alone in the universe, and we do not exist in a solitary fashion in God’s created order; rather, we are members of a great divine family created by God Himself, in which we share eternal life with brethren spirits, who, like ourselves, have free-will, intelligence, reason, and mind, but are bodiless - the Holy Angels.

The Creed proclaims God the Father as the ‘maker of all things visible and invisible.’ Our heavenly Father, in His wisdom and goodness, has created the world of the supernatural, not now accessible to men with their human eyes, and yet nevertheless just as real, more real, than the physical, tangible world which we now inhabit.

Angels, with men, were created by God to love and serve Him in a wonderfully beautiful and ever-mysterious order not fully comprehendible to the speculation of men’s minds. Together, men and angels comprise God’s created family, His Church, the mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Angels and men belong to One Family in Heaven and Earth (Ephesians 3.15)

Angels absolutely exist, and we should not question that they exist for one second: God has revealed to us that they exist, and not only exist, but love God and mankind. We know Angels exist and love us because we experience the truth of it in our lives. God has made it so.

Before proceeding to attempt an explanation of exactly who the Angels are, let us state for posterity what they are not!

Angels are neither anthropomorphised beings subject to whims of feeling, such as depicted in popular media, nor are they the cute, fat, irresistibly-squeezable babies portrayed in baroque art. Angels are probably not a little amused by man’s efforts to develop such simplistic representations of their glorious nature. If Angels were to appear before us right now, they would strike terror into our hearts by their overwhelming glory and power. Man cannot easily bear their lustre.

Angels are not divine beings deriving their existence from themselves. They are not to be worshipped; they are not half-god, half-mortal mediators that link us to God. They do not mediate in the sense that somehow they must by necessity connect the human race to God because of the infinite separation between Creator and creature. Such doctrine was invented by gnosticism, a pseudo-Christian heresy found in the early centuries of the Church, which deified angels and made them the object of worship. Gnosticism, meaning ‘secret knowledge,’ purports to give men a secret way of being saved, reserved to the initiate, in which angels serve as demi-gods leading man to union with God.

If one were tempted to worship angels as divine, the stern reminder of the Angel who addresses Saint John the beloved disciple in the Book of Revelation would surely apply: ‘See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God’ (22.9) Angels are undoubtedly offended when men contort their true purpose and make them an object of divine worship. The Holy Angels will have none of that.

Modern American culture seems to increase its angel-mania with every passing year, with a proliferation of ‘angel stuff’ sold in stores and pandered on television: some contemporary people, starving for an encounter with the supernatural and seeking to fulfil man’s innate need for an experience of the divine, embrace angel-worship and substitute it for a true intimacy with the Eternal. However, they are worshipping the creature, not the Creator, whose glory is radiated from the faces of Angels He has so lovingly made. Everything from angel pins and books to the adoration of angelic spirit guides is now in vogue. Much of this angel religion, devoid of the living and true God, is an explicit return to paganism and polytheism. ‘Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen…’ (Colossians 2.18).

Incorporeal powers, the Angels are created beings, pure, holy, good spirits created to adore the living God and to radiate His divine glory, love and power. Angels are bodiless and not composed of matter - they are total mind, pure spirit, utter will. The Angels are the servants of God. They resemble their Maker in their power, genius and perfection, but they are created beings, called in the Old Testament Scriptures the ‘sons of God.’ The Holy Angels, beings of great grace, beauty, intelligence, fiery brilliance reflecting the glory of God, were made by God the crown jewel of His heavenly court, the joy of that realm we call Heaven.

The Angels of God have a twofold vocation for which they were created:

1. The worship of God. For all eternity, the Angels lead the heavenly liturgy of worship and praise of God the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, singing the Thrice-Holy Hymn, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ (Isaiah 6.3 and Revelation 4.8). As servants of God, created to rejoice in His inexhaustible Presence, the Angels adore, serve and glorify the Most High God, their Master. Angels exist primarily to magnify their God and ours, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of all. ‘And let all the Angels of God worship Him’ (Hebrews 1.6).

2. Service to men as intercessors, protectors and messengers of God’s will. The word Angel, anngelos in Greek, comes from the same word that forms ‘Gospel’ (or Good News), and means ‘messenger.’ Angels were created to serve mankind as messengers of God’s Gospel, His Good News of salvation. ‘Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’ (Hebrews 1.14). Angels have been appointed by God to be the guardians of our souls, the ministers of our bodies, and our sponsors and supporters from above. As ministers of God, and fellow-servants with men, Angels form with us an inseparable bond comprising what we call in the Creed the Communion of Saints.

According to Apostolic Tradition, there are nine choirs or grouping of Angels in a divinely-created hierarchy: ‘seraphs, cherubim, thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers, virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs’ (Hymnal 1940, Hymn 599). The leader of their heavenly band is Saint Michael, whose name means, ‘Who is like God?,’ the chief and captain of the heavenly army of hosts, the great Prince of the Angels who mightily defends and protects us. Holy Michael is unveiled first in the Old Testament, in the Book of the prophet Daniel. There we see him, the great lord and prince, God’s appointed guardian of His chosen race. ‘And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people’ (Daniel 12.1). In the New Testament, Saint Michael, our heavenly champion, vanquishes the power of Satan: ‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon’ (Revelation 12.7). He is the special protector and defender of Christians, the holy standard-bearer who leads souls to love and serve God. Saint Michael battles for us against the world, the flesh and the devil; he is the personification of the mystery of the angelic world.

We rejoice in the communion and fellowship of the Holy Angels, who, with eyes that look upon God face to face, who always behold their Father in heaven, also behold us on earth. With the same eyes of mind and will that behold the Holy Trinity forever in His Beatific Vision, the Angels behold us, and love us intensely with an all-consuming, perfect love, a love not tainted with sin. How wonderful it is to know that we possess such heavenly friends, such dear ones who look upon us in love as they look upon God in love.

The Holy Angels of God love us, protect us, watch over us, guide us, and pray for us. We should honour them, invoke their presence, aid and defence, and ask for the effect of their prayers, knowing that their love for men surpasses imagination.

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -