The Liberal Catholic Church
The Seeds of Divine Works
James A. Zinzow, United States of America
"The Liberal Catholic Church exists to forward the work of her Master, Christ, in the world and to feed his flock. It draws the central inspiration of its work from an intense faith in the living Christ, believing that the vitality of a church gains in proportion as its members cease to think only of a Christ who lived two thousand years ago and strive rather to serve as a vehicle for the eternal Christ who ever lives as a mighty spiritual presence in the world, guiding and sustaining his people. 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age.'"
(Quote from Bishop Wedgwood, taken from the opening page of our liturgy.)
Bishop Leadbeater left the Episcopal Church after becoming a priest in 1879. He went to India to set his feet upon The Path, to study the Ancient Wisdom, the Theosophia, and to become transformed. It was as a clairvoyant and transformed man that he became aware of the power of the Eucharist by observing a church in Sicily that he came upon as he walked along. This quote from my favorite scientist, mystic, and priest, Father Teilhard de Chardin, in his Hymn of the Universe, expresses the power at the moment of consecration:
My mentor, the late Fr. Derk W. Gransbergen, used to tell me--"Jim, the mass is like poetry; you have to listen between the lines, and, each time you do, you will be given new insight into the world"; --and so it has been for me. Each mass is unique with its own gift and changes me forever. I cannot put into words how celebrating the Eucharist lifted me up and left me at peace the morning after my 28-year-old son, Steven, was shot and killed. Other indelible moments seem like yesterday --serving as deacon for Bishop Ilunga at St. Michael's in the Netherlands or as subdeacon for Bishop von Krusenstierna at the 76th-year celebration in Ojai, California. I like to ask people: Where else can you easily go to converse telepathically with the angelic kingdom but at a mass? And expect to get an answer! Like me, you may not always like the answer...
One of my hobbies is oil painting, and I had given it up to become an engineer in the interest of supporting a wife and three children. One year my wife enrolled me in a painting class. The instructor changed my life when he said, "Most people visit an art gallery and stand in front of each painting to decide thumbs up or thumbs down or 'I really like that' or 'that's awful.' Instead," he said, "try standing at each painting and ask, 'What can I learn from what the artist placed on this canvas?'" I challenge you to adopt this way of looking at the world and of experiencing the sacraments. This is also a great way of looking into the eyes of the sisters or brothers whom you meet along the path of life.
In my millennium meditations for insight, I've extended this concept, using sight and colour as a metaphor. The binary process of deciding good or bad is what I call black-and-white thinking. It is judgmental and always puts you on one side or the other of the matter. The medical radiologist studying an X-ray would be lost without the subtle nuances of shades of grey. I've seen full-color MRI's which can convey twice as much information. Someday this information depth could be the norm. This discernment is described in the book At the Feet of the Master by J. Krishnamurti and is the first Qualification given on the pathway described as Discrimination:
In this context, one of the definitions of a saint that I like is one whose discrimination always sees the world in living color. Those of you that can remember your first color TV or first Technicolor movie can contrast this mode of thinking. How can this way of thinking change the disciple forever? I'm absolutely sure, from observing the fruits of our founding bishops, as I participate in our Holy Eucharist, that our founders could see the world as few men do. I'm also convinced this multidimensional consciousness led to their understanding of the need for this church in a world at war.
World War I had just begun as Bishop Leadbeater and Bishop Wedgewood finished revising the most magnificent reformed liturgy in all Christendom. These were men capable, upon completion of this noble work on 12 December 1916, of presenting it before The Lord Christ for approval. As compiled in The Willow in the Tempest:
For the next idea regarding why The Liberal Catholic Church was formed, we have to begin with the first use of the phrase "the global problematique" found in the foreword to The Club of Rome's first masterwork, Limits to Growth in 1970. Here for the first time, as an engineer, I became painfully convinced that the problems of the world would not be resolved with scientific, military, or industrial solutions. Three years later, I became a priest. Science and technology is, however, an essential tool on the fast path of discrimination known in Hinduism as Jnana Yoga, according to Huston Smith in The Religions of Man:
Bishop Leadbeater and Dr. Annie Besant went on an amazing adventure of discovery. As scientific clairvoyants, they used one of the ancient Sidhis to research and then describe in Occult Chemistry the subatomic nature of the Quark within the atom decades before the building blocks of the atom were discovered and described by scientific experiments. I'm convinced these two pioneers could see the global problematique, at the dawn of the first great war, as clearly as we all saw the earth in 1969 from a television camera on the Apollo spacecraft 98,000 miles away. This event changed global consciousness forever. Our founders must have seen that the solution must exist in the total transformation of humanity through a "radical mutation" of spirit.
When consciousness resides in the spirit, there is no fear. Our founders also were without fear in undertaking this difficult but beautiful journey.
As recorded in the Occult Diary of Father Geoffrey Hodson, a communication received from his Master, 10 January 1962, under The World Problem Occultly Viewed:
Then in the same communication, I'll share the last two of the nine necessities listed for finding and treading The Path:
There you have it in a nutshell! The Liberal Catholic Church was founded to look out for others and aid them, as we are aided, lending the strength and power of the seven traditional sacraments, with no strings attached, to help those pilgrims who choose to avail themselves of this great gift--a gift that continues to be a major outpouring of blessing, truly bringing down the fire, direct from the Lord Christ and His Angelic Hosts. "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age."
Finally, another important reason this church was formed can be understood from the following quote from Huston Smith's The Religions of Man, first published in 1958:
"Many Paths to the Same Summit
Thirty-eight years earlier in 1920, Bishop Leadbeater wrote in his The Inner Side of Christian Festivals:
The lack of understanding of this key truth has been the root of man's inhumanity to man--in the Crusades, in Nazi Germany, in Kosovo, in Jerusalem, in the Congo, and in all the corners of the world where brothers and sisters are not treating each other with unconditional love.
A footnote is that this truth is sometimes used by Liberal Catholics as an excuse for the poor turnout at our services. In some centers of spiritual awareness, the opposite is true. One of my most glorious temporary backaches was achieved as a guest celebrant at an Easter service at such a center, where I insisted on giving communion in both kinds to over 100 communicants. It was another indelible Eucharist.
In the course of human events, ordinary mortals plant the seeds of divine works. When observing caterpillars, it is not evident, only inevitable, that in some sunlit future, there will be more butterflies.
This article is based on a talk given by the author at GES-12. (Ed.)