Friday, December 15, 2017

COMING SOON — WESTERN RITE RADIO!

WESTERN RITE RADIO

With the conversion of Fr. Thomas Janikowski (Diocese of Quincy, ACNA) to the Orthodox Church, Quadcities Anglican Radio has closed down, but Western Rite Radio will be launching very soon! 

WESTERN RITE RADIO is an Internet ministry of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities. It will function much like Ancient Faith Radio which is its inspiration. This will be a huge leap forward in our Work of rebuilding the Western Church and re-evangelizing the post-Christian West. 

Tell everyone you know! Please go to the Western Rite Radio Facebook page, "Like" it, and become a Follower. Help spread the Good News. Share it on your Facebook page. The Orthodox Church is on the move. It is a New Springtime. To God be the glory!

Here is the link:


Not on Facebook? Not to worry, you can visit the Western Rite Radio website!

Here is the link:


Remember, Western Rite Radio will be launching soon. It will feed your spirit, bless your soul, encourage you in your discipleship, and will be a wonderful tool for advancing the Work of the Great Commission. It will take our message world-wide!

INTERVIEW WITH METROPOLITAN HILARION

Our bishop, Metropolitan Hilarion, recently had an insightful interview with the Russian media. He was in Russia earlier this month for the Council of Bishops meeting in Moscow that brought together more than 400 bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moscow Patriarchate is growing rapidly and now totals some 180 million souls — that is about two and a half times the entire Anglican Communion!

Metropolitan Hilarion spoke about the Council of Bishops meeting, the preaching of Christ in today’s world, on the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and about Orthodox Christians in the United States. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is made up of Russian emigres and their descendants, along with a very large and growing number of converts.
In the interview Metropolitan Hilarion said, “The Anglican Church has broken apart, and many older clergymen are converting to Orthodoxy. We receive them. We ordain them so that they can serve as Orthodox pastors. Their flocks follow their conversion to Orthodoxy. I constantly get appeals from them, to receive them and ordain them. Of course, we prepare them first. But when we start to work with them, we realize that they have already studied a great deal about Orthodox Christianity.” 

Anglicans are the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church in the United States. They are everywhere. There are hundreds of Orthodox clergy in America who are former Anglican clergymen, and they are serving in both the Eastern and Western rites. When I am asked, Where have all of the Catholic Anglicans gone? My answer is always the same: To the Orthodox Church!

You will want to read the whole interview. It is titled, “Our Church is a Family.” Here is the link:


Our Church is indeed a family, and everyone is welcome!

Friday, December 8, 2017

ADVENT UPDATE - Holy Cross Orthodox Church


ADVENT BEGINS THIS SUNDAY!

This Sunday, December 10th, is the First Sunday in Advent and the beginning of the Advent Season. The liturgical color is a royal purple as we prepare for the Coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Advent Wreath is up, and our processional hymn will be, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Advent and Christmastide are the most wonderful times of the year! 

Advent season precedes the Feast of the Nativity and consists of four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest St. Andrew’s Day. Advent is a joyous season as we look forward to Christmas, but also a time for serious spiritual preparationLike Lent, it is a time to purify both soul and body as we prepare to properly enter into, and partake of, the great spiritual reality of Christ's Coming. This spiritual preparation includes both fasting and abstinence, which expands and intensifies in Advent.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

While Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Feast of the Nativity or Christmas, we actually celebrate the Feast of the Nativity for twelve days — the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas. Christmas means "Christ’s Mass,”  and there can be no true celebration of the Nativity of Christ without participating in Christ’s Mass and receiving Him in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We will begin our Christmas celebration with a traditional Midnight Mass, followed by a Christmas party in our parish hall. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days to hold Christmas parties, have celebrations, invite family and friends to our homes, and visit others. There are no days of Fast or Abstinence during the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is a time of joyous celebration!

MARY’S FIAT (Proclamation)

“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38).

God woos us, He does not force us to do His will. Mary responded with faith to the words of the Archangel Gabriel, and nine months later Jesus (Salvation) was born in Bethlehem. St. Irenaeus of Lyon (Gaul/France) was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John. In AD 175, St. Irenaeus wrote:

“Just as the former—that is, Eve—was seduced by the words of an [fallen] angel so that she turned away from God by disobeying his word, so the latter — Mary — received the good news from an angel's announcement in such a way as to give birth to God by obeying his word; and as the former was seduced so that she disobeyed God, the latter let herself be convinced to obey God, and so the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. And as the human race was subjected to death by a virgin, it was liberated by a Virgin; a virgin's disobedience was thus counterbalanced by a Virgin's obedience...” — St. Irenaeus (AD 175).

As we can see from this quote from St. Irenaeus — a disciple of a disciple of the Apostle John —  the Theotokos, the Mother of God, played an important part in our salvation according to the understanding of the early Church, and according to the understanding of the Church throughout the centuries. 

