The Contemplative Community of St. Francis & St. Thérèse
An Interfaith Community of Contemporary Christians Dedicated to a Life of Prayer
The United Fellowship of Contemplative Christians


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Code of Canonical Guidelines
FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE HOLY ORDER OF APOSTOLIC PRIESTHOOD
United Fellowship of  Contemplative Christians (UFCC)February 2015

MISSION: The mission of the United Fellowship of Contemplative Christians is to promote prayerful devotion to God.

Canon 1-The United Fellowship of Contemplative Christians is a fellowship of like-minded Christians who bring the brotherhood and sisterhood of all clergy together in unity with the ancient Christian Church in Apostolic Succession to St. Peter, First Apostle of Jesus Christ. 

Canon 2- One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Undivided, and Episcopate Church Body. When Christ Jesus walked this earth, He chose for himself twelve disciples to follow Him, with whom He entrusted His disciples, the "Church". As the Apostles went into the world to spread the Gospel, they appointed bishops to lead the Church. Those who have been consecrated as UFCC clergy can trace their authority back to the Apostles and to Christ in an unbroken line of succession.


Canon 3- Credo- "I believe"Our basic statement of Faith is embodied in the Nicene Creed, established at the Council of Nicaea, 325 A.D. The Apostles Creed and the Athanasian Creed are alternate forms, the former being simpler, and the latter one more detailed.the Bishops of the Church are the Successors to the Apostles and hold the teaching authority granted to the Apostles by Jesus Christ. This authority is not vested in a single bishop regardless of office or position but is equally and jointly held by all bishops.

The Nicene Creed: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and of all that is seen and unseen; and in one Lord Jesus Christ the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father: God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. Begotten, not made, one in being with the Father, through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, [bow]He came down from heaven and, by the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again, in fulfillment of the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom shall have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified; He has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen. 

Canon 4-The term "Catholic Church"The term catholic means "universal", and has been used by the Catholic Church to describe its membership as one united body of the faithful, irrespective of geographic locale or government; language or culture. Many believe this term is exclusive to The Roman Catholic Church but that simply isn't the case.The UFCC regards all Christians as brothers and sisters and all entitled to claim membership in the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Episcopate Body of Christ. Differentiations between Christian Bodies exist, then, only in worship styles, languages, and cultural variations. These styles are considered not to alter the essential spirit of the Christian faith, but only give variance of preferred forms, ways, and manners.
 

Canon 5- The UFCC is "ecumenical"The term "ecumenical" means that the UFCC finds commonality (Inter-Communion) with its brothers and sisters across Christian denominations. As long as a Christian Body of the faithful teaches and practices a belief and value system consistent with the Nicene Creed, the UFCC sees no division or separating faculty between itself and the other Body. As 1 Corinthians reads, "There are many gifts of the Spirit, yet only One Spirit; there are many churches, yet all are one in Christ." Christ cannot be divided and neither can His Church. Therefore, the UFCC welcomes unity and membership among anyone of any and all Christian Bodies.

Canon 6- Welcoming All Reaching out even further, the UFCC welcomes any person from any faith tradition (or no faith tradition) who approaches with goodwill. True ministry in Christ mandates that we go out and make disciples of all people, not discriminating in any way those little children who belong rightly to God.It is our belief through the power, wisdom, and glory of the Holy Spirit Mother that She and She alone determines who is called and who answers the call of God. Let not mere mortals, even clergy, endeavor to make that judgment. But in the words of the apostle, Paul of Tarsus: we "are no longer Greek, Gentile, women, men..." in our Lord's eyes, but all are One in Jesus Christ".Further, the UFCC is made up of a unity of persons within a diversity of people; an Inter-Communion of Lay Ministers, Deacons, Priests, and Bishops, along with seekers of any and all persuasions. We seek to provide a judgment-free environment where acceptance and charity can flow. In addition, we are all participants and co-creators with Christ, dedicated to our various roles as apostles prophets, teachers, servers, and intercessors to share the gospel (the "truth") of His Holy Love, using the authentic Word, Law, Prophets, Wisdom, and Spirit of the Living God.We are first, learners and followers of Christ, then Lovers of He who first Loved us, and finally, servants for His Kingdom, along with Him, and for Love of Him, through the power of His Holy Spirit, according to the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, along with the entire Deposit of Faith & Devotion given us by His Saints.For further information regarding the orthodox beliefs of the Christian Catholic Church, see theCatechism of the Catholic Church.

