What are we trying to continue?

Some time ago, I resolved to step down from the sterile polemics with our friend in California – yes, you know who. I won’t give the link this time. He has noticed that the American Episcopal Church has decided to eliminate all gender language from its Prayer Book. Shocked? We can only conclude their final capitulation to modern secularism and identity politics, the leveller of institutional stupidity.

The “regular correspondent” chained continuing Anglicanism to its progenitor, the Anglican Communion. Continuing Anglicanism could only follow the same decline and fate. Perhaps so, as we observe in all institutional churches including the Roman Catholics – at least under the present Pontificate.

I keep a certain sympathy with the Ordinariate, at least the one in England. I had my only contact with them at the Oxford conference last April, and found them to be serious and purposeful. They have ordained ten priests this year, whom I assume to have been properly trained and examined. As things went in about 2011 and up to the abdication of Benedict XVI, I didn’t go that way. I waited for Archbishop Hepworth’s endgame to play out, and waited a little longer, knowing that I didn’t matter to anyone. I was quietly received into the ACC by Bishop Damien Mead in April 2013 and continued my ministry of the word through blogging and The Blue Flower. I have expressed my view about conversion to Roman Catholicism on several occasions. If I did so again, what good to it do to myself or others, considering that I would have to give up the priesthood and revert to being a layman? Being a priest isn’t a sine qua non to salvation, if that is what it’s all about, but Christian life is all about doing better things, making wiser decisions – and not slumping into a nihilistic attitude in life.

The Ordinariate people have been quite concerned at defining Anglican Patrimony, as I heard in Oxford. Benedict XVI, a German cradle Roman Catholic, was also interested in this notion in the plan of regenerating European Catholicism. After all, he had to try. Now, Christianity has to be a part of secular humanism, something like in the eighteenth century without the baroque culture, and surrender to the latest trends of modernity. Perhaps it might turn to the way of Evangelical and Reformed mega-churches and work through celebrity worship and techniques of marketing. Ugh! Monsignor Andrew Burnham nailed it on the head by identifying Romanticism as the power source of the Oxford Movement, medievalism and a new convergence between “northern” Catholicism and a ressourcement and renewal movement amidst the ruins of popular Catholicism and attempts to imitate the Evangelicals.

Hopeless! – our “friend” would triumphantly proclaim. American Catholicism seems to have a stronger infrastructure of suburban lacklustre parishes than England or most of Europe. This side of the Atlantic, the only thriving parishes are in Paris or run by the “new” communities. I visited a church a few days ago and saw the green mould on the floor and the rotting furniture. The building was only exceptionally open!

I cannot speak for the Ordinariates, because I am not one of them, nor have I ever been. I am less pessimistic than our “friend”. I willingly give the link to the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog which gives news about all three of the Ordinariates. After all, I say, if something is doing the Lord’s work, who am I to judge? I wouldn’t seek to join them even if by some miracle my priestly vocation could be “saved”, but they exist and minister.

We in the Continuing Churches also do what we can without the supposedly well-oiled structures in America and of course the money that says everything. I am not sure we will survive for very long. In England we are very fragile and very much depend on the Bishop we have. We are slowly building, and we might make it beyond our own lifetimes – but perhaps not. Does it matter in view to the dangers human civilisation and the natural environment face? My optimism is also mitigated there. However, I know that we have moved beyond “infighting and factionalism” and refer more to Catholicism without any other adjective or the post-Tridentine ideology rather than our past parochialism. I turned to Romanticism for the same reason as men like Novalis, a yearning for the cosmopolitan, the light and broad-mindedness. We made mistakes in the past through our petty ambitions, and now we need to build on the foundations we have been able to establish.

I see our identity in what we are called to do rather than the simple conservation of our nostalgic past in this or that parish. I have not been allowed by circumstances of life to be a pastor. I have experience of French parish life, with the few old priests I have known – but that was not to be my ministry. I do what I can do. I have always been aware that I have given ideas to others who then reaped the benefits. So that seems to be my vocation, to give ideas to others and live my little life in less than ideal circumstances, but which could be much worse.

What would I like to see happen in our Church, Rome and elsewhere? I will express it in positive terms rather than what we need to be rid of. We need Catholicism, not Roman, Anglo, or whatever. Just Catholicism. The way I see things is how the Oxford Movement had ideas in common with the Old Catholic movement in Germany and Switzerland deriving from the Council of Constance. It is a notion of a “medieval” Church without the corruption and the domination of secular power. Gallicanism survived the Revolution but only continued in fragmentary form until the mid nineteenth century, Vatican II and the deaths of the last old parish priests. It is a Romantic idea, not realist, because it can’t be implemented by means of laws and reforms. Such a vision would be snuffed out under modern Rome. We have to be independent, yet in coherent Churches.

So far, some of us are still writing and the conversation continues. My chapel will die when I do, and I intend to leave all my “stuff”  to my Diocese, assuming it outlives me. I hope it will! I hope to be able to leave my writings and a few books to gather dust somewhere or be read for what they are worth. I am not a celebrity.

Again, it is the grain of wheat in the earth and the conditions for bearing fruit.

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42 Responses to What are we trying to continue?

  1. RSC+ says:

    The “regular correspondent” wrote, “almost no one who was never a member of TEC etc is ever going to join a ‘continuing’ denomination.”

    Er. Well. In the three ACC parishes I served before going on active military service, at least half the parishioners had zero ties to the Episcopal Church.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Fr. Gregory here in the Deanery of Europe is another obvious example.

      How many people, e.g., sick of unaddressed corruption, in communion with the Holy Father or in Orthodox or Non-Chalcedonian Churches have in fact or would come to an ‘Anglican ecclesiology’ which recognizes all these as the Church, and make the step in consequence, is a weighty question, difficult of calculation. (I have known, e.g., non-Greek Eastern Orthodox to be active in what they took to be orthodox Anglican local churches, without formally transferring their membership.)

    • The “regular correspondent” often shows little understanding of anything. I am myself a cradle Anglican, but I left the Church of England in 1981 and spent 15 years as a Roman Catholic in the traditionalist world. My consciousness as an Anglican in the ACC (and the TAC from 2005 to 2013) is totally different from when I was a lay Anglican in London in the late 1970’s and in York before then. My chaplaincy has not attracted French Roman Catholics except on occasions on a one-off basis. My chapel is in a small village, and people would have to travel to it. Also French Catholics can have an issue with Anglican Orders and Englishness in general. The Napoleonic Wars have never been forgotten! I say this partly in humour, but the visceral feeling is always there. Most French have simply forsaken all practice except for occasional family services like weddings, first communions of children and funerals. Anglicanism seems less irrelevant in the Netherlands.

      However some French ex-RC’s go to independent “Gallican” churches which offer services of exorcisms (usually minor) and healings by laying on hands and using essential oils and the like. Some of those priests have “clients” pay for these services. A priest can do a secular job and offer his ministry free of charge. Their liturgical culture is close to zero as a rule. But, those clergy are generally recognised as having valid orders.

      My Bishop had the experience of some of the former Methodists coming to their old church when St Augustine’s Painters Forstal was bought by our Diocese. A good number of our best and most dedicated faithful came from being “nones” and gradually came to their conversion. Many in our other parishes in England were not Church of England.

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    Fr. Anthony,

    For the record, the dude in California is getting it very wrong. Any congregation that’s preaching and living in a manner that’s true to the gospel while engaging in evangelical outreach will grow — and that includes “continuing Anglican” congregations.

    You wrote: Perhaps it might turn to the way of Evangelical and Reformed mega-churches and work through celebrity worship and techniques of marketing. Ugh!

    Here in the States, we’re beginning to see what happens to churches built around a celebrity pastor — they often fail when the pastor retires. An interesting case study is that of the former “Crystal Cathedral” in Garden Grove, California, here in the States. Dr. Robert Schuller, a pastor of the Reformed Church of America, literally began preaching from the top of the stack bar to a congregation seated in their cars at a drive-in theatre. The congregation subsequently purchased land and built its first actual church, where he preached to those who came inside and then went outside to preach to people seated in their cars. Somewhere along the way, they also started a television ministry called “Hour of Power” that was syndicated internationally, and they formed many other significant ministries to those in need — a 24-hour crisis hotline focused on prevention of suicide, an outreach to the poor, a Christian school, etc. Needing more space, they commissioned an architect to design a new church that would seat nearly 3,000 worshippers. The finished design was all glass, prompting the pastor to remark that it looked like a crystal cathedral when he saw the plan. The name stuck, and Dr. Schuller’s organization changed its name to Crystal Cathedral Ministries. And as befitting such an edifice, they fitted it out with the famous Hazel Wright Organ — the fifth largest pipe organ in the world with 16,061 pipes in 270 ranks.

    Unfortunately, Crystal Cathedral Ministries fizzled upon Dr. Schuller’s retirement and ended up in bankruptcy. The silver lining here is that, with Dr. Schuller’s blessing, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, having grown to over 1.3 million parishioners, purchased the campus through the bankruptcy proceedings and began the process of renovating all of the buildings and restoring the Hazel Wright Organ in 2011. The renovations of most of the other buildings are now complete, but the renovations of the former “Crystal Cathedral” building are still ongoing, with solemn dedication as Christ Cathedral (sounds more Anglican than Catholic, doesn’t it?) scheduled for July of 2019 — when, for the first time in its history, the building will be a cathedral. The former St. Callistus Parish, which was a few blocks away, relocated to this campus in 2013, with the remnant of the former Crystal Cathedral Ministries simultaneously relocating to the former St. Callistus Parish campus and changing its name to Shepherd’s Grove Ministries (and subsequently moving to another location). The other ministries started by Dr. Schuller are continuing under the auspices of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Orange.

    Unfortunately, the fate of other so-called “megachurches” is not always as happy. Not all continue as centers of Christian faith. The former “Crystal Cathedral” remains a center of Christian faith only because the Diocese of Orange happened to need of a new cathedral at the right time.

    You wrote: We need Catholicism, not Roman, Anglo, or whatever. Just Catholicism. (emphasis in original)

    Ah, I agree — but do I dare to point out that true “Catholicism” requires full communion with some guy in Rome who dresses in white? We have many sui juris ritual churches that are Catholic but not Roman, such as the Coptic Catholic Church (Coptic Rite), the Ethiopian Catholic Church (also Coptic Rite), the Chaldean Catholic Church (Chaldean Rite), the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (also Chaldean Rite), the Armenian Catholic Church (Armenian Rite), the Maronite Catholic Church (Antiochian Rite), the Syrian Catholic Church (also Antiochian Rite), the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (also Antiochian Rite), and about a dozen sui juris ritual churches of Byzantine Rite — all of which are Catholic, and none of which are Roman.

    Norm.

    • How hot does it get in that cathedral during the summer months?

      Concerning Catholicism, yeah, communion with Rome needs to be held. But then again, some might say that indeed, communion is required, and that the Fathers unanimously testify to that, but also that what communion meant then, is different from what it means now, and they’ll (rightfully?) point to total and absolute subordination which is owed to the Roman Pontiff which is included in the package of being in communion with the guy in Rome who dresses in white.

      • The real cure to this literalism (magisterium or the Bible) is a knowledge of history and a willingness to use textual / historical criticism (Formegeschichte). It is the only way, otherwise what we hold as precious comes out as cranky as believing that the earth is flat.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Marko,

        You asked: How hot does it get in that cathedral during the summer months?

        The original design had doors the full height of the building that opened the worship space to the out-of-doors and natural ventilation. The renovation has sealed those doors and installed (1) a full air conditioning system to maintain a stable temperature and moderate level of humidity (actually necessary to keep the pipes of the Hazel Wright Organ in tune) and (2) a system of “quatrefoils” to control the radiative heating of the building. The video clip of 25 June 2017 on the construction update page (currently the last video clip on the page, but more undoubtedly will be added in due course) describes the quatrefoil system.

        You wrote: … total and absolute subordination which is owed to the Roman Pontiff …

        That’s a major misconception. The Vatican regards unity in doctrine as an essential element of ecclesiastical communion, and there’s no doubt that the magisterium, of which the Pope is the head, is the final arbiter of doctrine. Nevertheless, that body of doctrine leaves considerable room for legitimate differences in personal spirituality and in practice of the faith. Further, Catholic clergy actually pledge obedience not to the pope, but to their own diocesan bishop or religious superior — and, in any event, the Catholic Church has always maintained that the first obligation of obedience is always to one’s own conscience and that no ecclesiastical authority can ever compel any member of the church to violate his or her conscience.

