Daily Archives: May 11, 2011

Meditations on the Faith Journey

Last year I was in the midst of a spiritual struggle as I recovered from the collapse of my faith following due to the effects of PTSD that begat a psychological and spiritual collapse following my return from in Iraq in 2008.  That collapse which left me for all practical purposes an agnostic caused me to question many things but eventually faith returned.  On the big matters such as the core beliefs of the Christian faith I was still orthodox in my belief as a member of a conservative Anglo-Catholic communion. At the same time many of my beliefs concerning matters of social justice, war and peace, economic philosophy and a host of other Moral Theology questions returned me to the writings of those that are considered more progressive or forgive the loaded term “liberal.”

As I began to struggle with these and write about that struggle and my journey on this website last summer I found that I was on the outs with my church and was asked by my Bishop to leave.  As a military Chaplain that was a definite threat and for a while I had been talking with the Episcopal Church about the possibility of going to Canterbury.  Well that process really didn’t get far due to changes in the diocese where I was attempting to make the move and an Episcopal Bishop suggested a number of Churches to include my current Church, an Old Catholic Denomination the Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church (ACOC).

It turns out that the ACOC and Old Catholicism is a good fit for me.  On the basics the ACOC and Old Catholics are Catholic, just not Roman holding to the faith of the undivided Catholic Church before the Roman Catholic-Eastern Orthodox split of 1054.  Old Catholicism began in the Netherlands even before the Reformation due to the neglect of the church by Rome and finally by the 1700s this National Catholic Church of the Netherlands was in conflict with Rome which sent Roman Bishops to set things right. But try as they might they could not eliminate this Catholic Church in a heavily Protestant country.  Following the First Vatican Council of 1870 which defined the dogma of Papal Infallibility which had been instituted by Pope Pius IX in 1854 when he unilaterally without the benefit of a General Council the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Dissenting Bishops and Clergy from Germany, Austria and Switzerland began national Catholic Churches and entered into communion with the Dutch Church to form the Utrecht Union.  The basic beliefs include the Eucharist as the core of the church which is a community of believers. The historic Creeds, Apostolic Success, the seven Sacraments and first seven Ecumenical Councils are core beliefs as are a commitment to the ecumenical movement.  Transubstantiation is rejected with the Eucharist being considered a mystery of faith as it is in the Orthodox Churches.  The church has married clergy and since 1994 has ordained women including bishops.  Its apostolic succession is recognized as valid by Rome although Old Catholics are defined as being in schism. With the exception of women clergy many of these tenants were the same as my old church.

I have found a home in this movement where my faith and charisms are valued and where I know that following my time in the Navy that I will still have a spiritual home and connection.

It has been an interesting journey and I can see the hand of God in the move.  I am at peace and my faith continues to grow.  Last year I knew that I was living on borrowed time in my old denomination as my writings diverged from the mainstream of that church, most notably in social policy.  Some will find fault with this and probably lump me in with men like theologians Hans Kung and the late Bernard Häring who are vilified by conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church for their progressive views.  But I am okay with that, they are two of the men who helped bring me from Evangelical Protestantism to the Catholic faith.

Pray for me a sinner,


Padre Steve+


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