Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Liturgical Gnosticism

Reading blog posts such as this one by a friend (who is not Gnostic at all in these liturgical areas by the way) makes me scratch my head at the absolute destitute worship that is often found in these highly praised, "word-centred services." To argue against weekly communion is simply astounding. To have a discussion of whether or not the Church should pray kneeling is silly. Just think about it! To argue over whether priests/ministers should wear vestments is a waste of time. Andrewes faced these same issues in his day that the "liturgical church" is facing in many regions when one begins to get a sense of worshipping with his whole self. This is especially true in areas where Presbyterians are catching the wave of liturgy.

"In the Thirteenth Sermon on the Resurrection (Easter Day, 1618), in which he dealt with the contention then rife about the observance of Easter, Andrewes underlined the Church's power to decree ceremonies and to bind her members by those decrees. That the Church had this power was evident in Apostolic times, and the contentious must be brought back to the custom of the Church, for if a man is contentious about ceremonies he will soon be contentious about more important things."

The above is certainly true, look at the result of the Puritan movement and the "Pope in the Belly Syndrome." Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. If liturgy isn't to their exact satisfaction these individuals feel that they have the right and authority to change it as they see fit. Who said? How many of these people would counsel with this approach to submission of one to another in the marriage covenant? Why so in the Church then? It's easy to submit when we agree with everything; how about learning to submit when we are not in agreement? Isn't that the real test of submission?

Welsby records the following from Andrewes in his sermons where Andrewes mentions these novel ways of worshipping invented by the modern Puritans of his day. He writes,

"On the positive side, Andrewes points to the distinction between the Liturgy—the Prayer of the People of God—and the "private prayers of the individual." "We must learn to distinguish the Liturgy and the public service of God in the Church from that private devotion which our Saviour would have us to perform daily when He saith, 'When thou prayest, enter into thy chamber.'" When we come before the presence of the Lord of the whole earth "our 'holiness' should have a kind of beauty with it", and irreverent, careless, undevout behaviour is displeasing to God. A man can never be too reverent in his approach to God."

He goes on to say,

"The use of due ceremonial is based on the unity of man's nature. We can worship God in three ways—with the soul, with the body, and with our worldly goods, and as he made and gave all three we must worship him with all three. "If all our worship be inward only, with our hearts and not our hats as some fondly imagine, we give him but one of three." Therefore sitting for worship is not warranted "he will not have us worship him like elephants, as if we had no joints in our knees"—and bowing at the name of Jesus is both scriptural and reasonable."

In the Pattern of Catechistical Doctrine, Andrewes had given five characteristics of ceremonies—they are to be necessary, they are not to be numerous, they are to be edifying, they are to be for good order, and they are to be for decency. He had also given five rules for behaviour in divine service—to observe unity (or "togetherness"), not to sleep, to be present in heart, not to talk, and not to depart till it is ended." 126, 127

Spirit Pray!

I am like most people having seen the images on TV of the devastation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and the only response is to groan within. I served as a minister for over six years in Louisiana before coming here to the UK to study and I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi where they received the brunt of this beast of a storm. Being a survivor of Hurricane Camille as a baby and having lived through a couple of hurricanes growing up in Florida, I understand a bit of the fear my friends are facing. I have a couple who were in my parish in Louisiana who moved to Biloxi, (three miles from the beach), just one week ago. They left out of there as quickly as they could and were not able to board up anything. Everything was still in boxes. Robby just moved his wife and four children there as well as his new business and more than likely they have nothing left. Thankfully, he does have his family and faith in the God who suffers with him in times like this. I have spoken to him twice and he remains hopeful in spite of what he sees on TV all around where his home was.

