VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
ii 
CONTENTS 
Page 
PREFACE iii 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv 
ABSTRACT v 
INRTODUCTION: EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH FELLOWSHIP ...
iii 
PREFACE 
The primary focus of this thesis is an examination and exploration of the various notions or concepts of “Ch...
iv 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 
My deep gratitude goes to those who offered support and encouragement on the project, particularly my...
v 
ABSTRACT 
The aim of this thesis is to examine and explore the various notions or concepts of “Christ” as understood in...
vi 
esoteric approaches to Christ. Jesus authenticates, actualizes and makes real and possible for us what is otherwise no...
1 
INTRODUCTION 
EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH FELLOWSHIP AND UNDERSTANDING 
What is the Liberal Catholic Church? 
Intro...
2 
 a liberal church 
 a mystical church 
 a church in the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions. 
Each of the above feat...
3 
A more recent former Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Ian R Hooker, has written (2000:Online): 
Notwith...
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claim to derive its holy orders from the Roman Catholic Church, via the Old Catholic Church in Great Britain, which der...
5 
fathers as Clement of Alexandria17 and Origen.18 Thus, it is the true “teachings of Christ” that are handed down by the...
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“assumes God reveals himself/herself (Grace manifests itself) through creatures, through the world, through the events ...
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unprejudiced quest for spiritual truth, enlightenment and, if you like, initiation into the Ancient Mysteries. 
The Lib...
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“remarkably consistent”.26 The Church sees its role as being “the mystical awakening of the individual and the Body of ...
9 
However, true mysticism ought not to be focused on "experiences", which come and go, but on the lasting personal experi...
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exactly is this “lost Gnosis”? Is the “lost Gnosis” Gnosticism? If so, what form or variety of Gnostic thought are we ...
11 
“Theosophy as understood by Adyar” may have been the means by which the Liberal Catholic Church came into being, but i...
12 
Alexandrian School of Theology, and especially to such early Church fathers as Clement of Alexandria and Origen – phil...
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CHAPTER 1 
EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH TRADITION Christ in the Liberal Catholic Tradition 
Introduction 
“The Libe...
14 
the above will be considered in turn, both in this chapter of the thesis and in the next chapter as well relating to T...
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“nevertheless so great that He is to us God in the fullest sense of that mysterious word” (Pigott [1925] 1927:21). 
No...
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 the Son – God “with” us; the term of generation (the Word “made flesh”, the illumined person, “Christ in [us], the h...
17 
soul and body of each human being,46 as well as a description of the creative process through which all manifestation ...
18 
invented by disciples who wished to prove his divinity.49 
James Peter is right when he says (1965:208): 
It is as a m...
19 
Jung referred to “the high drama of the life of Christ and how it is being re-enacted in the individual soul” as “the ...
20 
“Historical Jesus” (the latter referring to the so-called “Christ of the Churches”, as traditionally understood). Van ...
21 
gnosis” that is at the heart of all the major religions and mythologies53 - that is, “the wisdom underlying all religi...
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teachings upon the man Jesus, deifying him in the process such that Jesus came to be regarded as God in a unique and e...
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The Mystic Christ 
Besant ([1901] 1914:146), in Esoteric Christianity, writes that “The Christ of the Solar Myth was t...
24 
The Anonymous Christ 
The present writer, in an article entitled “The Anonymous Christ” (Ellis-Jones 2008a; see also 2...
25 
In our Church we have the Christ within us, but you have also special intensification of the power of the Christ witho...
26 
CHAPTER 2 
EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH LIBERAL CATHOLIC EXPRESSION Christ in the Liberal Catholic Liturgy 
The Lib...
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with Bishop Wedgwood, the Psalms, canticles, and the various Epistle and Gospel readings for each week as well as thos...
28 
various parts of The Liturgy.69 
It would appear that the starting point for the creation (or “revision”) of what was ...
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sign of an invisible reality". Similarly, the Council of Trent defined “sacrament” as “a visible sign of invisible gra...
30 
A sacrament is a free, undeserved sacrificial gift77 to the Church from the Living Christ whose nature it is to give o...
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and we all need to be relieved of the bondage of self (“the evil of separateness and selfishness” (Liturgy 367)). That...
32 
repetition80 - of the essential sacrificial nature and character of “God as a living power” (Wedgwood 1928e:Online), a...
33 
Aspect of the Deity]” (Leadbeater [1913] 1954:531-532), that we might “become partakers in the divine nature” (see 2 P...
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Christhood in the form of full and conscious communion with God the Father, the Absolute - a showing forth and anticip...
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We have further symbolism, once again in a living sense, in that the Bread (cf flesh) may be said to represent our ter...
36 
 “Under the veil of earthly things, now have we communion with our Lord Jesus Christ ...” (in the Prayer after Commun...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENED...
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VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENEDICTIONA CCORDING TO THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC RITE

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A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of The Liberal Catholic Institute of Stduies (Australian Campus) for a Diploma in Religious Studies - Copyright Ian Ellis-Jones 2009 - All Rights Reserved. (See also the separate major thesis VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICES OF SOLEMN BENEDICTION AND HEALING ACCORDING TO THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC RITE.)

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VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENEDICTIONA CCORDING TO THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC RITE

  1. 1. VISIONS OF THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE SERVICE OF SOLEMN BENEDICTION ACCORDING TO THE LIBERAL CATHOLIC RITE IAN ELLIS-JONES PhD (UTS) Copyright © Ian Ellis-Jones 2009 – All Rights Reserved A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of The Liberal Catholic Institute of Studies (Australian Campus) for a Diploma in Religious Studies The Liberal Catholic Church in the Province of Australasia (Including Indonesia) This thesis is not an official document of The Liberal Catholic Church in any of its provinces or jurisdictions. The views expressed by the author are those of the author and must not be taken as necessarily those of The Liberal Catholic Church in any of its provinces or jurisdictions.
  2. 2. ii CONTENTS Page PREFACE iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv ABSTRACT v INRTODUCTION: EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH FELLOWSHIP AND UNDERSTANDING What is the Liberal Catholic Church? 1 CHAPTER 1: EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH TRADITION Christ in the Liberal Catholic Church Tradition 13 CHAPTER 2: EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH LIBERAL CATHOLIC EXPRESSION Christ in the Liberal Catholic Liturgy 26 CHAPTER 3: EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH ENCOUNTER The Christ of the Author’s Personal Encounter 41 REFERENCES 49
  3. 3. iii PREFACE The primary focus of this thesis is an examination and exploration of the various notions or concepts of “Christ” as understood in The Liturgy According to the Use of the Liberal Catholic Church (“The Liturgy”), especially in the context of the services of the Holy Eucharist and the Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament, as contained in The Liturgy. References in this thesis to page numbers of The Liturgy are references to the 5th (1983) edition of The Liturgy. By way of special note, full points in contractions and between the letters of acronyms and abbreviations consisting of initial capitals, together with any superadded punctuation marks (eg full points commas), have been omitted from all textual material including quotations, case extracts and all other excerpted material. Some other very minor stylistic word and spelling changes to excerpted and quoted material have been made either to assist in reading or for consistency’s sake. Unnecessary capitalization has been avoided as far as practicable, except when referring to God or, depending upon the context, certain attributes or qualities ordinarily associated with or deemed equivalent in meaning to God. For the most part, original spellings have been retained. This has resulted in some otherwise unavoidable inconsistency of expression. Scriptures quotations in this thesis are primarily from the King James (Authorized) Version of the Bible. In some cases, the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and certain other versions of the Bible have been used. Although the author is committed to the use of gender-neutral language, quotations from writings (particularly older ones) in which one gender is used have been printed as originally written. Finally, the views and opinions expressed by the author in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of, and should not be attributed to, the Liberal Catholic Church in any of its various provinces. Ian Ellis-Jones 20 June 2009
  4. 4. iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My deep gratitude goes to those who offered support and encouragement on the project, particularly my dear wife Elspeth, my three children Fiona, Simon and Peter, and my son-in- law Mark. I also wish to thank, most especially, the Right Reverend Pedro Oliveira, and the Very Reverend Dr Ronald A Rivett, the latter a former Vicar-General of the Liberal Catholic Church in Australia, who have believed in and inspired me, and who have shared with me so much of their wisdom and knowledge over the years. Very special and heartfelt thanks are also due to the Reverend Dr Arthur F Mowle, Director, Liberal Catholic Institute of Studies, for suggesting the title and topic areas of this thesis as well as the wording of the various chapter headings, and for furnishing invaluable reading material. I will always be grateful for his encouragement, kind words, wise counsel and advice during the preparation of this thesis and otherwise. I also wish to thank most sincerely the Right Reverend Graham Preston, Regionary Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church in the Province of Australasia (including Indonesia) for his encouragement, support and wise counsel. I have also learned much from my many friends at the Liberal Catholic Church of Saint Francis, Gordon NSW in the years since I first started attending services there on a regular basis in 1985. Thanks are also due to Melinda Aitkenhead for her IT technical assistance. This thesis is dedicated to my late parents, Harry and Phyl, who believed in me and taught me to be honest and always to strive for the best. From them I learned that there can be true religion, faith and objective moral values without dogmatism, fundamentalism, cant and hypocrisy.
  5. 5. v ABSTRACT The aim of this thesis is to examine and explore the various notions or concepts of “Christ” as understood in The Liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church, especially in the context of the services of the Holy Eucharist and the Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament, as contained in The Liturgy. The thesis provides the reader, in successive chapters, with various opportunities to experience the Christ through fellowship and understanding, tradition, expression and encounter. The nature of the Liberal Catholic Church is examined and explored in the introduction. The Liberal Catholic Church is a Christian church and denomination, an independent Catholic and Apostolic church, a sacramental church in the Catholic tradition, a liberal church, a mystical church, and a church in the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions. Each of those features or distinguishing characteristics is addressed seriatim. Theosophy may have been the means by which the Liberal Catholic Church came into being, but it is not Theosophy that underpins and provides a theological foundation for the Church being a church, and a Christian one at that, but the very roots of Christianity itself as expressed by those Christians whose theology was rooted in Platonism and Neoplatonism. In the first chapter of the thesis there is a fulsome exposition of the different senses in which the word “Christ” is, and has been, used in the tradition of the Liberal Catholic Church. Thus, Christ can mean any one or more of the following Persons, Beings or Principles in the Liberal Catholic tradition: the “Historical Jesus”, the “Historical Christ”, the “Mythic (or “Pagan”) Christ”, the “Cosmic Christ”, the “Mystic Christ”, and the “Anonymous Christ”. Those mentioned are certainly not mutually exclusive. Indeed, many overlap and coalesce. Each of the above is considered in turn. (There is also what is known as the “Eucharistic Lord”, whose Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar and in the service of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is considered in the second chapter. Finally, there is the “Christ of Personal Encounter and Experience” which is the subject of the third and final chapter of the thesis.) The writer does not eschew esoteric approaches to understanding and encountering Christ (in particular, what is often referred to as the “indwelling Christ” or “Christ within”). However, without the historical Jesus there is no real way of conceptualizing the more
  6. 6. vi esoteric approaches to Christ. Jesus authenticates, actualizes and makes real and possible for us what is otherwise not only inscrutable but unattainable. As the Church’s second Presiding Bishop Charles W Leadbeater made clear, the life of Jesus Christ is “the prototype” of the life of all of his followers, and each of us must “pass through those stages, those steps, those initiations through which Christ [himself] passed”. In the second chapter of the thesis the writer examines and explores the various senses in which “the Christ” is referred to in the Liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church, especially in the services of the Holy Eucharist and Solemn Benediction. For the Liberal Catholic, the sacraments are an integral part of “the mysteries of God" (1 Cor 4:1), and the Ancient Wisdom itself. What makes the Liberal Catholic Church also very special is the emphasis it gives as a church in its Liturgy to the eastern wisdom tradition whilst also retaining much of the language, thought forms and teaching of the Western tradition. This is, in the opinion of the writer, altogether appropriate, given that the real Jesus was a man of the East who belongs as much to Asia as to the West. In the third and final chapter of the thesis the writer expresses his own understanding of the Christ, who is both the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith as well as the Indwelling Presence of God, the very livingness, oneness and self-givingness of Life Itself in whom we all live and move and have our being.
