The Diocesan Canons

 

Statement of Purpose:

The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary of The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas strives to institute a missionary and religious life ministry, as did the early Celtic faith communities. This diocese works to establish cell and home-based societies in an effort to form close Christian groups of like-minded persons with a supportive fellowship among its members. This diocese is not interested in the number or size and geographic boundaries of its societies, but rather in the understanding, sincerity, and strength its members have in practicing the early Christian faith in the communities where they live and work. There is no expressed desire to take the place of any member's respective church or denomination, this missionary, and religious life ministry is so designed to be an extraordinary supplement to the Christian and spiritual life of its members. We encourage all our members to continue their association and fellowship with other like-minded institutions for the advancement of Christ's Church on earth.

 

Declaration of Historical Origin:

By tradition and history, the Celts are acknowledged as the first Christian community outside the Holy Land. Since Celtic Christianity was established prior to the first century it is classified as pre-Nicene. The wandering elders (clergy) of the earliest communities were loosely organized and served the many and varied Celtic tribes throughout Europe that had accepted a common form of Christian faith. The Celts were a people formed as tribal societies united by family, language, and faith. Celtic Christianity is believed to have been formed about 37 AD by the Apostle John and was always autonomous, never serving any head of state, king, pontiff, or patriarch. These faith communities and societies spread throughout the Roman Empire. Traditional Celtic Christianity was passed on orally until the fourth century when the Celts began to adopt Latin as their formal means of written communications.

 

During the third and fourth centuries, the Celtic clergy (monks) founded and operated abbeys throughout Europe and the British Isles, including Ireland. These clergy or monks were never well organized and operated as wondering missionaries who played a critical role in both maintaining and establishing Christianity during the dark and middle ages.

 

The modern Celtic churches are totally independent jurisdictions and are members of the historic Celtic Synod through valid lines of apostolic succession through valid eastern and western apostolic lines. (Order of Corporate Reunion)

 

The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas is established as a continuing mission of the historic Celtic Synod. This church has a limited hierarchy and is served by non-stipend clergy or monks, who are not bound by vows of celibacy. The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas does not employ or pay any stipend to any of the members of its jurisdiction and as a free association of like-minded individuals cannot be held liable for their actions.  They endeavor to restore the simplicity, purity, and original intent of Christian worship, free of the religious doctrines, dogmas, and traditions that have accumulated over the centuries. The church embraces the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, as well as the Teachings ascribed to St. Paul and other disciples of Jesus Christ within the earliest formulate years of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. St. John is the patron Apostle of The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary. The lines of Apostolic Succession are traced back to St. John, St. James, and St. Peter. There is an indirect line traced to St. Paul. 

 

The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary and its associated societies and orders, emphasizes fellowship, and a personal and honest relationship with both God and Humankind. The diocese encourages all people of faith to recognize the joy and personal peace that comes from respecting all of God's creatures, and creation as a whole, from understanding and applying the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary of The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas is a member of the Province of South Central United States of America of the Anglican Free Communion.

 

The church is a voluntary organization and as such the clergy, including bishops, and/or monks are volunteers of said organization.  The practice of ministry is open to those who by their commitment to Christ feel they are so-called into this special relationship. The freedom to serve in this church is limited to only those activities that are legally recognized by the society and governmental regulations thereof. All illegal activity will be reported to the proper jurisdictional authorities. It is clearly understood that the church, as an institution, shall not be held in liability for any actions of its volunteers.

 

Articles of Incorporation:

The Articles of Incorporation were filed on January 24, 2005, in the State of Mississippi, as a Non-Profit Corporation. The legal name of this corporation is The Celtic Church in Mississippi, Inc. On January 27, 2020, an amendment was filed and approved by the Mississippi Secretary of State to add a "hereby be known as" name to the charter. As of January 27, 2020, the public name of this Church Collective shall be known as The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas. The legal name remains unchanged. 

 

The ByLaws of The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary of The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas shall be known as The Diocesan Canons as defined below:

 

Canon 1:  It is the mission of this church diocese to form religious life societies in order to teach and instruct the people of faith by example and by proclamation of the holy scriptures, in the observance of offering the people of faith the seven sacraments of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and by witnessing to Christ's mercy and love using an approach that maintains catholic, Anglican, and Celtic traditions. 

 

Canon 2:  Liturgy. The ministry of the Sacraments must always be identical in the matter (word), form (order), and intention (sacrament) to those used by other historic catholic, Celtic, and apostolic churches. Rituals surrounding the matter and form of the Sacraments will always show respect for Celtic-Anglo and Catholic traditions but may reflect local customs. In liturgies references to the Most Holy Trinity must be made in the traditional format i.e. "In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit."

 

Canon 3: The Sacraments as to Matter and Form.

