20 August 2008

The Primitive Catholic Call

Our world changes every day. We do not know, in spite of the signs and portents, what tomorrow will bring us. The only surety that we, as Christian brothers and sisters have, is that the love of Christ will enfold us and embolden us for mission and ministry, no matter the circumstances we face. We have been promised, boldly, the presence of the Spirit today, tomorrow, and until the day when our Lord returns. We daily do well to thank God for these gifts; gifts that are priceless and of unquestionable beauty.

This does not mean, however, that discouragement and sorrow has no impact upon the believer. All of us, particularly those of us in ministry, have –from time to time- experienced the pain and sorrow of falling short in our calling, either on a personal or professional basis. For so many of us, it is the unchanging faith that we profess that buoys our spirits in the midst of those trials. Among those who have chosen to follow the Primitive Catholic way, many stories can be told of sorrow, fear, exhaustion, and pain. Anyone who elects to take the ‘path less traveled’ is bound to hit some bumps in the road, and find themselves alone in the midst of the darkness when the proverbial tire blows in the rainstorm.

For the past decade, I have been a vocal proponent of the concept of a Primitive Catholic movement. It has been, and often is, a very lonely and demoralizing place to be. Fellowship opportunities are limited, congregations are practically non-existent, and at times the boundaries of what can be called ‘Primitive Catholic’ are blurred or obscured… sometimes by the uncertainty that texts may suggest, at other times by our tendency to embrace what is safe, and often by our own hubris.

This must change, or the dreams of those who seek to live out a personal commitment to the ancient, patristic, and biblical Christian faith will find themselves not only homeless, but quite probably hopeless, in the face of what passes for Christianity in most of the western world today.

And so, this is a call… a summons to action, not talk, among those who strive and seek to follow the path of the Fathers in the Primitive Catholic way.

It is not a call to revolt from and leave our jurisdictions and congregations, forming some idealistic Primitive Catholic Church which, most probably would be doomed – at this point – to a quick death. This is a call, instead, to flower and bloom where planted. To peacefully and peaceably be beacons for the love, compassion, and theology of the Primitive Church. It is a call to conform ourselves to Christ (as opposed to conforming him –and his message- to our desires) in obedience, imitating his obedience to the divine plan of redemption and sanctification. It is a call to come together, regardless of denominational affiliation or individual rank, so that we may stand together humbly before God, seeking his will for the future of our vision of the faith, and his guidance in where we go from here.

It is a call to a radical and revolutionary commitment to discipleship in Jesus Christ, one that will see us, as our patristic forefathers, as parts of local Christian bodies that will make the kind of changes that we desperately want to see in the midst of our society.

It is a call to you.

The call, which is in essence a reflection of the call of the Scriptures, demands much. We must conform ourselves to Christ. We must obediently follow him without dissembling or demanding our own way or understanding. We manifest that obedience when we, faithful to Scripture and the ancient, undivided, and unquestionably uniform tradition of the Church, submit ourselves to God’s Word and Will, and make ourselves truly his hands and feet.

The call, in part a spiritual and mental assent to a new way of thinking, is also a personal commitment to encourage and uplift our Primitive Catholic brothers and sisters. How so?

First, through a daily commitment to prayer for the Church Universal, particularly her unity; a unity which I am convinced will only be found in a joyful surrender to the beliefs, practices, and love of the ancient Church.

Second, through personal commitment to stand as a beacon for the belief, practice, and love of the ancient Church… wherever you find yourself planted today.

Third, through regular communication and prayer with, and encouragement of, other Christians, particularly those who, in the Primitive Catholic movement, may feel isolated, lonely, or un-served.

Fourth, by actively supporting an annual or bi-annual physical gathering of Primitive Catholics for mutual edification, dialogue, and consideration of how God wishes to use us and our convictions to bring a new vitality and energy to the Church, and to renew the visage of the Church in the eyes of a world that is becoming more and more hostile on a daily basis to the concept of surrender to God in Christ… a surrender that even many of our Christian brothers and sisters cannot see the truth of… a surrender that ultimately sets us free.

Would you, my friends, who consider yourself a Primitive Catholic, accept the call? If so, please, join me… let us gather together in fellowship, encouragement, and praise to God who has spoken so tenderly to our hearts. Let us give him glory, and let us come together… and together let us forge a future for our parishes, our denominations… and our world.

(A Contact Me button can be found near the top of the left-hand column of this webpage. Please use it to e-mail me with your support, questions, or thoughts.)

Father Robert Lyons
Indianapolis, Indiana
August 20, 2008


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