Reflections on Faith by Prince-Abbot Joseph III

We maintain the Faith once for all given to the Saints (1910)

We maintain that the only historical and consistent bond of church unity is that of “the faith once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3), as held by the United Church of Christendom, East and West during the period of the Seven General Councils.

We join in faith, hope and love with all churches having the Apostolic ministry and accepting the teaching of the Holy Scriptures as understood by the Fathers, Doctors and Confessors of the undivided Church. But valid ministry alone is not sufficient for Christian unity. Christians must also accept the Apostles and the Nicaean Creed without addition or subtraction. We likewise acknowledge the dogmatic decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils as the fundamental basis of unity, and the consentient definitions of the councils of Bethlehem and Trent concerning the seven sacraments, as being a clear and concise statement of the doctrine held by the Catholic Church throughout the world.

We reject and deny the supremacy or infallibility of any patriarch or prelate who demands sole jurisdiction over the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

The monastic life among Orthodox Catholics is a devout life of sacrifice and love towards God and man.

We do not adore the images of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints but venerate them as sacred things representing sacred persons. We believe there is but “One Mediator of Redemption between God and man”. But that it is a good and useful thing to invoke the Saints who are our glorified brethren, even as we invoke the prayers of our brethren on earth.

We allow no dissent in matters of faith for no-one has a right to add to or take away from the faith of the Catholic Church.

The day is at end to meet the Lord, and the Spirit of God impels us to cry, Come Lord Jesus, Come King of Kings. For the prosperity of the Christian Church and for its union, let us pray constantly.

Pastoral Letter for Advent 1893

[This is based on the Profession of Faith made at his Episcopal Consecration the previous year.]

One of the Three Persons, the Word of the Father, descended from heaven of His own Will and of the Will of His Father and that of the Holy Ghost, and was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, by the annunciation of Archangel Gabriel.

He took flesh by the Holy Ghost and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Divinity united with humanity, and at the end of nine months He was born of her in mystery incomprehensible to nature and the senses, without breaking the seal of virginity of His Mother either at the time of his incarnation, or at any other time before or after.

When He by whose glory the heavens and the earth are filled, was found laid naked in a manger, heavenly and earthly bodies glorified Him. He was wholly in the bosom of His Father and wholly in the manger without being separated. In His Incarnation His divinity was not mixed with His humanity, nor His humanity with His divinity. The natures were preserved without mixture or confusion: His divinity was not separated from His humanity, nor His humanity from His divinity.

The union is a miracle and a substantial union. The union of divinity with humanity was substantial and inseparable. And the Word was made Flesh and lived with us, as believed by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

What was Catholic once must be forever (1914)

Seven times the whole Church was represented in council to uphold the purity of faith, spread over the world, taught alike in East and West. There was only One Church ruling the world. It was the time of Undivided Christendom. At that time nobody in search of the true Catholic Church could be perplexed or doubtful. The Church was like a city on the top of a mountain, visible everywhere. You could not mistake her, you had no choice, there was no rival…This state of things continued until the great schism between East and West…

What was Catholic once must be forever. The Catholicity of the East was recognized by the West before the latter separated. But the East did not change since, consequently, its Catholicity is unassailable, as it represents the faith of Undivided Christendom, to which every Christian is bound to return, if he does not already belong to it…This is our Christian (Old) Catholic standpoint, our platform. Our orthodox Old Catholic church is the true Church instituted by Christ in the West…

There is only one Church which teaches all things whatsoever Christ has commanded; to this church He commands us to convert mankind. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations”, and His command is of the most pressing nature, as He himself shows in the parable of the great supper. The master not only invites his friends and acquaintances, but sends his servant “into the highways and hedges” and tells him “compel them to come in” (Luke 14: 23). Apparently he means to continue its endeavours to bring safely home the poor wanderer lost in the wilderness of unbelief, doubt, heresy and schism. The true shepherd “goeth into the mountains, and seeketh the sheep which is gone astray.” He does not stand with folded arms, unconcerned about its fate, coolly waiting for its return, and ready not to shut the gate in its face. The true shepherd in search of the lost sheep does not ask whether he would perhaps “wound the sensibilities” of the stray sheep, it is enough that he knows that the sheep is not on the right way, and consequently he thinks it his duty to call back the poor wanderer, however unwilling the latter may be.

Jesus Christ, our true Shepherd…went on preaching in spite of all resistance, persecution and scorn until they nailed Him to the cross…He will protect His church and ward off the dangers threatening her within and without…The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.

While this is our belief, we desire to force no man’s assent. Let every human being follow the light of his own conscience. For it is our absolute conviction it is only by doing so he can please the Great Giver of reason. We want freedom to worship God, but we demand equal freedom for our fellow men to worship or abstain from worship, to believe or disbelieve. In other words, not mere tolerance but perfect liberty for one and all – the believer, the unbeliever, the Catholic, the agnostic, Jew, Turk and Hindu, Parsee and Buddhist, persuaded that if not in this life, then in a life to come, at some time, the TRUTH shall be so presented to the intellect that every rational soul “shall receive the truth, and the truth shall set him free” (John 8:32).