Posted by: Fr. C. | December 1, 2014

Can’t Take Him Away

christmasAs we wait in Advent anticipation of the night of nights—that of our Savior’s birth and the beginning of our redemption—I want to share a few thoughts, particularly on the effort to take Christ from Christmas or to banish Him from the public eye..

This year the secular world has exceeded its previous attempts to eliminate the mere mention of the Holy Name of Christ and to stifle or eradicate from public view the very reason for our celebration—His coming among us as one of us. This has been grist for endless news commentaries, blog entries and the stuff of boycotts of merchants who, while happily profiting from this Holy season, have tried to effectively banish Him whose birth we celebrate. These include retail powerhouses such as Barnes & Noble, Pet Smart, Foot Locker, and Office Depot where there are bans on anything referring to Christmas, while others such as Best Buy, CVS and Whole Foods grudgingly acknowledge, but do not “promote” Christmas. (One of the nice things about of a free market is the ability to shop from non-bigoted merchants.)

Again this year, we have seen lawsuits and threats of legal action, as well as aggressive moves by many school districts targeted against Christianity itself, never mind the signs and symbols of the Nativity. For example, boys and girls in Frisco, Texas, who attend the Nichols Elementary School “Winter Party” will not be able to make any reference to Christmas. Christmas trees also are banned, along with the colors red and green. On Long Island, Students United in Faith, a service-oriented Christian club, was refused permission even to meet, while in one California school district, all Christian books, those by Christian authors and those released by Christian publishers, including Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. Heaven forbid some impressionable youth gets their hands on St. Augustine’s Confessions Dante’s Divine Comedy or anything by C.S. Lewis. Not to be outdone, the law society of Canada’s largest province voted against admitting among their ranks graduates of Trinity Western University, for the sole reason that the school’s Christian community covenant, which students (and teachers) voluntarily sign upon admission or hiring, reserves sexual intimacy for heterosexual marriage. And the list goes on and on.

Let us be clear as we approach the Feast of the Nativity. Our Lord Himself tells us that no one will be able to take us away from God. (St. John 10:28) The language is similar to that of St. Paul in Romans 8:39 when he says that nothing in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Faith cannot be taken from God’s people, nor can the hope of the poor be taken away.

Quite simply, the secular world’s desire to relegate the King of Kings to an unobtrusive place or to remove Him entirely from our lives will prove fruitless. Many have attempted to still the voice of the Christ Child over the last two millennia. As recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Herod’s effort to silence our Redeemer bore tragic consequences for the innocent children of Bethlehem. And this has been a pattern from the start of our new beginning in Christ Jesus.

At this time of year, my thoughts inevitably turn to St. Stephen, whose feast we celebrate the day after Christmas. St. Stephen, full of faith and power, had done great wonders and miracles among the people. (Acts vi.8). For proclaiming Christ in the public square, St. Stephen became the first martyr, suffering death by stoning, in the presence of Saul of Tarsus, later St. Paul. The first wave of anti-Christian persecution had begun, in part at the hands of Saul who would later himself suffer a martyr’s death for his life and work as an Apostle. Yet, despite the torture and killing of Christ’s own Apostles, the word of the babe of Bethlehem, the One who became incarnate for our salvation, spread.

As they do in our own day, knocks came upon doors in the dead of night. Entire families suffered death for the sake of Him who came to save us all from sin and eternal death. We do well to think on St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna about A.D. 155, as he faced a body of men who came to arrest him one Friday evening.

Escape was still possible, but the old bishop refused to flee, saying, “the will of God be done.” He came down to meet his pursuers, conversed affably, and ordered food to be set before them. While they were eating he prayed, “remembering all, high and low, who at any time had come in his way, and the Catholic Church throughout the world.” He was then led away, like so many others, to his death. Despite the efficiency of the then-greatest civil government, that of the Roman Empire, the work of Christ was not halted. Indeed, the pace of the spread of the Gospel only accelerated.

By about 325 A.D., Rome’s official persecutions of the Faith had ended. Yet, over the years down to this day, to the instant you read this message, in thousands of places, men have sought to still the voice of His cry from the creche. Look well this next year upon those days marked in red to commemorate the martyrs of the Church. Their names ring out over the centuries-Agnes, Valentine, Matthias, Mark, Stanislas, Alban, Ignatius, and on and on. These are just the representatives of those untold thousands who have given all for Christ.

The twentieth century saw more martyrs than all of the previous centuries. At least 100,000 Christians fled the Plain of Nineveh since last summer. The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group has since invaded northern Iraq and has occupied or destroyed both the churches and homes of Christians. In the nation of Eritrea, more than 1,990 Christians are in prison for their faith. Magnify this by each country where there is open persecution of the Christian faithful and the picture truly is stunning.

In 1945, German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred for the Faith at the hands of a dying Nazi regime. In speaking of the problem of “cheap grace”, Bonhoeffer reached to the question of real proclamation of the truth of Christ in the world. Cheap grace is grace that has become so watered down that it no longer resembles the grace of the New Testament, the costly grace of the Gospels. It is the intellectual assent to a doctrine without a real transformation in the sinner’s life. It is the justification of the sinner without the works that should accompany the new birth.

In the words of Bonhoeffer,

[It] is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (emphasis added)

St. Athanasius in his work On the Incarnation pointed out that it is not an idea but the Incarnate Christ, the living Jesus, the Christ of the Nativity and of the Cross who is our Savior. This is the voice that cannot be stilled even by the inhuman efficiency of Nazism, Communism, secularism or any other “-ism”.

At the end of the day, the babe in swaddling clothes cannot be hidden. The Light which has come into the world cannot be extinguished. The cry of the Christ who suffered death upon the Cross for our sakes cannot be silenced. He remains with us always, and will come again in glory.

As Abp. Fulton Sheen said in his wonderful book The Life of Christ, “Bethlehem became a link between heaven and earth; God and man met here and looked each other in the face…Now man need not hide from God as Adam did…God in His perfect nature became manifest to those who saw Him and heard Him and touched Him.”

So, this Christmas let us come anew to the Christmas crib and marvel at the mere babe who is Emmanuel, God Incarnate, God with us-the Living Jesus. Let us wait upon the cry that cannot be stilled—the cry of that child in a chilly desert night, the cry that shatters sin and death.

Let us hear Him and see Him and touch Him in. Then let us with angelic hosts fearlessly and joyfully proclaim the one, only and true reason for Christmas, that Christ is born in Bethlehem!

With Advent Blessings,

Fr. Charles

Posted by: Fr. C. | September 10, 2014

Climbing to the Summit

I am just in from the opening of the first In Defense of Christians Summit in Washington, D.C., where I am attending as the Canon Law Institute’s representative and occasional executive director. As the incredibly brave Canon Andrew White (aka the Vicar of Baghdad) was taken ill, I might have been the only Anglican about. I was honored to have been one of the six priests selected to bear the torches to lead the procession into the joint prayer service.

The service, which used ancient forms, was the first joint Catholic-Orthodox-Coptic (and an Anglo-Catholic) since 1987. Dedicated to Our Lady, it was a remarkable moment pf penitance and prayer as the incense ascended before her holy icon. It was very powerful to have all of these groups and evangelical Protestant Christians in worship together. It was a little bit of heaven

I had a chance to speak with some remarkable men of the Church Universal, albeit too briefly, as we prepared for the procession. Cardinal Wuerl was very gracious and even remembered a wandering priest who was way out of his depth.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft was in good form, referring to the conflict between Islam and Christianity as one of liberty against forced religion. A good, middle weight speech that didn’t fire things up. Yet, it caused me to miss having an honest, Christian A-G who was not an Alinsky-Marxist.

The keynote by Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Oriental Churches, was disappointingly bureaucratic and rife with “social justice” metaphor. With apologies to his Eminence, ISIS is not a problem rooted in “economic disparity” and “disproportionate wealth” as his speech seemed to suggest. As well, quotes from the documents of Vatican II and appeals to the U.N. weren’t seeming to resonate with the Orthodox side of the house or some of the uniates who have folks on the ground.

I think it might be difficult to appeal to the international ecclesiastical or legal bureaucracy when the “junior varsity” is sawing the heads off the faithful. It appears that the church’s bureaucrats in Rome and those of secular Washington are similarly detached from the reality of Islam. Of course, he just might have been being cautious to keep more heads from rolling, although the Neville Chamberlain method doesn’t seem to work with ISIS any more than with Herr Hitler. The post-opening reception was extraordinary-an embarassment of food and drink in the face of the sufferings of those say, on a mountainside in Iraq waiting for airdropped food. But, gang, this is Washington, and you have to make a splash to get attention. I just pray that I am not witnessing the birth of yet another faith-based lobbying group to employ out of work political science majors. Too darned many of them already.

More to come after the first big session tomorrow. Meantime, pray for Christians persecuted throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Posted by: Fr. C. | July 25, 2014

Sailing Off…Folly Beach

Storm Warning at Folly Beach

Storm Warning at Folly Beach

Folly Beach is a city, located on historic Folly Island, in Charleston County, South Carolina, United States. Foley Beach is the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Folly Beach has an informative, slick website. So does Abp. Foley Beach. The Folly Beach website gives the traveling Anglo-Catholic, perhaps on their way to a congress, a good feeling about stopping in for a bit. Unhappily, the Foley Beach website doesn’t.

Let’s set the stage. At stake, here, is the success of the Anglo-Catholic Congress called by Forward in Faith North America, (FiFNA) for Ft. Worth next July. The Congress, so far supported by the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, Festival of Faith™, and a bunch of other folks. The congress, modeled after those of the same moniker in the 1920s and 1930s, looks to be a sort of grand unified field theory of the Anglo-Catholic movement.

To be sure, since the first breach of the ordinal with the illegal “ordination” of women in the 1970s in the Anglican world, the catholic party amongst Anglicans has proved fissiparous. “Jurisdictions” have proliferated and, amidst colorful recrimination and an almost frank Donatism amongst various parties, the movement has fallen on hard times. The threads are held together with a common sacramental understanding based upon the Affirmation of St. Louis. Comes now the problem.

The conveners of the pan-Catholic Anglican Congress, or whatever name will be adopted, are mobbed up with ACNA. ACNA will be presided over by Abp. Foley Beach. A look at his declared stands on key issues proves that he is no catholic. Indeed, quite the opposite.

I believe in taking a man at his word, particularly prelates. Or, keeping with our nautical metaphor, in the words of Popeye the Sailor, “I sez what I means, and I means what I sez! Usk, usk, usk.” Let’s see what he sez, or at least has approved. (With thanks to a good priest who does not wish to be named—at least as yet.)

Foley, not Folly, Beach

Foley, not Folly, Beach

First, there is the pronouncement on the website, “We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” Not an Anglican Church in the Catholic tradition, mind you, or anything close. We can spot that as it is in a geographical area not known for its friendliness to catholic causes, but let’s go on to historical “information” given on the site.

“The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.” Apart from the fact that even Cranmer might disagree with this, it is simply not the case historically, certainly from an Anglo-catholic perspective. Of course, if this is true, the Roman Catholic priest was right when he said to me that, “The Anglican Church was founded on the political whim of Henry VIII, a depraved syphilitic.” And, so the website continues, “We are an Evangelical Church in the Protestant tradition.’

The sacramental perspective, or rather the lack thereof, is even more disturbing. Archbishop Foley Beach’s Cathedral church sure has an informative website, but I couldn’t find a single mention about the sacraments on it. They don’t speak of the sacraments. Their doctrine seems to be thoroughly Protestant. Indeed, there is nothing about the Eucharist except a small, yet thoroughly off-putting, bit:

“At most of our services, we celebrate Holy Communion, and if you are a baptized Christian you are welcome to receive the bread and wine. You may take the bread and then drink from the common cup, or you may dip the bread into the wine (called “intinction”).”

So it is at the Eucharist, the source and summit of the faith, all baptized Christians “are welcome to receive the bread and wine.” Forget about Confirmation, no need of that. Never mind “real presence” which is nowhere mentioned. Just “bread and wine”, not Body and Blood. It looks like receptionism to this reader. At best, this is nothing more than Zwinglianism, which represents the absolute worst of Protestant theology. As Flannery O’Conner once said, “If its just a symbol then to hell with it.”

Finally, let’s look at the treatment of Holy Orders down at the Beach. For Anglo-Catholics who do not believe Orders are divisible, there is a problem. There is a female deacon (not a deaconess) on staff at the cathedral. He will “ordain” female deacons. It doesn’t really matter though. As a self-identified Evangelical Protestant (with a Zwinglian sacramental theology), clearly, Foley does not intend to ordain Catholic clergy anyway.

So, how does FiFNA, while it is tied up in an unnecessary “study” of “women’s ordination” with “ordained” women on the study panel explain this? How does it explain being mobbed up with an archbishop who, to be perfectly blunt, is a Presbyterian in drag? How does it hope to attract the non-Canterbury Anglican-Catholics (and, yes, it is a generic appellation) to the party?

In the maritimethere is a great tradition with respect to foundering ships.  The departing crew strips everything off of value for survival that they can carry.  When a ship is is left on a beach, it is said to be “hulked”. Hulking was a common fate for wooden ships, especially if they had lost some of their masts and rigging in bad weather or were no longer seaworthy.  Then, the denizens of the shore, who had no involvement with the crew of the hulk, no sense of the ship’s history or purpose, simply descend on it and take away what they can to adorn their own abode.  A miter, a Communion set, even a prayer book, do not a Catholic make, particularly when they are carried off by those with no connection to the once proud barque.  I fear that is the case out at Folly Beach, and the rest of the fleet, no matter how tiny and scattered must resist that fate.

I am sure there will be howls that I lack charity or am trying to sabotage the effort at a Congress.  Mind you, I am fully committed to see the Congress be a success. In our broken witness and the silliness of “jurisdictions”, we are in desperate need of unity. Christ himself commands it. But, I subscribe to Popeye the Venerable’s teachings, and I mean what I sez.  Surely  I am a weak man and, unlike St. Paul, I don’t think I can stand being shipwrecked yet again. And surely, shipwreck will result for Anglo-Catholics on the rocks and shoals of Foley…er…Folly Beach.  Those who are sailing too close, hoist up and let out aways further from that shore.



Posted by: Fr. C. | July 18, 2014

Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom!

The press release that follows is pretty much self explanatory.  Those who purport to “ordain” female “priests” or “consececrate” female “bishops” are simply on the outs, at least with the Moscow Patriarchate.  Now, to our dear friends in the Anglican Church in North America, what is there to study?  This non-issue has been resolved amongst churches that are authentically catholic. And I quote, “…the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.” Or, as they say in Brooklyn, “Fahgettaboudit!” [Insert appropriate hand gesture of your choice here.] 

Yo, FiFNA, are youse guys gettin’ this? In the words of our favorite popular theologian Marion Anthony “Fat Tony” D’Amico president of the Legitimate Businessman’s Social Club, and I quote, “Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom!”

Fat Tony Sends a Big Thumbs Up to the Moscow Patriarchate

Fat Tony Sends a Big Thumbs Up to the Moscow Patriarchate

Statement by Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations regarding the decision of the Church of England to allow women to serve as bishops

At the session that took place on the 14th of July 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England made a decision allowing women to serve as bishops. The Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is authorized to make the following statement in this regard:

The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism. As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.”

The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.

Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church.

In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God.

The Russian Orthodox Church regrets to state that the decision allowing the elevation of women to episcopal dignity impedes considerably the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglicans, which has developed for many decades, and contributes for further deepening of divisions in the Christian world as a whole.

Posted by: Fr. C. | July 17, 2014

A Congress of Catholics

Several days ago, I returned from the combined meetings of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen (some of the folks who brought you the Affirmation of St. Louis) and Forward in Faith North America. The gathering took place at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in beautiful Belleville, Illinois.  This would be the very same Shrine that also is sponsoring, “Mindfulness: Sitting, Walking, Running the Buddhist Way,” but, at least for a week they folks were “Kneeling, Praying, Celebrating the Anglo-Catholic Way.”

At this point, I simply can’t resist an editorial comment. In what could best be described as a true mixed metaphor, the Buddhist get-together is to be led by the “Venerable Sha’ul Hirschmann, Senior Priest at Blue Lotus Dharma Center” in St. Louis.  Sha’ul, whose family may well be sitting shiva over the Buddhist bit, will talk on July 19th about Buddhism and mindfulness whether in sitting, walking or running. Following Sha’ul’s presentation, he will lead interested people in a meditative walk through the Shrine grounds.  You can bet is won’t likely involve the outdoor Stations of the Cross that are among the few traditional touches at the Shrine.  No matter.stations

Amidst the moderne architecture (post-Vatican II Cube with a water feature/font) and unfailingly cheerful staff, the FCC/FiFNA activities drew together many old warriors of the Anglo-Catholic movement, including some who still are locked in litigation with the “former ecclesial body” that has grown more vicious as it has grown in apostasy.   The mood was forward-looking, and I did not observe an Angrican(TM) in the bunch.  Ok, I saw one whom I will not name, but he has been cranky for years since his return to “the former ecclesial body” following at least one scandale amongst the Continuing Anglicans.  The rest of the lot, which included a number of old friends, was quite upbeat.


The “Cube Church” with Water Feature

The program consisted of a series of speakers and panels on the topic of prayer variously by Bp. Parsons (Quincy, retired), Bp. Morales (Quincy, current), and Mother Gabriella (Orthodox).  The speakers offered meditations on prayer by St. Therese of Avila, prayer within the Rule of St. Benedict, and the Jesus Prayer.

On the “business” side, the major announcement was to call for a gathering of Anglo-Catholics in Ft.Worth in July 2015.  There is not yet a theme or even a template, but an hotel has been booked and the wheels are turning.  The meeting has been termed an “Anglo-Catholic Congress” after the famous Congresses of the 1920’s and 1930s. The question is who, amongst a fractious lot with Donatist leanings, will tip up at the “Congress”? (I even have been pondering whether “Congress” is the right term for a group of Anglo-Catholics-perhaps “Parliament” would more apropos, but its been taken.)

Parliament of Owls (S. Gustaf)

Parliament of Owls (S. Gustaf)

Obviously, at least some of the Continuing Anglicans will manifest themselves.  Indeed, Bp. Chandler Holder Jones of the Anglican Province in America (APA) was named to the FiFNA Council.  So, it seems likely that there will be participation from that part of the Continuum.  Recent events including several developments during the Belleville meeting cloud the horizon.

First, there was the decision in England to “ordain” women as “bishops”.  This makes any association with Canterbury highly problematic.  Weigh this bit o’ heresy with the ongoing “ordination” of women clergy in the ACNA, a body in communion with parts of FiFNA, and orthodox Anglicans likely begin to experience serious gastric distress.  The ongoing “study” of the issue by ACNA is of little comfort, as there is nothing to study.  Indeed, even agreeing to (another) study of women’s ordination lends a measure of credence to an issue that has has but one answer.

Were this not problematic enough, the CofE continued its descent into hell with several bishops and a former primate lending support to a euthanasia bill in Parliament.  The topping on this unholy dessert was…wait for it…the appearance of on photos on Facebook showing Fr. Andrew Newcombe, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, showing his family enjoying London’s Gay Pride Festival. Fr. Andrew’s wife, Dr. Lindsay Newcombe, shown replete with gay pride sticker, happens to be Vice Chairman (apt title) of Forward in FaithThis follows Bishop Jonathan Baker, Chairman of Forward in Faith, becoming a signatory of the controversial Pilling Report which advocates a revision of the Church of England’s stance on same-sex relationships.

Whilst FiFNA has repudiated all of this stuff, it predictably has prompted ridicule of Anglo-Catholics by the neo-Zwinglians that populate the “Evangelical” wing of Anglicanism, and the renewal of pronouncements by Tiber-swimming Ordinariate enthusiasts (no, you are Roman Catholics now) that Anglo-Catholicism is dead and all should sail away on the barque of St. Peter.  Questions raised publicly by one priest during the FiFNA meeting were met with an answer that sounded more than a bit relativistic.  I am sure that was not what was intended, but, to paraphrase the late Ricky Ricardo, “FiFNA got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do” before the Congress if there is to be the broadest possible participation.

In the meantime, feeder events to the Congress are in the works.  This writer and Fr. Michael Heidt have undertaken the incredibly contorted legal steps to revive the Festivals of Faith(tm) which we put together some years back We are working on two festivals to take place six-months before the Congress.  Whilst these will be stand alone festivals, they are intended to renew enthusiasm for the Anglo-Catholic expression of the faith and, concomitantly, interest in the Congress.  If you would like to be involved in a festival, or would like to sponsor one at your parish, please be in contact with me or Fr. Heidt care of this blog.

In the meantime, let us pray for the “Congress of Anglo-Catholics”, for its success, for unity amongst us, and for clarity of purpose.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

Posted by: Fr. C. | February 27, 2014

Lent 1687/8 and 2014

A Lenten pastoral message from the Bishop of Bath and Wells from back in the day.   Works today, as well, and for clergy and lay people alike.

All Glory be to God.

Reverend Brother,

THE time of Lent now approaching, which has been  anciently and very Christianly set apart, for penitential humiliation of Soul  and Body, for Fasting and Weeping and Praying, all which you know are very  frequently inculcated in Holy Scripture, as the most effectual means we can  use, to avert those Judgments our sins have deserved; I thought it most  agreeable to that Character which, unworthy as I am, I sustain, to call  you and all my Brethren of the Clergy to mourning;  to mourning for your own sins, and  to mourning for the sins of the  Nation.

In making such an address to you as this, I follow the  example of St. Cyprian, that blessed  Bishop and Martyr, who from his retirement wrote an excellent Epistle to his  Clergy, most worthy of your serious perusal, exhorting them, by publick  Prayers and Tears to appease the Anger of God, which they then actually felt,  and which we may justly fear.

Remember that to keep such a Fast as God has chosen, it is not enough for you to afflict  your own soul, but you must also according to your ability, deal  your bread to the Hungry: and the rather, because we have not onely Usual  [1/2] objects of Charity to relieve, but many poor Protestant Strangers are  now fled hither for Sanctuary, whom as Brethren, as members of Christ, we  should take in and Cherish.

That you may perform the office of publick Intercessour  the more assiduously, I beg of you to say daily in your Closet, or in your  Family, or rather in both, all this time of Abstinence, the 51st  Psalm, and the other Prayers which follow it in the Commination. I could wish  also that you would frequently read and meditate on the Lamentations of Jeremy,  which Holy Gregory Nazianzen was wont to doe, and the reading of which melted  him into the like Lamentations, as affected the Prophet himself when he  PenÍd them.

But your greatest Zeal must be spent for the Public  Prayers, in the constant devout use of which, the Publick Safety both of  Church and State is highly concernÍd: be sure then to offer up to God every  day the Morning and Evening Prayer; offer it up in your Family at least, or  rather as far as your circumstances may possibly permit, offer it up in the  Church, especially if you live in a great Town, and say over the Litany every  Morning during the whole Lent. This I might enjoyn    you to doe, on your Canonical Obedience, but for LoveÍs sake I rather  beseech you, and I cannot recommend to you a more devout and comprehensive  Form, of penitent and publick Intercession than that, or more proper for the  Season. [2/3]

Be not discouragÍd if but few come to the Solemn  Assemblies, but go to the House of  Prayer, where God is well known for a sure Refuge: Go, though you go  alone, or but with one besides your self; and there as you are GodÍs Remembrancer,  keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, till He make  Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

The first sacred Council  of Nice, for which the Christian world has always had a great and just  veneration, ordains a Provincial Synod  to be held before Lent, that all Dissensions being taken away a pure oblation  might be offerÍd up to God, namely of Prayers and Fasting and Alms, and  Tears, which might produce a comfortable Communion at the following Easter:  and that in this Diocese, we may in some degree imitate so Primitive a  practice, I exhort you to endeavour all you can, to reconcile differences, to  reduce those that go astray, to promote universal Charity towards all that  dissent from you, and to put on as the  Elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of  mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one  another, even as Christ forgave you.

I passionately beseech you to reade over daily your  Ordination Vows, to examine yourself how you observe them; and in the Prayers  that are in that Office, fervently to importune God for the assistance of His  good Spirit, that you may conscientiously perform them. [3/4] Teach  publickly, and from house to house, and warn every one night and day with  Tears; warn them to repent, to fast and to pray, and to give Alms, and  to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, warn them to continue stedfast  in that faith once delivered to the  Saints, in which they were baptizÍd, to  keep the word of GodÍs Patience, that God may keep them in the hour of  Temptation; warn them against  the sins and errours of the age; warn  them to deprecate publick judgments, and to mourn for publick provocations.

No one can reade GodÍs holy Word but he will see, that  the greatest Saints have been the greatest Mourners: David wept  whole Rivers; Jeremy wept sore, and  his Eyes ran down in secret places day and night like a Fountain; Daniel mourned  three full weeks, and did eat no pleasant bread, and sought God by prayer and  supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth and ashes; St. Paul was humbled and  bewailed and wept for the sins of others; and our Lord himself when He beheld  the City wept over it. Learn then of these great Saints, learn of our most  compassionate Saviour, to weep for the publick, and weeping to pray, that we  may know in this our day, the things that belong to our peace, lest they be  hid from our eyes.

To mourn for National Guilt, in which all share, is a  duty incumbent upon all, but especially on Priests, who are particularly  commanded to weep and to say, Spare Thy  people, O Lord, and give not Thine Heritage to reproach, that God may repent  of the evil, and become jealous for His Land, and pity His people. [4/5]

Be assurÍd that none are more tenderly regarded by God  than such Mourners as these; there is a mark set by Him on all  that sigh and cry for the abominations of the Land, the destroying Angel  is forbid to hurt any of them, they  are all GodÍs peculiar care, and shall all have either present deliverance,  or such supports and consolations, as shall abundantly endear their Calamity.

Now the God of all  Grace, who hath called you unto His eternal Glory by Christ Jesus, make you  perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you in the true Catholic and  Apostolick Faith professÍd in the Church of England,  and enable you to adorn that Apostolick Faith with an Apostolick Example and  Zeal, and give all our whole Church that timely repentance, those broken and  contrite hearts, that both Priests and People may all plentifully sow in Tears, and in GodÍs good time may all plentifully reap  in Joy.

From the Palace in Wells,

Febr. 17.  1687.

Posted by: Fr. C. | July 15, 2013

A Door Slams In Brooklyn


It seems that a major door has slammed in the face of Anglicans looking for a new ship, and upon the fingers and toes of those who already had embarked on the Western Rite of the Russian Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). On Wednesday, July 10, an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR fired a series of hull shots into the Western Rite that struck below the waterline. The broadside apparently came without warning, many members of the Vicariate hearing about it from the internet or at Sunday liturgy. At the hem was ROCOR’s First Hierarch and manning the guns were: Mark, Archbishop of Berlin, Germany & Great Britain; Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco & Western America; Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal & Canada, and Peter, Bishop of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America.

The primary target, it seems, was Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, skipper of the Western Rite Vicariate, as well as his vessel. After “exhaustive deliberation”, the Synod determined to “censure Bishop Jerome for his willfulness in administering the parishes adhering to the Western Rite, and in performing various ecclesial services not approved by the Synod of Bishops, and for criticizing his brethren in letters to clergy and laity.”
Those who know Bp. Jerome might have a certain amount of difficulty accepting that he would criticize brother bishops (or anyone, for that matter) or sail outside of the normal sea lanes, but things do happen out there on the turbulent waters of the church. So be it. Perhaps a few lashes were in order, but it became a full flogging before the mizzenmast when the Synod released “Bishop Jerome from all duties, including those of Vicar of the President in administering Western Rite parishes, designating him as retired without the right to serve in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York, or to perform ordinations or award clergymen, and designating his place of residence at St. Vladimir Memorial Church of the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia in Jackson, NJ.”

So, the effect is one of stranding the bishop on a desert island without provisions. A pretty draconian go there, me hearties. But, sadly, there is more.

The Synod then decided to kill the Vicariate’s able first officer Monk Anthony (Bondi) by summarily stripping him of “all of his administrative duties and from the spiritual ministry to the Vicariate of Western Rite Parishes.” Fr. Bondi, it should be recalled, had the fortitude and dedication to lay aside his episcopate in a continuing church, build a lifeboat for his brother clergy and for the lay people, and row to what he thought was the safety of ROCOR’s Western Rite. He has done yeoman service in organizing and fostering a body unique certainly to the continuing church: capable, sober, serious and happy Christians. Not good enough, apparently, me bucko!
Having shot away the rigging of the Western Rite, the Synod then went for the hull. It variously: *Halted “the ordination of new clergymen for parishes adhering to the Western Rite.”

*Denied recognition of the ordination of a group of individuals by Bishop Jerome during a single divine service, and to regularize them following a thorough examination of the candidates.
*Began “an epistle to the clergymen and communities of the Western Rite regarding the need for them to adopt the order of divine services of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, while preserving, when necessary, certain particularities of the Western Rite.”
*Established “a commission to examine the means of integrating clergymen and communities of the Western Rite into the liturgical life of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
*Emphasized our adherence to the rules and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in general and of the Russian Orthodox Church in particular.”

In short, “Domine, Domine, Domine (or whatever that is in Russian), you are all Byzantine now.” Except, of course when preserving certain “particularities of the Western Rite” when necessary. Does anyone care to wager how often that will occur?

It will be interesting to learn how all of this plays out. Certainly, it must have been a shock to the 66 Western Rite clergy already in ROCOR and their parishes, not to mention those with petitions pending. One cannot help thinking that facing such a sudden, surprise onslaught can only be devastating to the faithful. Even assuming the veracity of the charges against Bp. Jerome as true, the treatment of those who entered the Western Rite in good faith is un-pastoral and downright uncharitable under any interpretation.

As to the why of all of this, there is no obvious explanation. This was an approved Rite, successful and growing. Indeed, the Western Rites were almost a thousand years old when Christianity was introduced to the people of Kievan Rus, modern day Russia. It is a form of liturgy used with success elsewhere in orthodoxy, notably the Church of Antioch. Could it be resistance to “westernism” amongst the “true orthodox”? Is it a case of Russians and Russophiles wanting to “purify” “their” church”? Or, perhaps there is something darker, such as a move such as an old fashioned Russian-style purge in the Synod?  One can only say that it is all…well…Byzantine.

Whatever the reason for the broadside two results are certain: a loyal and faithful crew has been wounded, and one more good ship had been sent to the bottom. It is a shame and a scandal.

Fare Thee Well Old ROCOR
(With apologies to Huddie Ledbetter)

It was midnight on the sea,
Band playin’ “Nearer My God to Thee”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Old ROCOR, fare thee well,”

Western Rite when it got its load,
Bishop hollered, “All aboard,”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Old ROCOR, fare thee well,”

More Western folk want to get on board,
Synod said, “We ain’t hauling yo’ souls,”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Old ROCOR, fare thee well,”

Western Rite comin ’round the curve,
When she ran in to a big iceberg,
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Old ROCOR, fare thee well,”

Western Rite was sinkin’ down,
No more lifeboats all around
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Old ROCOR, fare thee well,”

Rome it heard the mighty shock
Mighta seen it doin’ the Eagle Rock
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Old ROCOR, fare thee well,”


Posted by: Fr. C. | June 29, 2013

Verse Libre

EuripidesΤουλευθερον ό εκεινο, ει τις θελει πολει Χρηςον τι βουλευμ’ εις μεσον φερειν, εχων. Και ταυθ’, ο χρηζων, λαμπρος εσθ’, ο μη θελων, Σιγα, τι τουτων εςιν ισαιτερον πολει.

Euripid. Hicetia.

This is true Liberty,

when freeborn men,

Having to advise the public, may speak free;

Which he who can, and will, deserves high praise:

Who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace:

What can be juster in a state than this?

Euripid, Hicetia.

Pondering a quote from John Milton from whose Areopagitica the quotes from Euripides was taken.  He said this of England (which, of course, has just banned anti-jihad commentators Robert Spencer and Pam Geller).  It is appropos here at so very many levels particularly after this week’s Supreme Court decisions on the defense of Marriage Act.

“…consider what Nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governours: a Nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, suttle and sinewy to discours, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to.

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties”

Posted by: Fr. C. | June 27, 2013

On the One Hand





Why do church leaders make decisions so difficult for the traditional, conservative Christian seeking a home? As Pope Francis noted,

The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that it entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity.

That’s “spot on” as the British folk are wont to say.  But then, on the very same day, we hear from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, commended President Barack Obama for his leadership on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and Israeli-Palestinian peace.   That would be a “drop trousers” approach to disarmament and decidedly one-sided approach to the Middle East question.

Of course, this would be the very same Cardinal Timothy Dolan who, whilst visiting a  mosque in New York City last weekend, gushed, “I thank God that this day has arrived.” This Catholic Christian leader went on to say of the Muslim and Roman Catholic faiths, “You love God, we love God and he is the same God.” The good cardinal must have missed that comparative religions class on the Qur’an.  After all,  “Who says ‘Allah has begotten a Son’? Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth; how can He have a son when He has no consort.” Qur’an 2:116, Or how about,

Never has God begotten a son, nor is there any other god besides Him. Were this otherwise, each god would govern his own creation, each holding himself above the other. Exalted be God above their falsehoods! —Qur’an 23:91

Either Jesus is the only begotten Son, and is Lord, or he is not.  There simply is no middle ground on this.

Cardinal Dolan, not merely content to ignore simple reality, went on to invent his own, extolling Islam’s “love of freedom — religious freedom particularly– your defense of life, your desire for harmony and unity and your care for others…” These would be the same folks who believe that apostates should be executed.

They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper. Qur’an 4:89

Not to pile on, but other verses that seem to support the many Hadith demanding death for apostates are Qur’an verses 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, and 9:66.

This would be the same “care for others” that gives us stonings, acid attacks, mutilation and, of course, the ever popular beheadings. insult

Of course, this would be the same prelate who approved $20k payments to suspected pedophile priests to leave the ministry when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.  Of course, this might be the “similar family values” he had in mind during love-fest with Muslim clergy last week.

Indeed, ‘[t]he Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that it entails.”  But, when we witness this sort of thing, she sure appears essentially political rather than spiritual.

Posted by: Fr. C. | August 11, 2012

Are Ye Catholic or No?


But where is Hobbes?

Is anyone  genuinely tired of being derided as an Anglo-Papalist or even modestly sneered at for being an Anglo-Catholic-you know, those evil folks lately characterized as trying to “unreform the church”? (See e.g. “The Old High Churchman Blog)  Is there a place in Anglicanism for the non-Calvinist?

My old friend Fr. Victor Novak wrote an article over at the Virtue website entitled  “CATHOLICISM, CALVINISM AND THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES”. (As always, a thoughtful article even though I am not a 39 Articles man myself.) He was bitterly attacked by the Calvinists, including those who are purported members of the Anglican Catholic…that would be CATHOLIC…Church.  (You know one of those that claims to flow from the Affirmation of St. Louis.)
It is, in my view, time for Anglo-Catholics to boldly self-define and band together, or pack it in for other (not necessarily greener) pastures.  I am not willing to make the jump yet, but I have been (and may be) darned close.  So, I will never condemn those swimming East or West. Yet, here we are are in communion with, or actually members of, bodies of folks who are vociferously antithetical to “7&7” or any other kind of Catholicism.

We have a presenting issue-one that is beyond missals, Ritual Notes, Fortescue, Dearmer and the lot.  There is a marked challenge to the logic of our existence even from those who claim to be in communion with us or worse, members of our various sadly-splintered and increasingly diminished bodies.

Shall we engage the question of raison d’etre, or continue to whistle (something Palestrina-like, of course) past the graveyard?  Dare I say it is time for a chorus of “Stand Up for Jesus” and some gathering of the Catholic flock for serious discussion and reflection? As we near 40 years since the Affirmation, is it now time to throw down, forgive and realign: Anglo-Catholics joining as one?  Or, are we simply playing until we at last wink out?

Just a small fire starter on an hot August night!

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