Monday, August 17, 2015

ICCA Sermon

With Bishop John Hind of the Church of England at first Evensong of ICCA.

Notes for Sermon at the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, at Saint Andrew’s Church, Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday 16th July 2015.

Praised, blessed, and adored be Jesus Christ on His Throne of glory, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and in the hearts of His faithful people: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

In the 1992 United States Vice-Presidential debate, James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate, introduced himself to the eager audience in these words: ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ Needless to say, there was a rather shocked reaction from the crowd. Well, at this International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, we know precisely who we are and exactly why we are here.

We are Anglican Catholics and lay claim to the Anglican Catholic identity.

Anglo-Catholicism is entirely about Jesus Christ; it begins with Jesus, proclaims Jesus in mission, evangelism, and ministry, seeks to make Jesus known, loved, and adored, and ends with Jesus.

Anglo-Catholicism is not a wing, party, or sect, but the fullness of the Faith of the Apostles, the wholeness and completeness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of His Holy Church. It is a movement, but more than a movement; it is the Church in movement. This claim is not an assertion of triumphalism, but a fact of history.

Anglo-Catholicism is, if we will, ‘mere Catholicism,’ not just mere Christianity. It is kata holon, katholikon, according to the whole. Catholic is as Catholic does: genuine Catholicism is about what Saint Paul describes in his Epistle to the Romans as ‘the obedience of faith.’ Catholicity is obedience to the Holy and Apostolic Tradition.

Catholicism is not about ‘smells and bells,’ as fine and fancy as those things undoubtedly are. Authentic Catholicism is about obedience to the Truth as it is in Jesus. It should not be labelled ‘High Church,’ but - Deep Church.

Anglo-Catholicism is that to which all Anglicanism has always tended, the fulfilment of the Vision Glorious that is the Ecclesia Anglicana; it is Anglicanism fulfilled, and brought to its proper, highest vocation, embodying as it does the insights of the ancient and patristic Church, the English Reformation, the Non-Jurors, and the Evangelical and Catholic Revivals.

‘Why drive a Gremlin, when you can drive a Mercedes-Benz?’ ‘Why eat a packet of crisps, when you can dine on caviar?’

Anglican Catholics take their place in the universal communion of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church:

The Scriptures: interpreted by the consensus of the Undivided Catholic Church.
The Creeds: and with them the consensus fidelium of the Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils.
The Sacraments: all Seven of them.
The Apostolic Ministry: the preservation, and where necessary, the restoration of which in Apostolic Succession in the Sacrament of Holy Orders is paramount.

This is a sensitive point, but we must always speak the truth in love, and so here we speak the truth in love and in charity, for the welfare of our beloved friends. The ‘ordination’ of women to any grade of the Apostolic Ministry must be called what it is, a false doctrine, and more than that – it is a heresy, because it is a violation of Catholic consent. But let us remember, please note, that the word heresy arises from the Greek word for choice. And we must choose, we must make a choice, the choice, to accept and believe the Faith revealed by God in Scripture and Tradition.

The ‘ordination’ of women must cease, because Holy Orders guarantee the validity of the grace-bearing Sacraments; they provide the sacramental assurance of grace. The Ministry is covenanted to us by Our Lord in His Church’s sacramental system. We must maintain the Divine Revelation of the male Apostolic Ministry.

On the basis of agreement on this nature of the Ministry, the Anglican Province of America enjoys full sacramental communion with the Anglican Church in America and the Reformed Episcopal Church: we invite others to join us in this communion of the fullness of Catholic Faith and Practice.

Now that we have that out of the way, let us move to the heart of the matter and of this sermon: Anglo-Catholic Mission.

Here are ten ideas presented for our consideration regarding our ongoing mission in and for the Lord Jesus Christ.

