Sunday, October 28, 2018

Fighting for Good King Jesus

Sermon for the Feast of Christ the King

“In sixteen hundred and forty-two,
I knew what I had to do:
Leave my home and my family too,
And fight for good old Charlie!”
As we approach the centenary of the end of the First World War, first and foremost in our minds is the idea of people being sent to fight for King and Country. Of course, since 1952, people have been fighting for Queen and Country. Is that you? Have you been fighting for Queen and Country? In the Civil War would you be a cavalier or a roundhead?
Given hindsight, you may well say that you would be neither a cavalier nor a roundhead. Many people today would not leave their homes and family too to fight for good old Charlie. Why not?
We have the impression these days that war is very politically incorrect. Having seen the atrocities of the Somme, Auschwitz, Coventry, Dresden and Hiroshima, any vision of the glorious battle that would rejoice the heart of a Viking has been forever tarnished. We have seen the reality of war and it has appalled us. Has it appalled us to the extent that we will no longer fight for queen and country?
Given that the last Iraq war was fought on false premises, many of us would think that any call to arms by the government on the Queen’s behalf is not sufficiently warranted. Given that the Reigning Monarch is little more than a figurehead for a nation that no longer holds dear the values that the Monarch used to embody, it’s no surprise to see the support for the Monarchy as being rather cool with pointed comments about the Civil List and the privilege that the Royal Family possess. If we are now apart from the Church of England, then the Queen’s position of Supreme Governor is irrelevant and perhaps, one might argue, that this renders the need for the Monarch as passé.
If that’s how we think, then can we ever really accept a Monarch?
A Christian really does have to be a monarchist.
No, not necessarily in the sense of Earthly Rulers, but we have to believe in Christ the King of Heaven. If we can’t then, just how can we believe that Jesus is God and thus no ruler? It doesn’t make sense.
If we believe that Christ is King, then this belief has far reaching consequences that we have to accept. We have to accept that we are under a command. While Jesus does call His disciples friends, He also says that they can only be friends if they obey His commandments. To be a disciple of Christ means to do His will, because Love is obedient to the Ruler of the Heart. It is our love for Christ that compels us to obey Him, not some oppressive force sent down by some jealous pagan deity. If we love Christ, then we must recognise him as King.
If the cavaliers were fired up to leave homes and family for good old Charlie, then how much more must we be prepared to fight for Good King Jesus? Of course, we know that our war is not with human beings but with the principalities, powers and rulers of the age. However, we have to accept that there is a battle that must be waged. The battlefield is not Marston Moor, but our very hearts and minds; the cause is the Sovereignty of Christ; the foes are complacency, apathy and apostasy sent by the Devil to cool the heart of the Christian or keep it snug in blissful ignorance of the works of Evil in our lives.
We shy away from physical warfare for good reason given the loss of life on such a terrible scale. Yet we must rise to the challenge of spiritual warfare in fighting for our own souls and for the souls of others at the command of King Jesus.
We are not fighting to defend Him: He has already won the victory by Himself.
We are not fighting to save ourselves: we cannot save ourselves or anyone else.
We are not fighting to destroy: God has created for His good pleasure.
We fight that the Good News of Christ’s victory may be heard in all lands and by all people. We fight, using the weapons that God gives us, for the riddance of evil within us. We fight that God’s love for humanity may be made visible in a dark, cynical and apathetic world.
“In twenty hundred and one-ty-eight,
The Devil is knocking upon our gate
But Christ is there, so Nick’s come too late
And we’ll give our crowns to Jesus.”

Holes in your pocket?

Sermon for the twenty-second Sunday after Trinity

“Mind your own business!”

We could hear these very words from this ungrateful servant as we watch him clutching his fellow by his throat and demanding his due from the one who can’t pay him.

We could hear those very words from the king when the other servants complain at the actions of this man.

Just what business is it of ours to get involved with other people’s debts?

Should we, and those fellow servants, just turn a blind eye to what’s going on?


The trouble with debts is that they behave very much like actual money in your hand. You probably already know that banks buy and sell the debts of their customers, just like they invest real money in other places. You probably know that the last Financial Crisis and the Recession were caused precisely because too many people were unable to fulfil their debts so that larger institutions couldn’t pay, which meant that banks were unable to move money about. It’s all very complicated but it has a real and devastating effect. Debt matters.

Debt matters in much the same way as the butterfly effect matters. A butterfly flapping its wings in an English Country Garden could set off a chain of events which results in the next typhoon in Indonesia. Things are more connected than we think. Things are more connected than we would like them to be. Sometimes our business is not just our business.


