The Most Reverend David Quispe Aguirre, B.Th. and his parish and missions have joined The Anglocatholic Church. Bishop Aguirre will be leading The Diocese of Christ the King of The Anglocatholic Church (Peru).
EASTER PASTORAL LETTER from Patriarch Coadjutor Archbishop David Smith
Greetings in the great Name of the risen Lord Jesus who in overcoming death has opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Peace be to you from God our Father, from God the Son and God the sustaining Spirit who sends you out as his witnesses to a broken world to proclaim the decisive victory of our God and of his Christ.
As I write to all the faithful of the Anglocatholic Church during Holy Week, I write to a suffering world, a world gripped in fear, a world cowering in isolation lest the plague come nigh us. Governments across the world are doing their best with the help of the medical establishment to stem the tide of destruction wrought by COVID-19 and to restore to us a world in which the normal order of social intercourse may be renewed. Of necessity, the normative practice of our faith and the keeping of an holy Lent and joyous Easter season are being severely restricted. Access to the sacramental channels of grace and to the renewal and restoration that they bring have become very limited. For now and in the foreseeable future while we remain ‘ you in your small corner and I in mine,‘ we in the one body of Christ and we as members in the one human family must be united in bonds of heart, mind, soul and strength. We must ‘ lay hold on life and let it be our joy and crown eternally. ‘ In short, we must renew our commitment and turn again to God in the totality of our being. We must choose life and blessings that we may live by loving the Lord our God, obeying Him and holding fast to Him. This is the ancient choice that God through Moses laid upon the people of Israel as they were set to cross over the Jordan and possess the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 30.
This choice makes clear the truth enshrined in the story of the fall from grace in primal Eden, namely that the Tree of Knowledge is vastly different from the Tree of Life. The prophet Ezekiel was gifted with a powerful vision that speaks to this. He saw water flowing out from below the threshold of the great Temple towards the east, water that made the stagnant pools fresh, that gave new life to the trees growing on its banks, water that made them fruitful and prevented their leaves from withering. Ezekiel 47. This is that water that is needed today, water that flows from the Sanctuary. Only the Creator can restore, remove the toxic residue of sin, corruption and self absorption, and cause the new life of the Kingdom to begin to stir again in a people who have ‘ forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord. ‘ Jeremiah 17 .13 We with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well need the water that Christ gives, water that ‘ becomes is us a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. ‘ John 4. Dare we reach out to the Lord touching the hem of his garments and draw from Him who is the Source of life, the end of life and Life Itself, our true life? As we celebrate the Paschal Victory of our Lord, I commend to you the ancient text of the Introit for the Mass of the Day. The text is drawn from selected verses from the Septuagint text of Psalm 139. 18b, 5b, 2
I am arisen, and am still with thee, alleluia : I have placed my hand upon you, alleluia : this knowledge is wonderful, alleluia. Lord, you have searched me out and known me : you know my sitting down and my rising up.
The Easter victory of Christ resonates with the story of the Exodus, with the Passover celebration – the Paschal lamb consumed, its blood marking the doorposts to inhibit the hand of the Angel of death, a pilgrim people ready to travel in haste that they might escape slavery in a foreign land and come to dwell in the land promised them as an inheritance for faith. All this is of course reminds us that we, as the Israelites of old, we are a dependent people, we do not control our destiny, we need the love, mercy and protection of our great God who binds Himself to us in covenant relationship. We are as well a people who suffer the vicissitudes of life as a divine method of trying and proving us, of refining the precious deposit of silver that lies at the heart of each human being. Times of trial are an important part of this refining process. Although we fail our God, He does not fail us. We must sing the Lord’s song even in a strange land, even in a time of plague. We must not hang up our harps upon the trees of the land of our exile. Psalm 137 Why? Because we are the planting of the Lord, a noble vine, a right seed. Jeremiah 2 . 12. Now, more than ever, we are being called to go up with rejoicing to the true temple, to the source of the living, vivifying waters of life. We are called not to seek earthly stones and temples made with hands, but to come to and live through the true Temple, Jesus, the One who is the supreme meeting place between God and his people, the true and all sufficient sacrifice for sin, and the exclusive Way to the Father.
Live the new life in Christ! Take counsel from the great Apostle to the Gentiles, blessed Paul, who writing to the Church in Colossae exhorts 3. 1 – 4
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
We do that which we do in this life, the practice of faith, hope and love, not to avoid problems, but rather to win the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ. Philippians 3 . 14.
May God bless you all and sustain you in times of trouble that you may walk the way of the redeemed up to the heavenly Zion and through grace obtain the crown promised to those who persevere.
