The Most Rev. William S.H. Downey, Presiding Archbishop of The Liberal Catholic Church, and Regionary Archbiship of the Province of the United States, shares messages with us from time to time.
Those are archived here, as well as other writings and sermons from our Bishops and Priests.
The Most Rev. William S.H. Downey
A Message from the Most Rev. William S.H. Downey
Presiding Bishop of The Liberal Catholic Church
The season of Lent was adopted by the Church as a time of preparation for the celebration of the greatest of our festivals, Easter, the commemoration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
In one sense we commemorate His resurrection every week on Sunday and on any day in which we celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist. However in the writings of the early church Fathers we find it was the practice of the Church from earliest times to set aside time for fasting, prayer and abstinence in anticipation of the annual celebration of this Feast.
Part of the discipline during this season is self-examination.
Self-examination is enjoined by most Religions and Philosophical Systems:
Judaism has Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Islam observes Ramadan, a month of fasting.
Hinduism observes various days of fasting and self-examination.
Christianity has Lent.
Self examination is designed to, in the words of our Collect, help to discern our faults so that we may truly amend them.
Hidden in what seems to be a fairly obvious statement is the real gift produced by this discipline: Discernment.
By a repeated concerted effort to look objectively at ourselves there comes a natural development of this spiritual capacity of Discernment, which as we all know is one of the prerequisites to Spiritual Development.
According to ancient Greek philosophy, Man occupies a middle position in the sphere of consciousness, suspended as it were between the extremes of Perfect Wisdom, Truth or Realization—Above; and ignorance, darkness or error—Below.
The Chinese said that the Universe consists of Heaven, Earth and Man. Heaven above, Earth below, and Man partakes in certain measure of both, Superior and Inferior. Plato and Confucius agree perfectly that Man possesses within himself a moving power, the active capacity to verge at will toward either of the extremes by which he is bounded. Evolution is Man unfolding toward the superior. In the ancient wisdom teaching the positive instruments of this unfoldment are the laws of Rebirth and Cause and Effect.
Through the process of spiritual evolution an individual Soul reaches the point, moved by inner conviction, and chooses to elevate himself, or as Plotinus says, to “verge toward the Good.”
Speaking of Plotinus, it is said that upon his death bed, he stated of his life’s work, “I am trying to unite what is Divine in us to that which is Divine in the universe.”
In the Christian terminology we refer to this process as the second Birth. In the Ash Wednesday Gospel we read the words of Our Lord to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again, born of the Spirit.” Turn toward the Good and that turning is the beginning of discrimination between the Real and the Unreal, betwixt Darkness and Light.
When the fifth chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians speaks of all standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ, it alludes to the Christ Principle within each one. People who have had what some refer to as “near death experiences” report of witnessing a review and panorama of their life until that point. Perhaps this is the Soul’s way of assessing and evaluating the past incarnation.
But we can, on a daily basis stand before that judgment seat in a positive effort to participate in correction of shortcomings and the decision to consciously move toward positive change.
In the Tarot deck there is a card called Judgment and in some renditions of this card there is depicted people rising from the Grave. The idea comes that with Judgement, which is Right Discrimination, comes the ability to Rise up to a new and better state of consciousness.
Colossians in the third chapter says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
The Gospel of John emphasizes the Love of God: “God so loved the World that he gave...” It goes on to say: “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world by him might be saved.” But the Amplified version says it a little better: “For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.”
Somewhere along the way religion has gone wrong in teaching that we are punished for our sins when in fact if there is any punishment it is by our sins. We suffer as the result of our failure to adhere to divine Law. We are our own judge and executioner!
The discipline of self-examination is certainly to become aware of our faults and correct them, but it goes beyond that concept. In its practice during this season it leads us to a deeper understanding of our selves, our motives and desires.
As we are willing to look honestly at ourselves, we will more likely develop a capacity for empathy and understanding for our fellows. We see that in one sense we are all “cut from the same cloth.” My faults are no greater or worse than yours. Your shortcomings are no different than mine.
This consideration brings us to the spiritual maxim: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
The purpose of this season of Lent is not to emphasize our sinfulness and shortcomings, our unworthiness, but on the contrary to lift us beyond that limited concept of self so that we will ultimately be brought to a more complete awareness of our true nature as the Sons and Daughters of the Most High.
Mar 15, 2022, 5:30 PM
A Prayer in time of General Sickness
From Presiding Archbishop William:
Almighty God, who art the strength of all them that put their trust in Thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who have been impacted by the present health challenge, all the sick and oppressed, all in fear and worry, all those who are suffering. Give us the due sense of your Will and abiding presence that we may know the truth of the words of sacred scripture, ”All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Keep ever before us the words of St Paul who said “nothing can ever separate us from the Love of Christ.” We invoke thy Healing Power upon our World and we trust in the Law of Good that rules all of Creation, in Christ’s most holy name we pray. Amen.
Mar 18, 2020, 3:39 PM