  7. 7. 1 INTRODUCTION EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH FELLOWSHIP AND UNDERSTANDING What is the Liberal Catholic Church? Introduction The Liberal Catholic Church,1 first and foremost, is a “church”.2 In the New Testament of the Christian Bible the word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklēsia. That word comes from two words, ek meaning “out”, and kaleo meaning to “call”, “call out” or “invite”. Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (see Harrison [1960] 1972:123) states that the New Testament uses the word ekklēsia to refer to a congregation assembled by and called out by the Living God about Jesus, as well as “the spiritual family of God, the Christian fellowship created by the Holy Spirit through the testimony to the mighty acts of God in Christ Jesus”. An ekklēsia is thus no mere assembly or place of public assembly or public meeting,3 but a centre of worship of people who have been especially “called out” by God for Divine purposes. As sometime Australian Liberal Catholic priest and Theosophist Brian Parry has pointed out (1967:10), “A church is not a body separate from those comprising it.” The Liberal Catholic Church is not only a church but also:  a Christian church and denomination  an independent Catholic and Apostolic church  a sacramental church in the Catholic tradition 1 A reference in this thesis to the Liberal Catholic Church is a reference to that church, known as such, the current Presiding Bishop of which is the Most Reverend Graham S Wale, and which has as one of its provinces throughout the world the Province of Australasia (including Indonesia). 2 The English word “church”, along with its cognate forms kirche, kerk, kirk, comes from the Greek adjective, to kuriakon, “used first of the house of the Lord, then of his people”: Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (see Harrison [1960] 1972:123). 3 There are other Greek words such as agora, paneguris, heorte, koinon, thiasos, sunagoge and sunago that can be used to refer to a mere assembly as such.
  8. 8. 2  a liberal church  a mystical church  a church in the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions. Each of the above features or distinguishing characteristics of the Liberal Catholic Church will be addressed seriatim. The Nature of the Liberal Catholic Church A Christian Church and Denomination The Liberal Catholic Church sees itself as both a “Christian church” and a “Christian denomination” - “part of the historical [Christian] Church” - which “seeks to work in amity with all other Christian denominations”,4 and which “emphasises the values of corporate Christian life and worship”.5 It is “a living Christian Church, both progressive and historical”,6 that seeks “not only to commemorate a Christ who lived two thousand years ago” but also “to serve as a vehicle for the eternal Christ who lives as a mighty spiritual presence in the world, guiding and sustaining his people”.7 Liberal Catholic Bishop Marijn Brandt writes (nd [but c1965]:Online): The Liberal Catholic Church ... has brought us a Christianity with freedom of belief, without fear, without exploitation, and with priests who have no power over people, and who do not receive any money, but who are only servants of their fellow-men.8 Bishop James I Wedgwood, the first Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, was in no doubt that the Liberal Catholic Church was a Christian church, stating not only that the Liberal Catholic Church “is a Christian Church” but that “its work lies with Christianity” and “it is with the teaching and humble practice of this Christian heritage that the Liberal Catholic Church is chiefly occupied” (1919:13-14). In one publication of the Liberal Catholic Church it is stated: The Liberal Catholic Church seeks to give the world the best elements of Catholicism with the best of Protestantism.9 4 See Section 14 (Other Churches & Communions), [Final Draft] Statement of Principles & Summary of Doctrine, 9th ed (London: St Alban Press, 2006) [referred to in this thesis as “[Final Draft] SP&SD”]. 5 See Section 3 (Overall Perspective), [Final Draft] SP&SD. 6 See Section 10 (Philosophical Background), [Final Draft] SP&SD. 7 See Section 3 (Overall Perspective), [Final Draft] SP&SD. 8 Emphasis added.
  9. 9. 3 A more recent former Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Ian R Hooker, has written (2000:Online): Notwithstanding his heavy reliance on the members and resources of The Theosophical Society, [Bishop] Wedgwood was not building a church just for theosophists. From the beginning he saw the [Liberal Catholic Church] as a haven for open-minded, liberally inclined Christians, no longer comfortable in mainstream churches. In time, he believed, these people would form the majority of Liberal Catholics. A “Christian” church? Yes, unargubaly so, but one with a special focus on, and an understanding of, the nature and purpose of all true religion. Thus, C B Hankin writes (1945:17) that conventional Christianity places “so much stress ... upon belief, and so little upon knowledge; so much upon the merit of the Atonement, and so little upon the working out of our own salvation ... which has led us to place our reliance upon something outside ourselves for the attainment of perfection within”.10 An Independent Catholic and Apostolic Church The late Sten von Krusenstierna, a former Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, wrote that the Liberal Catholic Church is a “Catholic” church, first, “taken in its meaning of universal”11 and, secondly, “in its acquired meaning of the traditional Christian Church administering the Seven Sacraments, and founded on Apostolic Succession” (1963:1). The Liberal Catholic Church sees itself as being one limb of the “one holy catholic and apostolic church” which is also known and referred to as the Mystical Body of Christ12 of which Christ is the founder, living head and eternal high priest. The third Presiding Bishop Bishop Frank W Pigott referred to the Liberal Catholic Church as being “distinct from other parts of the Catholic Church” but “not separate from that Church” ([1925] 1927:8). Pigott went further, stating that the Liberal Catholic Church was “not so much a new Church as a new part of the old Church” ([1925] 1927:8). The Liberal Catholic Church, although a Catholic church, is “independent” in that the Church is neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant nor Orthodox. However, the Church does 9 What is the Liberal Catholic Church? (Ojai CA: St Alban Press, nd). 10 Emphasis in the original. 11 Or all-embracing. 12 Many Liberal Catholics also use the phrase “the Mystical Body of Christ” to refer to the universe itself.
  10. 10. 4 claim to derive its holy orders from the Roman Catholic Church, via the Old Catholic Church in Great Britain, which derived its orders from the Old Catholic archiepiscopal see of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and to have the benefit of unbroken Apostolic Succession. That doctrine, traditionally expressed, “asserts that the Gospel is preserved in the Church by means of a lineal succession of bishops who have handed down the truth from the beginning and who possess the teaching authority of the Apostles themselves” (Enloe: Online), that is, that the original twelve apostles (or disciples) passed on their authority to their successors and so on throughout the centuries. The present writer does not question the importance of this doctrine of Apostolic Succession to great numbers of Christians of various denominations including but not limited to many Roman Catholics as well as Liberal Catholics, and recognizes the validity of many diverse traditions which have sought to carefully preserve the succession of their orders. However, the writer prefers to interpret the doctrine more esoterically or metaphorically such that what is passed down throughout the centuries is a certain body of teaching as opposed to an “office replete with successors” (Enloe: Online).13 Now, the New Testament itself refers to the Church being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Eph 2:20; cf Liturgy 224). Despite the Roman interpretation given to Matthew 16:18 (“thou art Peter [Petros], and upon this rock [petra]14 I will build my church ...”),15 a foundation, whether in the form of Christ himself or otherwise, can have no “successors” as such, but there can be a passing down or transmission of a body of teaching which Bishop Pigott referred to as the “lost Gnosis”, more particularly, “the original depositum, perhaps; the Creed within the Creeds and the Gospel within the Gospels” (1925:35).16 Such an interpretation and understanding of the doctrine of Apostolic Succession is supported by the writings of such early Church 13 Emphasis in the original. 14 A fragment of a rock. 15 Wills (2006:80) states that in the same Gospel (Matthew) the power to “bind and loose” (cf Mt 16:19) is not conferred upon Peter exclusively “but to the followers as a body” (see, relevantly, Mt 18:18). Protestants have traditionally taken the view that what Jesus is actually saying in Mt 16:18 - assuming for the moment the authenticity of the verse - is that it is Peter’s profession of faith upon which will serve as the basis for the Church. Whether Jesus actually intended to found a church, as opposed to a kingdom (the “Kingdom of God”), is another contentious issue. One thing is clear – the Church itself is not the Kingdom of God. See Wills (2006:80-84 et seq). 16 Emphasis in the original.
  11. 11. 5 fathers as Clement of Alexandria17 and Origen.18 Thus, it is the true “teachings of Christ” that are handed down by the successive ceremonial laying on of hands with due ecclesiastical authority that constitute, in the respectful opinion of the present writer, the true inner meaning and ongoing significance of the doctrine of Apostolic Succession as opposed to a lineate succession of Popes throughout the centuries with succession after succession of bishops of various denominations, the majority of which, in any event, are not in communion with the Pope of the day whoever that Pope may be. The Liberal Catholic Church can rightly claim to have preserved Apostolic Succession by its being faithful to the true teachings of the Living Christ and to its being a vehicle by means of which “the wisdom underlying all religions when they are stripped of accretions and superstitions ... teachings [that] aid the unfoldment of the latent spiritual nature in the human being, without dependence or fear” (Besant ([1909] 1984:60) has been preserved and handed down. The Liberal Catholic Church is also “independent” of all other Christian churches in the sense that, as a Church, it is self-governing and autonomous. Further, there is “no central See, each province being independent under its Regionary Bishop” (Parry and Rivett [1969] 1985:4).19 In addition, “freedom of belief [is] a cornerstone of its foundations”,20 allowing members and adherents “freedom in the interpretation of Creeds, Scriptures and Traditions, and of its Liturgy and Doctrine”.21 Therein lies the true and unique catholicity of the Liberal Catholic Church. A Sacramental Church in the Catholic Tradition Being a church in the Catholic tradition, the Liberal Catholic Church is a sacramental church that seeks to perpetuate the historical sacramental tradition instituted by Christ himself. Roman Catholic priest, professor of sociology and novelist Andrew M Greeley, in his book The Bottom Line Catechism, explains that the “Catholic” approach to the sacraments 17 See Miscellanies 1:1. 18 See The Fundamental Doctrines 1:2. 19 However, as Parry and Rivett rightly point out, the Church “maintains its own cohesiveness through a General Episcopal Synod consisting of its bishops, and its unity with the whole Catholic Church through its Apostolic Succession” ([1969] 1985:4). 20 See Section 11 (Science & Religion), [Final Draft] SP&SD. 21 See Section 2 (Freedom of Thought), [Final Draft] SP&SD.
