Monday, February 24, 2014

The Dean of Nashotah House invites Mrs Jefferts-Schori

The Pope, Pentecostalists, and an episcopus irregularis

The Bishop of Rome greets a group of Word of Faith pentecostalists. Word of Faith teachers espouse doctrine which the orthodox Church condemns as heresy. 'Word of Faith' is a belief that practitioners can control and manipulate God through speech and attitudes, thus deriving from God what is desired. The Word of Faith movement, to be perfectly blunt about it, reduces God to a 'divine miracle machine', a heavenly dispenser of good things for those who know how to use the system. God is made subject and responsive to a code wielded by human beings, and thus ceases truly to be God. As the Fathers of the Church assert, 'a comprehended God is no god.'

Other terms for this theology are 'health and wealth Gospel,' 'name it and claim it Gospel,' or 'prosperity Gospel.' Word of Faith religion could be described as occult in nature, because it ultimately seeks to manipulate or determine one's own environment apart from obedience to and a genuine relationship with God. This is the essence of magic. In this scheme there is a notable absence of the virtues, particularly love and adoration of God for His own sake and glory, obedience and submission to the perfect Will of God, and humility in the face of Christ's mercy, majesty, and righteousness. Word of Faith theology maintains that Christians should never suffer nor endure persecution, trial, illness, or financial loss. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as the Bible establishes in ways too numerous to detail. What of the Saints and the Martyrs? A cursory reading of Hebrews 11 should dispel such error. Word of Faith maintains that the right use of 'faith' as a tool to coerce God potentially means the avoidance of all evils and troubles. Such a worldview has more in common with gnosticism or mystery religions than traditional Christianity. 

The Bishop of Rome proclaims the Reverend Tony Palmer a 'brother bishop.'

One must admit that the event is curious indeed...

Bishop Coadjutor for Mid-America

From Bishop Larry L. Shaver:

On Saturday, February 22, 2014, our Bishop Suffragan, the Right Reverend Robert Todd Giffin, was unanimously elected by both houses to be our Bishop Coadjutor and my successor.  Following the unanimous vote by written ballot, the Synod then elected him by acclamation.  The Special Election Synod was very well attended with 32 people present including delegations from all parishes and missions of the DMA. 

The election was followed by an extremely positive and fruitful discussion on the challenges we face as a diocese: growth, clergy compensation, evangelism resources and the care of souls.  The Sung Synod Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Canon John W. Berry, who was received as a priest into the DMA upon transfer from the DEUS.  He was formally installed as the Canon Missioner of the DMA and gave a brief talk on mission resources for the diocese as well as clergy compensation.  He was assisted by Canon Robert Jennings and Archdeacon Frank Endres, with Deacon Chris Perez serving as thurifer.  Bishop Giffin served as the Cantor, Epistoler and Gospeler, and also gave the Apostolic Blessing.  The Bishop Ordinary, the Rev. Dr. Larry L. Shaver, was the preacher. 

Also received as clergy at the Synod was the Rev. Paul D. Moore of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who is presently engaged in mental health counseling in a clinic and will begin the process of planting a mission for the DMA in Arkansas.  The Election Synod and Mass was hosted by the Anglican Church of St. Andrew the Evangelist in Merrillville, Indiana, and included a wonderfully prepared luncheon afterwards.

Congratulations to Bishop Giffin and the DMA!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Septuagesima and Pre-Lent

Septuagesima: A funny sounding word that signals the ensuing approach of our Lenten discipline as we embark on the journey known as Pre-Lent, a mini-Lent before Lent, which is designed to ready us and gear us in the direction of the Lenten fast. As children, we might have thought Septuagesima probably referred to a laboratory experiment or a very challenging mathematical formula found in algebra books; it actually means ‘Seventy Days before Easter.’ Beginning even now in Pre-Lent, we are mindful of the distant dawn of the Feast of Feasts, the Paschal Mystery of Our Blessed Lord’s Resurrection. By the route of these seventy days, through the Cross of Lent, we emerge victorious from the Tomb in Easter joy with Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

Holy Mother Church in her good pastoral sense recognises that we need preparatory time to adjust to the sometimes jarring painful reality of Lent, its hopeful yet real sombreness, its renewed intensity and concentration on self-denial, its self-sacrificial discipline. Pre-Lent, a liturgical season now almost entirely unique to orthodox Prayer Book Anglicanism, offers a stage-by-stage, incremental way of getting ready for Lent. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, such a glorious trinity of celebration and feasting -- the message of Pre-Lent heralded to us is this; it is now time to lay aside our seasons of festivity and equip ourselves for sacrifice, for union with Our Lord in His mysterious offering of Himself for our sake, His voluntary passion and suffering.