        Norm.

      • Dale says:

        “[T]the magisterium, of which the Pope is the head, is the final arbiter of doctrine”: what exactly is this “magisterium” and where is it mentioned, anyplace, in the definition of Papal infallibility in the actual documents of Vatican I? The documents state, rather emphatically, that the Pope’s infallibility does not depend upon the consent of the Church. Also, where in any patristic writer does one find mention of this elusive magisterium?

      • Dale says:

        Norm what you have written concerning submission to the person of the Pope is simply not Catholic doctrine:

        “That’s a major misconception [submission to the person of the Pope]. The Vatican regards unity in doctrine as an essential element of ecclesiastical communion, and there’s no doubt that the magisterium, of which the Pope is the head, is the final arbiter of doctrine. Nevertheless, that body of doctrine leaves considerable room for legitimate differences in personal spirituality and in practice of the faith. Further, Catholic clergy actually pledge obedience not to the pope, but to their own diocesan bishop or religious superior — and, in any event, the Catholic Church has always maintained that the first obligation of obedience is always to one’s own conscience and that no ecclesiastical authority can ever compel any member of the church to violate his or her conscience.”

        This is what the Roman Catholic Church has, in an infallible decree, actually stated on this issue:

        “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

        Pope Boniface VIII in the bull Unam Sanctam of 1302; which one suspects is indeed an ex cathedra declaration.

    • Dale says:

      As long as the guy in Rome is claiming personal infallibility, not dependent upon the consent of the Church (as states the actual document of his infallibility of the first Vatican Council), and universal jurisdiction…please count me out. Not that anyone will care.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Dale,

        You wrote: As long. as the guy in Rome is claiming personal infallibility, not dependent upon the consent of the Church (as states the actual document of his infallibility of the first Vatican Council)…

        That’s a widespread misconception, even among members of the Catholic Church. The “definition” of the dogma popularly called “papal infallibility” in the dogmatic constitution Pastor aeturnus limits so-called “papal infallibility” to situations in which the pope issues a dogmatic statement “ex cathedra” (literally, “from the chair”) — that is, in his official capacity as the head of the magisterium. This is analogous to the “Speaker” of a parliamentary body announcing that body’s decision — the principle is that it’s a decision of the magisterium and NOT of the pope personally. Thus, papal encyclicals, by which the pope expresses his personal opinion on a theological or moral question, are not intrinsically infallible, though they certainly can restate infallible doctrine, because they are not articulating a decision of the magisterium.

        Of course, I’m not suggesting that one should disregard a papal encyclical in a cavalier manner. All recent popes are men of great learning and access to the best cadre of theological advisors in the world. Their personal opinions on theological and moral issues deserve very serious consideration.

        Norm.

      • Dale says:

        But when does this supposed ex cathedra situation really occur? Are the definitions of the “Syllabus of Errors” infallible? How about the “Dictatus Papae”? One must go to the actual documents of Vatican I, and I am afraid that all of the more recent song-and-dance to the contrary Vatican I did indeed declare the infallibility of the Pope personal and not dependent upon any such thing as a magisterium: “[S]uch definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable.” Older editions of the Catholic encyclopedia did indeed state that the Pope’s infallibility was a personal charisma.

        I know that there is now an attempt to modify this actuality, but it does not really work.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Dale,

        You asked: But when does this supposed ex cathedra situation really occur?

        The ex cathedra situation “really occur[s]” only when an apostolic constitution so states within the body of the text.

        To date, there are only two such documents: the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus promulgated on 08 December 1854 by Pope Pius IX establishing as infallible the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus promulgated on 01 November 1950 by Pope Pius XII establishing as infallible the doctrine of the assumption of Mary.

        The first of these decrees opened the question of the significance and effect of an ex cathedra papal statement, which the First Vatican Council resolved by promulgating the dogmatic constitution Pastor aeturnus on 18 July 1870. The wording in that document is very carefully nuanced; boldface mine.

        9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

        The key here is that it applies only when the pope is acting in his official capacity as the head of the magisterium and not when he speaks personally. The principle here is that he is promulgating a decision made by the magisterium rather than his personal opinion or decision.

        Of course, this does not prevent a document such as a papal encyclical, in which the pope articulates his personal opinion, from restating infallible doctrine — and such restatement most assuredly does not cause the doctrine to cease to be infallible.

        The key point, however, is that infallibility rests with the magisterium and not with any one individual. An ecumenical council is an assembly of the whole of the magisterium, so its doctrinal decrees — now usually called “dogmatic constitutions” — are intrinsically infallible for that very reason.

        Norm.

      • Dale says:

        So Norm, no ex cathedra documents before 1870?

    • Stephen K says:

      I’m with Dale, but I’ll go further: as long as the guy in Rome is claiming personal infallibility, ……or as long as Catholics claim that a pope is infallible because it is a dogma of the one true Church but at the same time pick and choose which Pope they attribute any infallibility to, ……or as long as anyone claims that any Church at any time is infallible, ……..or as long as anyone claims that their Church was personally founded and given privileged status over all others purporting to be one… please count me out!

      No place for “one true Church” polemics here, Norm.

      • The first “or” is an objection to hypocrisy. It’s a valid objection.

        The second and third are just contrary to mere sound reason, let alone to Divine Revelation.

        For Christ has revealed the Father to us and sent us the Gift, the Spirit, not only so that we may live rationally and according to the right conduct as is becoming of the household of God, but that we may be led into all truth. Now, does infallibility mean anything other than, not failing in truth?

        We know that the poison of the strange herbs kills (St. Ignatius, Tral., 6.-7.), and thus we’re to stay away from it if we wish to stay alive. Why would we need the Paraclete and Protector if there is no danger and if truth doesn’t matter?

        Since Church is a community, a body, the Body, there must be such one Church which is united with her bishop around one altar and has persevered in eating the real Food and Drink, and has kept herself away from poison. Otherwise, Christ’s promises are simple lies. Why would we, then, count out a claim that one such Church has remained in truth, while others have fallen away?

      • I’ll ask this though.

        Do you reject the “one true Church” notion because you believe that all of the Christian branches have fallen away from the Truth at least in some degree, and that not counting the non-truth’s they hold to, all branches taken together, poses the whole Truth?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Stephen,

        No place for “one true Church” polemics here, Norm.

