To the Diocese of the Holy Cross, meeting in Synod on
May 08, 2009, in Spartanburg , South Carolina
by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC
TO THE SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF THE HOLY CROSS
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
It is our privilege and pleasure to welcome Bishop Keith Ackerman, President of Forward in Faith, North America , to our Synod. He will be our banquet speaker tonight. We also welcome Father Geoffrey Neal and his wife Jenny. Father Geoffrey is Regional Dean of the Ouse Valley for Forward in Faith , United Kingdom . We welcome our new parish, St. Patrick's Chapel, Collingdale, PA, with Father Thomas Monnat and Father Manasseh Bunde, and our other new clergy, Father David Leo, and the Deacons Jay Boccabello and Rick Reid. Our founding Bishop, Patrick Murphy and his wife, Betty, send their warm regards and assurance of prayer. We owe a debt of gratitude to our gracious host, the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi , and to their Rector, Bishop Timothy Farmer, and to our preacher this morning, Father George Clendenin, for his magnificent sermon, and for our Anglican Church Women. And a welcome and a thank you to all of you who have made the journey here to this holy Synod, and contributed to it in so many ways.
God the Father and Christian Fatherhood
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father Almighty. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…” All earthly paternity takes its name from the Almighty Father. The whole of Scripture is unapologetically and unambiguously patriarchal. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, God is so radically masculine that all creation is feminine before Him. Scripture tells the story of how fallen, self agrandizing patriarchy is redeemed, and made gracious and self-emptying through the self-emptying, the kenosis , of God the Son, Who gives Himself for His Bride.
This morning's Chrism Mass reveals an important aspect of healing, in the restoration of Christian fatherhood, modeled on God the Father. When we call God “the Father Almighty,” we experience a healing: the unity between love and power, authority and compassion, in one Person. Love is balanced with authority and holiness. The response of God the Son is submission, obedience and intimacy. Peter Moore has written about this unity of love and authority. ( One Lord, One Faith , p. 24-25) To quote him, “In the fallen world there is a split between authority and love. Authority is reduced to power, and is relegated to the state, and is viewed with suspicion. Love is romanticized and viewed with sentimentality. In this split between love and authority, love justifies anything and authority justifies nothing…in pop culture this plays itself out as an increasing tendency to lampoon fatherhood…Archie Bunker, Fred Flintstone, George Jefferson, Dr. Cliff Huxtable…are humorous, bumbling, quixotic and slightly pathetic…(the secular father) exudes powerlessness, touchiness, shame, and despair, and his chronic absence…is at the root of his children's many addictions…There is not only humor directed at the modern dad, but also rage. Who wants to hang around the house with such a person? And the spiral continues: with such rage and ridicule to contend with, why would father want to stay?”
The authority of the father is being replaced. Today's gnosticism exalts the State. The State is becoming the pater familias . The more the family breaks down the better. Arie Hoekman, UN Population Fund spokesman from the Netherlands , speaking in Mexico City , said “Family breakdown is a triumph for human rights. Your family would be better off if the parents divorced, the young people had babies out of wedlock and you all went your separate ways forever.” High divorce rates and illegitimate birth rates represent victories for human rights over patriarchy. Larry Jacobs, a World Congress of Families official, says, “Deconstructing the natural family has always been high on the agenda of groups like the United Nations Family Planning Agency. Ignoring international and domestic laws, they pursue this goal relentlessly through funding and promoting abortion, contraception and coercive population control, such as Red China's one child per family policy.” Anyone who thinks of fatherless families as progress should spend some time in our cities, where for most families there is no father present and life is very dangerous.
Most men in our prisons became criminals not because of their environment, or race, or class, but because they grew up without fathers. Boys need godly men to become men. The fatherless family contributes to violent crime, poverty, emotional heartache, ill health, failure in school, lost opportunities, lack of stability and a repetition of the cycle of single parenthood. Marriage is increasingly optional and irrelevant.
