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Sarum and Me

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I now have two brothers in the priesthood for whom the Sarum Rite is very much “in their blood”. Of course, in the ACC, we don’t have explicit provision to use the Rite – it is not one of the Rites prescribed by our Canons. And so, my brothers have to restrict their usage of the Rite in order to be obedient to that Canon. This is something that marks out Anglican Catholicism, and indeed all true Continuing Anglicans (i.e. those that are derived from the Congress of St Louis in 1977) from many other independent bodies and jurisdictions. We are bound by Canons so that we do truly continue and faithfully preach the Faith once delivered unto the saints. Occasionally, this means that we come up against things that ought to be allowed but aren’t. The way forward is not rebellion or political machination but prayerful obedience, reasoned discussion, and humble waiting. Canons can be changed but not without the discerned will of God Almighty.
I have been brought up on the English Missal and the use of the Gregorian Rite. I’m not a big fan of the 1549 Canon of the Mass and I leave the Eucharistic Canon of the 1928 BCP to my American brothers for whom it has greater resonance and importance. Yet, the question ought to be asked, “what do you think about Sarum?”
I am not familiar with it, but I am beginning to look at it and study it through Pearson’s translation of the Sarum Missal. This has already introduced me to hidden gems such as the verses by St Augustine on the Priesthood which I have quoted in a separate post below. In many ways it is the Gregorian Rite but with marked differences such as liturgical colours, hanging pyxides, and vesting prayers. There is a rather rude joke bandied about by afficionadi of the English Missal that any deviation from Catholic practice is labelled “Sarum”. This is rather unfair. Of course to learned hands such as Fr Chadwick, I am a mere novice, a babe in arms as I gaze at the Rite with fresh eyes.
Already I am struck by the fact that it ought to be allowed by our Canons, and I pray that this may be a decision that the whole Church agrees in due course. It is very much the basis of the Prayer Book in its prayers and conventions, although Archbishop Cranmer and his team were clearly trying to make prayer common and thus unify all of the different Rites such as that of Hereford, York, Bangor et al. It is a Rite that is certainly influenced by British prelates such as St Anselm and Archbishop John Peckham who is responsible for, among other things, restricting the Eucharist to those who have been confirmed in a council of 1281. If the Sarum Rite is that which is being celebrated in 1543, then Anglican Catholics have good grounds for taking it for their own.
Would I ever celebrate using the Sarum Rite? Not until I had permission to do so. My duty is to my Church and her good before my own philosophical considerations. I remember saying the Hail Mary for the first time at University and I remember feeling a bit naughty for doing so because I was going against my upbringing and culture. Yet, it became more natural as I thought about it and now it is as daily a prayer as any other one might expect. I suspect I would feel the same with the Sarum Rite. I am unfamiliar with it but I do want to encourage its study and usage among those who can. My hope is that its essential Englishness would mark it out as being precisely the Anglicanism that we wish to Continue.

St Augustine on the Priesthood

A timely reminder to the Catholic Church of all stripes.

O venerable brothers, ye priests of God above,
I pray ye hear the message I speak to you in love;
Ye heralds of the Highest, ye shining lights of day.
Who beam with hope enduring, and charity's pure ray.
 
Ye do to God your service in His own holy shrine;
And Christ hath called you branches, Who is Himself the Vine;
O see ye be not barren, nor bitter fruit ye give,
If with the Root that bears you ye would for ever live.
 
The Catholic religion yours is it to uphold.
The world’s true light and ransom, the shepherds of the fold;
The walls of Jacob’s dwelling, the art of Life who teach;
Who judge the Church in meekness, who to the nations preach.
 
The Catholic religion is lost if ye betray;
The salt that lacks its savour serves but to cast away;
The path of life is doubtful unless the light shine clear;
Except the Shepherd watcheth, the robber draweth near.
 
The care of God's own Vineyard is given unto you.
That with the streams of doctrine its soil ye should bedew;
The thorns and choking thistles should root from out the ground.
That so the faith of Jesus may flourish and abound.
 
Ye are the patient oxen who tread the threshing-floor,
The wheat and chaff with caution to part for evermore:
The laymen frail and simple, and all inconstant still,
Have you for an ensample to shew them good or ill.
 
Whatever they shall notice is grievous unto you,
That doubtless they will argue they must with care eschew;
Whatever they shall see you by holy deeds proclaim,
That they will reckon lawful, and free from sin or shame.
 
Since ye have been appointed the shepherds of the sheep,
Oh, see ye be not slothful, nor silent watch ye keep;
Be loud and plain the warnings ye raise when harm is nigh—
The wolf sees folds in safety with jealous rav’ning eye.
 
A threefold food the faithful have need of day by day—
The Body of the Saviour, to keep their life for aye;
The Word of due instruction, the which discreetly give;
The earthly meats that perish, whereby their bodies live.
 
The honour of your office unclouded let it be, 
And give to those that seek them the gifts of grace all free; 
For should you ever venture the rights of faith to sell, 
Ye seek Gehazi's sentence, with lepers doomed to dwell.
 
Baptize the people freely, and freely them confess; 
The Eucharist give freely, to save them and to bless; 
As Christ's Apostles taught ye, ye are all things to try. 
The good alone that proveth that are ye to hold by.
 
Be all your conversation in holiness maintained; 
Your conscience clear and quiet, your lives in virtue trained; 
Your manners framed to order, your hearts devoid of guile, 
Let no corrupt indulgence your saintliness defile.
 
Let no disdainful temper your noble souls depress; 
Be dignified in manner, and meetly grave in dress; 
No thoughts of filthy lucre permit your hearts to seize. 
Ye to whose care are given the heavenly Kingdom's keys.
 
Be brief in speech, lest haply to evil ye be led. 
By over-freely talking man’s vanity is fed; 
The words which ye shall utter must be concise and few, 
For ever on much speaking sin waiteth to ensue.
 
