Sunday, January 31, 2010

The ex- Anglican Mob

A necessary rebuttal to bad news, i.e. misleading journalism.

(Pictured: Archbishop John Hepworth of the "Traditional Anglican Communion")

Sometimes the news can be very misleading by quoting someone without comment., The news as reported becomes for many people "the truth," even when the report was merely covering what someone said. As long as Anglicanorum Coetibus is part of the news, and as long as its contents are the subject of misinformation that affects people's lives and may affect the future of whole parishes, it would be irresponsible to ignore it (much as we might like to) rather than to correct the record. The following specimen is fairly recent coverage of what someone said, and it cries out for balance.

Not riding the Coeti Bus

To begin with, the very name Anglicanorum Coetibus requires closer examination than anyone has yet applied to it. As, Fr. Laurence Wells recently put it: "To date no one has picked up on the meaning of the term coetibus. This is the ablative (maybe dative) plural of the 4th declension noun coetus, translated 'meeting, assemblage.' The Vatican authorities could not bring themselves to describe TAC/ACA as a 'church' or even as an 'ecclesial community' (the term popular after Vatican II). Just an assemblage, a mob." Therefore, translated, Anglicanorum Coetibus could be "The Anglican mob."

But, the image of the Latin phrase is not one of fellows in pin-striped suits with violin cases under their arms, headed for a Chicago garage. It is more the image of a crowd in the street. Furthermore, being in the ablative case, it means the mob is being carried away or moving away from something. So, it suggests a mob distancing itself from Anglicanism. Remember, it is the Vatican that named their unilateral constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so the implications we derive have come from their choice of a title. The final implication is simply to make use of the phrase that is suggested throughout the body of the constitution, "former Anglicans." For, that too is a valid interpretation of the name Anglicanorum Coetibus, and appears to be the intended meaning: "Former Anglicans."

In what follows you will see in full a story from The Church Times, but with our helpful comments interspersed throughout, a method we have used before on The Continuum.

Ordinariate: the sceptics ‘are eating humble pie’

by Bill Browder

(Fr. Robert Hart) RH: Right here, at the headline, I am forced to refute what has been said. I am a sceptic myself, and I will not be eating humble pie at all; neither crow, nor the dish they are serving.

A MEETING of bishops who have petitioned the Pope to be received into full communion while retaining an “Anglican” identity is to take place in Rome in Low Week.

It would be the culmination of the response to Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution (Anglicanorum Coeti­bus) to establish personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans, Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Angli­can Communion (TAC), a Con­tinuing Church, said on Wednesday.

: Please keep in mind that phrase "former Anglicans." It will prove very important as we proceed.

He was due in Rome in three weeks’ time for a meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) after a series of regional TAC synods, and would then, two weeks after Easter, meet most of the bishops who had peti­tioned the Pope to make their formal response on the Ordinariates.

“The ball is in our court. We asked for this and this is what we got. This is becoming Anglican Catholics, not Roman Catholics,” Archbishop Hep­worth said, speaking from Australia.

(Rev. Canon John Hollister) JH: In current Roman jargon, “becoming Anglican Catholics, not Roman Catholics” is code for “becoming a church sui juris, i.e., a “uniate” body. Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it crystal clear that this is one thing that is not happening. Instead, it is expressly set out that the new “ordinariates” will be placed within the so-called “Latin Church” and thus, in Roman terminology, any transferee “former Anglicans” will most definitely be “Roman Catholics”, not “Anglican Catholics”.

RH: Only from a Roman Catholic perspective can Abp. Hepworth speak of Anglicans who adhere to the Affirmation of St. Louis as "becoming" Catholic in any sense of the word. I expect this from someone who knows only Roman Catholicism, but not from a man who claims in some way to be Anglican himself. It is, frankly, offensive. It indicates yet again that Abp. Hepworth cannot identify with the Anglican ethos, indeed, begging the question of whether he can even so much as understand it. I am an Anglican Catholic already, and I plan not to take part in the exodus.

The letters from the Vatican replying to all those who had res­ponded to the Pope’s offer had now been received. He had followed that with a pastoral letter to TAC members last week.

RH: Yes, a pastoral letter which seemed to have one purpose; to get around the clear meaning of the letters from the Vatican (which was one letter, really, copied and sent to each TAC bishop). That purpose was to present Rome's letter as an anticipated and welcome part of the the plan. In fact, that letter said to the TAC bishops, in effect, This constitution as written is all you get: No special deal. Take it or leave it.

“After an introduction about church unity, we talk about our original meeting with the CDF. They gave us advice and we followed it. A team of Roman Catholic bishops and scholars were helping us to reflect on unity. They provided a critique of the TAC, and we quote some of that back to them. The TAC wants to achieve communion while ‘main­taining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline and theo­logy that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Angli­can communities throughout the world’.

JH: Bear in mind that, so far as is demonstrated by the experience with “Book of Divine Worship” of the present “Anglican Use”, Rome’s idea of a permissible “Anglican liturgy,” is the 1979 BCP with the Novus Ordo Canons of Consecrations.

“So our way of doing theology is there, as is our way of discipline.

JH: Does he really think Richard Hooker will survive this transition?
RH: Or Andrewes, etc.?

Our group will have the right to elect our bishops.

JH: That’s not what the Apostolic Constitution said.

RH: In the context of the Roman Catholic Church, even if it were true, election of your own bishop may be granted theoretically; but, a RC bishop is not a bishop at all until the Pope appoints him. Even after consecration, he is not a bishop "until his name is read in the consistory in Rome." But, the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it clear that the former Anglicans will be under the bishop of the local Roman Catholic Diocese, granting only that each local diocesan bishop has to allow for the structure of the ordinariate (which directly affects only the clergy who want to be postulants).

We asked the CDF (i.e. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome) for elec­tion by council. They laughed at us at first, but we got it. We are also working with a commission with Forward in Faith to produce our lit­urgy.

JH: Is this the same Forward in Faith, most UK members of which use the undiluted Novus Ordo Missae, which has about it nothing distinctively Anglican?

We signed the Catechism as ‘the most complete and authentic expres­sion and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time’.

“We did that to put our commit­ment beyond dispute, but we did not have to agree to Apostolicae Curae [which declares Anglican orders ab­solutely null and utterly void], be­cause that is not in the Cate­chism.”

JH: But, as Benedict XVI previously stated (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger), it is something that all Roman Catholics are required to assent to and abide by.

RH: About Apostolicae Curae, the point is academic. True, that Papal Bull is not a statement of dogma, but only of discipline, but it is nonetheless required that the Roman Catholic faithful behave as if all Papal statements are infallible unless and until they are rescinded. In fact, they are required to believe it unless and until they are told not to (a kind of discipline that Anglicans have never regarded as consistent with Reason). It is a small matter if Rome will not require each clergyman in the TAC who rides the Coeti Bus (to the dock where he swims the Tiber), to make some public statement about his "absolutely null and utterly void" orders. If he is accepted as a postulant and eventually becomes "ordained" "again," on the basis of the RC position on Anglican orders as stated in 1896, his actions will have said all that needs saying.

The laity, by the way, will have to be "confirmed" "again." Has anyone told them this? Conditional ordination and conditional confirmation have, in some cases, very real justification, related to the compromise of Holy Orders in churches of the Anglican Communion, and also the willful removal in the 1979 American Confirmation Rite of the Form stating the Intention. But, the 1896 Bull provides no valid reason for ana-confirmation or ana-ordination, conditional or not (as the case may never again be).

A consultation was taking place on “reordination in the TAC con­text”. “We separated from the Angli­can Church. Some left because of sacramental and doctrinal issues, and have got lost. We chose to take up ARCIC [the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commis­sion], and we have got what we wanted. People who said we could not are having to eat humble pie, and I am sinfully enjoying that.”

RH: Really? Did they get what they wanted? They requested various things which they placed under the heading "full corporate communion." They have stated a desire for different things at different times, ranging from a "Uniat" status to "inter-communion." All of these things imply a specific identity as at least Anglican-ish, in some way. They requested a way to have their own structure and a degree of self-determination.