  12. 12. 6 “assumes God reveals himself/herself (Grace manifests itself) through creatures, through the world, through the events of human life” ([1982] 1983:293). The sacraments,22 which, in the Liberal Catholic Church at least, are made easily and freely available to all who reverently seek them, are both means of grace and powerful “tools” for spiritual growth and development, as they help people “to reach their destiny – the peace, the power, the love and bliss of conscious union with God” (Sheehan [1925] 1977:39).23 The Liberal Catholic Church is committed to a belief in the essential oneness and sacredness of all life. Roman Catholic priest Andrew M Greeley makes the valid point that “[s]ome things can be Sacraments only if one has a world-view that sees everything as having the potential for sacramentality” ([1982] 1983:294). However, whilst all life is sacramental in character, and although there are clearly many ways in which the essential oneness and sacredness of all life can be appreciated and experienced, churches in the Catholic tradition have always regarded the seven historic sacraments of the Catholic Church as spiritual means by which we can truly experience most wonderfully and powerfully that sense of oneness and sacredness, and thereby change for the better. A Liberal Church The Liberal Catholic Church is a “liberal” Christian church. In that regard, as mentioned previously the Church offers its members, adherents and all others complete liberality and freedom of thought and belief so that each may seek, in their own individual respective ways, a greater reality than self.24 There has always been much misunderstanding about the word “liberal”. The word “liberality” [from the Latin liber, a free person] is the noun derived from the word “liberal”, as opposed to the word “liberty” which implies freedom of one kind or another. Liberality, on the other hand, refers to munificence, that is, an abundant, non-literal, open-minded and 22 “The Liberal Catholic Church recognises and administers the seven traditional sacraments, which are: Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Absolution, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony, and Holy Orders.” Summary of Doctrine, numbered para 7, in [Final Draft] SP&SD. 23 The nature of the sacraments and, in particular, the Holy Eucharist will be considered in detail in Chapter 2 of this thesis. 24 See, in particular, Sections 2 (Freedom of Thought), 4 (The Sacraments), and 9 (Mysticism and the Wisdom Tradition), [Final Draft] SP&SD.
  13. 13. 7 unprejudiced quest for spiritual truth, enlightenment and, if you like, initiation into the Ancient Mysteries. The Liberal Catholic Church encourages people to think for themselves, and to search for truth in whatever ways they think best, whilst showing respect, tact and tolerance for those who, in good faith, see things differently and seek to follow different paths of faith. As a liberal church, albeit a Christian one, the Liberal Catholic Church does not claim, and ought not to claim, any exclusive revelation or status for itself or its members. The General Constitution of the Liberal Catholic Church, the authorized Liturgy of the Church, and the authorised Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine constitute the only official documents of the Church. However, the Church has never made the acceptance of any creed, article or profession of faith as a condition of membership of the Church. All who “strive to live in the spirit of love with all mankind and manfully to fight against sin and selfishness” and “strive to show forth in [their] thoughts, [their] words and [their] works, the power of God which is in [them]” (Liturgy 421) are welcome to become members of the Church. Further, the seven historic sacraments are offered to all who reverently seek them - not just members - and the Church erects no barriers around its altars. In essence, what “binds” Liberal Catholics together is not a rule book, a creed, a set of principles, a summary of doctrine, or the like, but the willingness to participate in a common liturgy. A Mystical Church The Liberal Catholic Church also sees itself as a mystical church, and it specifically recognises that mystical25 experiences are “part of our spiritual heritage as children of the Most High” and that the recorded accounts of such experiences over many centuries are 25 The word “mysticism” comes from the Greek mystikos (“of mysteries”) and root word mou (“to conceal”). Etymologically, the cognate Greek word muein stands for “closing the eyes and the lips” (Oliveira 2007b:207), “with the probable primary sense of ‘one vowed to keep silence,’ and hence ‘one initiated into the Mysteries” (Parrinder [1976] 1995:8). Ebner (1976:13) notes that mystery, in a theological context, “stresses the silence and invisibility of the Ultimate that is also unlimited and undecipherable”. Further, mystery is inherently “holy” (1976:36).
  14. 14. 8 “remarkably consistent”.26 The Church sees its role as being “the mystical awakening of the individual and the Body of Christ to reality, that Christ may be manifest in them to the full” (Parry and Rivett [1969] 1985:3). The term “mysticism”, in a Christian context, derives from a small work entitled The Mystical Theology written by the Neoplatonic Dionysius the Areopagite, also known and more correctly referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius, a man who was unquestionably the greatest Christian writer of the 6th century CE. However, it is important to bear in mind that Pseudo- Dionysius was not the "founder" of Christian mysticism. That honour belongs to none other than Jesus himself who uttered those immortal words, “I and my Father are one” (Jn 10:30). The Christian Church, even in its multiplicity of discordant forms, is first and foremost a mystical church, despite the efforts of many who would rather have it otherwise. It was the Christian mystical writer Evelyn Underhill who said, quite rightly, “It is not Christian to leave the Mystery out.” Mysticism has been defined as being ... in general, an immediate knowledge of God attained in this present life through personal religious experienced. It is primarily a state of prayer and as such admits of various degrees from short and rare Divine “touches” to the practically permanent union with God in the so-called “mystic marriage”.27 Manly P Hall described mysticism in similar terms as being “the belief in the possibility of direct personal participation in truth, through the extension of consciousness towards union with the gods, or Divine Being” (1945:179). The essence of the mystical experience is the experience of oneness, which can only be experienced in what has been described as the Eternal Now. Krishnamurti (1970:130) expressed it this way, when he said that religion is “the sense of comprehension of the totality of existence, in which there is no division between you and me”. 26 Section 9 (Mysticism and the Wisdom Tradition), [Final Draft] SP&SD. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “... we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our justification” (1 Cor 2:7). The writer of Luke’s Gospel refers to “the mysteries [or secrets] of the kingdom of God” (Lk 8:10). 27 See “Mysticism”, in Cross (1958). The Apostle Paul writes: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Col 1:26).
  15. 15. 9 However, true mysticism ought not to be focused on "experiences", which come and go, but on the lasting personal experience of “ultimate reality”. Canon C F Harman, an Anglican priest, wrote of the importance of Christian mysticism ([1963] 1964:12): ... Mysticism is something which has now got to come out of the monastery into the open and I believe that every Christian should be in some sense a mystic. The Church in the past has been afraid of mysticism and I don’t wonder, because the mystics, of course, leave the rational for the intuitional, and take the Church beyond the rational and the dogmatic to the super-rational. But the time has now come when mysticism must become part and parcel of our ordinary everyday Christian life. The Liberal Catholic Church is well-placed to provide opportunities for people to come to know the Self as one. A Church in the Platonic and Neoplatonic Traditions It is often said that Theosophy or Gnosticism, or a combination of the two, provides the basis of and for that “liberal thought”, but the present writer does not hold that view. Indeed, despite the Liberal Catholic Church having been founded by Theosophists, the true roots of the Church, as a Christian Church, and the so-called “lost gnosis”, lie not in Theosophy per se but in early Greek patristic philosophy and theology, that is, in early Christianity as expounded by those Church Fathers versed in the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions (by such persons as Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Plotinus) – ideas and beliefs which themselves were built upon the foundations of the Ancient Mysteries and the Wisdom tradition.28 This has been officially and consistently acknowledged by the Liberal Catholic Church over the years in its several editions of its Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine. Bishop Pigott wrote that the Liberal Catholic Church has a very special role and that is “to recover the lost Gnosis, and to establish it in its rightful place as true teaching and, therefore, essential to the Catholic [indeed, Christian] religion” (Pigott 1925:35),29 but what 28 Parrinder ([1976] 1995:8) writes: “The origins of the word mysticism were in the Mysteries of ancient Greece.” 29 Mowle (2007:183) has written: “Throughout the early centuries of the Church there were many different Gnostic groups, and all were not the same, and most certainly there was definitely a form of Gnostic Christianity in existence; but it would be most unwise to call our modern Liberal Catholic Church a remnant of that which existed back then.”
  16. 16. 10 exactly is this “lost Gnosis”? Is the “lost Gnosis” Gnosticism? If so, what form or variety of Gnostic thought are we talking about, as there were numerous competing Gnostic sects formerly in existence? Murray (1935:162) writes that “there were Gnostic sects scattered over the Hellenistic world before Christianity as well as after”. Many of these sects mimicked Christianity or were simply mystery-versions of Christianity. Further, there are numerous modern “reincarnations” of Gnosticism and Gnostic sects present in the world today, several of which purport to be Christian in orientation. Is the Liberal Catholic Church a Gnostic Christian church, and, if so, in what respects? Is, then, the “lost Gnosis” Theosophy? If so, what do we mean by that expression?30 It is easy to throw around the word “Theosophy” but, like so many things in life, the word means different things to different people. Anglican priest Canon C F Harman has written ([1963] 1964:10): Theosophy, as the name implies, is the wisdom of God. But it is something more than that; it is wisdom in God. It has God for its subject matter and its principle. It embraces the philosophy of man and also of the Cosmos and History. It includes what we call Theology, eve dogmatic Theology, but much more – Mystical Theology; it also goes beyond them. Harman goes on to stress that “Christian Theosophy must be carefully distinguished from the modern Theosophical Movement” and its teachings, the latter (“Theosophy as understood by Adyar”31) being very much a response, or reaction, to the rationalism and positivism of the 19th century and “too much attached to Indian thought” ([1963] 1964:10).32 Harman refers to Saint Paul as “the first Christian Gnostic” and “a theosophist in the true sense of that word” ([1963] 1964:10). Harman goes on to write ([1963] 1964:11): So Christian theosophy goes right back to St Paul himself. Later on Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa are unquestionably theosophical in their outlook and doctrine; so that we have some of the Christian Fathers laying the foundation of the Christian theosophical movement. Dionysius the Areopagite and mediaeval mysticism show a strong leaning in this direction; and let it be clearly understood that Christian theosophy, although it does include a certain amount of dogmatic theology, is more concerned with mystical theology. 30 The word “theosophy” literally means “divine wisdom” (from the Greek theos [god], and sophia [wisdom]). 31 See Tillett (2005:Online). 32 The theosophy to which Harmon refers, in objective contradistinction to what he refers to as “Christian theosophy”, is the eclectic body of ideas and beliefs promulgated by the Theosophical Society, founded by H P Blavatsky and others in New York City in 1875.