A.  Baptism: (1) The Sacrament of Baptism is administered by the pouring of water three times over the forehead of the person receiving it while saying the words: "I baptize you, in the Name of the Father (pour some water), and of the Son (pouring more water), and of the Holy Spirit (pouring the third and final time)." Additional blessings, reading from the Gospels, and anointing with oil of chrism are traditional and should be included when possible. Baptism by immersion may be chosen if the candidate is old enough not to be frightened by it. It is never acceptable to be baptized by sprinkling.

 

B.  Holy Eucharist: (2) Bread and wine are the matter of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist. Grape juice is permitted for use by a celebrant with an alcoholic condition but wine must be used for the faithful and for concelebrating clergy. The words of institution for the bread is "This is my body" said over the bread. For the wine, the words are "This is my blood." The words must be joined with the intention of the priest to consecrate the specific bread and wine on the altar.

C.  Reconciliation and Last Rites: (3-4) The matter of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is generally considered to be the contrition of the penitent for their sinfulness. The form of the sacrament is the following statement by the priest: "May Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you, and by his authority, I absolve you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, so far as my power allows and your needs require. +Thereupon, I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father+, and of the Son+, and of the Holy Spirit+, Amen."

D.  Confirmation: (5) The matter of the Sacrament of Confirmation is the laying on of hands of the minister on the head of the person being confirmed while anointing the forehead of the person making the sign of the cross with oil. The form of the sacrament is the following words said while anointing: "I sign you with the sign of the cross + and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation, in the Name of the Father+, and of the Son+, and of the Holy Spirit+. Amen." {The bishop may authorize any priest or monk to administer this sacrament in his stead.}

E.  Reserved Sacraments: (6-7) Holy Orders and Marriage: These two sacraments must be defined based upon the jurisdictional authority.

 

Canon 4: Membership, Creeds, and Ecclesiastical Governance. The membership of this church diocese and its societies are voluntary and composed of like-minded persons professing and confessing the belief that Jesus of Nazareth, is, in fact, the Christ (Messiah), the only begotten Son of God. Members are encouraged to maintain their communion with their faith tradition institutions and churches as a part of their disciplined lifestyle. The affirmation of faith is the central focus of Christian teachings and foundational to Christian beliefs. In, as much as possible, the three historic creeds of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, contain a true and faithful profession and confession of faith. Ecclesiastical Governance of this church diocese is solely based on New Testament instructions for Word, Order, and Sacrament. There is no supremacy within this structure; we are all, one among equals.

 

A.  Membership: There are two forms of membership. General membership is open to any person of faith, who by their own volition participates in the teaching processes of this church diocese's societal offerings either in The Society of Mary, Mother of Consolation or The Celtic Society of St. James. Members are encouraged to maintain their communion with their faith tradition institutions and churches as a part of their disciplined lifestyle. Each society has its own governance and is within itself its own jurisdictional ecclesiastical authority. Each will have the responsibility for designating the matter and form, as it relates to the Canon 3:E - Reserved Sacraments: (6-7) Holy Orders and Marriage. Once again, membership is voluntary.

B.  Creeds: There are three (3) historical creeds that have survived the test of time and come from the earliest period of the Christian faith. They are the Apostle's Creed; the Nicene Creed; and the Athanasius' Creed. These creeds ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

C.  Ecclesiastical Governance:  The ecclesiastical governance of The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary of The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas is derived by the authority given to it by Christ, to be in fact the Body of Christ present in the world. Each society; The Society of Mary, Mother of Consolation and/or The Celtic Society of St. James shall have its own structure for maintaining its separate, but equal internal governance for its members, both clergy (monks)  and lay. All societies are subject to The Diocesan Canons. The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary shall have established a titular episcopacy (bishopric) for the purpose of Word, Order, and Sacrament, to provide pastoral oversight for the whole diocese. This episcopacy shall be a teaching episcopacy and shall not engage in jurisdictional processes beyond the observation of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, as to Word, Order, and Sacrament. This episcopacy authorizes those designated in its societies to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation in its name. Likewise, there shall be a Lay Chancellor for The Anam Cara Episcopate (Diocese) of St. James and St. Mary, who will be the presiding officer for the Diocesan Synod of Societies and their members. This is an open church and derives its authority from the consent of its membership, both lay and clergy (monks), as practiced by the early followers, disciples, and apostles of Jesus the Christ (Messiah).

D.  Good Standing: A person or society in good standing is regarded as having complied with all their explicit obligations, while not being subject to any form of sanction, suspension, or disciplinary censure. This church as a whole or in part is not liable for actions taken by voluntary members, either lay of clergy (monks).

 

Canon 5:  39 Articles of Religion, revised 1870 AD. The historic statement of faith is presented here to establish continuity between the old tradition and the new tradition of a new millennium. (Articles are removed for web-posting.)

 

Canon 6: The Incorporation of The Didache, "Teachings of the Apostles." The Didache fills a gap between the Apostolic Age and the Church of the second century and sheds light upon questions of doctrine, worship, and discipline.