        I agree, and I’m not going there. Too often, the promoters of the very “one true church” polemics have missed the point that valid apostolic succession, and thus a full suite of valid sacraments, exists, and is recognized as such by the magisterium of the Catholic Church, in many bodies that currently are not part of the Catholic Church. These bodies include the churches of the Orthodox Communion, the ancient oriental churches of Africa and Asia, the churches of the Union of Scranton, and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

        Note, also, the contrast between the manner in which the Catholic Church reconciled with those who came from various Anglican traditions to form the three ordinariates for former Anglicans and the manner in which the Catholic Church reconciled with the former Sacerdotal Society of St. John Mary Vianney. The former underwent extensive formation leading to reception into full the full communion of the Catholic Church and sacramental confirmation, with Catholic ordination of their clergy, with all of this taking place over the course of several months for each congregation. The latter became the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney on 18 January 2002 by nothing more than a papal signature on a decree making it so.

        And incidentally, for those who argue about delict of schism or whatever, the bishop and many of the priests reconciled by this papal decree suffered from this very delict — yet they could function as Catholic priests, and in one case even as a Catholic bishop, immediately upon their reconciliation.

        “Things are seldom what they seem;
        Skim milk masquerades as cream.”
        — Lord W. S. Gilbert, in HMS Pinnafore

        Norm.

      • Stephen K says:

        Hi Marko,

        Thanks for your comments, which help me to clarify what I mean. First, I don’t think one can separate, in the practical sense, the Church from the people who comprise it, and I don’t accept that any person, or any collective of persons, under whatever ‘brand’, can ever be ‘infallible’. That there is a deep Truth to which we should tend, which we should pursue, and which lies at the very root of Being, makes sense to me, but that any person, any institution, can never err, I find I must reject. The Christian faith begins with an act of trust that the person described in the Gospels was an incarnation – a manifestation – of the God of whom the Gospels say Jesus spoke. The Gospels are said to be a revelation of the Divine. But the act of trust that they are so depends on accepting on trust the people who (i) selected the scriptural canon, (ii) wrote about it, or (iii) unseen, unknown or unwritten, are presumed to have contributed to the oral tradition on which the canon is claimed to have been based. Thus the act of faith in the correlation of God – and Jesus – and the people who, in the name of a Church, claim to act with infallible authority, comes down to a belief that despite common human experience some people will never be wrong. It is that which I think goes counter to good sense. I’m reminded of Paul who beautifully said that the crucified Christ was a folly. (I realise he said this as one who accepted the folly). I think I am on reasonable (note I don’t say infallible) ground when I reject the notion that any single Church is an institution that Jesus personally founded.

        Second, I do not accept that it is inevitable, logically or religiously, that any institution originating after the time of Jesus has to have remained inerrant. The notion that Jesus or the Father or the Spirit has somehow “protected” the institution from doctrinal error, even if true, would not account for their individual or collective (in a Trinitarian sense of course!) failure to prevent the institution from being cruel, intolerant, venal, corrupt, sinful, hurtful, deeply damaging – and wrong – at least some of the time. Who is to say that the Roman – or Uniate – Catholic churches are right and inerrant and impeccable when the Lutheran, or Anglican, or particular ancient Orthodox churches are wrong and errant? Why, the Roman and Uniate Churches themselves! How circular can it get?

        Which brings me to your very pertinent question: do I think that all churches combined, though not separately, possess the whole Truth? My answer is no, I do not think that the combination of fallibles make up one Infallible; or that a combination of incompletes makes up one Complete.

        I think God is a Mystery, and I am increasingly drawn to the notion that God may be known through what is called mystical experience, leading to deep gnosis. All inputs may be of relevance or help in the process, and hence my lifelong religious formation, evolutionary as it is, is not to be disregarded for that purpose. However, it is not helpful spiritually for me I find to operate on the premise that some people are infallible, no matter how they express it.

        Just think: if you think someone, or some collective, is infallible, what consequences does it often, even invariably, lead to?

        Thank you again, Marko. I find your contributions very perceptive and enjoy reading them. And I do not claim to be infallible, these are my thoughts as I have them at this time in my life, so I welcome your comments.

      • Just think: if you think someone, or some collective, is infallible, what consequences does it often, even invariably, lead to?

        Indeed it was widely copied in the 20th century, so you get:
        Der Führer hat immer recht!
        Il Duce ha sempre raggione!
        Russian clocks are always right…

      • Dale says:

        Marko and Stephen,

        I find your reasonings on this issue very pertinent, and also very true.

        I am also very distressed about the whole concept of infallibility; be it personal as in the new autocratic powers of the person of the Pope, but also I would go so far as state even in the very concept of an infallible Church. I do believe that all churches have fallen to some degree, some in small things, others in large ones. The Romans in their bizarre papal utterances and many of the Orthodox in their truly unchristian nationalism which would indeed render some ethnic groups and their specific traditions as somehow better than others (forgetting that we are all children of the same creator).

        But, I think that the most egregious example has been Rome’s acquisition of temporal power and concept of personal infallibility and universal power of their leader over all breathing creatures. In seminary (Orthodox) we learnt that Matthew 16 was not an issue of either absolute authority, power, or infallibility, but the faith upon which rests the Catholic Church, to wit:

        15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
        16 Simon Peter answered and said,“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
        17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
        18 And I also say to you that on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

        It is not Peter that is the rock, but his faith that Christ is the Son of God which is the foundation of the Church; not his supposed power as a vicar of Christ; for there can never be a vicar of Christ since Christ is always present and amongst us. Every Christian who believes and professes that Christ is the Son of God is the stone upon which the Church is built. To build a whole ecclesiology of power on six short lines is beyond ludicrous.

        We used to joke in seminary that if the Romans were serious about the supposed power of Peter, why then did he not command the Apostle Paul to accept his Judaic concepts of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles? And more importantly, Peter was martyred in Rome, but he was Patriarch of Antioch, hence, his personal power and infallibility must be located in that city and not Rome.

        Personally, I simply can not take modern Roman ecclesiology seriously. I should also add that I find their new liturgies quite fitting for their recent theology of papal infallibility.

    • Stephen K says:

      I’m thinking that perhaps what Christians most need at this point is a dose of humility, say, with a doctrine of fallibility: i.e. whenever we pronounce anything on faith or morals, we possibly err, and almost certainly exceed our competence. And, rather than look for or promote a “true Church”, we should look for, and promote, integrity in Church people.

