Sunday, January 28, 2018

Turn again!

Sermon for Septuagesima

It has been about twenty years since Our Lord spoke. Then He was a child of about twelve reminding us that He must always be found in His Father's house. Now He's back and beginning His ministry to declare His Good News to the people whom He loves. And what is His first word?

It is "Repent!"

Not the most compelling start is it?


The trouble is, when we hear the word, "Repent!" we automatically see it as something negative. The word "repent" is nearly always followed by the mention of our sins. This is why repentance is always rejected by the World because of its undeniable connection with sin; and sin is a concept that the world both hates and encourages simultaneously.

However, if "repent" is the beginning of God's Good News for us, then it really cannot be a negative thing. We should be welcoming, indeed even begging for, the opportunity to repent!


"Repent" comes from Latin meaning "to seek again". It translates a Greek word which literally means to change one's mind, and this is exactly what repentance is - a change of mind so that we focus on God. In all cases, repentance is a positive, active and compelling search for the One Who created us, Who has always wanted to create us, and Who longs for us to seek Him out of our own free choice.

In repentance, our focus is not to run from Sin, but to run to God. This might surprise you. However, we do have to be careful. Remember, we simply cannot get to Heaven by our own effort. Each one of us is affected by sin whether we commit it or suffer the effects of it. We are weakened by sin and there is nothing that we can do of ourselves that will free us from it. When the Lord talks about removing the plank from our own eye so that we can see to pluck the speck in our brother's eye, He is telling us that each one of us does not possess the vision to rid ourselves or each other of sin. This is why so many of us waste our Lent in trying to remove sin from our lives by ourselves. We seem to think that we can repent by looking back at our sin. Our Lord has some harsh words to say about that!
No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Our repentance has to be a positive action. It is not a retreat from Sin, but an assault on Evil itself. In choosing to repent, we do the greatest thing that we can do for ourselves - admit that God is our righteousness and that His way is so much better for us than our own perceptions of it.

The Salvation that God promises to His Church is effected only by the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His grace - His active presence with us - that He offers to all men. All we have to do is to turn ourselves to Him and receive it. By seeking first the Kingdom of God, we literally turn our back on our sins. That's true repentance and we have to ask God for help in this.

St Paul shows us that the business of repentance is not easy work. Try holding the rudder of a ship steady in a force nine gale! St Paul urges us to train ourselves to run a race. He bids us prepare ourselves to fight a battle - not against Evil, but simply to hold the course to reach God. This is the beauty of Lent:  it gives us the opportunity to focus our attention on how we are turned to God in each aspect of our lives.


Repentance is thus the cause of joy in Heaven. Those who have no need of repentance either have no need of God, or they are the very saints in Heaven whose eyes are permanently fixed on the Beatific Vision of the presence of Almighty God Himself sitting upon His throne. This is why we should beg for repentance, and why we beg Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, Blessed Michael the Archangel, Blessed John Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Our Holy Father Benedict and all the saints to pray for us when we confess our sins to God. And Sin has no claim on us when our eyes are truly focussed on God Himself!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Revealing Wise Opinions

Sermon for the Third Sunday after Epiphany 

While you are deep in prayer, it seems that a still, small voice whispers in your ear, "Here the word of the Lord. The world will end on Thursday! "

What do you do?


Clearly, you have received a revelation but is it a revelation from God? Well, being a good Christian, you take this revelation with a pinch of salt and remember that St John urges us to test the spirits to see if they be of God. So you go straight to the Bible and read:

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

But why did you go to the Bible? Surely the voice was convincing enough. Perhaps that Bible verse doesn't really mean that no man knows the hour. If you're female then perhaps you really do know the hour.

It's quite possible for you to start to reinterpret the Bible to support the voice that you heard.

If you can do this, what's to stop others from reinterpreting the Gospel to support what things they hear in prayer?

In fact this is where many Christians today fall down. They develop an opinion which they believe to be the same as God's and change meanings to suit them. They become wise in their own opinions.


