Thursday, July 27, 2017

The blogging Archbishop

I am encouraged by Fr Anthony's post that our Archbishop, Dr Mark Haverland has joined the blogosphere.

His blog can be found here:

https://anglicancatholicliturgyandtheology.wordpress.com/

Knowing that he is a man of impressive theological learning, I hope to find much inspiration for my own little project for our Church which seems to be growing rather significantly. I hope that he finds much encouragement in his endeavours.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Feminism, Freedom and agreeing with Dawkins

I am going to lay my cards on the table and I doubt that I will make myself popular.

I do not believe that human beings have the right to choose their own sex, nor do I believe that the obsession with gender is healthy. Indeed, since gender is merely a grammatical term, I think that's the only place where it should remain. My table is feminine whether or not I am masculine. Further, I believe that men and women are different, equal in humanity but not interchangeable. I do not believe that a society can legislate that a man can "identify" as a woman and vice versa, or "identify" as neither. I believe this on the basis of theological reasoning, and scientific reasoning.

Theologically, the argument is simple.

1) God created male and female at His pleasure.
2) If we truly worship God, we value His decisions over our own desires.
3) If we truly worship God, we value His decision to make us what we are over our desires.

If we truly worship God, then we should allow Him to make the decision over who we are despite any feelings we should have to the contrary. If we feel differently, then this is clearly an aspect of our free-will that needs transformation in God, not in ourselves.

Of course, the cry goes up, "a loving God wouldn't want His children to be sad." But then we point to the suffering of so many in the world and how we Christians trust that although we cannot fully grasp the problem of Evil, God is working so that our suffering is given the greatest value and respect in His eyes which He expresses through the Cross. If we are in pain, we trust that God will give that pain a great meaning for us in Eternity. We trust God by submitting to His will and not to ours where we have the freedom to subvert this loving grace by forcing our demands over His.

The Christian Life is hard because transformation is hard. We need to learn to submit to God freely from our heart and allow Him to give His worth to our pain and sorrow as we labour to find Him in our lives.

Scientifically, the argument is simple.

1) The characteristic of male and female is written into every cell in the human body.
2) Surgery does not alter every cell in the body.
3) Surgery cannot change a person's sex.

Any "sex-change" that happens without altering every cell in the human body is superficial and technically changes nothing. Men cannot have babies: only women have wombs as the BBC finally admitted despite championing the contrary:
We can't change the fact that only women have wombs, but we can try to change workplace culture.
These are two different arguments. I believe both because I believe in God and I have a measure of faith in what Science says about the world that God created.

To make sex "fluid" in law means something deeply disturbing. Women have fought for a long time for their rights, even something as basic as the right to vote for their government. Only recently have they received the right not to be raped by their own husband. I remember that when the original television production of the Forsyte Saga aired Soames' rape of his wife, the audience reaction was fifty-fifty. In those days, people believed that Soames had a right to assert himself when his wife had consistently refused him. In the recent television adaptation of the same, it was clear that Soames had indeed raped his wife and was therefore culpable of a vile crime against his wife. Women have been struggling for equality within marriage, and protection from rape for ages and it was in the last century that advances were made.

These advantages gave women the right to separate bathrooms which formed a safe place away from men. Women-only groups have been set up to ensure that they have the support network that they need.

Of course, like every movement, there are extremes and errors have crept in. Some Feminists have worked at belittling the male sex at every opportunity. Some even want the eradication of men as far as possible even championing attempts at male-free conception. Yet, the reasonable feminist will recognise that men and women need to live together as being equal under the law and will accept that this equality does not mean interchangeability.

If biological men then earn the right to "identify" as women, then this means that the women-only bathrooms become accessible to these men. Thus, the man in winning the right to identify as a woman actively wins by taking away the hard one rights of women. Transgender rights are gained by eroding the rights of the established sexes.

It is said that violent crime is rising among women but decreasing among men. Is it any wonder why? Men are more violent than women by biology - we have natural testosterone to thank for that. If a male "identifying" as a women commits a crime, he has earned the right for that crime to be recorded in female numbers.

The Government are looking to enshrine the right to self-identification in Law and make it easier to do so. The Church of England is supporting this. In so doing, they are going against rigorous Science, undoing Women's Rights, and defying Almighty God Himself. This makes these institutions morally and intellectually deviant.

There. I said it! Cue the backlash!

Yet, this is not why I'm actually writing this. I have been criticised by my own students for holding this view. They have tried to re-educate me by quoting stories from Reddit of those with Gender Dysphoria - a condition that they recognise as being medical but, rather than treatment and accepting that it is a disorder, want Society not only to allow them the right to persist in this condition but also accommodate its symptoms. IF it is a medical condition, then the same argument must therefore hold mutans mutandis for other medical conditions which have even more severe consequences.

I have seen no arguments that would convince me to change my mind. Are there arguments that would? I keep an open mind on that, but by far the majority of arguments that my former students are giving me are anecdotal, non-medical, non-scientific, illogical, and charged with emotion which is not an authority. I don't doubt that there are people who are suffering terrible depression and anxiety because they are not the sex that they want to be. Yes, they need help, compassion and love, but that doesn't mean that the problem will go away by letting be the sex they think they are. That's like curing the symptom without curing the condition.

The biggest argument will be that from human freedom. We have a right to be free from all forms of oppression. Of course we do! The Christian must help the oppressed go free. Yet, Society doesn't seem clear on what constitutes oppression nor what freedom is. Indeed, the human obsession with freedom is always a freedom-from. We have the right to freedom from illegal captivity, from being raped, from being terrorised. We never discuss what our freedom is for. What purpose does it serve? Are we free so that we can live our lives how we want to live? Sure, but what does that entail? What does living a free life mean? Free from outside influences? What good would that do for society?

We could seek to be free from social norms, duties and expectations. We could be free not to pay our taxes, free from the warden telling us not to park. St Paul sees the situation so clearly.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient : all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.(I Corinthians vi.12)

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient : all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (I Corinthians x.23)
Unless we start seeing our freedom as the freedom to be the best person that we can be, we will effectively legalise ourselves out of society. Our ability to live together as a coherent, respectful community comes about by each of us exercising our freedom to benefit everyone even if this binds our desires through commitment and curtailing what we want to do.


Surely, this is a first world problem that seems to forget about those living in poverty and degradation. Before we start campaigning for the right to self-identification, shouldn't we look to the right for people not to live in poverty or degradation?

I find myself in agreement with one who stands usually on the opposite side of the table. Professor Richard Dawkins has had his recent address at Berkeley University cancelled because of his "Islamophobia" despite the fact that his address was on the topic of science and not religion. This is becoming typical in American and British Universities when a teacher or a lecturer espouses views that students do not believe are politically correct. Any professor who is in anyway critical of liberal views is regarded as persona non grata. The way that the politically correct agenda is being enforced is by vilification and social shunning rather than engaging sensibly with the arguments. The only thing I have heard is "you disagree with me: you're just like Hitler." It is anti-intellectual and demeaning to the pursuit of knowledge in which universities should be engaged. I honestly hope Professor Dawkins gets his apology.

To accept this gender fluidity in Law, it must be shown that the right to self-identification does not take away any rights already established from anyone. This includes the freedom to object without vilification and social stigmatism, the freedom to a safe environment, the freedom to consent or dissent to a sexuality relationship,  and the freedom of speech. I have already seen the statistics of women assaulted in bathrooms in places which allow self-identification and it is frightening.

No doubt, I will be called a "hater" or a "-phobe." I think Islam is fundamentally wrong in its claim to know God - I suppose this makes me an Islamophobe too! However, nowhere have I said that I hate anyone! I have Christian love for all people and I seek to improve my ability to love my neighbour as myself. It doesn't help when those who want to redefine what maLe and female mean also attempt to redefine what Love means.

 Let me be as clear and as simple as I can be: to love is to will the good unconditionally of the other. By "good", I mean that property which is characterised by the existence and purpose of our common Creator. What He wants is the purest, Eternal and most powerful good for us which is why He created us as He did. I want every human being, alive, dead, and to come, to find that most the supreme joy and love that exists. If people think that I hate them because I disagree that such love and joy can be found by the free exercise of everyone's desires then that is their problem.