      • We also need to look at truth, hence my interest in philosophers like Novalis and the German idealists. Truth isn’t something we possess or even understand. It is part of our deep desire, the object of which is shared between us all.

  3. You mention nihilistic attitude. I work as a caterer in the university hospital in Galway, and many times i have thought this:

    If it weren’t for Christ’s command that we should do material good to those who are suffering, and if it weren’t for his example, Christianity could easily be reduced to nihilism. For if we place the emphasis on the immortality of the soul, we could just say: “Let them suffer in their bodies. They’ll get new ones anyway.”. Indeed, st. Paul says in Romans 8, 18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.”.

  4. Stephen K says:

    I want to offer a short response to the question “What are we trying to continue?”

    First, who are the “we”? It seems to me that no-one is completely in agreement over every matter of religion. But let me assume that what is meant here those who are attracted to this place.

    I refer to Father’s words: Christian life is all about doing better things, making wiser decisions – and not slumping into a nihilistic attitude in life.

    I think that this is what we are all trying to continue, or, should I say, that is what I think would be a good thing to try to continue.

    • There are some “we’s” agreeing on big picture issues even though there is a lot of diversity between the groups of “we”. There are some matters where there there is more consensus, and others where only one person adheres to such-and-such an idea. I suppose I am just about as repelled by the aggressive LGBT lobby as by the “Waffen” SS-PX priests in their citadel. You and I won’t agree on everything, since I attach more importance to things like liturgical worship and a Romantic world view. Secular with a bit of spirituality can seem appealing, but human nature always gets in somewhere to blight everything.

  5. Stephen K says:

    I feel I should reprise something I wrote back in 2012. Many groups lay claim to the name “Catholic” for their self-descriptor or legitimacy of tradition. For my part, I am conscious of the disparity between the literal meaning of the Greek ‘katholikos’ – which someone very kindly analysed as deriving from ‘kata holos’ – ‘of the whole’ – and the religious provincialism of every group, even the largest, the Roman Catholics.

    I think it is a deficient way of looking at things to simply reduce a thing to the way one sees it from a particular standpoint: A tree, for example, presents many aspects and facets to someone standing on the other side of it, and vice versa. Thus, where the great split between East and West is concerned, both sides are effectively “in schism”: they have each broken from each other or from a whole. Romans are inculturated to see the Orthodox as in schism (as they see Protestants as in heresy); but the Orthodox I am sure see it exactly the opposite: that the Romans broke away. In fact neither can lay proper claim to being kata holos. They are now kata meros – merely of the part.

    Historically, and/or in common conversation, even today, when someone says (Capital C) “Catholic” they are often referring to something that is approved by the historical Roman Church. But this reduces “Catholicism” to something that is not ‘catholic’ but merely distinct, and confined to a particular organisational and doctrinal form in which it has presented itself in history. This reduction is predicated on the belief that Jesus strictly intended everyone to be subject to the Pope (aka Matthew 16:18), which is a dubious and literalist interpretation of an uncorroborated text. There are many people who think of themselves as Catholic, and who embrace what they call ‘Catholicism’ outside the particular species that insists on communion with the Pope.

    So, what do people see that is so attractive, or desirable, or so necessary (to them) in this idea and thing called “Catholicism”? Well, different things I suggest, since we all see things with a subjective standpoint. But can we identify things we might all see? This is what I think we might be able to see in this idea of a “Catholicism” that appeals to a hunger for the “catholic”.

    I think it is going to be something that reflects an approach that seeks to embrace or engage with the “whole” as opposed to perhaps being an approach that seeks to diminish or purify or restrict. If we characterise it this way, we can readily see that those elements within the various Christian theologies and liturgies and ethē which seek to encompass and absorb the whole of creation etc are not dissimilar to some elements that can be found in other religious traditions, even New Age. What things am I thinking of here? Colour, rather than greyness; floral lyricism rather than plainness; male-and-femaleness, not simply one or the other; ecologism and universalism rather than anthropomorphism; custom eclecticism rather than narrow scripturalism; subsidiarity rather than totalitarian centralism; mystery rather than arithmetic; sacramentalism rather than engineering, and so on
    .
    I am sure other dichotomies could be identified, but I think you get what I mean. I think that Mariology and Marian piety was also a distinguishing feature of the catholic spirit in Catholicism, insofar as it expressed an attempt at psychological balance, to ensure that the Feminine principle is expressed to complement the Masculine principle that dominates theological and cultural discourse and liturgy. In other words, one might say that Catholicism – or the catholic Catholic person – deep down seeks a Goddess as well as a God. A core distinguishing element of Catholic Christianity may be its recognition of, and hunger for, the feminine, the female, as source or conduit of power.

    This may be why we recognise confusing signs within Romanism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism, of what we call Catholic or non-Catholic elements. It is not simply a case of counting copes and candlesticks, but taking into account what is being said and done in and out of the liturgy. Thus it might be thought that Francis of Assisi was most Catholic when he embraced lepers and preached to the birds; to succour all in need without ranking by status or creed is a Catholic thing to do. To burn heretics at the stake for their beliefs is profoundly uncatholic. And so on. To insist that Catholicism must be papal is a limiting and excluding position that fits into the same category, in my view.

    I think there’s considerable force to this thesis. How else to explain why we may feel unrepelled even by the allure of exotic ‘pagan’ mysteries (so-called) found in Oriental religions or even Wiccan or Druidic ceremonies and philosophy but repelled by rabbinical or scholastic dissections of law and metaphysics in which one Scriptural text is used to condemn another?

    We can’t escape what Catholicism has meant in history; but perhaps we can find unity in what Christian catholicism could be.

    • Thank you, Stephen, for such a thoughtful comment. I corresponded recently with my sister who went to the Evangelicals as an Anglican and became a Reformed Baptist when she married. Salvation is something you get by saying a special prayer and you are “saved”. Grace is irresistible. All “works” are futile. The message is the same as from any Southern Baptist preacher. The whole of our spirit, soul and being bucks and revolts against such a system. Some people need such a system, like rabbinical Judaism, various forms of Islam and this in Christianity – along with the ideology of the infallible Pope in Rome who will fix anything even when he is the former Provincial of the Argentinian Jesuits who made such a mess of everything.