To that request, with its variations, Anglicanorum Coetibus is really an answer of "no," with a different offer in return. The ordinariates will protect the former Anglicans from their new bishops (a problem with Catholic order in and of itself) in the event that any bishop is not eager to play by the new rules, that is, never saying no to Pastoral Provisions and some sort of so-called Anglican Use. But, the Canon Law and specific statements of the Constitution and Norms do not give any assurance of self-determination for the former Anglicans, not even to remain sort of Anglican-ish.

Anyone familiar with the Pastoral Provisions knows that most cases take on average at least a couple of years. When the Coeti Bus arrives in Roman territory, away from the mob world of Anglicanism, only the existing Roman Catholic clergy will be available to give care to the new arrivals. The clergy among the former Anglican arrivals will be laymen, unable to act as priests. Archbishop Hepworth himself, would not be allowed to receive Communion unless and until his own marriage and annulment issues are settled (by Anglican standards they were settled long ago, but that is not enough for Rome); and he would be in the category of a Roman Catholic priest returning to "Mother Church" after converting to a Protestant ecclesial group, having married, meaning lifelong laitization (as clearly spelled out in the constitution, and in accordance with Canon Law as cited in the constitution).

Who knows if they might speed up The Pastoral Provisions process that is part of Anglicanorum Coetibus? Had the TAC been granted what they really asked for, the situation would have allowed the former Anglican clergy a fast track to recognition as clergy, and the authority to minister as such, in a venue of either "inter-communion" or of a recognized "Anglican Rite" like the Eastern Rites. But, as it is in fact written, under strictly RC authority, what is it, of anything remotely Anglican, that they think might endure for any length of time?

We cannot, therefore, accept Abp. Hepworth's claim that they got what they wanted. What they got was a firm "no," with a counter offer.

The Archbishop said that he was issuing TAC’s original 2007 petition to the CDF at the same time as his pastoral letter.

In his letter, he writes: “Re-ordination is an issue because the Church requires absolute certainty in the matter of future sacramental life. I have been told that the TAC should understand this because we ourselves moved beyond the Angli­can Communion in order to ensure the validity of sacramental life. Rome is now seeking the same assurance.”

JH: If Rome were (a) truly concerned about certainty in sacramental life, and (b) believed in what Leo XIII stated in Apostolicae curae, then Rome would be asking the TAC bishops to reordain the Roman ones, on the ground that 19th Century and later Roman ordinations fail the tests for validity set forth in that Bull.

RH: Actually, that Bull does, in effect, declare all orders everywhere to be invalid. The logic of it in light of true history would have canceled out valid orders from the very beginning, as Anglicans have pointed out since 1897 in Saepius Officio.

Now, the theory about absolute certainty in sacraments is quite right, a principle that all Anglicans should believe. But, judging the validity of sacraments by the standard of Rome's 1896 Bull is not acceptable to any Anglican. Sadly, self-contradictory as it is in certain ways, that 1896 Bull is still the law in the RCC. Anglicans should be content to allow the silliness, bad history and overall pathetic scholarship of Apostolicae Curae to remain strictly Rome's problem, as it is not our problem. If I were a Roman Catholic it would only embarrass me.

The Apostolic Constitution “speaks of Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. There at the outset are the three critical factors: Anglicans, full com­munion and Catholic Church.”

JH: And the Apostolic Constitution deals with these as follows: (1) Former Anglicans must now become Roman Catholics. (2) Full communion means complete submission to all preexisting Roman doctrinal positions. (3) The Catholic Church is solely the Roman Church, as understood on Roman terms. One becomes a member of the Catholic Church only by complete submission to Roman ways.

RH: Abp. Hepworth's closing line is misleading. The same document that says "Anglicans" at the outset, afterward calls them "former Anglicans." He claims to have attained some victory, exhibiting an attitude of personal triumph over Roman Catholics and Continuing Anglicans who, by contradicting his commentary, properly interpret Anglicanorum Coetibus. And, once again he uses the term "Catholic Church" not as Anglicans have always used it, based on the Creeds; rather he means those under the authority of the See of Rome, using the term in a manner that has always been offensive to Anglicans. The terms of this Roman constitution are clear: Entering full communion with Rome means you are Anglican no longer. So what we see at the outset has the opposite meaning from what Abp. Hepworth sees in it.

Septuagesima Sermon Notes

“Is thine eye evil, because I am good [generous]?+

There are a number of Jesus' sayings which are sometimes called “hard sayings” (cp. John 6:60). Their hardness can lie in the fact that they are hard to understand, hard to accept or apparently hard on people. Or they can be all three.

Some examples of hard sayings are as follows: To the Canaanite woman wanting a healing for her daughter, “It is not right to take the children's food and give it to the dogs.” To another man wanting a healing for his son, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” To another group, “He that is not with me is against me.”

This whole parable of today's Gospel might be said to fit into this category. Most readers immediately and instinctively sympathise with the men who complain against their employer at the end. Why don't the employer or Jesus?

The first thing we need to realise is that the first workers were indeed paid a day's wages for a day's work. The owner of the vineyard in which they would work and they had both freely “agreed”, as verse 2 tells us, to a decent, normal daily wage for that time. Nothing was taken from them to which they were entitled, they were not cheated in any way. A fair contract was entered into and fulfilled to the letter.

The second thing we need to remember is that those workers who only worked for the last of the twelve hours, did so because they had no opportunity to work before then. As they said to the employer when he asked them why they were idle, “no man has hired us.” Their late arrival was not necessarily even their choice.

Interestingly, the later arrivals, all the time up to the last hour of the working day, were not told how much they would receive. Instead, they were told, less specifically, “whatever is right I will give you”. As it turned out they were to receive this -- and more.

What does this all mean? It is important at this point to remind ourselves that parables are seldom allegories or perfect metaphors, with every element standing in for something or someone else. Often the story only has one or two main points to get across, and pushing every detail as representing another doctrine is missing the point.

So, in this parable, should we interpret the fact that some workers got a fair wage and some got more than a fair wage at the end, as meaning that God's reward for his people will be one some have earned and some have not? No. Jesus, along with the rest of the NT, makes clear elsewhere that all are sinners in need of mercy and forgiveness and that salvation is a gift received by faith and not works (Matthew 6:15, 7:1, 9:10-13; John 3:16-17, 9:39-41, Romans 3:23-26). Does the parable mean that all those God rewards will get identical rewards regardless of the what they have done? Apparently not. In another parable, that of the Talents, differences of reward are taught (Matthew 25:14-30). Such differences are also implied in our Lord's teaching on storing up heavenly treasure by good works and St Paul's talk of reaping as we sow (Matthew 6:20, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:7-10). However, there is a sense in which all those whom God rewards get essentially the same reward: all get eternal life with Him. All get God Himself, unbroken communion with Him, even if there are different depths and degrees (or perhaps different rates of increasing glory if we think of Heaven as continual growth).

Then what is the point of the parable? Its main focus is on the difference between the attitude of the “early-bird” workers and the man who owns the vineyard. They know very well they got a fair wage, what upsets them is that others were treated with more mercy than justice. Not that these others ended up with more than them. They begrudge the generosity of the owner towards others (cp. v.12). On the other hand, the owner feels pity for the workers who were unable to get work in the morning or even later, and decides to be generous. And he makes the point that, once he has shown his willingness to give all at least what they justly deserve, he is under no further obligation to go beyond this. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” Nor must he, if he does go beyond justice, do so the same way with all. He owed nobody anything past the point of fairness. Mercy is mercy, not justice, it can not be justly distributed by definition. Like God, the owner can and does choose to show the most pity towards those most in need of it.

