The ORCCE is a "Catholic" church, meaning that you will find very few differences between what we believe and what other Catholic Churches such as Roman/Orthodox Catholics believe.
We have much in our history and beliefs that we share in common with other Christians;
- that Jesus Christ was/is the Son of God
- that the Bible is the inspired Word of God
- and that Christianity is the way God wants us to live our lives.
But being in the Catholic tradition we also believe;
- that in the Mass the bread and the wine become the physical and spiritual presence of Christ
- that Christ still comforts His people and shares His life with us through the Church in the Sacraments of Baptism (administered by water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), Confirmation (anointing and reception of the Holy Spirit confirming Faith), Matrimony (union between a man and a woman before God), Holy Orders (the implanting of the Holy Spirit upon deacons, priests and bishops), the Holy Eucharist (reception of the Holy Communion), Absolution (confession and penance) and Extreme Unction (confession, anointing and reception of the Holy Communion administered to the dying)
- that Christ gave His authority from God to teach, heal and forgive to the Apostles and from them to the Bishops which authority Priests share
- that a true and meaningful relationship with God involves admission of our sins, true repentance and a dedicated resolve not to sin again
- and that the sacrificing of our own desire to do His will and obey His commandments is the correct way to live our earthly existence.
However, all this is believed, expressed and taught by us in a compassionate way, accepting the frailty of the human condition, its weaknesses, its instincts but then encouraging our ability as humans to feel and think and believe with our "hearts and minds".
Paramount to the expression of the Christian faith as Catholics is adherence to the summary of God's law that Christ taught His followers;
"The first commandment is this: '... the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Futher information about how this Faith is lived and taught by our Church is available on this website, please feel free to search and to read more!
The Latin word sacramentum means "a sign of the sacred." The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Catholic Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence. That's what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God's grace.
A Catholic Christian does not doubt that God can answer our internal aspirations and prayers without the need of ceremony or ritual. However God and Christ instituted various external and visible ceremonies for us to receive particular graces from Him. The seven Sacraments of the Church employ visible expressions of ceremonial to confer an "inward and invisible" grace which comes from God.
Despite many detractors the seven Sacraments are evidenced in the Bible and were either divinely instituted by Christ or through His authority by the Apostles:
Baptism: The means of spiritual rebirth through which we are made children of God and heirs of Heaven: ``Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'' (John 3:5. Also see Acts 2:38, Rom. 6:2-6).
Confirmation: Confers the Holy Spirit to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ: ``Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.... Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.'' (Acts 8:14-17. Also see Acts 19:6).
Eucharist: Also known as Holy Communion, which nourishes the soul with the true Flesh and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, under the appearance, or sacramental veil, of bread and wine: ``And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it. And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.'' (Mark 14:22-24. Also see Matt. 26:26-28, Luke 22:19-20, John 6:52-54, 1 Cor. 10:16).
Reconciliation: Also known as Confession, through which Christ forgives sin and restores the soul to grace: ``Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. '' (John 20:22-23. Also see Matt. 18:18).
Anointing: Sometimes called Unction, which strengthens the sick and Viaticum which sanctifies the dying: ``Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord . . . and if he be in, sins, they shall be forgiven him.'' (James 5:14-15. Also see Mark 6:12-1
Holy Orders: Empowers priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, administer the sacraments, and officiate over all the other proper affairs of the Church: ``For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that pertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins.... Neither doth any man take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.'' (Heb. 5:1-4. Also see Acts 20:28, 1 Tim. 4:14). Also: ``And taking bread, he gave thanks, and broke; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.'' (Luke 22:19).
Marriage: Unites a man and woman in a holy bond: ``For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.'' (Matt. 19:5-6. Also see Mark 10:7-9, Eph. 5:22-32).
The Catholic faith originates from the old Jewish religion. It is in a sense a continuation of Judaism and as such shares many of the same beliefs. In the old Jewish sacred texts the creation of the world is narrated in the book of Genesis. Genesis teaches that an all-powerful, self-existent, beautiful and infinite being, God, created all things. First, He created inanimate matter: rock, water, air etc; then all living things: vegetation, animals, angels and men, and to angels and men He bestowed not only life but also intellect and the ability to act freely, i.e., freewill.
