“In the beginning was the Word … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth.” Thus entered Our Lord, Jesus, The Christ, into the World. We catch glimpses of Him until He is twelve years old, after which we lose sight of him for eighteen years. Reappearing in the Scriptural narrative at the age of thirty, we see the three years of his Earthly ministry, and, at the end of this span, we kill Him.
After His Death, He Descends into Hell, that all souls that have been from the beginning of the World, whose lives ended before His Resurrection, might see His Grace, and know His Salvation. After three days in Hell, He returns to His Disciples. Immediately before Returning to the Father, He Calls down the Holy Ghost, The Comforter, to remain with us until He, Jesus, returns in Power, Glory, and Judgement. This Gift of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles was the original Pentecost (the fiftieth day), known traditionally by all Anglicans as Whitsunday. This is commonly called the Birthday of Holy Mother, The Church.
For over a thousand years, there was but one Christian Church, one Faith, which was held the same at all times, in all places, by all people. As is ever the case with humanity, divisions began to grow, over the years, and, in the Year of Our Lord 1054, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church was split in two, along the lines that had, earlier, split the Roman Empire into East and West. Known as the Great Schism, it was but a foretaste of the sinful feast to come.
Almost five-hundred years later, in A.D. 1534, King Henry VIII, of England, issued the Act of Supremacy, confirming to himself, and his successors, the title of “…the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England, called Anglicana Ecclesia”. In this manner was the Church of England separated from the rest of their brethren in the western Church, thereby making three branches of the original One Church: Roman-; Eastern-, commonly known as Orthodox-; and Anglican Catholics. This move, on Henry’s part, was motivated by his desire to have all of the Church properties and assets in England, the wealth of which would be used to prosecute his wars and intrigues, the irony of which should be noted….
This, in-brief, is the history that describes the formation of what it means to be called Anglican, in the merest sense ~ to be descended from that tradition of the Church, in England, and it’s two-thousand year history. In this country, Anglican has many meanings, regrettably. By Anglican Catholic, we mean that tradition once held by the Episcopal Church, before that formerly Catholic body began to repudiate Holy Tradition, much-less their denial of the authority of Holy Scripture.
As Anglican Catholics, we acknowledge three sources of spiritual authority: Holy Tradition, Holy Scripture, and Reason. Holy Tradition is defined as those things decided and promulgated by the Seven Great Councils of the Undivided Church; that Church split asunder, by Man, in A.D. 1054. All things believed, taught and practiced during those thousand years, we hold as true, and coming from God.
Holy Scripture, of-course, means the Holy Bible, consisting of the Old- and New Testaments, the Old Testament to include those books styled Deuterocanonical, commonly known as the Apocrypha, as they were included in the original King James Bible, of A.D. 1611. We hold these Scriptures to be the Word of God ~ they are the rule and guide of our Faith. All Services of the Church, public or private, must use only the ‘King James. Other texts may be used for teaching.
Reason is the least-referenced of these three, collectively known as the Anglican Tripod, or the Three-legged Stool. By Reason, we remind ourselves that we are both Commanded and Challenged by God to bring our full attention ~ all that we are, but especially our hearts and minds ~ to the exercise of our Faith in Him, and in His Son, Jesus, The Christ, our Saviour. We must fully engage, and take our share of the responsibility, in our salvation.
So, here, densely distilled, we have the Anglican Catholic faith. We are Anglican, in that we follow the uninterrupted transmission of the English experience and understanding of the Church, from that first Pentecost, to this very day. We are Catholic, in the sense of the original, universal Church. We are Church, as we follow, worship, serve and love Our Lord, Jesus, the Christ, in His Role as Head of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.