A Pastoral Invitation to the Sacramental Journey

Dear sisters and brothers in the faith,

The Apostolic Western Orthodox Church (AWOC) reaches out to you with a heart full of love and a message steeped in the rich heritage of our faith. Our spiritual journey is anchored not in the shifting sands of personal interpretation but in the solid rock of truths handed down from the Apostles themselves. These truths, preserved with unwavering fidelity by the Church, illuminate our path toward divine communion.

In an age where the allure of modern interpretations beckons, it is paramount that we cling to the ancient faith, a treasure that has been carefully transmitted through centuries. Our commitment is to the teachings that the Church, from its earliest epoch, has safeguarded as the genuine expression of Christian doctrine. This stands in contrast to the teachings that emerged nearly a millennium later, marked by the well-intentioned but ultimately misguided efforts of the fathers of Protestantism. Their attempts to reform what they perceived as errors introduced by the Church of Rome, though driven by a desire for purity, inadvertently led to a departure from the unified teaching and practice of the early Church.

Saint Vincent of Lérins, in his famed Commonitorium, provides a guiding principle that resonates with our quest for authentic faith: “We must hold fast to the Christian religion and to communion with the Church which is Catholic, and which is called Catholic not only by its own members but even by all its enemies. For whether they will or not, heretics have to call the Catholic Church Catholic, which means ‘universal,’ not only because it is spread throughout the world, but also because it teaches universally and without omission all the doctrines which ought to come to the knowledge of men.”

This ancient wisdom reminds us of the importance of adhering to the fullness of faith, a faith that encompasses not just individual belief but a communal, sacramental life rooted in the teachings and practices established by the Apostles. The sacraments, particularly Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, are not mere formalities but the means through which we experience God’s grace and presence. They are the channels established by Christ and His Apostles for our sanctification and union with God.

As we navigate the complexities of faith in our time, let us remember the words of Jude the Apostle, who urged the faithful to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Our allegiance is to this faith, rich in apostolic tradition, rather than to the relatively recent innovations that arose from disputes with the Church of Rome. While we acknowledge the sincerity of those who sought reform, we also recognize the invaluable continuity of belief and practice that has characterized the Orthodox Church since its inception.

In this spirit, I call upon you, dear brothers and sisters, to embrace the sacramental life of our Church with renewed vigor and devotion. Let us approach these holy mysteries not as mere rituals but as encounters with the living Christ, who invites us to partake of His divine life. As we do so, let us remain ever mindful of the great cloud of witnesses—the saints and martyrs, the holy men and women who have walked this path before us, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel through their lives and teachings.

May we, too, be inspired to live out our faith with courage and conviction, steadfast in our commitment to the ancient truths of our holy Church. Together, let us journey towards the heavenly kingdom, guided by the light of Christ and the wisdom of the Apostles, holding fast to the faith that unites us across time and space.

My friends, I implore you to read the above with prayerful and even critical examination and to challenge me with questions as to why I believe the above.

With deepest affection and prayers for your spiritual well-being,

Bishop Michael Callahan
Apostolic Western Orthodox Church.

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