Thursday, September 28, 2017

Vaccinations for Purple Fever

I am deeply grateful that my brother priest, Fr Anthony Chadwick has kindly put up some wonderful tales of Anglican Catholic history upon his blog in direct response to yesterday's post. I found it very interesting that, on the same day, the episcopal consecration of Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to Her Majesty was announced by the Christian Episcopal Church. Of course the "Thinking" Anglicans have gone potty over this with cries of "bogus bishop!" "schismatic church!" and "invalid orders!" They simply cannot handle the fact that a prominent dissenter to The Liberal Agenda has left the Church of England and been consecrated bishop in another church. It's not their problem! If anything, you would have thought that they would be glad that their Agenda has one less opponent to worry about - one less need to invoke the (logically wobbly) Five Guiding Principles.

It was a shame that Bishop Ashenden didn't become part of the ACC, but then he clearly had a higher calling. The Anglican Catholic Church in this country is tiny but has grown and transformed under our Bishop Damien Mead. It is his brilliant efforts that have seen us recover from the Hamlett affair and proceed to a stable basis with an eye on the future. Yet, if you are called to episcopacy as is obviously the case for Bishop Ashenden, we aren't the jurisdiction you are looking for. Our clergy are content to be priests and deacons under Bishop Damien because that way lies our stability.

One reason that I'm glad I left teaching is that I no longer face pressure to be ambitious. A good priest remembers what he is and for Whom he is and is thankful for the privilege to serve the laity. He honours his bishop as his father in God and thereby follows the principle of Catholicism laid down by St Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Smyrnaeans
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.
 There is only one focus for the priest and issues of whether he is called to the episcopate can only arise when there is an interregnum or there is a specific need. While the episcopate may be a good thing to desire, it is not the focus of our work.

The Anglican Catholic Church is what it is and we have now been agreed as to what it is for some forty years. This is where we have learned lessons from Bishop Hamlett and his ilk who were never satisfied but sought greater and tighter control but over what? Over the clergy? To what end? Purple Fever is worthless: the episcopate is meaningless if there isn't a diocese to oversee. There are too many bishops out there lying to people by saying that they are Catholic bishops and passing themselves off (for some unfathomable reason) as members (nay princes) of the Roman Catholic Church.

That being said I must beat my breast and say mea culpa as I am a priest without a congregation. Having to build one from scratch in amidst of the turmoil of my own life is going to be a huge challenge. I still have people to whom to minister in my area and hope that this will grow. However, I am part of an established Diocese and have my own little projects on the go. I am hoping that one will come to fruition very soon.

Alas for Bishop Ashenden, the CEC and the ACNA, they have all our old troubles to come. I am always puzzled by the attitude of The Liberal Agenda who try to squeeze out the traditional element in their midst and, when they succeed and these little groups of the traditional faith try to come together to form some fellowship, they cry "schismatic!" and invalidate them from their lives for the crime of "not bowing to The Liberal Agenda". Not only is The Liberal Agenda schismatic, it is profoundly hypocritical.

I wonder if the Devil uses guiding principles?

However, that being said, may God bless Bishop Gavin Ashenden and make his ministry fruitful!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Continuing Anglican History

One of the main troubles that I have is that my mind is not very linear and so sequential work is very difficult. For this reason, I sadly had to decline the writing of the history of the Anglican Catholic Diocese of the United Kingdom. As far as I am aware, there is only one published history on the Continuing Anglican movement and that is Divided We Stand by Douglas Bess. The trouble is that it is written from the perspective of an outsider and thus does not really do justice to the motivation behind the movement.

Of course, there have been some rather shameful moments in our history - the famous "Bishops' Brawl" being one of them but this is true of the whole Catholic Church. However, many of the original instigators of the movement are still with us. I had the privilege of meeting them four years ago during my trip to the Provincial Synod. I can't say that the Provincial Synod I attended was terribly interesting  but then, as Bishop Damien always says, a dull Synod is a sign of stability.

This year is different: four Continuing Anglican jurisdictions are, God willing, signing a statement of full communion. This is highly significant because it will undo divisions that existed when our Diocese was coming into existence. Our Diocese also suffered loss when Bishop Hamlett and other Bishops broke away to form the Holy Catholic Church. I would love to be there as many of my friends across the Continuum will be there - friends whom I have never seen face to face! The fact that I have friends throughout the Anglican world is a testament that there are no barriers to true friendship.