The Lord makes a very clear link between Debt and Sin.  Remember that Evil is an absence of Good, just like Light is an absence of Dark. Good is the thing that really is because God declares it of all creation to be good. God Himself is Good and God is more real than we can ever know because God is the cause of all things. Likewise, Debt is an absence of something: it’s something owed – a sort of hole. Neither the ungrateful servant nor the fellow he terrorises can pay back the debt. Why not?

In order to fill a hole, we need something to fill it with. Debt only goes away with sufficient credit. Evil only goes away if you fill it with Good. The trouble is that there is not enough good in us to repay our debt. All creation is like it. There is nothing that we can do or say or think that will destroy Evil. We can only cast it out and then, like the demons of Legion, it must find the nearest herd of pigs to go into. We can’t generate good.

But God can. This is why He becomes one of us to give us His own self to be the payment of the debt. This isn’t a debt owed to anyone but a hole cause by our rejection of God. He fills that hole with His own life blood, filling the gap of Evil with a surfeit of Goodness but only if we accept it. God gives us the Good with which to plug the holes of Evil. God gives us the money to pay what we owe by taking the debt away in Himself.


And this is our act of service in the world. We receive God’s real presence and active goodness in each of the sacraments that He has given His Church. We are to use that good to help others with their debts, not move those debts around by demanding payment. This is why the other servants are so distressed: the actions of the ungrateful threaten their lives. Every time we sin, we introduce more Evil into the world. Our every action, good or evil, affects others.

This is why we must forgive: we are all in the same boat and one leak affects us all. We forgive so that we can all be forgiven and that Evil can be removed through God’s grace. We forgive because we are beings of Love, of Goodness, of Truth, of Justice and of Mercy. We were not created to be creatures of Hate, Evil, Lies, Rebellion and Unforgiveness.

Our destiny is with God in Eternity of perpetual Goodness. All our Evil will be removed, all our sadness turned to joy and all that is wrong within us put right. But we have to want that, and not reject it all through sin.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The murmurs of Society

Following on from my last posting about murmuring, I looked back on this little blogling and it seems that I have complained against complaining again and again. Just under two years ago, I wrote this.

I was particularly struck by the references to Brexit.

Brexit was the result of a democratic process which may or may not have been compromised by external factors. It was a terrible decision and many people are going to be hurt by it; some are my very good friends. Nonetheless, if I truly value democracy then I have had my say and I don't regret voting Remain in the slightest. I still believe it to be the right decision and Brexit the wrong. Yet, people cannot accept that.

I am surprised by a call for a second referendum. Given that the Government are not obliged to act on such referenda, the decision to go ahead with Brexit is not wholly the responsibility of the people: politicians must shoulder the blame. How many would be willing to sacrifice their political career for the greater good of Remaining by disregarding the results of the Referendum? 

Yet, what astounds me most is the level of complaint and the truly horrible language being used against Theresa May who is, as far as I know, trying to make the best of a bad mandate. I think St Benedict is absolutely spot on: the cause of such violent language may be ultimately external to us, but it is our decision whether or not to cultivate it, and it begins with murmuring - murmuratio.

There are so many legitimate things to complain about: Brexit, the sexual harassment of women, the people who earn seven figure salaries without doing much save playing golf, Muslims in the Christian pulpit, et c. Injustice must be combatted and combatted properly. Christian warfare is a reality and the Christian who will not fight Evil because he refuses to recognise Evil is doing the Devil's work. 

To be honest, I think we keep arguing from a non-Christian perspective. The issue of Equality actually goes away if we adhere to St Benedict's call to humility and recognise the Absolute Sovereignty of Christ. If we are humble and honest about ourselves, and we perceive Christ in the other person whoever they may be, then there is no question of Equal Rights - it all becomes moot. Modern notions of Equality are the result of not following Christian principles in the first place because Equality is only made visible by injustice: if we keep legislating for every individual injustice, then we will end up with a clash of rights as we are seeing now, particularly when it comes to the question, "what is a woman?" Human beings do not possess the capacity to eradicate injustice because, within each of us, injustice lurks. 

Violence, vilification and hate speech are all spawned from the vice of murmuring and allowing that mutmuring to grwo into dissent. Within our society we have lost such a lot of respect for our leaders be they political, moral, economic, even entertainment and all because we keep magnifying their flaws and sins. And we magnify their flaws and sins because of their visibility yet all the while refusing to see the flaws and sins within ourselves. 

