Following his consecration of Leadbeater as a Bishop on July 22 1916, Wedgwood wrote to an unidentified member of his clergy in England regarding the “inner side” of the consecration and of what was to become the Liberal Catholic Church. Leadbeater also wrote similar account which were published much later by Jinarajadasa: C. Jinarajadasa On The Liberal Catholic Church Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1952. As far as is known the letter from Wedgwood has never previously been made public in full.
“Those of our clergy who belong to the T.S. [Theosophical Society] will, I know, like to have a fairly complete statement of what the Lord Maitreya has said about our movement. Some of this is likely to appear in the E.S. [Esoteric Section] magazine, and in the Watchtower Notes of the October Theosophist a fairly strong hint has been given. I would suggest that not too much of what the Lord said should be spoken of outside of the E.S. membership, but there is no harm in letting people know that the movement has His blessing, provided that nothing of the sort appears in print, as that will only make things more difficult for us when the inevitable time comes that we are attacked by the orthodox church people.
When C.W.L. was consecrated, his Master gave permission, and added a very curious piece of information. He said that if C.W.L. had remained in the Anglican Church, it would have been in this very year that he would have been consecrated to the Anglican Episcopate. “So you see,” He added, “nobody loses by joining us, you have forfeited the emoluments and social position by joining Upasika (H.P.B.) but you have gained much more besides.” C.W.L. had good influence in the church, and every prospect of being a bishop.
His consecration took place in the presence of a very few people; two priests I had ordained. Tweedy and McConkey presenting him (but not imposing hands). There were mighty influences present: several Masters came, the Lord Maitreya, and the Lord Buddha, and the Star shone out.
When he said his first Mass afterwards, four Masters came in, and the Master Jesus stood there the whole time. He finds the episcopal power immensely useful in his work and regards it as a “gigantic” spiritual force.
Nothing about his consecration will appear in print, and we think it had better become known only very gradually. Only a few people here know.
He was quite emphatic that I should remain at the head of the movement and therefore gave me the oath of canonical obedience but he has consented to act as the inner link and give us any instruction from the Great Ones. The Lord Maitreya accepted the movement to be used in His service, and implied that He had engineered the whole proceedings, so that the movement should get into the hands of Theosophists, and having unquestioned Orders could be used by Him, if He so desired when the time came, to hand His old Orders into the new dispensation. It was to move ahead slowly and quietly for the present, but to be prepared for sudden expansion in the future. It had a great future, and probably would be the only branch of His Church which would recognise Him officially when He came. All this was said of the English division, and not necessarily of the Dutch body, as might perhaps be implied from the Theosophist.
The next step of moment was that He blessed three large bottles of oil, that I had consecrated by the usual formula. They were taken to Him in the fourth dimension, and He held them. This can be used by our priests, as soon as I can get any over to England by a reliable messenger.
He explained that the oil for the sick has a powerful etheric influence; that for catechumens astral, while the Chrism is intensely powerful for purification, and might rather shatter an impure person. These particular oils are in living touch with Him – permanently connected.
Next we set about revision of the Mass. He showed a model of the thought-form it built and did not want the salient features of that disturbed, but gave us carte blanche to effect any improvements that we thought desirable.
We have gone on the plan of eliminating all references to the Judaistic conception of God. Everything that has to do with wrath, the idea of God needing to be appeased or placated, with our being spared or saved from everlasting damnation has walked the plank, and we have endeavoured to make the whole ritual joyous and cheerful. The result is curious. The general influence has grown much nearer the “feel” of the Greek Church; wherever previously in the form there was a saucer-like depression due to an expression of fear or self abasement, now there is a shining and resplendent pinnacle.
