Basic Requirements: The Church is the Body of Christ, and as such, all of Her members are called to bring Christ’s love and salvation to our world - everyone, therefore, has a vocation. For a small number of servants, this vocation takes the form of priestly sacred ministries: Deacon, Priest and Bishop. It is a true blessing to the People of God to have in their midst a properly trained priest who has given himself completely to Christ and His Church, however, a poorly-trained priest, even one with a good heart and the best of intentions, can unwittingly do a great deal of harm. Similarly, a well-trained, academically sound priest who has not submitted himself totally to Christ and who does not discipline himself in the ways of perfection, is of little use to Christ’s people. A man seeking Holy Orders in the Celtic Church must be well-trained, academically robust, theologically sound and on the disciplined, spiritual road to perfection. The Ancient British Church only ordains men, and this is a matter of Holy Tradition, as well as a vision of ministry as something not limited to the ordained priesthood. Whilst there may be no strictly theological objection to the ordination of women, Holy Tradition has never supported it, and theological pursuits cannot be considered in isolation from the ongoing life of God’s People known as Tradition. (It is important here to understand that Holy Tradition must not be confused with traditions or customs). Same sex unions are also prohibited from Holy Orders.
Educational Requirements: No amount of academic training guarantees ordination, however, the Ancient British Church does have minimum educational standards that are deemed necessary, but not in themselves, sufficient for Ordination. Candidates for the Sub-Diaconate must have a good educational background, skilled in English, both spoken and written; a formal diploma or degree is preferable but not essential. Candidates for the Diaconate and Priesthood must complete our Formation Programme, which covers theology, sacramentology, Church history and more. They must also demonstrate a deep and mature spirituality and a disciplined prayer life. Candidates for Incardination must be able to present with an adequate and completed training; even so, they may also be expected to complete our own Formation Programme prior to Letters of Incardination being granted. Every candidate must present an up-to-date DBS check and be prepared to have them renewed at regular intervals.
Impediments: At some point before Ordination, the candidate’s Bishop decides whether they are suitable for Ordination/Incardination. Impediments to Ordination/Incardination could include: poor interpersonal skills, spiritual immaturity, general unreliability, insufficient academic achievement, irregular unions or any other canonical concerns that the Bishop may have. Candidates for Ordination must be good, moral Christian men with a deep and orthodox faith. The candidate may not be a member of any other religion or secret society. The candidate must either be celibate or married to a Christian woman; and in both cases they must be chaste. The candidate may not hold a job that would, in the normal course of his duties, lead him to violate priestly and Christian norms: this includes jobs that would require him to administer abortifacients or comit any kind of impurity; or be involved in any way whatsoever with what the world knows as 'the sex industry'; or to engage in any activity whatsoever which exploits, uses, abuses or hurts any person; or be addicted to any substance or behaviour; or have a history of sexual, abusive or aggressive/violent misconduct; or generally behave in a manner that is, or might be perceived as being, inconsistent with the Christian faith or priestly life. Clergy at every level are responsible to their Bishop. No one under thirty years of age, regardless of their maturity, will be ordained to the Priesthood; no one under twenty-five will be ordained to the Diaconate; and no one under twenty will be ordained to the Sub-Diaconate. Ministry does not come with any stipend, therefore, candidates should work out realistic post-ordination budgets well in advance to ensure their ability to support their families and their ministry. Priests should come into their priesthood with the kind of skills and work-ethic that will allow them to support their family with little or no remuneration from their ministry. Candidates should make sure that they are physically ready to handle the isolation and physical stress of the Priesthood. Candidates for the Priesthood should have demonstrated their love for, and loyalty to, the Church, Her people, Her Priests, Her Bishops, and Her culture. The Church does not call Priests to serve as caretakers in Her churches, She calls them to evangelize.
Prospective Ordinands or Incardinated Clergy must be in agreement with THE CELTIC WAY as given below:
- We believe that the statement of Faith in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (or Symbol of Faith), contains all that is necessary and sufficient for salvation. This means that we believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith: the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, His Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, His eventual return, the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, God's forgiveness of our sins through Christ, and eternal life, and our communion with the Saints in Heaven. That the correct version of the Creed is that which was approved at the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and reaffirmed and expanded by the Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.); it does not contain the later addition of the ‘Filioque (and the Son) clause’, so arbitrarily added by the Church of Rome, and which act caused the split of the One, Undivided Church into the Roman West and the Orthodox East.
- We observe all seven Sacraments (or Mysteries) of the One Undivided Church: the Sacraments of Baptism (with Chrismation, as was always the norm) and Holy Communion and that these are necessary to living a full Christian life. The other Sacraments of: Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession), Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Holy Unction (Anointing), including Extreme Unction, (also called The Last Rites) are deemed necessary for a more abundant life in Christ and the Church. We also recognize the work of grace in what are called ‘Sacramentals’, such as preaching, teaching, prayers and devotions, etc., which assist in the growth of the spiritual life and the spread of the Holy Gospel. We teach, as the Celtic Church always did, that the whole of Christian life should be sacramental, known as ‘Sacramental Living’, that is, an outward sign of the inner grace of Christ present within, which should show in the lives we lead.
- We hold that the First Seven ‘Ecumenical’ (that is:‘universal’) Councils of the Undivided Catholic Church were guided by the Holy Spirit and form a continuation of the deposit of the faith given by Christ to the Apostles. In addition to theological clarifications on the nature of Christ and the Holy Trinity, these Councils also pronounced on the intercession of the Saints and the veneration of sacred images (icons) as consistent with Christian doctrine and worship. They also gave the Blessed Virgin Mary recognition as the Mother of God (Theotokos:‘God-bearer’) by virtue of the birth of the Son of God through her obedience. Since the Great Schism of the East and West in1054, no proper Ecumenical Council has ever, could ever, take place again of the Church has been possible since the Church was no longer One, but fortunately, the essentials of the Faith were all secured by then.
- We hold that Sacred Tradition is the deposit of faith given by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and passed on in the Church from one generation to the next without addition, alteration or subtraction. Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church: it is dynamic in application, yet unchanging in dogma; it is growing in expression, yet ever the same in essence. Unlike many conceptions of tradition in popular understanding, the Celtic Church does not regard Sacred Tradition as something which grows and expands over time, forming a collection of practices and doctrines which accrue, gradually becoming something more developed and eventually unrecognizable to the first Christian beliefs, rather, Sacred Tradition is that same faith which Christ taught to the Apostles and which they, in turn, gave to their disciples, preserved in the whole Church and especially in its leadership through Apostolic Succession.
- According to the ancient dictum: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, meaning that what we pray shows what we believe, we maintain that it is the Sacred Liturgies which show our theology; the beliefs of The Ancient British Church can be clearly seen in the Divine Liturgies and prayers which it maintains.
- Whether he is a Bishop or not, the most senior person in the Ancient British Church is the Father Abbot. The Father Abbot is elected by the voting of all clergy and is appointed and consecrated by the Bishops, although the Abbot retains the right to name his successor.
- The Church is divided geographically into Provinces (not Diocese, which was never the way of the Celtic Church) and each Province has a Father Prior who is appointed by the Abbot. The Prior will be a Cleric in Holy Orders who may, but not necessarily be, also a Bishop.
- Priests are bound to offer the Sacred Liturgy on each Sunday and all Feast days in accordance with the ancient Celtic Missal. Priests can, but are not obliged to, offer it on other days.
- All Fridays and Wednesdays throughout the year should be kept as fast days with abstention from meat also. During Lent, all days except Sundays are to be kept as fast days. The minimum fast is where only one full meal is partaken of; snacks or a partial meal, may be taken at other times of the day if needed. The meal that is permitted on a fast day also ought not to be large or extravagant, but simple and sufficient for nourishment. The faithful are to be encouraged to keep the fasts but are not obliged to do so. While Wednesdays and Fridays are obligatory fast days, the clergy are encouraged to fast on other days too if they are so able. On all days and at all times, the clergy are to practice other self-denial practices, and should encourage the faithful also so to do.
- Anyone offering or attending the Divine Liturgy should fast for at least one hour before it commences (health permitting), not an hour before Communion is expected to be. Fasting from midnight of the previous day is highly commendable but not obligatory.
- All Clergy are to follow the Rule of St. Columba, and are to be committed to a disciplined spirituality under the guidance of a Father Confessor. They are also to encourage and lead all the faithful to develop a deep spirituality and prayer life, and ought to spare nothing in their endeavours to bring them in such wise to their heavenly home.
- Any Clergy that desire to join the Celtic Church must demonstrate both competency and knowledge, plus a deep spirituality and prayer life; should this be seen to be lacking, they must set themselves to changing the situation by study and prayer under the direction of a designated Father Confessor.
- Any man wishing to be considered for Holy Orders within the Ancient British Church must be prepared to undergo all necessary training: academic, pastoral and practical, to be mentored by an experienced Cleric, and to develop a spirituality and prayer life under the direction of a Father Confessor. Any prospective candidate should contact the Bishop in their Province to discuss their vocation.
- Applications for Incardination must be made by letter to the Father Abbot via the applicant’s Bishop of their Province. A Letter of Incardination will be issued when: a DBS check has been made and presented by the person applying, academic qualifications and any relevant training has been produced, or the willingness to undergo training, evidence of a deep spirituality and disciplined prayer life has been demonstrated, a letter of reference is received by a competent referee. The Incardination will be followed by a Letter of Faculties once everything is deemed to be in order.
- All Priests should report to their Prior, at least once a year, upon their ministry. All Priors should report to the Father Abbot, at least once a year, upon their ministry and the state and management of their region. All Bishops who are not Priors, should also report to their Father Prior, at least once a year upon their ministry. At least once a year there should be a general Chapter with as many in attendance as possible.
- All Clergy must be male and over the age of 25. Clerics may be married or celibate. Marriage can take place either before or after Ordination. Whether married or celibate, clergy must be chaste at all times. Candidates who are in a second marriage may also request Holy Orders.
- All clergy who not of the age of retirement and who are in suitably good health, must work for their living and for the sustenance of their ministry. No fees or stipends ought to be taken for their ministry or for the administration of the Mysteries of God, the Sacraments: ‘freely ye have received, freely give’.
- All Clergy ought to have a Father Confessor with whom they can confide, and who will lead them along the spiritual path. This Confessor should be competent in the spiritual way. Clergy should receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly from this Confessor.
- All Clergy must pray the Celtic Office of the Hours thrice daily, read and meditate upon Sacred Scripture and spend some time in meditation and prayer; and fulfil all other commands of the Rule.
- Clergy must not depend upon Funeral stipends for their living, rather they are to have work which relates to the work of the faithful, and there to work with them, and demonstrate that Ancient British Clergy engage in the same toils as they. Clergy ought to take on few Funerals unless they be of the Ancient British Church.
- Clergy must only use authorised Ancient Celtic Liturgies; this includes: the Divine Liturgy, the Divine Office, Rites and Rituals, Sacramentary and Ordinal.
- Clergy ought always to wear clerical attire, except when engaging in secular employment, at which time it ought to be sombre and not according to the present fashions. The colour of Clerical dress, for Deacons, Priests and also Bishops, is black. British Bishops do not wear the regal purple of other Churches; they may wear a pectoral cross - Bishops in the Celtic tradition have a very important office but this is not a rank, and whilst they are to expect obedience, they are not to be afforded any particular honours, since ‘all are equal in Christ’.
- Clergy are to establish Chapels where the Liturgy can be offered and from where the Sacraments can be dispensed. The mainstay of ministry is to be amongst God’s people in the communities where they live and work. Should a congregation become larger than the Priest’s Chapel can accommodate, other provision will have to be arranged within the local community.