Be patient, full of kindness, and sober, pious, wise; 
Be upright, single-minded, let pureness light your eyes; 
Be hospitable, humble, see that the simple learn; 
Oh, comfort all in sorrow, from sin the sinner turn.
 
I pray ye so be able the Shepherd’s charge to keep, 
And living in the Spirit, to feed the Saviour’s sheep, 
That when your fleshly garment at length ye lay aside, 
The Lord a robe eternal of glory may provide.

Running from the inescapable on the Jericho-Jerusalem Road

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
 
The photograph shows a man bloodied, bruised and nearly dead on the Jericho-Jerusalem Road. The policeman shows it to the suspect in custody. “You did this, didn’t you?”
 
The suspect realises that he cannot resist any further. “Yes, I beat that man up, stripped him and robbed him.”
 
[PAUSE]
 
In the courtroom, the judge pronounces sentence. “You have been found guilty of grievous bodily harm and robbery. The Law says that you will be taken from this place hence to a place of execution where you will be hanged by the neck until you are dead.”
 
The convict goes white and loses his composure. Amid the flurry of his tears, he sobs his remorse, his apologies to the victim and declares his repentance.
 
But the Law is the Law and by that Law, this man must die.
 
What are you going to do about it?
 
[PAUSE]
 
Our first cry is to change the Law and abolish the Death Penalty. If we don’t like a law then we seek to change it because it might be outdated, or too strict, or doesn’t take circumstances into consideration. But on what basis do we want that Law changed? Based upon our own feelings? If we change a Law to be compassionate, then we might open it up for abuse.
 
Besides, now that this man has been convicted under this law, a change in the law cannot pardon him.
 
But what if this man robbed out of desperation? Is this not a reasonable circumstance?
 
The law says all those who nearly kill someone to rob him shall be hanged. He is convicted of this, and so he shall die.
 
We could rescue him. But that wouldn’t change anything. He is still guilty of grievous bodily harm and robbery. Our rescue wouldn’t change that, nor would we be acting within the law ourselves because we would be putting ourselves above the law.
 
There is nothing we can do. 
 
The Law is a ass.
 
[PAUSE]
 
Except the Law is not a ass. It’s there for a clear purpose. We know that beating someone nearly to death is deeply wrong and to have a law against it with a prescribed punishment will send a clear message to stop people committing this crime. There will always be debates about the Law; there will always be miscarriages of justice; there will always be occasions where we think that the Law has got it wrong; but without it, there would be a complete breakdown of society. We ought to thank God for the Law because it gives us a clear structure to how we can and should live with other human beings.
 
What the Law cannot do is save someone from their punishment. It’s utterly unable to stop the crime from happening in the first place.
 
In many ways, our convicted robber is as helpless as the man he beat up on the Jerusalem-Jericho Road. The Police and the Judge pass by on the other side of the road, just as the Priest and Levite do so, unable to help being bound by the Law.
 
So what can be done?
 
[PAUSE]
 
If the sentence is carried out, then the man dies and the Law can no longer touch hum. All the convict needs to do is to die. So he needs to be saved by someone who has power over life and death. The Law doesn’t, but God does. God can raise the dead! Talk to Jairus’ daughter. Talk to Lazarus. And especially, talk to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Our robber confesses, repents and reaches out to Our Lord in humility and utter poverty. Yes, he is hanged for that is the Law, and yet Christ raises him, bringing him purified unto the Throne of Grace to dwell with Him in Heaven. Christ does save the robber. Today he is with Christ in Paradise, can we wish him any better?
 
[PAUSE]
 
The wages of sin is death. We cannot escape that. We die because of sin in the world, both our own sins and the sins that affect us indirectly. Yet, at our death, sin cannot touch us if we are raised through the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We are baptised into Him and so we are baptised into His death and His resurrection from the Dead.
 
We should not despise the Law. Where it is unjust, we must change it, but we can never escape it. Rather we should seek to see it fulfilled in our lives by clinging to Christ, trusting Him worshipping Him and obeying Him. That is how we can go on the run from the Law and actually escape it!

Time, Truth and St Bartholomew

Friday, August 24, 2018

Today I observe five years as a priest in the Church of God. My circumstances have changed somewhat over such a short period of time. Having been a parish priest, I am now trying to be a missionary priest setting up a congregation from scratch. One thing that has been a constant throughout my ministry and indeed my life is a search for Truth.

Indeed, truth (or lack of) marks out the godly from the ungodly. I know full well that any church that claims to be in communion with a patriarchal see and posts obviously photoshopped pictures of their presiding bishop against the Oecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is at least being deliberately misleading. If the truth has to be covered up in order to be a "church", then it is not of Christ who would have the truth proclaimed from the rooftops. This is why I cannot believe that James Atkinson-Wake, David Bell or Alexandria Demetrius (all the same person) is heading a Christian Church but rather something that appears to be an outfit designed for him to exercise his own fantasies of spiritual power.

This may shock people in that I am not usually this forthright, but I do believe I have a duty to warn people away from his group for the good of their souls.

If you want to find a true church, make sure that the church at least tries to tell the truth. There may be inconsistencies from time to time but an honest approach is the godly approach.

That can be difficult to find. Both the CofE and the Church of Rome are currently under scrutiny about the terrible actions of priests who should have known better and the just-as-terrible actions of bishops who have tried to cover them up. This will not do. If Pope Francis is intent on stamping this toxicity within his communion, then he and we must be prepared to hear some horrible things to come and also see some action to bring evil out into the open for recognition and banishment.

The only way that evil can be exposed is if we have a consistent mechanism to root it out. It is called the Truth.

I find it interesting how Post-Modernity and SJWs claim that truth is relative and diverse opinions and lifestyles must be not only tolerated but encouraged. They see any attempt at objectivity as being bigoted or narrow-minded which is a cardinal sin. Clearly they cannot tolerate anyone who would choose to be bigoted and narrow-minded.

I think it is Rawls who says that the liberal is justified in not tolerating that which is truly evil. However, to do that we surely need to be able to say not only what is evil, but a coherent society must be able to agree on what is evil. If there is truly one objective evil, then there must not only be an objective moral value not to commit that evil, but also an objective Truth that exposes that evil.

If there is one objective Truth then it can only have its origins beyond human thought. For me, this is further evidence of God. If there is Evil, then there is Good and this can only come from beyond our understanding. It is a transcendental Truth which means it can't be self-evident.

Because we all agree that the abuse of minors by priests is vile, this in itself forces us to call to God for justice. And the fate of these priests at the hand of God will be terrifying.

The Truth is terrifying. My friend Archbishop Jerome recently expressed that the truth of being a bishop means always feeling the weight of the Gospel on his back. I suspect Bishop Damien is the same. It's bad enough being a priest knowing that your human fallibility can damage others as well as endanger your soul.

If the legend is true, then St Bartholomew would prefer being skinned alive than betraying the truth of the Gospel. Again this must weigh heavily upon the minds of good bishops. However, the good bishop will always find himself supported by the willing and grateful prayers of faithful Christians who find true grace at his hands. It is those who put effort into seeking the Truth and helping others in their search to find it who will be rewarded by the Divine Smile. It is on this search that I base my walk with God. I am no bishop, thank God! Yet I know that if I betray that truth, I lose everything including my own soul.

I beg your prayers and also beg them for James Atkinson-Wake and his group that they may return to the truth - rather than preach half-truths - and be saved!

Assuming the title

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Today is the Octave Day of the Assumption and, following the Monastic Breviary, I continue to observe octaves which have largely been abolished in the Roman Church. To be fair, today is observed as the Queenship of Mary in the Roman Church, so octave days seem to be kept vistigially.

I recently had cause to reply to a Protestant who was probing the ACC for it's beliefs with some well-rehearsed versicles about Catholics worshipping Mary. Of course, I therefore gave the appropriate response that we don't worship Mary, but rather the son she bore. I also gave the standard piece of logic:

1) Mary is the mother of Jesus.
2) Jesus is God.
3) Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.
4) Jesus is King of Heaven.
5) The mother of a king is a queen (properly the Queen Mother)
6) Mary is Queen of Heaven but only through being the Queen Mother.

My Protestant replied that my argument created a "strained outlook" and yet did not argue further. I really don't see how he could as this wonderful old argument is logically sound, based on true premises and therefore a completely valid and sound argument. I guess my Protestant correspondent (who exists as a real person unlike Mrs John Bruce's "regular correspondent" who is probably an extension of himself) is a republican desiring to strip Heaven of its noblility in the same way that I would like the Civil List pruned of all but the reigning monarch if the UK must me a monarchy.

As usual, Protestants do make excellent points which must be considered carefully and heard fully. Is Heaven going to be an aristocracy just like Earth in which titles are given to privileged families?

No. I don't think so. Our Lady is indeed Queen by being directly in God's immediate family as we understand the term, yet she also gets there by merit. She does something. She cooperates with the Grace wherewith she is filled and therefore finds herself Queen of Heaven.

As Fr Chadwick and I have been discussing lately about those with purple fever, Titles mean absolutely nothing in themselves. They hold no honour in themselves because they can be held by people who can be completely dishonourable. Think of the title "Pope" and compare your favourite sainted pontiff with your least favourite despotic pontiff. Thus "Pope" confers no moral character on the individual. In honouring the Pope, we are recognising the office and not the person. The same is true for any other position. We cannot own our titles any more than we can own the adjectives that describe us or would want to describe us.

A title confers nothing but reminds the one who holds it of their responsibility. My secular title of "Doctor" is only really of any meaning when I am operating in mathematical education where I have a responsibility to educate a student in the truth of mathematics. My ecclesiastical title of "Father" is only of value when I am actualising the pastoral and sacramental responsibility that God has commanded me in my ordination. 

Should I fail? Then I damage the Church as so many priests have done recently. Those who have abused others in any way have divorced themselves from the title they bear and they will be judged by humanity and God alike. I pray that every single abusive priest may be confronted with the truth and weep for it so that he might stand some chance of forgiveness through true contrition and repentance. Until they do so, may they undergo the punishment of the secular law so that those whom they have abused may know that their complaint has been heard and that their wounds may be healed, but I do pray that they would receive healing from the Divine Father Who truly loves them. 
These abusive priests have damaged the title of "Father" because they have appropriated it for themselves and abused it in order to abuse others.

However we look at it, and this might prove difficult for some Heaven is an aristocracy. Yet the privileged family who have earned the privilege of titles is the family of God. If we are indeed adopted children of God, then that is a title that we bear, not because of us but because of Him. We cannot be a child of God if there is no God, just as God the Father could not exist without God the Son, for how can someone be a father without a child? If we are destined to be in Heaven with God, then we are destined for the title of "Saint" which, again, only takes true meaning from our relationship with God and not of ourselves.

A bishop can only be one who does all that a bishop should do. An Archdeacon only bears the title because he fulfils the requisite actions of the office. Once you pass on, the title passes to your successor and you have no further right to it. We do not possess the title, the title possesses us, or it should do if we're being true to ourselves.

Our Lady bears the title of Queen of Heaven for Eternity because this can never pass from her. Thus the honour and deference that we show her are acts of piety and acknowledgement of the Truth of God's Goodness. And she fulfils her title too, for she prays for all the children of God to the Child she bore.

Hail Holy Queen!

Assuming the Transfiguration

Sunday, August 19, 2018






Sermon for the Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption of Our Lady

What must it be like to be assumed into Heaven?

What do you think?

[PAUSE]

It's easier for us to picture Hell than it is Heaven. The reason is quite simple. All we ever know of our joys and happiness on this earth is fleeting. What we enjoy doing most either stops, becomes boring, or exhausts us. How can we imagine Heaven if all the joy we know fades away? Even memories of a happy time in our lives fade and leave us sad rather than happy.

Does this mean that Heaven is wishful thinking? Surely nothing exists just because we wish it into existence. That way lies magic and madness.

[PAUSE]

August gives us two reasons why we should believe that God wants us to be with Him Eternally. The first is the Feast of the Transfiguration in which Peter, James and John see something of the glory of God naked before them. For them the veil that stops us from seeing true reality is lifted and we see Him as He really is, or at least something that indicates to us that Our Lord is more than a man.

The second is a simple fact. Unlike any of the disciples, there are no relics of the body of Our Lady. Yes, our cathedral in Kent boasts a fragment of her veil, but there are simply no relics of her dead body in the Church. It points to a possibility, a hope, something we might choose not to believe. Perhaps, just perhaps the Church is right: Our Lady's body was taken to Heaven after her death so that she might not see corruption.

Remember, Our Lady is just human like us. There is no Divinity that she possesses like her son. While our bodies may die and corrupt, we still have a hope in God. If she can be assumed into Heaven, then Heaven is a fit place for human beings to be once they are made perfect by God. If human beings can be allowed to catch a glimpse big God's true glory, if we can be allowed to gaze upon His face in Our Lord Jesus, then we can do something more than we can imagine.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord and the Assumption of Our Lady together point to the possibility of Eternity with God for all human beings who will believe in Christ - in His Incarnation, Death upon the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension. Together, they point to our bodies being freed from their aches and pains, our hearts free from guilt and sorrow, our eyes free from tears and blindness, and our souls free from sin and death that we may indeed dwell with God forever in joy truly unimaginable.

[PAUSE]

Let the world deride or pity us for our "naive" hope and wishful thinking. That world will only corrupt and pass away . We can see that happening before our very eyes. If we believe God, then we do know the truth which will set us free to be with Him in Eternity.

Perceiving Hate

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Apparently, according to the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, a hate crime is "any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person's disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity".

Of course, we must remember that in the UK at least, we operate to the spirit of the law and not merely the written word. We also have to interpret law in a way that is reasonable to a general, indifferent and rational member of the public thus eliminating as much bias as possible.

Using these ideas, it ought to be straightforward to identify a hate crime through perceiving motives based on hostility and prejudice. Most of the time this is reasonable. We can identify hatred through the visceral reactions of those who meet the object of their hatred. We hear name-calling, see houses covered in graffiti, businesses set alight - all because of an unreasoned hatred of people whose skin has a hue that is darker than pale or whose voice contains an accent that does not originate from these isles.

We have to understand that hatred of people is always unreasoned, or at least poorly reasoned. In Psalm cxxxix, after proclaiming the utter transcendence of God coming into contact with little humanity, the Psalmist shockingly cries upon God to slay the wicked whom he hates right sore. This might suggest that we must necessarily hate wicked people whom we them should go out and eradicate in some kind of Biblical extermination. But that is not the way forward. We need to read the psalm carefully.

 19 Wilt thou not slay the wicked, O God? Depart from me, ye blood-thirsty men.
 20 For they speak unrighteously against thee, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

Who is to slay the wicked? The Psalmist recognises that the prerogative to slay the wicked is God alone, not him. It's as if he knows that he is incompetent to judge what is wicked. Clearly, he knows that Evil exists and he hates it because where Evil is, God is not. Of course, the Old Testament is filled with instances of men and women being the instruments of God's judgement and slaying wicked folk like Eglon, Sisera, Haman and Jezebel. Even then, we cannot possibly comment with any certainty on their Eternal condition because that decision lies with the Almighty. Death is not a barrier for God's judgement. However, Death is no barrier for God's mercy nor for His Love.

The Psalmist wants the end of Evil and the cause of Evil. I would have thought that this would be common to every human being, really. We should not tolerate Evil in any form. However while human beings possess the faculty to tell Good from Evil, they have the tendency to allow this faculty to be corrupted by their desire to define what is Good and Evil based on their their false perceptions. This perception is now critical when it comes to defining what a hate crime is.

Of course, an accusation of hate crime needs to take into account three perceptions:

The perception of the accused as to the alleged hated characteristic of the victim;

The perception of the alleged victim as to whether the action of the accused arises from hatred;

The perception of the indifferent observer as to whether the perceptions of those involved are reasonable and accurate.

For example, in Ruritania, extending a hand has long been associated with stabbing someone and is thus a gross insult communicating the message "I wish you were dead!". On a state visit to Ruritania, Donald Trump offers his hand to the Grand Duchess for a handshake. Has a hate crime been committed?

You can see the headlines, can't you?

Trump declares war on Ruritania! 
Trump calls fake news on reports of insult to Ruritanian Royals 
Trump gaffe cools Ruritanian relations 
Archaic Etiquette to blame for Ruritanian crisis

Is there a hate crime? Surely there are lots of different perceptions here. The only thing that is objective is that Trump extended his hand to the Grand Duchess. What needs to follow is not a frenzy of media speculation muddying the waters and thus muddying the eyes of perception, but rather an immediate clearing of the air and a search for mutual understanding.

If Trump intended a friendly gesture which, to be honest, comes quite naturally in the West, then the perception of hatred is quite unfounded. However, how do we know what is truly intended? Actions speak louder than words, don't they?

The  foundation of Western justice is the assumption that we are innocent until proven guilty. It's an extension of the principle of Charity in which we assume the best of our brothers and sisters until they demonstrate otherwise, and even then beyond reasonable doubt. This is a Christian principle in which we afford in our neighbours the same generosity that we would wish for ourselves. Of course, in this age we tend to divorce the second commandment "love thy neighbour as thyself" from the first, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God." The second commandment is not something we can base our morality on alone because we can choose not only how to love, but also what "love" means.

In the Ruritanian Crisis above, the principle of Charity allows us to defuse a situation.

Yet, we know full well that this is not going to be allowed to happen. Instead, Trump will be tried by media, like Boris Johnson, Sir Cliff Richard and Bishop George Bell rather than in the proper places of the law courts and debating chambers of informed and unbiased democracy.

Of course, the public need to be kept informed and allowed to cultivate an opinion. What seems to be happening, though is that these opinions are being founded on sensationalism and popularity rather than by reason, careful consideration, and awareness of our own tendencies to confirmation bias. It is this process that needs to be taught carefully.

As a Christian, I am accused of hating Science. As a Catholic, I am accused of worshipping Mary. As a non-Roman Catholic, I am accused of not having valid orders. As an Anglican Catholic, I am accused of hating women priests, homosexual peopke and transgender folk. All of these are false assumptions that will colour people's perceptions of me.

I cannot and will not marry two people of the same sex, not because I am homophobic but rather because I believe that to do so would not be an act of love to them from me, but rather a means of pushing them away from God by giving affirmation to what is not possible and not what God wants. In not marrying such a couple, I am offering them an opportunity to see things as I believe God would have them. I am willing their good by offering them something better than the world can give. By accepting same-sex marriage, they are settling for second best which is just not good enough when the best is within reach.

Is this prejudice on my part? Given that I have reached my position through careful thought and prayer, I don't really see how I can be charged. My belief in God and my desire to worship Him necessitates my obedience to what He says is Good and Evil because Good and Evil have their definition in relation to His character. He ordains marriage between men and women as a place of protection as a family.

Likewise, I believe it to be an act of love to regard someone as they are rather than who they define themselves to be. Self-definition is an isolation from others through a restriction and control of language and communication. I don't accept that changing one's gender changes one's sex because I believe that, in rejecting God's creative capacity, one is swallowing a lie to the detriment of the good of all humanity.

I am a Christian which means that I believe it to be an issue of Eternal salvation to hold fast to Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God than accepting the prophecies of Mohammed. In so doing, I regard the Q'ran as being deficient in the truth and thus deceptive. Since I want everyone to be saved from Hell regardless as to who they are, I see it as a gross error of judgement to allow a deficient text to be read in Church.

Now I have said this, Society would accuse me of hate crimes on the grounds of homophobia, transphobia and islamophobia despite the fact that I hold my positions through a genuine regard for each human being on a level deeper than physical appearances and social constructions. This is because the idea of what is a reasonable perception in the definition of Hate Crime is being altered by social and political influence and is thus skewed away from seeing Good and Evil as being qualities that transcend any society.

I am not perfect and I have my biases as does everyone else. I do try to love my neighbour as myself, but I know that I fail. I pray to God that this failure is due to weakness and not malice. If it is the latter, may God show me and correct me accordingly. If I am weak, then I pray for strength in future. If I am to be judged hateful by Society on purely human understandings of Love, Hate, Good and Evil, then I must bear that judgement all the while praying for the Day of Judgement to put all things right.

In turn, I pray and urge everyone to seek the truth with reason and charity so that true hatred may be revealed and put away and that true Love may abound.

When is a Gospel not a Gospel?

Sermon for the eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Which Gospel does St Paul hand to you?

Matthew? Mark? Luke? John?

Perhaps it isn't one of those Gospels he hands to you. Perhaps it's the Gospel of St Peter? Never heard of it? Surely you have, it's the Gospel in which at the Resurrection,

"... three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them. And the heads of the two reached to heaven, but the head of him who was led by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, You have preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yes."

You don't remember that one?

Perhaps it's the Gospel of St Philip? That's the Gospel mentioned in the Da Vinci Code which supposedly proves that Our Lord was married to St Mary Magdalene.

You don't recognize these Gospels, do you?

Why not?

[PAUSE]

Simply speaking, these are not the Gospel which St Paul received. There area whole group of Gospels none of which are The Gospel: they are either fake, corrupted, or at best unreliable.

Very early on, the Church recognises that the only reliable Gospels are the ones we know today.

Of course, that doesn't stop people from saying that they are fake or false. Many modern scholars like to tear the Gospels to shreds to show that they are historically unreliable. If that were true, the debate would be settled by now with conclusive proof. The only real reason that they have to be suspicious are the Miracles of Christ. If miracles don't happen, then the Gospels must be wrong. But then, if a miracle were to happen how is it to be reported if all reports of miracles are automatically false?

[PAUSE]

St Paul receives the Gospel from eyewitnesses and from his own experience on the Damascus road, and he preserves it as best he can. It's clear that if he were to change that Gospel then no-one would ever recognise it. It is because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John preserve the truth that the Church knows that the Gospels of Peter and Philip aren't the results of the saints, nor are they true.

We may say that there are four Gospels, but really there is only one to which these four books bear witness to us over the centuries.

[PAUSE]

We, too, are charged with passing on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it has to be the same Gospel that has always been preached so that human beings can be saved from their sins and find Eternal Life with God. To change that Gospel in any way would be to distort the message that God has for us.

Sadly, many do. Many try to make Our Lord say things He has never said. Others try to make out that what was once described as sin has never been sinful. Others try to adapt the meaning of the Gospel to be politically correct.

[PAUSE]

We accept the true Gospel from the hands of St Paul and every single orthodox Christian who has lived and it is our job to pass it to those who come after. How can we do this if we do not read it? How can we do this if we do not understand it? Well, we just have to listen to those who have passed the Gospel onto us and be faithful.

Δημοσιοποίηση ονομάτων νεκρών θυμάτων

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Επειδή έχει δημιουργηθεί ένα ερώτημα για το αν είναι νόμιμη η δημοσιοποίηση ονομάτων των θυμάτων των πυρκαγιών, η απάντηση βρίσκεται στον αρ. 27 του Προοιμίου του Γενικού Κανονισμού Προστασίας Δεδομένων (#GDPR), όπου αναφέρεται το εξής:
"Ο παρών κανονισμός δεν εφαρμόζεται στα δεδομένα προσωπικού χαρακτήρα θανόντων. Τα κράτη μέλη μπορούν να προβλέπουν κανόνες για την επεξεργασία δεδομένων προσωπικού χαρακτήρα θανόντων". 
Οπότε ο #GDPR δεν ισχύει για τους θανόντες, αλλά η εθνική νομοθεσία μπορεί να προβλέψει διατάξεις. Η εθνική νομοθεσία είναι ο Ν.2472/1997, ο οποίος αναφέρει ότι "δεδομένα προσωπικού χαρακτήρα" είναι κάθε πληροφορία που αναφέρεται σε ένα φυσικό πρόσωπο, η ταυτότητα του οποίου είναι γνωστή ή μπορεί να προσδιοριστεί. 
Η έννοια του φυσικού προσώπου προσδιορίζεται από το άρθρο 35 του Αστικού Κώδικα:
"Το πρόσωπο αρχίζει να υπάρχει μόλις γεννηθεί ζωντανό και παύει να υπάρχει μετά το θάνατό του."
Αυτό σημαίνει ότι μετά τον θάνατο δεν υπάρχει (νομικά) πρόσωπο κι επομένως, οι πληροφορίες που αναφέρονται σε αυτό (π.χ. αποβίωσε τότε, υπ' αυτές τις συνθήκες κ.τ.λ.) δεν είναι "πληροφορία που αναφέρεται σε φυσικό πρόσωπο", άρα δεν είναι δεδομένα προσωπικού χαρακτήρα.

Για περισσότερη εμβάθυνση, βλ. Γνώμη 4/2007 της Ομάδας Εργασίας του άρθρου 29 της Οδηγίας 95/46, σελ. 26 επ. http://ec.europa.eu/.../opinion.../files/2007/wp136_el.pdf


The difference between hopping and jumping

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

One thing you might observe about Continuing Anglicans is that our membership occurs largely of people who have left another jurisdiction to join us. This is also true of many priests who for one reason or another seek to jump from their ship into our coracle.
 
The trouble is, those reasons do actually matter.
 
Fr Chadwick makes no apology for his wandering through several branches of the Catholic Church, and there is no reason why he should. His has been a choppy voyage and, at each stage, he has found himself at odds with the very reasons that those branches exist. One thing I have noticed about his Odyssey is that he has been seeking the Truth of Christ in His Church – something that resonates very strongly with me and leads us both on lonely furrows surrounded by those who want to define truth on their terms as if their will is absolute. This makes Fr Chadwick and myself extroverts despite the fact that our different autisms (probable in my case as I await diagnosis) render us very introvert. We know that while Christ is indeed within us, we can only ever seek Him from without or we risk worshipping a Christ that looks like our image in a mirror. We are extrovert in our search for Christ because we must turn outwards.
 
This means that we need a North Star – that can only be Christ Himself.
 
It also means that it is not easy for us to jump. It takes effort to realise that one is in the wrong place rather than just going through a bad patch. As I reflect on my time in the CofE, I realise that I should have jumped sooner save that I was still finding God’s truth as I ministered to the dwindling few who would tolerate my “fixed views” and “strict Anglo-Catholicism”. I found the Truth in their faith and, as they died or fell away from the CofE, that truth became dark, cold and lifeless surrounded by electronic keyboards and (female) Rural Deans with an agenda for “cleansing” the Church of Conservative Catholicism. While there’s life there’s hope, and where there is Christ’s Life, there is His hope.
 
And when He leaves, we must follow. That involves a jump, a summoning up of all our energy and resolve to leave a place which we once loved and once resonated with. We do it for no other reason than to answer the beckoning call of Christ. In my case, I jumped before really knowing where I was going, though in my heart of hearts, I had hoped to find a little coracle called the ACC and be pulled out of the choppy water. Fr Chadwick we found clinging to a rock slowly submerging as the tide increased.
 
The point is, we don’t jump lightly and certainly not to further our earthly walk. We jump when Christ bids us. We get out of the boat to walk on water only when Christ tells us that it’s safe to do so.
 
And then there are those who hop.
 
I have noticed that some priests approach the ACC in order to be re-ordained. More often than not, this sort of priest does so to collect a stream of valid ordinations. This shows such lack of faith in the body that ordained us. In the ACC, we have nothing to prove: our orders are valid and they are meant for service to the laity who thirst for the Grace of Christ. As ACC priests, we have a true ministry to perform and hard work to do. Our titles are meaningless in themselves and serve only to demonstrate the nature of the work that we do. In fact our titles hold us to account. If we are an archdeacon then we will only be accepted by Christ if we have served as an archdeacon to the best of our fragile and fallible abilities. If we are a bishop, or an abbot, then we will be held to account for every single member of our Diocese. It’s not a pleasant thought.

It bothers neither me nor my bishop that Fr Anthony is technically a bishop. He doesn't see himself as such and seeks only service as a priest in our Diocese and we believe him. We know that all who like to "remind" us of the fact are trying to make trouble and are exhibiting an unkindness that is designed to hurt rather than edify.
 
And yet, there are those who just want the purple, the mitre, the red buttons and the title of “Most Reverend Lord.” Well, let them have it. They will have to answer to Christ for it. They hop and it is of little energy. A hope is half-hearted in comparison with a jump because it is done without danger, without faith and without realising the importance of what the jump entails. Hopping occurs when there are queeny hissy fits between clergy with result in one of them walking out and shutting the door behind them declaring, “I am the One True Church!” God sees and will laugh them to scorn.
 
In the ACC, we have Boards of Ministry whose job it is to advise our Bishops as to the suitability of anyone who puts themselves forward to ministry in our Church. They can and will weed out all those who are “jurisdiction hopping” for their own ends because that will do nothing for the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ – indeed it is best that we do turn them down for the sake of their own souls!
 
We have a lot to do in the ACC: we need labourers for the harvest and welcome all those who have gathered themselves together in a true jump. We are tiny and far from perfect, but we are all fixed upon the glory of Christ Jesus and seek to do our best to serve Him in His people.

Episcopal Stresses


I am saddened to hear that my bishop, the Rt Rev Damien Mead, has been under the weather again, and provide a little light relief for him in the form of one of my substandard attempts at cartoonery in the hope that he will feel better soon.

I am sure he would appreciate your prayers and support.


Tears over clutter

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sermon for the tenth Sunday after Trinity
 
We see Our Lord weeping over Jerusalem because He knows what’s coming and why. That great Old Testament City is to be completely ruined. The temple will be destroyed. All that the prophets, priests and kings of the Old Testament had worked for, lived for and died for will be obliterated until, as we see it now, we can only glimpse at what it once was.
 
And we see this happening today. Church buildings are being converted into flats or themed nightclubs. The great Cathedrals are being used for secular events and even for those of non-Christian religions. We see the clergy living “alternative lifestyles” which seems to be a phrase that means “not in keeping with the commandments of God”. We hear of the Q’ran being read from the lectern rather than the Bible.
 
Is the Lord weeping over His Church?
 
[PAUSE]
 
It’s easy to admit that the state of the Church is always somewhat distressing. We learn of the latest scandal and fear what will become of us. Will the Church, robbed of its true magnificence and authority, die right out?
 
There are those who cling to the magnificent robes and rituals. There are whole “churches” which exist so that everyone can wear bishop’s robes and be referred to as “Your Grace”. There are those which exist to keep the Church “pure” from liturgical and aesthetic abuses. There are Churches which will go on pride marches and declare that God’s love means that we can love whomsoever we want without realising that they’ve confused “love” with at best a form of friendship mixed with lust.
 
Is the Lord weeping over His Church?
 
[PAUSE]
 
We could be depressed. We could be tempted to weep. We can even try and scrape together the dust of the Church that we believed we knew just to try and keep it alive.  However, we needn’t be so depressed. There is always hope.
 
This isn’t a vain empty hope like hoping the barbecue will be a success even though the BBC has forecast rain. We have a true hope – a trust in God that the Church will always survive.
 
You see, Jerusalem is ruined because she fails to recognise the Lord at His visitation. And that’s the key here.
 
We have to be in a position to recognise the Lord when He visits us. We can only do that if we are faithful to what He teaches us in the Bible. We will recognise Him because He says what He has always said.
 
If a man dressed as William Shakespeare reads, “to be or not to be” and says, “I never wrote that!” then it’s clear that either he is not William Shakespeare, or we were wrong to think that he wrote Hamlet.
 
If a man dressed in a white robe with a beard says, “Love means whatever you want it to mean” then clearly that man is not the Lord because love means sacrifice, hardship and struggle, and no-one wants those. And we know that because Holy Church has always preached the Gospel that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to die upon the Cross that we might be saved from our sins and, to give us the certainty of True Hope, He rose again from the dead so that the Old Testament might be fulfilled and the Good News completed for all those who would enter the Church and find Salvation.
 
[PAUSE]
 
The first act that Our Lord does after weeping for Jerusalem is to clear the temple of the money-changers. And that is what we see happening.
 
When we see a Church building being converted into something non-Christian, it is because it is no longer necessary. It’s clutter and taking up room for the Church to be somewhere else, somewhere ordained by God.
 
When we hear messages from non-Christian religions proclaimed in our pulpits, it’s clutter! Our Lord says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” We must believe that and in so doing we must believe that other religions, no matter how well meaning, gentle or benevolent are wrong somewhere along the line.
 
When we see heresy committed in the name of Jesus, it’s clutter. This is not Jesus for He is always with those who believe in Him. Let it happen and it will be shown up for what it is and weeded out. Don’t be depressed! Keep yourself turning to God! Your Faith will bring you to Him. There will always be priests ready to give you His Grace through the sacraments. You might not find them in beautiful church buildings. You might find them in village halls, cemetery chapels, or even on a boat! But they are there for you and through them God will give you something more magnificent that any Church Establishment could ever be – God’s very self!
 
[PAUSE]
 
It is the presence of God that makes a building truly beautiful. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these things will be added unto you! And pray for all priests that they may be faithful to their calling by the Voice from Eternity!

Εσφαλμένη εγκύκλιος του ΥΠΕΣ καταργεί την ηλεκτρονική διακυβέρνηση

Friday, August 3, 2018

Με μια εγκύκλιο του υπουργείου Εσωτερικών απαγορεύεται σε δήμο να χορηγεί μέσω ηλεκτρονικού ταχυδρομείου πιστοποιητικά οικογενειακής κατάστασης, ενώ η δυνατότητα αυτή αποτελεί δικαίωμα του πολίτη που έχει κατοχυρωθεί ήδη πριν από 20 χρόνια.

Συγκεκριμένα, αναφέρει η εγκύκλιος, μεταξύ άλλων, απίθανων, όπως το ότι η προφορική εντολή στον δικηγόρο δεν τεκμαίρεται (αντίθετα προς παλαιότερη εγκύκλιο του Προκόπη Παυλόπουλου όταν ηταν ΥΠΕΣ):

  Δεν παρέχεται δυνατότητα χορήγησης των πάσης φύσεως πιστοποιητικών προσωπικής κατάστασης μέσω ηλεκτρονικού ταχυδρομείου (e-mail), επειδή δεν δύναται να διακριβωθεί η ταυτότητα του αιτούντος την έκδοσή τους,

  Ακόμη και αν χορηγούνταν από το Δήμο μέσω ηλεκτρονικού ταχυδρομείου (e- mail), θα καθίστατο ανέφικτη η χρήση τους στην άσκηση του οποιουδήποτε δικαιώματος του Πολίτη, καθώς, ελλείψει ειδικής νομοθετικής ρύθμισης, δεν θα γίνονταν δεκτά από την όποια αρμόδια υπηρεσία στην οποία θα υποβάλλονταν."

Ωστόσο, η εγκύκλιος ειναι αντίθετη στον νόμο. Συγκεκριμένα ο νόμος 2462/1998 αναφέρει στο άρθρο 14: "Επιτρέπεται η διακίνηση εγγράφων μεταξύ των υπηρεσιών του Δημοσίου, των Ν.Π.Δ.Δ. και των οργανισμών τοπικής αυτοδιοίκησης ή μεταξύ αυτών και των ενδιαφερόμενων φυσικών προσώπων, νομικών προσώπων ιδιωτικού δικαίου και ενώσεων προσώπων με τηλεομοιοτυπία και ηλεκτρονικό ταχυδρομείο."

Επίσης ο Ν.3979/2011 για την ηλεκτρονική διακυβέρνηση, ο λ ο κ ά θ α ρ α αναφέρει στο άρθρο 18: 
"Η παροχή υπηρεσιών ηλεκτρονικής διακυβέρνησης και η εκπλήρωση αιτημάτων που υποβάλλονται ηλεκτρονικά ή μη, μπορεί να γίνεται με πλήρως αυτοματοποιημένο τρόπο με την υποστήριξη ΤΠΕ, με την προϋπόθεση της ταυτοποίησης και επιβεβαίωσης ταυτότητας (αυθεντικοποίησης) των αιτούντων και των δημοσίων λειτουργών και υπαλλήλων και της τήρησης των όρων ασφαλείας στο επίπεδο που επιβάλλεται από τη φύση των παρεχόμενων υπηρεσιών και των αντίστοιχων δε− δομένων, όπως ορίζεται στην παράγραφο 4 του άρθρου 32 του παρόντος. Οι πράξεις που εκδίδονται συνιστούν διοικητικές πράξεις"

Εξάλλου, το ηλεκτρονικό έγγραφο που η εγκύλιος λέει ότι "καθίσταται ανέφικτη η χρήση του", σύμφωνα με το άρθρο 14 του Ν.3979/2011 έχει ισχύ ακριβούς αντιγράφου! Συγκεκριμένα, ο νόμος ορίζει: 

"Αντίγραφα εγγράφων που παράγονται με ΤΠΕ έχουν ισχύ ακριβούς αντιγράφου, εφόσον: α) το πρωτότυπο ηλεκτρονικό ή έντυπο έγγραφο βρίσκεται στην κατοχή φορέα του δημόσιου τομέα και κατά τη διαδικασία της καταχώρισης, της ψηφιοποίησης, της αναπαραγωγής και της εκτύπωσης καθίσταται δυνατή η ταύτιση πρωτοτύπου και ηλεκτρονικού αντιγράφου ή β) το αντίγραφο φέρει προηγμένη ηλεκτρονική υπογραφή και ασφαλή χρονοσήμανση."

Τα ανώτατα δικαστήρια μπορούν να υποβάλουν πλέον προδικαστικά στο ΕΔΔΑ

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Χθες είχαμε μια σημαντική εξέλιξη στο Ευρωπαϊκό δικαστικό σύστημα προστασίας των Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου. Το 16ο πρωτόκολλο της ΕΣΔΑ που τέθηκε από 1ης Αυγούστου 2018 σε εφαρμογή επιτρέπει στα Ανώτατα Δικαστήρια να απευθύνουν ένα ερώτημα για γνωμοδότηση για την ερμηνεία της ΕΣΔΑ προς το Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο των Δικαιωμάτων του Ανθρώπου. Μα δεν ξέρουν τα ανώτατα δικαστήρια να ερμηνεύσουν την ΕΣΔΑ και χρειάζονται γνωμοδότηση; Θα ρωτούσε κάποιος.
Δεν είναι ότι δεν ξέρουν. Είναι ότι ακόνα και τα ανώτατα δικαστήρια θέλουν κάποιος άλλος να τους πει ποιο είναι το σωστό (και το ποιοτικό). Δείτε για παράδειγμα το Συμβούλιο της Επικρατείας: σάμπως δεν ήξερε κοτζάμ ΣτΕ ότι έπρεπε να δικάσει πέρσι την αίτηση ακύρωσης που υποβάλαμε για το μάθημα των θρησκευτικών; Ήξερε. Σάμπως δεν ήξερε ότι το ομολογιακό μάθημα με το δηλωτικό του θρησκεύματος σύστημα απαλλαγής που επέβαλε ο Ανδρέας Λοβέρδος ως υπουργός Παιδείας παραβιάζει την ΕΣΔΑ; Το ήξερε. Αλλά δεν τόλμησε να δικάσει πέρσι την υπόθεση. Τώρα τελειώνουν οι δικαιολογίες: αν υπάρχει "αμφιβολία" ( = ευθυνοφοβία) θα στέλνει προδικαστικό ερώτημα στο ΕΔΔΑ. Θα στέλνει; Όχι ακόμα! Η Ελλάδα έχει μεν υπογράψει αλλά όχι ακόμη κυρώσει με νόμο το 16ο πρωτόκολλο της ΕΣΔΑ.

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