  17. 17. 11 “Theosophy as understood by Adyar” may have been the means by which the Liberal Catholic Church came into being, but it is not Theosophy that underpins and provides a theological foundation for the Church being a church, and a Christian one at that, but the very roots of Christianity itself as expressed by those Christians whose theology was rooted in Platonism and Neoplatonism. We are talking about what the German church historian and liberal theologian Harnack described as “the acute Hellenization of Christianity”.33 Harnack labelled that phenomenon Gnosticism, but more recent students of Gnosticism, whilst not doubting for one moment the phenomenon which Harnack described, say that he was wrong in labelling it Gnosticism: see, eg, Churton (2005:5). The uniqueness, beauty and wonder of the Liberal Catholic Church is that the Church manages to successfully combine these various traditions - Catholic, Platonic and Neoplatonic - with complete liberality and freedom of though and belief. We need to present and promote our Church as being a non-ethnic bound Eastern-leaning Western Christian Church in the Catholic, Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions. We have more in common with Eastern Christian churches and certain other Eastern-leaning Western Christian churches than we realize or care to admit. However, any talk of the Liberal Catholic Church being, or of its having been founded as, a “Theosophical Church” must be firmly rejected. As van Driel (in preface, Leadbeater [1902] 2007:Online) points out: This new body [namely, the Liberal Catholic Church] was not a Theosophical church, but rather one where the Catholic understanding of the Christian faith was combined with the Wisdom Tradition in complete freedom of conscience and belief. With the greatest of respect to those who have viewed it differently over the years, the whole idea of a “theosophical church” is, as mentioned above, oxymoronic, for Theosophy is not a religion, or at least it does not ordinarily claim to be one. Thus, Blavatsky (1950 10:163) writes: … Theosophy is not a Religion, we say, but RELIGION itself, the one bond of unity, which is so-universal and all-embracing that no man, as no speck – from gods and mortals down to animals, the blade of grass and atom – can be outside of its light. As a Church in the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions we are greatly indebted to the 33 Harnack (1908), quoted in Jonas (1958:36).
  18. 18. 12 Alexandrian School of Theology, and especially to such early Church fathers as Clement of Alexandria and Origen – philosophers and theologians who were not content simply to believe. They wanted to know. That should be our aim, both individually and as a Church, today. There are, to this day, certain other Eastern-leaning Christian churches such as the Maronite Catholic Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Church which, even though they had their respective origins in the Church of Antioch (as opposed to Alexandria), nevertheless see God as Mystery, and affirm the idea of progressive divinisation in the sense that the Son of God took, and continues to take, human form so that we might become God. This is a very Eastern perspective, and it has much in common with Liberal Catholic thinking. Regrettably, mainstream traditional Christianity has, for the most part, moved in an altogether different direction. As the American Liberal Catholic Bishop John M Tettemer ([1951] 1974:211) writes: It is interesting to speculate on what would have been the development of Christianity if the Arabs had not brought Aristotle to the Western World in the ninth century, and if the Platonism of Augustine, or even the Neoplatonism of Plotinus, had become the prevailing philosophy in Europe, during that period in which the Church’s doctrines were to receive their final form.34 Sadly, as Hall (1945:172) pointed out, “Neoplatonism could not compete successfully with the rising tides of Christian Aristotelianism, therefore it never became a popular school of thought”.The literalist Christians in the Roman and later Protestant traditions ultimately won out, the result being dogma, control and dependency. For the most part Christian theology was systematized along Aristotelian, as opposed to Platonic or Neoplatonic, lines, which was the “best” way to achieve the desired result – uniformity, consistency, fidelity to the “one true faith” ... and obedience … especially the latter. All of this is the very antithesis of Platonism and Neoplatonism. Max Freedom Long, in What Jesus Taught in Secret, expressed it this way (1983:113): Christianity, once its basic pattern had been rather completely set, by about 400 [CE], became fixed, and, in a static condition, droned on and on through the Dark Ages. 34 Re-Quest edition of I Was a Monk.
  19. 19. 13 CHAPTER 1 EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH TRADITION Christ in the Liberal Catholic Tradition Introduction “The Liberal Catholic Church exists to forward Christ’s work in the world.”35 All very well, but who or what is this “Christ”?36 Consistent with its Platonic and Neoplatonic roots and its esoteric and metaphysical approach to the interpretation, construction and application of Sacred Scripture, the word “Christ” can mean any one or more of the following Persons, Beings, Principles or propositions in the Liberal Catholic tradition, all of which may be seen as manifestations of the Godhead “through a process of emanations in a successive diversity of being while maintaining its unity”:37  the “Historical Jesus”38  the “Historical Christ”  the “Mythic (or “Pagan”) Christ”  the “Cosmic Christ”  the “Mystic Christ”  the “Anonymous Christ”. Those mentioned in the list are certainly not mutually exclusive. Indeed, many overlap and coalesce. Most importantly, all of the above are essentially one, as all life is one. Each of 35 Section 1 (Introduction), [Final Draft] SP&SD. 36 The word "Christ", from the Greek, means Lord or king, and was used long before the birth of Jesus. In Hebrew the word "Christ" is translated to mean "Messiah" (referring to the “anointed one” [of God], or God identified as the perfect human being). 37 See “The God Beyond God” (Online). 38 Mention should also be made of what may be termed a “Mythical Jesus” in the context of the “demythologizing”” treatment by Rudolf Bultmann (1956) and others of the New Testaments accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings.
  20. 20. 14 the above will be considered in turn, both in this chapter of the thesis and in the next chapter as well relating to The Liturgy. There is also what is known as the “Eucharistic Lord” whose Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar and in the service of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will also be considered in the second chapter of this thesis. Finally, there is the “Christ of Personal Encounter and Experience”, which will be the subject of the third chapter of this thesis. The Holy Trinity The Liberal Catholic Church sees itself as a “Trinitarian” church in that it believes that God (the Logos,39 the ground of all being, indeed “Being” Itself, and “Mystery Present” (Ebner 1976:13)) manifests Itself in the universe as a trinity or triplicity (the Logoi) – in traditional Christian terms, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), being, respectively, the First, Second and Third Persons of the Blessed Trinity. God in Three Persons - Blessed Trinity.40 In many (especially early) Liberal Catholic writings, at least those written from a fairly explicit or at times even implicit Theosophical perspective, the word “God” is used in two different but interconnected senses. First, there is the unknowable God, the Absolute One, the Being (indeed, Being-Itself) beyond all notions of traditional theism that the noted Protestant theologian Paul Tillich referred to as the “God above God” (1952:190) or the “God beyond God” – that is, pure “Absolute Divine Essence, as understood in the eastern traditions” (Platt 1982:122). Then there are the “various Solar Logoi (Solar Gods) each of whom is in charge of a different solar system” (Platt 1982:122). As regards our own particular solar system, God, in traditional Liberal Catholic thought and writing, has been referred to as the “God or Logos (Word) of the Solar System to which this planet [Earth] belongs” (Pigott [1925] 1927:21). This Solar God calls into existence our solar system, and “manifests in His universe as a Trinity, called in the Christian religion Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.41 This God of whom we now speak is “less” than the Absolute but is still 39 Mitchell (2006:66) writes: “Creative expression and intelligibility come together, in God, in the Holy Spirit, through Christ, the Word of God.” Mitchell also notes that Logos “means not only the ‘expression’ of God but also the ‘intelligibility’ of God”. 40 Christianity is, of course, certainly not unique in asserting the existence of a Holy Trinity. 41 See numbered para 2, “Summary of Doctrine”, [Final Draft] SP&SD.
  21. 21. 15 “nevertheless so great that He is to us God in the fullest sense of that mysterious word” (Pigott [1925] 1927:21). Now, the Liberal Catholic Church has never construed the Doctrine of the Trinity in a manner that would require or even endorse belief in the man Jesus as God in any unique and exclusive sense: see, eg, Burt (1945a:9). To that extent, and in certain other respects that are not relevant for present purposes, the Liberal Catholic Church’s trinitarian position is not dissimilar to the tradition Unitarian Christian understanding of Jesus which makes a distinction between the “divinity” and the “deity” of Jesus, accepting the former but not the latter, as we are all gods in the making and inherently divine in nature. In Liberal Catholic tradition and thinking, the doctrine of three co-equal and co-eternal persons (or hypostates) in one God has been interpreted, described and applied in a variety of ways and in different senses, including but not limited to the following:  the Father – God “above” us, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:6); the principle of generation (the source of all life); Absolute Being (the essential constituent or substance of all relative life); the Absolute, the One, the Tao, the “Unknowable Godhead, the Father of all, only [approachable] through the humanly knowable Christ” (Rivett 2008b:85) [“No one knows the Father except the Son” (Mt 11:27)]; “the ‘God above God’ …the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt” (Tillich 1952:190); the “individual Monad, from Whom we derive our existence” (Wedgwood: 1976b:3); Mystery, indeed Absolute Mystery, “seen of none” (Liturgy 260); the Eternal Spiritual Will; the Cosmic Logos in its First Aspect, being the progenitor of countless universes (not just this present one) and myriads of suns and planets that continue to issue forth into manifestation, but which ever remains in all of its pristine fullness and essential unity; the living principle of evolution and law; Beingness,42 or Life, in the sense of the very “livingness” of Life itself (as opposed to some vague New Age notion of some supposed separate and independent “life force” in addition to “life” itself); 42 Tettemer ([1951] 1974:159) makes the point that if God, as he asserts, is beingness, then “everything, to exist, must participate in His nature; otherwise it would be outside of being, or nonbeing, nothing. Therefore a contingent or created being could not exist, and dualism, which is fundamental to Christianity, [is] false.”