It seems I must also agree with another who is usually on the other side of the table from me. For:

Here I stand. I can do no other!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The waters of Death

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Did you know that you are dead?

That may sound rather distressing, especially since so many people die every day in so many and varied ways, so many dying in horrible circumstances. Each one of us loses someone we love. We are hurt, wounded, and scarred by their passing. The fact remains that, if you are baptised, then you are already dead. Further, you are dead, and you should be happy about it!

Why is that a difficult thing to hear?

[PAUSE]

Perhaps it’s difficult because of the sheer gulf of difference between being baptised and dying. How on earth can we liken the end of our lives with having a bit of water splashed on our heads? Death is something to fear, to be avoided; the thought terrifies us; it gives us grief. Many of us don’t even remember our baptism and, if we do, it probably wasn’t a traumatic experience, certainly not on the same level as death. You may be distressed now just thinking of it for yourself and your loved ones. Isn’t it so cheap to compare baptism to death? Isn’t it patronising and glib? If you feel that way now, then you clearly care deeply about the lives of those around you. That makes you a great Christian. However, be aware now, there is so much good news!

[PAUSE]

St Paul says, “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death;” We remember the agonising and humiliating death of Our Lord Jesus. We remember that everything that He has is stripped from Him to reduce His humanity to make it easier to kill Him. We remember how He is mocked, beaten, His words turned against Him. He is stripped naked, nailed, and His pain laughed at. But this isn’t His death. The horror is that this is the end of His life. It is only after these things happen that He dies. And this is the death that we are baptised into.

God comes into the world knowing what awaits Him. He chooses it despite the pain and torment so that all who suffer in life might know that He loves them in their hurt and pain. Just as Jesus is baptised so that in His baptism we can be baptised, He dies an awful death so that our suffering and pain is given an incalculable meaning and dignity. We are baptised into His death so that our own death is less something to suffer, but something to embrace so that “like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. Just as His death results in a glorious resurrection, so too our death with all its terror will be an end of torment and the beginning of great joy in Him. God becomes man so that man can become God.

[PAUSE]

You see so much death on our televisions and online, and you care deeply because you value human life so much, just as Jesus wants you to, just as Jesus Himself does. Yet while it may be such a little thing to have water poured on your head, what Baptism actually achieves is vast and more significant than death.
When you are baptised, you become one with the Body of Christ which is the Church; your sanctification starts here; your sins are forgiven and any further sins can be forgiven when you repent. Baptism means that your death, and the deaths of all other baptised folk, are bound up in the Death of Our Lord and His Resurrection. Having water poured on you is not (usually) painful, but what happens when it does is greater than death can ever be.

[PAUSE]

Many people today fear death because they believe that it’s the end. If really were the end, then what would be the point of living? This lifeless life of so many in the world is distressing for Christians to see. We need to live our lives, knowing that we will die, but that our death will be of little consequence compared to the life we have in Christ. We do need to live that as a reality. We mourn with those who mourn because they need that support when their loved one is gone. Yet, we should show in our lives that our death is somehow a greater life within living.
We believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Don’t we?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unsocial Media

This little blog is being a little quiet at the moment as I am concentrating on a largish project at the service of my diocese as well as my usual day job. I still intend to publish sermons as best I can - first and foremost I must be subject to the Holy Ghost.

I expect my readership to shrink somewhat as I have just jettisoned Facebook for the time being. As it happens, I feel much better for doing so!

My reason for leaving was a meme featuring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka with the caption to the effect of "So tell me why you bemoan being unable to read when you're spending so much time on Facebook. "

I have recently become embroiled in too much self-defence of my traditional stance on human sexuality and in defence of the welfare of women under threat from legislation mindless of the bleeding obvious, of my defence of why I'm not Roman, and my defence of why I'm not in communion with ACNA. I find this constant self-defence deeply limiting from the work that I want to do in promoting and preaching the Catholic Faith.

