Our Celtic Roots

Our clergy in Europe can be identified by their Celtic lapels or pectoral crosses. This is because the Nordic Church acknowledges that the Gospel first came to their shores by way of Irish slaves and monks, possibly from Lindisfarne, this being the first coming together of British and Viking Christians. Still more than 60 Celtic stone crosses remain from the Midddle Ages standing in Western Norway, one of them [see attached picture] in the Loen village at Stryn in Nordfjord where the NCC Norway has a small community.

Realising that we in Britain share this common Celtic history, the clergy now have their own Celtic cross made from a traditional Irish design and produced by craftsmen in the Shetlands islands. The unique Celtic cross is especially thought of as pointing to Christ’s victory as the simple cross breaks through and transforms the circle of the world. Many of these stone crosses still stand in the ruins of Celtic monasteries in Ireland and other parts of the British Isles as they once were clearly signs of the unity of different churches and people kept together by a shared Christian culture and spiritual tradition and not by administration. [See photo of the NCC UK pectoral cross with inter linking circles symbol of the Blessed Trinity.]

The roots we share in our Celtic past have such a distinctive character in piety and discipline which came from the austere traditions of the desert fathers of Coptic and Orthodox monastic migrants and found a place in the lives of people who had to flee their homelands in France and Eastern England. This was a faith not based upon success and comfort but coped with hardship that relied upon the deep orthodox faith they had received. These things may be helpful to us as we seek an authentic yet relevant understanding of the demands in our present century.

The story is well known of the Great Pope Gregory’s vision after seeing the young British slaves in the Roman markets; and how he set about rebuilding the Church in the outer fringes of the Roman Empire through the missionary efforts of monks led by Augustine to Canterbury in 597 AD. Less well known is that in the same year St. Columba died in Lindisfarne. Columba, Ninian, Aidan and others were the leaders of the Church that had existed in the British Isles from the post Apostolic age and which Augustine found still alive in Kent.

Lindisfarne Priory from above

Lindisfarne Priory from above

Although the early history is shrouded in legend partly because the monastic written material was destroyed in the library monasteries by Henry VIII at the dissolution, Celtic bishops were known to have participated in the early Councils of the universal Church for many years. It is also known that the Celtic monks, priests and bishops traveled between Cornwall, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Northern England and as far as Norway where the martyred Irish princess Sunniva died. The Scandinavian King St Olav too had connections with various people and places in Britain including Glastonbury. So there is much in a shared history that already binds us together.

But it is not only the history that is important, it is also the unique and distinctive character of Celtic Christian piety, discipline and life which could support our present efforts to cope with the world. The Christian Celtic missions were spontaneous and flexible without the over bearing institutional structures that developed later. The Celtic Church was not hierarchical, their itinerant bishops wore green rather than the imperial purple of Rome and the saints were driven by a sense that they belonged to God, the wooden church buildings and monasteries were small and basic. From these came the missionary monks of Iona, Lindisfarne, Inch Abbey Downpatrick and Bardsey Island, men like Aidan, Cuthbert, David, Patrick and many more.

But we should search for the truly Christian Celtic culture and avoid an over romantic attitudes to Celtic life derived from the pre-Christian world of the Druids that have nothing to do with the gospel of Christ and his holiness to which we are called.

Fr. Geoffrey Neal

New Deacons and Subdeacons in the Nordic Catholic Church

Over the past few months, the Nordic Catholic Church has progressed further in building our Catholic orders. We are enriched and thankful for the addition of four new deacons and two subdeacons. In particular we pray for God’s blessing on these vital ministries, so close to the heart of our Saviour and the building of his body on earth.

New deacon and subdeacon at Our Saviour’s Parish, Stockholm

On august 27th in the Chapel of Our Lady Subdiakon Ansgar Mattias was ordained to the deaconate by Bishop Roald Nikolai who at the same occasion installed Lector Björn Holmqvist as subdeacon.

More information is available on the Stockholm website.

 
 
 
 
 

International ordinations to the deaconate near Lake Constance

With participation of family, friends and members of the communities in Germany, Switzerland and Italy Bishop Roald Nikolai ordained three deacons on October 28th: Pastoral assistant Ralf Blasberg (Düsseldorf), Subdeacon Volker Schulte (Windisch, Switzerland) and Subdeacon Davide Mossenta (Udine, Italy). The ordinations took place in Oberhomberg, the Liturgies of the Hour and social gatherings in Ebenweiler. Warm thanks for excellent organisation of the church event to the hosts, our Brethren of the Priory of St. Andrew OPR.

Installation of a subdeacon at St. Nicholas mission, Karlskrona

During the Bishop’s traditional visit to St. Nicholas mission for the celebration of its Patron Saint, Mikael Salminen was installed as subdiakon on the Second Sunday of Advent. Mikael who has been member of the Church since start of the mission in Karlskrona in 2013, has served the last years as acolyte.

England welcomes an experienced priest into the team

The Reverend Canon Edward Bryant was conditionally ordained by Bishop Roald Nikolai on November 4th and will serve in Hastings East Sussex. He will begin to build an ecumenical oratory in the area in which teaching and prayer will be given for the building and strengthening of Christian life.

After the ordination mass which took place in the Priory of St. Thomas Church at Rugeley with attendance of NCC UK clergy, guests and family, Fr. Edward was given an antimension symbolising the eucharistic bonds between the Bishop and the newly ordained.

The Nordic Catholic Church is grateful for all the support Fr. Edward Bryant has received by friends from Churches in the locality.

Fr. Edward comes to us with a great deal of experience as a priest of the Anglican Church. As a young man he went to the University of Manchester and Goldsmiths college in the University of London. In secular life he has been a teacher and a manager in the telecom industry before his ordination in 1978. He has much pastoral experience in his former diocese of Chichester. Edward Bryant has been a widower for several years with a family of two adult sons and a grandson.

Geoffrey Neal, Vicar General

Newsletter on the ordinations in England on Saturday 3rd September

 

From The Contender No. 7, Autumn 2016

Administration of the Nordic Catholic Church in the UK

This newsletter is designed to clarify, after a long period of silence, the current status of the Nordic Catholic Church in the United Kingdom – a silence made necessary by the utmost discretion required for the preparation and planning involved.

On Saturday 3rd September, Bishop Roald Flemestad formally received the first 5 priests into the Nordic Catholic Church in a Service of Incardination. The form of this Service included Conditional Ordination, but in such a manner as to be both appropriate within, and approved by, the Union of Scranton.

This specially constructed Rite took place in the presence of the Prime Bishop of the Union of Scranton, The Most Reverend Anthony Mikovsky. Three Anglican priests were conditionally ordained; and two, from other denominations, were ordained absolutely.

1-introit_hymn_20160903_140332

The liturgy took place in the beautiful Chapel of Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire with the gracious consent of Lady Willoughby d’Eresby, and in the presence of invited guests.
It was necessary to get this way of proceeding agreed by all the parties and individuals concerned, before proceeding, for several important reasons:

Firstly, because the Holy Orders of the Nordic Catholic Church had been recognised by the Vatican in late December 2015, and the Bishops of Union of Scranton were determined, for the sake of the ecumenical future, not to confuse this new clarification of their existing historic orders and status in Europe.

Secondly, the bishops needed to be aware of the state of separated churches of Europe, as well as those in North and South America. There are numerous Continuing Anglicans, as well as Continuing Roman Catholics, to name just a few, who are already searching for a sound Non-Papal Catholic future. The step that was taken in England needed to be a secure (and catholic-based) model for those coming forward to consider organic union.