There are so many who have lost everything. I cannot get that image of the poor black man out of my head with his granddaughter wondering aimlessly around New Orleans after his house split in two after a rush of the storm surge as he watched his wife get swept away because he couldn't hold her anymore and she couldn't hold on. He had no idea where he was going or where he was. He was obviously in shock and said that he was just lost. There will be so many more stories like this that will break our hearts. The pain is almost too much to bear for those dear people. I often wonder what it will take to turn our hearts back to God. I pray that the Church really responds to those people there with help. I would hope that the whole world would reach out to these areas like they did when the tsunami hit last December. Let us all join together in prayer for these people who feel so helpless and lost and without any direction right now. Lord, Have mercy!

OK, UK, You've Got Issues

A fellow Ph.D student from the states has written a post to his blog with the above title. Kevin is a NT student looking at the prophetic voice in Paul's theology, particularly in the book of Romans. His post contains some stunning reports that goes to show how far the West in general has lost its Christian heritage. I've yet to see societies like ours who seemed so geared towards self-destruction and blatant denial. May God send us His Spirit!

Here is a portion of Kevin's blog entry. He has links to these stories that you would be interested in reading. Do take the time to read this and please pray for the UK, the Continent, and the entire Western world for a return to our first love.

"Then there's the concern that society discern criminal tendencies among toddlers, as reported in "Disruptive toddlers to be treated as potential criminals, says report," by Greg Hurst (Times Online; 13 June 2005). While racial profiling may lack approval, teachers are encouraged to watch children closely to see if they have criminal tendencies. Children as young as three years-old should be watched closely to see if they exhibit bullying tendencies. A report asserts that, "infants not 'under control' by the age of three were four times more likely to be convicted of a criminal offence once they reached maturity."

Of course, one should "tolerate but not condone" adolescent bullies in the classroom, reports, "You can use the f-word in class (but only five times)" (Daily Mail; 29 August 2005). One school is now permitting students to swear at teachers, as long as the students do so only in moderation. A tally will be kept on the chalkboard. These students may use the "the f-word (or derivatives) five times" per lesson. "Over this number and the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson." Of course, one wonders what language the teacher is permitted to use. As one father retorted, "This appears to be a misguided attempt to speak to the kids on their own level." After all, as the headmaster Alan large noted, "The reality is that the fword is part of these young adults' everyday language." Then why limit its usage?"

Go here to read it all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Aquinas: Sacraments as Cause of Grace

Whether the sacraments are the cause of grace?

Objection 1: It seems that the sacraments are not the cause of grace. For it seems that the same thing is not both sign and cause: since the nature of sign appears to be more in keeping with an effect. But a sacrament is a sign of grace. Therefore it is not its cause.

Objection 2: Further, nothing corporeal can act on a spiritual thing: since "the agent is more excellent than the patient," as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii). But the subject of grace is the human mind, which is something spiritual. Therefore the sacraments cannot cause grace.

Objection 3: Further, what is proper to God should not be ascribed to a creature. But it is proper to God to cause grace, according to Ps. 83:12: "The Lord will give grace and glory." Since, therefore, the sacraments consist in certain words and created things, it seems that they cannot cause grace.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Tract. lxxx in Joan.) that the baptismal water "touches the body and cleanses the heart." But the heart is not cleansed save through grace. Therefore it causes grace: and for like reason so do the other sacraments of the Church.

I answer that, We must needs say that in some way the sacraments of the New Law cause grace. For it is evident that through the sacraments of the New Law man is incorporated with Christ: thus the Apostle says of Baptism (Gal. 3:27): "As many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ." And man is made a member of Christ through grace alone.

Some, however, say that they are the cause of grace not by their own operation, but in so far as God causes grace in the soul when the sacraments are employed. And they give as an example a man who on presenting a leaden coin, receives, by the king's command, a hundred pounds: not as though the leaden coin, by any operation of its own, caused him to be given that sum of money; this being the effect of the mere will of the king. Hence Bernard says in a sermon on the Lord's Supper: "Just as a canon is invested by means of a book, an abbot by means of a crozier, a bishop by means of a ring, so by the various sacraments various kinds of grace are conferred." But if we examine the question properly, we shall see that according to the above mode the sacraments are mere signs. For the leaden coin is nothing but a sign of the king's command that this man should receive money. In like manner the book is a sign of the conferring of a canonry. Hence, according to this opinion the sacraments of the New Law would be mere signs of grace; whereas we have it on the authority of many saints that the sacraments of the New Law not only signify, but also cause grace.