Each one of us is the cause of Brexit, whether we voted for it, whether we didn't campaign hard enough for Remain, whether we moved abroad and couldn't vote, but chiefly Brexit arose because of low-level complaint about the European Laws and Regulations that have affected our lives: if we have murmured against Europe, then we have caused Brexit. Each one of us is responsible in the decline of the democratic process because the people who now offer themselves as our politician do not have our respect. The more we murmur against our politicians, then the more we are responsible for the levity with which we treat the democratic process and the less we value it.

The same is true for the Church. There have been paedophile priests, incompetent Bishops, promoters of every kind of heresy ranging from Hedonism and Montanism to Ebionism, Gosticism and Arianism. While one might, like Christopher Hitchens, feel justified in disbelieving in God because of the actions of His servants it is a non sequitur par excellence. The whole point has been that the Church is a Hospital for Sinners, not the Judgement Hall, nor the House of the Already Perfect. Each member of the Church has the same infection by Evil from the Patriarchs right up to the person in the pew.  However, the more we murmur against our Bishops, the less we will be able to see their role as Christ among us, and the less they will perceive it in themselves.

The sad fact of the matter is we believe that there is a solution to all these problems within our reach. How foolish! It won't work. We cannot create Heaven on Earth. We cannot save ourselves. We can do absolutely nothing to make life better for any single person without Faith. We are saved through Faith and Works: our actions only contribute to the salvation of the human race when they are joined to the Only God Who can effect that Salvation through the blood of His Son. Faith first - then Works born from Faith. Even then there will be no Heaven on Earth while there is Sin, but there will always be Hope because there is Salvation, there is Resurrection, there is Christ Jesus Our King.

The antidote to murmuring has to be humility. We have to learn to focus the beam of our complaint onto the mirror so that it will reflect back at ourselves. We can only live in a perfect society if we are committed to becoming perfect ourselves. It's not another person's problem, it can only be ours. While we may justly raise our complaints at injustice to God upon His Throne of Grace, Mercy and Justice, we have absolutely no grounds for complaint if we do nothing to improve ourselves first. 

This means we either endure what society throws at us and accept the decisions made by flawed people on our behalf or leave it some way to pursue a life of holiness. Our fight is not against people: it is against the Devil and his army of angels, principalities and powers that are external to us but infect us along the fault lines caused by the First Sin in the Garden of Eden. If we truly want to be healed then we must look to the Cross and embrace the figure upon it with all the pain and suffering that we can and must bear in our part with Him. The more we seek to change the world by organised protest and national outcry the more we will be drowned out by the noise of other organised protests and outcries on all the other matters. 

Charity begins at home. It begins with us putting our own house in order through prayer, perseverance and living the life of virtue in meekness, humility and love in the shadow of Christ's Cross in hope of Resurrection and Salvation. Make your complaint to God and then change yourself to conform to Him. Then and only then will you see His will for the world.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A confession with regard to the self-identification of female dogs