We later saw the Lord, and He said He was pleased with what we had done. This was in fact the new reformation, and we were doing part of the work that the REFORMATION had been intended to do, but had failed. Part of the work was the adaptation to the new sub-race. The fourth sub-race people did not mind whether the thing made sense or not, provided it sounded nice and produced the desired effect. (We had been impressed by the incoherency of the ritual, and had tried to make it more connected, to express in words what was being done). But the fifth sub-race required that the sequence of thought should be logical and that an appeal should be made to the mind. This transition of the requirements from one sub-race to the next had been expressed in architecture under the Count’s guidance when the Freemasons built the Gothic cathedrals. Our new Mass had changed the old rather flat Basilican structures into a magnificent Gothic edifice.
We had to study the structure of the Mass pretty closely and were in much difficulty owing to the fact that the present Roman Mass represents the survival of several different rituals. At the first oblation of the bread and wine, and subsequent invocation of the Holy Spirit, we have the survival of the custom of making presents of corn, wine and oil etc. to the priest for his sustenance; this he blessed with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and then his hands being dirty he washed them. Thereafter the presentation of the offerings to God is repeated ad nauseam. Later after the consecration “Through whom O Lord, Thou dost hallow, quicken, bless etc.” is a survival of another rite, where the peoples’ food was blessed for their use. There seems little purpose in retaining unaltered these fag-ends of defunct rites. Moreover a number of actions are here performed, which have no counterpart to the words used.
The Lord explained certain things to us. The first set of crosses in the Canon “These gifts +, these oblations +, this + holy unblemished sacrifice” are purificatory. (Obviously therefore the invocation of the Holy Spirit over the first oblation must be omitted; you cannot purify what you have asked the Holy Spirit to bless).
The next set “+ bless, + approve, + ratify etc” open the valves for the force to descend. It descends at the words of consecration. An Angel, the Angel of the Presence, in the likeness of the Lord Maitreya descends and takes charge of the proceedings. (This is the angel referred to in the later prayer – a reference which is a mystery to all commentators) The next set of crossings “+ a clean victim, a holy victim + etc.” represents the offering to God of our love and devotion. “Having now the most valuable jewel in the world” said the Lord, we immediately offer these to God in token of our perfect devotion and unselfishness – and they are fortified by the power of the consecrated elements.
The Angel bears these upwards – and the Mass is now doing precisely that which is described in C.W.L’s Colony articles in connection with Temples. The crosses following “most holy + Body and + Blood…filled” draw power out of the Elements and into the priest, who now takes the place of the Angel of the Presence. “+ hallow, + quicken and + bless” draws it out and distributes it over the people. “By Him + etc.” means by Him all things were made, in Him as the indwelling life all exist, and through Him as the transcendent Glory” “the + Father… + Holy Ghost” unite the other two rays of the Trinity. Where he crosses himself with the paten “Andrew and all the saints” he unites the act with the intercession of the saints; and at “the + peace of the Lord, + be always + with you” the force is drawn and extended out over the parish.
Ite missa est, is the dismissal of the angels, who have been bathing in the power.
As to the saints names, we have omitted these. They were heroic figures in the early days of the church and roused great enthusiasm in the people. That no longer happens. We cannot very well say Blessed Helena Petrovna [Blavatsky], blessed Vasanta [Besant], blessed Charles [Leadbeater], which would be our modern equivalent! They are not special vehicles of power and rather tend to put strangers off.
I shall also bring back some powerfully magnetised talismans to go in our altar stones, and some genuine ashes of the Lord Buddha for our pro cathedral. There is a tremendous power flowing through the movement, and it is likely to gain a pretty good following. So we must be all the more careful whom we admit to ordination.”
The Master’s comment that Leadbeater “would have been consecrated to the Anglican Episcopate” that year (1916) had he remained in the Anglican Church is, to say the very least, incredibly optimistic. Leadbeater had been an assistant curate in what was really an ecclesiastical backwater, and lacking a University degree. Ordained in 1879 (when he was 25 years old), he would have been 62 years old (in reality albeit not according to Leadbeater’s fictional account) in 1916. He might – just might – have been made a Parish Priest by that time.