We must therefore say otherwise, that an efficient cause is twofold, principal and instrumental. The principal cause works by the power of its form, to which form the effect is likened; just as fire by its own heat makes something hot. In this way none but God can cause grace: since grace is nothing else than a participated likeness of the Divine Nature, according to 2 Pet. 1:4: "He hath given us most great and precious promises; that we may be [Vulg.: 'you may be made'] partakers of the Divine Nature." But the instrumental cause works not by the power of its form, but only by the motion whereby it is moved by the principal agent: so that the effect is not likened to the instrument but to the principal agent: for instance, the couch is not like the axe, but like the art which is in the craftsman's mind. And it is thus that the sacraments of the New Law cause grace: for they are instituted by God to be employed for the purpose of conferring grace. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xix): "All these things," viz. pertaining to the sacraments, "are done and pass away, but the power," viz. of God, "which works by them, remains ever." Now that is, properly speaking, an instrument by which someone works: wherefore it is written (Titus 3:5): "He saved us by the laver of regeneration."

Reply to Objection 1: The principal cause cannot properly be called a sign of its effect, even though the latter be hidden and the cause itself sensible and manifest. But an instrumental cause, if manifest, can be called a sign of a hidden effect, for this reason, that it is not merely a cause but also in a measure an effect in so far as it is moved by the principal agent. And in this sense the sacraments of the New Law are both cause and signs. Hence, too, is it that, to use the common expression, "they effect what they signify." From this it is clear that they perfectly fulfil the conditions of a sacrament; being ordained to something sacred, not only as a sign, but also as a cause.

Reply to Objection 2: An instrument has a twofold action; one is instrumental, in respect of which it works not by its own power but by the power of the principal agent: the other is its proper action, which belongs to it in respect of its proper form: thus it belongs to an axe to cut asunder by reason of its sharpness, but to make a couch, in so far as it is the instrument of an art. But it does not accomplish the instrumental action save by exercising its proper action: for it is by cutting that it makes a couch. In like manner the corporeal sacraments by their operation, which they exercise on the body that they touch, accomplish through the Divine institution an instrumental operation on the soul; for example, the water of baptism, in respect of its proper power, cleanses the body, and thereby, inasmuch as it is the instrument of the Divine power, cleanses the soul: since from soul and body one thing is made. And thus it is that Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii) that it "touches the body and cleanses the heart."

Reply to Objection 3: This argument considers that which causes grace as principal agent; for this belongs to God alone, as stated above.

The Eucharist as Ritual Sign

In his book In Breaking of Bread, Dr. P.J. Fitzpatrick writes,

"The Eucharist is a ritual sign, and we have seen something of the human and historical fittingness of the ritual Christ chose. It is to his concrete ritual we must return, not to abstract considerations borrowed from natural philosophy or from personal and linguistic relations. The ritual is not just a sign of Chrit's saving work in the sense that an 'x' can be a sign of a rejected solution, for that would reduce it to convention. It is not just a sign in the sense that a smile is a sign of welcome, for that would reduce it to an indication--embodiment, if you will--of human feeling. And it is not just a sign in the sense that food and drink offered are a sign of hospitality, for that would reduce it to shared human activity. The Eucharist is a ritual sign of Christ's saving presence in us, a sign where he acts in and through us, where--by sharing with us the ritual meal he has built upon inherited rites--he unites himself to us in a way that cannot be reduced to friendship, to memory or to any activity or convention of ours." 208