In the beginning man lived a life of paradise as God had intended. There was no disease, no pain or death upon the earth; life was abundantly happy, and in due course God planned to lift Adam and all his children out of the world and give them the vision of Himself, which is the total fulfilment of heaven. However, Adam, the first man, in a callous pride-filled act of his own freewill, turned from God and offended His infinite majesty. As a result humankind's relationship to God was damaged, God withdrew many of His gifts to man and the world was thrust out of gear. Man's intellect became clouded, his memory and will were dulled, and he went to war within, fighting with his own passions (pride, anger, lust, envy, sloth, covetousness, gluttony). God also withdrew His providential gift of painlessness and life without death. Man became subject to disease and suffering, the world became his enemy, beset with danger and constant difficulty, but above all man's true end, heaven, was now closed.
It is a principle of justice that, between criminal and victim, for amends to be made, the victim must be reimbursed with an amount equal to the crime committed against him. For instance if a watch worth £100 were stolen then for justice to be administered either the watch itself must be returned or the criminal must reimburse the victim with the sum of £100. The dignity of the victim also affects the seriousness of the offence. For instance, to insult the queen of England is more serious than to insult a humble friend or work colleague. This is not because the queen is not human but because she holds an important rank among us, a rank which deserves a certain amount of respect. Now, God is infinite and all-good, therefore the offence committed against Him was in a certain sense infinite, and therefore required an infinite amount of compensation. But of course man could offer no such compensation himself, so what was to be done? God mercifully promised that in time a redeemer would come, i.e., a rescuer, sent by God, who would redeem (buy back) humankind from perdition and restore a right relationship. Catholics believe that Jesus of Nazareth who appeared on the earth some two thousand years ago was that expected redeemer, and because He was the 'Messiah' or 'Christ' (the anointed one), Catholicism is said to be Christian.
The Unclean Sacrifices of the Old Covenant
A sacrifice is the offering of a victim (i.e., a person or thing) by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way, to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Lord of all things. A sacrifice may be offered, specifically, to give God honour or adoration, to offer thanks, to beg favours, or to make propitiation (i.e., to appease God).
From earliest times, men offered up sacrifices to God. Everything God created on the earth - animals, vegatation, and inanimate matter - God created for His own glory, but he also created these things for man's use. Thus men would take these gifts of God, select the most precious among them, and, rather than use them for themselves, they would offer them to God by destroying them upon altars. Among the Jews there were two kinds of sacrifice: the bloody, and unbloody. In a bloody sacrifice, a living animal such as an ox, a lamb, or a dove was slaughtered; its blood was poured out upon the altar and its flesh consumed by fire or eaten. An unbloody sacrifice was the sacrifice of some food such as fruit, wine, or wheat; it was burned up or eaten, and the wine was poured out on the altar.
God gave the Jews detailed instructions on sacrificial offerings (Lev. i. vii.; xvi; xxii.). They had a high-priest, who, acting in the name of all the people would offer morning and evening an unbloody sacrifice of incense, flour, oil, and frankincense. He then offered a bloody sacrifice of a lamb together with food and drink, and on the Sabbath (Saturdays), he offered two more lambs with bread and wine. Hundreds of victims were sacrificed amidst impressive ceremonies at certain times in the year on certain feast. There were four chief feasts, the Pasch (or Passover), the Pentecost, the Tabernacles, and the Expiation. The first three commemorated important events in the history of the Jewish people, while in the latter, the feast of the Expiation (or Atonement), the priest offered sacrifice for his own sins and those of the peoples, and this was the most solemn feast of all. 'Atonement' means to make amends, i.e., to be made 'at one' (at-one-ment)with God.
The Jews knew that the offerings they made to God could never fully repay for the damage of the sin of Adam. They waited in expectant hope for the coming of the true redeemer, the one whom God had promise. The sacrifices they offered were unclean, i.e., imperfect, but the sacrifice of the redeemer would be spotless, and once offered, man's relationship to God would be repaired, and the offering of unclean sacrifices would cease.