      My sister also introduced the famous distinction between a “relationship” with Jesus (I suppose if they can hear or see some reciprocation) and religion. What is religion? Bonhöffer had enough of seeing churches going along with Hitler for money and favours. So are we better off as individuals and the Christ of each one of us? What about “fellowship” and “communion”? It seems as though whichever way we turn, it all emerges as senseless bunk.

      One big difference between Christianity and just about everything else is the notion of compassion for the weak, whereas most systems exalt strength and natural human competition, the extremes being the ancient Roman Empire and Nazi Germany. Individual Roman Catholics can be very holy and compassionate souls, but the system encourages the same “struggle” as the world.

      “What Christian Catholicism could be” – that is the role of Romanticism and Idealism. We have to forsake literalism and fundamentalism in all their forms. Guests on my blog are welcome to their “true church”, whether Roman Catholic or Reformed Baptist (though the latter doesn’t claim to be the true church in institutional terms). Here, I encourage discussion without any form of proselytism or bullying.

      I refer readers to our Archbishop’s excellent response to Anglicanorum coetibus.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Fr. Anthony,

        You wrote: I refer readers to our Archbishop’s excellent response to Anglicanorum coetibus.

        I do believe that your archbishop misread the proverbial tea leaves to some extent. The apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus provided for BOTH (1) reception of intact congregations, with their clergy receiving ordination in the Catholic Church and retaining their positions of pastoral leadership AND (2) formation of new congregations from those who came individually, both clergy and lay. All three ordinariates have several congregations in the former category.

        The particular situation in England is shaded by the fact that the Crown holds title to all church buildings of the Church of England, thus barring nearly all of the congregations that formed Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham into the ordinariate with them. The situation is different elsewhere. Several congregations of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross retained, and still use, their previous buildings.

        The speculation of a potential union of the four “continuing Anglican” bodies who are working toward merger into a single body, dubbed the “gang of four” on another blog, with the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), or the Union of Scranton, would be a major game-changer. The PNCC, which has undisputed apostolic succession recognized as valid by the Catholic Church, confers conditional ordination on former Anglican clergy who join its ranks. With valid orders, the Catholic Church would receive the “gang of four” with a papal signature on a document making them new a new jurisdiction within the Catholic Church. This is exactly the process by which the Catholic Church reconciled each of the sui juris ritual churches of non-Roman rites and, more recently, received the former Sacerdotal Society of St. John Marie Vianney as the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney.

        That said, your archbishop’s comments lead me to wonder whether he would accept even conditional ordination from the bishops of the PNCC. If not, reconciliation clearly will have to await another generation of leadership.

        My gut instinct is that the Vatican is much closer to restoration of full communion with the churches of the Orthodox Communion, and potentially also with the ancient oriental churches, than with any Anglican or “continuing Anglican” body.

        Norm.

      • Norm, you have some neat Cartesian plans for everything, but it just won’t happen. It will already be enormous if there is a complete union of the continuing Anglican Churches. Whether our bishops will want to “submit” to conditional ordination and consecration by the PNCC is another matter. If the whole lot was joined to Rome, there would be cherry-picking and rooting out of the individuals who are irregular in Rome’s eyes (usually because they had been Roman Catholics – cradle or converts). Money and real-estate say a lot with Rome. There is also the question of whether the PNCC and the continuing Churches see any real need for being in communion with the Pope, seeing that all schisms have been caused by papal ambition.

        Do you really think that the Orthodox Churches want to be in communion with the former Argentinian Jesuit Provincial? Maybe some of the more liberal ones, but many Orthodox make the SSPX look like the Vicar’s Sunday afternoon tea party with the flower ladies.

        Oh, by the way, Norm, I presume you’re not the “regular correspondent”…

      • I need to add a few ideas to my previous comment. I say it again and again with few permutations. The aim of RC apologists is to persuade the Anglican, Lutheran, etc. that he is in a false church and that he has to go and convert to the “true church”, even if that “true church” has capitulated to liberalism and the tenets of the “false churches”. This means that truth would be purely institutional and the property of those who can afford it. The same happens with Evangelicals. They evoke the “authority” of the Bible and the need to destroy “idols” and bring the individual into conformity with the institution headed by the pastor and elders.

        There is precious little Christianity left after the ravages caused by such ideologies. This is why I look to the Romantics and Idealists for a notion of truth that places it beyond ourselves and our claimed territories and “property”.

        “Rev22:17” (Norm) has not changed very much since the Anglicanorum coetibus days of 2010 and 2011. He has been on moderated status on this blog, but I am too kind and approve the comments. I do so because they are fairly well reasoned and polite in tone. As I say, there are many holy Roman Catholics, as there are holy Orthodox, Baptists, Anglicans and everything else. The state of nearly all churches gives us a warning that Christianity finds itself like in the late 18th century, at the end of its shelf life because too much rubbish is mixed into the rare remnants of what Christ’s message might have been.

        My purpose in this blog is not to identify a “true” institutional church but to seek and yearn for our Sehnsucht and love, the ineffable truth that none of us owns and to which we all aspire. Most of us will never have an inkling of this truth in our earthly lifetime, only beyond the veil. We can and ought to belong to churches, but small ones in which democracy still has meaning (less than 150 people and everyone understanding the issues to be discussed). The papal church that is nothing more than a code of canon law and remote clerics is meaningless and a contribution to the final fizzling out of Christian faith.

        If Norm wishes to continue a dialogue with this blog, it is according to a respect for these principles. I claim no infallibility, but I find it exhausting to dialogue with fixed ideas and the feeling that my blog is being used as someone else’s soapbox. Sorry to be hard about this, but I went through a lot of heartache in the latter days of the Ordinariate process and the shennanigans of my former Archbishop. We have to turn the page and move on. I have not, and will not, let myself be distracted.

      • Dale says:

        “The particular situation in England is shaded by the fact that the Crown holds title to all church buildings of the Church of England, thus barring nearly all of the congregations that formed Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham into the ordinariate with them. The situation is different elsewhere. Several congregations of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross retained, and still use, their previous buildings.”

        You make it appear that the Church of England is trying to steal properties of Ordinariate bound congregations. But, please, how many Catholic traditionalist communities have been allowed to take their church buildings with them when they depart from an apostate liberal diocese of the Roman Church? I will help you out here…NONE.

