Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Explaining Concepts

The Rite of Arlington, TX (Bishop Jerry Jones)
Holy Noah, what a storm we are enjoying here in Texas! 

I had the pleasure of feasting with a friend from a mixed-denominational protestant background who is asking questions about Apostolic Christianity, mainly about the significance of the liturgy, something quite foreign to Bible Belt Megachurchdom (and Texas is the belt buckle). It occurred to me that the liturgy is less something requiring a theological explanation than the simplest explanation of the Church's theology. I encourage readers to re-consider this old post on the Liturgy & Tradition: Sensus Fidelium.

We have not touched on things like Apostolic succession or why some Holy Orders are recognized while others are considered invalid. Rather than dive into the specifics of form, matter and intention, would it not be easier to consider the liturgy itself? Leo XIII wrote that if Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Every Sacrament involves the presence of Christ accomplished in the Holy Spirit. Every bishop gains the power to ordain through the reception of the Holy Spirit. Christ became incarnate of the Holy Spirit. Where One acts the Other becomes present. 

In this context it would not be hard to understand the liturgy as the manifestation of the adage "do what the Church does." Traditionalists have spilled considerable ink on this topic since 1968 debating Paul VI's rite of ordination. While sedevacantists presume the invalidity of the rite and mainstream Catholics its validity, we see the strange phenomenon of men like both HJA Sire and Bishop Richard Williamson holding mild doubts because of the rite could be left to the orthodoxy of the ordaining bishop. Unfortunately orthodoxy in this sense means doctrinal soundness, it means whether or not the bishop intends to pass on the sacrificial priesthood as understood in certain manuals and writings. Historically the antithesis of orthodoxy is not heresy but heterodoxy, not erroneous personal beliefs but false worship. Apostolicae Curae could have been considerably shorter if Papa Pecci (the best pope of the 20th century) had asked whether or not the Edwardian ordinal could be interpreted as an honest prayer of episcopal consecration in any way that would have been recognizable five centuries or fifteen centuries ago, whether or not it could be received in accordance with how the Church prays.

When I served Mass years ago I used to meditate on psalm 84 before vesting: Quam dilecta tabernacula tua.



  1. ""Sacramentum Ordinis" could have been considerably shorter..."
    It is already a rather short decree. Perhaps you meant "Apostolicae curae".

  2. I think the answer to the Anglican ordinal question is still “no,” for what it is worth.

  3. I agree with you regarding the greatness of Pope Leo XIII. Should be canonized if you ask me.