Christ was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem, but unless He is conceived in our hearts by faith and born into our lives the events of Christmas will do us no good. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “House of Bread” and Jesus is the Bread of Life. He has given us His very Body and Blood as Bread from Heaven to partake of, and unless we eat His flesh and drink his Blood we have no life in us. The early Church called the Sacrament of Holy Communion “the medicine of immortality.” May each of us make a good and spiritually profitable use of this holy season of Advent, and may we each come humbly, reverently, and with great thanksgiving  and joy to Christ’s Mass on the Feast of the Nativity to receive the Bread of Life.

HOLY CROSS PARISH FACEBOOK PAGE

I regularly post important news and videos on our Holy Cross Parish Facebook page. If you are not a follower of our parish Facebook page you are missing out on a lot of important and edifying information. Please go to the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page, “Like” it, and become a Follower it so you will be notified whenever something is posted. Here is the link:


OPEN DOOR MISSION

Our latest donation to the Open Door Mission totaled 254 pounds of food! Thank you to everyone who contributed and to Paul N. Who made the delivery. Our parish food bins are now empty, but the needs remain and will grow with the colder weather, so let’s begin refilling our parish food bins on Sunday. Thank you!

MITTEN AND GLOVE DRIVE

Once again this year we are working with the Salvation Army to provide the homeless with desperately needed mittens and gloves. There is a box in the parish hall where you can put donated mittens and gloves for adults and (sadly) children. Who among us can imagine what it must be like to be homeless, especially homeless in the winter, homeless at Christmas? The thought is heartbreaking, but we can help. Wendy W. Is coordinating our Mitten and Glove drive. If you have any questions see Wendy. Please give generously.

WOMEN’S GROUP CRAFT SALE

There are beautiful home-made crafts for sale in our parish hall. The crafts are made by members of our parish Women’s group, the Sisters of Holy Cross, and the Craft Sale is a fund-raiser for the group. I do not know what we would do without the Sisters of Holy Cross. They are a vital ministry of our parish and they need funds for their work. Please do some of your Christmas shopping at their Craft table, buy these beautiful crafts for yourself, and support this important and worthy cause. Thank you!

CHURCH IMPROVEMENTS

Every year we improve and beautify our parish temple for the glory of God. This year there are a lot of improvements in the works. Our St. Joseph’s Guild is building a platform that will raise the altar and the priest’s step above the floor; new icons and lampadas are on their way, as are three new icon stands, a beautifully adorned Gospel book, and other important liturgical books. 

The sanctuary (altar area) will soon be opened up by removing the lectern and pulpit — we will use a portable pulpit instead —  giving us more space; and the bishop’s platform and chair will be permanently installed rather than simply brought out when we have an episcopal visit. In addition, we may be replacing our carpeting — which is wearing — with vinyl planking, and  putting linoleum in the bathroom off the chapel. This will not only improve the looks of our temple, but the acoustics as well — something that I know our Schola Cantorum and Cantor would appreciate and welcome!

Every year we undertake improvements to our church facility, and this year is no different, but such improvements cost money. I hope that you will support our improvements and the ongoing work of our church with a generous offering. 

If you are a friend of our parish living far from the Omaha area, but have been blessed by our Work in behalf of the Gospel and the rebuilding of the Western Church, I hope that you will also support us by sending an offering. This is indeed a worthy cause and we could use your help. Thank you!

ADULT CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

We continue to work through a course of sixteen video classes given by Fr. Barnabas Powell called, Journey to Fullness. Everyone who is attending is receiving such a blessing from this class; and our class coordinator, Paul T., is offering some very helpful follow-up questions and leading the discussions. I hope that you will join us for this class at 8:45 AM on Sunday morning. You will be blessed.

SUNDAY SERVICES

Christian Education is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins at 9:15 AM, with the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall follows the Liturgy.

The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world, the original Church, the Church founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself. It is unchanged and unchanging in Faith and Morals. These are indisputable facts of history. Insist on the original. Do not settle for a man-made substitute. The Church is for everyone, and everyone is always welcome. We are a faithful, friendly and vibrant parish, and we have a place for you. Come and see. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Blessings,

Father+

Fr. Victor Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

LETTER TO A CATECHUMEN — A Letter that will be helpful to anyone interested in the Orthodox Church

Dear N___________, 

Attached are links to some material that I would like you to study as part of your final preparation for reception into the Orthodox Church. 

While you are well prepared for your reception, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the Orthodox teachings on Original/Ancestral Sin, the Atonement, the importance of the Septuagint Text of the Old Testament, and the problems with the Filioque Clause that was inserted into the Nicene Creed by the Roman Church in AD 1014. 

Trying to understand and embrace Orthodox Christianity without correcting some important post-Great Schism doctrinal misconceptions is like trying to put square pegs into round holes. So let’s take another look at these issues.

Original/Ancestral Sin

It is vital that Christians come to a proper understanding of the doctrine of Original/Ancestral Sin. If we get this fundamental doctrine wrong — as non-Orthodox Christians have — it will adversely affect our doctrinal understandings in other areas, including redemption and salvation.

Fr. Matthew Joyner gave an excellent presentation on Original/Ancestral Sin at the Western Rite Clergy Conference held in October of this year. I encourage you to carefully listen to his presentation courtesy of Quad Cities Anglican Radio which was broadcasting from the Conference. Here is the link:


The Atonement

Non-Orthodox Christians hold to the Substitutionary Atonement theory in two  primary forms: the Satisfaction Theory and the Penal Substitutionary Theory. They take the Substitutionary Atonement Theory that they have inherited for granted, and although it is only a theory — and a late one at that — assume that it is a Christian dogma and is what the early Church believed and taught.

The truth is though that these theories have their roots in the teachings of Anselm of Canterbury, an 11th century Norman Archbishop. Archbishop Anselm wrote a book titled, Why Did God Become Man?, in which he explained his innovative theory.

As Fr. James Bernstein, an Orthodox priest,  explains, “Anselm’s view of atonement has come to be called the ‘debt’ or ‘satisfaction’ theory. It was based in part on the concept of total depravity [stemming from a false understanding of Original/Ancestral sin], which holds that man’s sin against God (which is total) must be punished by God absolutely. According to this theory, God’s honor and justice demanded that to avoid punishment, the debt owed Him by the human race must be paid or satisfied. By ourselves we could not pay the debt owed God, because we are all fallen and sinful. Only Jesus Christ could pay what we owe to God, because He is sinless and perfect. In dying on the Cross, Christ completely paid this debt for each of us. If we believe in Jesus’ substitutionary atonement, then we are forgiven, and God is free to bestow on us His grace and mercy.”

The Protestant Reformers built on this theory and constructed the Penal Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement. Again, Fr. James Bernstein explains, “The Protestant Reformers built upon the satisfaction theory and developed a third theory of atonement called the 'penal substitutionary' theory. Whereas the debt/satisfaction theory emphasizes that Christ paid the debt that we owe God, the penal theory emphasizes that Christ received the punishment we deserve. In this view, justice demands that our sins be punished. In suffering and dying on the Cross, Christ received God’s punishment for us so that we no longer need to be punished. This view has gained great popularity and is perhaps the best known of the… non-Orthodox theories of atonement we have discussed so far.”

The Substitutionary Atonement in either its Satisfaction Theory or in its Penal Substitutionary Theory is built upon the word “satisfied” in Isaiah 53. However, the word “satisfied” is not found in Isaiah 53 in the Septuagint. In fact, Isaiah 53 reads very differently in the Septuagint than it does in the Masoretic Text.

The fact is that the Old Testament that the vast majority of Western Christians have in their Bibles is the Masoretic Text, although the Apostles and the early Christians used the Septuagint Version. They could not have used the Masoretic Text because it did not come into being until about a thousand years ago. The Septuagint on the other hand antedated the time of Christ by a couple of hundred years and is some 1200 years older than the Masoretic Text.

The New Testament frequently quotes from the Old Testament, but if you look up these quotes in the Old Testament itself, you will find that they often vary considerably from what is found in the New Testament. The New Testament writers were not misquoting the Old Testament Scriptures or paraphrasing them. The New Testament writers were quoting from the Septuagint, but most modern Bibles contain the Masoretic Text, — a Jewish text from nearly a thousand years after the time of Christ. 

The Orthodox Church uses the same Bible that the Apostles and early Christians used. Western Christians no longer do, and that is one of the reasons why their theology has often diverged from that of the Orthodox Church. They may be following their Bible, but they are not using the Bible that the Apostles and early Christians used.

The Protestant Reformers adopted the Masoretic Text because they assumed that the Jews knew best about the Old Testament, but they were wrong. The Septuagint is some 1200 years older than the Masoretic Text. Unfortunately, Rome later adopted the Masoretic Text as well in an effort to keep up with the Protestants. The Masoretic Text was never used by the Apostles or early Christians, is not part of the inheritance of the “undivided” Church, is only about a thousand years old, was unknown to the Christians of the first millennium, and is therefore contrary to the Vincentian Canon.

Both the Satisfaction Theory and the Penal Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement are post-Great Schism, were unknown in the “undivided” Church and have their roots in the 11th century. Therefore, these theories could not have been what the early Church believed and are not part of the Deposit of Faith. The Orthodox Church still holds to what the Church of the first millennium taught, and its teaching on redemption is indeed Good News.

For more information on the doctrine of Christ’s Death on the Cross for our salvation as taught by the Orthodox Church you will want to read the article, The Original Christian Gospel, by Fr. James Bernstein. Fr. James was born into an Orthodox Jewish family and came to faith in Christ as a young adult. He was an early member and leader of the well-known Messianic Jewish ministry called Jews for Jesus. He later entered the Orthodox Church where he now serves as a priest. I know that you will find this article very helpful. Here is the link:


The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament

The Orthodox Church has always held to the use of the Septuagint Old Testament, and to the wider Canon which includes the Deuterocanonical Books. All Christians everywhere did so until after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The Septuagint and the wider Canon was the Bible of the “undivided” Church and remains the Bible of the Orthodox Church today. 

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Holy Scriptures made by Seventy (or seventy-two) Jewish scholars some two centuries before the birth of Christ. For centuries Greek was the lingua franca of the ancient world, even in the Holy Land, so use of the Greek Old Testament was widespread among the Jewish communities.

Western “scholars” used to criticize the Orthodox Church for its unwavering commitment to the Septuagint, but time has proven the Orthodox Church to be right. The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press) says, “A significant legacy of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is related to their attestation to the reliability of ancient translations. It is no longer possible to argue that differences from the MT  [Masoretic Text] preserved in the ancient translations… reflect intentional changes introduced by the translator rather than a different underlying text… Readings from the ancient translations hitherto regarded as questionable have now been shown to preserve authentic Hebrew ones” (pp. 1922-1923).

Is it any wonder that post-schism Western Christians have deviated from the teachings of the Orthodox Church when you realize that they are using a Bible that is different from what was used in the “undivided” Church, was unknown to the early Christians, and that reads very differently in many places? 

If you have not already read, Which Bible is Better? How to compare versions of the Bible, by Fr. Joseph Gleason, you need to read this book. Fr. Joseph Gleason was an Anglican priest and pastored a parish of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He later became an Orthodox priest serving a Western Rite parish. You can get this “Must Read” book, Which Bible is Better for only $7.95. You can order it here:


Orthodox Christians are serious students of the Holy Scriptures, and have a large and ever growing number of commentaries — both from the Fathers and from modern Orthodox writers — as well as other Bible Study materials available to them. In addition, we have the Orthodox Study Bible. If you do not already own a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible, please purchase one now.  You can order it here:


The Filioque Clause

It is also very important that you understand the Filioque Clause that was inserted in the Nicene Creed in the West. Its insertion into the Nicene Creed was pressed by Charlemagne (the Western, or Holy Roman, Emperor) and his successors, but long resisted by Rome. Rome finally inserted the Filioque Clause into the Creed in 1014, precipitating the Great or Papal Schism in 1054.

Archbishop Joseph Raya, Melkite (Eastern Rite Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Akka, Haifa, Nazareth and Galilee wrote, 

“To prevent anyone ever to misinterpret or alter the words of the Creed — which could lead to heresy and destruction of the faith — the Council fathers declared ‘anathema,’ or condemnation on anyone who would ever ‘add to it, or take away from it any word.’ Yet, by his own personal authority, Charlemagne added the word ‘Filioque,’ making the Creed read: ‘Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.’ He imposed the addition upon all the Churches of the West by force of arms. The Church of Rome refused it, and did not add it to its Creed.

“There was no immediate reaction from Constantinople. The Byzantines must have been amused at seeing a ‘Barbarian’ playing a game of absolutism of power and bad taste in theology” (Byzantine Church and Culture, Alleluia Press, p. 41).

In 1014, Rome also adopted the Filioque Clause, falling under the anathema of the Third Oecumenical Council. “In the eleventh century, the addition of the ‘filioque’ became a point of doctrinal contention between East and West. Michael Cerularius [Patriarch of Constantinople] accused the West of heresy; the West retorted by accusing the East of heresy; they excommunicated each other” (ibid, Raya, pp. 41-42). 

It is obvious, of course, who changed the Creed and who preserved it unchanged, and therefore who fell into heresy and schism and who remained Orthodox Catholics.

Before becoming Orthodox I had long understood that the Filioque Clause was an unauthorized addition to the Nicene Creed that caused the Great schism and therefore had to be removed, but I had never studied its doctrinal implications. Like many others, I knew that the Filioque Clause was added unilaterally and without Catholic consent, and that it led to the Great Schism of 1054, but I had had never studied how it affected Trinitarian theology. 

The Third Oecumenical Council placed an anathema on anyone who would tamper with the Nicene Creed, and Rome’s tampering with it led to Rome’s fall from Catholic unity, but the Filioque is much more than a canonical infraction — it is heresy. The Filioque leads to an Arian subordinationism of the Holy Spirit. Due to the Filioque, the Holy Spirit became the all but forgotten person of the Holy Trinity in the West until the 20th century when the pendulum swung back to the other extreme leading to the excesses of the Charismatic Movement. You will want to read the article, Filioquism is Arian Subordinationism Applied to the Spirit. Here is the link:


Please study these materials. When you are finished we can talk about them. The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world, the original Church, the only Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It is still rooted in Jerusalem and the Middle East, is unchanged and unchanging after 2,000 years, still holding firmly to the Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, and still using the Bible used by the Apostles and Church Fathers. 

Please feel free to share this letter with family and friends. The Orthodox Church welcomes everyone.

Blessings,

Father+

Fr. Victor Novak
Rector
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

This Letter to an actual Catechumen at Holy Cross parish has been adapted for the benefit of other readers.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA — Where do Catholic Anglicans Go from Here?

“We have a wide range in the ACNA… We are a very diverse group… We have a smorgasbord of perspectives”  — Archbishop Foley Beach 


On Saturday, October 21st, Quad Cities Anglican Radio posted a podcast of an interview with ACNA Primate Archbishop Foley Beach discussing Holy Orders among other things.

The words of the ACNA Primate will be shocking to the remaining Catholic-minded Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America, but they really should not be surprising. What a growing number of faithful have long suspected has become clear: the Anglican Church in North America is not really a Church at all. At best, it is a very diverse coalition of divergent groups who like the Anglican label and remain together for the sake of numbers. 

Archbishop Foley Beach also makes clear in his interview that this diversity, this smorgasbord of perspectives, is found throughout the Anglican Communion, including the GAFCON provinces. There is no longer anything that can be called normative Anglicanism today. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. 

It is vital for faithful Catholic Anglicans and those who love them to listen to this interview with the ACNA Primate. It is only about eight minutes long. Please listen, and then share it with others. You can find the interview here:

QUAD CITIES ANGLICAN RADIO INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP FOLEY BEACH


THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY

As Archbishop Foley Beach makes clear in his interview with Quad Cities Anglican Radio, the Apostolic priesthood is not a “first order” issue in the Anglican Church in North America.

Think about that for a moment. Christ established the priesthood with His apostles. From its inception the Apostolic Ministry has universally consisted of male deacons, priests and bishops in Apostolic Succession. From the beginning it has been universally believed and taught that to have valid sacraments you must have a validly ordained Catholic priest or bishop. Now, nearly 2,000 years later, we are told that the Apostolic Ministry is not a “first order” issue. Really?

In the night in which He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and taught that unless we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we have no life in us. That sounds like a “salvation issue” to me, as it has to all Catholic  Christians over the last 2,000 years; and we know that only Catholic priests can confect the Sacrament of Holy Communion, so the Apostolic Ministry is undoubtedly a first order issue, a salvation issue — but not in the ACNA. 

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, APOSTOLIC TRADITION AND CATHOLIC ORDER

Are the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order first order issues in the ACNA? Apparently not.

On September 7, 2017, a Statement from the College of Bishops of the ACNA on the Ordination of Women was formally issued.

“Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered,” a five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) unanimously stated that the “practice [of women’s ordination] is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province.” 

HOWEVER, it was also unanimously acknowledged, “that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism” — that smorgasbord of perspectives that Archbishop Foley Beach spoke about in his interview with Quad Cities Anglican Radio — “that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood.”

THEREFORE, “it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority… in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood.” What?

By allowing women’s ordination to continue, despite the fact that it is unanimously acknowledged by the ACNA College of Bishops that it is “a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and “that there is insufficient scriptural warrant”, it seems clear that the teachings of Holy Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and historic Catholic Order are not first order issues in the ACNA either. So what is?

PRIVATE OPINION AND INTERPRETATION

So what trumps the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order in the ACNA? The Provincial Constitution — a thoroughly human construct — which was born in tragic, heretical and sinful compromise that allows for the ordination of women; coupled with a Protestant notion of the private interpretation of the Scripture and an equally Protestant indifference to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. In the ACNA, as in all Protestant groups, private opinion outweighs Holy Scripture as witnessed to by Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. 
BACK TO THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

So how is the ACNA really any different from The Episcopal Church? It isn’t. 

The ACNA was founded after the election of the first openly practicing homosexual bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and in opposition to normalization of homosexual practice. The ACNA is a single issue Church. 

Other than the homosexual issue, members of the ACNA can believe just about anything they want, and practice their faith in just about anyway they want, with priestesses or without priestesses, with lady deacons or without lady deacons, and with a broad range of liturgical uses that can stretch from the Anglican Missal through the 1979 Prayer Book, the 1928 Prayer Book, the 1662 Prayer Book, the REC Prayer Book, and ACNA trial liturgies, all the way to a large and growing segment that could at best be described as semi-liturgical. 

The ACNA is indeed “a very diverse group” with “a smorgasbord of perspectives.” Just like with the Episcopal Church, no one can really be sure who is and who isn’t an Anglican. The ACNA has become so comprehensive that it seems that anyone can believe just about anything,  — except in the normalization of homosexuality.

The tragedy is that so many Catholic-minded churchmen suffered so much, made so many sacrifices, suffered through so many lawsuits — with many still involved in lawsuits — only to find themselves back in the Episcopal Church of the year 2002. Yet, that is the reality.

THAT SINKING FEELING

After hearing Archbishop Foley Beach’s interview with Quad Cities Anglican Radio, one listener commented, “The size of the iceberg is immense...clearly this captain is aware and unafraid of the course he has set for those souls he is responsible for.”

Most Catholic Anglicans in the ACNA are so focused on the error of women’s ordination that they see it as the root of their problems. They think, “If only we can end women’s ordination all would be well in the ACNA, and Orthodoxy and Rome would finally recognize us as a Catholic Church.” Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth. Women’s ordination is not the root of the problem, it is merely one of its most obvious fruits.

The Anglican Church in North America is a mainline Protestant denomination. Nothing more. It is not a Catholic Church, although it does contain an impotent and frustrated Catholic-minded remnant. 

Fr. Charles Nalls, an Anglican Cathedral Dean and one of Continuing Anglicanism’s theologically best educated priests, explains this in an article titled, Sailing Off Foley Beach..er…Folly Beach.

The article was written  ahead of the International Anglo-Catholic Congress  sponsored by Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA) that met in Fort Worth, Texas in 2015. In the article, Fr. Nalls is critical of ACNA participation in the Congress and of the participation of Archbishop Foley Beach in particular. He writes,

“The conveners of the pan-Catholic Anglican Congress, or whatever name will be adopted, are mobbed up with ACNA. ACNA will be presided over by Abp. Foley Beach. A look at his declared stands on key issues proves that he is no catholic. Indeed, quite the opposite.”

Fr. Nalls continues, “First, there is the pronouncement on the website [Foley Beach’s Cathedral website], ‘We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.’ http://www.hcanglican.org/what-to-expect. Not an Anglican Church in the Catholic tradition, mind you, or anything close. … ‘The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.’ Apart from the fact that even Cranmer might disagree with this, it is simply not the case historically, certainly from an Anglo-catholic perspective… And, so the website continues, ‘We are an Evangelical Church in the Protestant tradition.’

The sacramental perspective, or rather the lack thereof, is even more disturbing. Archbishop Foley Beach’s Cathedral church sure has an informative website, but I couldn’t find a single mention about the sacraments on it. They don’t speak of the sacraments. Their doctrine seems to be thoroughly Protestant. Indeed, there is nothing about the Eucharist except a small, yet thoroughly off-putting, bit:

‘At most of our services, we celebrate Holy Communion, and if you are a baptized Christian you are welcome to receive the bread and wine. You may take the bread and then drink from the common cup, or you may dip the bread into the wine (called “intinction”).’

So it is at the Eucharist, the source and summit of the faith, all baptized Christians ‘are welcome to receive the bread and wine.’ Forget about Confirmation, no need of that. Never mind ‘real presence’ which is nowhere mentioned. Just ‘bread and wine’, not Body and Blood. It looks like receptionism to this reader. At best, this is nothing more than Zwinglianism, which represents the absolute worst of Protestant theology. As Flannery O’Conner once said, ‘If its just a symbol then to hell with it.’

Finally, let’s look at the treatment of Holy Orders down at the Beach. For Anglo-Catholics who do not believe Orders are divisible, there is a problem. There is a female deacon (not a deaconess) on staff at the cathedral. He will ‘ordain’ female deacons. It doesn’t really matter though. As a self-identified Evangelical Protestant (with a Zwinglian sacramental theology), clearly, Foley does not intend to ordain Catholic clergy anyway.

So, how does FiFNA, while it is tied up in an unnecessary ‘study’ of ‘women’s ordination’ with ‘ordained’ women on the study panel explain this? How does it explain being mobbed up with an archbishop who, to be perfectly blunt, is a Presbyterian in drag?”

Foley Beach is the Primate of the ACNA. His Cathedral website is crystal clear about how he sees the Church which he leads:

“We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.”

“The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.”

“At most of our services, we celebrate Holy Communion, and if you are a baptized Christian you are welcome to receive the bread and wine. You may take the bread and then drink from the common cup, or you may dip the bread into the wine (called ‘intinction’).”

Regarding this sacramental theology, Fr. Charles Nalls writes, “At best, this is nothing more than Zwinglianism, which represents the absolute worst of Protestant theology.”

As we can see, women’s ordination really doesn’t matter all that much in the ACNA, because, as the Archbishop’s cathedral website says, “We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” And, “The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.”  

In other words, the Apostolic Ministry really doesn’t matter because the Anglican Church is just another Protestant denomination formed in the 16th century.  The same can be said for Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order — those concepts are, after all, for Catholics and are of little interest to Evangelical Protestants. As Fr. Nalls has written, “As a self-identified Evangelical Protestant (with a Zwinglian sacramental theology), clearly, Foley does not intend to ordain Catholic clergy anyway.”

Fr. Nalls closes his article by saying, “I am sure there will be howls that I lack charity…  Surely I am a weak man and, unlike St. Paul, I don’t think I can stand being shipwrecked yet again. And surely, shipwreck will result for Anglo-Catholics on the rocks and shoals of Foley…er…Folly Beach.”

You can read the entire article here:

Sailing Off Foley..er…Folly Beach


BISHOP SAMUEL SEAMANS

If any of my readers think that I am being inaccurate or exaggerating in what I am writing, or that Fr. Charles Nalls was being uncharitable in what he has written, I invite you to contact Fr. Samuel Seamans, rector of St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas.

You may remember Fr. Samuel Seamans as Bishop Samuel Seamans. Before entering the Orthodox Church as a Western Rite priest, Fr. Samuel was an ACNA bishop and a member of the ACNA College of Bishops. He was part of the inner workings of the ACNA, knows the diverse theological perspectives of its bishops, and all about the smorgasbord of incompatible perspectives found in the ACNA. You can listen to an interview of Fr. Samuel with Quad Cities Anglican Radio here:


You can also contact him directly. Fr. Samuel welcomes direct contacts from concerned traditional Anglicans. You can reach him by phone at: (870) 421-2986, or by email at: samseamans@hotmail.com

SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

Catholic Anglicans need to quit kidding themselves.  The ACNA is nothing more than a mainline Protestant denomination. Archbishop Foley Beach’s cathedral website describes the Church as “an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” As far as its roots are concerned, his website points to a genesis in the 16th century: “The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.” 

The Orthodox Church considers the ACNA to be a Protestant ecclesial community. Rome has exactly the same perspective. When one’s own primate identifies his church as, “an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition” and both Orthodoxy and Rome concur, it seems impossible to seriously argue that it is a “branch” of the Catholic Church.

For many, the answer will be to hunker down and do nothing while quietly grumbling, out of the fear of risking salary, benefits and housing, or perhaps an unwillingness to lay aside a purple shirt. After all, Catholic-minded clergy can still wear copes, swing censors and claim to be Catholic priests in the ACNA — but then again they could also do that in the Episcopal Church. Their perspective is welcome in the “smorgasbord of perspectives” in this “very diverse group," but then again, there are also priestesses in the ACNA wearing copes, swinging censers and claiming to be priests, just as there are in the Episcopal Church, and their perspective is equally welcome. It really doesn’t matter though, it will all be an illusion. It is impossible to be a Catholic in a Protestant Church. Being a Catholic is not a matter of personal belief, church party, diocese, vestments or ritual, it is a matter of being a member of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church built by Jesus Christ Himself.

For some, the solution seems to be yet another split and a new “reconfiguration.” For others, it may be the Anglican Continuum. Another split will only add to the alphabet soup of traditional Anglicanism and will in the end solve nothing. Many of the same problems will haunt any new and much smaller body. The Church is much more than a host of small, struggling, and unrecognized splinter groups. The Catholic Church cannot be denominated. A new configuration will still be a man-made organization, and will not be recognized as a Catholic Church by anyone.

The Anglican Continuum is not the answer either. Many joined the ACNA to escape the divisions, petty rivalries, personal fiefdoms and marginalization of the Anglican Continuum. The Continuum today is badly divided, graying, and is much smaller and myopic than it was in the early 1980s. It has zero influence in American society and few Americans even know that it exists. 

Playing jurisdictional musical chairs while the Titanic slips away into the sea will not solve the problems faced by Catholic Anglicans. The Anglican Continuum is going the way of the Non-jurors, and will one day be just an interesting footnote in Church history. 

There is and can only be, “One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” according to the Nicene Creed. One means one. It cannot mean three, and it certainly cannot mean a bevy of splinter groups. Catholic means Catholic. It does not mean a smorgasbord of perspectives. Faith and Order matters. The Church must be Orthodox, possessing both Correct Doctrine and Correct Worship.

The Church of which Christ is the Head cannot be divided any more than Christ Himself can be divided. A new Church cobbled together by even the most well-meaning of men will never be anything more than a human institution, a human organization. Only Christ could build His Church, and He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Isn’t it time we took Him at His word? Catholic Anglicans need to rediscover and embrace that Church.

There are but two choices for Catholic-minded Anglicans: the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Roman Church. For Anglo-papalists there is the Ordinariate. For those Catholic Anglicans who seek to hold the Faith of the “undivided” Church there is the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church. Those are the choices, the only real choices. 

With the restoration of the Western Rite in the Orthodox Church and the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate in the Roman Church, there is no longer any place for an independent Anglican Church. There is no longer any reason for its existence. Therefore, it should be obvious why God is not preserving it.

While there are two choices for Catholic Anglicans, there is really only one solution. The solution is to complete the circle.

COMPLETING THE CIRCLE

There is a place for Catholic-minded traditional Anglicans, and that is in the Orthodox Catholic Church. It was the home of their Celtic and English forebears in the Faith and it is their natural home.

Anglicans now make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and there are hundreds of Orthodox clergy who are former Anglicans in America alone. They are everywhere, and serve in both the Eastern and Western Rites. I am one of them. In my own community there are nine Orthodox priests. Of the nine, six are converts, and of the six converts, five are former Anglicans. When I am asked, “Where have all the traditional Anglicans gone?” My answer is always the same: To the Orthodox Church!

At the time of the Great Schism in AD 1054, the Church in the British Isles remained Orthodox. That is a fact of history. This stand for the Orthodox Faith led to the papal sanctioned Norman Invasion in 1066. The Norman Invasion was promoted as a crusade to bring an “erring” [meaning Orthodox] English Church under Roman authority. With the Norman Conquest, all but one of the English bishops were imprisoned and replaced by Norman usurpers, and the Church was forced into an uneasy and often stormy relationship with Rome that lasted nearly five centuries. 

The English Reformation which began in 1534, was very different from the Protestant Reformation on the Continent. In England the bishops themselves led the reform, with the goal of restoring the Faith and Order of the “undivided” Church. After five centuries of separation mistakes and missteps were bound to be made and they were, but also progress. The goal of restoring the Faith and Order of the undivided Church was advanced by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, the Non-Jurors of the 18 century, the Oxford movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Continuing Anglican Movement of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. Today, many traditional Anglicans stand at the very door of the Orthodox Church. The good news is that the goal of the English Reformation and the Vision Glorious of the Oxford movement have been fulfilled. The circle can be completed. You can come home again.

My former ACNA parish and I celebrated our fifth Easter as a Western Rite Orthodox parish this year and we could not be happier. We have preserved the fullness of our Celtic and English cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We have lost nothing and gained everything.

Today there are Western Rite parishes and monastic communities in the Patriarchates of Moscow (the world’s largest with 164,000,000 members), Antioch (where the disciples were first called Christians), and in Europe in the Patriarchates of Romania and Serbia, with the Western Rite Communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) being the largest, most wide-spread and fastest growing. Eastern Rite or Western Rite, the Orthodox Church speaks with one voice in Faith and Morals. We are unchanged and unchanging. 

Unlike with Rome, traditional Anglicans are not seen as wayward children by the Orthodox Church. They are seen as long lost brethren. Remember, the Church in the British Isles remained Orthodox in 1054, and was forcibly separated from the East by the Norman Conquest in 1066. But you do not have to remain separated. You can complete the circle. You can be restored to the family. You are wanted, and will be welcomed with love and open arms. 

AN IMPORTANT VIDEO DOCUMENTARY

In July of this year an excellent, professionally produced, half hour documentary on Western Rite Orthodoxy was released. It is called The Orthodox West. It follows a Continuing Anglican bishop and two priests on their journey to becoming Western Rite priests in the Orthodox Church. It is informative, heartwarming and inspiring. I hope that you will view it and share it with others.  Perhaps their journey will become yours. We love being Orthodox. This documentary will explain why.


In October of this year the 2017 ROCOR Western Rite Conference was held in Wappinger Falls, New York. It was a wonderful Conference, full of blessings and hope for the future. You can read my personal report about the Conference here:


AN INVITATION

The doors of the Orthodox Church are wide open and the welcome mat is out for traditional Anglican clergy, laity, congregations and monastic communities who are committed to the fullness of the Apostolic Faith. The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and you can have a part in it. Instead of being the last of yesterday you can be the first of tomorrow. Instead of being marginalized and merely tolerated, you can be mainstream. Instead of struggling to merely keep the Faith alive and the pilot light burning, you can be part of a great revival and renaissance, a New Springtime for the Church. All you need do is complete the circle. 

I would be happy to help. Our Vicar General, Fr. Mark Rowe, is a former Anglican Archdeacon, and he would be happy to help. You are not alone. We care, and are here for you.

For more information visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities: https://www.rocor-wr.org


Call me at (402) 573-6558, or email me at venovak@hughes.net.