It's a horrible fact that people are even willing to say that "love thy neighbour" doesn't apply to people who are black, or female, or suffer same-sex attraction, or who aren't Christian. They have used this to justify violence and cruelty against people whom God has created. The Bible is clear: neighbour means anyone who is nearby. This includes anyone you pass as you walk down a crowded street just as much as your parents or your spouse. St Paul says that we must not render evil for evil. We must always be ready to bless and to serve and leave all judgement of our neighbour to Him remembering that He will surely judge us with the same standards of righteousness. 

However, what if the voice says to you, "God has called you to be a priest"? What now? 


Again, we have to test the spirits. The Catholic Church has received no authority to ordain women: women priests can not be found in Scripture or Tradition. In fact the Bible is clear that women cannot be priests. This is despite Our Lord's clear esteem for women in the way that He treats them in contrast to the religious society of the day.

If God has called you to be a priest, then He will also make it clear to the Church which is charged with administering His grace on all whom He ordains. A man simply cannot declare himself to be a priest just because he has heard a voice telling him so.

God is not the author of confusion, but of order. He simply will not contradict the teaching that He has given the Church because He wants all human beings to be saved whoever they are, wherever they are, whenever they are. The message is the same today as it was in 1534, 1054, 315, 33AD or 738BC. The revelation of God is not something that can be reinterpreted to fit the day and age.


While deep in prayer, you hear a voice. If it distracts you from your prayer, then it's unlikely to be from God. However, if you have any doubt, don't worry. Bring your message to church, and then be prepared to accept what is revealed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Writing the Epiphamy

Sermon for the Second Sunday after Epiphany

Did you put chalk on your door on the Day of Epiphany? It's not compulsory, just a happy little tradition in which each householder gives their priest a piece of chalk to bless and then writes something like 20 + C + M + B+ 18 on the frame of the main entrance to the house.

What purpose does it have? Well, it's a blessing. CMB stands for Christus mansionem benedicat which means, "may Christ bless this house." CMB also stands for Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar which are the traditional names for the Three Wise Men, though Holy Scripture is actually silent about that. However, this tradition links the blessing of the house with the visit of the Magi and, in so doing, our house becomes a reflection of that first house, that poor meagre dwelling, in which Our Lord is found lying in a manger.

In writing on our door frame, we are participating in the Epiphany of Our Lord.


It is important to remember that there isn't a single Epiphany in Holy Scripture. At Epiphany, we remember three things - the visit of the Magi, the Lord's Baptism and the first miracle at the wedding of Cana. In these three events Our Lord reveals Himself to be God. It is our duty to Him as Christians to carry that revelation to the world.

Notice that it doesn't matter how you write on the door frame. Your handwriting may be neat or scruffy, or the surface of the door frame may be uneven which distorts the way you normally write. As long as you write the same thing, you are being part of the Epiphany tradition.

Whether or not you participate in this, you are certainly called to participate in making Christ known to the world. We must all be seeking to commit a glorious bit of Christian graffiti by writing, "may Christ bless this" on God's creation especially our brothers and sisters whomsoever they may be.


God gives us the chalk and we must write His blessing on this world which forgets Him through the activity of Evil. How we write does not matter but we must all write the same thing for it is the same Christ who blesses as the Christ who revealed Himself in Bethlehem, in the Jordan and in Cana.

We may not alter what we write but we can and must write it with our own handwriting.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Revealing Revelation

St Paul is responsible for the majority of the content of the New Testament. His ministry begins when Our Lord reveals Himself to him in a bright light which blinds him.
How do we know it was Our Lord? If it wasn't, then huge parts of our Faith could be in doubt. Can we be sure that the revelation to St Paul is true?


This will always be a matter of faith for us in the same way that scientists have to have faith that their methods work in making their discoveries.