Pre-Lent is a time for taking stock of our spiritual lives, of beginning the process of our spiritual inventory. We must begin again to examine our souls, consciences and lives -- to root out sin, to reject evil, to purge ourselves of that which does not belong to God, in short, to repent.

Only by the grace of God our Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Ghost, are we saved from our sins, and only by the exercise of our free-will, our correspondence and co-operation with grace, can we enable the free gift of God’s Life within us to take hold and bear fruit. God created our freedom, and He loves and respects it as being in us an indispensable aspect of His Image. He does not want automatons or robots in His Family, His Kingdom, but sons of God in freedom, in His Likeness. He wants synergy; He wants us to love Him and worship Him in freedom and delight. Salvation is free gift; and it can be lost without perseverance, faith, and obedience. Happy Pre-Lent!

Saint Paul announces that we enter into communion with God through the ‘obedience of Faith’ (Romans 1.5, 16.26). And our Book of Common Prayer asserts the theological virtue of Hope in relation to salvation: ‘I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life’s end’ (page 284).

Pre-Lent’s liturgical theme reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith, and that in the wondrous love of God, we cannot save ourselves, although God never forces us to be saved. The gift must be received, it must be used, it must be prayed, lived, experienced, actualised. On one hand, salvation, freedom from sin and union with God, is entirely the action of the divine initiative: ‘But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5.8) ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2.8-10).

On the other hand, the Word of God written tells us in no uncertain terms: ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2.12) ‘Faith without works is dead’ (Saint James 2.20, 26). God’s free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, unmerited and undeserved on our part, requires and demands a life, once liberated from the power of sin and death and supernaturally regenerated in Christ, lovingly conformed and subjected to the will of God, seeking to imitate Christ, to be Christ-like.

Father Ronald Knox, the famous English priest and theologian writes,
‘Septuagesima has an epistle that warns us that it is never too late to be damned and a gospel that reminds us that it is never too late to be saved’ -- fitting food for thought as we now engage in the process of preparing ourselves for the great revelation of the Risen Christ, who is always prepared to receive our repentance. The Christian life requires the acceptance of the divine gift, and good works proceeding from a living faith, if we are to be saved and go to heaven. Pre-Lent is about our response, our side of the divine-human equation; it is about the ‘D’ word: discipline.

1 Corinthians 9: Saint Paul gives us the whole Lenten theme in one fell swoop, and admonishes us to maintain discipline in our lives, without which we may slip and fall from grace. He cleverly uses the image of the arena of his day, track and boxing, to describe the process of subjecting the body to the spirit, and most importantly, to the Spirit of God. Prayer, almsgiving, and fasting are exercises in self-control, and are critical to the conforming of our lives to the will of God. We can break the standards that we require of others, and thus lose our salvation. We must ever be vigilant for our own souls, ever on-guard through prayer and good works.

Real Christianity demands a real struggle, a real effort, real sacrifice. ‘Armchair Christianity’ is a deceptive impostor of the genuine article. The essence of the Christian life is ascesis, training, practice, effort, exercise. Orthodox Christianity is not only aesthetic, beautiful, it is ascetic, active.

Saint Matthew 20: Jesus Christ shows us in His parable of the labourers that God is limitless in love and mercy, forgives all sins, and, transcending all concepts of human justice, shows mercy on whom he shows mercy. The Kingdom of God is a free gift of God’s love, a pouring-out of the abundance of God’s generosity, which demands of us a proper response and a thankful return in the offering of our lives to Him. The Kingdom cannot be merited or deserved; it is given to us by Him who alone knows our own good actions and failures.

From the earliest Septuagesima sermon we possess, that of Saint Gregory the Great, the eminent reformer of the sixth century, we discover these words, more applicable today than when they were first uttered: ‘Many arrive at faith, but few are led into the heavenly kingdom. Behold many there are in the Church - they fill Churches throughout creation, yet who knows how few they are who shall be numbered in that chosen company of the elect? Behold the voices of all that proclaim Christ, but the lives of all do not proclaim Him. And many keep company with God in word, but shun Him in deed. At the call of the Lord are multiplied those without number; however, the unfaithful are mingled with the faithful, but because of their way of life they shall not merit to be partakers of the lot of the faithful. No one shall receive a Kingdom, who though formed in heavenly faith, with all their hearts seek the things of earth. Two things there are upon which we should carefully reflect. Because many are called but few chosen, the first is: let no one presume his own salvation; for though he be called to faith, whether he is worthy of the eternal kingdom he knows not. The second is: let no one presume to despair of his neighbour, who he perhaps sees lying in sin; for he knows not the riches of the divine grace.’

The days with the odd names beckon us to practice what we preach, to walk the walk as well as to talk the talk. Does our life, in its fruits, labours, works and prayers, match our profession? Saint Paul commands us to ‘walk worthy of our calling.’ Are we? If we are, we have the hope of being saved, of rejoicing on that heavenly shore, in that greater light, with Blessed Mary and all the Saints on that heavenly Easter Day which lasts for all eternity.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant Who fasted, prayed and gave for us men and our salvation, grant you a productive and transformative Pre-Lent.

