The Ecumenical Society of Saint Augustine of Canterbury (TESSAC) is a Priestly Society without vows, whose purpose is the Priesthood and that which pertains to it. TESSAC comprises clergy and missions and was founded by The Right Reverend Robert C. McBride BA (Hons), OSP on the Feast Day of St Martin, I, Pope and Martyr, 12th of November in the year of our Lord 2008. TESSAC is not a member Society of any mainstream church, such as the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Churches, but does share in their Apostolic Successions.
Our Ecumenical outreach extends to those ecclesial communions who can clearly trace their lines of apostolic succession back through the historic episcopacy directly to our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles and who are holding to historic, apostolic catholic and orthodox order and practice in their faith and worship, as defined by the ancient and undivided Church, reflected in the teaching of the first seven ecumenical councils of the early Church.
We further believe that God has commissioned us to affirm, recognise, and pray for all of these branches as members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and to embrace and receive the clergy and laity of all these branches as true brothers in the communion of Christ's One, Holy Church, His body in heaven and on earth.
We believe that God has called us by the grace and mercy of our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, to be at least a prophetic pointer of a prototype of such unity, both in an underlying attitude of humility and charity, as well as by the works, worship and mission that we pray constantly, bear witness to that divine hope and calling with open minds and hearts.
In practical terms this unity, or prototype of unity as Catholic Christians, will be worked out in our embrace of a diversity of historic, orthodox catholic liturgies, as used by the major branches of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity from the beginning.
These include the Divine Liturgy celebrated by our Orthodox Brother Bishops, the Tridentine Liturgy (Latin /The Vernacular) and Novus Ordo of the Roman Catholic Church; Traditional Anglican Liturgies; Western Rite Orthodox Liturgies, and others recognized as expressions of rites used historically within the broad scope of orthodox, catholic Christianity worldwide.
Mindful that Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to these Islands to spread the Word, and establish the Faith, TESSAC seeks to continue with this work as we enter an age where people are abandoning their faith and instead become secularised. Members of TESSAC take their stance upon a shared vision of a disciplined priestly life fashioned after a definite spiritual rule. It is this Rule of Life which unites the Brethren in their various priestly ministries and lives.
The Brethren are required to consider their obligation to the Society as a close spiritual bond which takes precedence to that of any other voluntary society. This obligation includes a commitment to attend TESSAC Chapter meetings and other Synods. The life of the Society is experienced primarily through the Chapter, and attendance at Chapter is of obligation unless prevented by genuine pastoral duties.
Saint Augustine of Canterbury struggled in his mission but in the words of Pope Gregory The Great, in a letter to Saint Augustine: "He who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps," therefore we too take comfort from and are guided by those words, aided and guided by our Rule of Life, as we work to continue Saint Augustine's work in the 21 st century.romising start, Augustine went back to Provence to be consecrated bishop by Vergilius, metropolitan of Arles and papal legate for Gaul. On his return some ten thousand of Ethelbert's subjects were baptized in the Swale River.
Augustine, greatly heartened by the success of his mission, now sent two of his monks to Rome to report to the Pope, and to ask for more helpers. Also he wished to have the Pope's counsel on various problems. When the monks came back to England with a fresh band of missionaries, they brought the pallium for Augustine. Among the new group were Mellitus, Justus, and Paulinus, who was afterwards archbishop of York. With these "ministers of the Word," wrote the Venerable Bede, "the holy Pope sent all things needed in general for divine worship and the service of the Church, viz. sacred vessels, altar cloths, ornaments for churches, and vestments for priests and clerks, and also many books." The latter item was especially important, for the books helped to inspire the great love of learning which characterized the English Church.
Gregory sent to Augustine a plan for developing an ecclesiastical hierarchy and establishing a working organization for the whole country-a plan which was not fully carried out in Augustine's lifetime. There was to be a northern and a southern province, with twelve suffragan bishops in each. In a letter to Mellitus, which is presented earlier, following the life of St. Gregory, he gave instruction on other points, showing his administrative ability as well as considerable psychological insight. Pagan temples were, as far as possible, to be Christianized and retained. Consecration rites and feasts of martyrs were to replace the heathen festivals, for, Gregory wisely writes, "he who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps."
In 603 Augustine rebuilt and reconsecrated the Canterbury church and the house given him by King Ethelbert. These structures formed the nucleus for his metropolitan cathedral. They were destroyed by fire in 1067, and the present cathedral, begun by the great Lanfranc in 1070, stands on their site. A converted temple outside the walls of Canterbury was made into another religious house, which Augustine dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. After his death this abbey became known as St. Augustine's.
With the King's support, the Christianization of Kent proceeded rapidly, but Gregory's charge had stated, "All the bishops of Britain we commend to your Fraternity." The survivors of the ancient British or Celtic Church and their bishops had been driven westward and southward into Wales and Cornwall by the Saxon conquerors of the fifth century. Here they had persisted as Christian communities, cut off from the outside world. Although they were sound in fundamental doctrine, some of their usages were at variance with those of Rome. Now, in virtue of his archiepiscopal jurisdiction, Augustine invited the Celtic bishops to meet with him at a spot outside the confines of Wessex, which has since come to be known as Augustine's Oak. In long conferences with the representatives of the Celtic Church Augustine urged them to comply with the customs of the rest of Western Christendom, in particular in the method of determining the date of Easter, and to aid him in converting the pagans. Loyalty to their own local traditions, however, and bitterness against their Saxon conquerors, made them unwilling to agree, even though Augustine performed a miracle of healing in their presence to prove the supernatural source of his authority. They consented to attend a second conference, held in Flintshire, but it too proved a failure. Augustine did not rise to greet his Celtic brothers when they arrived and they felt that he lacked Christian humility. They refused either to listen to him or acknowledge him as their archbishop. It was not until 664, at the Synod of Whitby, that their differences were resolved and ecclesiastical uniformity was established.
