Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Beware of the SJWs!

Looking at my gamut of Facebook friends, I have noticed a growing antipathy to SJWs. It took me a while to realise that SJW did not stand for "Serious Jehovah's Witness" but rather for "Social Justice Warrior".

Now what is this beast and how does it attract such vilification?

First of all, it must be realised that the term is a pejorative, and therefore not a term that one should use in a debate with those who get described as SJWs. Essentially, it is a derogatory term for all those who subscribe to "progressive" social views which include feminism, civil rights, multiculturalism, identity politics, LGBTI values, et c. These are difficult issues in our society, and the tension that we have lies in trying to live together despite some radically different ideas on how Society is to be run. The Church is in the World and therefore in Society, but it is not of the World, and therefore not of Society. It therefore lives in tension between this "in" and "of", a tension which seems to be causing a schism as groups from either extreme pull away from each other.

I have tried to argue that the Church needs to recover its creative capacities that it derives from Her Head. We do seem to be reacting to social changes that are happening, but this is because fewer and fewer people see the Church as an authority on social issues. There is a disjunct between the Church's Orthodoxy and her role in the world as a champion for Our Lord's radical ideas on how Society should be run. The Church needs to be preaching the realities of Eternal Life and the Kingdom of God that is here and now and always has been here and now. Does this Eternity exclude Feminism, Civil Rights, Multiculturalism, Identity Politics, and LGBTI values? Well that depends what you mean. Each of these terms has slightly changed its meaning and its impetus over the decades, and this change is largely a result of secularisation and, dare I say, Marxism.

Marxism has decried Religion as the opiate of the people. This is probably the greatest category error in all of political thought. There is no such thing as Religion save as a catch-all term for the different systems of belief - a term that Marxism defines carefully so that it doesn't fall into the same trap. Religions are not the same, and only superficially comparable. Of course, Marx had Christianity in his sights when he made his statement. He saw Christianity as the reason why the oppressed workers did not rise up and take control. This Marxism has brought about the notion of revolution as an acceptable way for the oppressed to turn the tables and govern. It is pernicious and infects all political systems, even those that predate Marx. I wonder, then, whether Marxism should be given an older name, for it preaches the first sin in Creation: that of Lucifer in rebelling against God.

Each of the "progressive elements" described under the banner of SJW is born from God's desire that mankind should love each other with the same type of love with which they love Him. What is the social justice that God demands? Isaiah says:
Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. (Isaiah lviii,6-8)
Is this Marxist? With its talk of freeing those oppressed, and breaking every yoke, making sure that everyone is fed, clothed, visited, it may appear so. Yet notice that there is no notion of "equality" here. There is no discussion of rights, but still there is the urge to protect the vulnerable.

Feminism is godly when it seeks to ensure the protection of women from rape and abuse, when it seeks to ensure that all people are recognised to be human beings, and that if someone does a job then they should be paid as much as another person doing the same job. Feminism is godly when it recognises that men and women are different but share the common humanity and the dignity wherewith God has bestowed it. It ceases to be godly when it attempts to destroy masculinity, when it seeks revenge for the abuses of the past in the name of justice, when it attempts to claim superiority in the same way as men have done so. The Church is naturally a patriarchy in the spiritual sense because God is always described as a Father, by His Son no less. That God chooses clergy to be male should not be an affront against the dignity of the female. Indeed, though Society may find it hard to accept, the virtue of obedience to God's will is one that may mean swallowing the unpalatable for now, but trusting in God's Justice which will come when His Kingdom is made manifest once more.

This is the key thing. Christians submit to the will of God, no matter how arbitrary it may appear. To succumb to the will of society which does change in Time is disobedience against the Eternal Changelessness of God. Whatever is Sin at one point in Time is Sin in all points of Time, because God is Eternal and Sin is separation from God.

The key to the Church's reaction to social issues must be one with its Gospel and its conclusion which is Heaven. Its duty is to transcend earthly issues by drawing humanity towards Heavenly thinking, but we need to be, as Our Lord warned us, innocent as doves and shrewd as vipers. This reflects our straddling of our earthly predicament and our heavenly destiny. Marxism simplifies things by bidding us forget about our heavenly destiny. In that sense, it is not "Religion" that is the opiate of the people; it is Marxism. It is Marxism that forms the procrustean bed whereby people are made to fit by Law.

If the Church truly wants to be a warrior for social justice, then it must promote the system whereby "justice" makes sense. The procrustean justice of Marxism is not, cannot, be a sensible justice.

If I ask, "how many legs does the average human being have?" a Marxist will say "1.985" or something similar because it takes the mean number of legs: i.e. it counts the total number of human legs and divides that by the total number of humans to get the mean number of legs per human. Those above the mean are "privileged" and thus must succumb to those who are "disadvantaged" who lie below the mean.

Yet that makes no sense. We know that the majority of human beings have two legs - this is the average known as the mode. We're not expected to saw off bits of leg to make it fair for other people. We are expected to ensure that people who require wheelchair access receive that access. We are expected to help create better prosthetics for those whose lives would be better for them. God bids us address the actual need, not penalise those who are not in need. The one who looks down on the white middle-class man just because he is a white middle-class man is just as discriminatory as the one who looks down on the black working-class lesbian because of who she is.

What do we do? The Church can lead the way by ensuring that they uphold God's justice rather than the world's expectations. God decrees that marriage is between a male and a female - that's why He created male and female in the first place. To say that there is no such thing as male and female now flies in the face of thousands of years of male and female. Yet, the justice of God (which is an expensive justice) means that homosexual people don't get to have sex with a partner of the same sex. This flies in the face of social justice for the reason that sex is not a right, nor a privilege. For a Christian to want sex with someone of the same sex flies in the face of God's will. It sounds harsh, but there is a perfect opportunity for that Christian to refrain from what he might perceive as good for what he believes to be truly better - namely a relationship with God. Sexual intercourse is a distraction, an idol which takes the place of loving the One True God.

The Church's Gospel is to demonstrate that the relationship with God is better than anything that anyone could wish for. While each one of us is separated from God, we are all in need: we are all poor, naked, blind, in prison, oppressed, and there is no cure save Eternal union with God. This is something we have to learn. While the Church must meet the corporal needs of every human being, it must not subscribe to their earthly wants, nor to a Marxist agenda that, far from celebrating diversity, smudges it into a bland, language-free pottage of meaninglessness. The more that the Church looks upwards rather than downwards, the more it will encourage others to do so.

Should the Christian be an SJW? Only if the J truly comes from Jesus.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Really real? Really?


Sermon for the Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi

In this day and age, we have to have everything verified by Science. The activity of praying has been found by Science to be beneficial to one's mental well-being, so the secular society has invented Mindfulness which is essentially a form of meditation without God.

Given this scientific mentality at the back of your mind, do you think it is easy to see why people doubt that Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly present under the form of bread and wine at Mass?

We hear Our Lord say, "I am the bread of Life," and from this we believe that Our Lord is as present in the Mass as we are, only more so, and that we do eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. Yet, Our Lord says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" and, "I am the door," and "I am the vine." If Our Lord is speaking literally when He says "I am the bread of life," mustn't He also be speaking literally when He says, "I am the vine"? But Jesus isn't literally a vine - He's human and divine. Surely He must be speaking as an analogy here, not literally. If He's only the vine by analogy and not literally, why should we not think the same when He says that He is the bread of life? Perhaps Jesus only meant the bread and wine to stand symbolically for His body and blood. Perhaps He isn't really here! Why are we staring at that circle of unleavened bread so intently?

[PAUSE]

It looks like we have a lot of explaining to do. Why aren't things as they seem? How can we honestly believe in Our Lord's substantial presence when all the evidence points to the contrary?

Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches. He is clearly saying something deeper than our knowledge will allow. Yet, we understand Him that our life with Him comes from being united with Him in a way that is deeper than our understanding will allow. We not only find our Creation from God, but we gain our very selves from God. If He is the vine and we draw our lives from Him, how do we do that? He must be giving of Himself to us to sustain us - that's what vines do for branches.

Not only this, but Jesus does use this little word indeed. Every time Jesus uses this word indeed which literally means "in truth", He is talking about a fact. Look up every time Jesus says, "indeed," and you will see that He is talking about truth. And then He says, "My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed." This is true. It's what He says, and this word "indeed" shows that He really means it.

But why bread? Why wine?

In several places in the Bible, God presents eating the flesh of human beings as a curse. Cannibalism is savagery and close to the behaviour of wild animals. Jesus wants to protect us from that curse lest people are scandalised. People leave Jesus when He says that His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood is drink indeed. They know such language to be horrible: cannibalism is a curse. Yet, Peter and the other disciples stay with Him trusting in His word, that He will never be a curse to them. And He isn't!

This is why He gives us Himself in the form of bread and wine, so that we are not accused of falling under the curse of eating human flesh and blood. We are eating the Body and Blood of Christ which stands beyond our physical understanding. We draw from Christ the very substance of His being so that we might be nourished as the branches of a vine. He does not diminish when we consume Him but He grows, just like the bread at the feeding of the four thousand and five thousand. There is more than enough of Him for ever single human being who is, was or will be, in all of existence.

[PAUSE]

When next you gaze upon the host, you will see a wafer and that's as it should be. You are seeing the Bread of Heaven, But the Bread of Heaven is Our Lord Jesus Christ. There gaze upon this little white disc and know that you are seeing not only the fulfilment of a promise, but of the Truth that Our Lord Jesus Christ wants to feed you with His very self so that you can become like Him. Don't try to discern His flesh with your eyes, do so with your soul, and pray that God will open the eyes of your soul to behold Him face to face.

He is very willing to let you see Him. He is very willing for you to become like Him.

Are you willing? Are you willing, indeed?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Moving forward by staying still

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" (from Though the Looking Glass and what Alice found there, by Lewis Carroll)

One of the the problems that the Church has to address is how it relates to the findings of Science. We live in an age where the tenets of Christianity are thought to be challenged by scientific findings. The big challenge has been the Evolution of the Species versus the account of the Creation of the World in Genesis. There have been three approaches:

1) deny the truth of Science and accept the Biblical account;
2) deny the truth of the Bible and accept the findings of Science;
3) realise the truths that the Bible reveals and that Science discerns are different in nature.

As a matter of fact, many of the Church Fathers did not think that the account of the Creation in Genesis needed to be literal such as St Cyprian, St Justin Martyr, St Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Yet there are many who thought that Genesis was true to the exclusion of Science such as St Basil, St John Damascene, and St Ambrose. This does mark a trend in the Church that has existed from its beginning. there are those who believe that philosophy has a place in Christian thought such as St Justin Martyr and St Anselm, and there are those who do not such as Lactantius, Tertullian, and (to an extent) St Bernard of Clairvaux.

This is the key idea that the Church wrestles with - the nature of human reason within Christian Doctrine. Fr Richard Hooker speaks of the union of Scripture, Tradition and a Right Reason, i.e. a Reason that is has its roots in Scripture and Tradition. Notice, please, nowhere does Fr Hooker ever mention the three-legged stool. That is a myth. He likes it more to a rope of three cords. Still better is the analogy of three rocks, one on top of another: Scripture first, Church Fathers next, then Right Reason on top and thus based solely on both.

It is good that there are these tow positions represented in the Church as each serves as checks and balances on the other. The path to God is a mixture of apophatic and kataphatic spiritualities in tension whereby what we perceive with our senses is both affirmed and denied in order to spur us onward. There is a time for both.

The problem is whether the Church is now merely reactive to human development or part of the creative process whereby humanity participates in its Creation with God. We participate in our salvation effectively by becoming the person that Our Lord Jesus can save in love. Love requires consent, and thus we have to agree to our growth and transformation in Christ that we may indeed become like Him. We are shaped by our deeds and experiences: the more we allow Our Lord to influence those deeds and experiences, the more we approach the real us. This is a process which is given to us by the gift of faith and aided actively at every step by the Triune Godhead. This is why we pray "may the Divine assistance be with us always."

To those who stand outside Christianity, they will see the Church as being largely reactive to the events of Science. What is the Church's response to the Higgs boson whose existence may be responsible for the Big Bang? What is the Church's response to stem cell research which is responsible for many of the drugs such as Warfarin? What about organ donation et c?

It is clear in a traditional church, such as the ACC, that a pro-life stance has massive implications upon what the Church can accept as being an ethics within Science. We have a rigid pro-life stance: life begins at conception and must be preserved as far as possible until death is clear. Essentially, we have to err on the side that a human being is alive until incontrovertible evidence shows otherwise. In this line of thinking, the death of the brain stem is not enough to establish death to the extent that organs can be harvested for transplant. Likewise, T-cells extracted from human embryos is viewed in the same way as vivisection on other human beings. This is problematic because organ donation and stem cell research are preserving people's lives. We in the ACC would say that the means does not justify the ends.

The runaway train problem does demonstrate this well.


In the situation of organ donation: this is very similar to the pushing of the fat man off a bridge. Although Science defines a person as being dead if the brain stem is dead, the Church says that we cannot be sure and that our duty is to follow the morally safer path. We work from different parameters. Many interesting discussions can be found in this edition of Touchstone Magazine. It is also interesting to note that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church do support organ donation. Most Anglican Catholics would agree in principle if it could be demonstrated that the donor really is dead. On the other hand does the one holding a donor card act in a way that demonstrates a desire for self-sacrifice to allow another to live? This is a big debate and it is difficult to find clear answers.

Again, what we see here is the Church reacting to the world, scurrying to the Bible and the Fathers to discern the moral position. Modernists scurry to Church Authority in order to find an interpretation that matches their morality, and that's a problem.

An end-of-life issue such as organ donation, abortion or euthanasia usually contains an emotive weight. Both sides of the arguments will use the phrase "How would you feel if...?" The question is, are feelings relevant? In cold, brute force philosophy, no. Organ donation benefits the greater good in an unemotional Utilitarian philosophy. In an unemotional pro-life philosophy, the argument would be: one's own danger of impending death is no reason to cause certainly the death of the donor who is potentially dead.

That's what happens when we take the emotion out of the equation. That doesn't mean we take Love out of the equation, as Love is not an emotion.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that like modern politics (Trump or Clinton, anyone?) we are given the choice between two wrong answers and either choice stirs a sense of injustice being done and thus a sense of indignation which is perceived to be righteous by one party and rebellious by another. Perhaps, the Church can do with being creative rather than reactive in these situations.

If the Church is to keep its mind on things that are Heavenly then it needs to bring the joy of Heaven into matters of life and death. Cold hard logic and philosophy will only cause arguments which are unconvincing to the other party precisely because we are arguing in the sphere of earthly human reason. Perhaps, the Church must recognises that, actually, there is no blanket piece of reasoning that will cover every eventuality. If the Church recognises anything, it will be that life on earth is grossly unfair. If there is no God, then there is no reason why life shouldn't be anything other than filled with pain, injustice, intolerance and death. Indeed, without God, getting terminal cancer is not evil - it is just how things are. It is because we react at a visceral level to our loved ones getting terminal cancer that perhaps there is a deeper sense of worth within us that the world can ever give, and if that worth is beyond the world's capacity perhaps it is of God.

It is the presence of the Church in matters of life and death to present that worth of humanity to those who find themselves conflicted. People will often make the wrong choice, indeed the morally wrong choice. The Church will proclaim, "No Abortion! No Euthanasia." A child will get aborted. A man will go to Switzerland and be euthanised. And the Church will scream "NO!" in tears and rage, crying out to God for the innocent life that has been ended immorally. And what will God do?

Well, that's what we have to leave in the hands of God. We have to. It has always been the Church's role to care for the souls of all human beings. We have to stand in the moral mess suffering with the innocent in order that the suffering of the innocent finds sanctification through the means that the Church possesses to sanctify. We have that authority to sanctify given from God. What we don't do is batter sinners and the innocent alike with earthly reasoning even if it is Right Reason. We see that this does indeed drive people away from Christ.

The Church does need to re-develop its creative capacity not only to react to developments in Science and other forms of human progress, but also to present what is Heavenly to beings of earthly mind. It is the role of the Church to suffer for that bringing Heaven to Earth just as Our Lord suffers for the same thing and accomplishes it through His death.

Moral dilemmas produce dichotomies, but morality is Earthly thought if we do not learn to approach it from above for that's where the Church's creative capacities lie. The fundamental worth of every human being comes from God. If we wish to convince the world that abortion denies the worth of both mother and child, then we have to make sure that we ourselves are capable of discerning the worth of people in particular and not in a theoretical text.

The Church does not need to change doctrine by one iota to embrace hard moral issues. She has the capacity to move humanity forward towards God without making the changes that modernists demand under the false assumption that the prevailing morality is where you start: they assume the thing they try to prove. The Church needs to be what God intends the Church to be: standing with the woman caught in adultery, giving her hope of true and glorious life and then telling her to go and sin no more so that she continue towards that true and glorious life.

If Christ joins Heaven and Earth for us sinners in the Mass, then surely the Church can draw strength from that for all others who dwell in sin and the shadow of Death. Let us never, ever despair of the mercy of God. Let us never, ever make anyone else despair of the mercy of God.

Corpus Christ 2017: Videte Miraculum


Recently, a photograph from the Synod of a Continuing Anglican jurisdiction has been published. It shows the moment of the consecration in which a strange disc of light appears above the Chalice as the sacred ministers genuflect.

The priest who published the photograph maintains that it is not a reflection. There are, of course, other potential explanations for this effect. Is it an "orb" - a strange photographic effect that some people attribute to spiritual activity and others a preternatural phenomenon associated with digital photography? Is it a camera defect? Or is it the reflection off of someone's watch?

Indeed, there could be a perfectly "rational" explanation, i.e. one that comes about from empirical reasoning usually under the assumption that there is nothing that cannot be explained by Science.

That's not the point though.

As a result of that photograph, the faith of many faithful Christians has been strengthened. They now find their belief in Our Lord's promises strengthened. They are able to open their hearts further to the presence of God. They have received a visible impression of God's Grace in their lives and a ratification for what they do. That is indeed the purpose of a miracle: it has turned people to God by reinforcing His teaching with a sign and wonder.

Of course, there have been a lot of hoax miracles over the years. People have become rich from the devotion of the gullible. The Mediaeval period was renowned for bleeding hosts, weeping statues and the like, all clever illusions and parlour tricks. It must make faithful Christians look like imbeciles when they see St Theresa of Calcutta in a bath bun or Our Lord in the foam of a cup of coffee.

As Christians, we don't need miracles save the miracle of the Incarnation. Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed. If we are truly sincere in our faith, we will be looking beyond this world and striving to see into the deeper reality behind it. Our minds must be in Heaven - we must "ponder nothing eartlhy minded" as Moultrie's translation of part of the Liturgy of St James says - especially at the consecration of the Eucharistic Elements. At that moment, although it is imperceptible to our senses, we are in Heaven with God. A photograph like this is, in itself, an ikon of this fact.

Whether there is, or is not, a rational explanation for this photograph is irrelevant. The photograph itself opens a window into Heaven where we may gaze upon God.

As we celebrate this most glorious of mysteries, we remember that the whole Mass is a miracle but hidden to those whose only intention is to reject God and deny His presence among us. We Christians should strive hard to believe that God can act in earthly things and transform the meanest sanctuary into Heaven itself, a tin pot into a golden chalice of the Blood of Christ, a pair of tiny candles into roaring flames of God's own light, and the smallest morsel of bread into Christ's very body.

Our destiny lies in the Mass itself, and when all earthly Masses cease, then we shall see the veil of the temple of this skin of reality rent in twain, and the majesty of God thunder through. Then we shall see our place in Heaven bowing before the Throne of God, re-created and made perfect through Him, with Him and in Him.

Blessed and praised be Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament!
Hosanna in excelsis!

Monday, June 12, 2017

The "Archbishop of Canterbury", GAFCON, and the ACC's T-shirt

If the Daily Mail is to be believed (and there is always a very good reason why it should always be taken with a Dead Sea's worth of salt - this is why I've used the quote marks in the title), in a confidential letter from Archbishop Welby to Anglican leaders (which somehow includes the Daily Mail), the Primate of the Anglican Communion has cited Canons 15 and 16 from the First Council of Nicaea in 325AD.

These state:
XV.
On account of the great disturbance and discords that occur, it is decreed that the custom prevailing in certain places contrary to the Canon, must wholly be done away; so that neither bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. And if any one, after this decree of the holy and great Synod, shall attempt any such thing, or continue in any such course, his proceedings shall be utterly void, and he shall be restored to the Church for which he was ordained bishop or presbyter.

XVI.
Neither presbyters, nor deacons, nor any others enrolled among the clergy, who, not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor regarding the ecclesiastical Canon, shall recklessly remove from their own church, ought by any means to be received by another church; but every constraint should be applied to restore them to their own parishes; and, if they will not go, they must be excommunicated. And if anyone shall dare surreptitiously to carry off and in his own Church ordain a man belonging to another, without the consent of his own proper bishop, from whom although he was enrolled in the clergy list he has seceded, let the ordination be void
He cites this in regard to GAFCON's decision to ordain a "Missionary Bishop" in Scotland following the vote by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change Canon Law and attempt the sacrament of marriage on same-sex couples. GAFCON would certainly be breaching Diocesan boundaries as well as Provcial Boundaries.

The ACC has, so the saying goes, been there, done that and bought the T-Shirt. In 1977, at the formation of the first ACNA from which the ACC sprung, we declared in the Affirmation of St Louis that communion with the Catholic Church had been abandoned by the Episcopal Church and that we had to continue that communion. We also demonstrated that a schism had actually happened in the alterations to the Catholic Faith attempted by the government of ECUSA and thus we were able to invoke a Canon from the Oecumenical Councils, namely the third from the Council of Ephesus in 431AD.
If any of the city or country clergy have been inhibited by Nestorius or his followers from the exercise of the priesthood, on account of their orthodoxy, we have declared it just that these should be restored to their proper rank. And in general we forbid all the clergy who adhere to the Orthodox and Ecumenical Synod in any way to submit to the bishops who have already apostatized or shall hereafter apostatize.
That seems a strange canon to invoke, what does it say?

Nestorius was the Patriarch of Constantinople who held his eponymous heretical notion that Our Lord's two natures are completely separate and that Jesus was in fact two persons stapled together. The Council condemned this heresy and declared Nestorius a heretic and thus a schismatic. He was the head of a province who required all those in his cure to hold his heresy. In this canon, we find an example that, when an Archbishop "goes bad", all those in his cure must adhere to Orthodoxy and thus submit themselves to the nearest Catholic authority.

This gave the first ACNA (and thus the ACC) the precedent to know that it was free from the authority of ECUSA since ECUSA was in schism from the Catholic Church by way of its heresy. Its pronouncements and declarations against us were declared null and void.

However, for this to work, we had to demonstrate that the ECUSA was in schism, and therefore had broken communion with us. As far as the Affirmation went, we tried to be loyal to Canterbury before that fell, too, into heresy and thus schism from the Catholic Faith. We could not continue in communion with heretical bodies, but made the separation clear.

That's the ACC's story, and we wear our T-shirt proudly, but under our cassocks.

GAFCON have all this to come. The Ephesian Canon will certainly counter the Nicene Canons if used correctly, but GAFCON must demonstrate that the Scottish Episcopal Church are in schism. So must Bishop Pryke in Jesmond demonstrate that the Diocese of Newcastle is in schism. We cannot be in communion with schismatics and so GAFCON must make this intention quite clear and stop thinking of itself as part of the Canterbury Communion, otherwise it is indeed in breach of Catholic authority. The trouble is that GAFCON did not declare schism when we did and thus is perpetuating the same confused nature of the sacraments that are still part of ECUSA. In trying to extricate itself from the mess, it finds itself being pulled back into the hole because it refuses to recognise that it is holding onto the same things that will pull it back in!

GAFCON must make up its mind where its direction lies. If it both holds to the ordination of women and rejects gay marriage then, not only is it being hypocritical in holding to the idea that sex in sacraments is interchangeable, but it is also being homophobic by negatively discriminating against the LGBTI community. The reason for their actions is therefore one of negative discrimination and not of theological discernment. In the ACC, we believe that sacraments cannot be altered, and that this stems from the equal in worth but non-identical nature of male and female. However, we in the ACC too must be careful that our theology does not result in misogyny nor homophobia. We would do well to ensure that we do not allow GAFCON's error to be ours.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trusting in not understanding

Sermon for Trinity Sunday

Where is Heaven?

The other day, we saw Jesus ascend to the Father in Glory, and we stood and looked as He was taken up before the clouds hid Him from view. Now we know that He sits with the Father in Heaven. It follows that Heaven must be up there somewhere. So why can’t we get there in a rocket?

Does it really make sense to say that Jesus is “up there somewhere”? Is Heaven on another planet? Or are we missing the point? Jesus says to Nicodemus, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not; how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

God is with us as we are formed in the womb. He knows us all intimately, each one of us in every time and place. If God is everywhere, then how can He be confined to another planet? If we’re saying things like “Heaven is up there, somewhere” then we’re usually just being figurative and not literal in saying where Heaven is. Do we know where Heaven is?

No. Not really. The trouble with asking questions about God is that we often lose our understanding of how things work. But that’s okay. We don’t have to understand; we just have to believe!

[PAUSE]

There will be those who accuse us of being like Alice who was asked to believe six impossible things before breakfast. They will say that if we don’t understand what we believe, then we might just as well believe anything such as God being a flying spaghetti monster. If we don’t understand what we believe, then we must be the most gullible people in the world.

How do we answer this?

[PAUSE]

We may not understand God, but there are things that we do know about Him. We know that He is not a spaghetti monster because how could such a god exist before spaghetti was created. Such a god would go against the findings of modern Science which says that there was a time when there was no spaghetti. In fact there was a time when there was nothing.

We know that God is the Father: the Old Testament speaks of that, as does Jesus. How does the Lord’s Prayer start? We know that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is to be worshipped. We know that the Holy Ghost speaks to us, inspires us, and is also to be worshipped. We know that they are different, and yet we know that there is only one God. Do we understand how this can be? No? Do we believe it? Yes!

A god that is completely understandable is no god at all, much less one that could create the Universe. The fact that we believe in God Who is bigger than we can know should be the greatest comfort to us. This is a God who can bring us into Heaven in the Spirit, just as He does St John where we can see confusing, wild, extraordinary, even frightening glimpses into His reality. He shows us little peeps behind the veil of our existence into His. He knows that we have trouble understanding Him. That’s okay. He just wants us to believe Him, and trust Him so that eventually we know Him and thus know even as we are known. We don’t prove the existence of a new friend by mathematics before we shake her hand. We shake her hand first, and that’s enough!

[PAUSE]

God doesn’t want to know Him as a thing. He wants us to know Him as He really is, and that means seeking Him out in our lives. Even our little attempts will be rewarded as He blesses us richly, Father Son, and Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Multiplication by division

In mathematics, we say that two quantities are in inverse proportion if, when you double the first, you halve the other; triple the first and you get a third of the other, and so on. You can tell that two quantities are in inverse proportion if their product does not change.

For example, you have £5 to spend on sweets. If the sweets cost 5p each, you can buy a hundred but, if they cost 10p each, you can only buy fifty. Likewise if they cost 25p each you can only buy a fifth of one hundred, namely twenty sweets. The cost of each sweet and the number you can buy are in inverse proportion. Multiply the cost of each sweet by the number you can buy and you will always get the same number - in this case £5.

What's this got to do with anything outside the classroom?

I got involved in a discussion on a facebook page in which a new ecclesial group presented itself. My friend, Ed Patch and I asked a fairly simple, but actually very serious question: given that there is a multiplicity of churches and ecclesial bodies which believe effectively the same thing, what is the need for another such body?

The more we multiply ecclesial bodies, the fewer members can each have. That's simple mathematics. Yet, if we're doing Divinity (as opposed to Theology) the more we multiply ecclesial bodies, the more that we do damage to the reputation of the Church and thus bring the Body of Christ into disrepute.

"Ah!" some will say, "but you're a member of the Anglican Catholic Church. Why did your lot split away rather than seeking to work together with ECUSA of the CofE? Why did you up sticks and leave, rather than accept the Dual Integrities approach that the CofE has set up?"

Of course, the fact of the matter is that the whoever changes nothing is not the one who splits. Those who change the Catholic Faith walk away from the Catholic Faith, and that is the truth. Thus, ECUSA and the CofE have departed from the Catholic Faith and, at the level of institutions, preach another Christ, a hermaphrodite Christ which defies the definition of human nature. If we stay with the same Christ that ECUSA and the CofE used to proclaim at the level of institutions, then we are not responsible for the split. That's simple logic.

We don't accept Dual Integrities because to do so would mean the acceptance that Christ and the hermaphrodite pseudo-Christ are both valid expressions of Christianity. To worship anyone or anything other than the Real God - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - is idolatry, and thus to remain in communion with idolaters is dangerous to the soul. In the CofE, it is also a point of some affirmation of this principle when we see those faithful to the Real Christ prevented from flourishing by those who cry out for the mutual flourishing of those who embrace the alterations to the Catholic Faith.

That's the justification for why the Churches which subscribed to the Affirmation of St Louis exist. There was a good reason that involved only the Catholic Faith which resulted in the separation. The trouble is that there have been subsequent bodies which have separated which have precisely the same principles as the Continuing Churches. Why do they exist, and why have they not sought union with other bodies with the same principles rather than start their own?

That question has been asked, and it is a great joy that this October four Continuing jurisdictions will be closer together than ever in a reversal of our tendency to go our own way. Now that the smoke of the Lambeth Communion's heresy is clearing, we are able to recognise each other clearly.

Many new bodies come into existence ignorant of the Continuing Church's existence. That's okay. Yet we hope, when they discover who we are and whether they share the same Catholic principles as we do, they will enter into discussion with us so that we may find common ground in which to embrace a new relationship and build the Body of Christ.

Yet schisms don't just happen for doctrinal reasons, but rather from the cult of personality. There is an unfortunate "purple fever" where some who desire the office of Bishop too eagerly will change and jump through jurisdictions to get their mitre. As I preached on Whitunday, it is the Church who will recognise the man to become bishop, priest or deacon. There have been too many instances of simony and backscratching which have produced bishops who are in it for the pretty vestments and the ring-kissing. There are whole groups which consist of nothing other than bishops whose only desire is to be recognised, have their own way and do nothing for the furtherance of Christ's Gospel.

There are also those who create schism by a lack of charity or, speaking in the pretence of Charity, insult, mock, or demonise others. Why do they do this? Why use sarcasm when all it will achieve is to perpetuate the divisions between Christians? Indeed, there are many folk who will never return to the Catholic Church because they are so set in their ways, but if they have embarked upon their path because we have mocked them, or shown some cruelty to them, are we not in some substantial way responsible for their distance from the Catholic Faith? Why crack a joke at someone else's expense? What does it achieve save further enmity? We will all have to give an account of our stewardship of the Gospel before the Throne of God. Our self-righteousness will be seen through immediately.

Of course, inverse proportion works the other way too. If the sweets cost 1p, then we can buy five hundred. If the sweets cost a tenth of a penny, we can buy five thousand. If they cost a hundredth of a penny, we can buy fifty thousand, and so on! What if they cost nothing?

The same is true for Christianity. The more united that we are in the Catholic Faith, the more that our ancient, historic, and true faith bears faithful witness to the infinite Godhead. No, we do not unite for the sake of unity. We unite by accepting that great Catholic Faith, pursue it vigorously and, in the commandment to love our neighbour, recognise it in our fellows and see Christ's communion with them as, we believe, it is in us. If they are in communion with Christ, and we are in communion with Christ, then we are in communion with each other, whether we like it or not. If we don't like it, then perhaps we're not ready for communion in Christ. Perhaps we have more growing up to do.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Whitsun 2017: Recognising the one we know

Sermon for Whitsunday

How many times have you said to yourself, “the Holy Spirit wants me to do this?”

We often hear Christians today say, “I feel that the Holy Spirit wants me to do this,” where “this” can mean anything from founding a new religious order, to picking up snakes, and to protesting outside the funerals of servicemen and women claiming that God hates gay people.

A lot is done in the Christian world quoting the inspiration of the Holy Ghost as the reason. You know very well that there is something very suspect about that attitude.

St John tells us clearly, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” How do we try the spirits that we receive?

How do we know that the spirit we hear is the Holy Ghost?

[PAUSE]

Today – White Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost – we see the Holy Ghost in operation and we know that it really is the Holy Ghost. How?

St Jude asks Jesus the same question as we do. “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit talking and not a spirit of the world?

Jesus says clearly, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The Holy Ghost will support, in perfect unison, the voice of Our Lord Jesus.

We know that Jesus promises His disciples to send the Holy Ghost to them. If they love Him, they will keep His commandments and He will give them another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth. We know that Jesus is the Truth and thus that this Spirit will be recognisable in those that love Him. This is why we see the Disciples aflame with the Holy Ghost. This is how they become Apostles, preaching good news to “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians” and indeed all over the world!

This means that, if what we hear is the Holy Ghost, then it will be the same Holy Ghost as speaks through the Apostles. The Holy Ghost is always the same because He is God and therefore Eternal. The Good News is always the same, because the same salvation is available to all who love Christ Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Now we know how to try the spirits that we hear. What that spirit says must agree with what Jesus says and does, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus, to His life, His death, and His resurrection.

Also, the spirit that we hear must be preaching the same good news as the Apostles. This means first, that the Holy Spirit will not contradict the Holy Scriptures that He has given us through the prophets and the Apostles. Second, it means that the spirit will be recognised by the Apostles and their successors, and indeed all Christian people because they are engaged in prayer, that is the ongoing development of a relationship with God and each other.

We are baptised with the Holy Ghost at our baptism. That baptism is fanned into flame at our Confirmation. Every Bishop receives the same Holy Ghost at his consecration and, if they truly strive to live a holy life, they will recognise the Holy Ghost. In short, if you believe the Holy Ghost is speaking to you, then it will become obvious to the praying Church. The Holy Ghost will shine through you and into the world.

[PAUSE]

The Holy Ghost speaks to all Christians. When you hear His voice you will recognise it, but not every voice you recognise will be Him. Be faithful to God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and immerse your entire life in His Love, and you shall truly hear Him.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Can there any good thing come out of America?

1001

One thing that I have been asked is, "why do you belong to an American Church?" Of course, I answer that I don't as the Catholic Church doesn't have international boundaries - it is One, a single family united in Christ.

What does the question mean?

It seems a little unfair to my American friends, both within the ACC and without, that the question seems to be asked either dismissively of America, or that somehow I have lost my "Englishness" by joining a Church which does indeed have its organisational origin in St Louis, Missouri in the United States. There is some suspicion here, and it seems that my interrogators are like dear old Nathanael: can any good thing come out of America?

There is a certain reputation that religious bodies that come from America are a bit "loopy" for want of a better word. We now have both Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons in this country imported from the U.S., and their door-knocking antics coupled with the toothy grin and wide eyes have certainly raised the British eyebrow: it is not the done thing. Of course, the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are not Christian because they are not Trinitarian - they have rejected the teaching of the Catholic Church in favour of their additions and dubious Biblical scholarship. Yet there have been some "Christian" cults, and I do hear of terrible stories of those who have been subjected to some grotesque forms of social conditioning all for the "love of God". This is where the idea of "cult" comes in.

The word "cult" has a rather vague meaning and one which sociologists haven't quite agreed upon; indeed the popular and academic definitions are somewhat different. Of course, in this context, it is the popular definition that we need to address here. It seems that this popular idea is that a cult is a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members. It seems that the British idea of American religion is bound up with cults like the Branch Davidian group led by David Koresh which was a breakaway group from the Seventh Day Adventists. If this is what British people think of when they think of American Religion, then that's a little bit racist against Americans, isn't it?

Certainly it upholds a stereotype of Americans being a bit overboard in their religion. They have enthusiasm for a country that they have built for themselves; they invest more into their religion than we do; they have forged their own identity via the Constitution and, as a result of that Constitution, they cannot have a National Church. The religious American is certainly more committed to their religion. I think that's a rather wonderful thing, and one that we could do well to remember. The typical lukewarm CofE member only generally invests in the CofE by taxes and by sprinkling loose change into the collection plate. The CofE members that I've seen in my time certainly do not want to be more involved than turning up on a Sunday morning for some nice hymns, a nice little talk by the vicar, a nice little bit of bread and wine, and then some nice coffee afterwards. Or perhaps, am I perpetuating another stereotype?  If we perpetuate the stereotype of the rabid American religious nut, then surely this gives license for the perpetuation of the anodyne, pew-warming Briton. Certainly British coffee could learn a thing or two from that Stateside. We definitely do better tea, though!

If that is not what the question means by being part of an "American Church", then what can it mean? Does it mean that an "English Church" is not good enough for me? Well, let me see. I use the English Missal and the English Hymnal which have English origins: some of my confraternity use the English Office. I conform to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer which is the basis of the 1662 BCP used (occasionally) in the CofE. Our Bishop is the president of his local Constitutional Monarchy Association. In the American part of the ACC, they use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer which is theirs and they love it passionately! The Diocese of the UK is very different from the Dioceses in the United States but is still no less a part of the ACC. If the ACC is an American Church, then the Roman Catholic Church is an Italian Church. I have not been required to salute the Stars and Stripes, nor to swear an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. As far as I'm concerned, it's "God save the Queen" not "My country, 'tis of thee" even if I am not a supporter of the British Monarchy.

Thus, the question does not really make any sense beyond a superficial stereotyping of religion in the United States. The Church is the Church is the Church wherever it is. The ACC in this Diocese is a British Church because it is here in Britain. We do have parishes and missions in Wales and our Bishop has been given oversight of a couple of Chaplaincies on the Continent run by Fr Chadwick in France, and Fr Wassen in the Netherlands. Given that we have to maintain our own parishes, find our own buildings, rely on the investment of our congregations, that is how we follow the American model, but then other Christian bodies have to do so too. The Methodists certainly had to way back when. I suppose they were regarded as being a bit alien too, and dismissed as a cult.

Does the ACC fall into the popular definition of cult?

It is true to say that we're small worldwide, and tiny in this country. We're also rather strange bunch of people in that we have demonstrated a passion for our faith that many, perhaps, would regard as unEnglish. Yet, all our liturgical practices have been part of the CofE of old time. We don't do anything that hasn't already been done in the CofE before it went off the rails. We really cannot be accused of "strange practices" if we're doing what Anglo-Catholics in the CofE have done and still do.

Do we impose excessive control over our members? I hope that I have demonstrated that we don't already on this little blogling. Love demands consent, and there can be no consent without free-will. The ACC continues to regard as sin things which are only lately accepted as "not sinful" by Society and the churches which deform with Society. Sin doesn't get decided by society; Sin comes from separating ourselves from the Eternal God. If He does not change, then neither does what separates us from Him! Yet, all sin is done away by Christ - the repentant Christian will find a ready absolution and forgiveness at His Blessed hands. People are free to join and leave the ACC as they wish. Stay or go, the hand of friendship is always open to them, and if it is not, then the love of Christ is not being displayed in our hands and this needs to be addressed sharpish!

The ACC counts Anglicanism as its heritage and that heritage starts here in Britain having arrived from Jerusalem on Imperial Ships. The Americans and the British share this and we keep it as best we can given the divergence in our histories since we lost the Colonies in the Eighteenth Century. That's history. It's what we do with it that matters and we should learn from each other, taking on board the piety that we admire in the other. The intention of the ACC is to continue the Catholic Faith in the light of our Anglican heritage, both indigenous and colonial, so that we can be in union with that little first century Nazarene gentleman who turns out to be God. Blessed be Jesus Christ forever on both sides of the Atlantic!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

M

M is for Magnificat.


Indeed, my soul does magnify the Lord! He has permitted me to ramble on for one thousand posts, as I stumble through trying to discern His word in my life. Yes, I have my hobby horses and many may accuse me of tilting at windmills. Yes, I have been filled with intellectual pride and not enough compassion for my fellow men and women. To have the platform to speak my mind to an audience which could be very large, yet is actually quite tiny, is a privilege, and one that, to my shame, I often forget.

The fact of the matter is that the world is now full of competing voices. For every little blog like this, there is another uttering blasphemies against the great God in Heaven, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Every time I preach the Catholic Faith, another Christian will accuse Catholics of being party with the Whore of Babylon. Whatever, I say, someone will unsay it.

So how is Christianity to preach its word in Babel?

If the world is full of words, then perhaps the most appropriate voice of the Church in response will be silence. The world demands answers and signs from Our Lord and He withholds those answers because they do not come from those who are seeking Him, they come from those who would denounce.

I have been very lucky. The size of my blog means that I don't get trolls. Perhaps that's more of an indictment against me: Our Lord suffered from trolls; the Church suffers from trolls. However, the appropriate response to trolls is precisely that which Our Lord gives, namely the Sign of Jonah - His Death and Resurrection. These events lie beyond words.

A blog without words would defeat its object, but a Christian blog should encourage us to go beyond words to the Word which cannot be uttered by a human mouth but only by God the Father. Christianity needs to point to silence so that the one who truly seeks Christ Jesus is compelled by that desire to find Him to sit down, shut up, and listen.

We can do nothing about the message and counter-message that is broadcast over the internet, but we can choose how to allow what we read to draw us into our closet and shut the door in order to hear a word that does not fall upon the ears of the flesh but on the ears of the soul. Even in solitude, our ears are crowded with the babble of our own thoughts. The skill we need to acquire is to hear them but not listen to them.

If the world does not want to hear the message of Love that comes from God, then it has the choice not to listen. If it seeks to silence that voice by force, then it will only succeed in rendering itself completely deaf to God and the song of the angels. That silence with cacophony is Hell itself. The Christian cultivates silence in cacophony.

We cannot forget the true war that is being waged not between men (the war is never truly with men) but between the will of the flesh and the will of the spirit. The silence in Heaven after the seventh seal leads to the blasts of the seven trumpets. This war is won by God in Christ, and the silence of Christians will make those trumpet blasts penetrate this world until Evil is conquered and our joy is made complete.

Then we sing ever more loudly, "My soul doth magnify the Lord!"



Unity and Uniformity

My next post will be my thousandth. I'm not sure whether that's an achievement or not given that several blogs younger than this one have surpassed that ages ago. One of the recurring themes that keeps coming back to me is that of the whole idea of Unity.

Why is it that those who adhere to the Affirmation of  St Louis are not united? Why is it that other Catholic bodies who hold almost identical doctrines to Anglican Catholics are not communio in sacris?

In the United Kingdom, Anglican Catholicism is tiny - small but quite well-formed. I won't say perfectly formed in keeping with the adage as perfection is only enjoyed by the Church Triumphant, but it makes sense to me. Of course, I am still studying and, when life settles down a bit more, perhaps I'll be able to answer the questions that keep bubbling up in my thinking to a better satisfaction.

Also in the United Kingdom, there is a movement emerging of a new Anglican Evangelicalism in GAFCON and the new group in Jesmond with their new style of missionary bishop. One wonders whether they seek to do what St Augustine of Canterbury did and try to bring the Christians in the country together under a single umbrella, this time of Reformed Anglicanism. Quite how this is going to play out is going to be interesting, especially given the rather invidious position that the female Church of England bishop of Newcastle and, indeed, the Archbishop of York. Certainly, given that Bishop Jonathan Pryke is still a member of the Church of England, it does raise the question of how he can follow Canon II of the First Council of Constantinople, or Canon XVIII of the Second Council of Nicaea for that matter. That’s the CofE's problem, though.

The trouble with Anglicanism is that it is not uniform - indeed it is designed not to be uniform so as to be inclusive. It is this rampant inclusivity that is the cause of its present teetering on the edge of collapse. Now that a rogue element has been introduced, and that further missionary bishops are being promised, the confusion that this will bring to the CofE may indeed be the beginning of the end of the Elizabethan Settlement.

If that happens, then there will be opportunity for different groups with the same uniform to make common cause.

Is uniformity important?

That was a problem that tore the ACC apart in the 1990s. Essentially, an attempt was made to impose a liturgical uniformity on the Church which was not warranted and essentially tried to eradicate our Anglican heritage of which the ACC is actually rather proud.

As a former teacher, I am used to school uniform. I have seen it worn in several ways. Some boys are smart, their shirts crisp and ironed, tucked in appropriately , their ties in a respectable half-Windsor. And, inevitably, there are the boys with their ties dangling loosely around their neck with the thin bit far longer that the wide bit, their shirt tails flapping, scuffs on their blazers, and mud on their trousers. Yet, their uniform was the same - they were definitely of the same school. I didn't mind that so much, though the staff were told that one had to make sure that one's tutees were appropriately neat and tidy. That's important - personal discipline is a valuable lesson worth learning - yet, the way that they wore there uniform allowed for their individual personalities to come through, and that was important too. There needs to be this tension between a neat conformity to the uniform as well as a sufficient relaxation to be comfortable in that uniform.

Latitude is important: rules are there to guide, not coerce: the love of God requires consent. As a Church, we are to call people onto the path of Righteousness, not push them off the path of Sin at gunpoint.

Yet, change the uniform, and you change the school.

The ACC does not have the same ecclesiology as Anglicanism. We do not require our members to affirm the Anglican Formularies because we view the first seven Oecumenical Councils as part of our heritage. Most Anglicans of the confessional variety only subscribe to the first four. That means that there is a difference in our uniform which is not superficial. It may not always be an obvious difference, but it does point to different conclusions that can be drawn under the umbrella term of "Anglican". Our statement of unity demonstrates that we cannot sacrifice our principles just for the sake of some pretended peace. The Benedictine Rule also forbids making a false peace.

The next few years promise to demonstrate a jostling around as Anglicans and people-who-are-Anglican try to find a better sense of community. This is good. The more that people strive to be part of a worshipping community, the better. It puts an end to this scandal of in-fighting and cult of personality that has dogged Continuing Anglicanism. Canon XVI of the Second Council of Nicaea (the Seventh Oecumenical Council) says that clergymen should be very careful of the uniform that they wear, for:
"All buffoonery and decking of the body ill becomes the priestly rank. Therefore those bishops and clerics who array themselves in gay and showy clothing ought to correct themselves, and if they do not amend they ought to be subjected to punishment. So likewise they who anoint themselves with perfumes. When the root of bitterness sprang up, there was poured into the Catholic Church the pollution of the heresy of the traducers of the Christians. And such as were defiled by it, not only detested the pictured images, but also set at naught all decorum, being exceedingly mad against those who lived gravely and religiously; so that in them was fulfilled that which is written, The service of God is abominable to the sinner. If therefore, any are found deriding those who are clad in poor and grave raiment, let them be corrected by punishment. For from early times every man in holy orders wore modest and grave clothing; and verily whatever is worn, not so much because of necessity, as for the sake of outward show, savours of dandyism, as says Basil the Great. Nor did anyone array himself in raimentembroidered with silk, nor put many coloured ornaments on the border of his garments; for they had heard from the lips of God that They that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses."
There is but one uniform that all Christians must wear, and that is the wedding garment of the Lamb. This is a garment given to us by the Bridegroom and we are bound to wear it, and try and keep it nice for the wedding. Whether we are Roman, Orthodox, Anglican Catholic, or Anglican, this is the garment that we need to make visible so that people can see that we are off to a wonderful wedding, and that they are truly invited. When they journey with us, let us ensure that we help them to wear their wedding uniform with pride and are not scandalised by too much starch in the Church which stiffens that garment so that they cannot breathe!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ascending over Manchester

Sermon for the Sunday in the Octave of the Ascension

“The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

Our Lord is as true as ever He was. We look to what has happened in Manchester over this past week and we see yet another bombing in the service of a “god”.

How are you feeling about this terrible incident? What about the others you’ve seen in your lifetime? What’s your go-to feeling?

Outrage. Grief. Fury. Indignation. Fear.

These are not only justifiable, they are beautiful feelings to have.

Beautiful?

[PAUSE]

There are those who say we should not grieve for the dead, but celebrate their life in joyful, yet sad remembrance. There are those who say that since the dead are with God, they are happy and we should not weep for them.

Yet, Jesus wept for Lazarus.

We hear Jesus say, “love your enemies” and yet the feeling of anger for those who murder the innocent wells up inside us like a volcano.

We want to do something, but it seems that we cannot.

How on earth can grief be beautiful? How on earth can our burning fury for the slaughterers of the innocent be seen as something exquisite?

[PAUSE]

The Disciples sit in confusion and grief as their Lord ascends into the heavens. Why are they in disarray? It is because they love Him tenderly: they hold Him, speak with Him, eat with Him, enjoy His presence. This grief at His Ascending is not the same as their grief at His death because they now have a greater, more tangible hope on what lies beyond this life. Yet their grief means something important. They grieve because they love.

As his mind is awakened by the Holy Ghost, St Peter is able to say, “The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

The source of our grief and of this wrath at the scenes of terrorism is love, and love is the most beautiful thing in existence. Yet it could so easily go the other way for, in the hands of Man the beautiful can be made so ugly. This is why St Peter urges us to be sober, not to become drunken with any emotion so as to act on that.

An emotion is the colour in the painting: once it takes over that painting, all form and meaning is lost in a canvas painted with but one colour. For that colour to contribute to the painting, it is limited by the picture. Thus we, too, must learn to train our emotions to fulfil the love of God.

[PAUSE]

Despite appearances, the Ascended Lord is there in Manchester, in the very being of every single person there – including the bomber. This is the shocking fact that God will not let evil have the upper hand. He will consecrate the whole situation for, behold, He does make all things new!
It is the job of the Church to be the means of grace. Our Lord ascends so that we can continue His work in our selves. We need to do this for ourselves so that we can possess the dignity that God gives us by giving us the very freedom to choose, a freedom that Evil seeks to destroy. We may sin, but this is not the end of the story. The end is at hand, and that End is God Himself. All the work we do here is a means to the End that is God Himself.

St Peter says, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God: if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

It is our job to minister God’s grace. Our emotions and feelings need to be made to fit this task so that we are effective in bringing the love of God out of every horror.

[PAUSE]

In Manchester, God is there. Every act of charity, kindness, generosity, compassion that is shown negates any evil that sought to cause death. Far from destroying hope, it has contributed more. Just as the disciples grieve at Christ’s Ascension, they have the hope that they will be with Him in Eternity. Nothing can take that away from them.

Can it be taken away from us?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension Day: Up on high? Are you sure?



There is a certain sympathy that I have with those who find the Ascension almost comedic in its vision. Did our Blessed Lord really ascend in the sense of going upwards? If so, it's very tempting to see Him take off like a rocket, or gently ascend as in a great glass elevator.

What are we told?

St Luke says, "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

St Mark says,"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." When was this? "JESUS appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat." And this is not contradicted in the account by St Luke, either. Does this mean that Jesus crashed through the roof?

These are the only two accounts of Our Lord's ascension by the Evangelists. It is clear that the Disciples were assembled at dinner when Jesus comes to them, upbraids some for their unbelief, gives them His final instructions, answers their final questions, and then empowers them for the task of Apostleship. And then He ascends.

Except if we read carefully, it does not seem that Jesus does the ascending. He is received, taken up into Heaven and sits on the right hand of God. His Disciples stand looking up into Heaven when the angels speak to them. How are we to understand this?

We know that God is ever present with us and yet remains in Heaven. We also know that we cannot ascribe location to God in the way that we understand the term. If Jesus goes to be with His Father in Heaven, the same is true for Him. His post-resurrection body has the ability to appear and disappear, pass through locked doors and yet remain physical enough to eat. He is no ghost.

If we interpret up literally, then we have to see Christ's ascension as something which makes a point about our limitation as beings in space. We can point left and right, forward and back, up and down, and these directions are all at right angles to each other. We cannot point in any other direction that is at right angles to each of these three directions. We are limited to three dimensions. If Christ ascends in the sense of rising from the ground before disappearing into the clouds, then He does so to demonstrate the limitless nature of His human body in a way that His Disciples understand. Then, when "the cloud from sight receives Him when the forty days were o'er," He passes beyond the confines of the Universe into that Eternity where Space and Time are no longer of any absolute frame of reference.

We do not know what the Lord does when He ascends. All we know is that this apparently final act recorded by the Evangelists is a demonstration of the power of God who receives His Son back to Him again. This Ascension is the means by which Our Lord Jesus receives His ability to shake of the shackles of our smallness and to be present with us now, whenever now is. His Ascension makes possible the Mystery of the Sacrament of the Altar whereby His Faithful truly receive Him under the veil of bread and wine, so that His glory may not destroy us sinners. His reception into Heaven makes possible His reception by our bodies, so that we may be received into His body. If Christ does not ascend, if He is not received into Heaven, then He is just as limited to the observable universe and to the comprehension of our minds as we are.

In receiving the Holy Eucharist, we find ourselves in Heaven although our feeble eyes may not perceive it. We just need to believe it. There are those who will always dismiss the Ascension as an exercise of mythology but they miss how, whatever the means used, Christ invites us through His Ascension to gaze into Heaven itself, whether that is through the Sacrament, through an ikon, or through the eyes of the soul.

Christ's Ascension burst through the walls of our perception of what is real. If we hold on tightly, He will draw us with Him.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recent Terrorist Attacks

There have been so many terrorist attacks in recent years. They seem to have become more prevalent since 2001, but it is worth remembering that, often, the Western Media reports selectively. There are acts of terrorism going on all the time and it is the duty of of every Christian to pray against the forces of darkness that seek to instil terror.

In addition to the terrible attacks in Manchester on Monday evening, there have been terrorist attacks in the Philippines.

With regard to Manchester, where we do have a parish, Bishop Damien Mead has issued this statement.

But, lest we forget, Bishop John-Benedict in the Philippines has written this:
Dear Friends,

I'm sure if you've been watching the news, you will know that Mindanao, one of the Philippine Islands has been placed under martial law by President Duterte due to increasing terrorist attacks from Islamist Radicals. Be clear, this is not Muslim attacks, but radical, extremist terrorists. A hospital was burned, a Catholic Church's priest and some parishioners were taken hostage among other atrocities.

There are five parishes in the Diocese of the Philippines on Mindanao. I have not heard from them but am assuming that they are OK at the moment. I will try to make contact tomorrow.

Please pray for us. I will keep you informed as I know more. All the parishes outside of Mindanao are safe, as am I.

Many of the people in Mindanao still have traumatic memories of martial law in the 70's and 80's. Pray that the horrors they experienced then are not repeated.

If you do not wish to be updated, please let me know and I will be sure that you are removed from my list. If you received this message more than once, it is because of the deplorable condition of my address book and I apologize.

Thank you for your prayers.

To those of you who will ask: No, I am not going to come home unless required by the governments. This is my home now.

The Rt. Reverend John Benedict McDonald, CGS
Bishop Ordinary, Diocese of the Philippines
Governor General, Congregation of the Good Samaritan

What should we be praying?

First, let's not limit our prayers to our own people or churches, or even for the Christian religion. I often see so many people focus their prayers and charity on those who fall within their own jurisdiction, or Protestant denomination. I see so many people restrict their prayers only for Christians.

Fortunately, I know many more who are much more generous with their prayers and money, and seek to give to all whether they are Christian or not.

Second, let's not limit our prayers to the victims of terrorism, vital and nature though it is to pray for the dead, the dying, the missing, the injured. and their friends and families. If anyone needs the most prayer, it is those who have been deceived into thinking that their act of terrorism will somehow make their world better. They have been deceived even as we are deceived. They have succumbed to this deceit through some inherent weakness. They have willingly allowed this Evil to take possession of their wills and desires. Yet, the horror is that no matter how much evil they commit, they are still beloved creations of God - they are still good! Given that they have an immortal soul, they will find themselves with an existence that they derive from God Himself, and yet find themselves in complete separation from Him. The Hell that they are choosing to manufacture for themselves is that of this tension between the good and evil tearing their very being apart in Eternity. They need our pity. They need our prayer. They need this Evil driven out of them, even as we ourselves need exorcism from that evil which blights our lives.

Third, let us never despair of the mercy of God. Terrorism wants a darkness to fall upon the souls of men. We know that the Light of the World is with us through the blessed incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Lives lost to this world are by no means lost to the hands of the Divine. Justice exists beyond the confines of this world. It is a justice which can and will call even the suicide bomber to account even if we cannot. Our prayers penetrate and transcend even our own utterances as they are borne by the angels in the power of the Holy Ghost. In our prayers, we stand in complete solidarity with all those who share our common humanity - a humanity that is redeemed and saved through Christ. The is the light that cannot be extinguished by acts of terrorism. We battle not men but powers that exist beyond our strength, but not beyond the strength of the Cross of Christ. Our weapon is prayer which comes from a faithful heart in humility and enveloped by the Truth. Let us learn to use it in charity for all who receive their humanity from God Himself.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Doing what it says in the mirror

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Easter


You wake up one morning to a perfectly normal day. The sun shines through the curtains, and the birds are singing as usual to welcome a new day. You get up, stretch and head to the bathroom. As you look into the mirror, the face you see is not what you’re used to – it’s the opposite sex for starters! How do you react?


[PAUSE]


You might say, “oh no! The mirror’s broken, again!” but how do you know the face in the mirror really is not your own? Try another mirror? Look at your face in a spoon? Ask a family member? Can you really have forgotten what you look like?

St James paints a colourful picture of the man who hears the word of God, yet does not act on it, and it leaves us asking the question, “how can I be sure who I really am?” This may sound a bit too philosophical for a Sunday, yet each one of us has a moment when we say to ourselves, “was that really me?” There are things that we do which are somehow unlike us, either to our amazement, or our disappointment. There are things that we do that we have no knowledge of. Have you ever gone out and reached your usual destination, and then suddenly thought, “how on earth did I get here?”


Many people sleepwalk through life without ever really being, don’t they?


[PAUSE]


St James seems to be suggesting that what we do affects who we are. If we do nothing, then we become nothing but a phantom whose very image evaporates. Of course, we have to be careful. What we do does not save us, but if we hear God’s word and let it not affect our lives then what good does it do us? St James would tell us that Jesus saves you, but who is the you that He saves?


It is clear that in following Our Lord’s word, we are transformed in His love, but we have to want that transformation. We have to want to change so that we die to our sins and live to God. Our salvation is a process, not a one-off. Jesus says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and then He says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” Doing whatever Jesus says is as much believing in what He says as anything else. Doing is part of our Faith. Doing makes us who we are in an act of self-creation. In giving us free-will God gives us the ability to play an active role in our own creation and more, for Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do ; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”


In wanting to be transformed in Christ, and seeking to do what it takes to be transformed in Christ, we must expect to be taken out of what is familiar and into the uncomfortable. How can we become new if we cling to our old selves and our old way of doing things? Indeed, if we suffer difficulties because we seek God’s will, then that is a sure way of knowing that we are on the right track.


What will you see when you look in the mirror when you get home? What about tomorrow morning?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mystery, Morals, and Montanism

As I come close to my thousandth post on this little blogling, I find myself with a new challenge courtesy of my friends, Fr Chadwick and Ed Pacht. We are often confronted with a binary view of reality and that binary view is, in many circumstances, perfectly correct but in many others it shouldn't be. For the Atheist/Theist debate, once the appropriate definitions have been agreed, there is a perfectly acceptable binary: either God exists or He doesn't. This may be debated with certain nuances: God is not a thing that exists in the same way that the universe is a thing that exists. If that were true, then scientific theories ought to apply to God Himself such as duration, extension, and location. It is a leap of faith to believe that God exists but not as we do. If He is the Creator of all things, if He brings all things into being, if He is separate from His Creation, then He cannot be comprehended in the same way as that Creation.

Ed will often pick me up on the tendency to be binary rather than to see the both/and given a dichotomy. He is a master of finding the false dichotomy, preferring a form of Hegelian dialectic to black-and-white determination in areas which are more properly grey. Likewise, Fr Anthony will see things in my writing that I hadn't intended, such as Romanticism which may be more due to my naive idealism than anything else.

 In my discussion on Liberalism, especially on the bankruptcy of its substance as a means of Divinity, I might be accused of semantics, overuse of logic, and an unwillingness to be generous to people struggling with discrimination. As soon as I mention infallibility, Ed will challenge me on the use of such a term. I do see Logic as being infallible in its sphere of influence, likewise Mathematics. However, it has to be remembered that deductive logic is largely empty in that it makes no new discovery. Logic is not a means of discovering the riches of God's Creation: it is only a single means of communicating what is, and thus presenting the scientist with a means of using a leap of faith to test his hypothesis. Logic is the way that human minds grasp for the truth and communicate truth. Once we step outside its bounds, we lose the capacity to make such a communication. Thus, for the most part, intellectual recourse does require a logical structure so that two people can at least have a common ground for discussion. This is why I subject the tenets of the Liberal Agenda to my rather tenuous grasp of logic.

Liberal Tenet 2 says: No one source of information is infallible.

As a Christian, I believe in God and therefore I believe that there is a single source of infallibility. Yet, if I say I understand that infallibility, I will have made God small enough to fit into my worldview. This is intolerable, and perhaps this is what the Liberals really mean when they say that there is no single source of infallibility. However, the infallibility that Liberals are usually talking about here is that of human morality. Is there an infallible source of morality? Liberals say "no" in line with Tenet 2 and use that to justify the equality of homosexual relationship with heterosexual, and the equivalency of male and female. It is absolutely none of my business what goes on in other people's bedrooms. It is, however, God's business: He gets that right being the Creator of all things.

However, try to force me to accept that homosexual relationships are the same as heterosexual ones in the eyes of God, and I will point to the single source that comprises the Doctrine of the Church that sex is God's plan for the propagation of humanity, that sex outside marriage is sinful, and that marriage is only between a man and a woman. I will point to Biblical sources, and to Tradition to justify my premises, and Right Reason to justify my conclusion. Of course, the Liberal Agenda says that the Biblical words don't really mean what Tradition says that they mean, and that Tradition was influenced only by the ambient culture because it wants to justify what it now believes to be right and fair. As far as I can, I say "live and let live!" in order to honour in the other person that which God has put, namely the freedom to choose, but I will always teach the Catholic Faith to any who will listen to me.