  22. 22. 16  the Son – God “with” us; the term of generation (the Word “made flesh”, the illumined person, “Christ in [us], the hope of glory”), “manifesting the Father’s plan in time and space, and making the Father known to his Creation” (Rivett [c1994] 2007:205);43 the “only begotten Son”; “God the Son, Who makes the heaven His throne and the earth His footstool” (Udny 1927:4); the Cosmic Logos in its Second Aspect breathing (or sounding) forth Divine Life into the universe; Spirit descended into and crucified on the cross of matter, with all things being created by this Christ, ensouling and constituting the indwelling life of all that is, whose work is “to preserve” (Wedgwood 1928:160); “our Lord Jesus Christ ... the beginning, the source of everything” (Parry [1971] 2007:155); the Consciousness [or “Christ- Consciousness”] in which “we live and move and have our being” (cf Acts 17:28); Love; Wisdom (Sophia);44 the Universe itself45 brought into being by the creative interface and interaction of God the Father and the Mother of God (the Great Depth); the Universal Saviour (including but not limited to those special epiphanies, eg World Teachers, the Holy Ones, the Saints, etc, who have descended into incarnation at various times throughout human history to help us forward on our way); Love, in the sense of the “self-givingness” of Life to Itself in order to perpetuate Itself; Wisdom; and  the Holy Spirit – God “in” us; the manifestation of generation (the life giver and inspirer); the Cosmic Logos in its Third Aspect, being the whole Spirit of God moving through all that is as all things, whose special work is “to sanctify us” (Wedgwood 1928:160); Creative Intelligence; Action, or the active principle; Wisdom made manifest, as well as “the mutual love which unites the Father and the Son” and “the manifestation of their Love” (Rivett [c1994] 2007:206). Now, as regards the Trinity, Wedgwood (1928:160) has written, “[as] man is made in the image of God, as God Himself is a triplicity of Persons so also that triplicity is reflected in man”. Thus, microcosmically, the Holy Trinity can be construed as referring to the spirit, 43 Emphasis in the original. 44 Rivett ([c1994] 2007:205-206) notes that although the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is sometimes spoken of in terms of Wisdom or even Sophia, “usually it is the Third Person, the Holy Spirit of God, that is considered as God’s Wisdom made manifest, and also as God in action within his Creation”. 45 Burt (1945b:2) wrote that “this universe is the Word, or God Immanent, by it God is revealed to us and through us” [emphasis in the original].
  23. 23. 17 soul and body of each human being,46 as well as a description of the creative process through which all manifestation takes place, including human thought (thus, mind, idea and expression; thinker, thought and act; conscious, unconscious and super-conscious; consciousness, desire and expectancy; spirit, soul and body; life, truth and love; and so forth). In the words of Wedgwood (1928:160), “Man has therefore within himself the power of knowing these three aspects of the Deity”. The Historical Jesus There are some who say that the person Jesus of Nazareth never existed.47 Nevertheless, what limited historical and evidential material there is has led some very eminent classical scholars and historians to conclude that it is more probable than not that Jesus did actually exist. The Rev James Peter, in his helpful book Finding the Historical Jesus, has written (1965:25), “To deny the existence of Jesus involves discounting a considerable amount of evidence which suggests that he did exist”.48 Thus, the eminent classical scholar and historian Michael Grant, who certainly was no Christian apologist, writes in his book Jesus that “modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory” (1977:199-200). A N Wilson expresses a similar view, saying that the “realistic details [about Jesus’ life] are too many, and too old, for [him] to be able to accept that they were all invented by some unsung novelistic genius of the first century of our era” (1992:89). V C Bell, in writing about the parables of Jesus, referred to their “logical consistency which equals that of a natural law” (1936:89), noting also that Jesus never contradicted himself, and even the gr scientist and forthright rationalist Viscount Haldane (1934:72) wrote: Personally, I am not one of those who find it probable that Jesus is a mainly mythical figure. A large number of his sayings seem to me to cohere as expressions of a definite and quite human character, which could hardly have been 46 Mathews (1981:23) notes that the ancient Greeks first spoke of man as a microcosm of the macrocosm, the latter being the universe (that is, all that is). He goes on to say: “This was their way of saying man is made in the image of God.” Mathews then turns his attention to the Hebrew Scriptures, saying (again, on p 23), “In Genesis Elohim refers to macrocosmic powers shaping the cosmic and telluric environment in which man finally appears as the crown, the essence, of all that has gone before.” 47 See, eg, Wells (1988 and 1992) and Doherty (1999). 48 Peter, on p 25, in fn 3, lists a number of scholarly publications that contain notable treatments of the evidence available, as at 1965, for the existence of Jesus.
  24. 24. 18 invented by disciples who wished to prove his divinity.49 James Peter is right when he says (1965:208): It is as a man in history that he shows himself unique, and it is thus that he is seen by the historian. This uniqueness of a person truly human is what enables the historian to say of him that he is divine. If it is objected that to be divine is to be beyond history, or to be something that no historian has the capacity to recognize, the reply is that such a line of argument would make it impossible for us to recognize any action on the part of God or indeed to say anything about him at all. Too many Liberal Catholics place little or no significance on the historical Jesus, with some even asserting that it matters not one iota whether Jesus ever existed as a real person. Why is it so important that we base our faith on a real person, in this case, the historical Jesus? Sometime Liberal Catholic priest and Theosophist Brian Parry expressed it well when he wrote (1966:7) that Jesus was “truly human” yet he possessed a unique “quality of character” such that he was not self-centred like us. Parry went on to write (1966:7): What quality of character did He possess which we lack? Remember it is of no value if we think of Him as God as though this were the explanation. If it is, then He is of no use to us. We cannot follow a God, we can only follow a man. We must look for some human capacity which we can share. Surely that capacity is love. God is love, He said. The life of Jesus was the complete life of love. Surely this is the special quality. Jesus was one with His loving Father and one with all men.50 Esoterically, Jesus may be seen to represent the disciple, that is, the earnest seeker after Truth, the person on the Path (see, eg, van Alphen (2000:Online)). Ann K Elliott in Higher Ground (2000-2003:Ch 1:Online) writes that “the main events in the life of Christ fit onto such a framework [one for the transmission of sacred teachings] and correspond remarkably to the archetypal themes of other religions concerning the transformation of consciousness”. Elliott quotes Carl Jung who wrote (see Stein 1999:170): Christ’s life is a prototype of individuation and hence cannot be imitated: one can only live one’s own life totally in the same way [Christ lived his and] with all the consequences this entails. 49 However, the form criticism of The Jesus Seminar does not attest to the historicity and veracity of every purported utterance as recorded in the gospels (indeed, far from it): see Funk (1996a) and Miller (1992); cf Barnett (2009). 50 Emphasis added.
  25. 25. 19 Jung referred to “the high drama of the life of Christ and how it is being re-enacted in the individual soul” as “the Christian archetype” (Elliott 2000-2003:Ch 1:Online), something which is highly reminiscent of, and extremely indebted to, Plato’s “archetypal ideas”. For Plato, the archetypes constituted “the intangible substrate of all that is tangible” (Tarnas 1991:12). Plato’s theory of archetypes helps us to appreciate, interpret and apply to our own lives the life of Jesus, and the key events in that life. However, without the historical Jesus, and its story, we have no real way of conceptualizing just what the words used in the Gospels to depict and describe the so-called “Life of Christ” actually mean. Jesus authenticates, actualizes and makes real and possible for us what is otherwise not only inscrutable but unattainable. This important fact - so often overlooked or even openly repudiated by Liberal Catholics - has been expressly acknowledged by Bishop Leadbeater himself (1965:1): The life of Christ is the prototype of the life of everyone of His followers. We too must pass through those stages, those steps, those initiations through which Christ passed. More recently, Mowle (2007:183), after alluding to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, refers to this “Jesus the Christ [who] occupies places that one day all humanity will share”. Weatherhead wrote that Jesus’ divinity “was not endowed but achieved by his moral reactions so that he climbed to an eminence of character which the word ‘human’ was not big enough to describe” (1930:260). So it is, or can be, for us as well. Weatherhead is not alone. Jesus is the archetypal way-shower (“our pattern and perfect ensample” [Liturgy 365]) such that we too should be bringing ransom to captives (those in bondage to self) and hope, faith and love to other people just as Jesus did in his earthly life. The Historical Christ The Theosophist Henry T Edge, in his book The Universal Mystery-Language and Its Interpretation, has written ([1943] 1997:Online) of those persons, called “the world’s Christs”, who “have progressed in their individual evolution to a point beyond that reached by the average humanity of their time, and who come to the world in times of spiritual darkness to teach the truths of the ancient wisdom”. In Liberal Catholic teaching and esoteric thought and writing generally, the “Historical Christ” is not necessarily, or even ordinarily, equivalent in meaning or intent to the
  26. 26. 20 “Historical Jesus” (the latter referring to the so-called “Christ of the Churches”, as traditionally understood). Van Alphen (2002:Online) writes that when one combines Jesus with Christ, there are two distinct but interrelated meanings. First, there is a reference to “Christ as the World Teacher”,51 that is, “the World Teacher expressing himself through the personality of his beloved disciple, Jesus” (van Alphen 2002:Online): Physically seen, one sees Jesus, but the one expressing himself through that body is Christ, the World Teacher, thus Jesus Christ. Secondly, there is a reference to the human personality “under full sway of the soul” (van Alphen 2002:Online), or, if you like, the World Teacher expressing Himself through the personality of the disciple on the path, for we are “all Christs in the making” (Heline 1950:33). (In the section of this chapter relating to the “Cosmic Christ”, the expression “Jesus Christ our Lord” will be discussed.) As to the first meaning, Besant ([1901] 1914:113-4) in her Esoteric Christianity wrote that, Jesus’ “superhuman purity and devotion” fitted “[him], the disciple, to become the temple of a loftier Power, of a mighty, indwelling Presence”, namely the Lord Maitreya whom she and others believed had overshadowed Jesus of Nazareth after his baptism and at various times up until his crucifixion (or stoning to death, according to Leadbeater) in the sense that Jesus’ body and person were temporarily used as a vehicle for the Lord Maitreya, hence the various expressions “Christ our Lord”, “Christ as the World Teacher”, “The Christ”, “the Lord Christ”, and so forth, referred to by Leadbeater and others (see, eg, Udney 1927) as the Representative of the Son of God upon earth.52 The present writer is reverentially agnostic regarding the “World Teacher” idea, preferring to interpret it allegorically and spiritually in a manner not inconsistent with Liberal Catholic, Theosophical and New Thought exegesis on other matters. Thus, the “World Teacher” may be said to be a shorthand expression and personification of the ancient wisdom or “lost 51 The Christ has been variously referred to as the World Teacher, the Bodhisattva, and the Lord Maitreya. 52 Some esoteric writers (see, eg, Heline 1950:30) have used the expression the “Planetary Christ” to refer to “the highest Initiate of the archangelic Host” who, it is said, ensouled the body and person of Jesus during the 3- year period of his public ministry. Heline (1950:37) uses the expression “Cosmic Christ” to refer to the One who inspired all religions (cf the “World Teacher” of Besant and Leadbeater). Regrettably, the use of different terminology by different writers does not assist at all in understanding.
