Saturday, December 07, 2013

Frederick Buecher concerning God

'It is as impossible for us to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle. All-wise. All-powerful. All-loving. All-knowing. ... God cannot be expressed but only experienced. In the last analysis, you cannot pontificate but can only point. A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, "I can't prove a thing, but there's something about his eyes and his voice. There's something about the way he carries his head, his hands. The way he carries his cross. The way he carries me."'
- Frederick Buechner

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Sacraments

What we believe as a Church.

The Holy Mysteries, as they are also called, are the means by which the Christian is united with God, allowing us to become partakers of H is divine nature (see II Peter 1: 4).
God communicates Himself to us through the Sacraments, physically making His divine presence known in a real and tangible way. The Holy Mysteries make visible the invisible divine activity of the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Roman Catholic Church we recognize seven Sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation), the Eucharist, Anointing or Unction of the Sick, Confession, Marriage and Holy Orders. Each of the Sacraments require a certain amount of preparation in the Church's life. We generally do not administer the Sacraments to non-members of the Church since they signify our unity of faith in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Baptism is an exception because it is the mystery uniting the Christian to Christ; Baptism brings one from the place of a catechumen (one preparing for Baptism) to being a full member of the Body of Christ, the Church.

The Sacraments are the spiritual vehicles that we need during our earthly life so we can get to Heaven and be united with the Holy Trinity forever.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Short Historical Sketch of the Old Roman Catholic Church

Official History of the Old Roman Catholic Church     

Archdioceses of the United States of America       

For many centuries, at least since the Great Schism of a.d. 1054, there has been an enormous tension between two understandings of the Church. One is monarchical which places the Pope at the head of the Church like an absolute monarch; the other places the ultimate authority of the universal Church in the hands of all of the bishops gathered together in a Council, which is called conciliarity. The struggle of monarchy versus conciliarity in the Western Church was never fully resolved until the late 19th and early 20th century.

When the dogma of papal infallibility was proclaimed at the First Vatican Council in 1870, many Catholics throughout the world had great trouble with this. In England, a small group of Catholics elected Father Arnold Harris Mathew, a man of great learning, to head their group and they petitioned the ancient Archiepiscopal See of Utrecht in the Netherlands to consecrate him as a bishop and give him the oversight of their mission. The Church of Utrecht had for many years been independent of the Holy See. Utrecht kept firmly rooted in the ancient conciliar understanding of the Church, maintaining valid Apostolic Succession in its line of bishops and in the purity with which it held the ancient, or “old”, Catholic Faith and avoiding Protestantism. After Vatican I, there were many Catholics throughout Europe who associated themselves with the Old Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht.

The history of the ancient Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht, dating back to the 8th century and its foundation by St. Willibrord (+739), is well known to the historian. The estrangement from Rome was largely due to Utrecht’s venerable prerogatives of synodality or conciliarity contrasted with the growth of the monarchical model of papacy following the Protestant Reformation of the16th century and the Council of Trent. The monarchical model of papacy was energetically espoused and fostered by the Jesuits so vigorously that they made false charges of heresy ( Jansenism) against the Church of Utrecht.

The name “Old Roman Catholic” has a very specific historical understanding. It is not understood as a reaction against the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council, but rather from its roots that go back many centuries prior to that. “Old” is to be understood as meaning “ancient”, or “authentic”. In other words it is the ancient Catholic Faith without addition or subtraction. This, of course, presumes a fidelity to the ancient apostolic liturgical rites as well as the doctrine and practice of the ancient undivided Church of the first millennium. This is keyto understand adequately what it means to be an Old Roman Catholic.

Unfortunately, in the early 20th century, the continental Old Catholics became overly engaged with Anglicans and European Protestants. This initiated a gradual watering down of the faith. Archbishop Mathew recognized this grave danger and separated himself and the English Old Roman Catholics from Utrecht. In 1911, he accomplished what the early continental Old Catholics had desired: union with the Orthodox Church. Archbishop Mathew and Metropolitan Gerassimos Massarah of Beirut (of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch) reached an agreement whereby the English Old Roman Catholics entered into Communion with Orthodoxy.

This was a providential time for Christianity but also a dangerous one. Soon after the Union of 1911, the First World War broke out, Antioch was under the yoke of Islam, Russia was to be under the yoke of Communism, and Mathew was battered by the Anglicans who claimed to be the only “Catholic Church in England”. Following Archbishop Mathew’s death in 1919, his successor, Bishop Bernard Mary Williams wrote a new Constitution for the English church in 1925, which repudiated Mathew’s Constitution and the Act of Union. Bishop Williams took the church in England in a very different direction—an untenable “pro Uniate” position with Rome.

The church in North America did not suffer this new direction because before his death, Archbishop Mathew consecrated as bishop Rudolph de Landas Berghes et de Rache, who never subscribed to Williams’ repudiation. As an Austrian aristocrat, at the outbreak of WWI de Landas was forced to emigrate from England to the United States in November of 1914. On mandate from Mathew, in 1916 he consecrated two American priests, William Henry Francis Brothers (+1979) and Carmel Henry Carfora (+1958), to the episcopate thus establishing the Old Roman Catholic Church here in North America. While first accepting de Landas because of his aristocratic heritage as well as his indubitable Apostolic Succession, it was not long after his arrival that the mighty Episcopal Church began persecuting and demeaning the work of the tiny Old Roman Catholic Church in this country.

The Old Roman Catholic Church has had its ups and downs, its successes, failures, and abberations, and yet God has kept it—kept it in waiting—for this moment when she can re-awaken from her slumbering nascent Western Orthodox roots. A number of experienced clergy, well-formed from the established Orthodox churches have become convinced that for westerners to live the Orthodox faith in a genuine western manner, it can be done only within the Old Roman Catholic Church. This Church descends from the Union with the Orthodox in 1911, a union which—though not consciously exercised—has nevertheless never been broken.

Until now there have been Western Rites in various Orthodox churches where western people have been a liturgical-cultural minority, governed by a hierarchy that understands very little about the genuine western mens (or phrenoma ), or who have approached the western rite as a merely academic curiosity. Recent events among theseOrthodox churches directed towards their western rites and people have forced many of these clergymen to seek out like-minded Old Roman Catholic bishops, clergy and laity that they may form a new jurisdiction of that slumbering church founded in the Act of Union. This new jurisdiction of the Old Roman Catholic Church is committed to a life of authentic Orthodox Christian Faith and genuine Western Catholic culture.

Conscious of our calling from God, we are preparing a stable home for all who seek refuge in this tumultuous world. Our doors are open to you to find solace, joy and the kingdom of God in our midst.