Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Intercession of the Saints

Concerning a recent controversy on the Litany of the Saints, for the Anglican Joint Synods (G4) Continuing Churches, the controversy is settled: we affirm the dogmatic authority of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, which affirm the advocation of saints. But beyond this, our canon law authorises the Anglican Missal as a received liturgical text - and the Missal includes the historic western Litany of the Saints, which is especially used at the Easter Vigil, Lex orandi, lex credendi. The controversy also points to the fact that there are now, in truth, three Anglicanisms: These are, (1) the First Millennium Consensus, or Anglo-Catholicism, now mostly found in Continuing Churches, (2) Liberalism, now found in the Lambeth Canterbury Communion, and (3) Evangelicalism, mostly found in those bodies adhering to GAFCON. The Elizabethan Settlement has for all practical purposes collapsed and has ceased to exist, if it ever factually existed in the first place.

by Father Wesley Walker

All Saints and All Souls

The Feast of All Saints, All Saints' Day, is Friday 1st November: Holy Communion 
will be celebrated at Noon and 7pm for the Feast. 
The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, All Souls' Day, is Saturday 2nd November: 
The Requiem Mass will be celebrated at Noon that day.

On Sacramental Intention

The only necessary intention for the validity of the sacraments is the ritually-manifested liturgical intention of the Church, the objective intention of the Church located and expressed in her rite. 

It is normative for Catholic theology that when a valid minister employs a valid liturgical rite for the celebration of a sacrament, it is valid on the presumption in favour of the celebrant that he intends to do what the rite does, what the Church generally does, for otherwise he would not use the liturgy as provided by the Church. 

Heretical persons who may interiorly reject baptismal rejection or even publicly preach against the grace of baptism validly baptise because they use the Church’s matter and form for baptism; the same must apply to ordination, as attested to by Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Robert Bellarmine. The only defect of intention that can render a sacrament invalid is the intention not to administer a sacrament at all, however it may be understood. It is always sufficient for validity simply to intend to do what Christ does, or what Christians do, or what the Christian religion does in a sacramental act. If the Church’s matter and form are used, the necessary general intention is presumed to be present. This is the historic understanding of sacramental intention in the Western Church.

The necessary intention for a valid ordination is, simply, 'generally to do what the Church does.' 

This is not to intend what the Church intends, but to do what the Church does, i.e., ordain. This general intention suffices, even if the minister and the subject hold to an heretical doctrine of the sacrament being conferred. So long as one intends seriously to perform and receive the rite of ordination, that is, seriously to perform the Christian rite however understood, the intention is valid for the administration of the sacrament. 

So long as one merely intends to do what Our Lord Jesus Christ or the true Church do in Ordination (even in opposition to the Catholic Church's actual doctrine), such an ordination is valid, even if heretical views are maintained on ordination itself. 

Heretical views on the sacrament of order do not invalidate ordination, just as heretical views on baptism do not invalidate baptism. This position is precisely the position Saint Augustine of Hippo took against the Donatist schism, and it has been the general and authoritative teaching of the Western Church since the fourth century. Saint Thomas Aquinas echoes this teaching in the Summa Theologica, Supplement, Question 38, Second Article. 

Cardinal Robert Bellarmine defends this very point in his On the Sacraments In General I.21. He writes, ‘It is not necessary to intend what the Roman Church does, but what the true Church (whichever it may be) does, or what Christ instituted, or what Christians do; for all these come to the same thing. It is sufficient if a minister intends to do what is done by a particular Church, even a false one which he believes to be the true Church, even if he intends not to do what the Roman Church does, but is intending to do what the universal Church does. The minister's error about the Church does not take away the efficacy of the sacrament.’ He summarises intention thus: ‘if one intends to perform the ceremony which the Church performs, that is enough.’

Those who dissent from the Catholic Church can validly baptise and ordain, even if they hold doctrines on these very sacraments themselves at odds with the Church, as long as the Church's basic rule on baptism and order is preserved. The necessary intention for the sacraments is only ‘the intention of doing what the Church does or of doing what Christ wanted to be done - of doing what Christ wanted (quod voluit Christus).’

It is the rite that matters, not the internal belief or error of the celebrant. Sacramental intention is usually understood as external or exterior intention, which is manifested ritually, in the liturgical rite used for the administration of the sacrament. Internal intention or personal intention are not usually brought into the discussion because it is impossible to determine in any given case what the personal or interior intention of the minister of a sacrament is. If the sacraments depend on the personal orthodoxy or right belief or interior disposition of the minister, no sacrament could ever be held to have a moral certainty of validity, as one could never determine such a needful state in the mind or heart of the bishop or priest in question. 

Sacraments are by nature ecclesial, ecclesiastical, and this is particularly the case with ordination. Sacraments belong to the Holy Catholic Church. What matters is the Church's intention. The necessary intention of the Church, and of the minister who functions publicly as the agent, officer, and representative of the Church, is put forward in the Church's official rite, the matter and form, used for the conferral of the sacrament. As long as the proper matter and form of ordination remain, prayer with the laying-on-of-hands for the conferral of the particular order, with the intention to ordain a baptised man as a bishop, priest, or deacon, even changes to the rite of ordination do not and cannot void the sacrament on the basis of defective intention.

On the Validity of Anglican Orders

Why did Pope Leo XIII declare Anglican orders "absolutely null and utterly void" in his 1896 papal bull Apostolicae curae?...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Allsaintstide is approaching!
Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God our Saviour Jesus Christ, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels and all holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us.
All holy Patriarchs, and Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, and Virgins, and all the blessed company of heaven, pray for us.
(Anglican Litany of 1544)

Please join us at Saint Barnabas Dunwoody for All Saints' Day, Friday 1st November, at Noon and 7pm, and for the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, All Souls' Day, Saturday 2nd November, at Noon. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Men's Retreat Day at Saint Thomas Alto

All gentlemen are invited to a men's day retreat at Saint Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church in Alto, Georgia, 1636 Mud Creek Road, Alto, Georgia 30510, Saturday 26th October. We shall begin at Saint Thomas at 9am with Morning Prayer and Holy Communion and finish in the later afternoon with Evening Prayer. We plan a picnic lunch on the grounds in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia. The theme will be the Saints as men of prayer. Please plan to join us...

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -