1902 Encyclopedia > Catholic Apostolic Church

Catholic Apostolic Church




CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH, a religious com-munity often called " Irvingites," but not itself acknow-ledging any other name than that of " the Catholic Apostolic Church," which, the members say, belongs to them in common with the whole of baptized Christendom. The relation of the celebrated preacher Edward Irving to this community was, as they state it, somewhat similar to that of John Baptist to the early Christian church, i.e., he was the forerunner and prophet of the coming dispensation, not the founder of a new sect; and indeed the only connection which Irving seems to have had with the existing organization of the Catholic Apostolic body was in "fostering spiritual persons who had been driven out of other congregations for the exercise of their spiritual gifts." Shortly after Irving's trial and deposition, certain persons were at some meetings held for prayer designated as " called to be apostles of the Lord" by certain others claiming prophetic gifts. In the year 1835, six months after Irving's death, six others were similarly designated as " called " to complete the number of the " twelve," who were then formally " separated " by the pastors of the local congregations to which they belonged to their higher office in the universal church on the 14th July 1835. This separation is understood by the com-munity not as " in any sense being a schism or separation from the one Catholic Church, but a separation to a special work of blessing and intercession on behalf of it." The twelve were afterwards guided to ordain others,—twelve prophets, twelve evangelists, and twelve pastors, " sharing equally with them the one Catholic Episcopate," and also seven deacons for administering the temporal affairs of the Church Catholic. The central episcopacy of eight-and-forty was regarded as " indicated by prophecy," being fore-shown in the forty-eight boards of the Mosaic Tabernacle. For ecclesiastical purposes the church universal is under their charge in twelve tribes; for Christendom is considered to be divided into twelve portions or tribes, each tribe being under the special charge of an apostle and his co-ministers, and the seat of the Apostolic College being at Albury in England.

For the service of the church a comprehensive book of liturgies and offices was provided by the " apostles ; " and lights, incense, vestments, holy oil, water, chrism, and other adjuncts of worship have been appointed by their authority. The ceremonial in its completeness may be seen in the church in Gordon Square, London, and elsewhere. The daily worship consists of "matins" with ' proposition" (or exposition) of the sacrament at 6 A.M., prayers at 9 A.M. and 3 P.M., and "vespers" with "proposition" at 5 P.M. On all Sundays and holy days there is a "solemn celebra-tion of the Eucharist" at the high altar; on Sundays this is at 10 A.M. On other days "low celebrations" are held in the side-chapels, which with the chancel in all churches correctly built after apostolic directions are separated or marked off from the nave by open screens with gates.





Each congregation is presided over by its " angel" or bishop (who ranks as pastor in the Universal Church); under him are four-and-twenty priests, divided into the four ministries of " elders, prophets, evangelists, and pastors," and with these are the deacons, seven of whom regulate the temporal affairs of the church—besides whom there are also " sub-deacons, acolytes, singers, and door-keepers." The understanding is that each elder, with his co-presbyters and deacons, shall have charge of 500 adult communicants in his district; but this has been but par-tially carried into practice. This is the full constitution of each particular church or congregation as founded by the " restored apostles," each local church thus " reflecting in its government the government of the Church Catholic by the angel or high priest Jesus Christ, and His forty-eight presbyters in their fourfold ministry (in which apostles and elders always rank first), and under these the deacons of the Church Catholic." The priesthood is supported by tithes; it being deemed a duty on the part of all members of the church who receive yearly incomes to offer a tithe of their increase every week, besides the free-will offering for the support of the place of worship, and for the relief of distress. Each local church sends " a tithe of its tithes" to the " Temple," by which the ministers of the Universal Church are supported; by these offerings, too, the needs of poorer churches are supplied, and other expenses connected with the administration of the Church Catholic. From recent statements made by members of this com-munity it appears to be making steady progress. It claims to have among its clergy many of the Roman, Anglican, and other churches, the orders of those ordained by Greek, Roman, and Anglican bishops being recognized by it with the simple confirmation of an " apostolic act."'

For further details of doctrines, ritual, &c, see Restoration of Apostles and Prophets, by R, N. Bosworth ; also his Readings on the Liturgy, and The Church and Tabernacle.







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