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Commentary
to the
Code of Canon Law
for the
Evangelical Catholic Church

 

Canon 4:  Liturgical and Sacramental Law

 

4.1  As a validly consecrated autocephalous catholic faith community, the Evangelical Catholic Church reserves unto herself the obligation to define and make binding her liturgical norms, customs and laws.

4.2  The common liturgical rite for this Church shall be the Novus Ordo.  The Church recognizes the historical and liturgical significance of the Tridentine Liturgy and shall reserve it as a extraordinary rite of this Church.

4.3  This Church accepts the sacramental validity of the liturgical rites contained within the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Old Catholic Liturgy.

4.4  At the time of their establishment, all parishes of this Church shall be dedicated to her common liturgical rite, unless otherwise designated by the local ordinary to a another canonically approved rite.  For a compelling pastoral need, a parish may petition the local ordinary for permission to change its liturgical designation.

4.5  All clergy are obligated to celebrate any liturgical rite with all prescribed rubrics, yet modified to celebrate the ecclesiology of the Church.

4.5  All clergy are obligated to celebrate any liturgical rite with all prescribed rubrics, yet modified to celebrate the ecclesiology of the Church.

4.6 Visiting clergy from outside jurisdictions are bound to following the liturgical norms, customs and laws of this Church when welcomed to celebrate the sacraments for the People of God.

4.7  The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Holy Orders cannot be repeated since they impart a character on the human soul.

    §1 If, after diligent investigation, a prudent doubt still remains whether the Sacraments mentioned in paragraph 1 have been validly conferred, they are to be conferred conditionally.

4.8  The liturgical books approved by the House of Bishops in consultation with the House of Clergy and the House of Laity are to be faithfully observed in the celebrations of the Sacraments, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; therefore no one on his or her personal authority may add, remove, or change anything in them.

4.9  The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the Sacraments beyond the offerings established by the local ordinary, always taking care to ensure that the needy are not deprived of the grace of the Sacraments, as well as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because of their poverty.

4.10  Simony shall be defined as the deliberate will (intent) or attempt to buy or sell a spiritual reality, or the temporal thing joined to that spiritual reality for a temporal price.

§1 Simoniacal conferral of Holy Orders or any other Sacrament, or appointment to any church office is invalid and without effect.

§2 Acknowledging the danger of scandal to the Faithful, even the appearance of trafficking in Mass Intentions is to be avoided.

§3  Any cleric found guilty of engaging in Simoniacal activities risk the loss of their office.

4.11  Ministers of this jurisdiction licitly administer the Sacraments of Reconciliation/Penance, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick to Catholics and other Christians whose jurisdictions are not in full communion with this jurisdiction, if they ask on their own for the Sacraments and are properly disposed to receive them.

4.12  Whenever necessity requires or spiritual advantage suggests, and provided that the danger of confusion is avoided, members of this jurisdiction may receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation/Penance, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from Catholic or other Christian ministers whose jurisdictions are not in full communion with this jurisdiction, provided these jurisdictions have valid Sacraments and Orders.

 

The purpose of Canon 4 is to establish our right as a validly consecrated Catholic faith community to define all matters which pertains to the celebration of the liturgical and sacramental life.

The twelve paragraphs of Canon 4 provides a stable structure to a society, in this case the highest act of the ecclesiastical society of the Church, the Mass. Liturgical laws are not arbitrary constructions but are intended to protect important truths and realities of the faith.  For this reason the authority for the Church, the House of Bishops, which has the charism of protecting the faith is uniquely responsible for safeguarding the integrity of the Mass and other sacraments.

Canon 4.2 declares that in its discernment process our Church declared that the Novis Ordo would be its common liturgy for use in all parishes and religious houses within the Evangelical Catholic Church. 

Regarding the matter of the Tridentine Mass, the Church recognizes its historic role in the growth and development of Catholicism.

The Church has elected to place the Tridentine Rite under the category of "Reserved Rite," which means that under extraordinary circumstances the Tridentine Rite may be celebrated publicly.  The authority for the Church, the House of Bishops, is of the consensus that the Tridentine Rite represents a dated model of the Church which may cause confusion to the faithful if exercised in modern times.

Canon 4.3 is an expression of ecumenical respect to those jurisdictions celebrating their liturgical rites contained within the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Old Catholic Liturgy.  Each of these Rites contains the elements necessary for historic validity.

Canon 4.4 was created to provide the option for establish parish communities who wish to incardinate en mass into the Church the choice to retaining their liturgical, provided that the Rite is one in which the authority, House of Bishops, can legally validate.  This provision was created with parishes and communities of Eastern Rite Catholics who wish to incardinate into the Evangelical Catholic Church.

Canon 4.4 provides for the rare and limited option for a parish in formation to petition the local authority for a dispensation from the Novis Ordo.  The local authority, Diocesan Bishop, must exercise the utmost of consideration prior to dispensing from the norm. 

Canon 4.5 articulates the obligation of all who celebrate the liturgies of the Church to do so following the prescribed norms stated within the Rites. Serious deviation from the prescribed norms jeopardizes the validly of the sacrament being attempted to celebrate.  Therefore no other person, even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his or her own authority.