However, the Epiphany of Our Lord gives us opportunity to reflect on the fact that God doesn't just exist but actively wants to be known by everyone. What we Christians have been given is a record of how God reveals Himself to His people.

And look what happens.

Without fail, each of the principal witnesses to God's revelation is transformed. Enemies of Christianity become its greatest defenders overnight. Ill-educated fishermen become eloquent in their testimony. People become willing to die for this testimony.


These days, people seem to demand proof which is stricter than can be given. Some have dismissed the Gospels and in doing so have dismissed eyewitness testimony that would be considered convincing in a court of law. What they want is almost a mathematical proof - an absolute proof - before they will be convinced. That's their problem.

But what if we doubt in God's revelation?


The first thing we do is ask God.

St Paul tells us that God's word "is now revealed unto his holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit". We believe that the Holy Ghost speaks through the prophets.
Then we remember that the saints form a cloud of witnesses to the Truth. We remember that even pagan writers speak of Jesus as a real human being. And we remember that Christians have always been prepared to die for their testimony.

In the balance of probability, we are unlikely to see a star in the East. We are unlikely to hear the voice from Heaven or see the Holy Ghost descend like a dove. We will probably not taste the water turned into wine. But we can still receive God's revelation.

How will we know it's Him?

Because He will not contradict Himself. 

What He says will be what the Church has already received over the age of ages. The Montanists will say that God gives us a new revelation every day, but this revelation is false because it contradicts the testimony of the Church which God has already given.
This is why Christians must read Holy Scripture and must listen to the Church Fathers. That way, we can all learn to hear God's voice and recognise Him when He speaks to us.


The word Epiphany means a revelation that descends upon us. It is God-given and not man made.

All we need is the patience to wait and to listen. God will give us this as well if we let Him.

Currants and Raisins: a response to Fr Chadwick

I am always very grateful for the level of support I receive from Fr Anthony Chadwick who shows much pastoral concern for one in a similar boat (no, not that kind, Father) as himself. One who does not know me as well might ask why I kick up such a fuss about things that don't really have much consequence. Why should I care about what the American ACC and Continuing Anglicans feel about the way I conduct myself?

Perhaps it doesn't matter. It's not as if I exercise authority in the Church other than at a parochial level.

But it does matter, and the events of October's Joint Synod show why. If our concordat means anything, it means that I, in my tiny diocese with my insubstantial mission, am very much part of a greater organic whole and that my actions and attitudes are affected  by those of my confraternity across the world and they also must be affected by mine.

I, therefore have a case to answer to justify myself to those whose hard work not only brought the concordat into reality but also were the architects of Continuing Anglicanism itself. It matters because I, despite my geographical, historical and cultural distance, am linked organically and spiritually with the Congress of St Louis.
It is this commitment that has been called into question by those who define what it means to be Anglicanism by Prayer Book alone (solus Liber Precum Publicarum?) and this included some loud and honourable clergymen of many years' standing and many years' struggling against institutional heresy.

I thus have a duty to them and to myself to answer that question in order to stand in the solidarity of communion with them despite our differences in the light of the Affirmation and the unity of the Concordat.
That is why I bother and stir up what others might see as mere storms in a teacup. It is for this reason that I have concentrated on my raison d'etre in order to find community with those who hold the same faith as me yet express it differently.

Yet, I  am as Fr Anthony suggests, an English Catholic. I ought to say a Canterbury Catholic given the tendency of Catholics to refer themselves to the archetypal See. In many ways I see Bishop Damien as the legitimate Bishop of Canterbury even though his parish has moved to Painters Forstal from Canterbury City Centre. He is the orthodox bishop of the Anglican tradition and it is from him that I, Fr Chadwick, and all my confraternity derive our orders and heritage.