There are Christians who are brought up in the Faith virtually from the cradle and more or less steadily run the race that is set before them. There are others who are converted late in life, sometimes after having done many gravely wicked and foolish deeds, and seem to blossom miraculously nonetheless. Those in the Church must always be open in their hearts to those who would enter, at any stage of life, and simply thank God for the extraordinary graces He grants to some but not to all. After all, we must never forget one profound reality that this parable does not make clear, but is made very explicit elsewhere: we have all in fact received far better than justice from God, we have all received grace upon grace (Matthew 5:45; John 1:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). Not only that, but unlike the envious workers of the parable, we should rejoice at the mercy shown to others, and thus, paradoxically, ourselves share in the blessing of the grace given to them. For that is to share the heart of Christ, the heart of God. +

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I Cor. 9:24-27
Matt. 20:1-16

We begin the Pre-Lenten Season today. This may be a confusing time for some who have been in more modern "up-to-date" churches that no longer observe this time. However, the Penitential season of Lent, which will start on Ash Wednesday, is so important that we prepare for it with these next few weeks of the “gesimas.” Septua, Sexa and Quinqua, that is, seven, six and five weeks before Palm Sunday and Holy Week. It seems like the very opposite of the times in which we live, very counter to this era of indulgence, that we take the Penitential season of Lent so seriously that we prepare for it by the Pre-Lenten season. But, we need to see that our sins and weaknesses are to be taken seriously, and what we learn from today's parable in the Gospel, teaches us that only in light of our true need, the goodness and mercy of God comes across to us.

Everyone who has raised children close in age to each other, has experienced the opposite of today’s parable. When the little ones, who have not labored and have earned nothing, are given gifts, sibling rivalry manifests itself at its worst. If one receives a gift and the other does not, or if one child believes the other one has been given a better gift, the slight, the injustice, is immediately decried. The fact is that no gift was deserved; the gifts were given out of the goodness of a father or mother’s heart. But, this is not worth pointing out to the child who thinks that he was “gypped.” He thinks he wants justice; but we know that justice would not exactly be welcomed, at least not in place of kindness.

Here, in the parable, we have a problem that is very much like its opposite, that is, like the scenario I have just described. The laborers who had borne the heat of the day had every reason to expect that their reward would be greater than the late comers. When they saw that those who had worked but one hour were receiving what was, by the standard of that time and place, a full day’s pay, they assumed that the owner of the vineyard was loose with his money, that he paid by a higher standard than was normal, and that they would be paid more. This was only logical, and so it seemed to them, fair.

To bear the heat of the day is to live the way Saint Paul describes. It is to work hard to obtain mastery over oneself, over everything that leads to sin and that slows us down in the race. It is no easy thing. To labor in the vineyard speaks of a life dedicated to God, and of dedication that is tied into a life within the Church that involves the development of the virtues, especially of charity. It is a life of service, and of witness as part of the Church and her mission to reach the lost. None of this is to be taken lightly.

However, the parable reminds us that our salvation, wrought for us by Jesus Christ, was not something we earned. Whatever works and goodness we might achieve, the forgiveness of our sins is not earned by our own efforts. Neither can we do those extra meritorious things beyond what God requires. Article 14 speaks to the limits of what we can do:

XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.Voluntary Works besides, over and above, God's Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.

It is not possible to do works of supererogation. You and I cannot do what God requires, let alone do more. You are commanded to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Even when we have grown in virtues, even if we live the life of holiness as saints, even if we receive signs like the stigmata or visions and revelations of the Lord, our salvation is a gift, and something we cannot obtain by our own efforts. Christ earned it for us and bought us back from sin and death by the full, perfect, sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction of Himself once offered. We were under sentence of death because of sin, eternal separation from God. The one Who was Himself without sin bore our sins in His own body on the tree of the cross, He made there the Atonement.

He is the Lamb of God with His cross, upon which he took away the sins of the world and made the atonement, the covering- the Kippor- for us. This was not even our idea, let alone our accomplishment. The dove with the olive branch comes from the story of Noah. When Noah left the Ark he made his offering, and God was pleased with the sacrifice and promised not to destroy man from the face of the earth.

The symbol is that of reconciliation with God. This reconciliation was made for us by God, by the Person of God the Son in the flesh, in His sinless human nature, in the likeness of our sinful flesh, dying as an offender upon the cross for the sins of the whole world. Pilate wrote the accusation over His head- "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews." But, in his Epistle to the Colossians, Saint Paul tells us that the real accusation over Christ’s head was the entire Law of God. That Law that He alone kept perfectly; and so His death was the death of the just for the unjust, the sinless One for the sinners. He was the One for the many, to make those rendered guilty by one man’s offense righteous. We are saved by the perfect obedience of the One, by Christ Who gave Himself up for us with the words, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

What we are given, we are given by His goodness, not by our deserving. It is all by grace.

I have said before that without ever hearing the words from a fellow priest, from time to time,“I absolve thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” I could not go on. A good confessor always reminds the penitent that the forgiveness of sins is given because Christ died for us. The act of penance does not earn the forgiveness, and, in fact, penance is done after the Absolution. Rather, penance is meant to strengthen and reinforce repentance and amendment of life, to direct the mind and heart towards God.* Do you know why the “Comfortable Words” follow the General Confession and General Absolution in our liturgy? Well, I can think of three reasons:

1.To make clear that the forgiveness of sins is real
2.That it is the gift of God to us through Jesus Christ
3. and as a light and general penance.

Whatever you feel you deserve, we are going to make the Confession of sin in a few minutes. The day’s pay is being given, not because of your labors but because of Christ’s labor on your behalf. And, the gift of Absolution that is given is the same for everyone who believes and with a true heart repents. We are unprofitable servants, and what is given to us is due to His goodness.

* For more thoughts on penance, click on this link.

Fr. Wells' Bulletin Inserts


In ancient times, this was the Sunday when adult converts were enrolled for Baptismal instruction. Easter itself was the occasion for Baptism; Lent was primarily a period of instruction. That bit of background sheds light on the Epistle and Gospel appointed for this “Third Sunday before Lent.”

In today's readings we have the Christian life compared to (1) running a race, (2) toiling in a vineyard, and (3) receiving a reward. C. S. Lewis has written in The Screwtape Letters of the “Law of Undulation” in the spiritual life. At times the life of faith is like running a race, but mostly it is just toiling in a hot vineyard. But to concentrate on the reward, the parable makes it quite clear that the reward which God bestows on the Christian is absolutely a matter of His sovereign grace. The householder is not in the least reluctant to appear inconsistent, arbitrary, even unfair. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?” The whining complaints of those who have labored the entire day miss the point that the householder is, above all, generous. He has graciously made a place in his vineyard for the laggards who have wasted the day in the market-place.

The whole idea of grace has all too often been trivialized into a tawdry secular notion of “unconditional love.” That understanding of grace (really a misunderstanding) would rewrite the parable to say that the householder forgets his vineyard, joins the laggards in the market-place, and at the end of the day divides his entire fortune with them. A false gospel which promises everything and requires nothing will quickly have a large audience; churches which proclaim such a message will always have full parking lots.

In today's Epistle we hear one of St. Paul's most solemn statements: “lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Those are words which must make us stop and think! The great apostle himself seems to contemplate a possibility of losing his own soul. That was the real danger, not just for those left behind in the market-place (how many were there whom the householder did not invite?), but even for those who “have borne the burden and heat of the day.” Those whining ingrates are the Biblical paradigm for zealous Churchmen who never learn the Good News of Unmerited Grace.

As we approach Lent with its blessings and its demands, the Householder Himself comes to us, inviting us to leave the market-place of our spiritual sloth and come into His vineyard. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Are you one of the many or the few? LKW

+ + +

From ancient times a parable has been defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” Jesus commonly taught by means of such stories. The parables always seem simple because they use familiar and ordinary things, such as vineyards and wages, employers and employees, hard work and idleness. But the “heavenly meaning” is usually elusive. The parables make sense only to those having minds renewed by the Holy Spirit. To non-Christians, they make no sense at all.

To unpack the parable in today's Gospel, we have here a series of symbols. The men of the market-place are lost mankind. The householder who invites them to labor in his vineyard is God, merciful and generous. The vineyard itself is God's kingdom, clearly set apart and distinct from the market-place. The repeated invitation into the vineyard, given early in the morning, again at the third hour, the sixth hour, even at the ninth and eleventh hours, reflects the persistence of God in His incessant offer of the Gospel. The pay-out of wages at the end of the day points to the last judgment. And the wage itself?

At this point we seem to run into trouble. It all seems so very unfair. Anyone familiar with common business practices in ancient times or now will immediately understand the point of the objection, “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”

This parable, centering around this complaint, is all about God's sovereign grace, His unmerited love, His baffling generosity. Tragically we have attempted to domesticate and subdue that Gospel with the silly notion that “God helps those who help themselves,” that He simply makes us an offer and awaits our cooperation. The most dangerous substitute for the Gospel is the devil's lie that God wants us to do our best and when we fail He will somehow step in and help us out.

Grace, symbolized in the wages paid to the eleventh hour workers, will forever be illogical, senseless, unfair to the unregenerate mind. That is why the hymn-writers so frequently describe grace as “amazing.”

The griping ingrates who complain against the householder feel that somehow they have been cheated or ill-treated. What escapes them is that the householder is generous to all, at no loss to them, but only at great expense to himself. That is the price paid for us on the Cross. That infinite price entitles the householder to say, “Many be called but few chosen.” May He never say to us, “Take that thine is, and go thy way,” for that is the way which leads to perdition. LKW

Friday, January 29, 2010

Common Prayer Common Faith

“Common Prayer, Common Faith” first appeared in the September/October, 1999 issue of Touchstone, a journal of mere Christianity.

The occasion for the article in 1999 was the 450th Anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer

by Louis R. Tarsitano

It is a common error to think of the ancient and undivided Church as a monolith, as either a Christian equivalent of the Roman Empire or as simply the Roman Empire Christianized, later to be broken into pieces by schisms, reformations, nationalism, and so forth. This misunderstanding, in its fuzzy, romantic permutation, does justice neither to the Church nor to the Empire, ignoring the known facts about the complexity of both.

Furthermore, this prejudice, in its political or institutional version, obscures the actual history of the ancient Church by imposing upon it the political ideologies of the last few centuries. After all, the logic runs, what can “unity” mean except for homogeneity, conformity, and a strong central government to enforce them universally?

But “one size fits all” was not the way of the ancient Church. As basic a matter as the timing of baptisms will serve as a good demonstration of tolerated regional differences within the undivided Church. Although it is a commonplace to say that the early Church normally administered the sacrament of baptism only on Easter Even, as part of the Vigil and first service of Easter, this is not an entirely accurate description of early practice.

In northern latitudes, as in Britain, the weather at Easter was often cold enough to make mass public baptisms either unsafe or at least very uncomfortable. Thus, it became the British practice to postpone baptisms fifty days, until warmer weather and the Eve of Pentecost. The Anglo-Saxon migration of the fifth century and the seventh century agreement by the English Church to adopt the general polity and calendar of the Western Church on the Continent left this custom in place. In ecclesiastical English, the feast of Pentecost still retains the alternative Anglo-Saxon title “Whitsunday,” from the white robes of baptismal “candidates” (literally, in Latin, “those dressed in white”).

Such minor differences in local liturgical practices abounded in the undivided Church for a thousand years, without causing division. Even when division came, sometimes invoking these differences as a major or minor cause, it is interesting to note that the blocs of national and regional churches that remained in communion with one another continued to tolerate a fair amount of local diversity among themselves.

Some Necessary Definitions

To make sense of all this, we need to understand a few technical terms. There is, first of all, the common prayer—the basic order and content of the public worship of the undivided Church. The common prayer is the universal worship of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church confessed in the ecumenical Creeds.

Second, there is the use or rite—the local or regional expression of the common prayer, in whatever language, along with the associated customs or ceremonial. To the casual or untutored observer, these “uses” may appear very different. Nevertheless, anyone who knows even one of the historic uses well, and understands its relation to the whole Church’s common prayer, can generally make sense of any of the other historic uses, even if it is conducted in a language unknown to him.

Last, there is the formulary—the written guide or model that maintains both the general form of the common prayer and the particular form of the local use, objectifying them for the purposes of fidelity and discipline. The formularies are the prayer books and missals that direct the priests at the altar and the congregations that they serve.

For example, in the discipline of the Eastern Church, the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom are not two different liturgies or common prayers. Nor are they the private prayers or work of the two named saints who are credited with compiling them. Rather, they are two uses or rites of the single common prayer of the entire Christian Church. These uses are then carefully maintained and ordered by the formularies issued under the canonical authority of the bishop in each major national jurisdiction, which provide the official text, translation (if needed), and directions for their proper administration.

The rites of the Western Church followed much the same pattern, although a special premium was placed on the conduct of the common prayer in the Latin language. Even after the Western Roman Empire had fallen apart in the fifth century, Latin remained a powerful symbol of universality in Western Europe and the token of a particular vision of culture and civilization. Within this vision, sometimes called “Romanitas,” local uses flourished until the sixteenth century. At the beginning of that century there were, in England alone, five main uses of the Latin liturgy, centered in the dioceses of Hereford, York, Lincoln, Bangor, and Salisbury.

The End of the Old Diversity

What brought this ancient diversity to an end was the appearance of a new type of diversity and of a new type of conformity. The visible communion of the Western Church broke down under the weight of ever-increasing claims by the Church of Rome to exercise universal ordinary authority. These claims in their less developed form had provoked, in large part, the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western jurisdictions of the Church in 1054. Without the ballast of communion with the Eastern Church, the Roman claims had only intensified, so that by the fourteenth century Pope Boniface VIII could write, “We declare, state, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff” (the bull “Unam Sanctam,” 1302).

Subsequent attempts to enforce this declaration changed the very nature of Western Church life. Papal insistence that the legitimate theological disputation of various medieval practices and scholastic theories be routed through the sclerotic Roman bureaucracy meant, in practice, that no real settlement of disputes was possible. Calls for a unified reformation of the Western Church fell on deaf ears. So, in the event, a disunified reformation took place.

In the Reformation and the Roman Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth century, the national churches that comprised the Western Church dealt with a common set of problems (authority, doctrine, liturgy, and communion) in very different ways. The Counter-Reformation’s approach is the easier to describe. At the Council of Trent, papal authority and medieval doctrine were reaffirmed. Communion was defined as communion with the pope. And all local liturgical uses, with the exception of the Ambrosian use at Milan, the Mozarabic use at Toledo, and the uses of some religious orders, were abolished. In their place was put the “Tridentine Missal,” essentially the use of the city of Rome.

While Trent, to its great credit, also dealt with a number of important abuses, the innovating quality of the council and the new conformity it imposed objectified the tendencies against which the national churches of the Reformation had demurred. What most people still mean by “the Roman Catholic Church” refers more to the results of the Council of Trent, than it does to the life of the Western Church prior to the sixteenth century.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that the intention of the original Reformers, whatever has become of the ecclesiastical jurisdictions that look back to them, was the conservation of the pre-medieval understanding of authority, of the scriptural doctrine of the Fathers and the undivided Church, of the local use of the common prayer in a language understandable to the people of the Church, and of spiritual communion based on one baptism into the one Body of Jesus Christ. From the beginning of the Reformation, some national churches were more successful than others in pursuing this goal of conservation. And it is worth noting that the precise cause of the appalling division among today’s non-Roman Christians in the West is the abandonment in subsequent generations of the Reformers’ traditional religion, elevating “protest” and “diversity” to ends in themselves.

Nevertheless, an exhibit remains of the Reformers’ true intentions, an embodiment of the reformed Catholic faith that they struggled to recover, not out of malice toward Rome, but for a greater love of God, of the truth of Holy Scripture, and of the faith and practice of the undivided Church. It is the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, which has become in over 150 different languages and local editions the chief formulary of some sixty to seventy million Anglicans in national churches around the world.

Whitsunday Again

This year Anglicans everywhere celebrated the 450th anniversary of a milestone in the life of the English Church, the Ecclesia Anglicana as she had been called routinely in Latin documents through many centuries. Just as on the first day of Pentecost the people had heard the gospel preached in their own languages, on Whitsunday, June 9, 1549, the members of the Church of England heard their public worship conducted entirely in “the vulgar tongue,” in their own English language.

As of this day, an act of Parliament required in every cathedral and parish of the Church of England the exclusive use of a newly appointed formulary: The Book of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, after the Use of the Church of England. This formulary was the culmination of ten years of effort, beginning with the royal injunction of 1539 that The Great Bible (in English) be set up in every parish church. Then had come an English version of the Litany in 1544, the reading of the Epistle and Gospel in English in 1547, along with the words for the administration of the Holy Communion, and in 1548 the conduct of the daily offices in certain London churches, wholly or partially in English.

One major goal of this new English order of worship was simplicity. Before the Book of Common Prayer was introduced, a library of books (the Breviary, Missal, Manual, Pontifical, and the Pie—a guidebook to using all the others) was needed to conduct the worship of the Church in each of the five main Latin uses of the Church of England. As the Preface to the English Prayer Book observed, “[M]any times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.” Now, according to the same Preface, “the whole realm shall have but one use” and in such an order that “the curates shall need no other books for their public service, but this book and the Bible.”

At the same time, the ancient sense of locality in worship was not sacrificed, in the name of simplicity, on an altar of needless conformity. The Preface also recognized the traditional discretionary authority of the diocesan bishops in the interpretation of the Prayer Book and the conduct of its services, within the boundaries of the national use. This intelligent flexibility made the single new English use fit for the use of every Christian in the realm, whether king or commoner.

But most important of all was the Prayer Book’s modesty in its claims for itself, as indicated by its title. The first words, “The Book of the Common Prayer,” bound the Church of England to the common prayer of the entire Christian Church throughout history, void of any claim of ecclesiastical exceptionalism. Aside from the change to prayer in English, no other novelty was intended. The contents were the prayer, sacraments, and administrations of “the Church,” meaning “the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” as confessed by the ancient Fathers in the Creeds. Nor was there anything revolutionary about a national church’s asserting its traditional authority under the constitutions of the Church to publish a formulary for the conduct of the common prayer “after the use of the Church of England.”

Unlike the Council of Trent, which sought to impose a single liturgy on the whole world, the English Church, in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, was scrupulous about defending the authority of other national jurisdictions to publish a use of the common prayer of their own. The following declaration appeared in the essay “Of Ceremonies: Why Some Be Abolished and Some Retained,” at the end of the English Prayer Book:

And in all these our doings we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe any thing, but to our own people only. For we think it convenient that every country should use such ceremonies, as they shall think best to the setting forth of God’s honor, and glory: and to the reducing [“leading”] of the people to a most perfect and Godly living, without error or superstition: and that they should put away other things, which from time to time they perceive to be most abused, as in men’s ordinance it often chanceth diversely in diverse countries.

Thus, the Church of England asserted the reasonable and faithful principle that whatever is man-made in the use of a national church must serve what is God-given in the common prayer of Christ’s One Church, or be amended to do so for the sake of the glory of God and the welfare of his people. Furthermore, the English Reformers took the position that authority resides in Christ and in his whole Church, and not in any one jurisdiction, however honorable or ancient, to be administered, except in the case of a General Council, by the pastors and chief pastors with the immediate cure of souls. No better “picture” can be had of the conservative and pastoral “face” of the Reformation than the Book of Common Prayer.

A Lasting Importance

Beyond any ecclesiastical importance, the Book of Common Prayer has made a lasting contribution to the life of every speaker of modern English. During the period when our modern idiom was developing, the schools taught mainly the grammar and prose styles of Latin and Greek, and not those of English. For this reason, many of the English prose writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries attempted to conform the English language to classical models, with often impenetrable results. A glance at John Milton’s essay “Areopagitica” will give a sense of what English prose might have permanently become.

In contrast, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the chief compiler of the Prayer Book, as well as the early translators of the English Bible (such as William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale) broke the classical rules to produce a more natural English idiom. It is to men such as these, as well as to William Shakespeare, who also wrote good English for the common people, to whom we owe the potential for clarity and beauty in modern English, not to mention the vast fund of memorable phrases that still enliven the educated mind that thinks in English.

And yet, the Prayer Book is more than an English cultural icon. There are few religious handbooks that possess anything like its power to guide a godly Christian life, from cradle to grave, 365 days a year, with less fuss or self-consciousness. It is as much an order for the Christian home as it is for the cathedral, parish, or monastery. Indeed, if anything holds out any promise for the healing of the malaise afflicting most of the western, industrialized jurisdictions of the Anglican Communion today, it is a return to the faith and practice objectified by the Book of Common Prayer as a formulary that unites the entire Communion and all of its members with the grace of God and the discipline of the ancient Church.

So, too, those of us who are Anglicans might look with our Roman Catholic and Orthodox brethren to the Book of Common Prayer, rather than to the earthly politics of the sixteenth or some other century, for those ancient and common things that we have always shared, and might share more visibly once again. A similar comparison of the Prayer Book with the older English liturgies of Protestant, Reformed, and Evangelical churches might reveal more common ground and more common history than the contemporary scene of denominations, revisions, and the complete abandonment of liturgy now permits us to see.

This year’s Whitsunday, then, marked more than the anniversary of a Prayer Book produced in England in 1549. It presented an opportunity for Anglicans to reclaim their soul, by rediscovering their ancestors’ modesty in thinking of themselves as only one jurisdiction within the Body of Christ, bound by charity and grace to a single common life and a single common worship with every other faithful Christian. It also gave occasion for the whole of Christ’s Church to ponder the questions of what is universal, what is merely local, and whether we have sometimes confused the two at the cost of lost fellowship and a blunted witness to Christ Jesus our common Lord.

Louis R. Tarsitano (d. 2005), a former associate editor of Touchstone, was rector of St. Andrew's Church in Savannah, Georgia. He also was the co-author, with Peter Toon, of Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: The Language of Common Prayer & Public Worship (Brynmill Press, Ltd., 2003).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

About comments

Please remember that the reader's comments are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the contributors to The Continuum Blog. Personally, when it is I who moderate comments, I do not like to reject comments because I do not want to be like the censors at Stand Firm. I tend to approve almost anything, because I assume the readers are grown up enough to recognize that the price of Free Speech is hearing ideas with which they disagree (I reject only for rudeness or mere repetition of controverted points without acknowledging the earlier rebuttal-which is both boring and rude). But, if someone writes in to take us to task, or even to take me to task, I want to see substance, a position stated with some reasoning behind it. For example, "Fr. Hart, you are mistaken because..." is fine (of course, I am likely to answer). But, "you dirty no good son of a ..." is not a substantial disagreement representing a thought out opinion. Neither is, "I am praying for you that you become a Christian." Frankly, if I had to choose between those last two, I prefer being called a "no good son of a ..." Furthermore, people who write to tell us that we, the contributors to the blog, are horrible men because of something a reader said in a comment need to be referred to the top of this post, that is, to the opening line. I do not censor people simply for their tone. If a reader's comment annoys you, do not assume that we accept responsibility for that reader's thoughts or mode of expression. Give us a break; we did not write it.

Also, FYI, it is impossible to edit comments in the combox. otherwise, I would fix your typos when I see them; but, the blogspot program makes that impossible. For further advice, see this.

Administrateur Apostolique

Révérend Père. Steven Ayule-Milenge (B.A, B.Th, MTh-Candidate

Bukavu, le 25 January 2010


There are always serious reasons which provoke changes such as those made recently by the Église Anglicane Catholique du Congo. I want to show you some of these reasons so that you may better understand that which has led us to the ACC-OP.

Evaluation of the work done during the 5 years since the establishment of the TAC in the Congo.

When I returned from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I had been the Curate of the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, we started our church without any help or infrastructure, but with 250 members who had left the Canterbury communion following the ordination of women, and who waited for me to establish a new church, member of the TAC.
- We registered the church with the Minister of Justice, and obtained government recognition on the 30th December 2004. This approval is very difficult to obtain for a new church which lacks any infrastructure: most of the churches function with provincial approval and permission.
- We are actively engaged in evangelisation in both villages and urban centres, and now have 78 chapels divided into 13 parishes with 3,250 members, adults and children. The Vicar General is assisted by three ordained priests, 12 candidates for ordination, and 78 preaching catechists. Thanks to the support of our partners in the IAF, the ACA Diocese of the North-East, ACC Canada, and others, we have been able to purchase land for each parish and chapel in the church, with the exception of the parish of Holy Trinity in Bukavu where land prices are very high.
- We have sent 6 men to follow a 4 year programme of theology and bible training, leading to a Certificate in Theology, which ended in June 2009.
- We have also sent a further three men for advanced study: they are now in the third year of a programme leading to a Diploma in Theology, which ended in July 2009.
- We have also sent a further three men for advanced study: they have finished the second year of a programme leading to a Diploma in Theology but they were expulsed by lack of fees because father David Marriott who sponsored them was also stopped to raising money for the ACC-Congo by the Primate of TAC
- Also, last year, with the help from Milano’s family, we have been able to receive a scholarship for a student to follow a Nursing Sciences programme for a three year Diploma in Nursing. Two others are working in a secondary programme leading to a Certificate in Nursing, a four year programme: one is in the third year, and the other is in the first year of studies.
- We have opened 5 Community Health centres in both villages and urban centres. These are aimed at treatment and education especially concerning AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases. Counselling is provided for women and girls who have been the victims of rape and sexual assault.
- We are providing assistance to widows and orphans from the war.
- We are working on a programme of evangelisation and on the organization of church administration: this from administrative, social and religious aspects.
- We have brought knowledge of the TAC to several thousands of people who were ignorant of this international Communion. This is a summary of the activity undertaken since I left Johannesburg, South Africa, and named as Vicar General to establish the TAC in Congo: a work which would have proved impossible to achieve without the support of Our Lord, partners in the endeavour, and personal and professional pastoral experience in ministry.

The serious reasons provoke changes made recently by the ACC-Congo to leave TAC for joining the ACC-OP.

In the past 5 years, we have worked to develop a church which would respond to the spiritual needs of the people in this country: the faithful whose lives have been poisoned by the warrior mentality established by the militias, and by the armed forces of various countries. This work has depended on the support received from the IAF and our friend Mr. Walter Kilian, and from certain individuals, notably the family of Fr. Alan Koller, the Milano family, and Fr. David Marriott: we are and will always be thankful for this supportive effort, financial and moral, without which our work would have failed.

Nevertheless, it was essential that we might have an Episcopal visit, or a series of such visits, to better manage the functioning of the church, and to assure us that quality of the work done reflected the pathway laid down by Our Lord. During the 5 years life of the church, with the exception of the visit by Fr. David Marriott, we have been distressed by the refusal of the Archbishop to come and see us, or to send another bishop who might offer us guidance and good counsel, and who might offer the sacraments of confirmation and the ordination of the deacons to the Lord’s work. In October 2009, Archbishop Hepworth refused to permit a visit to Congo and Cameroon, at their own expense, by Bishop Marsh, Frs. Alan Koller and David Marriott, when confirmations and diaconal ordination might have been made, aiding in the development of the church in Africa.

It is true that Archbishop Primate of the TAC has strongly discouraged Bishops, priests and the lay faithful in Canada to financially help the Francophone church in Africa: in removing Fr. David Marriott from the position of Primate’s chaplain to French speaking churches in Africa, because he sought to gain financial support for us at a time when the office of the primate lacked funding.

The diocesan synod of the ECAC expressed its displeasure with the Primate of the TAC with regards to the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the TAC in the RD Congo, which took place in November 2009, at which time the Christian faithful in Congo beseeched the Archbishop to be with us, or at least, to send another bishop to show his communion with us, so that the other dignitaries invited to the ceremonies might come to respect the presence of the TAC in Congo. It is as if the requests fell on deaf ears, or were never read. In the meanwhile, the Archbishop has been several times to Africa, but has limited himself to visits to Zambia and Kenya, ordaining deacons in these two Anglophone countries.

We have expressed concern several times about the decision taken by the local bishop of the Anglican Church (Canterbury) to ordain deacons who lacked theological training, with a view to the destabilization and disruption of our efforts in the parishes: we have had to find a reply to the allegations that our church is but a fiction, with no link to the TAC: if we were true members of the TAC, an Episcopal visit would have confirmed the validity of the ECAC. Due to the serious nature of this situation, the diocesan council has asked for the presence of a French speaking resident assistant or Suffragan bishop, able to visit parishes in the forest, where there are no roads, and also able to communicate in two of the 4 national languages of the country. He would thus be well equipped to perform hi Episcopal and sacramental duties: an urgent need expressed to the Primate of the TAC. We would have liked to have had our 16 candidates for ordination ordained tom the diaconate at the time of the 5th anniversary of the TAC in Congo.

It has to be noted with great regret and heartfelt sadness in the hearts of the Christians of the TAC in Congo, that during this time of armed conflict and war in the provinces of eastern Congo, there has been no message of consolation and encouragement from the Archbishop Primate of the TAC: where a simple letter from the communion might play an important part in offering comfort and care to those faithful directly affected by the conflict in which so many women and girls have been the victims of rape and sexual violence. Other churches established in Congo have responded, such as the Old Catholic church, Liberal Catholic church, Episcopal Charismatic church, Canterbury province of the Anglican Church of Congo, Protestant churches: all of whom have sent ministers, bishops and archbishops to offer solace for the pain suffered by the Christians in eastern Congo. Even the Roman Catholic Church has had a delegation of 8 bishops sent by Rome to offer comfort to their Christians in the parishes of eastern Congo. This lack of consolation towards the faithful of the TAC in Congo has led our people to consider carefully the future of the church with regards to the TAC: they have taken note of the silence experienced by the Francophone church as compared to the Anglophone church: so that, despite the work that we have undertaken to establish the TAC in Africa, there has been no written encouragement: it is as if our efforts are reduced to be null and void because we are ‘coloured’ by our language, being Francophone. This reflects the history of the establishment of the Anglican presence in Congo from the year 1896, where the Anglophone origins had no interest in the church in Congo. During the 37 years that Apolo Kivebulaya, a Ugandan missionary to the Congo from the Church Missionary Society, there was no thought about training any Congolese to succeed him. After his death, a priest stayed in Toro (Uganda) and ran his parish from a distance, coming some 120 kms to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and baptism in Congo once a year. One can note that this is similar to the current situation for the faithful in the TAC-Congo: Christians receive the Holy Eucharist 4 times a year, because of the lack of priests. A five year old child who is not known by his father in Christ, who, in turn, has no knowledge of him. How would a neighbour regard this child: orphaned, neglected, abandoned! Or deserted by his parents! Over the 5 years, progress has been achieved thanks to the joint efforts by local people, and the partners: above all, the IAF, the ACA diocese of the North-East, parish of St. Elizabeth, ACC-Canada, (Parish of St. Peter & St. Paul, Vancouver), and other faithful of the ACA. All of these partners deserve the gratitude of the ECAC for the shared sacrifices and the devotion to the cause of Holy Scripture and the development of the TAC-Congo.

We looked for comfort and healing from you our parents: the Christians from French speaking Africa had this right also, as they too are children of God despite the problems of language. Our country, Congo, is the very heart which beats at the centre of Africa: the strategic launch pad for the growth and development of the TAC in the black world, when we take account of the human and economic potential which is here. The massive participation of local people in their desire to hear the Word of the Lord is one encouraging point, because this is the very mission of the church as we read in Matthew 28.19-20. What was needed was an investment in the French speaking countries where the TAC is already established means to provide them with the necessary means for the development of the church in all aspects (economic, social and infrastructure).

In the Congo, the Anglican Catholic Church (TAC) is vibrant and dynamic, despite material poverty and the lack of servants (clergy and a resident Bishop) – although there are men available who are qualified and trained to take up their Ministry who await their authorization from the Archbishop and Primate of the TAC, things were negligent. Our faithful continue to receive the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist 4 times a year in the 9 parishes of the thirteen which make up our church – which is to say 80% of the Christians in Congo. There has been no Sacrament of Confirmation in the past 5 years due to the lack of a Bishop.

We live in a country where military threat exists still: but when, in July 2009, the militias attacked me and left me grievously wounded, I received no message, no note of encouragement from Archbishop Hepworth: just some messages from my personal friends, and an e-mail message from Archbishop Haverland, of whom I am aware as I have known for many years his vicar in South Africa, Fr. Alan Kenyon, who also brought me in touch with Bishop Rhodes to admit me into the TAC.