1.     Personal Communion with Jesus: ‘Are you born again?’ “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?’ Every Anglican should be able to say most earnestly that he has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to cultivate a personal relationship with Our Lord and with other people – conversion of life effects evangelisation.
2.     Personal Holiness. The Holy Fathers affirm that the greatest means of evangelism is holiness of life. People at large will be attracted more by the holiness of our lives than by anything else, for personal holiness has a power to attract, convert, and transform. We sanctify ourselves so that others may be sanctified.
3.     Bible-Centred Religion. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, lives in His written Word. Saint Jerome pronounces, ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.’ Let us soak ourselves in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible should serve as the unique resource for the faithful Anglican Catholic. Let’s go to Bible Study!
4.     The Sacramental System. We should seek to receive the Sacraments regularly and frequently, with faith, love, and repentance, devout use leads to devout living. A true Christian life is one nourished with the Sacraments. Genuine evangelism is sacramental evangelism.
5.     Orthodox Liturgical Worship. The liturgy should be celebrated ‘in the beauty of holiness,’ the ars celebrandi, in which the fullness of the Tradition is expressed and embodied with all the reverence that it deserves. We should give our best to God.
6.     Active and Involved Christian Formation. To divorce preaching of the Gospel from the Sacraments is to empty the Sacraments of their potential power and to reduce the sacramental life to the mechanical. All Churchmen should therefore take care that those who receive the Sacraments be afforded the maximum level and quality of formation and catechesis.
7.     Avoidance of Private Judgement. Catholic Christianity is a revealed Religion. We must submit all private judgement to the authority of the Tradition of the Undivided Church. We are the children of the Church, called to live, worship, work, obey, and pray in the heart of the Church. We are Churchmen, not sectarians.
8.     Faithful Discipleship. We must live in such a way that we reject the world, the flesh, and the devil, and seek to live a genuinely Christian life, which is a totally different life from that proposed by the pagan post-Christian world round us.
9.     Personal Evangelism. Our determination to welcome other individual persons into the Church and to encourage them to follow Jesus, as well as our eagerness to teach the Faith, should be essential components of our Christian witness. Personal relationships translate to witness.
10. Commitment to the Anglican Tradition. Rigorous commitment to the classical Book of Common Prayer and to the patrimony and ethos of orthodox Anglicanism should define our mission and our efforts. We are Anglican Catholics, Anglicans, and we should inculcate our own ethos.

Christ saves from sin and for communion in His living Body, the Church. The end and purpose of mission is the salvation of souls and bodies joined to Jesus’s Body. Our mission for Jesus is sacramental and ecclesial, to bring people into His mystical Body.

At the first Congress in 1920, Father N. P. Williams powerfully described the position of Anglo-Catholics concerning the nature of the Church’s belief and authority.

He invokes ‘the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils,’ and then proceeds to quote the saintly Non-Juring Bishop Thomas Ken as a representative voice: ‘I die in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith, as professed by the whole Church before the division of East and West.’

He says, ‘the chief of the Oxford movement’s preliminary tasks on the intellectual side is that of convincing all members of the Anglican communion that ‘primitive Christendom’ cannot mean anything other that ‘undivided, pre-1054 Christendom.’ It has been the special work of the Oxford Movement to elucidate this appeal to antiquity... ‘We believe in the Catholic faith as contained in the Scriptures and expounded by the primitive, that is, the undivided Church of the first Christian millennium’.

For Father Williams, this is the meaning of the Church in its fullest sense, the Great Church of the ages: ‘The doctrine of the Great Church includes first of all, the main fabric of Trinitarian and Christological dogma, including, of course, the beliefs of Our Lord’s virginal Birth, bodily Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven; the presuppositions of Christian soteriology known as the doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin; belief in Christ’s atoning Death as objectively bringing within our reach that salvation which we could never have earned for ourselves; the doctrines of the Sacraments as the means of grace, of the Real Presence and the Eucharistic sacrifice; of the grace of Orders and the necessity of the Episcopal succession from the Apostles; of the Church’s absolving power in Penance; of Confirmation and Unction; of the Communion of Saints; and of last things, Heaven and Hell, and the intermediate state, and the Last Judgement. There is surely enough information here to satisfy even the most passionate cravings for dogmatic authority; the map is surely definite enough for even the most timorous sailor to steer by.’ 

Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar professes: ‘We now stand for the Catholic Faith common to East and West. We stand or fall with Christ’s Church, catholic and apostolic. And we wait patiently till the Holy Father and the Orthodox Patriarchs recognise us as of their own stock. We are not a party: we are those in the Anglican Communion who refuse to be limited by party rules and party creeds. Our appeal is to the Catholic Creed, to Catholic worship and Catholic practice.’

Let us pray in union with Our Blessed Lady of Walsingham…

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

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