Facebook is a sea of noise and I might liken it to a nineteenth century opium den with the opiate in this case being the dopamine addiction which craves "likes" and approval from people for the sake of that approval. Given also the imperious, arrogant, and illogical attack I received from a former student when I railed against the CofE's recent approval to sanction transgender rights above the safety and welfare of women whose rights are being eroded by this legislation, I feel justified in my decision to deactivate my account for a while.

While I am appreciative of positive comments, I don't want to write for the sole aim of becoming popular, but rather in answer to the deep longing I have for the truth which can only be found in the Holy Mystery of the Triune Godhead.

I therefore crave the indulgence of my readership if I am not as forthcoming with my posts as I have been. May God prosper the work of my hands and my mind. St Anselm and St Odile, pray for me!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Working out Love

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Why is it so hard to love other people?

Have you ever tried to count the number of negative thoughts that we have against other people? It’s an interesting exercise, and one that is good discipline especially when examining ourselves ready for confession. Somehow we need to step back from what we’re thinking and actually look at the thoughts themselves, their content, their direction, their origin.

Often it’s not very pleasant. Yet, how often do we forget that God knows every thought of our hearts? Further, how much more do we forget Our Lord’s words, “whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

That’s a bit of a worry, isn’t it?

[PAUSE]

We have to face facts: we are fallen beings. Our thoughts are fallen. Even the very best of us have thoughts that are not palatable and which would make the most horrible Horror Film look like the Care Bears’ Picnic. How can we really love other people? How can we want our worst enemy honestly to be our brother?

The mistake that we make is that love is not a feeling that we should possess. It actually comes from what we consciously want to happen. The love that we need to have for other people is rooted in the desire and longing to do good for other people. You’ll hear people say, “the pathway to Hell is paved with good intentions.” They’re wrong, the pathway to Hell is paved with selfish desires masquerading as good intentions. That which is truly Good has its source in God and returns to God bearing fruit in abundance.
We have to want other people’s good in order to do love. St Peter says, “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”

As Christians, we must be all of one mind, that is to support each other in that intent to do good. We gather together to pray and receive Christ and that must be where we receive that common mind to bring the love of God into our communities and for those who live around us. In receiving Our Lord in the sacrament, we are united with Him and must seek to be of one mind with Him. We need to look to agree, not insist on disagreeing, but always to submit our thinking to what Our Lord teaches us in His Church.
We must love as brethren. We will not see people as our brothers and sisters initially, and certainly not without the grace of God, but we can purpose to live our lives as if they were our brothers and sisters and allow any grace that God gives us to grow.

To do this, St Peter tells us to be pitiful by which he means that we should look upon our brethren as people who have fallen and are in the same dire need for Christ’s salvation as we are. We should not berate them for their shortcomings, but live with them as they must live with our shortcomings. St Peter is telling us to be sympathetic – in fact this is the word he uses in the Greek!

We need to be courteous, considerate of where others are. This does not just mean opening the door for a little old lady, but rather to be aware of what help or assistance someone else might actually need. It means to take active thought for other people in their situations. It means that we need to be friendly, approachable.

We have to repel evil by not letting it take control of us. If someone does something evil to us, why on earth should we allow the amount of evil to increase by doing the same? We can only ever hope to fight Evil with Good, and we can only know what is truly Good by being of one mind with God.

[PAUSE]

Yes, our secret sins may well be aired in public, but surely, if we’ve tried to be compassionate, sought to do good, looked out for others, surely they will look at us with the same compassion. But then, it’s God who will look at us with pity, compassion and, above all, mercy, forgiveness and love. We may and should cry for our sins, but our tears will be wiped away because we have shed them for the love of God.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Judging the judgement of judging

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

As Christians, we do have a duty to point out right from wrong. In ecclesiastical language it’s called “admonishing the sinner” and it is one of the spiritual works of mercy. Yet, how afraid we are of doing so these days! In likelihood, here in the U.K., we will not be sliced to bits with a large sword, though too many of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are suffering this. No, in the U.K. to pull someone up on sin is a different form of death called “social death”.

If you say to someone, “that’s sinful!” Before banning you forever in their social whirl, they will look you right in the eye and say, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.”

That’s what Our Lord says in St Luke’s hearing.