+++ David Smith, Patriarch Coadjutor of The Anglocatholic Church
My spiritual journey began when I was a young boy of about 5 years of age. I went to Sunday School in the Yolo Methodist Church in Yolo, California, USA. I was baptized at Easter when I was 7 years old and received First Communion. As I grew older, I watched Archbishop Fulton Sheen and his TV ministry and was fascinated by his talks and his answers to Christian beliefs of the 1950’s. I became fascinated by the Blessed Virgin, Mary, Fatima, and the Traditional Latin Mass. I wanted to attend the beautiful Mass but as a Protestant, I was prevented from doing so. I had learned much in Sunday School about Jesus and all that He did while on Earth and I wanted to emulate Him. After graduating from high school I attended university and earned an accounting degree. However, I could not get a job without experience, but you needed a job to get experience. So I went to the U.S. Air Force Recruitment Office and enlisted, going active duty 01 February, 1973. During my career I contemplated becoming Roman Catholic, but my wife was Buddhist. To my surprise and delight she had had a dream where Jesus came to her and said “Come, follow me” as He walked through a doorway. She could not follow Him and did not know who this Man was at the time. She told a Catholic friend of hers, and her friend said after hearing my wife’s description of Him, that she had been visited by Jesus Christ. She started Catechism classes in 1986 and was baptized, confirmed, and received First Communion on Easter Sunday 1987. I found out in late 1987 that my wife was studying to become Roman Catholic so I started Catechism classes in 1987 and was confirmed and received First Communion on Easter Sunday in 1988. After I was medically retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1989, I joined several veterans service organizations. In the American Legion Post I was in 1998, I was asked to be the post chaplain. I wanted to get some type of training so that I could be a more qualified lay chaplain when I found and Old Catholic Seminary that had chaplain courses as well as a seminary program for those interested in becoming priests. I had wondered how to become ordained for several years, but I didn’t want to become a Protestant minister and I didn’t want to pay lots of money attending night classes for several years. The St. Thomas College of Seminarians was a perfect fit for me. Tuition was low and classes were at night. I started my studies in August 1998, became a Subdeacon in 2000, a Deacon in 2002, and a Priest in 2003. I continued my studies after graduation getting my Master of Divinity in 2006, and my Doctor of Divinity in 2009.
2. How did you happen to hear about The Anglocatholic Church?
I was contacted by His Beatitude, the Most Reverend Dr. Heigo Ritsbek, Patriarch of The Anglocatholic Church, first on Facebook and then by email, asking if I would be interested in joining The Anglocatholic Church. Until His Beatitude contacted me, I was unaware of the existence of the Church. When I looked it up on Facebook I was attracted by what I saw. There was nothing like that in my old Church.
3. Why did you join The Anglocatholic Church?
I was attracted by how well the Church was organized and laid out. The Code of Canon Law is superior to that of any other Code that I have seen. Everything you need in order to be a good member of the Church and the hierarchy is there. There is a short biography on each bishop in the Church. There are pictures from diocese around the world showing Church Activities. The Holy Eucharist is defined and attached on the website and Facebook.
4. How do you feel ministering in The Anglocatholic Church?
I am more active now than I have been for several years. In my previous Church I was an auxiliary Bishop but had no duties to perform, no brief biography, no idea how many dioceses we had, how many clergy we had, no Code of Canon Law, no hierarchy, and no direction. We had a website but that disappeared after a few years, and communications via email were few and many times not returned for weeks or months. In The Anglocatholic Church communications are great, questions are answered promptly, and I feel part of the Church family. I have an assignment, I know where I fit in, and am looking forward to my first Conclave of Bishops in 2021.
5. What is bringing to you most joy in The Anglocatholic Church?
The fact that I can minister to both Anglicans and Catholics who are like-minded as defined by our Code of Canon Law. We are conservative, structured, disciplined, organized, and have the Holy Eucharist that is familiar to both Anglicans and Catholics. Confession can be said one-on-one with a priest or said as part of the Holy Eucharist.
6. How do you see the future of The Anglocatholic Church?
We are free to seek out new members and new clergy so long as we follow the guidelines as set in the Code of Canon Law. When in doubt you can contact the Patriarch or Patriarch Coadjutor for advice and guidance. Hopefully we will be able to gain more faithful in existing dioceses, archdioceses, and parishes in the years ahead. We are young as a worldwide Church (4 years), yet we have spread to most continents and countries around the world in that time. I believe we will be able to reach out to other like-minded Churches eventually, and gain shared communion in accordance with Canon 22.2. It would be great if we could become one body as Jesus wanted us to since the beginning of Christianity.
The Anglocatholic Church is around the world in Twenty-Four countries: Angola, Australia, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, DR Congo, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Haiti, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and United States in nine archdioceses and fourteen dioceses in 90 parishes with 26,341 faithful members. Among them are 28 bishops,125 priests, and 47 deacons, total 200 clergymen. We have no statistics from Angola, Burundi and Rwanda.
I was raised in a family that had a distinctly distant relationship with the Church. However, even as a boy I was drawn to the Church and was formed in the catholic faith as both a Choir boy and as an Altar boy. I was moulded within a concept of the beauty of holiness quite apart from my family. Growing up with the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the Psalter and the great music of the Anglican tradition was foundational to my spiritual growth and maturity. I spent much of my working life as an leading Canadian church musician and as a solo performer. Yet, Holy Orders always exerted a compelling call which was to be realized in later life.
2 How did you hear about the Anglocatholic Church?
In 2016, I was working as a Priest in a cathedral church in Toronto, Canada. Our relationship with our Archbishop suffered a severe rupture and thus we were in urgent need of a new traditional catholic church home. I was charged with finding a solution to this problem and began an intensive search which culminated, after a long and tortuous process, in reading online of the foundation of the Anglocatholic Church. Our treatment by Patriarch Heigo and ultimate reception into the fellowship of the Anglocatholic Church was in marked contrast to the discouraging treatment received from a large number of traditional catholic dispensations in North America. I felt that God had heard our prayers and provided us with a new home.
3 Why did you join the Anglocatholic Church?
I was personally searching prayerfully for a catholic body that remained true to the deposito fidei, and was loyal to the historic apostolic foundations and patristic traditions received from Christ our Lord Himself, traditions whose truth remains and must remain. As I came to know the Patriarch and other senior clergy I became convinced that in this Church was the spiritual home that I had long sought, the promised land in which to settle and become fruitful.
4 How do you feel ministering in the Anglocatholic Church?
I have found here a safe harbour, a place in which the ecclestical battles for the soul of the contemporary world are not shipwrecked upon the altar of relativism but rather find their solution in the quest for spiritual transformation, a renewal of the mind rather than a conformity to the present age.
5 How do you feel regarding your work in the creation of the Code of Canon Law of the ACC?
When Patriarch Heigo invited me to take over the task of the creation of the Code of Canon Law I naturally questioned my ability to undertake so great a work. A line from Psalm 119 came to mind Servus tuus, sum ego : da mihi intellectum, ut sciam testimonia tua. (vs 125, prayed daily at Sext. ) O Lord, I am thy servant, grant me that I may know thy testimonies. I also remembered a prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas that he used before he entered into his studies, the Creator Ineffabilis. The saint prayed Deign to pour into the shadows of my mind the rays of your glory….Instruct my beginnings, direct my progress and bring to completion my work. The task was of crucial significance to a new ecclestical foundation. My attempts to be a vessel of received tradition was equally important. The writing of the Canons required a process of detailed study, careful writing and critical assessment, this later furnished me by our Patriarch. It also required a discernment of that which was of essence and that which was secondary, for it cannot be nor was it intended to be a Summa. The test of time will tell the true story of this Code of Canon Law as will the ability of the Code to positively effect the growth and maturation of the Anglocatholic Church in the true faith that bears abundant fruit in the emerging kingdom of the Father.
6 Describe the results of the creation of the Code of Canon Law.
This Code of Canon Law is like a seed planted in the rich soil of the Anglocatholic Church. It is a potential waiting to be realized. Like a seed, its growth to fruitful maturity in the Church will be a slow and natural process. To be effective it must, like the corpus of the Scriptures, be read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested as suggests the Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent in the Book of Common Prayer. Sadly, it appears that many of our bishops have not thoroughly availed themselves of the opportunity to make the Canons known both to themselves and also to the clergy and laity under their pastoral guidance. As a Church, we have much to do in commending it to the faithful, both clerics and laity, and in creating a culture in which the realization of the contents and intent of the Canons become a joyful experience.
7 What in your ministry is bringing you the greatest joy?
For me, the foundation and the end of my ministry is the continuous and ever new quest for a relationship with the living God, my maker, my judge and my redeemer. Only when grounded in this primary relationship will I be able to give to others that which I have unworthily received. Thus, I find my greatest joy in a daily practice of liturgical prayer in the recitation of the Divine Office, in the study of Holy Scripture, in personal prayer and in the celebration of the Mass where as Aquinas suggests in his great Corpus Christi Hymn Adoro Te Devote, we come to gaze on Christ unveiled, and see his face. (Translated Bishop Woodford). As Benedict XVI taught in his Angelus Message of June 13, 2010 the priest is a gift of the Heart of Christ: a gift for the Church and for the world. The priest, as suggested the English school Master Matthew Arnold, exercises ‘ the waters priest-like task of ablution round earth’s shores. ‘ When and as often as I am enabled to do these things by God, my vocation ceases to be mine and by extension becomes some small part of the love of Christ the Good Shepherd and in this I experience joy.
8 What in your view is the future of the Anglocatholic Church?
Inasmuch as we are enabled by God to be a catholic church within the one Body of his Son, a church that prays, contemplates, seeks, listens to and attempts to hear, to love and to realize the will of Almighty God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength and to make his great love known to a world that so desperately needs Him, we cannot fail. We are called, empowered and mandated to be as Simeon said a Lumen Revelationem Gentium, a light to the nations. May our light so shine before our fellow men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.