But there are people whom I will never meet - at least not in temporality - having entered their rest in God. They have been instrumental in helping the Continuing Anglican movement get off the ground, especially in the face of disgust from the See of Canterbury. It is their strength of character given by the grace of God that has helped us make forty years of history. It will be forty years on 28th of January 2018 since the Denver Consecrations made that clear statement that our walk with the Episcopal Church of the United States was over.

I have a little plea for my readers, especially to those of a venerable age. Perhaps you would write your memoirs, detailing the history of the Continuing Anglican movement as you saw it. If we can collate as much material as we could, then we have a record of who we are in the past forty years and a record of our testimony to the work of Our Lord Jesus Christ during this time of moral relativism and cultural Marxism.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is this a Continuing Anglican blog or not?

My life is about to get more splendidly complicated, but it gives me thought about just how far I have come over the eleven-and-a-bit years of blogging. It is remarkable that I have now been in the Anglican Catholic Church for more than half my bloglife. This can probably be considered a Continuing Anglican blogling now.

For the first half of my bloglife, I was developing as a progressively more ultramontane Anglican Papalist and defending the existence of the Anglican Papalism that, for me, came out of the logical progression of Anglo-Catholicism. While I was in this state, I could not consider the Continuing Anglican movement as being an option. To me, it was an American phenomenon of a fissiparous nature. However, as I reflect more on things, it was my engagement with these Continuing Anglicans that gave me great encouragement and support. It was precisely this support that enabled me to stand up to the Church of England and especially to Mrs Rural Dean who was the architect of my departure, and say "no more!"

Continuing Anglicanism is still a hotch-potch of little churches which can be swayed by larger-than-life characters. I have met some very passionate, eccentric, and caustic individuals - some who have at times been thoroughly unpleasant. I have also met some extraordinary Anglicans who have subsequently become Roman Catholics through the Ordinariate - indeed I have had some very pleasant discussion with one of the people involved whose kindness to me was of such great value. The one thing that I have consistently found in the people whom I have met is a deep seated authenticity and self-consistency. Those who were Ordinariate-bound I did question how they were capable of seeing their orders as null and void: they found their reasons with which I couldn't agree, but I could agree that this was something that was consistent within themselves. What I found with these Continuing Anglicans were people with the strength of character to leave that which is established, socially acceptable, and "nice" for the way that is true but out in the wilderness away from the approval of society.

That was the pull.

But I have received pushes. There were pushes from the CofE who saw me as an obstacle to getting their own way with the parish I left: once I was gone, they seem to have suddenly been able to "ordain" a woman in that church - a woman "deacon" whom I was told never wanted to be a priest.

I could have gone to Rome. I was pushed away from that too. I found myself repulsed by the smugness of the cradle Romans who looked down on converts. I found myself repulsed by the smugness of converts who looked down on the place whence they had came seeing nothing but the pig-sty from which they themselves had been seeking to eat the husks. I found this hierarchy of smugness quite intolerable. Indeed, my confrere, Fr Anthony Chadwick seems to be battling precisely the type of smug individual who actually drives people away from communion with the Holy See. Such individuals will say that I'm just being too precious. I wonder if they would say that to the others whom their attitude has pushed away, but then, it's not their problem is it? Evangelism is always someone else's problem.

"Ah!" they will say, "you're a recent convert. Look at the way that you've vilified the CofE! You push people away with your attitude, too!"

Perhaps I do - to my shame. I know that I have lost friends in trying to put my case across too strongly. My deep problem is that I don't actually hate the CofE: I hate the ideology that has infected her. I see her like some great oak dying of some horrible blight seeing still lush green branches with acorns, yet seeing others wither, moulder and drop off.

It is because I love her that I became a Continuing Anglican, though as my Archbishop will warn, by "Anglican" I mean an adjective describing my heritage and qualifying my approach to the Catholic Faith. If the See of Canterbury is the blighted oak, then the Continuing Anglican movement is a group of little cuttings seeking to grow hopefully having escaped the blight. Still other cuttings seem to be wanting to grow, but they are multiplying difficulties, cutting themselves of for the wrong reasons and are probably still infected with that blight. It is really better for disaffected Anglicans to find sanctuary within the original Continuing Anglican movement: our cutting seems to have taken and is established.

To all those who do want to make a change to traditional Anglican belief, I offer an invitation to check us out and look beyond our size to see our vision. We pray that it is part of the Vision Glorious!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Worry worries

Sermon for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

That Thing has happened again. You know very well - That Thing that happens that causes you a week of sleepless nights; That Thing that makes you not want to eat; That Thing that you dwell on constantly, worrying about it, giving you that cold feeling of dread.

After the eighth sleepless night, in which your bedclothes are just as knotted as your insides, you turn for comfort in the Holy Scriptures, hoping to hear some good news from the mouth of Our Lord. You open the Bible and read the words:

“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.”

Easier said than done, you might say. That Thing is important and can’t really be ignored. Indeed all kinds of horrible things will happen if we ignore That Thing. Yet, if we disregard Our Lord’s words, then surely we fall into sin. If Our Lord instructs us not to allow ourselves to be troubled, then is anxiety itself actually a form of sin?


We know that sin is any activity on our part by which we miss the mark. We aim for Our Lord and we miss because of our own failure. If we are anxious about something, then it distracts us from the business of worship and prayer that connects us with God. If our time of prayer is interrupted by thoughts of That Thing, then it is separating us from God. It certainly looks as if anxiety has the characteristics of being a sin, because giving into it stops our worship.

“But that’s not fair!” you cry. And you’re right!

Anxiety is a truly modern disease. More and more people are showing signs of it, and turning everywhere for a remedy. It is a recognised mental illness which is why seeing it as a sin is, in many ways, inappropriate and perhaps quite offensive because anxiety itself is not our fault. We often don’t have a choice how we feel about the situations in which we find ourselves, especially when That Thing crawls out of the grave to haunt us again. But do we have a choice about putting ourselves in that situation in the first place?


Our Lord sets anxiety in the context of the battle in the human heart between God and Mammon. He says that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. That is practically the definition of what it means to worship. Our worship is our treasure, our heart’s delight, worth giving up anything else for. Anything that we prize more than God Himself is an idol and must be torn down. It is because we are fallen human beings that these idols are here in our hearts in the first place. In this case, the feelings of anxiety actually do us a massive favour – they point out what we truly value. That feeling of dread that That Thing inspires is a sign that we have to examine our hearts for an idol and work to tear it down.

When we start feeling anxious, then that is a sign for immediate prayer to bring the cause of anxiety to God and to pray that He would expose whatever idol is within us and help us work for its removal. Our Lord Himself gives us the key thing to help us with our anxiety.
“seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Once we understand that anxiety arises because of our relationship with the world around us, then we see that, by seeking God first and His righteousness, we are given the ability to cope with our anxieties.

This isn’t something that happens immediately, which is why we have to keep seeking God. We sin because we miss the mark. We can only ever hit the mark with God’s help but, in order to fire the arrow, we have to let it go and trust God to guide it.


There is one more key thing to remember. What we worship is something of the greatest value to us. And God Himself sees us as more valuable than sparrows and lilies. But how much more valuable? Perhaps we only need to look at the Cross to find out how much more He really does value us.

Does That Thing regard us the same way?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wholly leprosy!

Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Just what is wrong with the conduct of the other nine lepers?

They do exactly what Jesus tells them to do. They go and show themselves to the priests. They follow the example of Naaman who was told to wash himself seven times in the Jordan to be free of his leprosy and did so rather grudgingly. They have learned that if a great prophet tells you to do something in order to be rid of leprosy, you do it.

Jesus says, “Go, shew yourselves unto the priests” and that is what they do, and they are cleansed from their leprosy – all ten!

So why are the nine lepers given such a bad press?


Well, they aren’t given a bad press at all. They go their way and, like so many of us, disappear into the archives of History. It is the one leper that turns back who is remembered though, sadly, we never know his name.

We presume that, following the Jewish Law, the nine lepers go to the priests and make the appropriate sacrifices for them to become part of the community of God again. They have to make an atonement offering in order to be fully reconciled with society and with the system that allows them to worship God.
That’s what they are told to do, and they do it because they are indeed cleansed of their leprosy. And then they are allowed to worship God properly again.

So why the big deal about the one who turns back? The one who does not immediately go and show himself to the priests? The one whom we nearly remember?


In turning back, the tenth leper has realised something. Like the others, he is made clean, but he cannot function in Jewish society for he is a Samaritan. Nonetheless, he sees that his cleansing is to do with the very person who has told him to see the priests. He perceives the work of God, not at the hands of the Law or the old priesthood, but in the person to whom he has called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us”. He realises that Jesus is not just a prophet, not just a priest, not just a wise teacher, but something greater.

This Samaritan realises what many others do not, that this Jesus is the true means of reconciliation with God and thus in a spirit of humble gratitude gives thanks to this man who is God Incarnate. At first, this man is cleansed from his leprosy, but his faith in Our Lord brings him back to God and thus he is made whole again.

What of the other nine? They get what they want: they are reintegrated into society and healed from their disease. Until they turn to Christ, they cannot receive from the Jewish Law the wholeness of life in God – a life which goes beyond this earthly life and into Eternity itself. The Law only says what is, God alone makes the difference.