Yet St Luke tells us that Jesus also says, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”

This puts us in a bit of a bother. If we are not allowed to judge that someone has sinned, then how can we accuse them of sin, and thus forgive them? Surely, if we see someone about to fall into a hole, we must say to them, “look out, you’re about to fall into a hole!”

[PAUSE]

In telling us not to judge, non-Christians are effectively telling us that we have no right to call them up on sin. They base this on the fact that we commit the same sins as they do, and receive the same benefits from them. As far as they are concerned, we are walking on the same path as they are and, if there is a hole, we’ll fall into it too. So, logically, if they think that we are on the same path as they, there can’t really be a hole or else we all fall in.

Yet sin is still sin. Murder, adultery, wilful deception, even lusting after another person’s property are sin. That’s not going to change. If these things separated man from God thousands of years ago, then they will still separate us from God now. It’s not because we’ve changed, but because God does not change. We are sinners, therefore how on earth can we tell people that they’ve sinned? Hadn’t we better keep silence?

[PAUSE]

Jesus says, “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?”
This is the thing. Are we blind? No. We know what sin is and, if we’re good Christians, we will be examining our lives daily for the very thing that separates us from God. It is only those who fail to recognise their own hypocrisy who will fall into ruin with those who will not turn from sin. If we see sin in others but not ourselves, then we can only fall into the same hole as the others.

When Jesus says, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged,” He is warning us not to be hypocrites, but to be humble. We are not to judge based upon what we think is right and believe ourselves to be perfect, but to judge based upon not just upon what God says, but based upon Who God is, for God is what it means to be good. The letter of the Law killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The word that we hear God speak in Holy Scripture needs to be the Living Word in our understanding of it.

Our judgement is to be based upon mercy. God’s mercy is precisely His steadfast love for all sinners, and this is what we should have too if we are seeking the Good that is Christ. If we must accuse someone of sin, then it needs to come from a deep-seated, passionate, loving concern for their well-being. It can’t be lukewarm, academic, and certainly not from a place of self-righteousness. Nor can we ever force them to repent because that takes away the freedom to choose. There are too many people who try to blackmail people out of their sin emotionally – that’s not on because love does not insist upon its own will.

[PAUSE]

Repentance is the way back to God. We are to change our minds, acknowledge that we are on the wrong path and head towards His light. By living in that light, people may indeed see the way out of their own sin. Of course, we need to be able to see that light first. There might be a beam blocking the way!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sleeping through humility

Sermon for the third Sunday after Trinity

All good parables start with a king, don’t they? A powerful king sits on his throne surveying his wealth and power. He has conquered five new cities to the south and repelled the rebels. He has acquired an oil field in Texas. Gold has been discovered in his territories. The neighbouring kings bring him tributes of the finest treasures that they possess. His has three sons and seven grandsons who sit with him watching him govern the might of his kingdom. This is the world he has made for himself.

All good parables have a begger, too. There is a beggar who sits at the church door. He manages to get enough money for food. He listens to the church music during the day. He has made friends with the regulars that walk past the church daily. At night, he can usually find somewhere protected and quite comfortable to sleep. This is the world he has made for himself.

Who’s happiest?

[PAUSE]

At night, the king dreams restlessly. The rebels take back control of the cities. The oil field runs dry and the gold mine has only fool’s gold. The kings are plotting against him. His family plot his overthrow. This is the five hundredth night in a row. Will he ever get a good night’s sleep?
But the beggar, in all his poverty, is sleeping well, isn’t he?

No. At night the beggar dreams restlessly. His past is still with him. His demanding of his birth right from his father; his running away from all who love him; his squandering the money on a life of wine, women and gambling. He dwells on these from day-to-day. He has them in front of him all day, and at night, his failures whisper in his ear. He can’t go back. He just can’t.

As the king suffers sleepless nights worrying about his wealth, the beggar suffers sleepless nights taunted by his personal failures.

[PAUSE]

Both the beggar and the rich man have to live in worlds that they have created, and they let these worlds define who they are. They are both enslaved and devoured by the weight of what they have added on to their very selves, materially, mentally and spiritually. Their world eats them up leaving only a fa├žade, a shell drunken on worry and concerns from the world. Both men need to find the joy of humility.