Canon 4.7 prohibits the repetition of of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Holy Orders.

The Sacrament of Baptism is often called "The door of the Church," because it is the first of the seven sacraments. The reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church.

Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: "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." For all Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

Baptism does five things. (1.) It forgives all sins that may have been committed prior to a person's baptism including original sin and it relieves the punishment for those sins. (2.) It makes the newly baptized person "a new creature." (3.) It turns the person into a newly adopted son/daughter of God and a member of Christ. (4.) Baptism incorporates one into the Church which is the body of Christ. (5.) It brings someone into the flock of the faithful and brings them to share in the royal priesthood of Christ (1Pet. 2:9-10).

The Sacrament of Baptism is the initial sacrament of faith. In this sacrament, the person is immersed in to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.  The effects of Original Sin are combated in that Baptism. Baptism transforms the relationship between God and the believer and His light brings us out of darkness into the splendor of God’s kingdom of light. Through the waters of Baptism we enter a new kind of life, the life of the spirit.

The primary symbol of Confirmation is the community itself. Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are sacraments of initiation, initiation into a community.

The community that gathers to celebrate your Confirmation is not there merely to watch; it is the community into which you are being initiated. The community is the sign of Christ’s presence for you.

Confirmation begins with Baptism. Confirmation complements the symbols of Baptism. Confirmation means all that Baptism means.

God’s grace fills us with redemption and salvation. This grace, this presence of God in us, is the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit.

From ancient times, to impose hands on someone or to extend one’s hand over the person’s head was the sign of calling down the Holy Spirit. All seven sacraments employ this symbol. We call the prayer which accompanies the imposition of hands an epiclesis, which is an invocation.

In Confirmation, the presider places his or her hand on the head of each one to be confirmed and prays that the Holy Spirit descend upon them. You will hear this prayer: "All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their Helper and Guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence."

The Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of spouses speaks of family values and also God's values.

Every marriage matters, because marriage comes from the hand of God. God brings two persons together to love and support each other. Their love becomes visible in the children they bring into the world and in their acts of generous service.

In Catholic teaching, the valid marriage between two baptized Christians is also a sacrament. The love between the spouses symbolizes Christ’s love for the church.

Holy Orders is the sacrament which continues Christ's mission through the grace and power given to those called to carry out the sacred duties of deacons, priests or bishops.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the two sacraments of vocation. The other is the Sacrament of Matrimony.

The sacrament by which, through the authority of the Church, the imposition of a bishop’s hands confers on a man or woman the grace and spiritual power to celebrate the Church’s sacraments.

There are three forms of this sacrament: diaconate (deacon), presbyterate (priest) and episcopate (bishop). One sacrament, celebrated with successively higher sacramental effects.

Every person in Holy Orders is either a deacon, priest or bishop.

Deacons, priests, and bishops are called by Jesus, who told His apostles, Jn 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you.” The apostles hastened after Jesus when He called, Mk 1:16, 2:13 “Follow Me.” No individual on earth has a right to be ordained. Those who sense a call from God to Holy Orders humbly submit to Church authority.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders imparts a special indelible character, a mark that God can see, on the human soul. Like the Holy Eucharist itself, the character of Holy Orders ontologically transforms one interiorly while leaving one's outer appearance unchanged. That character remains on their soul for all eternity, identifying one as one of God’s ordained servants. The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation also impart indelible characters to the human soul that remain for all eternity.

Canon 4.8 reconfirms that which has been mandated in 4.5

Canons 4.9 and 4.10 addresses the Church's prohibition against any and all forms of Simony.

Simony is the sin of attempting to buy or sell an office of the Church or a sacrament. The word "simony" does indeed come from the name Simon, but not from the name Simon Peter. It comes from the name of Simon the magician, who had heard the preaching of Philip in Samaria and had accepted baptism.

In Acts 8:9-24 we find the account of this Simon, who offered money to Peter in exchange for the power to lay hands on people to confer the Holy Spirit. From Peter came an immediate and sharp rebuke. Ever since, the notion of buying an office of the Church or of buying grace has been referred to as simony.

The Church declares that all consciously simonial sacraments celebrated and obtained are null and void.  Those ministers who engage in simony risk the loss of their office.

Canon 4.11 permits any cleric of this Church to licitly provide the sacraments of this Church to anyone, especially in cases of danger of death, to any person to fully accepts and understands the meaning and intention of the sacraments.

We conclude Canon 4 with Canon 4.12 which permits and encourages any canonical member of this Church to receive the Catholic sacraments form other valid Catholic jurisdictions when they are unable or are in a location where there are no clerics of this jurisdiction available to care for them.
 

When the liturgical laws of the Church are observed no one has any legitimate reason to complain. Justice, order and peace, as St. Augustine noted, are interrelated. When the justice of obedience to ecclesiastical law is not rendered and thus the proper Order of the Mass is violated, there can be no real unity in the parish and thus no peace within the Church.

 

 

 

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