Canon 7-Statements of FaithThe UFCC also accepts the ancient statements of faith that:-God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. UFCC believes that God the Son became man so that the sons of Man could become the Sons of God. That Jesus of Nazareth is He; that Jesus was born in Palestine of his human mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit which came upon her. His human father was Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary at the time.-Jesus was fully human and fully divine--From the time of the Council of Nicaea Jesus the Christ was declared by the Holy Church as being both fully human and fully divine.His teachings and example are found in the first four books of the New Testament. Jesus' most instrumental teachings come to us in the "Beattitudes" and the "Sermon on the Mount" in the book of Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7.-Jesus is our model of exemplary Christian life, and we are to imitate Him, taking the what and how and why of His ways and applying them to our own life circumstances as we best can. The most important teaching of Christ was complete within the Two Greatest Commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, might, soul, and strength; and Love your neighbor the same way you Love yourself". Jesus said, "These two commandments contain all the Law and the Prophets." If we truly obey these and live within Christ's Love, we have no need of Law. Love becomes the whole of the Law, and fulfills it, just as Jesus became the whole of the Judaic Law and fulfilled all of it through His incredible gift of sacrifice for Love of us.
-Jesus gave us our basic model for prayer in the "Our Father" (Pater noster):
-Jesus shows us how to live, how to be balanced, and how to die.

Canon 8-The Seven SacramentsWe believe that the Sacraments are outward signs of the invisible and continued presence of Christ and bestow His saving grace among us. There are seven Holy Sacraments:
a) The Sacrament of Baptism: Baptism by water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a cleansing of sin and a new birth. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way before the Lord. He called sinners to be baptized in the River Jordan in preparation for the coming ministry of our Lord Jesus.
b) The Sacrament of the Eucharist: The Mass is the Lord’s Supper, otherwise known as the Eucharist, Holy Communion, or Divine Liturgy. Jesus instituted this sacrament when he gathered together His disciples and broke bread among them and shared a cup of wine. The bread is His body; the wine is His most precious blood. When we come to the Lord’s Table at Mass to receive this sacrament, we come as humble members of the Body of Christ responding an enthuastic "Yes" to His call to discipleship. The Eucharist is the central focus of our Church Worship. All bishops and priests of the UFCC should celebrate The Eucharist once a week if possible. The Eucharist should be offered as often as possible to all baptized Christians, or those who believe themselves so to be, a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. These little ones shall not be turned away from the Love of Christ for reasons of race, religion, creed, national origin, disability, denomination, or sexual orientation. It is a hope and expectation that those who do partake of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, do so after confessing their sin to Almighty God and renouncing and repenting from their sins.
c) The Sacrament of Confirmation: Confirmation is the laying on of hands by the bishop. People receiving confirmation are instructed about the church and faith. When the Bishop confirms in person, he does so in the long line of succession by which the Apostles themselves laid their hands on the first bishops. The sacrament conveys the gifts of the Holy Spirit.Recognizing the diverse locations of bishops, clergy, and members of the UFCC, when necessary, the Bishop will be available through Video-Conferencing. In cases requiring it, local priests or other appointed persons can stand in as proxy for the Bishop, such as the bestowing of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. A Bishop may and can give permission or dispensation to a Priest or Pastor of a parish to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in his absence.
d) The Sacrament of Reconciliation: Penance is the confession of sin to God in the presence of a priest. The priest pronounces the forgiveness of sin and blesses the penitent. All confession is sealed, private, and inviolable. The priest may never betray the confidence of a penitent's confession in any respect whatsoever to anyone except God alone. The priest may not reveal any pentitent's name or description. He may not even bring up the contents of a confession to the same penitent later in time.
e) The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick: Holy Unction is the anointing with oil for healing when one is ill. The oil used has been blessed by the bishop for this special use. If there shall exist an emergency where death is imminent in the person receiving the anointing, and there is no oil available for this special use, and there is no possibility of such oil being blessed by a Bishop in a timely manner, then it shall be permissible for a Priest to bless this oil in context with the use of this Canon.
f) The Sacrament of Matrimony:Holy Matrimony is the union of two people becoming one in Christ. This occurs when a man and a woman, two men, or two women come before the Church of God to make their vows. This relationship is like Christ and His Church. The Church is the bride of Christ, which He cherishes and protects with His life. g) The Sacrament of Holy OrdersHoly Orders convey the Apostolic Authority and Ministry proper to Bishops, Priests, and Deacons for the faithful. These orders were instituted by Christ.