Thirdly, the Bishops of the Union of Scranton [PNCC and NCC], were also aware of their responsibility to the Holy Orthodox Churches who had met in June 2016 in Crete, and with whom they already had agreements. This statement (of their agreements) may be found in the document “ROAD TO UNITY” – which has been ratified by the parties involved, as a foundational doctrinal document within the Union of Scranton.

Fourthly, this Conditional Ordination guaranteed the recognition of the Orders of those who, though once fully in Communion with Old Catholics (including the Polish National Catholic Church), had subsequently been obliged to live in an impaired or unsatisfactory relationship with them; and who wished to remove all dispute under which they had been obliged to exercise their ministry for the past three decades.

The past six months have been devoted to preparing the Liturgy, as well as the first candidates for this development. We hope this explanation will enable our friends to understand the caution and silence entailed whilst all this was taking place.

Meanwhile we have begun to build this new platform. The five new priests are for the time being a part of the Nordic Church’s Mission, but intend foster a non-Papal Catholic Church in the UK as it is has already developed in Scandinavia, Germany, France and Italy. This new UK platform will provide sacraments, teaching and doctrine that are completely reliable and a ministry of which groups can be absolutely confident. These priests will be followed by others serving under Bishop Roald Nikolai Flemestad’s oversight and supported by their colleagues in Europe and America.

The impact of this historic breakthrough has already become evident. With the presence of Prime Bishop Anthony and firm backing of his Bishops, fresh encouragement has been given to the clergy of the Nordic Catholic Church on the Continent to respond to our duty of restoring the unity of separated churches in the true faith and Christian love.

We have agreed and also begun the response to the Great and Holy Council of Crete’s call in June 2016 for a union of Churches. In the UK especially, we have been authorised to continue to discover a way of implementing an agreement with the Traditional Anglican Church of Britain. The TACB bishop Ian Gray, who was present on September 3rd with other Continuing Anglican leaders, has invited NCC representatives to his international Synod in October where our own Bishop Roald will present new proposals.

To enable this work to continue we now have a bank account [admin@nordiccatholic-uk.com] whose manager is Andrew Heald. In each country the bishop appoints a Vicar General. For England Fr Geoffrey Neal was appointed by the Bishop for this role to represent and liaise with him concerning the UK administration.

In July seven pilgrims from England travelled to Norway to join the pilgrimage organised by the Nordic Catholic Church to the Shrine of St Olav. This was another chance to meet people and clergy from other countries, and to experience the culture of their small missions.

THE ORATORY OF THE WAY AND MIND OF THE SPIRIT has been running for about two years and because it is foundational, should continue to play an important part working alongside the Nordic Mission. It was conceived as a journey for lay people, seeking to provide a way which preserves the received faith as expressed by the Holy Scriptures, the Church Fathers of the first millennium and the Anglican Divines. Over the past years several small groups have begun to meet and study together. Now is the time to return to this project, having established the mission platform.

Although the Oratories are designed to be ecumenical cells, they are also the basic model for any group who think of themselves as ‘Faithful Remnant’ Christians. In the NCC itself this model seems to be developing with a priest working in a secular job or retired, who gathers around himself one or two small cells which in many cases may also have a deacon and readers. Whether we speak of ecumenical oratories or Nordic Missions, all of us who meet together for prayer and study will comprise ‘Cells’. The latter will be small, flexible, and inexpensive with a common rule of life, meeting regularly to achieve an orthodox future that grows from the ancient faith. The concept is one that many people we speak to desire to see, yet find it difficult to get started. This is where our work now lies.

We are still inviting priests, pastors and people to work with us to form themselves into Oratories. The Nordic Catholic Mission does not seek to proselytize or ‘poach’ from other Christian bodies. The Nordic Church relations with others will be important in this time of discernment and uncertainty.

We shall place ourselves alongside Christians who not only share the same goals of orthodoxy in doctrine and morality, but in this present age the urgently-needed evangelical spirit of Christ’s Church as it seeks a renewal of the apostolic mission.