In the face of all this the new orthodoxy is to turn further away from the God the Father or to reject him outright. The British atheists' newest ad campaign, on the sides of 800 busses, is “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins says that the door to militant atheism is opening wider in the West. Christopher Hitchens writes “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” The new orthodoxy is a virulent form of gnosticism which assumes that God made mistakes when He created men and women to be complementary: equal, but not interchangeable. The first Scripture the gnostics get rid of is Genesis, chapter one. The new orthodoxy says that masculinity and femininity are socially determined and interchangeable. With gender mainstreaming, our young people sense that something is wrong, but the motto for many of them is “go along to get along.”
In 1976, in the United States , Cardinal Karol Wojtyla said that “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through…we are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, the Gospel and the anti-Gospel.” The Gospel of the triune love of God is that He is the Father Almighty, Who eternally begets the Son, and from Whom eternally proceeds the Holy Spirit. The great Orthodox theologian, John Zizioulas, teaches us that the Father is the cause of communion. God is the Father Almighty, a Person, a free Person, the Person Who loves freely. Here is the source of the theology of personhood. The individual, on which secular sociology places so much emphasis, is an automaton in isolation, falling into a black hole. The person is in relationship, in communion with other persons. The co-equal Persons of the most holy Trinity have infinite and absolute love for each other. The Father infinitely pours Himself into the Son, and the Son infinitely pours Himself into the Father, and this infinite pouring is Himself a Person, the Holy Spirit. The one God is not the one substance but the Father. The Father is the ground of God's being. He causes the generation of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit, and all three are co-equal and co-eternal.
In an ecstasy of love, the Father creates all things through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The Son, through His self-emptying, resurrection, and ascension, redeems, restores and returns creation to the Father, in the Holy Spirit. The Father's love and authority is revealed through the Son as bridal, and brings us to the bridal chamber of the Eucharist, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the union of heaven and earth, of time and eternity. (Rev. 19: 9) The Bride of Christ, the new Jerusalem, meets and communes in the glory of the new creation with her Saviour, Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev. 21: 1-7) And so the Church addresses her Liturgy “to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.
This is the eternal Gospel of the love of God, now starkly silhouetted against a gnostic horizon. Heaven, and the Eucharist, are patriarchal. The four and twenty elders sitting round about the Throne are the twelve patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The figurehead of the new creation is “a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev. 12: 1ff) Here is our Lady, our blessed Mother, in glory, who faces with us the wrath of the great red dragon, whose tail draws the third part of the stars.
She is with us as we face the tidal wave of un-love that sweeps across our land. She protects us and as the Bride of the Holy Spirit, prays to form Christ in us. Her priceless intercession means the greater release of the Holy Spirit to reveal the Father, and glorify the Son. To reveal the Father, and to glorify the Son: that was the work of our holy Fathers, Basil in the 4 th century, and of Maximus in the 7 th . The theology of God the Father, patrology, may soon be emphasized in the Church, just as we have seen an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, pneumatology, during the past 50 years. And of course the Church has always emphasized our Lord, the Christ, through christology. Maximus the Confessor, in the 7 th century, was one of the greatest theologians and philosophers in the Church's history. He taught the ecstatic love of the persons of the Trinity, in the sense of ek-stasis , going out from stasis, dynamically, exuberantly, fully and eternally entering the personhood of the other. In the Holy Spirit, the Father sends the Son to us, in an ek-stasis , and it is now in ek-stasis that we love one another in the Body of the redeemed. We live in and through each other, just as Christ lives in and through us, “He in us, and we in Him,” and all of us in one another, through Him. This ecstasy is communion in love, freely bestowed and freely returned. Life, love, communion and ecstasy go on forever, in freedom. And we are born into this, from above. Once people get even a tiny glimpse of this, they want to be baptized into it. They want to be confirmed in it. They want to commune in it. And they want to be married in it, for marriage, next to the Eucharist, is the great sacrament of ek-static living: husband and wife live in and through each other.