Augustine's last years were spent in spreading and consolidating the faith in Ethelbert's realm, which comprised large sections of eastern England south of Northumbria. Sees were established in London and Rochester, with Mellitus appointed bishop over one and Justus over the other. Seven years after his arrival Augustine died, leaving the continuation of his work to others.
Rule of the Ecumenical Society of Saint Augustine of Canterbury
+Prayer for Saint Augustine of Canterbury+
O God, Who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine, Thy Confessor and Bishop, didst vouchsafe to shed upon the English people the light of the true faith; grant that, through his intercession, the hearts of those that have gone astray may return to the unity of Thy truth, and that we may be of one mind in doing Thy will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one world without end. Amen.
OUR RULE OF LIFE
1. Members of TESSAC strive to continue the work first started by Saint Augustine of Canterbury by evangelizing and ministering to God's people.
2. To this end, all the Brethren earnestly strive to deepen their union with their Lord by regular prayer and frequent resort to the Sacraments and to the Holy Scriptures, carefully teaching and encouraging the same among the people to whom they minister. They shall regard the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the centre and source of their priestly ministry. They shall endeavor to cultivate, both in themselves and others, a lively sense of the communion of saints, practicing and teaching devotion to the saints, especially to our Blessed Lady.
3. The call of Christ invites us to take up the Cross, and to follow in the way of the Cross, in faithfulness and obedience to Christ, and in union with him, even to death, and beyond death. The Brethren shall therefore endeavour to live out the discipline of the Crucified Saviour in every aspect of life, and, through their teaching and pastoral care, to help others to do the same.
4. In following this discipline, therefore, the Brethren shall regard as of first obligation those rules and usages which have the authority of the Holy Catholic Church, it being beyond the powers of any authority within the Society to dispense therefrom,
i. To celebrate or at least attend Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation and to attend the Provincial Mass on the First Sunday of the month.
ii. To say daily the Divine Office or other Daily Office approved by the Superor General, either privately or openly, not being hindered by sickness or some other urgent cause;
iii. To observe the appointed fast before Holy Communion, and other fasts and abstinences as prescribed unless prevented for some good cause;
iv. To use the sacrament of Reconciliation as the conscience requires and at least once a year.
5. In addition, the Brethren shall:
i. Celebrate, concelebrate or otherwise participate daily in the Mass and Holy Communion. However, when that cannot be accomplished, they shall join in spirit in the celebration of the Lord's sacrifice and in Communion with him, visiting the Blessed Sacrament if practicable. They shall carefully prepare themselves before the Holy Eucharist, and give thanks according to opportunity;
ii. Recite the Divine Office, or other approved Daily Office, in a spirit of adoration and intercession, in the name of all men and especially of those under their care. Even at the times of the annual holiday and weekly day of recreation the Divine Office remains of obligation;
iii. Have a definite rule about mental prayer, and also about sacred study, particularly in the Scriptures and the Fathers;
iv. Commend the day to God on first awaking and the night on going to bed;
v. Pray daily for The Ecumenical Society of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, particularly at the offering of Holy Mass and the Divine Office, and by saying the Society's prayer:
O God, Who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine, Thy Confessor and Bishop, didst vouchsafe to shed upon the English people the light of the true faith; grant that, through his intercession, the hearts of those that have gone astray may return to the unity of Thy truth, and that we may be of one mind in doing Thy will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one world without end. Amen.
vi. Make self-examination daily
vii. Attend the Provincial retreat at least once a year, unless positively hindered;
viii. Do all in their power to support other priests in their ministry, avoiding criticising them or in any other way compromising the dignity of the priesthood;
ix. Exercise charity in conversation and moderation in recreative activities, and avoid giving scandal in any form of personal behavior.
x. Wear the gold Canterbury Cross on their jacket and when the Brethren meet as one to wear the Canterbury Pectoral Cross, as approved by the Superior General. These being outward and visible signs of membership and union with one another.
TESSAC Clergy Pectoral Cross & Chain
TESSAC Lapel Badges
6. The Brethren are also recommended to be especially diligent in prayer fo The Ecumenical Society of Saint Augustine of Canterbury on the following days:
12th November - the anniversary of the Society's foundation
27th May - the Feast Day of Saint Augustine of Canterbury
In addition, the Brethren shall:
i. Pray regularly for the departed Brethren, particularly at the offering of the Holy Sacrifice;
ii. Make regular use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, according to conscience, especially at Easter, and not less frequently than four times in the year;
iii. Keep a regular day of recollection - monthly if possible.
7. The Superior General has power to dispense from the obligation of keeping any rules which are purely rules of the Society.
Approved and dated this day, the 11th of December, in the Year of Our Lord, 2008.
Superior General - retired (17th February 2010)