Click here for pdf-version of the newsletter:
Contender No. 7 Autumn-2016

Invitation Letter from the NCC UK

Receiving the Gift

A gift is being offered to Christians in the United Kingdom who are seeking a new ‘dwelling place’ in which to worship and serve Jesus Christ in a way that is consonant with the traditional belief and practice that until the last part of the last century was normative for Christian experience.

It is a gift open to all, but it is primarily offered to Anglicans within the Church of England. The Church of England is soon to consecrate the profound error of admitting women into the historic Episcopate. From that moment on the Church of England will cease to have any authentic claim to be a Catholic and Apostolic church, and its provision to accommodate orthodox members will mean that it will stand on feet made of both ‘clay and iron’. This is a very brittle foundation for the future.

There are some who feel a strong vocation to remain within the Established Church to offer a prophetic witness to the church itself. This call is to be honoured, and will demand for those who follow it, an outpouring of the gifts of faith, hope and love.

There are others who now sense that the Lord is calling them into something new. They are unclear as to what this future might be.
It is the precious gift of the orthodox and apostolic authority of a Bishop of the Nordic Catholic Church, with its sacramental assurance and the dynamism of the Holy Spirit, that is being offered by Bishop Roald Flemestad, with the support of other Bishops of the Union of Scranton. It is offered to those who are hearing this call to travel in faith, to a place as yet unknown.

This gift will enable individuals who are seeking the Lord’s will for themselves and their families, to have a secure ‘dwelling place’ in which to ‘ask, seek and knock’ in the sure hope that the Lord who is the ‘Way, Truth and Life’ will honour the prayer of those who gather together in his name. This is purpose of the oratory of The Way and Mind of the Spirit.

Those who are called to share this pilgrimage are not seeking to merely preserve or continue elements of their past church life. Rather they will be seeking the Lord’s future for them, hoping and praying that they might play a vital part in the evangelisation of England and in the renewal and unification of the Body of Christ.

The Nordic Catholic Church was itself the fruit of such a pilgrimage, and our brothers and sisters in Scandinavia (and in other parts of Europe) have already experienced the spiritual and social trauma which is the consequence of the church of their Baptism becoming apostate. The gift they offer is the fruit of
‘working out their own salvation in fear and trembling’.

If you are a person who senses this vocation to journey in faith with others seeking an orthodox Christian life, which draws on the patrimony of the One Tradition as expressed in Anglicanism, you are encouraged to contact us at admin@nordiccatholic-uk.com providing some details of your present situation.

A Way Forward – NCC UK Administration Launched

Over the past years I have been approached by people from the United Kingdom asking me what the Nordic Catholic Church can offer to help disaffected Anglo Catholics. After a period of consulting with different constituencies and with the blessing of Most Reverend Anthony Mikovsky, Archbishop of the Union of Scranton, I have taken steps to begin a new administration in the United Kingdom.

Our initial focus will be with lay folk through the formation of an Oratory called “The Way and Mind of the Spirit”.

This motto recalls the first name of the followers of Jesus (Acts 11:26,) before they took the name “Christian”. The Acts of the Apostles also tells us that the early church “grew, while walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:31).

In these difficult times of discernment, we hope to walk in that same direction and thus find a way forward. Our agenda is positive and we do not seek to be a group in opposition to any others looking for realignment. We are aware that others are seeking the same goals of orthodoxy in doctrine and morality with urgency for the evangelical spirit in this present age.

In order to offer the gift of the same Catholic future that the Polish National Catholic Church has blessed us with in Europe, I have, for this present stage, appointed a General Secretary and a small college of priests, who will assist me in finding a way to minister to lay people who continue to pass on the faith, worship and praxis of the Undivided church of the first millennium as it has been handed down to Anglicans within the church of their baptism.

Bishop Roald Nikolai Flemestad

 

Greetings from Archbishop Anthony Mikovsky of the Union of Scranton:

To Bishop Roald N. Flemestad and the English Administration

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