The Faith & Service Card
North American Old Roman Catholic Church
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I was reading an article recently in my e-mail that I found very interesting, and which I believe to be very apropos for the current situation we face here in the United States.
The article was discussing the situation in Great Britain where there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the place of the church and prayer in public life, and the discrimination that appears to be substantial there against Christians... all in the name of "political correctness" and "sensitivity to the feelings" of other religious and more especially non-religious people. Does this sound as "vaguely familiar" to your ears as it does to mine? There was a lot of talk about the impending attempt to establish by law the approval of same-sex marriage, the elimination of any prayer at public gatherings despite either historical precedent or the fact that the Church of England is the ESTABLISHED Church of the land. It also described the anti-religion bias of the media, especially against those professing the Christian Faith. Many of the churches there have initiated a "Coalition For Marriage" campaign to uphold the traditional institution of marriage. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George L Carey, was quoted thus, "The marginalization of Christianity is hollowing out our value system and our culture and this worries me more than anything." In reply the Independent Newspaper in an editorial retorted, "Lord Carey places himself on the wrong side not just of history, but of morality, compassion and reason."
The aforementioned article describes some of the assaults that have and are still taking place in Great Britain against Christianity, in a country whose established state Church is the Anglican Church, or more correctly, the Church of England. The decisions of the High Court ruling that prayer before a Town Council meeting is illegal, despite the centuries of legal precedent; the discrimination against Christians, especially Christians in public life; the portrayals of Christians and the Church on television and in dramas; the many controversies, clashes and outright hostilities engaged in by the media and others to silence the Christian message and the influence and scope of the Christian Church. Do we ourselves not see the exact same thing occuring right here in the United States? One brave comment in recognition of this vast attack on Christianity in Great Britain has summed it up the best, "When it comes to competing rights between different groups, the rights of Christians seem to be "sacrificed on the altar of political correctness."
Christians are feeling as if they are once again being feed to the lions. Due unfortunately to the lax attitude and efforts of the Church in the last few decades, many Christians are unsure of themselves, of their faith and more especially of their commitment. The days of Christians singing Psalms and Hymns on the way to the arena of their martyrdom are now many centuries passed. Today, in the face of peer-pressure, media influence, ostracism from friends and the lure of an easier life, far too many Christians are willing to be silent in the face of challenge and to let others speak and be the focus of the hostilities that will undoubtedly be coming. They forget however the old adage that, "Silence presumes consent".
It seems clear to me that there is a world-wide assault upon Christianity and the values professed by the Christian Church, and that each and every individual Christian will at one point or another, be called upon to declare himself/herself for or against Christ and His Church. The Scriptures say that Our Lord will not tolerate a lukewarm approach to the message of the Gospel and the values of the Christian Faith, even less so a watered-down or denuded preaching of those Gospel values in the name of "political correctness". He says that, "But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth". And again we are told, "He that is not with Me, is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth." It is clear from the Word of the Lord that we must take a stand for or against Him. There can be no middle ground in the campaign of the Lord.
As a result of the religious furor taking place in Great Britain today, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, through its Department of Evangelization and Catechesis has attempted to address in a small but important way, the concern of the Bishops as to the plight of faithful Catholics and the need to support them in their stand for the Catholic Faith. They are distributing what is called a "Faith Card" to all Catholics who request one. They are estimating that number at 1 million, approximately the same number as those faithful Catholics who still attend Holy Mass on Sundays. I am going to let the words of Bishop Kieran Conry, chairman of the Department of Evangelization and Catechesis explain the purpose of the cards.
"We all carry a variety of cards in our purses and wallets which reflect something of our identity and the things that are important to us. The faith card for Catholics aims to offer a daily reminder of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We can’t summarize the whole of our faith in bullet points, but we hope that the card simply inspires people to do, read and learn more. The card is also designed to give Catholics confidence to share their faith – often people need help knowing what to say. Faith is a not a private matter. This is something that Pope Benedict reminded the Catholic community in his recent letter announcing a Year of Faith, beginning in October 2012.
Carrying a faith card takes courage, it signals to others, every time you use your wallet or purse, that you believe in God, that your life has a purpose, that you are trying to love and serve your neighbour. We hope that Catholics will use it to witness to their faith. If someone asks a question about Catholicism, a starting point could be to show the card and to take it from there.”
Here is a description of the card:
One side of the card, designed to be carried in wallets or purses, has a space for the holder to sign his or her name and a “clear statement that the carrier is a Catholic alongside an image of a crucifix. It states that Catholics are called to “share with others the joy of knowing Jesus Christ”, pray, celebrate the sacraments regularly, “love my neighbour as myself”, “use the gifts that I’ve been given wisely” and “forgive as I have been forgiven”. At the bottom of the card it states: “In the event of an emergency please contact a Catholic priest.” On the reverse is the link to the church’s website, an image of Jesus and a quotation from Cardinal Newman about the “definite service” for which God created him. “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons,” it states. “I shall do good and be a preacher of truth in my own place."
Elizabeth Hunter, director of the religion think-tank Theos, said: "If it does spark more casual conversations about faith, that would be a good thing. Religion is a really important part of many people's lives and it shouldn't be a taboo subject, but something we're as ready to discuss (and probably disagree on) down the pub as work, sport or relationships."
The Bishops of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church have discussed this idea and have decided that we too should follow suit and issue our own "Faith and Service Card". We have taken the liberty of designing such a card, making those changes which we feel would be most appropriate to distinguish between our cards and those of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and to prevent any accusation of copyright infringement. Our card is a tad bit smaller, more traditional in its presentation and with a fuller description as compared to the simpler credit-card sized card of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. The front of our card would contain much of the same information as the back of their's but with a fuller, yet still adapted quotation from Blessed John Newman and the back of our card would be a more full expansion of the principles found on the front of theirs. Their card lists only 6 principles and ours lists 10. It would include a line for people to sign thereby encouraging them to once again make a profession of their Catholic Faith and a committment to living it out in the fullest. The card should not be seen as a "Get Out of Hell Free" card...or as a "Time Off for Good Behavior in Purgatory" card. It is also not meant to be a statement of faith, a substitute for the Profession of Faith or the need to join the Church in the proper manner; it should not be a "What Must I Do To Be A Good Catholic" card....but rather to be a daily or periodic reminder of the committment we have made and a helpful incentive to rekindle our fervor for the work of the Lord. We don't need, or should not need, a reminder of what our Faith consists of...but we all DO need a periodic reminder to renew our committment to God, the Church and our Catholic Faith.
The card we have designed would be printed on a standard size business card, in color as depicted at the top of this page. It should be given out freely and to anyone who requests it, especially those of our own faithful and to others who may be considering becoming members of our jurisdiction. ALL Catholics, whether they are Old Roman Catholics, Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, eastern or Orthodox Catholics, Polish National Catholics, Old Catholics or others, should be encouraged to take a card, read it, pledge themselves to living according to the 10 principles found on the back and to re-commit themselves to living courageously as Catholics both in public as well as in private.
There is no enrollment, there are no registers of signers, there is nothing formal about the cards...the decision to sign it, carry it and live by it, is strictly between the person themself and God...not us.
Thank you and may God bless you all.
Archbishop Edward J. Ford, T.O.R.
Archbishop-Primate of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church.
Front View of our Faith & Service Card
Back View of our Faith & Service Card