As such the Philip Schaff book, "The Oldest Church Manual, Called The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles ..." Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged, Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, New York, 1886, shall stand as the standard for reference to the early historical formation and teachings of the Apostolic Church.

Canon 7:  Ordination to Holy Orders. The establishment of an ordained ministry and priesthood within the structure of this church diocese shall be as follows: The making of Deacons, The Ordering of Priests and Missionary Monks, and The Ordaining or Consecrating of a Titular Bishop.

A.  Deacons. The Making of Deacons. Deacons are called to "hold" to the faith with a clear conscience, but they are not called to "teach" that faith. (I Tim. 3:9) This suggests that the deacons do not have an official teaching role in the church, but a learning role. Deacons are the "support team" of the church. A deacon is an ordained person, who usually serves in a society or mission in a supportive ministry.  A deacon must be at least 18 years of age and continuing in a prescribed course of learning to improve his understanding of all truth and knowledge in the discipline of his selection. Annual reports of his progress are to be made to his mentor, as well as his titular bishop.

 

B.  Priest, Missionary Monks, aka Elders or Presbyters. The elders of the church, also called the presbyters, are usually men, who are called to be responsible for the shepherding and direction of the church, the body of believers in Christ. An elder is an ordained person, who usually serves in a society or mission and who has been ordained to a ministry of Word, Order, and Sacrament, fulling the preaching and pastoral offices of the church. The function of the elder was centered on taking care of the church, the Body of Christ. An elder must be at least 25 years of age and continuing in a prescribed course of learning to improve his understanding of all truth and knowledge in the discipline of his selection. Annual reports of his progress are to be made to his titular bishop, or if in a society they shall make their report to the Society Abbots, who will in turn report to the Titular Bishop.

C.  Titular Bishop. A titular bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the apostolic line of succession and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, sanctifying the world and representing the Church, the Body of Christ, in that world. A titular bishop must be at least 30 years of age and show evidence of the gifts and graces for the office to which he is called. Titular Bishops shall be elected among the elders of the church diocese and their societies.

D.  Women in Ministry.  It is no surprise that women were active in the early church. From the very start --- the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus --- women were significantly involved. In fact, women were the major witnesses of his crucifixion and resurrection. The early churches did value women's contributions and service. As such, this church diocese and its societies will on a case by case basis, as with their male counterparts, consider women to be valid candidates for holy orders in The Celtic Society of St. James. There is much evidence from documents, doctrine, and artifacts that supports the acceptance of women as presbyters and deacons in the early church. However, The Society of Mary, Mother of Consolation, shall be reserved only for men, due to the nature and purpose of this society. There is a place for women in this society within the Celtic women's monastic tradition as abbesses and as such are obligated to the same rules of the order. Canon 7, A and B, are applicable here.

 

Canon 8: The Church Diocesan Discipline and Instruments of Order. In addition to these established Canons, there will be maintained a Book of Discipline for the administration of day to day, month to month, and year to year, functions of this church diocese. This Discipline will contain all instructions as to how the practical application of the Diocesan Canons is achieved in the church diocese and its societies.  Each society shall maintain its own Discipline. The Titular Bishop shall maintain, in the form of a Journal, all episcopal writings and instruments of communion.

 

Canon 9: The Establishment of the Celtic Society of St. James. The establishment of a Society, where like-minded folks could strive to recover the roots of Celtic Christianity and explore what early Celts believed prior to the Nicene Creed and the Roman conquest of the Celts.  The Celtic Church in Mississippi a/k/a The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas was incorporated in 2005 as a historical society to preserve early Celtic (earliest catholic tradition) Christianity. The only creeds accepted by this society as an affirmation of faith are the Apostles' Creed without revisions, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Orthodox Creed.

 

All are welcome to be members of this journey to find the roots of pre-Nicene Celtic Faith. The Celtic Faith before the Celts were forced by the Romans to accept the Nicene Creed and Supremacy of Rome. The two lines of early Christianity followed three paths: St. John established the Celtic Way, St. Peter established the Roman Way, and St. Paul established the Eastern Way. 

 

We are a society of like-minded people sharing a common heritage and culture. We all have our own faith-traditions and we encourage everyone to practice their faith as God gives the Light to do so.

 

The Titular Bishop is only a facilitator and Abbot for the purposes defined by this Society in its ByLaws of Incorporation, the Diocesan Canons. We are all one among equals here.

 

The structure of The Celtic Catholic Church of the Americas is a broad-based structure allowing for those seeking communion with Christ through the Holy Spirit to find a warm and welcoming community in this Society.

 

Canon 10: The Establishment of the Society of Mary, Mother of Consolation. This Society is established under the Constitution and ByLaws of its own jurisdiction. It is governed by the Diocesan Canons of this church diocese insofar as it pertains to matter (word), form (order), and intention (sacrament). 

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