Our lives on earth are cycles. We fall ill, we receive treatment, we heal, but we fall ill again. The same is true with our spiritual health. We sin, we confess, we receive forgiveness, but we sin again. Nonetheless, we always have the option of turning to Christ in order to find true wholeness. This is not a wholeness of our body, but a true wholeness that comes from reconciliation with God in Christ. Our bodies ail and age, our spirits rise and fall, yet wholeness comes with seeking Christ in all things. Then, when we are whole in Him, we bear the fruit of the Spirit of God.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sorrow upon sorrow

Today, we remember the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady who had to witness the Crucifixion and Death of her beloved son, and Our beloved Lord.

Praying Lauds this morning, I held in my heart all those who are suffering loss at the moment and I rather feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of sorrow that this world contains.

Grief is a terrible thing because it has its roots in the most precious love and yet, when the object of our love is hurt, damaged, or ripped from us, the pain is so unbearable that we feel we daren't love again because there is nothing left of us that we can afford. Like Our Lady, we are faced with a bleakness of a world without love, without joy, and without worth. Our purpose has gone and, often, we blame ourselves for its loss with a text book all of whose sentences begin, "If only I'd..."

There are the famous stages of grief but, to the one suffering, such psychobabble is not helpful - it's just words.

And it is appalling to watch your friends go through their grief: you end up with a grief of your own born of frustration and guilt that you can't reach out and help them, because the wounds lie within the most intimate part of their being: places to which only a very few have access, and maybe only the Divine touch. The fear for the friend is that any attempt to comfort will stab like a red-hot dagger into the cause of grief and cause more hurt at a time when healing is supposed to be occurring.

It might appear that Our Lady has it easy because at least her son rose on the third day. How can she possibly know the sorrows that we go through now - the ones that won't get solved by a miraculous resurrection as was hers?

Of course she can sympathise and empathise. It is all a question of time.

What we go through today in our grief, she went through. If we feel that we  have no hope, then so did she. If we feel that our world is dark and without joy, then so did she as she witness the darkness over the Earth as if it were the end of Time itself. Every day of our grief, we stand with Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Every day of our grief takes us to good Friday when we see Life dead and mangled upon the cross. We participate in that Good Friday always in our sorrow and we will do so for the rest of our lives on Earth. Unlike Our Lady, we do have the benefit of hindsight. We know that the Resurrection is a fact, a fact that leads us to the resurrection of the dead at the end of Time's meaning. She has to live in the hope that her son's word's of His resurrection are true.

Our Lady's sorrows are but a few days, but she carries them into Eternity because Our Lord carries His wounds into Eternity with Him. These days of her sorrow are given to Eternity so that all who sorrow may sorrow with her and in her, even if this hurt and pain may last for the rest of our earthly lives. We may not feel it, but we have been deemed by the Divine Will of the Crucified God Himself to be worthy of His concern in our grief through those of His mother. As we offer our own sorrows in participation with hers, we also hope to participate in the joy of seeing her son, beholding His face and weeping tears of true happiness.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Legally helpless or helplessly legal?

Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Toddlers fall over – a lot! They have a knack of finding precisely the wrong moment, the wrong place, and the wrong situation to fall over, bump their heads and/or graze their knee. Lots of tears, lots of cuddles, lots of trying to kiss it better.

Do you expect the law of Gravity to help out and make the knee better? Well, why not?


The law of Gravity says that things fall down: apples, porcelain vases, jammy toast (jam side-down, of course) and toddlers. Yet, the law of Gravity is not Gravity itself. It isn’t the equations on a bit of paper that make things fall down – it’s Gravity. The laws of Gravity are just what we have written down to describe what Gravity does. By reading these laws, we can indeed predict the terrible demise of Aunt Hilda’s priceless Ming Vase, we can predict the tides, and we can even send a man to the moon using the laws that we have deduced from what we have seen. But the laws do nothing in themselves. The law of Gravity is powerless to help those who suffer from a fall.

The Law of Gravity walks by, utterly unable to help the one who has fallen and lies damaged.


The Law of the Land is based on the Moral Law which tells us what it right and wrong. It is constantly being reviewed and changed in its search for true and proportionate justice. When the murderer kills the child, he gets twenty years in prison without parole. Justice is done, but the law does not bring the child back to life.

The Moral Law walks by, utterly unable to help those parents in their loss.


In each case, the Law is good: it shows us how things should be, allows us to predict and seek what is right, but it cannot get off the paper on which it is written to save us from the effects it describes. It shows us right from wrong: it does not make right that which is wrong.
How can right come from wrong?