  27. 27. 21 gnosis” that is at the heart of all the major religions and mythologies53 - that is, “the wisdom underlying all religions when they are stripped of accretions and superstitions ... teachings [that] aid the unfoldment of the latent spiritual nature in the human being, without dependence or fear” (Besant [1909] 1984:60). As Krishnamurti often said in his writings, speeches and talks, it’s the teaching that matters, not the teacher. Such an interpretation finds considerable support in the writings of our own Bishop Wedgwood, who wrote (1928:161): One of the titles sometimes given to the Second Person of the Godhead is “World Teacher”. Most people would say that teaching is the passing on of knowledge, and would connect it with the intellectual nature of man which comes under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit. But a difficulty sometimes arises from a misunderstanding of the teacher’s task. It is not to lay facts before the pupil but to encourage him to exercise his own faculties in order to grasp fundamental realities by his own efforts; the true teacher will quicken initiative and enterprise in the student in order that he may learn to use his own powers and comes to see things for himself. The Mythic (or Pagan) Christ Besant ([1901] 1914:131), in Esoteric Christianity, refers to a “Christ” whom she describes as being “the Mythic Christ, the Christ of the solar myths or legends, these myths being the pictorial forms in which certain profound truths were given to the world”.54 Those traditional Christians who assert that all that is written about Jesus in the New Testament is historical and non-mythological - on the ground that myths of the kind referred to above take a considerable amount of time to develop - seem blind to the fact that, prior to the time of Jesus, there already was in existence not only a Solar myth but also the myth of the dying and rising god. These myths were readily available to be quickly engrafted upon the life, passion and death of the man Jesus of Nazareth “crucified in space”: see, eg, Harpur (2004). The tragedy is that so-called traditional or orthodox Christianity has grossly distorted and carnalized Paul’s Neoplatonic and Gnostic Christian ideas about the indwelling Christ and engrafted and projected the gnosis of Paul’s mystery religion 53 The Ancient Wisdom is ordinarily regarded as being not only the essence of all religion, esoterically interpreted, but the eternal source from which all such religions have emanated, hence the notion (especially held by Leadbeater) that the World Teacher was a special epiphany of the Logos in its second aspect (“the Son”). 54 The expression “Solar Logos” is often used in Theosophical literature, as well as in other esoteric writings, to refer to the Deity in its manifestation as the relevant Logos of a particular Solar System.
  28. 28. 22 teachings upon the man Jesus, deifying him in the process such that Jesus came to be regarded as God in a unique and exclusive sense. The irony is that, if Jesus be God in a unique and exclusive sense, how can we ever hope to follow him and be “Christlike”? The Cosmic Christ The expression “Cosmic Christ” refers to “God the Son”, that is, the Logos (or Word) in its second aspect, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, that, through various rays from Itself, breathes forth life into the entire universe, its various planets (including but not limited to this planet Earth), in fact, all that is, ever-offering Itself as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,55 dying in very truth that we might live” (Prayer of Consecration, Holy Eucharist), and constituting the indwelling life of all that is – the Word “made flesh”. This “Logos of our Solar System” (Pigott 1925:17), this “Solar Deity, or Logos, [which] ‘breathes forth His own divine life into His universe,’ even down to the physical plane” (Udny 1927:2), is the very Self-Givingness of Life Itself – Life giving of Itself to Itself in order to perpetuate Itself. It is the very essence, heart and soul of Love … and it is divine (cf 1 Jn 4:8). Rivett makes an important linkage with Jesus, when he writes (2008b:85): Jesus the fullness of this Cosmic Christ was (and is) manifest, and that he has shown us that the Christ is indeed our indwelling life. We can, I think, see that the Christ-in-us, our individual Divine Centre, is our I AM consciousness.56 The Cosmic Christ is the same “life and light which dwells within the human heart” (Wedgwood 1928e:Online), that is, the Mystic Christ. It is our mystical connection to other human beings – the “pattern that connects” (Fox 1998). Burt (1960:np) makes the point that the expression “Jesus Christ our Lord” (and, presumably, the expression “the Lord Jesus Christ” and other like combinations) embraces three distinct ideas: First, it refers to the disciple Jesus, second to the great Teacher, the Master Christ, and third, the Second Person of the ever Blessed Trinity. 55 Cf Rev 13:8. See also Liturgy (215). 56 Emphasis in the original. See “The Mystic Christ”, below.
  29. 29. 23 The Mystic Christ Besant ([1901] 1914:146), in Esoteric Christianity, writes that “The Christ of the Solar Myth was the Christ of the Mysteries, and we find the secret of the mythic in the mystic Christ.” The Mystic Christ, or the “Christ within”, is the “Christ in [us], the hope of glory”57 (Col 1:27), a very special and highly individualistic (yet otherwise common to all) manifestation of the Cosmic Christ or Universal Spirit within each of us, indwelling as our potential perfection but otherwise living undeveloped in our human spirits, that nevertheless is ever seeking first, progressive unfoldment, and then perfect expression in our daily lives: see Rivett 2008b:85. Another way of referring to this Christ is the incarnation and presence of God in us as us, for “we are all Christs in the making” (Bidwell, quoted in McGarry 1966:17). The late Bishop L W Burt (1960:np) referred to this Christ as “The God Within”, also noting that Jesus himself affirmed, when charged with blasphemy, “Is is not written in your law, I said ye are gods” (Jn 10:34; cf Ps 82:6).58 Burt also wrote that St Paul affirmed not only the proposition of “God-with-us” but also “God-in-us”, which, as Burt pointed out, emphasized “man’s unity with the Divine”. He goes on to write (1960:np): ... In the earliest form of Christianity there is that definite teaching of “God-in-us,” and this thought comes naturally to St Paul and colours all his writings. The most marvelous event that the universe offered to St Paul was the revelation that God exists not only with-us, but that God also exists in-us.59 In esoteric thought and teaching, Jesus Christ represents a very special, individual expression of this Christ idea or principle. In words attributed to Jesus (Jn 10:30; 17:21): I and [my] Father are one. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us … . Our evolutionary task and journey is made possible through the presence and activity within each one of us of the Mystic Christ. 57 Burt (1960a:np) refers to this teaching of St Paul (see, in full, Col 2:25-27) as Paul’s “most valuable contribution to Christian thought”. 58 See also 1 Jn 4:4 (“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”). 59 [Emphasis in the original.
  30. 30. 24 The Anonymous Christ The present writer, in an article entitled “The Anonymous Christ” (Ellis-Jones 2008a; see also 2008c) and published in Communion, has written about the Christ who is sometimes referred to as the “Anonymous Christ”, stating that “the Christ comes to us through an idea, a word we hear, and a person who is suffering or joyful” and that we meet this Christ in our interactions with others (2008a:33). The primary, but by no means the only, Biblical basis for this special manifestation or Self-expression of Christ can be found in Matthew 25: 33- 40.60 Bishop Leadbeater himself, in an article originally published in The Adyar Bulletin (1911:Online), wrote insightfully of this Anonymous Christ, whilst making pointed reference to the salient part of the above mentioned verses from Matthew’s gospel: ... In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew will be found a striking account, said to have been given by the Christ Himself, of what is commonly called the day of Judgment, when all men are to be brought before Him and their final destiny is to be decided according to the answer which they are able to give to His questions. Remember that, according to the theory, the Christ Himself is to be the judge on that occasion, and therefore He can make no mistake as to the procedure. What then are the questions upon the answers to which the future of these men is to depend? From what one hears of modern Christianity one would expect that the first question would be: “Do you believe in Me?” and the second one: “Do you attend Church regularly?” The Christ, however, unaccountably forgets to ask either of these questions. He asks: “Did you feed the hungry, did you give drink to the thirsty, did you clothe the naked, did you visit those who were sick and in prison?” That is to say, “were you ordinarily kind and charitable in you relations to your fellow-men?” And it is according to the answers to those questions that the destiny of the man is decided.... Leadbeater also wrote in the same article that “on this subject the teaching of the Christian scripture is exactly the same as that of Theosophy” (1911:Online). When we live selflessly for others, crucifying our “little selves” (our “victory ... over the lower nature”, in Leadbeater’s words) for the sake of the one true Self, the ground of our being, indeed all Being, we not only encounter the Anonymous Christ, we also share our saving experience of that Christ with those with whom we come into contact. In an attempt to bring all of this into some sort of coherent whole, one can do no better than quote from Bishop Wedgwood (1928d:Online): 60 The Gospel Reading for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity in The Liturgy: see “The Anonymous Christ” (Ellis- Jones 2008a).
  31. 31. 25 In our Church we have the Christ within us, but you have also special intensification of the power of the Christ without us which can awaken and draw out into fuller expression the power of the Christ within us.
  32. 32. 26 CHAPTER 2 EXPERIENCING THE CHRIST THROUGH LIBERAL CATHOLIC EXPRESSION Christ in the Liberal Catholic Liturgy The Liberal Catholic Liturgy The English word “liturgy” comes from the Classical Greek word λειτουργία (leitourgia), which means “public work”.61 When we refer to a “liturgy” of any particular church we are generally referring to the written text (in the form of, say, a missal, congregational prayer book or other divine liturgy book) accompanied, supported and given effect to by the various rituals, ceremonial, traditions, rites, practices and formulae that are ordinarily and regularly observed and followed by the church in question as part of their corporate act or acts of public worship. It is generally acknowledged that Bishop Wedgwood, an outstanding liturgist, was the principal author of The Liturgy According to the Use of the Liberal Catholic Church. In his tribute to Bishop Leadbeater on the latter’s passing, Wedgwood wrote the truth when he said: The writing and compilation of the Liturgy was mostly done by myself.62 However, there is enough anecdotal and other material to conclude that, as Bishop E James Burton wrote in his short biography of Wedgwood (see Wedgwood 1976b:x), “the task of revising the Liturgy”63 occupied both Bishops Leadbeater and Wedgwood “for [some] three years”.64 Burton makes it clear that the “superb language” was “the work of Wedgwood”, and that is undeniably the case. Wedgwood had a profound interest in church liturgy and ritual per se, whereas some writers in recent times (see, eg, Ellwood 1995:320) have even gone so far as to state that C W Leadbeater’s main interest was more a case of his “having become persuaded that Theosophy needed a liturgical expression”. However, there is no doubt that Bishop Leadbeater did assist on the Collects, and also selected, either alone or in association 61 The term is frequently used in the Greek text of the New Testament: see, eg, Acts 13:2. 62 From “Bishop Leadbeater Remembered”, The Liberal Catholic, April 1934; [Online extracts] viewed 8 April 2009, <http://www.cwlworld.info/html/liberal_catholic_church.html>. 63 Emphasis added. 64 The work of revising the Liturgy was completed by June 1919. A full edition of The Liturgy According to the Use of the Liberal Catholic Church was published on St Alban's Day that year.