I have many sins which I commit again and again which I am not prepared to confess here, yet. But there is one that I ought to admit to because I think it is a character flaw that is perhaps common to many Anglo-Catholics, and one I believe should be excised certainly from my own character. I think that confessing it publicly may help me to be on guard and perhaps allow my readers to put me to shame if, as and when I relapse. I hope also to encourage others to do a better job of living the Christian life than I do.
I have a tendency to be... for want of a better word... bitchy.
Regular readers will probably have picked up on that rather unpleasant business of me being rather spiteful in my criticism of others. Obviously, that is a term that ought to give offense to folk of gentler dispositions. Rather than referring to the verb and adjective formed from referring to a female dog, I will return to Holy Father Benedict and the word he uses for this activity - murmuring.
I do notice it in the circles in which I move which leads me to wonder why it is that Anglo-Catholics, or Anglican Papalists like me, seem to be the best murmurers. Why be so complete and damning in one’s criticism of others? Why go overboard and assassinate someone's character when a simple, objective and fair criticism would do? Why cultivate such thoughtless malice?
This is not even restricted to English Anglo-Catholics, but across the pond too, and, admittedly, it is unpleasant and must put people off joining Churches of Catholic descent. This is another reason for good self-examination and a commitment to repentance.
I do think, however, that English Anglo-Catholics are best at it because we do passive aggression best. Essentially, many Anglo-Catholics have had a fight on their hands in recent years. Since Forward in Faith rather let the ball slip in the CofE with regard to a Third Province, there is no real Catholic presence in that Church to challenge the mores. Forward in Faith have pulled up the drawbridge and resigned themselves to an eventual disappearance. The Roman Catholic Church has its own problems and incipient divisions over faith and morals, as do the Orthodox Churches. There is a war being waged!
I find that Anglo-Catholics are necessarily better educated in history, philosophy and apologetics on the grounds that they have had, in the past, to wage a war on historical and philosophical lines. The business of being Catholic means that an all-round education is needed to ensure that Catholicism is maintained. The trouble with being intellectual and English is that we have to be dreadfully agreeable to our opponents. Thus, when we are in our "safe" circles of friends, the class come out to vent that frustration. Murmuring seems to be a way of letting off steam, venting fury, and poke fun at the object of one's ire. Such behaviour is two-faced, it must be admitted.
The trouble is that, if we are not willing to poke fun at our offender to his face, then we risk making him a figure of fun within people who share our bias. A joke is only truly funny if everyone who hears it and can understand it can laugh. In murmuring, our offender is reduced to a caricature or, worse, demonised. Perhaps murmuring is the omega male's way of fighting wars with alpha males. It’s interesting that it is murmuring that is perhaps characteristic of cliques of teenage girls. I was once given a bit of an education in this when I was made to watch the film “Mean Girls” with Lindsay Lohan. What I saw there, I can see in my own life. Just as a school community was damaged in that film, so can real communities be destroyed by such behaviour.
St Benedict says that our works of obedience mean nothing if we do so with murmuring:
But this same obedience will only then be acceptable to God and pleasing to man when that which is ordered be carried out neither with trepidation nor tardily and lukewarmly, nor yet with murmuring and the back answer of one unwilling; for obedience yielded to superiors is an offering laid before God: for Himself He has said: “Who hears you, hears Me.” And with good-will should disciples yield it because it is the cheerful giver God loves. For if it is with ill-will the disciple obeys if even he murmur in his heart and not only by actual word of mouth, though he fulfil the command yet will he not now be accepted as obedient by God, Who regardeth the heart of the murmurer And for such act he earns no reward; but rather he incurs the murmurer’s penalty, unless he amend and make satisfaction. (Chapter V of the Rule)
As I say, murmuring is easy to do because it is natural and a way of letting off steam. We see psalms of complaint, but the Christian must make the object of complaint the proliferation of evil, not the person who offends in some way.
What should I do?
Well, clearly I need to stop poking fun at people behind their back. I may question their actions, but not their dignity as human beings. Thus, I intend to follow a bit of a better programme.
1)       First, as in all things, a prayer to God each day for the grace to see Christ in all whom I meet, especially those who offend me in some way.
2)       If I need to call Herod a fox, then I should be prepared to do that to his face.
3)       If I am tempted to poke fun at someone unjustly (i.e. beyond calling Herod a fox) then I need to find some aspect of that person I truly admire. 
4)       If I find someone’s action irritating, then I need to look and see how that action might be a better reflection of my own actions.
5)       If I see sin in another person then my first duty is to look for that sin in myself and perhaps chastise that in myself before I admonish another. I must also remember that admonish comes from the Latin admonere meaning to warn, not castigate (the Latin for castigate is castigare) Admonition literally means to direct someone to think, consider or mind. Remonstrate should mean to direct someone to rethink, reconsider or remind.
Not being an American alpha male, the ability to rebuke a colleague is not well-developed within me, and perhaps that’s a good thing. I am quite capable of issuing rebuke to schoolchildren, though even now that ability has diminished somewhat since my “retirement” from the classroom. If I must rebuke, then that will come to me from God and certainly not from myself. I do see some of my earlier posts do indeed lend to rebuke, particularly of the heresies committed, sanctioned and glorified within the Established Church. These heresies can be clearly seen from Holy Scripture and Tradition.
If the Church is to become a home for people for people fleeing from Evil, then they need to be able to see that the Church is dealing with evil at the personal level. It must begin with the individual: it must begin with me. I beg your prayers and request, humbly, that you might consider joining me in making the Catholic Church (in all its colour) a purer lens through which to see the light of Christ. Jesu, mercy! Mary, pray!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A true Christian Challenge