        Please do not accuse the Anglicans or anyone else of lacking in charity when, especially when it comes to property, there is very little evidence of charity in Rome either.

      • Dale says:

        Norm wrote: “The PNCC, which has undisputed apostolic succession recognized as valid by the Catholic Church, confers conditional ordination on former Anglican clergy who join its ranks. With valid orders, the Catholic Church would receive the “gang of four” with a papal signature on a document making them new a new jurisdiction within the Catholic Church. This is exactly the process by which the Catholic Church reconciled each of the sui juris ritual churches of non-Roman rites.”

        When the Pope was Polish, the PNCC was ecstatic and prepared to return to the fold, since their only reason for existence was nationalism in the first place. They began what was to be serious conversation with modern Rome. They went so far as to jettison the traditional Roman rite for the dog’s vomit of the novus ordo and thought they would be received as Norm thinks that Anglicans with “valid” orders would be received if they submitted to Rome.

        Well, it all came to naught. The majority of PNCC clergy, especially in Poland, were discovered to be former Roman Catholic priests who had married and then went over to the PNCC. None of these clergy would be permitted to function as priests and all would have to revert to a lay state without the right to function as clergy. All future priests would have to be celibates and the democratic set-up of the parishes, with title vested in the parish and not the diocese was to end. Effectively the only thing offered was assimilation to the existing structure.

        I remember speaking with an Anglican TAC priest who was overjoyed with the idea of the Ordinariates, when I pointed out how the PNCC had been treated (By a fellow Pole no less) his only response was that Archbishop Hepworth had promised everyone that such would not be the case and that all clergy would be received in their respective orders with the right to function as clergy. Only later, well only by a few weeks, was I proven to be correct.

        The future insistence on clerical celibacy, unless changed, will be the death knell of the Ordinariates. Their source of future clergy will simply dry up. No Roman Catholic bishop can afford to waste a priest for a small community, and most Anglican Use communities are minuscule. The example of St Mary the Virgin in Las Vegas, Nevada, is telling. A strong and large community (by Anglican standards), with a very beautiful building, was simply, over a weekend, closed because the original converting priest retired and the Roman bishop could not afford to waste a priest for a community of less than two hundred. As an example, where I now live, the local Roman parish has almost 15,000 members and the single priest serves two other parishes as well. I fear that with the demand for celibacy the days of Anglican Use parishes will be finished in one generation.

        Of course, Pope Francis may simply do away with the celibacy requirements and then it is a different game.

        I do not think that Norm is being disingenuous at all. Actually, I find his posts polite and he is indeed convinced of his position. But I simply do not believe they really reflect either the reality of Roman Catholic theology or canon law.

      • I do not think that Norm is being disingenuous at all. Actually, I find his posts polite and he is indeed convinced of his position. But I simply do not believe they really reflect either the reality of Roman Catholic theology or canon law.

        I agree with you, which is why I am letting him express himself here on this blog. However, he does entertain illusions as you have described. The example of the Episcopal Church in America and the Church of England show how liberalism is not tolerance but a new intransigent “orthodoxy”. Pope Francis might do away with celibacy, but perhaps in impossible conditions. The real problem with the PNCC, Archbishop Hepworth – and myself – is the delict of schism. If you have been a Roman Catholic or even a convert, you are stuck with the irregularity for life.

        I quoted a document from Cardinal Ratzinger (1983) about how Rome judged Archbishop Ngô-Dinh-Thuc, and it isn’t pretty. They refrain from judgement about the validity and consider only the juridical effects. The man concerned, if he is convinced that the RC Church is the “true church”, has to give up the priesthood and presumably be a pariah in his parish. That is the way it works. Archbishop Hepworth was either deluded or lying when he said that there was going to be some kind of “amnesty”, and Norm is just perpetuating the same myth. Pope Francis is no less a canonist than anyone else in spite of all the smiles and hype about healing, etc.

        On the old subject of the infallibility skeleton in the closet, there is my old posting More Papal Bull.

      • William Tighe says:

        Dale wrote:

        “They went so far as to jettison the traditional Roman rite for the dog’s vomit of the novus ordo …”

        While I wouldn’t care to argue against this in general terms, I’ve just glanced at the PNCC’s “novus ordo,” and it is clearly their own independent, if parallel, concoction (“m not sure that Dale would disagree with this). The rubrical directions attached to the PNCC NO seem a bit more conservative, even mildly traditional, than those of the Roman Rite, but its substance, esp. its anaphoras, seem distinctly more “loosey-goosey” than Rome’s.

      • I quote from Archbishop Mark Haverland as he expressed himself after the joint Synod of the “G4” in October 2017:

        As we look to the future, I believe and pray that this process of growing communion and unity will continue and will move towards institutional, organic unity. I even hope for such movement sooner rather than later. I also believe and pray that a united Continuing Church, centered in our four Churches, will become a magnet that can attract folk in smaller Continuing bodies, as well as folk who at present are in rather confused neo-Anglican groups such as ACNA. It is noteworthy that we should have with us this week an Anglo-Catholic diocesan bishop from ACNA, representatives of the Polish National Catholic Church, and bishops and clergy from the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and other bodies that feel some kinship with us. Many of these contacts are new and are the fruit of larger numbers and wider relationships.

        It is possible that his mention of the PNCC would give rise to speculation, but all that happened with them is that they attended parts of the Synod and showed their desire for dialogue. Indeed many things will have to be discussed. We in the “G4” recognise each other’s legitimacy and validity as Catholic Churches, and we are in intercommunion and working towards closer union and cooperation. If the PNCC have problems with that and our usage of more “traditional” liturgies, they will have to work it out. They are not seen by continuing Anglicans as a “source of valid orders” or “more legitimate”. They might evolve into a more conservative / traditional direction, and that would be of interest to us.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Fr. Anthony,

        You asked: Oh, by the way, Norm, I presume you’re not the “regular correspondent”…

        No, I am not. One of the moderators of another blog associated the “regular correspondent” with a poster known as “EPMS” a while ago. It seems plausible that they are the same person, but I have no proof.

        Further, I agree completely with your assessment in an earlier reply that comments that Mr. Bruce attributes to his “regular correspondent” often show little comprehension of anything. However, the “regular correspondent” seems to be very good at digging up information that’s not published in one central place — I often learn of developments surrounding the ordinariates there before hearing of them in other places.