Humility isn’t about being the lowest of the low. It’s about realising that, despite those things we’ve done with our lives, they need not define us. We do have a hand with God in our creation, and we’re not finished yet. Every day, our decisions and interactions with God and the world around us shape us more, but so many people leave God out of the equation – and that includes Christians.

Humility is about accepting the truth – the truth of how our desires to build our world enslave us and stop us from being truly alive; the truth of our failures which haunt us and stop us from growing. We cannot allow either of these states to make us drunk with worry and concern to the extent that we forget God and forget who we are. Humility says that, although we have a hand in who we are, God is the Creator, first and foremost.

St Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

[PAUSE]

We need to look at ourselves critically, but honestly in the love of God. We must take responsibility for the way we shape our lives but trust in the knowledge that, with God with us and as we participate faithfully in His life and love, all that happens will work out to our good. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

Both the king and the beggar need to learn humility. The king needs to see who he is without the riches. The beggar needs to see who he is without his self-inflicted poverty. Such realisations can only come about by letting go of the vision and realising the truth in God. Kings and beggars are equal in the offer of salvation that God extends to them with pierced hand.

[PAUSE]
Our growth in this life is turbulent and unsettling, but that is the price of transformation. To find true joy in Our Lord, we must learn to accept that we need to change and alter the course of our lives towards Him: that transformation causes distress and turbulence in our lives. There will be sleepless nights of realisations, but bringing them to God in an honest prayer, we can trust Him to bring us to perfection, no matter who we may be.

How are you sleeping lately?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What does a member of the ACC say after you say hello?

I'm very, very introverted. I actually find speaking to people a bit of an ordeal at times, and making small talk is a bit of a tricky thing. Thankfully, I'm not alone: more and more people are coming out of the woodwork to declare their introversion proudly before scuttling back under the skirting board amidst a plethora of profuse apologies. Yet, in my new situation, I do have to make new friends and this includes explaining who I am as a member of the ACC.

That's a really tricky thing. I've mentioned the need before about how we need to explain ourselves however, it's not that easy, particularly with members of the CofE, or nominal members thereof.

When I am asked, I do try and say, "I'm not Church of England, nor am I Roman Catholic." I have to make that point straightaway. In the past, there have been members of the ACC who have deliberately confused people into thinking that they are Roman Catholic. Thankfully, that element has left the ACC and now pretends to be Roman Catholic in a whole group of ecclesiarchs pretending to be Roman Catholic. The ACC doesn't need to pretend to be either Church of England or Roman Catholic: it has its own identity, even if people don't understand that.

Of course, the major problem is that, in small talk, people just don't want to hear a potted history of the ACC, nor do I feel comfortable giving it. I do want to steer people away from the notion that we might be a protest group, breaking away from the Anglican Communion because of *insert heresy here*. If we define ourselves negatively like some independent groups of Anglican order, then people are going to get the idea that we are obsessed with sex and gender. Yes, we have to speak the truth in love. However, I've seen so many Continuing Anglicans speak the truth in sarcasm to the extent that people are going to see a group of people defined negatively. Speaking the truth in love means focussing on the object of that love, seeing where they stand and speaking directly to them, rather than at them.

So what do I say?

Here goes nothing...

Them: "Hello!"
Me: "Hello!"
Them: "Are you at St X's?"
Me: "No. I'm not Church of England. I'm not Roman Catholic, either."
Them: "Oh"

At this point, people usually walk off, probably of the opinion that I'm a barking mad, independent protestant minister seeking to convert the town into some crazy cultish antics. Not much I can do about that. I don't want to appear pushy otherwise I risk actually being a religious nut, pushing people away from the Lord, rather than inviting them to meet Him. However, what happens if the conversation actually continues?

Them: "So what are you then? Baptist? Methodist?"
Me: "I'm an Anglican Catholic."
Them: "Anglo-Catholic? I thought you weren't part of the Church of England."
Me: "I'm not. Anglican Catholic means that we have the best of both Churches, yet we're independent of both of them."