- The Clergy must not be wealthy nor live extravagantly, but rather should live by humble means and live frugally, disdaining the world and its luxuries, avoiding its pleasures and excitements. They should embrace poverty as far as possible without putting those with whom they live in discomfort, hardship or anxiety. In this manner will they encourage the faithful to look to the things above, and not the things below: ‘for where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also’.
- All clergy must at all times be gentle, patient and kind; knowledgeable and well-read but unassuming, never proud or arrogant; always humble and prayerful; hard-working and not given to idleness; not a heavy drinker but drinking only very infrequently and then sparingly; not given to much sleep or recreation; softly spoken and never to raise the voice to anyone; never to be angry or resentful; never to be scornful or critical of anyone; resentful and hating only of one’s own will, desires, appetites and urges; never using foul language, swearing or engaging in crude talk of any kind; ever tender-hearted and hospitable.
. There shall be, as in the pristine Christian Tradition, those Orders of Deacons, Presbyters and Bishops, but there shall not be any archdeacons, archpriests, archbishops, metropolitans, etc.; furthermore, there shall be, besides the formal sacerdotal rank of the clergyman, only one informal honorific address, to wit: Father Abbot, Father and Deacon for all three Orders, but no such forms as Your Eminence, Your Excellency, Your Grace, Most Reverend, Right Reverend, etc., lest some poor misguided soul be led to covet such grades, titles, and honours.
- In accordance with holy Tradition and the ways of our Eastern Orthodox brethren, there is provision, under certain circumstances, for second, and in some cases third, marriages to take place once the Church has formally granted a dissolving of the first marriage and having completed the Lamentation period.
- The faithful should be encouraged to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and Feasts (according to the calendar within the Missal); to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to read the New Testament often; to endeavour to lead holy lives and to give generously to the poor.
And also to endeavour to live according to the RULE OF ST. COLUMBA
i Be alone in a separate place near a chief city, if thy conscience is not prepared to be in common with the crowd.
ii Be always unadorned in imitation of Christ and the Evangelists.
iii Whatsoever little or much thou possessest of anything, whether clothing, or food, or drink, let it be at the command of the senior and at his disposal, for it is not befitting a religious to have any distinction of property with his own free brother.
iv A few religious men to converse with thee of God and His Testament; to visit thee on days of solemnity; to strengthen thee in the Testaments of God, and the narratives of the Scriptures.
v A person too who would talk with thee in idle words, or of the world; or who murmurs at what he cannot remedy or prevent, but who would distress thee more should he be a tattler between friends and foes, thou shalt not admit him to thee, but at once give him thy benediction should he deserve it.
vi Yield submission to every rule that is of devotion.
vii A mind prepared for ‘red martyrdom’, that is: death for the faith. A mind fortified and steadfast for ‘white martyrdom’, that is: constant ascetic practices of self-denial.
viii Forgiveness from the heart of every one and constant prayers for those who trouble thee.
ix Fervour in making the office for the dead, as if every faithful dead was a particular friend of thine.
x Hymns for souls to be sung standing.
xi Let thy vigils be constant from eve to eve, under the direction of another person.
xii Three labours in the day: prayer, work, and reading.
xiii The work to be divided into three parts: Thine own work, and the work of thy place, as regards its real wants. Secondly, thy share of the brethren's work. Lastly, to help the neighbours: by instruction or writing, or sewing garments, or whatever labour they may be in want of.
xiv Everything in its proper order; ‘For no one is crowned except he who has striven lawfully’.
xv Follow alms-giving before all things.
xvi Take not of food till thou suffers hunger.
xvii Sleep not till thou suffer exhaustion.
xviii Every increase which comes to thee in lawful meals, or in wearing apparel, give it for pity to the brethren that want it, or to the poor in like manner.
xix The love of God with all thy heart and all thy strength; the love of thy neighbour as thyself.
xx Abide in the Testament of God throughout all times.
xxi Thy measure of prayer shall be until thy tears come; or thy measure of work of labour till thy tears come; or thy measure of thy work of labour, or of thy genuflexions, until thy perspiration often comes, if thy tears are not free.