Canon 9- Ecclesial EthicsIt shall be unlawful for any member of the UFCC to behave in an illicit, unethical or immoral manner per his/her Office or Ministry, such as to offer, confer or celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Orders for any candidate to Holy Orders in exchange for any donation or tithe, no matter what form the donation or tithe may take. (That is to say money, goods, valuables or services, or any other article.) ** place the statement of ethicsLikewise, it shall be unlawful for any member of the UFCC to offer, for the above-mentioned consideration(s), elevation to any Office to any candidate eligible and approved for the same. Violation of this is Simony and will not be tolerated, accepted or condoned in any manner. This in and of itself may result in the immediate revocation, nullification, and termination of any association or affiliation with the UFCC. This and of itself may result in the immediate removal of faculties or credentials of any parties involved in the sale of Holy Orders or of any office of the Church.A thorough investigation will be conducted and all evidence will be prayerfully considered. In any case, the facts and circumstances, once uncovered, will be presented to the Great UFCC Council . Any determinations to the sanctions levied, if any, will be made in a Christ-like manner, with love and compassion. If the offending parties refuse to accept the sanctions imposed, if any, the matter may be adjudicated by the Presiding Bishop.All those receiving Holy Orders within the UFCC must accept, amend themselves, and hold fast to a set of Behavioral Ethics which they will sign and be accountable to. (To be added...) 

Canon 10-RevelationThe UFCC declares its belief in the Revelation of God and God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to be found within Sacred Tradition, the Canonical Scriptures (i.e. the Bible with Apocrypha), the writings of the Church Fathers, and the Sacred Deposit of Revelation to the Church's Saints throughout history. Unlike our Catholic brethren of the Roman Church, we do not believe that Sacred Revelation has ended. We remain open to the possibility that further divine revelation from God is possible and plausible. 

Canon 11- Grace and WorksFrom Sacred Scripture the Church understands and teaches that Grace is a free gift from God bestowed upon souls, never because it is deserved or undeserved, but solely at the discretion of God's pleasure. God's Grace is a Holy Sanctifier, Empoweror, and Motivator which acts upon us, urging us toward life within His Saving Love.Grace leads us to Faith. Faith leads us to good Works. Good works make Faith real and present, just like Sacraments make visible the invisible graces of special landmarks of our life.In turn, Works feed further Grace and Faith, helping to wrap the soul in a divine cycle of action, moving him to further union with the Lord Christ. Therefore, both Faith and Works are necessary to the Christian journey. Just as empty works serve nothing but one's ego (1 Corinth), so too Faith without the progression to Works belies a dead faith, (James ).Balanced, Faith and Works create a see-saw of cyclic action. And in harmony with sacrifical Love akin to Christ's saving sacrifice of Love on the cross, they are sacramental signs of the Lord Jesus’ continuing Presence and Action in His Church, through the animating power of the Holy Spirit Mother.

Canon 12-The Holy Eucharist

UFCC declares its belief that in the Holy Eucharist, the elements of bread and wine become, in fact and deed, the actual, substantive, real, and true Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Of course this Real Presence is Spiritual and not physical. The UFCC adheres to the ancient teaching of the apostolic fathers that has been taught by the Catholic Church since its inception. The Eucharistic elements of bread and wine are transormed at the moment of their consecration in the Liturgy of the Eucharist (Holy Communion or The Lord's Supper). The UFCC does not identify the process by which this miracle transpires, as the Lord Jesus has not seen fit to reveal a mechanism. The UFCC simply accepts that it is true, on His Word. However, we equally agree with those who see the Eucharist as a Memorial to the divinity of Jesus. This too, is a serious teaching with vitally important ramifications. We mustn't downplay this belief and for those Christians who only recogognize this element of the Eucharist, to them, this is what it is. Our personal beliefs and understandings about the Eucharist cast a giant shadow on what it is for us. This is why open Communion is acceptable. If all we believe about the Eucharist is that it's a place to share our goodwill with one another, then that too is a beautiful thing.

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My Vision --Written & Performed by Monsignor Mary Janessa Howard