Sermon for the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity
Surely, the most radical idea that Jesus teaches us is to love our enemies. The very persons who are making our lives miserable, the people who go out of their way to belittle us, tread on us, and abuse us is no many ways, our haters, our bullies, our rapists and murderers, we are to love them no less than those who love us and whom we love.
This is troubling to say the least. Can you imagine a Jew loving Hitler, or a mother loving the priest who abused her son?
That truly is difficult and may not even be possible for men. Yet, we know that some things are impossible for men, but all things are possible with God. We must, at the very least, be prepared to pray for the salvation of our enemies. We must try our best and let God sort things out.
Yet, the Lord commands us the near-impossible, Why? Doesn’t He contradict the old testament where the Psalmist tells God that he hates the enemies of God right sore even if they were his own enemies? What are we to make of the hatred of the Hebrew in exile in Babylon who blesses the person who takes the children of Babylon and dashes them against the stones?
What are we to do with hatred?
St Paul has a possible answer.
My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
St Paul is clear. It isn’t other human beings that we’re fighting against. Every war, battle and skirmish arise not from men, but from principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places. Adolph Hitler must have got his vile ideas from somewhere. Anti-Semitism was rife in Europe at the time of his rise to power. As we have seen with the issues of Brexit, it doesn’t take much from wanting a little more control over immigration to the increase in hate crime against asylum seekers and even outright racist acts that has occurred since the referendum. Likewise, it doesn’t take much from wanting to adhere to the doctrine of God that marriage only occurs between a man and a woman to treating homosexuals as scum.
The ideas to do evil must come from somewhere and what we learn most from the opening chapters of Genesis, evil comes into the world because it tempts men and women to let it into the world.
Every single human being is an ikon of God. They bear His image within them. There are absolutely no exceptions. Jimmy Saville is as much an ikon of God as Billy Graham. That’s not to say that God is just as visible in the acts of one as the other. Clearly the one who abuses the vulnerable does not ACT like God. Clearly, the one who proclaims the Kingdom of God and works his whole life to bringing the message to those who hear it is trying to act like God.
We are to love them both regardless.
Let us also be clear. To love someone means to will them the good that God gives.
To love our enemies means to recognise our common humanity and to treat them with the same justice that we would expect for ourselves. To love our enemies doesn’t mean that we let them go scot-free. It means that we bring them to justice in fairness and putting aside our feelings of anger, rage, fury and hurt that bubble up inside us. We bring them to justice so that they may be free to repent. It is not the person we must hate: it is the act they have committed and the ideas, temptations, and spirits that have influenced them that we are to hate.
St Benedict tells us that, whenever we have an evil thought, we are to dash it upon the Rock that is Our Lord Jesus Christ. This gives us the key of how we must deal with hatred. The enemy of God is Evil, and we are to hate Evil with every fibre of our being because Evil separates us from God. All that hatred in the Old Testament, both Jesus and St Paul tell us not to direct at people, but to the spiritual powers, dominions, and principalities that cause human beings to fall away. When you read those savage Psalms about hoping your enemy dies a horrible death, it is about the influence of the Devil who will die a horrible death in the fires of Hell for all Eternity.
Once we get it into our heads that every single human being who has ever lived, who lives and who will ever live is precious to God, and therefore precious to us, then and only then will we begin to heal from the effects of Evil. We are to use God’s gifts of Truth, Faith, Peace, His Righteousness and Justice, Salvation – even the presence of the Holy Ghost with us! – to combat Evil where it lies – not in men and women, but in ideas, suggestions, temptations and influences that come into our own heads. Our fight lies within ourselves first, then in fighting to see God in all people around us. Hard work indeed, but all things are possible with God if we have faith in Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Doctorates in Doubt, Deception and Devilry

Update 28.10.18: It appears that the Imam gave his address immediately after the Eucharist following protest by more level headed thinkers. That he was originally invited to speak during the Mass itself shows what the intention of the powers-that-be were.

Splendid academic dress, isn't it?

For many years, I have longed to find my way into an academic establishment to study Theology, Philosophy and Divinity to as high a level as I could, the goal being, eventually a bona fide Doctorate in Divinity preferably from Oxford.

I have revised my opinion, though not my goals.



With the greatest respect to my Muslim friends, colleagues and associates, I am a Christian and not a Muslim. It means that I believe the Christian religion to be true and the Muslim religion at best true only in part and thus not the best expression of reality and morals. Since Muslims do not believe that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, their admission into a celebration of the Holy Eucharist as preacher is an affront to both religions. Why? Because either it will be viewed as an opportunity to proselytise the other, or neither party truly believes the tenets of the religion they claim to profess in the fullness that an orthodox expression of either Faith requires.