St. Maximus taught that our roots are in the future, and the branches in the present. In the Holy Spirit, through the Son, we live by the life of the Father. Through the Sacrament of the Church, the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit, we continually draw our life from the triumphant Life of our risen, victorious Lord, Who lives in the Father, by the Holy Spirit. Zizioulas says, “We are always being summoned from ahead; our life is a continuity from the future. We long for what we already are.” ( Being As Communion ) The fullness of the Kingdom is continually lavished upon us in the Holy Spirit. All creation and history are recapitulated in Christ, Who is incorruptible life. At the last day, at the End, which we commemorate in every Eucharist, when we “remember the future,” Christ will deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, and God the Father will be all in all. (1 Cor. 15: 28)
An emphasis on God the Father has tremendous impact on our anguished world. The idea of freedom is enlarged, the freedom of life surrendered to the ultimate Persons who live in love freely poured into each other. This freedom in the innermost life of the Trinity is the only basis for freedom in the world. Gnostic systems are elitist and always become totalitarian, because they are based on a fatal flaw, an intellectual swindle, which must be kept hidden from the masses. Conscience clauses are erased quickly in gnostic systems and everyone has to get into lock-step with the party line, the ideology, the idolatrous logos of secular man's ideas. Redeemed patriarchy promotes freedom of speech and fearless dialogue because the Lord in Whom we live is Truth incarnate, so we encourage vigourous questioning, and have no fear of dissent.
Redeemed patriarchy promotes family and a culture of life and therefore the growth of the Church. God's plan for the Christian home is for a father to sit at the head of the table. His plan for the Eucharistic assembly is for a father to stand before the Altar. Gender mainstreaming leads to shrinkage and the demographics of nihilism, which we see in Europe today. Where life in Christ is vibrant, families tend to be larger. Marriage has the most solid possible basis: a life-long bond that is a sacrament of Christ's relationship with the Church. Boys have a role model for growing in virtue, in Christian manliness and responsibility. Girls have a father who will give them what they need most: the father's blessing, that says “you are beloved and precious because you exist. I bless you not because of what you do or fail to do, but because you are my beloved daughter, a new creature in Christ.”
As for boys' development, lagging so far behind, there are some signs of new interest. Foundation grants are being given to more boys' organizations. Movies like “Second Hand Lion” have been released that show the impact of male role models. There are television shows that feature only men, such as “Ice Road Truckers,” “Deadliest Catch” and “Ax Men.” And of course there are sports, and some role models there, especially among Christian athletes. Later this afternoon we will hear about the impact of classical Christian schools on the education of boys and girls.
But ultimately it is in redeemed patriarchy, gracious, self-emptying patriarchy, that is, Christian fatherhood, that sets up the framework, the model, that boys need to become Christian men. Chesterton prophesied some 90 years ago that by the end of the 20 th century, the most radical thing in society would be Christian fatherhood. We all have a role to play, through living and teaching the Catholic Faith everywhere we go, in raising up new generations of Christian fathers. The priest at the Altar and in the Pulpit reveals Christ's priesthood, and, to the men in the congregation, their priesthood. A priest is one who offers sacrifice, the sacrifice of the precious Blood of the Son of God. The priesthood of each man is his offering of all that pertains to him – his wife, children and community – as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Father, in a willingness to sacrifice, if need be, his blood for them. The simple beginning of sacrifice and discipline is never-failing weekly attendance at Mass. If the father of the family goes to Mass on Sunday, it is far more likely that his children will be there, and grow up in the Church, than if he stays home and only the mother goes. Men need to learn to take spiritual initiatives, and lead their families in the worship of Almighty God and in teaching them the Faith.
Our Lord's sacrifice was of course total. He shed all His Blood for us, the Blood of a perfect Sacrifice. This is the radical extreme of graciousness, of doing everything necessary to save us. Do the barbarian gods and goddesses do this? Not on your life. They do the opposite. The barbarian gods and goddesses, with their cohorts of priestesses, demand our blood. They demand human sacrifice, in rituals, in war, murder, suicide, abortion, euthanasia and genetic engineering. God, the Father Almighty, gave His only begotten Son, to die and rise again for us. After He died, Jesus' descended into hell to harrow it, and rose again and reconnected, as the Man , with the feminine, with the Church. Christian men have His pattern for the epic journey, descending into war, fighting evil, overcoming terrifying obstacles, descending to the pit, and not getting stuck, but rising up and out and reconnecting as renewed men with their wives, families and communities. Boys need to learn this pattern from their fathers, or other role models, who show that descending in sacrifice and suffering and rising again is the way to transformation into Christian manhood. Strength and victory are ascribed to the Lord. St. Paul always did that in his epic journeys. We are weak but He is strong. We are free to glory in our infirmities, because His strength is made perfect in weakness. His power can rest upon us when we let Him take charge. (2 Cor. 11: 29-30; 12: 9-10) St. Paul said we are “unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor. 6: 9-10) His encouragement to the Corinthians was “watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16: 13)
Redeemed, gracious patriarchy means greater protection and care for the pre-born, the family, children's purity, religious freedom, and protection of the Church's voice in the academy and the media. And we are enthusiastic about the Gospel, so we preach and teach boldly wherever we go. Preaching and teaching tend to take hold, because the Church tends, wherever She goes, to foster a civilization of love, sacrificial love, the most attractive and engaging thing there is. When all authority is re-capped in Christ, the Church's atmosphere is one of thanksgiving and joy, hope and holy optimism. As revealed by our Lord, our heavenly Father is infinitely good, kind and gracious. When new people get close to the Church on any basis, they can be attracted by ultimate light, warmth and truth, and the prospect of communion.
In the past 30 years we have seen the amazing founding of over 500 new congregations in our movement. Nearly all this growth has come through suffering, through sacrifice, through self-emptying, through God's grace. We must never throw this away, but carefully husbanding the gains, share what we have learned with those who are coming out of the system now. Our Diocese is committed to the cause of unity among orthodox Anglicans. We have worked with Forward in Faith , United Kingdom for many years, and are now connected with their think-tank, the Anglican Association, to research three things: (i) our Anglican patrimony, (ii) the meaning of conciliar governance and (iii) closer working relationships with Evangelicals. Fr. Arthur Middleton is in the Anglican Association, and many of you have read his latest book, Restoring the Anglican Mind . Fr. Geoffrey Neal, also with the Anglican Association, has just written on conciliar governance.
This past year, we are grateful that Forward in Faith North America accepted all our parishes as affiliates, and we look forward to working even more closely with Bishop Keith Ackerman. The Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas is going well, and we are an important part of that. One of their current projects is to promote biblical women's ministries, beginning with what is paramount, being a wife and mother, and going on to ministries of teachers, catechists, Mothers' Unions, Anglican Church Women, deaconesses, Church Army workers, administrators and even lay canonesses We continue to work toward unity with the newly forming Anglican Church in North America. We also maintain cordial relations with the Anglican Catholic Church. And we help strengthen the ties with the faithful remnants in Scandinavia , who have been suffering since 1959. In the great realignment that is upon Anglicanism worldwide, there needs to be a new awareness of the Person of God the Father and Christian fatherhood.
This new awareness will release new talent and gifts for a new evangelization, with new ardour, new methods and new explanations, to allow our people to reclaim their memory and identity, their vision and purpose, their love and hope. We call on men of God to rise up to put new moral capital back into our culture, to build up new reserves of moral capital. As our heavenly Father has His way with us, there will be new muscle tone, new earnestness and gravity, grounded in truth, with a faith that Romano Guardini predicted would be “more decisive, stripped of secularism and flabbiness.”
In his “Ballad of the White Horse,” Chesterton immortalized the Battle of Ethandune, when King Alfred the Great won the tremendous victory over the heathen Danes in 878 and saved for us Christian cult and culture in England .
The men of the East may spell the stars
And times and triumph mark,
But the men signed of the Cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.