Jesus of Nazareth & the Clean Sacrifice
For centuries the coming of the Messiah was prophesied by holy men. It was said that He would be born of a virgin, that He would be of the line of a certain king, David, and that He would be born in Bethlehem. The prophecies can be read in full the old Jewish sacred texts found in the first half of the Christian bible. Christians believe that all the prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus's life was recorded by a number of His followers in the decades following His death. Four such biographies were collected together and can now be found in the second half of the Christian bible. These are the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In the gospels, Jesus's conception is said to have been virginal. This means He had a human mother but no human father. That which in ordinary conception is produced by the action of a biological father, was, in the case of Jesus, produced by a miracle of God. He grew in the womb like any other child, and in due course was born into the world, in Bethlehem. Of the next thirty years of His life we know very little. He was a carpenter in Nazareth, further north in Galilee. Then came the three years of His public life. He travelled over Palestine with twelve followers He had chosen, the Apostles. He preached of God and man, of the Kingdom of God, and of Himself as its Founder. He performed incredible miracles such as raising the dead and healing the sick. His miracles showed that He was in some sense special and that God was guaranteeing the truth of His utterances. But the Jewish leaders of the time had grown corrupt and Jesus was without mercy for their sinfulness. They wanted Him dead, and He gave them the pretext on which, in the name of true religion, they might kill Him. For He claimed to be not only the Messiah but God. Thus upon a charge of blasphemy they persuaded the Roman governor of Judaea to crucify Him. He was nailed to a cross on a hill called Calvary for three hours until He died. He was buried and on the third day He rose again. For forty days more He appeared among His Apostles then ascended into the sky until a cloud hid Him from the gaze.
Christians believe that Jesus was God enfleshed, i.e., incarnate of man. Remember that a sacrifice is an offering and destruction of a victim by a priest to God alone. Remember that for the sin of Adam, an infinite price had to be payed. On the cross, Jesus was both victim and high-priest - he was both offerer and offered - and as God enfleshed, a sinless man, His sacrifice was therefore:
- clean (perfect)
And by it humankind is redeemed.
Until Christ's death on the cross, the gates of heaven - man's true end - had been closed. Now they were open, and those who were redeemed could ascend there after their earthly existence as had always been intended before the Fall of Adam. But who were the redeemed? Christ's redeeming act was truly for all men but not all accept Him and His sacrifice - it is only to those who accept the sacrifice of Christ that are made just in the sight of God.
The ORCCE offers the Sacraments of the Church, with the exception of Baptism, Marriage and anointing with oil (for the sick) only to Catholics who have been Confirmed by Bishops of the Universal Church i.e. of the following denominations:
- Roman Catholic Church
- Orthodox Eastern/Oriental/Canonical Churches
- Traditional Anglican (FinF parish, TAC, ACC, TCE)
- Old (Roman) or Independent Catholic Churches
- and Churches with whom The ORCCE has an Intercommunion Concordat.
If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you should receive a Sacrament from The ORCCE , please speak to one our clergy who will be happy to inform you.
Sacramental ministrations by ORCCE clergy to regular members of another Catholic Church (as above) will only be permitted under particular circumstances e.g.
- A person's own denomination does not have a place of worship locally;
- It is a special occasion and a person is attending as a guest at an ecumenical event or of the family or participants of a particular ceremony e.g. Baptism, Nuptial Mass, Requiem Mass;
- A person feels an urgent spiritual need to receive grace from a particular Sacrament e.g. Confession, or there exists an emergency e.g. Confirmation and/or Viaticum for the dying*.
If a person, for whatever reason, prefers the worship or ethos of The ORCCE they are welcome to join the Church as a regular worshipper and become a member of our congregations without reference to the circumstances outlined above if they have received Confirmation from another Catholic Church. However, they should understand that such action may incurr a penalty from their old communion (i.e. if Roman Catholic, excommunication*).
While The ORCCE welcomes interest from members of other churches to join our fellowship, we do not seek to proselytise (convert) people from other churches. We hold the same Catholic Faith as any other orthodox member of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, accepting that we may differ culturally or in the expression of our worship and ministry from other such churches but not significantly as to become "another Church" or to "profess another Faith".
If a person desires to worship with us and become one with our communion they should do so in consultation with a ORCCE priest who will seek to advise them as to how best to proceed.
*Roman Catholics are permitted by the Code of Canon Law 1983 to receive the Sacraments from an Old Catholic priest in extremis i.e. when in danger of death. Roman Catholic's may also fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending an Old Catholic Mass if they are prevented from attending Mass in a Roman Catholic Church. For more information click here.