I was recently posting a few comments on a Traditional Catholic blog (http://www.carrietomko.blogspot.com/) in defense of one of my favorite authors, Ken Wilber. Several questions arose which would probably require a longer answer than I would want to put on someone else's blog, so I've moved them here. The questions were originally found at:
Probably the first question to answer is about my history. I will probably post a short spiritual biography on this site at some point, but let me give a brief outline of the last few episodes.
My wife and I (and our five children) were received into the Roman Catholic Church after a long journey and several crisis of faith. This was not so much because I found Catholicism so wonderful, but because all non-sacramental, Bible-only versions of Christianity were obviously incomplete.
We spent a number of years attending Roman Catholic parishes. It was during this time that I undertook the assignment to create a video library for my parish (one of the questions from the blog). I was not a priest – but a layman who was very involved in parish activities: the library, the Blue Army, etc. Unfortunately, we arrived to find the Catholic Church in a state of some upheaval and disarray. The larger and more influential group were trying to make Catholicism into something more resembling a political and social movement. Efforts were being made to reform liturgy by people who obviously had no clue what liturgy was about in the first place.
We traveled farther and farther from home each Sunday seeking out people much like those who frequent Carrie’s blog that I referenced above – hoping to find people who at least took spirituality seriously. Some of them truly did, and some of them didn’t. It turns out it’s possible to be just as spiritually dead while being pious. In particular, I got increasingly uncomfortable with the bunker mentality – the concern with large conspiracies of enemies – the increasing exclusionism. Was the Pope himself a heretic? Was there anyone who was NOT a heretic?
This next realization is a bit hard to put into words, but let me try. There are TWO motives for wanting to change the rather crystallized Catholicism of antiquity – and they motivate two very different groups of people. One group genuinely wants to approach closer to God and finds some of Catholic teaching and practice stifling. The other group doesn’t really care about approaching God at all, and wants the Church to pursue entirely human goals. About that time I began to read a bit of Ken Wilber and Alan Watts and others of the mystical, transpersonal and perennial school of thought. This turned out be exactly where my heart was at. After quite a bit of contemplation (in both the formal and informal sense) we started looking for a way to express this spiritual insight within the framework of the catholic sacraments and rituals. The Home Temple turned out to be the perfect vehicle for this.
Now I’ll turn to a few of the questions about the Home Temple:
Are the Home Temple bishops and priests validly ordained?
Nearly all Roman Catholic theologians would say these orders are valid, even if illicit. The orders have been transmitted according to canonical form from validly ordained bishops in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Orthodox, and a number of other valid apostolic lineages. As you are probably aware, even a schismatic, excommunicated (or even a heretical) bishop can validly transmit holy orders, even if they are (in the eyes of Rome) illicit. The Independent Catholic movement has gone to considerable trouble through mutual conditional consecrations of each others bishops to preserve and gather all valid lines of apostolic succession. You may regard them as schismatic or heretical, but it would be a hard argument to make that their orders are invalid. That being the case, then provided canonical forms are observed, the Mass we celebrate would, in Roman Catholic eyes, be valid but illicit.
As to Carrie’s question of what do we DO in our services…
The “training” liturgy Home Temple uses attempts to introduce more Jewish and Kabbalistic elements into the Mass without disturbing the minimum requirements for a valid Mass. Many of the prayers, for example, are done in Hebrew. However, as independent priests, we use whatever liturgy we wish. This would mean, of course, that a Home Temple priest could theoretically offer a “Mass” which has been altered to the point of being sacramentally invalid in Roman Catholic eyes. In my case, however, I generally use Latin, and will use the Novus Ordo Latin or the Tridentine Latin with all the rubrics as correct as I can get them.
Understand that I'm trying to answer here in the context of Roman Catholicism. As to ourselves, for example, we do not regard our orders and sacraments as "illicit", as we do not regard ourselves as being under the jursitiction of Rome in the first place.