Why do it? Why have a preacher from a markedly different belief stand in the pulpit of a prestigious university church to preach?

The purpose of a University is the furtherance of knowledge. This means that it is committed to the development of new ideas within the fields of study it offers. In Mathematics, I would expect lectures on Topology, Analysis, Complex Geometry, and the like. I would not expect lectures on the cell structure of members of the fungi kingdom unless that structure was expressly mathematical. Even so, I would expect it billed as Applied Mathematics and certainly not Pure Mathematics, save perhaps as some motivation for a particularly new geometry to be found in the Natural World. I would also not expect a lecture course within Mathematics on “Why mathematicians MUST study the cell structure of members of the fungi kingdom”.

The purpose of a sermon, homily or address at any Christian office of worship must begin and end with the God of the Christian Faith. I cannot say that it is all that clear that Christians and Muslims do in fact worship the same God. Certainly, we both claim to worship the God Who Created the Universe, but I believe in One God in Three Persons, Three-in-One, et c. The Muslim cannot accept this. This is not how they encounter God. It is certainly not how their prophet Mohammed saw God. If neither I nor Mohammed recognise the same attributes of God as necessary, then I can have a healthy doubt that these two gods are the same. Any address by a faithful Muslim will not begin and end with the God as expressed in the words of the Nicene Creed which, if it was said at this “celebration” of the Eucharist, would have been said either before or after this address.

The second purpose of a sermon, homily or address in any Christian office of worship must be to edify, comfort and challenge the faithful in the Christian Faith. If it is not the Christian Faith that is being preached, then it cannot do so.

As far as I see it, truly Christian education and the Christian quest for further knowledge has only two justifications. It is to glorify God and to reveal His glory for the encouragement of the people in the Christian Faith. We should not pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge because that makes an idol of knowledge. This is a trap many modern academics have fallen into: they worship their corpus of knowledge and see themselves as more advanced than their predecessors because knowledge has “progressed”. There is a huge lack of respect that living thinkers have for those who have lived before. Yet, if Christ is indeed God (and I pray that I may have the courage to die for that very belief!) He is the logos – the Divine Reason – and a thinker whom no-one can surpass, living or dead. Likewise the writers of Holy Scripture.

It is a dreadful disease of the University Church that it needs to reconcile knowledge that it discovers outside of the Christian Faith with Orthodox Christian Doctrine by massaging the doctrine so that it ceases to mean what the Early Church believed it to mean. Our Church Fathers will not have come across Hegel’s dialectic, Darwin’s Origin of the Species, or Derrida’s Deconstruction. I doubt that this new thinking would have caused them to bat an eyelid given that many of them died for the Faith that they received from those who went before. However, their lives of faith in God will show up people who try to muddle the Christian Faith into a socially acceptable and “inclusive” mush as being intellectual cowards who haven’t the gall to believe in something with all their heart without capitulating to what seems just and fair to the society in which they live.

I still would love to study for a doctorate in divinity, but I prefer to do so sitting at the feet of Christ through the words that He has given to many humble and intelligent people. I will learn Christianity and Divinity from the poor destitute, not from those who can’t survive without a television set; from those who offer their lives in sacrifice for the good of others, not from those who bleat that their identity has been insulted; from those who have learned to deal with the effects of abuse, not from those who campaign for the right to do as they please; from those who confess and repent of their sins and crimes, even by accepting and owning their punishment, not from those who not only refuse to recognise their sinfulness, but rather want to make it legal and acceptable. Christ tells us who will teach us His ways: the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after HIS righteousness (not their own), the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of HIS righteousness (not that of Society’s).

The Doctors of the Church – i.e. those who did seek after God’s righteousness and teach it to others – these will teach me much, but it will be in the eyes of those Our Lord mentions in the Beatitudes that I will learn Christ. They will teach me how to loose the bands of wickedness, undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free and break every yoke. Notice, that this means that I need to know God’s Righteousness to tell me what is wicked, burdensome, oppressive and coupling with Evil. They will teach me to give bread to the hungry, invite the poor into my house, cover the naked, and make myself available to all people in their true need. The need of any person before even food or drink is the word of God Who gives life. If I distort that word, then I have no love for God nor for my neighbour. If I reinterpret God’s righteousness to make it nice and acceptable and challenging only those who stand up to the godlessness of Society, then I have no love for God nor for my neighbour.