However, as I say, now is the time for developing the Benedict Option here in the UK, promoting stability, obedience and conversatio mores which can only flourish in a state of doctrinal orthodoxy. This is a good use of my oblation, and I pray that God may help me to do so in fidelity to him.
There is much to think about. One problem that seems to dog Christianity is the relationship between being and doing. How does what we do play a part in our salvation? Can it be that while Christ saves us, we determine the 'us' that is to be saved by Him through what we will to do? I am especially interested in the role of consciousness in developing the Christian experience of God as David Bentley Hart (brother of an ACC priest) would write. I have often wondered whether our consciousness is the way our sense of identity extends across the multiverse. It would mean that our subjunctive self is as existent as our indicative self. This is speculation, though - pure courant.

My hope, however, is that whatever the nature of existence is, I in my splendid isolation still have some deep and real connection with all my brethren within the Catholic Church through my walk towards the Divine light. My hope is that my critics find in me someone who, though challenging their definitions, will also stand alongside them in the Faith against the current of Hell-bound indifference to God and true humanity.

My previous title - Currents and Raisons - is my customary love of punning. My current puns are shocking, which makes me as nutty as a fruitcake. Yet I hope in my playing with words - as Wittgenstein might enjoy - I hope I make myself clear at least in intention if not in expression.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Currents and Raisons

The first post of the New Year!

I fully expect my readership to drop again since I have left Facebook probably for good. There is only so much one can take of memes, cultural Marxism, voyeurism for the sake of mawkish sentimentality and infectious reactionary behaviour. This year, I really do want to address my tendency to open my mouth before I think. This needs to be done with a cool mind and a loving heart. I have a tendency for a loving mind and a cool heart.

This leads me to this blog. What is it for?

Thinking on my earlier post and the new raison d'etre of Fr Anthony's blog, I do see it as vitally important for the encouragement and education of all Christians.

I recently had a heated discussion with one of my brother clergy in the US about my "cavalier attitude" towards the prayer book. I explained why I don't use it but, what was difficult for him to understand is that I am not American. The 1928 Prayer Book is an alien species to me. The Venite is "wrong" and there are strange words in the Te Deum which don't make sense to me. For me, our Affirmation of St Louis must be read in the light of the collapse of the Established Church rather than the collapse of a member of its communion through the equally heretical Scottish Episcopal Church.

Nonetheless, the 1928 Prayer Book is a vital text which has preserved much that the 1662 does not. I do wish to reassure my American brothers and sisters that I have not the slightest disdain for their beloved and fundamental version of their Prayer Book - very much the opposite - but must ask that they read the Affirmation again and allow me to use the "Certain Variations Permitted" in order to be true to the Faith that I received here in Blighty AND to grasp their hand firmly across a wide expanse, rejoicing in our shared communion.

This is where I do need to educate myself. I always try to be engaged in some form of study, though child-rearing has cause rather a deceleration of my plans. On my to-do list is another read-through of the 1928 BCP with a view to getting a better sense of culture and the Spirit of St Louis. It will never be "in my blood" nor can I in conscience use it for my prayers, but it can be, perhaps, a text that I can use as a spiritual translation tool by which I can get a greater sense of solidarity with my brethren in "the Colonies".

That is my personal commitment for the year.

For my blogging intentions, I must focus on the encouragement and spiritual upkeep of my dear readers. I know I have only a few but I  do actually care about what they read. I have been far too negative, especially about the CofE, though I have just cause given the decisions of its government. I must leave them alone.

Given that faithful Christians now have to fight a battle against strong social opposition and ostracism which infects even ecclesial establishments, I wish to present myself as part of the Benedict Option that my Diocese seeks to promote. I wish it to be known that I offer myself as a form of paraclete for all who find themselves out of harmony with the secular mores, and if I possess any resource that is amenable to Traditional Catholic Christianity, then I humbly present it for the use of those who will be vilified for holding to that Traditional Catholic Christianity.

This will be my little blog's direction for the present. I hope that it will be an instrument of the love of God in bringing true hope back to the world. Given its reduction in readership following my departure from Facebook, I would be grateful if people would make others aware of this blog if they find any worth in it.