Morality is has an objectivity which comes directly from God’s inherent righteousness. He is the source of all that is good and His justice is meted out in the supply of what is truly good to the obliteration of all evil which lurks in things due to their imperfections that come from their separation from Him. Sometimes I wonder whether Time itself is the means by which God allows us to participate in our own creation and salvation. The trouble is that, once we become convinced that something is a moral truth from means other than God's revelation, we seek it out in God’s revelation and this leads to eisegesis which is nothing less than a perversion of exegesis. This is where the Montanists went wrong.

The Montanists separated from the Catholic Church in the mid-second century claiming that they had special inspiration from the Holy Ghost which actually inflicted greater stringency on its members. There is some debate as to whether Tertullian joined their number, but most of the information we have about the Montanist sect comes from his writing. Montanists also ordained women and most notable in their midst are Maximilla and Prisca (or Priscilla).

They were largely charismatic in their thinking and their public ministries tended towards the orgiastic, believing that their prophecies superceded the teaching of the Apostles. There is a great deal of confusion about what they taught or why they are indeed heretical, but it is clear that the Montanists did upset the Catholic Church greatly with their presence. In his history, Eusebius reports Apollinarius saying:
There it is said that a recent convert named Montanus, while Gratus was proconsul of Syria, in his unbridled passion to reach the top laid himself open to the adversary, was filled with spiritual excitement and suddenly fell into a trance and unnatural ecstasy. He raved and began to chatter and talk nonsense, prophesying in a way that conflicted with the practice of the Church handed down generation by generation.
There are wild stories of dubious credibility about what went on, but it is clear that the Church rejected Montanism on the grounds of its lack of order, precisely because it ignored St Paul's warnings in I Corinthians xiv. They refused to be ruled by anything other than the spirit that they perceived to be holy. To my mind, this is exactly where the Liberal Agenda sits. It re-interprets what we have been given, namely the Tradition of God (NOT of Men, as they would have it) to fit what they believe to be right. Again, what we see in Montanism is those who mean well - who mean very well - being corrupted by the spirit of the air who appears as an angel of light. Yet, as St Paul warns in his letter to the Romans, they fall "[b]ecause that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

The Liberal Agenda essentially tries to earth the Holy Spirit. Ironically, this is precisely of what they accuse the Catholic Church. Yet, they are the ones trying to fit the words of Our Lord into the culture of our time using Tenets 2 and 3. God's Morality is set clearly in the words of Our Lord. If the Lord uses the word porneia, as He does in St Matthew xix.9, and porneiai in St Matthew xv.19 backed up by St Mark vii.21, then He is clearly speaking of acts in which one prostitutes oneself literally or figuratively. He lambasts adultery, upholding the commandments of His Father. He calls it sin, even if one just looks upon a woman with lust in the heart. What is in the heart matters, and if we cultivate any form of pornography (which is the polar opposite of ikonography) then that is a sin and we need to repent. Only in the Liberal Agenda can the act of having sex be a human right. If they want to be that equianimous, they ought to generate the same right to all animals for if animals get to have sex and reproduce, they are lucky! Many die before. Eros is not, and never has been agape or philos for that matter.

The Liberal Agenda will say, "how dare you try and limit the Holy Spirit?!" The Catholic Church says, "we do not limit the Holy Spirit. WE are the ones that are limited by our falling away from God." If we wish to limit ourselves to matters earthly and matters earthy, then we forget about the Holy Spirit which is opposed to the will of the flesh.  I can hear the cries of "Oppressor!" at my front door now!

So how are we to allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Ghost, particularly as we prepare ourselves for Whitsunday?

First, we recognise the Eternity of God's Goodness and seek His Kingdom. We must limit ourselves to God's Rule so that we distance ourselves from the noise of our own flesh. Of course, we are going to struggle, and may of us will struggle horribly, because it will mean an abandonment of good things for things which are the best. We have to accept that struggle, but never to hate our flesh because it is as much part of us as our mind and spirit.

Second, we need to study. God cannot contradict Himself, so the Holy Ghost will not draw us into things which contradict Who God is and how His Goodness works. We need to be able to guard ourselves against the voices of wishful thinking that cloud our minds. We cannot afford to create a voice in our head which is supposed to be God's voice. Do we expect Him to speak to us with our own voice?

Third, we pray to the Holy Spirit and ask that, through the grace of our Confirmation, we should allow Him into our lives and beings. He will seek conformity - a shaping together - of all members of the Church. I believe we are always seeing this conformity at work when Christians seek each other out for communion. This is why the Great Synod of October has my deepest prayers.

Fourth, we allow ourselves to be still in our prayer and to embrace the Mystical. Mystery is an anathema to those who believe that perfect knowledge can be had in the Universe. Bad Science tries to remove Mystery, Good Science recognises that there are limits to the knowledge it can derive through its methodology. Indeed, as Dionysius the Areopagite would have us, in our prayer to God, we need to cast off our ways of thinking in order to find a true communication with Him. Logic is only from humanity for humanity, though its infallibility is a gift from God even if its scope is limited. It will still need to be jettisoned: all words will need to be jettisoned.

Fifth, we get back to doing our everyday tasks in all their mundaneness yet seeing God at work even in the most trivial of things. If we are truly led by the Holy Ghost, then we will see miracles and can expect them because of God's faithfulness, not our own. We will always find an answer to our prayers, just not always the answer we expect (that really would be limiting the Holy Ghost!), but we will be able to recognise it because we are in the process of aligning our hearts to God. We are to suffer and must expect to suffer at the hands of the world. That is the fact of the Fall. Yet, we are to cultivate that faith in God and seek to participate with Him as He creates us into what we really are.

As the Church prepares for her birthday on Whitsun, we should make an effort to embrace God in His Mystery and not allow ourselves to be led astray by things that are below. I pray that our Pentecost may indeed set us all on fire for God!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

God and a social revolution revolution

Sermon for the fourth Sunday after Easter

Poverty.

Slavery.

Abortion.

Injustice.

Four little words, and yet perhaps they have stirred something up inside you. Perhaps just even hearing the words has made you uncomfortable and wanting to do something about people’s suffering due to these issues.

It’s clear that, if we are to love our neighbour as ourselves, these issues need tackling and tackling immediately. We see lots of programmes out in society, some secular, some church-led, all geared at trying to fulfil this Second Commandment that the Lord actually repeats from Leviticus. It’s so important for all of humanity to hold this commandment, and it’s very interesting that versions of this commandment exist in religions and philosophies beyond Christianity.

If many people are so committed to it, why is there still so much strife in the world? If there is so much poverty, is it only the greed of the rich that is causing poverty? Is it only those who disregard the value of humanity who generate slavery and abortion? Is it only the selfish who cause injustice?

[PAUSE]

St James says, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”. If we are to be swift to hear, whom should we be hearing? To whom should we be slow to speak? Surely we should be quick to be angry about the horrible things that are happening to people in the world?

Not for nothing is this the Second Commandment. There is a commandment that precedes it, a commandment that doesn’t appear in other religions and philosophies: “thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Clearly, a campaign to prevent slavery which includes the idea that “God endorses slavery” is going to be fundamentally against any other campaign to abolish slavery which include the idea that we are in slavery to sin and that God seeks to free us all. Many would-be social reformers are very good at being angry, but end up doing more damage because their anger and indignation is not properly directed.

God clearly says, “vengeance is mine. I will repay!” How is this to be achieved?

[PAUSE]
Our Lord says that the Holy Ghost “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged.” This sounds a bit cryptic. What does He mean?

As Our Lord ascends into Heaven, He sends down to us the Holy Ghost for the purpose of being present within the Church forever. If God is always present in the Church then this means that the world will always have to answer to God – not to the Church, but to God Himself. He will convict people of sin because they refuse to acknowledge His existence and His Goodness. He will convict people’s righteousness because it is of their own making and not the righteousness that comes from His Creating Presence. They do not see that Christ has already come and already returned to the Father having destroyed the sins of all those who believe in Him. He will convict people of their judgement because they make decisions and pass laws based on Godless theories and Godless politics.

[PAUSE]

Before we can do any good works in the world, we need to know what Good really is. We can only know what is Good through the Holy Ghost working in us, through obeying His call, through abandoning all social reforms that don’t come from God, and through living the Christian life ourselves as best we can.

The Church does not exist as a means for political revolution. It exists to bring the grace of God to all people and provide a way of life that transcends this little life. Priests are not social workers nor are Bishops politicians: they are servants of the Church to bring God’s grace into the world through the Divine Priesthood of Christ on the Cross. Indeed we must aim to help the poor, needy, homeless, unloved, unwanted, and oppressed – no question. But we do better if we bring God with us so as to administer His grace for all human beings.


Our faith in God is the basis on which God can heal this world. Let us learn to trust and obey Him so that He can work through us and thus make our desire to end the suffering of others effective.