  33. 33. 27 with Bishop Wedgwood, the Psalms, canticles, and the various Epistle and Gospel readings for each week as well as those for use on other special occasions. It is said by some that Bishop Wedgwood stated that The Liturgy “owes its lineage” to The Divine Liturgy of Saint Chrysostom65 and is “not a modification of the Roman Mass” but “rather takes more of its wording and flow and energies” from one of the liturgies that is still in use in the Byzantine Orthodox Church.66 Now, what Wedgwood did have to say concerning this matter is relevantly as follows (1928a:Online): Isn't the Liberal Catholic Church merely another "reformation" of the Roman Catholic Church? No! The question does not therefore arise whether there is to be any parallel reformation of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Liberal Catholic Liturgy is in this general sense a reformation of the Liturgy of St Chrysostom.67 Dr John Chryssavgis, a Greek Orthodox priest, writes (1991:444) that the the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom makes it clear that the divine sacrifice is a “self-oblation of freedom and love for the world and not as an obligation, a need to satisfy a ‘Father in heaven’”.68 This Greek Orthodox understanding of propitiation, coming as it does from a tradition of philosophical and theological thought very much akin to Christian theosophy and thus Liberal Catholic thought, should readily find favour with many, if not most, Liberal Catholics who long ago turned their backs on traditional notions of vicarious atonement and associated ideas such as expiation and propitiation. When propitiation, and sacrifice, are spoken of and understood in terms of Self-giving and Self-oblation, and freedom and love, and even redemption, the idea of the Eucharist, indeed all worship, as a sacrifice becomes much more intelligible and sensible. This Greek Orthodox understanding finds expression in 65 This Divine Liturgy, which follows the traditions of the city of Constantinople where the early church father, and one of the four great Greek doctors of the Christian Church, St John Chrysostom (c347–407) served as archbishop/patriarch, is the primary worship service of the Eastern Orthodox Church. 66 See “Liturgy of St John Chrysostom: The Basis of the Liberal Catholic Liturgy”, in “Liturgy”, The Global Library: The Old Catholic Church (website), [Online] viewed 17 March 2009, <http://www.global.org/Pub/JC_Liturgy.asp>. 67 Emphasis in the original. When one reads The Divine Liturgy According to St John Chrysostom (Wedgwood 1982) one finds in that Divine Liturgy many passages that are identical or otherwise very similar to those in The Liturgy (of the Liberal Catholic Christ), especially those sections dealing with such matters as the Consecration, Elevation and Fraction of the Sacred Host. 68 Emphasis in the original.
  34. 34. 28 various parts of The Liturgy.69 It would appear that the starting point for the creation (or “revision”) of what was to become The Liturgy began with an existing liturgy (namely, that of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain) which was basically an English translation of the Dutch Old Catholic Missal compiled by Archbishop A H Mathew. In a letter, dated 5 September 1916, from Leadbeater to Annie Besant, Leadbeater described the task as being one of “reconstruction of the Catholic Ritual” with the aim of producing a new liturgy which would be “the only one combining the power of the ancient Church with a true Theosophical expression of the real relation between GOD and man"70 (quoted in Jinarājadāsa 1952:5). What is now The Liturgy is a syncretization and revison, indeed a reconstruction or “reformation”, of a number of different liturgies, including those of the Roman (Latin) rite, the Old Catholic Church rite, and the rite of the Church of England (through its Book of Common Prayer), and the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.71 What makes the Liberal Catholic Church very special is the emphasis it gives as a church in its Liturgy to that Eastern wisdom tradition whilst also retaining much of the language, thought forms and teaching of the Western tradition. This is, in the opinion of the present writer, altogether appropriate, given that the real Jesus was a man of the East who belongs as much to Asia as to the West. The Sacraments The Liberal Catholic Church, in the Catholic tradition, is a sacramental church, affirming the reality of what is known as “sacramental grace”. For those in the Catholic tradition, the primary, but by no means exclusive, means of grace (indeed, what is referred to as “sanctifying grace”) is though the sacraments. A sacrament72 is defined in Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion73 as "a rite in which God is uniquely active". More helpfully, Saint Augustine defined a sacrament as "a visible 69 See, eg, pp 211 (and 230) and 215. 70 Emphasis in the original. 71 See also Leadbeater ([1920] 1967:133-134) who refers to the beauty of the Liturgy of the Eastern Church. 72 Croucher (nd:Online) writes: “The word comes from the Latin sacramentum, the term used for the coin given to a soldier to signify his oath of loyalty when recruited to serve the Emperor. His allegiance was to Caesar as lord. In the Christian sacraments, we pledge our loyalty to Christ: 'Jesus is Lord' (Romans 10:9)” [italics added].
  35. 35. 29 sign of an invisible reality". Similarly, the Council of Trent defined “sacrament” as “a visible sign of invisible grace instituted for our justification” (Broderick 1944:142), whilst the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1662) defines a sacrament as being "an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace",74 and that definition is reproduced in the Statement of Principles and Summary of Doctrine of the Liberal Catholic Church.75 Each sacrament has “three essentials … sensible [that is, outward or visible] sign, divine institution and the power of giving grace” (Shepherd 1977:16). Wedgwood (1928:6) agrees with those who assert that all life is sacramental but notes: The Church reserves the word “sacrament” for certain special rites in which the power of Christ is directly operative. Those rites are so wonderful to those who understand anything about them, that we should be careful to safeguard the word. For the Liberal Catholic, the sacraments are an integral part of “the mysteries of God" (1 Cor 4:1), and the Ancient Wisdom itself. Even The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges the more esoteric nature and meaning of a sacrament: Taking the word "sacrament" in its broadest sense, as the sign of something sacred and hidden (the Greek word is "mystery"), we can say that the whole world is a vast sacramental system, in that material things are unto men the signs of things spiritual and sacred, even of the Divinity. … The Fathers saw something mysterious and inexplicable in the sacraments.76 In simple terms, grace is power - interior, spiritual power - in the form of “a gift by our Lord of His own perfect life in order that our lives may be transformed and be made like unto His” (Raynes 1961:75). In other words, grace is God’s outpouring of love and blessing in Christ communicated to us, which enables us to progress on our soul journey and enhances our spiritual evolution. Sanctifying grace, in the Liberal Catholic tradition, is the divinely produced power by means of which we are enabled to enter into “that larger consciousness … merging [our] own separate personal consciousness into the larger consciousness … for getting into touch with the Divine consciousness” (Wedgwood 1928c:Online). Such grace uplifts the soul and brings us into contact with “higher things” (see Tettemer [1951] 1974). 73 See Irving Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion, 2nd ed (Vancouver: Regent College Press, 1999), Definition of "Sacrament", [Online] viewed 10 March 2009, <http://www.ucalgary.ca/~nurelweb/concise/WORDS-S.html>. 74 Besant ([1901] 1914:283) refers to the “outward and visible sign” as being a “pictorial allegory”. Wedgwood (1928:6), noting that “the sacrament is the ‘means by which we receive’ the grace”, goes on to say that the grace comes through the outward and visible sign of the sacrament, hence, again, the notion of a “living” symbol. 75 See Section 4 (The Sacraments), [Final Draft] SP&SD. 76 See Kennedy (1912:Online).
  36. 36. 30 A sacrament is a free, undeserved sacrificial gift77 to the Church from the Living Christ whose nature it is to give of Itself to others so they might have Life, and have it more abundantly (cf Jn 10:10), thereby quickening the spiritual evolution of all who are responsive to the Son’s (especially Jesus’) outpoured life. Jesus’ spirituality can be “a tremendous, incalculable impetus to spiritual and other growth” (Blanch 1971:15). Indeed, Jesus’ whole life was one of sacrificial self-giving. He thereby performed “a work of unique and incalculable value to the race, and is therefore justly entitled the Saviour of the world” (Fox 1934:15). Still, each one of us must “work out our [own] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), although help is available from others, both visible and invisible. In short, a sacrament, in the Liberal Catholic tradition and Liturgy, is a “living symbol” – what H P Blavatsky referred to as “concretized truth” – in that it not only “symbolizes”, “represents” or “stands for” something else (the “inner reality”), it actually is instrumental in bringing about that reality and, in very truth, is that reality; hence, the reference in the Prayer of Consecration to “this blessed sacrament of thy love, that in it we may not only commemorate in symbol that thine eternal oblation, but verily take part in it” (Liturgy 215), and the subsequent reference at the time of Holy Communion to “a living memorial and pledge of thy marvellous love for mankind” (Liturgy 220; 237). Being a living symbol, a sacrament “effects what it symbolizes” (Broderick 1944:142), that is, it both represents and confers grace or spiritual power to the recipient. The word “salvation” comes from the same Latin root as the word salve, and refers to a healthy kind of wholeness and oneness.78 As Liberal Catholics we do not believe that we are saved by Jesus’ shed blood on the Cross. It is what that blood represents that saves us – the power of suffering love and that eternal self-sacrifice of Life Itself in the form of Life’s Self-givingness to Itself as well as our givingness of ourselves in sacrificial love to others (cf “the glad pouring out of our lives in sacrifice” in the Service of Solemn Benediction). Liberal Catholics don’t talk much about sin, but it should be noted that the word sin has an “I” in the middle. The essence of sin is selfishness, self-absorption and self-centredness - an attempt to gain some supposed good to which we are not entitled in justice and consciousness - 77 See Section 4 (The Sacraments), [Final Draft] SP&SD: “... the grace given unto us is a free gift of grace and is not proportionate remuneration for any personal effort on our part.” 78 Salvation, in its root, simply means health (salus).
  37. 37. 31 and we all need to be relieved of the bondage of self (“the evil of separateness and selfishness” (Liturgy 367)). That is what salvation is all about, with the aim of recovering all humanity, indeed all created things, to God, thus “proving” God’s love. The sacraments are a powerful means of grace, and thus of salvation. They also remind us of the great fact that the Absolute One is and always has been Being Itself, even before there was time and space, and has never been absent at any point in time and space since then. The Holy Eucharist Fr Geoffrey Hodson writes (1977:8) that what became the Christian Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist or the Mass “developed out of not only the Essene but also the Egyptian and Chaldean Mysteries”. Whatever be its origins, the Holy Eucharist, also known as the Mass, and in some Christian denominations the Lord’s Supper (albeit in a theologically different form), was an integral part of all Christian worship from the very beginning.79 The Holy Eucharist is first and foremost a “sacrament of ... love” (Liturgy 215), indeed the “heritage of holiest love bequeathed by our Lord” (Wedgwood 1929:72). Without doubt, the Holy Eucharist is “the central Sacrament in the Catholic tradition” (Oliveira 2007b:207). As Wedgwood (1929:68) rightly points out, “The service of the Holy Eucharist takes the form of a ritual-drama.” That is its form. The purpose of the Holy Eucharist is, according to Bishops Leadbeater ([1913] 1954; [1920] 1967; 1983) and Wedgwood (1928; 1928d; 1928e; 1928f) and certain others (especially Mowle 2007) expressly referred to below is essentially sevenfold: 1. The Eucharist, with its historical background in the Ancient Mysteries as a cultic ritual of initiation, is a “living symbol”, object lesson, acted parable, mystical dramatization, real life “passion play”, so to speak, in the form of a perpetuation, an actualization, a “making present” in the Eternal Now, a “re-presentation” - in short, an extension in terms of time and space (or “spacetime”) as opposed to a mere 79 See, eg, Acts 2:42 (“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”). See also Lk 24:35 (“And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread”).
