Bishop's Address to the Synod of the Diocese of the Holy Cross, Meeting at the Pro-Cathedral of the Epiphany, Columbia, South Carolina, May 4, 2007
by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC
TO THE SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF THE HOLY CROSS
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Welcome to our new parishes and missions and their clergy and lay delegates, from Brownsville, Texas, the Church of the Redeemer, (Fr. George Graydon and Deacon Carlos Reyes) from La Junta, Colorado, St. Matthews (Fr. Mark Korbitz) from Spartanburg, South Carolina, St. Francis of Assisi, (Bp. Timothy Farmer, Dcn. Dennis Boan & Canon Paul Pritchartt) from Swartz Creek, Michigan, St. Bartholomew's (Fr. Gene Geromel) and from Westminster, South Carolina, St. John's (Fr. Chip Angell).
Our other new clergy are Fr. Nicholas Voyadgis & Dcn. John Brewster from Wyoming , Fr. Andrew Eagan from Iowa and Fr. Scott Wilson from Arizona
And welcome to our postulants for Holy Orders, Steve Maas of St. Bartholomew's and Ed Moore and Sam Zimmerman from St. Andrew's.
Thanks to our host Parish and Rector and new Dean, and the Anglican Church Women here, for your hard work and hospitality. Thanks to our new Canon, Fr. Bader, and to our new Archdeacon, Lee Herbert. Thanks to Pete Bethea, our hard working Treasurer, and to all who serve on our committees, in fact, to everyone in the Directory; to Dss. Nora Wilson and her helpers with the ACW, Patsy Farmer & Darryl Martin, and to all our clergy wives and families. Thanks to our Honorary Assistant Bishop, Timothy Farmer and to Bishop Patrick Murphy, who regrets his absence, due to Betty's recent dental surgery. Thanks to Frs. Gene & Peter & the entire Geromel Family who set up so much of our youth camp work, and for Fr. Paul Sterne, who also sets up so much youth work, and to Denise Patterson and her interest in our Sunday Schools, and to Fr. Angell, our preacher this morning, and to Marcia Segelstein, who will speak to us this evening. Thanks to everyone who worships and serves in our fine parishes, missions and ministries. Thanks to all of you all for taking the time and trouble to be here for this Holy Synod.
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father
and from the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Our Lady wears a long blue veil, the color of the veil in the Temple , and of God's glory there. There is an ancient and widespread tradition about Mary's veil, the Protecting Veil. A medieval German statue depicts Mary wearing a veil that goes to the ground, a cope. Peeking out of its sides, from top to bottom, are diminutive men, women and children...all of us, in fact. The Blessed Mother's Veil is our protection and our home in the Family of God.
Mary fulfills the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 from this morning's Mass on this Feast of St. Monica. Mary is the first Christian, pre-eminently the woman in Christ, a woman forever content to be known as someone's mother. One of the most moving aspects of the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” is Mary's demeanor, her comportment.
Monica, as a virtuous Christian woman who persisted in prayer, saw her wayward son's conversion. He would became the foremost theologian of the Western Church . Monica's choice is the same as the choice for women today: to be daughters of Eve or daughters of Mary. The devil's line of attack today is against the feminine and the masculine: the confusion of sexual identity. He has got men and women everywhere attempting to redefine human nature apart from Christ. Christians therefore must be able to say what a man in Christ is, what a woman in Christ is. We must be able to say what Mary means as an icon of the Church. What we experience of the Church as the Family of God must carry over into what we make of our marriages and families. All the clues we need are in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.
God has always raised up women who spoke and lived fearlessly for Him: pre-eminently, Mary, and then, to name a few, Monica, Catherine of Siena, Joan of Arc, Therese of Lisieux, Edith Stein, Margaret Thatcher, Beverly LaHaye and our own Marcia Segelstein. They all point toward the restoration of the biblical pattern of kenotic patriarchy, gracious patriarchy, the pattern of the Kingdom. God is the Father Almighty. Earthly fatherhood is to be modeled on Him, if we are to build a culture of life. Women finally find their fulfillment and freedom in the Father's plan of gracious patriarchy, revealed by the Father's eternally begotten Son in His total self-emptying and glorious Resurrection.
The devil, the monster, was formerly satisfied with war and genocide in the affairs of men and nations. Now he is upping the ante and fomenting suicide, throughout Europe and the West, with the demographics of nihilism. Cultures that wiggle out from under Mary's Protecting Veil face death. Having no icons of heaven leads to hell.
Against this background God is showing us the vocation and the mission of our Diocese.
1. We are to be a family of parishes, missions and ministries. Father Schmemann once said ( The Eucharist , p. 98) that “the Church (the Diocese) exists so that each of her parts can live in fullness and be an incarnation of the fullness of the Church, so that, in other words, each part can live by the whole and wholly .” (completely) We are to experience the Diocese and the Synod as the family of God. Christ's love for His Bride is an indissoluble, sacramental bond, consummated in glory in every Eucharist, transforming us to be “the Church that presides in love.” In every Eucharist we grow and find strength for our mission.
2. We are affiliated with the remnant community in England. In the past few years this has meant working with members of Forward in Faith , UK who are exploring the riches of our Anglican Patrimony, the unique heritage we want to share with the rest of the Body. It can be tempting to think, with the terrible crisis that is upon us, that Anglicanism is fatally flawed. We are affirming the priceless treasure we have in our Benedictine emphasis on the Church as the Family of God, and in our Liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer, as a Benedictine way of life. From our Anglo-Saxon-Celtic roots, from King Alfred the Great, springs a way of governance which is apostolic, sacramental and familial rather than juridical. Our theological roots are connected at a deep level with the Eastern fathers, so that H. A. Hodges once described us as “an outbreak of Orthodoxy in the West.” Or as Nicholas Lossky said, Anglicanism is “a vision of God and not a system of thought.” (in Middleton, Fathers , p. 115)
What we have to offer the rest of the Body, in realigned, orthodox Anglicanism, has now been tested and refined by a wilderness generation that has wrestled long and hard with issues of sexual identity and family life in the light of Scripture and Tradition. Rome very much wants what we have to bring as a patrimony for all time, not lost by absorption, but protected and prolonged as a gift for the rest of the Body.
If God has a vocation for us as Anglicans, then the great realignment in our global Anglican community will go forward. And God does have a vocation for Anglicanism. Anglicanism is not all washed up. In the recent past, our community produced Winston Churchill and won the greatest war ever fought, against gnostic totalitarianism. The devil then changed his tactics and set upon us from another angle, more subtly, but with even greater ferocity, with the gnostic lie about sexual identity and family life and life that is vulnerable. Anglicans have taken the brunt of the devils's attacks on the Church for over a generation now, and now God is helping us re-group and re-supply. We are no more washed up than anyone else would be under similar attack. We have a vital role to play in the Body of Christ.
Our Diocese is in a position to live with Forward in Faith, North America , as. a partner and a catalyst. For example, when the Diocese San Joaquin realigns, we can help them to be part of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas . In due course we can do the same with the Polish National Catholic Church.
3. Our application for membership in this Federation, the FACA, is now in. This Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas is comprised of nearly all the major orthodox Anglican jurisdictions in the U.S. At the next meeting in October, it is entirely possible that the Province of Christ the King and the Anglican Catholic Church will send observers. For the first time in 29 years, all the major players will be sitting around the same table, for mutual support, accountability, collaboration and cooperation. The cherished dream of so many of our laity, and clergy, and even of some bishops, of all of us getting together, is coming true, and God wants us to get ready to enter the promised land.
Since every jurisdiction in the Federation maintains its own sovereignty, no one has anything to lose. Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, is the Episcopal Visitor, and this connects us with the wider realignment of the global communion. Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of the Church of Nigeria , is a Primatial Sponsor. Slowly and carefully, where it can be done without fuss and bother, there will be moves toward making our jurisdictions more geographical. This includes the jurisdictions now under foreign bishops. The day is coming when parishes will welcome their bishop from a reasonable distance.
A Committee on Discipline has been set up, of which I am a part, to examine standards for clergy training and discipline, and to examine marriage standards for bishops and clergy, with an eye on the higher standards for which we have held out. The point this Diocese made three years ago is being taken.
In the great re-alignment of Anglicanism now underway our Diocese is a catalyst, a needle in a sewing machine, a drop of 3-in-1 oil in the bearings. We can help untangle knots, lubricate friction and brainstorm with others on how to configure the new paradigm, the new grouping of all who stand together on Holy Orders, the historic Book of Common Prayer and New Testament morality. The Diocese of the Holy Cross has served as a reconnaissance operation for this, with high mobility and eagerness to rebuild the communications networks. We are either Delta Force or Navy Seals.
The new paradigm, the new grouping of orthodox jurisdictions, sometimes looks humanly impossible, probably because it is. It was also humanly impossible for Israel to get through the wilderness. What George Marshall did in WWII with the allies was humanly impossible. Jesus' Resurrection is the ultimate cosmic impossible possibility. When the Blessed Mother asked, “how shall this be, seeing I know not a man,” the Archangel Gabriel replied, “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” Yes, we are a catalyst in the great realignment, connected now with the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas and with Forward in Faith International, and from thence to the Mission Province in Sweden , the Nordic Catholic Church in Norway , and the Polish National Catholic Church in this Country.
We have been in the wilderness for 30 years now. We are 10 years or less from the Promised Land. We are to prepare to enter the Promised Land, after the example of the first Joshua, with boldness and courage, and after the example of the new Joshua, who brings us to the Promised Land in every Eucharist, taking us with Him to the Throne of Grace.
In today's assaults upon the Church, our Lady's Protecting Veil gets torn. Our Diocese is to be on hand to help her mend the rends we can reach first, by being a family, then, by our association with FiF and FACA, and the help we render them.
4. There is also the help we receive from them. We need each other. The renowned St Michael's Camps, set up by FiF clergy, are open to our youth, in Michigan , Texas and Massachusetts , as is Anglican Province in America Camp in North Carolina . All the camps of all the major jurisdictions will soon be on our website. And none of our jurisdictions wants to end up thirty years from now with five or ten or fifteen thousand people as struggling and isolated islands. We are to learn to speak with one voice, so that:
5. We can fulfill another aspect of our vocation as a Diocese and as a movement: teaching and witnessing, with FiF and FACA, to the Anglican Communion Network, the ACN, on how all the issues are interrelated. Ordination of women, marriage, family life, sexual morality, being pro-life – is all of a piece. Increasing numbers in the ACN are moving toward the mind of Christ on Holy Orders.
6. The vocation of Anglicanism is wrapped up in the paradigm of the first thousand years, the consensus of the early Fathers, the Patristic Era, when the Church was visibly one. The consensus of the first millennium is the model for revealing our unity. The Pope has said that as the Church moves into the third millennium, She must use the paradigm of the first millennium to overcome the divisions of the second. Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, orthodox Anglicans and many believing Protestants are now all on the same page. It is astonishing that Alexi, Patriarch of Moscow, is planning a lengthy and unprecedented visit to Rome . Alexi cites the rising tide of Islam as one reason why he and the Pope must learn to speak with one moral voice. A meeting like this begins to fulfill what Leon Bloy believed, that the Church in the West would be renewed by the Russian Church that has suffered in fire and water. If Rome is the shoe and Orthodoxy is the foot, then we as Anglicans can be the shoe horn. We are the only Christians who simultaneously understand Rome , Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Our Lady's Protecting Veil is torn in many places. Our Diocese is to be on hand to help her mend the rends we can reach.
Islam is spurring all this on: God is using Islam to bring His Church together, more quickly than we would have thought possible. But God does not want us to be mere manufacturers of strategies. Much of what needs to be done for a unified and orthodox Anglican witness in this country comes by simple living and serving together, within and beyond our jurisdictions. The structures will follow in their own good time. That is the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic way. More importantly, our vocation is always to produce saints, not strategies. The ultimate goal is not to build institutional infrastructure but to proclaim the Gospel and reveal the Kingdom. Then we can go on to let God use us as He will, to fulfill our vocation as Anglicans: to help the two lungs of the Church, Rome and Constantinople , breathe together again. In all this work we will have the priceless intercession of our Lady. We can help her mend the rends we can reach, on her Protecting Veil. To this end, the Father is forming in us one heart, and pouring out the Holy Spirit upon us, to reveal His Son Jesus as Saviour and Lord of all. With one mind and one mouth we glorify thee, Christ our God. Amen.