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A tri-annual magazine exploring the deeper aspects of religious thought, experience and practice in the world today

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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:

"It is done. Once again the Fire has penetrated the earth. Not with sudden crash of thunderbolt, riving the mountaintops: does the Master break down doors to enter his own home? Without earthquake or thunderclap: the flame has lit up the whole world from within. All things individually and collectively are penetrated and flooded by it, from the inmost core of the tiniest atom to the mighty sweep of the most universal laws of being: so naturally has it flooded every element, every energy, every connecting-link in the unity of our cosmos; that one might suppose the cosmos to have burst spontaneously into flame".

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:

"... and this is usually taken as the discrimination between the real and the unreal which leads men to enter the Path. It is this, but it is also much more; and it is to be practiced, not only at the beginning of the Path, but at every step of it every day until the end."

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:

"The bishops presented their revisions to the Lord, who, as Leadbeater wrote Dr. Besant, on December 12, 'was so gracious as to tell us that our result is a great improvement on anything that has been done before, and that it will do very well to go on with; but I think He regards it as an intermediate stage on the way to a Mass of Affirmation rather than of prayer, in which we shall no longer ask God to do for us all the sorts of things which we ought to be doing for ourselves...

"Regarding the 'Mass of Affirmation,' Wedgwood later wrote: ‘Bishop Leadbeater and I did try framing such a one...but found the difficulties of phrasing too much for us.’

"They asked the Lord for, and received, permission to use 'the beautiful passage' found in the form of admission for the E.S. [Esoteric School]--that speaks of 'the Peace which passeth understanding' and ends with the words 'the One Initiator, and see His Star shine forth,' which had been written by Annie Besant. Hearing that the Lord had given His consent, she gladly gave hers: 'Anything that he wishes you may use; we feel greatly honoured at the selection.' Those powerful words later came to be known in Liberal Catholicism as The First Ray Benediction."

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:

"The Way to God Through Love
The yoga of knowledge is said to be the shortest path to divine realization. It is also the steepest, however. Requiring as it does a rare combination of rationality and spirituality, it is for the select few. In most persons the rational component is too weak to carry them to God by its exercise alone."

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:

"... Everything that is happening, good, bad, and indifferent is typical of the age in which we live, the 'hour on the evolutionary clock.' In fact, these troubles are inevitable and will remain so until mankind passes from the present age into its successor. One might say 'They can't be helped.' Continuing in this very simplified, perhaps over-simplified view, the work of the Great Brotherhood is to hasten the speed of human evolution, to quicken growth, to get people out of this age into the next as soon as possible. Restricting oneself to this very simple diagnosis, one might say that the occult message of the day is 'HURRY UP.'"

Then in the same communication, I'll share the last two of the nine necessities listed for finding and treading The Path:

"Never be satisfied with either yourself or your rate of progress. Whilst preserving the due serenity of one who would become a Sage, press on with discriminating wisdom."

"Look out for others and aid them as you are being aided. Lend them your strength and share with them your vision and if possible infect them with your enthusiasm."

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
That Hinduism has shared her land for centuries with Parsees, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians may help explain a last idea that comes out more clearly through her than through any other leading contemporary religion; namely, her conviction that the various major religions are alternate and relatively equal paths to the same God. To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion is like claiming that God can be found in this room but not the next, in this attire but not another. Normally each individual will take the path which leads up life's mountain from his own culture; those who circle the mountain trying to bring others around to their paths are not climbing. In practice India's sects have often been fanatically intolerant, but in principle they have remained notably open. The Vedas early announce Hinduism's classic contention: the various religions are but the different languages through which God has spoken to the human heart."

Thirty-eight years earlier in 1920, Bishop Leadbeater wrote in his The Inner Side of Christian Festivals:

"Christianity is one of the great paths up the mountain of light at the summit of which sits God Himself. It is one of the paths, but only one, and if we have a number of people all round the base of the mountain, the shortest path to the top for each man is the path which opens before him. It would be foolish to have the idea that we must go and drag a man all round the base of the mountain in order to make him walk up our particular path."

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.)