It takes someone who is law abiding, and yet sees how to go beyond it, to reach out and pour wine and oil into the wounds: the oil of the Holy Ghost to cleanse and purify; the Blood of Christ to heal and make firm.

It is the call of the Church to be the Good Samaritan while the Law walks helplessly by. It is the call of the Church, well-versed in the Law, who must reach out to those whom life in this fallen world has cast to the ground. It is a Church, vilified by a self-righteous and law-obsessed Society, that is called to pour her Holy Sacraments into the wounds of those who would receive them.


We are the Church. We have our call. We must obey the Law of Love, for Love’s sake.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Faith comes by hearing?

Horror of horrors! For those of you who are content with just reading this little blogling, please do not visit the ACC Mission of Our Lady of Glastonbury's podcast page where my voice may be heard on several sermons that I provide for them! This could severely damage your hearing!

Do visit the page to hear our Lay Reader Mr James Tuite podcast instead!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Trust in the Scriptures

Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

According to some historians, St Paul didn’t write the letter to the Hebrews. They will also say that the Gospels of St Matthew and St Luke are a rehash of St Mark’s Gospel and a mysterious collection of Our Lord’s saying called Q. They will say that, although the Gospels contain much historical data, they are too inconsistent on the facts of Our Lord’s life to be historically accurate.

How do you feel about that?

Surely we should trust our historians, after all that’s how we know what happened in the past.

Yet, if we trust in historians, then we simply cannot trust in the reliability of Holy Scripture. That looks as if it could cause Christians lots of problems. If Holy Scripture is not reliable, then the whole Christian Faith could be a sham.


Some people will try and get around this problem by saying that the Bible doesn’t have to be historically true, or scientifically true, but it is completely theologically true.

That’s fine to an extent, but think now! Perhaps you remember Bishop David Jenkins who didn’t believe that Our Lord was born of a virgin, or Bishop John Shelby Spong who did not believe that the Resurrection of Our Lord really happened, but was rather a spiritual resurrection, not a physical one.

Saying that the Bible is theologically true allows people to say silly things like that. Why? Because these people have their own personal theology based on their own idea of what God is saying to them.

What do we do? Our Faith is in jeopardy!


No. No it isn’t. Hear St Paul!

Such trust have we through Christ to Godward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.

Our trust isn’t in the Bible.

Again, our trust is NOT in the Bible.

Our trust is in God through Our Lord Jesus Christ. One thing the Gospels are very consistent on are those things we hear in our Creed. Our Lord was born of the Virgin Mary, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He did suffer death, and He was buried. AND on the Third Day He did rise again according to the Scriptures and ascended into Heaven. All this the Church has believed even before the Creed was written down, even before the New Testament was written down. Our trust is in God through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church consists of each one of us, and St Paul describes who we are as members of the Church. We are indeed “able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The Church has carried the New Testament with her since her foundation in Christ and through all her faithful members.

Too many people treat the Bible as a collection of written words. This is where the historians and scientists make their great mistake and, in so doing, can kill the faith of many who are trying to worship God. Within every single word of the Bible is written our salvation, the inerrant truth about God. Those who begin with the assumption that there is no God may indeed be unconvinced by inconsistencies in the narrative. St Matthew says that on the day of Resurrection an angel rolls the stone away before the eyes of two Marys, whereas St Luke says that the stone has already been rolled away before the women get there. The inconsistencies are there because they tell us something both as individual Gospels, but also collectively, they say that the stone was indeed rolled away and that angels were seen.

If this breaks someone’s faith in Our Lord, then they have held too much to the letter and not tapped into the Holy Ghost with Whom the Church has been infused. If St Paul is to be believed, there are five hundred witnesses to Our Lord walking with them after His resurrection. It causes him to stop persecuting the Church and embrace that Faith. He has met the original disciples and perhaps in his youth, he has seen this Jesus preaching in the temple. Perhaps he was one of the Pharisees against whom Jesus speaks! He, like thousands, perhaps even millions, of Christians have died because of this Faith, not in the Bible, but in God through Christ.


The Church chooses the Gospels of St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, and St John to be in the Bible because she recognises the Spirit of God walking among the written letters. If the historians reject them because of their methods of separation and reduction, then they will never find the truth. The Church has the Truth and we can believe it, and we can believe the Bible because the Church throughout the World believes it, always has believed it and always will.

If the Lord can make a deaf man with a speech impediment speak clearly, then He can certainly make the Holy Scriptures speak as clearly as well. We just need ears to hear.