What we believe
St Stephen's is an Anglo-Catholic parish and a member of Forward in Faith. We believe in the catholic faith of the universal Christian Church as handed to us by Jesus Christ, his Apostles, the Church Fathers and the tradition of the Church down the centuries.
We believe that God is the author of Sacred Scripture. What is revealed in the text of the Old and New Testaments has been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The inspired books teach the truth. Since all that the sacred writers have written should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see included in the Sacred Scriptures.
Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living". If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, open our minds to understand the Scriptures. We come to church in order for this to happen.
The Holy Tradition
In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the Bible, has been preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time by faithful bishops along with their priests and people.
This passing on of the truth, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, passes on to every generation all that she believes.
God’s presence made known to us through Christ’s death and the continual guidance of the Holy Spirit remains present and active in his Church. God, who spoke in the past, continues to speak to the Church today. We come to know and love God through worship and prayer, which is what Christians do when they gather together for the Mass.
The Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life. All the other sacraments are bound up with the Mass and are oriented towards it. For in the holy Mass the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, is truly and actually present.
The Mass is the truly effective sign of our sharing in the divine life with God. It is the coming together both of God's action in saving the world through Jesus and the worship we offer in return out of love and faith.
Finally, by the celebration of the Mass we unite ourselves with the saints who are worshipping God in heaven, and through it we look forward to eternal life.