What We Believe
THE SACRED SCRIPTURES
We acknowledge the full Old Testament of the Septuagint Bible (including the so-called Apocrypha) which Our Lord Himself frequently quoted from, and the New Testament, as the inerrant Word of God and the primary requirement for ruling in all matters of practice and Church policy.
THE FIRST SEVEN ECUMENICAL CHURCH COUNCILS and the CREEDS
We believe that the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed contains all that is both necessary and sufficient for Christian faith. This means that we believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith: the 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 the Blood of Christ, and eternal life.
The Creed which we hold to is original Creed that was approved at the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) and both reaffirmed and expanded by the Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.). It does not contain the Western ‘Filioque clause’, so arbitrarily added later 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 hold that the First Seven ‘Ecumenical’ (that is: ‘universal’ or ‘whole’) 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. Since the Great Schism of the East and West in1054, no proper Ecumenical Council has ever, or could ever, take place again since after the Great Schism the Church was no longer One, but fortunately, the essentials of the Faith were all secured by then.
Sacred Tradition is the deposit of faith given by Our Lord 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.
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 are necessary to living a full Christian life. The other Sacraments of Reconciliation (also known as the Sacrament of Penance or Confession) Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Holy Unction (Anointing) including Extreme Unction, (also known as The Last Rites) are deemed necessary for a more abundant life in Christ and the Church. We teach, as the Celtic Church always did, that all of Christian life is potentially 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.
Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders we maintain the historical ministry of the Church: Bishops, Presbyters (Priests) and Deacons, as instituted by Christ through the Apostles by the laying on of hands. The Bishops of the Celtic Church trace their succession through the historical lines of duly consecrated Bishops back to the Apostles. Equally important, they preserve intact the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and from the Apostles to every successive Bishop, and so maintain Sacred Tradition (meaning: to pass-on intact).
COMMUNITY OVER INSTITUTION
There are many things which distinguish Celtic Christianity from the rest of the Western Church. The most obvious is a fondness for community over institutional religion. While the churches of the West adopted the hierarchical organizational structure of the Roman Empire with its militaristic chain of command and obedience to authority, and imposing the parish and diocesan structure, the Celtic Church stressed community and intimacy. While the rest of the Western churches were building large basilicas and organizing large urban geographical areas (diocese) under the jurisdictions of wealthy, powerful and monarchical Bishops, the Celtic Church concentrated on small fellowship groups of Christians. Celtic Church buildings were always noted for their modest structures in rural settings designed for small communities in which the worshiper knew those whom he or she worshiped with.
CLERGY AND LAITY
The Celtic Church was always ordered in small communities, and, unlike the rest of Christendom, there was no gulf between the clergy and laity. It was in the monasteries where the strength of the Celtic Church was found rather than in the power of wealthy and autocratic Bishops. The monasteries were led by Abbots and Abbesses who were often lay people who had taken on the yoke of religious vows.
The Celtic clergy perceived their roles as that of identifying with the people. They concerned themselves with missionary outreach and pastoral ministry rather than organization and administration of a religious institution, and, unlike many of their European counterparts, they renounced elaborate vestments, dwellings and lifestyles, preferring those of a simple monk. The Celtic Priest was the ‘anam cara’ (soul-friend) who acted as spiritual guide, counsellor and confessor; he was to the people a person of wisdom, who was always available for advice and encouragement, guidance and good counsel; he worked along-side of them, earning his keep by the work of his hands. The Celtic Priest was truly there to serve and not to be served, he was truly the servant of the servants of God: this we endeavour to maintain today.