  38. 38. 32 repetition80 - of the essential sacrificial nature and character of “God as a living power” (Wedgwood 1928e:Online), and, more particularly, a “showing forth” before God the Father of “the infinite power of THAT within us which we call SOUL”81 (Corelli 1966:14) in the form of: a. the ongoing eternal sacrifice of “Our Lord”, that is, the continued pouring down of the Divine Life of the Second Person or Aspect of the Blessed Trinity, bringing the universe into existence, sustaining it on an ongoing basis, but ever remaining as an ineffable and inexhaustible Holy Presence beyond the earthly limits of time and space, by means of a descent from Spirit and Its incarnation into matter, to be followed by the ultimate reascent from matter into Spirit, b. the sacrifice of the World Teacher (Himself a special epiphany or manifestation of the Second Person or Aspect of the Blessed Trinity) in descending into incarnation to assist in our ongoing spiritual growth and evolution, provided that sacrifice is understood as “a self-oblation of freedom and love for the world and not as an obligation, a need to satisfy a ‘Father in heaven’”82 (Chryssavgis 1991: 444), c. the essential oneness, wholeness, unity, indivisibility and ultimate indestructibility of all life, and all that is, symbolically represented by, and fully but microcosmically concentrated in, the Sacred Host (Itself a living symbol of the All-ness of Life, in the very real sense that all of life can be said to be present within the confines of this otherwise very little wafer of bread, itself a miniature of the “Eternal Now”), and d. the “Divine Life coming into manifestation” (Wedgwood 1928d:Online) with the breaking of the Sacred Host, “since the outflow of force evoked by the consecration has a special and intimate connection with that department of nature which is the expression of that divine Aspect [namely, the Second 80 Wedgwood (1929:68) writes: “It [the Service of the Holy Eucharist] is no more then a question of repetition of the sacrifice, of re-accomplishment of the sacrifice of the Cross, but rather of constant re-presentation in terms of time and space of that primal sacrifice out of time and space to which the world and all created life owes its existence.” 81 Emphasis in the original. 82 Emphasis in the original.
  39. 39. 33 Aspect of the Deity]” (Leadbeater [1913] 1954:531-532), that we might “become partakers in the divine nature” (see 2 Pt 1:4). 2. The Eucharist is a celebration, re-presentation, living and perpetual memorial and commemoration83 of both the life and the final drama of the passion, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus of Nazareth (“and of the benefits which we receive thereby” (Raynes 1961:62)), who gave his life that we might awaken to our spiritual heritage and birthright, that is, the full awareness of God’s indwelling Spirit within us, and whose “wholesome presence by means of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist sustains those who remain faithfully on pilgrimage” (Mowle 2007:183).84 3. The Eucharist is a service of thanksgiving,85 taking the form of a sacrifice on our part and a means of showing the thanks, praise, worship and devotion due to the Lord Christ. In lifting our consciousness, we are consecrated and transformed and later, in the actual partaking of communion, we “finally merge [our] thought of the Second and Third into the First Aspect of the Trinity” (Wedgwood 1928e:Online), that is, we come to directly experience Being in all of Its phases of absolute as well as relative existence (“Ultimate Reality”). 4. The Eucharist is a communal sacred meal such that, through the Eucharist, “in a purely spiritual sense, all believers - dead, living, and yet to be - are united as one in the body of Christ (also known as the Church)” (Wilson, with Slattery 1984:132). In the Eucharist we partake not only of God and communicate with Him, but also with our brothers, that is, “all those who accompany Him, with all those who are incorporated in Him, [indeed] with all mankind” (Evely [1963] 1967:70). 5. The Eucharist is a means or mode by which we, the faithful, can derive grace - a “tremendous radiation of power through the service of the Church (Wedgwood 1928c:Online) - and thus mystically receive Christ, according to the extent to which the Christ is awakened in each, and look forward to our ultimate attainment of 83 See, especially, 1 Cor 11:24. 84 Wedgwood ([1928] 1984:41; 2009:23) writes that “the holy bread” is Jesus’ “vehicle or instrument through which His Life and blessing are communicated to us”, and that “Jesus speaks of a mystical sustenance through which His followers draw their spiritual life from Him, even as He lives by the Father who sent Him” ([1928] 1984:39; 2009:22). Wedgwood thus makes it clear that the species of bread and wine become “vehicles for the Lord’s life, and in that way he is received mystically” (Shepherd 1977:16). 85 The Greek word eucharistia means “thankfulness”, as representing thanksgiving. The English word Eucharist is simply “the Anglicized form of the Greek word meaning thanksgiving” (Shepherd 1977:16). See also Wedgwood (1929:67).
  40. 40. 34 Christhood in the form of full and conscious communion with God the Father, the Absolute - a showing forth and anticipation of the final unity of all things in Christ (“wondrous and mystic communion with thee” (Liturgy 220, 237-238)). As we “eat the bread” and “drink the cup” (the “sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood” (Liturgy 220)), we die to “self” and are resurrected, so to speak,86 into newness of Life and Power to go out into the world and do the work of Christ more efficaciously. Part of the purpose of the Sacrament of the Altar is “to strengthen us, so that we can live our lives according to His divine commandment of love” (Wicks 1968:14). 6. The Eucharist provides help and stimulus to the world at large in the form of a special outpouring of love and spiritual force and blessing generated by and through our positive thoughts and ideas (“the perfect devotion and sacrifice of our minds and hearts to thee” (Liturgy 217)). As Wedgwood has written, this is “the only way to bring about permanent peace” (1928c:Online), through “the sending out of spiritual power into the world” (1928d:Online). 7. Microcosmically (for each of us is a miniature copy of the universe),87 the Eucharist is a mystery drama and pictorial representation of the human soul, which comes forth from God, and which labours and struggles in time and space, in exile from its eternal home, in its pilgrimage and on its way to its ultimate re-union with the divine source from which it came. Under the outward signs of bread and wine (conjointly “the sign which represents and confers grace as they represent earthly food and also signify the grace which supports and nourishes the soul” (Shepherd 1977:16)) we have the Real Presence of what is sometimes referred to as the “Eucharistic Lord”. Bishop Wedgwood (1928:151), referring to the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, said this: It is, of course, quite true that everything is God and that His life expresses itself through every form in the universe, but what we have here is a special intensification of that presence. He is more directly with us, more directly expressed through the consecrated Bread and Wine, than through those ordinary manifestations called bread and wine. It is in that sense that there is the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. 86 Leadbeater, in The Inner Side of Christian Festivals, referred to every stage of one’s spiritual progress and development as being “very truly a resurrection”. 87 Hodson (1977:26) writes: “Spiritually and materially, every Host is as a microcosm of the Macrocosm. Blessed indeed is every recipient.”
  41. 41. 35 We have further symbolism, once again in a living sense, in that the Bread (cf flesh) may be said to represent our terrestrial, mortal life, whilst the Wine (cf blood) signifies our spiritual life. Conjointly, both represent or signify our lower and higher natures respectively, and, as Leadbeater used to say, make for “an outpost of [the Lord’s] consciousness”. Finally, as Liberal Catholic priest Blanch (1971:81) points out, the Chalice represents the human soul. Roman Catholic Archbishop Fulton J Sheen has written (Sheen, in Caraman and Walsh 1961:xvii-xix) that we are “therefore, present at each and every Mass under the appearance of bread and wine; we are not passive spectators, as we might be in watching a spectacle in a theatre, but we are co-offering Christ’s sacrifice to the Heavenly Father” and that “we, who are symbolized by the bread and wine, offer ourselves to be made sacred and holy”. The Liturgy (232) uses these beautiful words: We lay before thee, O Lord, these thy creatures of bread and wine, ++ [linking them spiritually with ourselves and] praying thee to receive through them our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; for here we offer and present unto thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a holy and continual sacrifice unto thee. May our strength be spent in thy service and our love poured forth upon thy people, thou who livest for ever and ever. The Historical Jesus In the two versions (namely, the Longer Form and the Shorter Form) of the Holy Eucharist contained in The Liturgy one finds the following express references to “Jesus”:88  “... And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets: Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone” (in The Canticle, Shorter Form only [Liturgy 224])  “We believe ... in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the alone-born Son of God ...” (in The Creed, in both the Longer and Shorter Forms [Liturgy 209, 229])  “O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst say to thine apostles: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you’ ...” (in The Salutation of Peace, Longer Form only [Liturgy 220]) 88 See also Oliveira (2007a).
  42. 42. 36  “Under the veil of earthly things, now have we communion with our Lord Jesus Christ ...” (in the Prayer after Communion, in both the Longer and Shorter Forms [Liturgy 221, 239]). There are other implied references in the two versions of The Holy Eucharist contained in The Liturgy to Jesus, such as the following:  “Who the day before he suffered took bread … In like manner, after he had supped, taking also this noble chalice into his holy and venerable hands … As oft as ye shall do these things ye shall do them in remembrance of me” (in the Prayer of Consecration [Liturgy 216, 234])  “… as thou, O Lord Christ, wast made known to thy disciples in the breaking of bread …” (in The Commemoration of the Saints [Liturgy 219, 237]). In each instance referred to above, the reference to “Jesus” is qualified or even substituted by the addition or insertion, as the case may be, of one or more other words traditionally associated with the name and person of Jesus, as in “Jesus Christ”, the “Lord, Jesus Christ”, “O Lord Christ”, “thy Son” or something very similar. It is sufficient, for present purposes, to simply note that, metaphysically, the word “Jesus” has often been used to refer not so much to the historical Jesus of Nazareth but to “[t]he I in man, the self, the directive power, raised to divine understanding and power – the I AM identity ... God’s idea of man in expression”.89 Thus, van Alphen (2002:Online) writes that “Jesus means literally ‘the good man’ and ... stands for the personality of every human being who treads the path of purification”.90 The Historical Christ In the services of the Holy Eucharist in The Liturgy one finds a number of references to the “Historical Christ”, perhaps the more significant ones being the following: … who spake by the Prophets … [Liturgy 210, 230] 89 “Jesus”, in Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, p 345. 90 The Liturgy sometimes uses the words “the Lord” in some places to refer to God the Father, in other places to mean “God the Son (or Christ)”, and in others to refer to both, even in the same collect or other sentence. See, eg, The Collects in the Service of Prime (“O Lord, our Heavenly Father ... through Christ our Lord”; “O Lord Christ ...”; “Teach us, O Lord, ... through Christ our Lord”).

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