I have so much to learn, and I MUST learn it because I burn to do so for the pitiful love for God that I have in my heart. I love Him so little, but I do love Him enough to seek Him on His terms not in the terms of my own making that go against what the Church has always said.

Nonetheless, I am to learn the Truth and to help others in their search for it. This means that I have a duty to Christian Education first to the glory of God and second to bring people to His glory. As part of that latter, I also see Christian knowledge as a protection against deceit, doubt and the Devil. It is the Devil who wants to be deceived and to deceive us, directly or indirectly. The Doctor who seeks to alter the faith to bring it into line with modern values has been deceived and is sowing doubt. Since doubt and deceit are from the devil, such an educator is not a Doctor of Divinity, but rather a Doctor of Devilry.

I can imaging academics of University institutions either smugly dismissing me as a relic of “old-style” stupid thinking. Others will be appalled at the level of offense that I have caused to the sensibilities of those who just want to be nice and “include” everyone in the Church. I don’t care. I may never wear the fine robes of a DD (Oxon) as did Dr Pusey, but neither will I wear the same robes of a heretical female Episcopal bishop who somehow has become equivalent with a scholar of fine standing and who sought to bring the Church of England back to her roots. I will content myself with learning what the Early Church has always taught without their interference.

I would like to be involved in building and developing seminary education for Anglican Catholic Clergy and Laity alike. However, if I am honest, I do not know what I could teach – I have too little formal theological education. However, I still seek to pursue this: education is not about fine robes, nor pieces of paper, nor letters after the name, nor the respect of one’s peers. It is about loving God and loving His children and helping them to know and love Him better. Certainly this is not the education that you will receive in Oxford!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Three One True Churches

Found this today.

I offer it as evidence that Orthodox Polemicists are quite wrong when they say that an essential characteristic of Protestantism is the tendency to divide and schism. This is the brush with which they like to tar the Continuing Anglican Church and I find it ironic how the latter are trying to unite after political division with a measure of success while the Orthodox Church is riddled with political divisions and do not allow a common doctrine to keep them together.

Fr Robert Hart would say that there are Two One True Churches. Perhaps there are now three!

I suppose with Brexit and various other referenda for independence, we are very much beginning to see the fracture of civilization along the political definition of morals and justice. We see this happening here especially illustrates the divisions in orthodoxy along political lines.

Given that the division of the Church of England from Rome happened for political reasons, and indeed that a case could be argued that the Great Schism of 1054 was political in nature, that this kills any argument that political schisms destroy orthodoxy. If both Moscow and Constantinople remain Orthodox, then so must Orthodox Anglicanism and the Constantinople.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Doom-monger at the Door

Sermon for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity

There is a knock at the door. You open it to find one of those very earnest “religious” types who immediately begins with “isn’t it a terrible world? Look at all the things going wrong.”

Before your visitor carries on with this speech, you have the opportunity to speak your mind, but you have to be quick.

Quickly, then, is this a terrible world, or not?


It would be unsurprising if your gut reaction was, “yes, this is a terrible world. Look at all the poor, the starving. Look at those affected by disasters both small and large. Look at all the resources being waste. Look at climate change. Look at the decline in morals…”

Goodness, your gut has a lot to say in a split second!

We live in Evil times, don’t we?

Clearly, we can’t pretend that everything is sweetness and light. Our Christian duty is to stand alongside people in their suffering, offering them some comfort, and trying to help end the oppression that afflicts so many. There is a lot of mourning to be done with those who mourn. But is everything really terrible? Are human beings so totally evil?


Right in the beginning, God sees all that He has made and, behold, it is very good. There’s an interesting little point about this. What about things in the future? Has God made things that don’t exist yet? If it is God that has made us and not we ourselves, what about our children’s children and our children’s children’s children? Clearly, God is responsible for the existence of everything. He sits beyond Time and Space. Everything is present to Him. And everything is very good.

Evil may have entered creation by the free choice of Adam and Eve, but what God’s very existence tells us is that it works out all good in The End.  Beyond the confines of Time and Space, Evil doesn’t have any part in Creation. We see Evil because we are stuck in Time and its effects. We cannot step outside to see the Truth. This is why we must have faith in the One Who can Truly See, for He has created all things from nothing.
Nice thought, but what about people’s suffering now? This is so difficult, especially when there is so much suffering that we can’t even begin to see how to stop it. However, God’s goodness means that, no matter how bad things get, our suffering and pain are not without meaning to God who not only sees but chooses to suffer with us to show that we are not alone. All things work for good for those who love God.