        Then again, when I have submitted more than a few comments to Mr. Bruce, often pointing out blatant errors in his blog posts with links to authoritative sources. Most of the time, he has either (1) ignored this feedback completely or (2) published very selectively only what he construes to support his anti-ordinariate agenda. He has rarely made any attempt to correct what was blatantly wrong, either by revising the original post or by posting an update. This gives me reason to suspect that the problem that gives rise to our perception of the “regular correspondent” my be the filter (Mr. Bruce) and not the individual to whom he refers by this euphemism.

        Norm.

      • Sorry for the provocation, and it would indeed be out of character for you, since you have already discussed the faulty reasoning of John Bruce. It would be interesting to know who EPMS is. I suspect an alter ego of John Bruce himself, but I can’t prove it. I hope Mr Bruce will have to live in either a Muslim or Communist country where there are no churches and where you can be flogged or executed for mere possession of a cross or a bible. Perhaps he might find a job with the Saudi Arabian railways and run a line to North Korea! He won’t have to worry about ordinariates, because there won’t be any. He could even be appointed superintendant general of the secret anti-Anglican goon squad!

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Fr. Anthony,

        You wrote: Norm, you have some neat Cartesian plans for everything, but it just won’t happen. It will already be enormous if there is a complete union of the continuing Anglican Churches. Whether our bishops will want to “submit” to conditional ordination and consecration by the PNCC is another matter….

        Well, I’m looking on a time scale that may be decades or perhaps even longer. I agree completely with your remark that a complete union of the four “continuing Anglican” bodies would be huge — and I pray for it! But, realistically, it probably will take a decade or two to realign or merge overlapping dioceses and hierarchies into a cohesive organization even if the churches succeed in merging their top level organizations before a the unified organization can progress with a “next step,” whether that next step is merger with the PNCC or entry into the Union of Scranton or some other. I doubt that the bishops of overlapping territories will want to give up their positions and that most of the parishes and clergy are comfortable with their current pastoral relationships and thus won’t be very eager to shift to a different bishop and diocesan administration. It will be a major challenge to find a way to realign pastoral relationships that’s acceptable to all.

        Then again, this problem is not very different from the challenges of reuniting the churches of the Orthodox Communion and the ancient oriental churches with the Catholic Church. The so-called “uniate churches” are groups of dioceses that have split from most of these churches to reconcile with the Catholic Church, now forming the so-called sui juris ritual churches. The patriarchs of the churches of the Orthodox Communion and the ancient oriental churches have a very valid argument that the respective sui juris ritual churches should be restored to the bodies from which they came as part of the process of reconciliation. However, the “uniate churches” need to build relationships of trust with the separated churches from which they came in much the same way.

        Nevertheless, we all have a duty as Christians to work toward reconciliation in whatever way we are able. That begins with acknowledging one another as siblings in our Lord.

        Norm.

      • Thank you, Norm. The future is unpredictable, but nothing prevents us from playing strategy games. What I see in my own Church, through conversations with my Bishop, is that there are priorities, the first being to present a unified continuing Anglican Church. This will give “clout” when discussing things with other Churches which might otherwise want to take control of everything. This is the biggest stake in “horse trading”. It’s a world that I detest preferring as I do to study and write rather than wear myself out in these situations that require exceptional social skills.

  6. Stephen K says:

    What are we trying to continue? Everyone reading will have a different aspiration. When I was much younger I wrote poems about the priesthood and how the experiences of Mass in traditional rites affected me. But in later years, after reading about many people’s experiences and perspectives, including, say, the East End Anglo-Catholics, etc I felt that what Christianity was all about was love for others and everything else was dressing.

    Here is a poem I wrote in 2014 after reading the Budget proposed by one of the Australian governments, but it was also written while I was listening to the Missa Sine Nomine by Juan de Anchieta (d.1523) and after meeting the Bruderhof who live the common life in total dedication to Jesus.

    “Do not thou then spurn the weak
    Nor cast aside the halt:
    Take not advantage of the meek,
    Nor fail to own thy fault
    In all thy sins: for thou shouldst seek
    the better path, the better way,
    and ever strive to reach the peak
    before the dark at close of day.”

    These words resound within my head:
    I cannot sleep, nor rest.
    I toss and turn upon my bed;
    I feel a tightness in my breast.
    I know that I am clothed and fed
    But others feel the pain
    Of cold and emptiness instead:
    I know I’ve failed again.

    We cannot speak of what we do not do;
    We cannot say one thing and do another;
    We must not lie or say what is not true;
    We must not fail our sister or our brother.
    And hardly is it justice we pursue
    When to our borders doth the call of arms
    Ring out in patriotic cry and hue
    To guard our cities and protect our farms

    And keep the “hordes” away; or grind
    Into submission all the jobless and the ill,
    Herd them into desperate ghettos of the mind
    To show them all the firmness of our will;
    To chain them, keep them suffering and blind;
    If while we feast, we turn away our ear,
    Our eye, our heart, deliberately unkind,
    Imprisoned by our crippling and demeaning fear.

    The winter fast approaches and the cold
    Descends on huddling forms in alleyways;
    It slivers under doors; and grips the sick and old;
    Invades the houses where no fires blaze;
    Where children ache from damp and from the mould
    That spreads where warmth has never been
    And all because our leaders brave and bold
    Are thoughtless, venal, insecure or mean.

    “Do not thou then spurn the weak….”
    The voice within my head
    ‘Twas but my conscience I heard speak,
    And all that I had read
    I knew was but as smoke or mist;
    My works were futile, dead;
    Until I could by love be kissed
    I’d weep upon my bed.

    Deeds, not words; not proud or empty phrases:
    For these do not accomplish what we need
    To do to all within our mortal human power
    The homeless shelter and the hungry feed;
    The lonely succour, and with a thousand graces
    Dignify the needy, even though we bleed;
    And only then, upon our dreadful hour
    Will the voice be still and fear recede.

  7. wayne pelling says:

    Stephen K are you an Australian as your poem is a very good assessment of JOE HOCKEY s first budget and yes i am also amazed at the Bruderhof s commitment to living totally dedicated to Christ. Father i know that the late FR GRAEME MITCHELL -who i dearly miss-looked upon his Anglican Catholicism as being one manifestation of a greater Catholic Christianity.

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