It is noted that the ECAC has been removed from the list of churches who are members of then TAC as, since December 2007, we have received not one circular letter from the primate’s office, despite the fact that several reports have been made to him.

You will understand that our choices are limited when confronted by this attitude both negative and dismissive towards the ECAC. There are only two churches of the ‘continuum’ which have offshoots, operations in Africa: these are the TAC and the ACC-OP. We decided that it behoved us to make some research about this original continuum church. And one result of this is that an Episcopal visit is already being planned of shortly after Easter.

This has led the Congolese’ church and I to conclude that, following the words of the Gospel in St. John 10.12-13, that the responsible person of the TAC is a mercenary who is not a shepherd, and to whom the sheep do not belong, as the wolf comes, he abandons his flock and flees, and wolf ravages the flock and scatters them. The mercenary flees because he is an employee, and will not stay and suffer the pain with his flock.

We have listened to the word of God which has inspired Archbishop Haverland with both pity and a deep enthusiasm in his thoughts that there are other sheep which are not of this flock, but those, it is necessary that I lead them, they hear my voice, and there is one flock, one shepherd in the heart of the ‘continuum’, as he was ordained to do with the proclamation of the Affirmation of St. Louis in Missouri in 1977. A good shepherd brings out all his own sheep he walks before them and the sheep follow, because they know his voice.

It grieves us that we must change our way, but I assure you that you are always in our prayers, and the help we have already received from you will be for always recognised in the annals of the church here in Congo. May God be fully recognisant of all the work, of all of your efforts to support us during these formative growing years of the ACC- Congo. We can’t forget Frs Alan Koller, David Marriott’s family and Milano family for the help of the growing of the ACC-Congo.

With grateful thanks,

For the Église Catholique Anglicane du Congo,

+Father Steven AYULE-MILENGE

Peter and the Risen Christ

A Study in Penance

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."  John 21:7, 14-17 (RSV)

Peter defied the expectations of any person in the ancient world of Paganism who, upon hearing this story for the first time, might have expected him to run away from the God he had offended. Instead, Peter is eager to get into the presence of Jesus, leaping into the water to try to swim ahead of the others. Peter knew he had denied the Lord three times, and no longer was able to boast of his own unfailing love. No longer does he presume to say, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." Indeed, no longer able to boast of his readiness, he would instead come to obtain a Divine gift, to rely on grace rather than on his own power.

Because he knew the reality of his sin and failure, Peter ran to Christ rather than away from him. When God called to Adam in the garden, asking, "Adam, where art thou?" (Gen.3:9) he showed that his intention was to restore sinners by his grace to his favor as elect and beloved. For this reason Christ died, and to justify us he rose again (Rom.4:25). He stood on the shore and welcomed the approach of not only Peter, but of all of these men who had forsaken him and fled; for only John had come to the foot of the cross.

Why did Jesus give Peter three opportunities to speak of his love? What was this love of Peter's now but a sincere intention to love? Unable to rise to the highest love (ἀγαπάω) by human strength, Peter was humble enough to answer in terms of his intention to be a friend (φιλέω) of God; and Jesus met him at that point of sincere intention. Jesus gave Peter these three opportunities because he had denied the Lord exactly that many times, three times before the cock crowed on that Friday morning. This was not necessary for Peter to be forgiven; rather, it was a necessary aid to Peter for what would lie ahead.

Penance is not atonement; the only atonement for our sins was accomplished when Christ paid in full for our sins (John 20:30 τελέω). Penance does not earn forgiveness; in fact, it is done after Absolution has been given, never before. This story as John tells it, where Jesus gives Peter three opportunities to speak of his love, however imperfect that love may have been, teaches us what penance is about. It redirects the soul to God, indeed, the redeemed and forgiven soul.

Forgiveness is about the past. Penance is about the future. In penance we say to Jesus, "Lord you know everything; You know I love you." So, Jesus, who formerly said to us "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," (Luke22:32) now says to us, "feed my sheep." He knew we would fail; he knew we would be converted. After forgiveness, after we are converted and restored, he gives us penance to redirect our souls in love and worship as holy, elect and beloved of the Father. Then he calls us, everyone of us, to a life of service.

How sad that this wonderful gift of penance has been twisted into an attempt to do the impossible, that is to atone. How sad that it is often mistaken as some price we pay for sin, as if we could pay such a price with anything less than an eternity in Hell (which is not the will of God at all). "Say three Our Fathers and two Hail Marys." I have required this as penance: "I will leave you here alone before the altar; read-rather pray-the words of Psalm 51." I have seen a grown man come to me afterward with tears in his eyes, happy tears because he learned there and then that Jesus loved him, as if he had only now learned it for the first time. "Now you know the love of Christ for you," I said.

This is what penance is, and what it is for: It meets our need to say, "Lord you know everything; You know I love you"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reaffirming St. Louis

January 28th (so we are one day ahead) seems like a good date for posting information about Fr. John Roddy's blog page that allows each of you to attach your John Hancock (that is, an American way of saying "to sign your name") to the Affirmation of St. Louis. But, no one should sign something without reading it first. This provides an opportunity to suggest that each of you read it, or refresh your memory. You will find it all here.

The Bestowal of the Denver Succession to the Episcopate upon the St. Louis Churches Jan. 28th

Sermon for Morning Prayer, The Rev’d Canon John A. Hollister

Lessons: 1

The First Lesson: Here beginneth the thirty-fifth Chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 2

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.

“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Here endeth the First Lesson.

The Second Lesson: Here beginneth the seventeenth Chapter of the Gospel According to St. John. 3

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Here endeth the Second Lesson.


From the Second Lesson: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and gavest them me; and they have kept thy word." 4

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


We are a Catholic Church, a fact we acknowledge each time we recite one of the historic Creeds. In the Orders for Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, we recite the Apostles’ Creed, with its affirmation “I believe in … The holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints”. In the Eucharist we recite the Nicene Creed where, despite a printer’s typographic error in 1549 which omitted the word “holy” from the “Marks of the Church”, we still acknowledge “one Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

One of the principal points which distinguishes the Catholic Faith, and which, therefore, distinguishes a Catholic Church, is its reliance on objectively valid Sacraments as incarnational occasions of God’s Presence in this physical world. Almost all of these Sacraments, however – all but Baptism and Matrimony – require that they be administered by a duly-ordained Priest or Bishop who stands in the authentic Apostolic Succession.

Thus, without the assurance of this Succession, there can be no assurance that we are within the Catholic Church to which we give our allegiance in those Creeds.


Thus when the founders of the Continuing Anglican church movement determined that an authentic Catholic church life could only be maintained in separation from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA and from the Anglican Church of Canada, one of their first concerns was to assure that their new jurisdiction would possess the historic Episcopate, the Episcopate which is the essential minister of all the Sacraments except Baptism and Matrimony and from which both of the other grades of Holy Order arise.

Today marks the thirty-second anniversary of the consecration of four new Anglican Bishops in a service held in a Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado. Those four new Bishops, Charles Dale David Doren, Peter Francis Watterson, James Orrin Mote, and Robert Sherwood Morse, were consecrated in order to carry Christ’s authority, and the Office of His Apostles, to the new church jurisdiction that had begun a year-long process of formation at a large meeting at St. Louis, Missouri, in the Fall of 1977. This process was to have continued, and in part did continue, when the founders of the new jurisdiction met again to draft its foundation documents at Dallas, Texas, in the Fall of 1978.

Bishop Doren was consecrated for the Anglican Catholic Church’s Diocese of the Mid West, Bishop Watterson for the ACC’s Diocese of the Southeast, which is now its Diocese of the South, Bishop Mote for the ACC’s Diocese of the Holy Trinity, and Bishop Morse for the Diocese of Christ the King. This latter still exists (now as a Province) but never actually came under the same Church administration as did the others.

I stress these diocesan affiliations because it is very important that these four new Bishops were not consecrated just to give them personal titles or increased prestige. Instead, they were commissioned to be the pastors, the shepherds, of real jurisdictions within Christ’s Church, and to oversee and care for actual flocks, the people of their respective Dioceses.