On the Cross, Christ redeems humanity from the clutches of Sin and Death. He buys us back from Evil by pouring His Blood into the crack in Creation caused by Sin. Ironically, in paying the price for Sin He destroys Evil in the same way that a hole in the pavement is destroyed by paying it back with concrete.


And we, too, are to be redeemers. Not in the same way, but St Paul bids us be redeemers of the time because the days are evil. We are to buy back time from the evil in the world by seizing every opportunity to see and preach the Good.

Like a hole, Evil is the absence of Good, so the more Good there is, the less Evil there can be. The more we consecrate our days to the love of God, the more we wrest opportunities from the Devil and his failed attempt to make Creation evil and flawed.

Human beings may be capable of evil, but we are fundamentally Good. We are salvageable from Evil. If we were totally Evil, there would be nothing left to save, but Christ becomes fully Human so that everything that makes us human can be saved.


There will be times of despair, when we look at the world and can see nothing of God’s goodness. That’s where Faith comes in and we have to exercise it to the best of our abilities so that by our actions we can bring the goodness of God into the world, even if it hurts so, so much. We can't do much: we just do what we can and give our little to God to work His miracles.

Then, one day, we won’t have to worry. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

So what are you going to tell the doom-monger at the door?

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Harvest Sacrifice

Sermon for the Harvest Festival and first public Mass of the Provisional Mission of St Anselm and St Odile, Sheffield.

You may be uncomfortable with the phrase “sacrifice of the Mass.” Mention the word “sacrifice” and you might already be thinking of something like the ending of the film “The Wicker Man” with folk sacrificing animals and an unsuspecting policeman to pagan gods whilst Sir Christopher Lee dances around singing “Sumer is ycomen in”.  in his mum’s best frock last thing you want to see when the word “sacrifice” is mentoned is a man in a dress singing loudly.

But we often talk of sacrifices in our everyday language, don’t we? In fact, the harvest festivals that happen every year are themselves sacrifices and ones that we make, or could make daily if we want.
When did you last make a sacrifice?


We might say that sacrifice means pain and going without for a greater good. We sacrifice a morning’s sleep to get up and go to work to earn money for our family. We sacrifice our last chocolate hobnob to our little daughter just for the smile on her face. However, to sacrifice literally means to make something holy. When we celebrate a harvest festival we give thanks to God for the produce that has been grown or made – a year’s hard work of the farming community. But that produce, all that has been grown or made or farmed or milked, all is the result of our labours and those of our farming and fishing communities. Why give thanks to God for our hard work? We did it, didn’t we?


It’s been a hard year for farmers this year. The weather has been against us, and we face perhaps a difficult winter without good food for our sheep and cattle. No amount of hard work can alter the weather in our favour. In fact, as scientists say, it is precisely our hard work since the Industrial Revolution that has caused Global Warming. We reap the rewards of that Global Warming now because we sought to make work easier a couple of centuries ago. It sounds very depressing, but it appears that all our hard work causes us more hard work and there is no end to it.

Right back in the beginning Adam and Eve, standing for all of humanity, sin because they try to decide what is Good and what is Evil for themselves without God. They don’t want to live on God’s terms but rather their own. And so, God gives them what they want and it isn’t pretty.

And unto Adam he said , Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee , saying , Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken : for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return .

Hard words, but what we see in our lives is that living and working without God is just toil and labour unceasing. We make rods for our own backs.

If our idea of sacrifice is indeed pain and hardship for a greater good, then maybe we have lost sight of that greater good in the world. For many people, sacrifices are made to no avail and this is because they have lost the idea of what it means to be holy. To be holy, we need God’s involvement. The fruit of our labours is given its worth by God; the pain and suffering we go to for our labours is given meaning by God, and with that meaning comes a joy that can’t be taken away. To offer our hardships to God and enduring them means that we can make present something truly good in this world, a good that stands apart from it.


And what of the Sacrifice of the Mass? Here we share in the sacrifice that Our Lord Jesus Christ made of Himself for our Salvation. In the Sacrifice of the Mass we join ourselves not only to the first Mass on Maundy Thursday in the upper room, but to the crucifixion of Our Lord. In the Sacrifice of the Mass, we receive Our Lord’s true body and blood so that we may share in the fruit of His labours on our behalf, namely our Salvation from all that is evil. Every Mass is a Harvest Festival because we thank God for bringing about His work at our hands.

Our hard work is worth more than we think. It depends who we are working for.