As Episcopalians move toward split, questions and painful decisions remain – Local / Metro –

Episcopal Future

South Carolina Episcopalians are headed for a painful split now that a majority of Lowcountry Episcopalians have sided with an emboldened Bishop Mark Lawrence in his standoff with, in Lawrence’s view, an increasing liberal and theologically-wobbly national church. But questions remain about Lawrence’s authority to engineer a secession of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina from the Episcopal Church, which was approved by a majority of delegates Saturday at a special convention called by Lawrence in Charleston. At issue, too, is the status of those Lowcountry Episcopalians who don’t agree with Lawrence’s decision to disassociate. At least 12 congregations among the 75 in the Lowcountry diocese have expressed a desire to remain with the American church, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

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I Only Want to be a Little Bit Pregnant

Partial communion with the Catholic Church is sort of like being partially pregnant. You’re either pregnant or not; you’re either Catholic or not.

We had many precedents of those who held partial communion with the Church or tried to change the doctrines taught: the heresies are constantly at work to undermine the faith. The last huge upsurge of doctrinal denial was found in the heresy of Protestantism and as you know it created a complete breakdown of communion with the newly formed churches. They were the progenitors of the constant divisions between themselves which has accelerated in recent years. But, if it was OK to disagree with Rome the first time, then it must certainly be OK to disagree with your present day denomination as well. 35,000 denominations into this dividing cell we have an enormous growth of cells that are unrecognizable as the Mystical Body of Christ from which they emerged. One might say that modern Christians who claim no church or denomination are themselves products of this as well. They are churches unto themselves. They are church.

The modern phrase of cafeteria catholic was framed during the liberal abuses that abounded following the close of the Vatican II Council. Many foolish notions were floated about and introduced as in keeping with “the spirit of Vatican II” and thus were floundering about without an official, authoritative Catechism for many years. Therefore many “did Catholicism” their own way; cafeteria style. It is an apt description of many within the faith, even to this day (despite a comprehensive official Catechism), who do not adhere to all of the teachings of the faith. They continue to “do Catholicism” their own way, accepting this doctrine while rejecting that doctrine. So, are they in partial communion or have they broken communion with the Church?

It should be obvious. That would be like saying, “I accept Einstein’s formula E=MC2 except for the M part.” Then it’s no longer a viable formula. It would be a formula about nothing at all and useful for nothing. It is the same with the cafeteria catholic and how that would impact the rest of the faith. Although they see it as just a tiny little unimportant piece within a great big church with many doctrines, they are so wrong! If any of the defined teachings of the faith are found wrong then the entire faith is wrong: which would be to say that Christianity itself is wrong. Let’s see why.

If Christ did not leave a Church with authority then His followers were left without any mechanism to continue to preach and teach the Good News to the rest of the world: in other words, Christ’s claim that He would not leave them as orphans is a sham. If the Church is not the authority, then the Bible cannot be the authority either as it was left to the Church to have the authority to proclaim what books should be in the Bible and how they agreed with the spoken traditions and beliefs that had been taught by the successors of the apostles. And lastly, if the Church does not retain Her authority, then the Bible has fabricated the fact that God gave Her the Holy Spirit; effectively sanctifying the institution for all posterity. That then makes Christ ineffectual, not divine and worse would render Him nothing more than a mad man or a liar and a charlatan. How then could anyone still accept Christianity as a religion with any credence?

We also see how quickly the faith mutates when we start picking and choosing the teachings of Christ as taught through the Church. Note the news story previous to this post of an apostate priest, who had lost his faculties, giving the “Eucharist” to a dog at his Church. If you can’t be faithful in the small things then it is unlikely that you will be faithful in the larger things. It is the inevitable evolution of a priest who disagreed with the Church’s teaching on gays, women’s ordination, contraception and the like. It has morphed into a strange concoction of abuses and has turned into a boat without a rudder that merely moves wherever the wind of change moves it.

Witness the degeneration of the Episcopal Church which has done the same. Starting with their acceptance of the same issues, they now cannot even declare that Christ is lord in their latest pronouncement. It has totally unraveled as a viable Christian faith and the veracity of its teachings are now null and void.

“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater . . .” __ Luke 16:10

Is the Episcopal Church a Bellweather for All Churches?

Bishop Don Johnson; pioneering female photogra... The story about the collapse of the Episcopal Church might be a canary in the coal mine for the rest of us. For years the Episcopal Church has led the way in changing the structure of their church to align itself more closely to the modern world and has now evidently found their belief structure being reordered right along with all the other changes.

It would seem that when we start down a road that tries to include everyone and please everyone we find ourselves struggling to have any real identity of our own. Some of this may be creeping into all Christian churches in one form or another. The desire to be all things to all people is only natural. “To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all.” __ I Cor. 9:22    But we cannot assume that the Apostle meant that he would be sinful to gain the sinful. Such would be a real stretch of the scripture passage.

Yet in the Episcopal Church besides women priestesses, we now see openly homosexual priests and bishops and transsexual priests teaching that their sins are no longer sin at all. The mental gymnastics that they go through to justify their acceptance of sin is no small accomplishment: i.e. that the real sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was that the people were not welcoming. So the moral teachings are thrown out under the good intentions of including everyone and being relevant in the modern world. Unfortunately, people are looking to the Church to be more than what they get out of modern society: they want holiness.

I think we have to start examining the Catholic Church at some point concerning the effects of the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass. Though the new order of Mass can be uplifting when done as intended, it still cannot measure up to the 1962 Missal known as the Tridentine Rite. One of the observations made by the late Dietrich von Hildebrand has always stayed with me because it portends a major flaw in the new Mass. He asked, “Do we better meet Christ by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our workaday world?” I think it is a question that we might all want to be asking ourselves.

The Vatican has tried to clean up the mess that ensued after the release of the Novus Ordo Mass but we are still a long way from getting ourselves back to the inspiring holiness that we were honored to participate in during the Mass they replaced. The last 2 Popes have tried to stop the overuse of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, banal liturgical music and the inane English translations of the Mass that were doctrinally unsound, gender neutral and full of inclusive language. Recently, they have finally made many good fixes to the English Missal but have yet to stop the glut of extraordinary ministers and syrupy music more fitted for a youth camp than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In addition to the above problems we are awash with compromises and collaborative changes which affect the function of our local parishes and the laity’s participation at Mass. We seldom find an altar rail anymore as they ‘separate’ the clergy from the people. Presumably this is a compromise with our world’s modern outlook of equality of persons. We no longer receive communion on the tongue though it is still the ‘ordinary’ form of reception as instructed by the Church. This too seems to be a new found equality that proposes that our hands are no different from the consecrated hands of our priests and we therefore have the right to touch the Blessed Sacrament. And of course our relaxed posture of receiving our Lord standing instead of in the humble posture of kneeling before the Lord has taken its toll psychologically.

English: Tridentine Mass celebrated on Palm Su...The priest no longer takes the very manly stand of being the leader of men praying to God, in persona Christi (in the Person of Christ), with the congregation behind him as he pleads to God for all our needs. He is acting as our intercessor to the Most High. The new stance of the priest, ad populum (toward the people), places the priest in an awkward stance with his back to God and facing us as though his only purpose is to be a participant and simply another member of the congregation. I find these to be destructive symbolic gestures that instill within us unprecedented self-esteem and pride. These I place in the first tier of faith-killing changes that I hope and pray will someday be rectified.

In the second tier, we must not forget that since Vatican II men have to a large extent given up their active participation in the Mass. Our good women have taken up the slack and sadly have cast a more effeminate pall over the Mass. Women now serve our particular parishes in roles such as lectors, ushers, extraordinary ministers, while our little girls are supplanting our young boys as altar servers which served as the breeding ground for future priests. Overall there is a feminization of the Mass that is quite stark when you view it against the Mass according to the 1962 Missal.

Protestant ideas have flooded into our Church as well in song and in parts of the Novus Ordo Mass replete with the evangelical holding of hands and raising them to heaven though there are no rubrics (instructions in the Missal for the actions of the people and priest) that would lead one to thinking that they are participating as the Church has asked them to do. This I would classify as third tier problems.

Lastly, and this may rise above the other tiers as described above, there is the overall sense of comfort in who we are, comfort in our sin, lack of a guilty conscience (leading to the emptying of confessionals), and arriving before our God in the most awful raggedy clothing we seem to be able to find. Some of the ladies might want to think about their modesty. They often arrive in tight jeans, short shorts and other revealing clothing when they attend the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. The men now arrive in t-shirts, shorts and sandals as if they can’t wait to get to the barbecue or some televised sporting event fast enough. The overall feeling is that we are not in awe; we have no reverence and we feel no sense of sacredness in the Church space or in the Mass itself. We chatter about our workaday lives to one another before, during and after Mass, disrespectful of those who may be attempting to pray amid the din. This I think is proof of the prophetic question that Dietrich von Hildebrand imparted to us as a warning:  “Do we better meet Christ by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our workaday world?”

It’s a question that I hope the Church comes to grips with soon. For I fear that if we allow this erosion to continue, we will no longer recognize the Church of our fathers and mothers and in the worse case might begin to see some of the collapse that is overtaking our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church. Pray for the restoration of holiness, sacredness, solemnity and reverence in our Most Holy Sacrament – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pray for our priests and for our Bishops that they may put an end to all abuses within the Church and may the men of our Church take up their proper roles and put an end to the denuded character that is engulfing our Church. We need to claim that which was ordered towards us and our Bishops should do what they can to restore this order. Religion is not just for women. Real men should properly be warriors for God as well. Lets take our rightful places back and not leave it to our wives to take up the slack.