God bless you!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The APA-ACA Reconciliation Working Group

On Tuesday, 28th January 2014, the Reconciliation Working Group of the Anglican Church in America and the Anglican Province of America met at Saint Barnabas Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, the day on which the 'snowpocalypse' descended on the city of Atlanta. Mercifully, the weather did not prevent the Group from enjoying a thoroughly cheerful and productive meeting. Three APA representatives and five ACA representatives began the first day with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and met for approximately seven hours in intensive conversations. A second meeting of the Group involving the Presiding Bishops of our Churches was held on Wednesday 29th January at the Holiday Inn Perimeter in Dunwoody. The Group intends to meet again before the concurrent APA and ACA national Synods to be held in October 2014 in Belleville, Illinois.

Many various items and issues were discussed in the course of the meetings, but three stand out and bring into relief the process of reconciliation now underway.

First, the Group discussed the ongoing effort to evaluate and propose a united body of Canon Law for a future reunited Church. The 1993 Canons of the originally united Church are the basis for restoring an agreed body of Canons. Over the past year and a half, the Group has worked diligently to determine which Canons would best serve the needs of a reunited ecclesiastical structure. A proposed Constitution based on the original 1993 version has already been completed, and many of the Canons have been reviewed and accepted for future submission to the Synods of the Church. It is hoped that the entire Constitution and Canons will be completely reviewed and ready for future action before the end of this year. Of course, the Group’s role in this matter is only to propose. The Synods of the Churches must examine and accept by juridical process any proposed future changes.

Second, the Group reviewed action items already proposed and discussed at previous meetings. We hope to see a new joint website for news and information from the APA and ACA created soon. We continue to encourage joint events on the local level between parishes, deaneries, and Dioceses, and we encourage mutual participation in youth camps and other youth events. Wherever and whenever possible, we hope to witness an increase in mutual involvement and participation at every level of Church life. New ideas for promoting grass-roots shared ministry and friendship are forthcoming.

Third, the Group received a proposal for the creation of an Assembly of Bishops for the Traditional Anglican Church in the United States of America, a Continuing Church counterpart to the ‘Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America,’ in which the bishops would be in full sacramental communion with each other (communicatio in sacris) and bound by mutual love and commitment to working together as one body. In it, Dioceses and Provinces would remain autonomous and canonically self-determining. The bishops would consult with each, confer with one another, make decisions together, and speak with one voice to culture and society; they would be enabled to form, educate, and train clergy and laity together as one body. Evangelistic and missionary efforts, domestic and foreign, would not overlap but would be united and synchronised. Each Diocese or Province would pledge over time not to act in any major way without consultation and consensus with and through the others.

In the Assembly framework, no jurisdiction would lose its own territory or canonical authority. No Canons would have to be changed. No jurisdiction would be compelled institutionally to unite with another jurisdiction. Overlapping geographical jurisdictions would remain while a united Church could be forged. In the Assembly, bishops and jurisdictions would mutually recognise each other and agree together on which bishops and jurisdictions would or would not gain entrance into the body. The organisation of this Anglican Assembly would allow the jurisdictions to enter into full visible communion with each other and maintain agreed standards of discipline and mutual accountability while maintaining the jurisdictional independence of each participating body, an expansion and deepening of the current Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas.

All the APA and ACA bishops present at the Group meetings endorsed the creation of the Assembly. The proposal now moves to the Houses of Bishops of the founding jurisdictions for further consideration.

Please continue to pray for the members and the efforts of the Reconciliation Working Group.

God bless you! +Chad 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Brother John-Charles Vockler FODC - RIP

Canon Matthew Kirby wrote shortly after midnight, U.S. Eastern time, to report the death of Brother John-Charles, fifth Acting Primate of the Anglican Catholic Church. His Grace died peacefully, and Canon Kirby was with him at the time.
Please feel free to notify those whom you know who will want to know this.
The ACC website with have further information. Canon Kirby will take the requiem Mass and funeral according to Brother John-Charles’s instruction.
May he rest in peace.
+Mark Haverland
(The Most Reverend) Mark Haverland, Ph.D.
Sixth Acting Primate, Anglican Catholic Church

Brother John-Charles, Bishop in the Church of God, was a beloved friend, spiritual director, and mentor, to me and to many other Traditional Anglicans around the world: he was kind enough to serve as a confessor and spiritual director for me from 1994 to 2000. A man of remarkable ascetical and intellectual gifts, he was a master of the spiritual life and a truly eminent and holy pastor and theologian. Of your Christian charity, pray for the repose of his sacerdotal soul.


May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -