Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mgr. Boniface Grosvold passes away, Stephenian Patriarchate joins in mourning

by Rev. G. Smith

LONDON, Ontario 21 July 2016 (ORCNS) - His Excellency the Most Reverend Monsignor Boniface Grosvold, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Old Roman Catholic Church - Latin Rite, passed away on 21 July 2016 in the ICU of University Hospital, London, Ontario. The Patriarchate of St. Stephen joins in mourning the loss to traditional Catholicism. The Archbishop had been a friend and supporter of the unique traditions and historic role of the Patriarchate, especially the cardinalate. He also maintained positive relations with the local jurisdictions of the Roman Communion.

In a special statement, Cardinal Archprince Rutherford, Patriarch of St. Stephen, said, "The Archbishop's passing is indeed sad. We have lost a noteworthy colleague. I will always remember our conversations and His Excellency's unique pastoral style. My condolences to the Old Roman Catholic Church - Latin Rite in Europe, Britain, the United States, and specially Mgr. Grosvold's home country of Canada."

Mgr. Grosvold was born on 4 June 1942 in Chester, Nova Scotia. On 28 October 1969, he received the First Tonsure and was admitted as a cleric by H.E. Mgr. Nelson Dudley Hillyer. He was ordained to the priesthood on 31 August 1970 by H.E. Mgr. Earl Anglin Lawrence James. Mgr. Grosvold was consecrated to the episcopate and named Auxiliary Bishop for the Old Roman Catholic Diocese of Ontario on 20 July 1974. Later that same year, His Excellency was enthroned as the second Bishop of the Old Roman Catholic Diocese of Niagara Falls, New York, and Ontario. Then, in September 1976, he was elected Metropolitan-Archbishop and Primate of the Old Roman Catholic Church - Latin Rite.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sacres Ordines Ecclesiae - On Holy Orders and the Role of Women

"The Holy Orders of the Church have been the object of much misunderstanding and the target of attack, certainly throughout history, but even and perhaps especially in this time of social change. As the role of women in modern society changes, often rightly removing illogical or even immoral barriers that prevent women from receiving the dignity which is their due, it is an unfortunate byproduct that there is and has long been an effort, based on the principles of social change, to permit the ordination of women to the Holy Orders of the Church. This, however, is not possible and has been a consistent point of doctrine since the founding of the Church by Our Lord. To modify the doctrine of the Church Militant on earth, which knows neither time nor space and indeed exists in and for all time and everywhere, would be to apply the modernist heresy so often justly condemned by the Holy Fathers and the Saints. That is, it would be to apply the notions of the every-changing and fickle world to the unchanging and unchangeable Church, which possesses the ultimate truth, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Unto the Holy Orders of the Church on earth was imparted a masculine character. We may not fully know why, for it is not given to humans to know the totality of the mind of God. Yet it remains fact. Those who reject the theology regarding the masculine nature of the sacramental Priesthood of Christ and the other Holy Orders in favor of the modernist philosophies on the matter reject the Church, the Bride of Christ, in favor of the world – and all that which is of the world is opposed to God.

It would also be wise to recapitulate some of the most fundamental aspects of theology concerning to this matter. Over the course of the history of the Church, many of her most faithful leaders and scholars have provided diverse commentary, all rooted in the constant and immutable theology of the Faith, as they deemed best to the time in which they lived. The message itself, though, was not contemporaneous, but rather was eternal, possessing a common core of meaning.

Now, to continue, one matter ought to be clarified. It is of the sacramental Holy Orders that we speak. There is, first and foremost, the High Priesthood of Christ Himself. The sacramental Priests of the Church share in that priesthood, the Bishops sharing most fully. There is also, then, a universal priesthood, or a priesthood of all believers, as it is sometimes termed. Far from being a Protestant doctrine (for Martin Luther used the concept of the priesthood of all believers to challenge the sacramental priesthood as part of his invented doctrine), there are indeed priestly duties of all the faithful, both men and women, as the Blessed Apostle Peter makes clear by saying: “But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2.9) In that regard, all the faithful, both men and women, are called by virtue of their Baptism, by which they are made members of the Corporate Body of Christ, to spread the Gospel and to assist at the Holy Mass and other sacraments. Indeed, attending and appropriately participating at the mass is rightly called assisting at mass, for the faithful join themselves to the priest in the Sacrifice upon the altar, joining their own prayers to his in one collective act of worship. In that wonderful work done upon the altar, the lay faithful must “…offer [their] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” (Romans 12.2) In continuation thereof, that is in daily life, the lay faithful are called to be as Christ-like as possible. This can be understood as an extension of the role of the sacramental priest as an alter Christus. The two specific roles are separate, of course, but there is a direct parallel, for the concept of one extends from the other. The lay faithful ought to glorify God in all that they do, in their volunteer work, in their homes and family life, and in their employment. No aspect of life ought to be untouched.

Taken from the universal priesthood of the faithful there are those who have vocations to Holy Orders. Those with such a vocation may, as has always been held by the Church, be only male, for the sacramental priesthood, the highest form of which is the episcopate, has a necessarily masculine character that was imparted by Our Lord.

Our Lord chose only men as Apostles. It is from those twelve Apostles that the Bishops throughout the ages, even unto the present time, descend in unbroken succession by the laying on of hands. The Bishops, as Apostles themselves, possess the fullness of Christ’s Holy Priesthood. It is they who are the principle Ministers of the Holy Gospel on earth. Those who are ordained to the Holy Order of Priests, also known as the Presbyterate, share in the ministry of the Bishop and are an extension of the Bishop’s ministry. That is a chief reason for which a priest must be tied to and serve under the pastoral leadership and governance of a Bishop.

It has also been asserted that the selection of men as Apostles was merely a product of the social norms of the times. It may be tempting for one to accept such an argument, especially in the present time. Yet shall we call Christ discriminatory? Shall we call Him bound by the norms of the world or of any particular time? Rather, Christ came to this world as wholly God and wholly man to fulfill the law. What He did often broke with the social norms of the time. He did not hesitate to lecture the elders. He did not hesitate to rebuke those who were abusing the Temple, even turning over the tables of the vendors. He admitted to His company even those who were outcasts in society, often assigning them roles completely inconsistent with and above their role in larger society. That very same applied to the women in our Lord’s company. How, then, is it even remotely logical that one can believe that our Lord, doing all that He did in breaking social norms, would not have selected female Apostles simply to follow social norms? It is entirely illogical that such would be the case. Indeed, our Lord had women in His company who loved Him, and would he not appoint them if that was to have been their role? Yet He did not appoint even one of the women whom he loved and who has such special access to His heart. Dare we to question the mind of God? No. Our Lord came to this world with a masculine character. That was by design, for the Archangel declared it to Mary. Likewise, our Lord imparted a masculine character to the sacramental priestly ministry, for priests were to stand at the altar to carry out the Sacrifice as an alter Christus.

It has also been asserted that the ways of the Church were established by men to control women. How offensive such an accusation is! Shall we think that our Lord, who was and is God and came to earth to establish His Bride, the Holy Church, for the salvation of all mankind appointed twelve men as Apostles, giving them the role to lead the Church and ensure the proper continuation of church leadership into future generations, if said twelve men were of such low character that they would exploit the power given to them for the end of controlling women? What utter nonsense that is. Rather, our Lord, in His holy and infinite wisdom, unto whom all hearts are open, chose specifically and with purpose, just as the Blessed Virgin was chosen. It is true that some in church leadership have not been faithful stewards over the years. Yet, on this issue it has been so consistent that even such accusations against later generations of church leaders fall quite short and are not even worth entertaining as having the slightest validity whatsoever. It is flawed men who serve as priests, even the Apostles themselves. The errors of some men in church leadership do not provide even the remotest justification for the changing of something inherently of spiritual character. All humans, both men and women, are fallible.

Recall also that it was at the Last Supper that our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist and thereby instituted the sacramental priesthood. Our Lord said “this do in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22.19) Dare we think it was by accident that our Lord chose the twelve for the Last Supper? It was no accident. It was part of the fulfillment of the divine plan. The Apostles were ordained as priests on that night, just as they were consecrated bishops by the descent of the Holy Ghost on the first Pentecost. Thus our Lord expressed through His own actions the fact that, for reasons that we cannot fully understand as humans, there was to be a sacramental priesthood set apart from the universal priesthood of all the faithful, and that sacramental priesthood, called Holy Orders, was to have a masculine character as Christ Himself had a masculine character in human form. We dare not question the purpose or intent of our Lord. We who have been called to the sacramental ministry of the altar of God must fall to our knees in gratitude for the immeasurable gift and in humility at the eternal vastness of the task that we have been asked to do. The sacramental priests, the ministers of the altar, serve as earthly, human reminders of our Lord, for our Lord is no longer with us in human form, but rather with us spiritually through the ministry of the Church. Our Lord’s priests serve as active reminders of the human form of Christ, who came to world, deigning to take the form of a man, out of love for all humanity.

Indeed, it is not at all a matter of human capability. A woman, or even a layman, is physically capable of donning the priestly vestments, making all the actions, and saying all the words of the Holy Mass. Yet it would not be a mass in either case under any circumstances. It would be a simulated sacrament – something that carries grave canonical penalties, and something that is utterly without effect. The nature of the sacramental priesthood is spiritual. The movements, actions, and words are merely outwards symbols of inward grace. The priesthood is an indelible mark on the soul, and though that soul is placed in a masculine body, the nature of the priesthood is inherently spiritual. Truly, priests often experience an inner conflict between their spiritual and human nature, as even did Blessed Peter the Apostle.

Also, it is worthwhile to note the great and important similarities between the sacramental priesthood and the sacrament of marriage. The priest is married to the Holy Church, the Bride of Christ. The husband is married to his wife. The priest is to love, protect, and care for the Church, and likewise it is the Christian duty of the husband to love, protect, and care for his wife.

Women, however, are not second-class citizens in the Holy Church of Christ. There is neither male nor female in Heaven, though there is on earth. If we say that there exist male and female on earth simply for the purpose of the propagation of the human race, then that is to suggest that humans are no different than animals. Yet humans possess a soul. Humans are, more precisely, a soul occupying an earthly body for a short time. Men and women each have distinct traits beyond that of simple individual personality differences. There is a definite masculine character, and there is a definite feminine character. God in His wisdom created both for a purpose. One such purpose we know is that they may better help each other to attain salvation. The Church on earth has but one purpose, and that is the cure of souls. It is, therefore, essential that the design of the Church be in accord with the will of God and the purpose of God, and undeniably the true, authentic, traditional Church is in accord, for she alone was established by Christ Himself.

Women, following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have an important role in the Church. Two important women stood at the foot of Christ, even when most men had abandoned our Lord. It was women to whom the Resurrection was first announced. It was the obedience of one woman, the Blessed Virgin, that allowed the salvation of mankind – and thus Our Lady ranks first among any human that has ever lived. It may even be said that women have an easier time approaching our Lord because of the very fact that He came to the earth in a masculine form. The feminine faith is special and of a unique character. Recall that Blessed Peter the Apostle, the first Pope, the Rock upon which the Church was built, denied Christ thrice! Remember the fear of the Apostles in those early years. Saint Thomas did not believe in the Resurrection until he placed his hands in the wounds of Christ. Paul was a notorious persecutor of Christians until his conversion on the road to Damascus. Peter, when told to walk on water, eventually sank because of fear and weakness of faith. The women of Scripture approached our Lord in an entirely different way. Mary was constant throughout the pregnancy, though the infancy, through our Lord’s entire life and then even unto her own assumption into Heaven. The women of Scripture overall had a special relationship with the heart of Jesus that was seen in the way in which they approached and interacted with Him. Women in that same way can be better able to have a spousal relationship with Christ. In that way there is so much that they can do, taking on a maternal caring for their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another modern objection to address is that it is claimed that, because of the male priesthood, leadership in the Church is denied to women. First, it is not true that women have never held and do not hold positions of great responsibility in the Church. In female religious orders, for example, the role of Abbess is quite obviously held by a woman. Abbesses have a similar role and similar privileges to Bishops, even though the role is nevertheless different. In general, women may hold and do hold various high offices. It is only those offices that are required to be held by one in Holy Orders than are exclusively male. Yes, that does include the senior governing offices, but that is how it must be. As Patriarch, for example, We do not rule and lead and teach Our flock in Our human capacity, but in a spiritual. It is Our priestly nature inside of Us that rules, leads, and teaches. That priestly nature is in a masculine body, but that body by itself cannot lead the Church, for the Church is necessarily spiritual. Without the spirit, it is nothing. It merely exists here on earth for the salvation of the people of God on earth. So, it is not a discriminatory act against women that only men may hold offices that require Holy Orders, for it is above the distinction of male and female. It is the soul that leads, not the body.

Now, dearest sons and daughters in Christ, love one another as our Lord command us to do, following His example. Follow the immutable and ever-constant teachings of our Lord, for they are the guiding light of the world. Follow the shepherds placed over the Holy Church, which Our Lord Himself left, filled with the Spirit, that all who believe in Christ would not be alone. Do not give in to modernism, but hold fast to the traditions that have helped sustain our faith in this world since the time of the Apostles. Do not foster or promote vain conflict, but rather always follow the path of Christ. And accept Our Apostolic Blessing that you may each be filled with the grace of our Lord."

Rutherfordus c.p.p. I S. Stefani
Sacres Ordines Ecclesiae - On Holy Orders and the Role of Women
Given on the Octave Day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
6 July A.D. 2016