At this point, they will have walked off. Of course, I could say:

"I'm not. Being Anglican Catholic means that we're free to seek the original Christianity in Britain."

or

"I'm not. Anglican Catholics are English Catholics as opposed to Roman Catholics."

or

"I'm not. Anglican Catholicism is as old as Christianity here in the U.K, and that predates both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. We're only new in terms of organisation."

Again, nothing there to stop people from walking away, but these are a few ice-breakers which, I hope, at least show that we have some substance. We can't ever really get away from the question of why we're not CofE or Roman Catholic, but we should shift the focus onto who we are is better than constantly saying what we're not. The key thing, of course, is to be a human being and allow conversations to flow naturally rather than enter into a predetermined course of preconditioned sentences.

However, it is also worth knowing that members of the CofE are very antipathetic to extra-mural Anglicans now. Following the Jesmond Incursion and statements by GAFCON that they intend to remain in communion with Canterbury whilst consecrating bishops in Scotland mean that Anglican Catholics are going to struggle to have their voices heard above arguments between larger bodies. That's not entirely fair, but then the ACC and the CofE haven't exactly been best buddies. Indeed, I know that you will read some hard statements from me about the state of the Anglican Communion and why I am proud to be Anglican Catholic.

If we truly do speak the truth in love, then we will be listening to each other. The ACC needs to understand how petulant it sounds and how people perceive our stance to be isolationist. That's because they haven't lived what we've been through, that we have been burned on many occasion and suffered from the machinations of those with a lack of sincerity complemented with a surfeit of personal agenda. Likewise, the CofE needs to understand that its actions have wounded the Church and that tarring anyone who isn't liberal with a whole host of pejoratives merely makes us dig our feet in more.

We in the ACC may be stubborn and backward looking. We actually take that as a compliment! Accuse us of schism, misogyny and homophobia, and then we will be having a very awkward conversation indeed, and it won't be small talk!

Nonetheless, what an ACC member says after you say, "hello!" should always be, "hello! How are you?" and then let the conversation commence in whatever direction it needs to take.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Is your excuse good enough?

Excellent! You have an invitation to the party.

How are you going to turn it down?

It does seem like a bizarre thing to do. The person giving the party must be very rich given that he is inviting so many people to come along. Why on earth would people decline such a sumptuous feast?

Ah, we know the excuses: bought a bit of land, need to test-drive the new oxen,  just got married.

Just got married? That's a reasonable excuse! You can always put off looking at your new bit of land, or going for a spin with your new bullocks, but surely getting married is a decent excuse! The Missus would be quite put out if you didn't turn up at the church on time. The trouble is, whatever your excuse, you are still missing out on this sumptuous feast. It doesn't matter to the person giving the feast: it's clear he'll find people to enjoy the party. The only person missing out on the party is you.

Is your excuse worth it?

[PAUSE]

It seems strange that people would want to excuse themselves from a party, especially such a lavish one as this. Perhaps they don't realise that it is so lavish. Perhaps they don't know what they are expecting. If they want caviar and they expect that they will be served KFC, then perhaps they are right to make an excuse. Also, what of the people that might be there? What if that lady from down the road is there with her disdainful attitude towards "your sort"? Well, she'd make the evening a real misery, wouldn't she? If you don't know what you're expecting, perhaps making an excuse is the right thing?

But if it really is the best party going, you might really be missing out based upon your own prejudices.

The problem boils down essentially to whether you really know whose party this is. Do you know this "certain man"?

[PAUSE]

It doesn't take much reading to know precisely what Our Lord is saying. The feast was offered to the Israelites, but they have made their excuses by preferring property and lust to a rather vague party invitation. They've clearly not looked into this at all. In truth, they will not be admitted to the feast, and it is their fault. Not God's for throwing this wedding feast. Not God's for issuing the invitations. It is the fault of all those who value something more than God Himself. That, as you very well know, is idolatry.

Further, the same invitation is issued to everyone, not a few. This means that there could be some difficult people at the party. Yet, if we know the Host, might we not learn to know those difficult people better?

Yes, you are indeed invited to a great banquet. Are you excusing yourself from it?

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!"