Four other Bishops were involved in planning for these consecrations, two of whom were members of the Episcopal Church in the USA, three of whom were within the Lambeth Communion, and one of whom, while not in the Lambeth Communion, was in communion with it and had received his Episcopal Orders through that Communion. The actual consecrators were Albert Chambers, the retired ECUSA Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, and Francisco Pagtakhan, the Missionary Bishop in the U.S. for the Philippine Independent Catholic Church. At the last moment, the other two were unable to attend but gave formal consent to the consecration of the new Bishops; these were Charles Boynton, the retired ECUSA Bishop of Puerto Rico, and Mark Pae, the Bishop of Taejon, Korea.

This action assured that the new church movement would stand in the Apostolic Succession, and thus would be able to minister to its people Christ’s Own Sacraments, for which we must be ever grateful. That is why today’s anniversary appears on our Ordo Kalendar. However, as we celebrate and give thanks for that inestimable blessing, we should at the same time remember that the Bishops who coöperated in bringing this gift to us did not do so without difficulty or danger to themselves. For example, great personal pressure was brought to bear by the authorities of the Episcopal Church upon both Bishops Chambers and Boynton; in fact, that pressure was so unremitting that it actually made Bishop Boynton too ill to travel.

Further, behind them, stretching back in history, stand other Bishops, who likewise at great personal cost, or in actual or potential danger, and despite great difficulties, assured that this line of Apostolic Succession would continue in a way that brought it, ultimately, to us. Without their courage, their vision, and their sacrifices, we would not be able, every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, to encounter and receive Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the consecrated elements on His Altar.

In particular, there were three prior occasions upon which decisions were made and acts were taken that would be crucial to preserving the lines of the Bishops who brought this gift to us. Each of these occasions involved danger, trouble, and sacrifice on the part of those involved in them and so it is appropriate that today, of all days, we should stop and remember them with gratitude.

1. The first of these occasions that was critical to our receiving the historic Episcopate took place in 1690. That was during a civil war in the British Isles which goes by the name of “The Glorious Revolution” and was the second time in the 17th Century that Parliament took upon itself to expel the legitimate monarch.

What happened was that a son was born to King James, the VII of Scotland and II of England, who had for many years been a Roman Catholic, and to his second wife, a Roman Catholic princess from Italy. The new Prince of Wales would, of course, be raised as a Roman Catholic and the British Crowns (there were three of them) would be Roman Catholic for the foreseeable future.

Parliament feared that in the international situation of the times, this would weaken Britain’s ability to protect its interests at home and abroad, such as by resisting the expansionist megalomania of Louis XIV of France. So James was expelled and his Protestant daughter Mary, with her husband and cousin, William of Orange, were installed as joint Sovereigns.

Politically, the new government needed to placate the Scots, whose nationalistic and religious fervor had wreaked so much havoc over the previous fifty years. Therefore the Crown abandoned its attempts to return Scotland to the historic Faith and surrendered to the Scots Presbyterians. The Scots Parliament then not only disestablished the old, and Episcopal, Church of Scotland, putting the Presbyterian Church in its place and conferring the Church’s lands and properties upon the intruders, but the true Church actually became illegal. It struggled greatly but continued to exist as a persecuted underground body. At that time, this was, of course, a great tragedy for its leaders and members and led to much oppression and suffering. However, as things turned out a century later, it was also an act of Providence that was vital to our receiving the Apostolic Succession.

2. The second occasion that was crucial to our Succession occurred on November 14, 1784, when Samuel Seabury was consecrated in Aberdeen, Scotland by the Bishops of that illegal, underground Scottish Episcopal Church of which we have just spoken. Our Ordo Kalendar calls November 14 “The Bestowal of the American Episcopate” because Seabury was the first Bishop of the newly-independent American church. His consecration, or the consecration of someone like him, was necessary because once Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, recognizing the political independence of the new United States after the Revolutionary War, the scattered and disorganized Parishes here of the Church of England were suddenly cut adrift and could no longer form part of the Established Church in what was now a foreign country.

The clergy of the new State of Connecticut elected Samuel Seabury as their Bishop and he sailed for England to seek consecration there. He approached the English Bishops, who were generally favorable to the new church but who served an Established Church which was an integral part of the English legal and governmental system. This then permitted them only to consecrate Bishops for service within the British Isles.

(One result of Seabury’s experience, and the fact that he was able to be consecrated “under the radar” in Scotland, was Parliament’s later passage of statutes providing for the consecration of “Overseas Bishops”. These were the actual beginnings of the late Anglican Communion but that is another story.)

So Seabury traveled to Scotland, where he met with the Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. As an underground, illegal body, it was not restrained by the political considerations that bound the hands of the English Bishops. Seabury convinced the Scots Bishops to provide the new American Church with its first Bishop. Through Bishop Albert Chambers, we have received Bishop Seabury’s line of succession from the Scottish Church. Thus for Seabury’s perseverance and fortitude, and for the Scots Bishops’ generosity and vision, we must always be deeply grateful.

The Anglican Missal recalls Seabury’s consecration by providing special Propers for a special Votive Mass on November 14, under the name “The Bestowal of the American Episcopate”. It is certainly fitting that we should celebrate that service whenever possible, giving thanks for what it has brought to us.

3. Finally, the third of these events which led directly to the Denver Consecrations took place in 1948, when the Philippine Independent Catholic Church received the Anglican Episcopate from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA. That completed a process begun in 1902, when native Filipinos formed a new church for their new nation because they were dissatisfied at the way the Roman Catholic Church had served as an arm of the oppressive Spanish colonial regime.

When you consider how grudging was the attitude of the Episcopal Church in the 1970s toward the founders of our church, and the extreme lengths to which it was prepared to go to prevent us from receiving the vital gift of the Apostolic Succession, it is ironic to recall how generously that same Episcopal Church in the 1940s extended that gift to these Filipinos, whose situation was in some ways similar to our own.

It was that somewhat unlikely generosity that made it possible for Bishop Pagtakhan, thirty years later, to join with Bishop Chambers in passing on to us the historic Anglican Succession that the Episcopal Church was so anxious we should not have.

As we look back along the past three and a half centuries and recall these particular times when the survival of the Episcopate in some one place or time seemed in doubt, we must marvel at the care with which Providence has provided for its continuance.

The importance of these events to us is well illustrated when a priest is able to stand here with you and together with you offer that anamnesis by which Christ allows us to re-present before the Father Christ’s own “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”. At that time, he can only present, on your behalf, your “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” because at some time previously He was ordained a Priest in the Church of God by some Bishop who, in almost all cases, had himself been ordained by the Bishops of a Continuing Church who, in his own turn or in that of his immediate predecessors, was ordained by one of those first four Bishops from the Denver Consecration.

(I say “in almost all cases” because from time to time we have been blessed to receive Priests who were ordained in the Lambeth Communion prior to its apostasy, or in the Roman Catholic Church, or in one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, or in one of the legitimate Old Catholic Churches. 5

As we have just reviewed, these first four Bishops were Bishops through the act of Bishops Chambers and Pagtakhan, and they themselves were Bishops in significant part through the act of the Scottish Bishops in consecrating Bishop Seabury. But had the true Church of Scotland remained a state church, and not been displaced by the greed of the Presbyterians, those Scots Bishops would have been bound by the same constraints as were the English ones.

Thus in the event we commemorate this morning we see yet again that God is ever watching out for us, providing for our most basic needs, in this case for the Sacramental integrity of our Church.


1.The Lessons appointed for occasions of Christian Unity in Psalms and Lessons for Special Occasions (1943), The Book of Common Prayer xliii (PECUSA 1928, 1943).

2.Isaiah 35: 1-10 (KJV).

3. St. John 17: 1-26 (KJV).

4. St. John 17: 6 (KJV).

5.That is, within the Union of Utrecht. However, since 2002, out of the bodies that formerly made up that Union, only the Polish National Catholic Church has remained faithful to historic Catholic principles.


Pictured above: Bishop Albert Chambers, Bishop Samuel Seabury


The Rev’d Canon John A. Hollister is Priest Assistant, Christ Anglican Catholic Church, Metairie LA. Honorary Canon, the Diocese of the Resurrection, and Honorary Canon and Canon to the Ordinary, The Diocese of New Orleans, The Anglican Catholic Church.