With all the many changes in the way the Roman Mass communicates presence through its rites as a result of post-Vat. II thinking, I wonder what impact this book has made on the Catholic Church's views of transubstantiation and communicating that notion of presence. I have not read it all but browsed through some of it and these questions quickly came to mind. I ask this as we are coming to see that the Church seems to find itself not in favour with the notions that developed this doctrine in the scholastic tradition of theology. This was developed in the ancient liturgies and patterns of worship that have been radically changed in many ways. (These are discussed in his book in the chapter Corpus mysticum.) This makes me think about what I propose to cover in my final chapter of my thesis that possibly will be titled "Eucharist and Sacrifice: Lancelot Andrewes as the Catalyst for Ecumenism." Just some thoughts on this late Saturday afternoon. I shall go eat now.

The Feast of St. Monica 387

Collect: Faithful God, who strengthened Monica, the mother of Augustine, with wisdom, and through her patient endurance encouraged him to seek after you: give us the will to persist in prayer that those who stray from you may be brought to faith in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect:God of mercy, comfort those in sorrow, the tears of St. Monica moved you to convert her son St. Augustine to the faith of Christ. By their prayers, help us to turn from our sims and to find your loving forgiveness.Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Augustine speaks of his mother in the Confessions.
21. This great gift Thou bestowedst also, my God, my mercy, upon that good handmaid of Thine, out of whose womb Thou createdst me, even that, whenever she could, she showed herself such a peacemaker between any differing and discordant spirits, that when she had heard on both sides most bitter things, such as swelling and undigested discord is wont to give vent to, when the crudities of enmities are breathed out in bitter speeches to a present friend against an absent enemy, she would disclose nothing about the one unto the other, save what might avail to their reconcilement. A small good this might seem to me, did I not know to my sorrow countless persons, who, through some horrible and far-spreading infection of sin, not only disclose to enemies mutually enraged the things said in passion against each other, but add some things that were never spoken at all; whereas, to a generous man, it ought to seem a small thing not to incite or increase the enmities of men by ill-speaking, unless he endeavour likewise by kind words to extinguish them. Such a one was she,—Thou, her most intimate Instructor, teaching her in the school of her heart.

Schaff, P. 1997. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. I. The confessions and letters of St. Augustin with a sketch of his life and work.

An account of Monica's early life, her childhood, marriage, her final days and her death, is given in Confessions Book IX, 8-12. He expresses his gratitude for her life:

"I will not speak of her gifts, but of thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor her mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of thy Christ, the discipline of thy only Son, that trained her in thy fear, in the house of one of thy faithful ones who was a sound member of thy Church" (IX.8.7).

Friday, August 26, 2005

Chesterton's Wisdom For Friday

"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."

"I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees."

"My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday."

"One of the disadvantages to hurry is that it takes such a long time."

"Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution."

"The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right."

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

So, you want to bad-mouth your priest?

I came across a funny story in my reading today that just tickled me. I guess after reading history all morning and having done so all day every day this week it eventually leads to silly thoughts. Anyway, I digress. Andrewes' last episcopal charge was in the diocese of Winchester. There is a book titled Libri Actorum ex officio that has examples of instances within the parishes that Andrewes had charge over. He would visit them and there are the Articles of his visits within his works addressing specific things he would ask that shows his dislike of Puritanism as well as a few things on Papalism (particularly those who were opposed to the king). But there was a story recorded in Welsby's work on Andrewes about a William Stacy of Abbot's Worthy within Kingsworthy, who in an incautious or drunken moment, said of his rector "that a Coult should preach...as well as Mr. Puleston," for which indiscretion he was sentenced to stand in a white sheet in Kingsworthy Church on the first Sunday in Lent and acknowledge his fault.

The thought of that happening and seeing it on the first Sunday of Lent would be quite a sight to say the least. I guess we could call it the ecclesiastical dunce hat. Well, it made me laugh.

Thomas `a Kempis: Bearing with the Faults of Others

UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it better thus -- perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for without such patience and trial your merits are of little account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help you bear them calmly.

If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure.

If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.

If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from others for God's sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn to bear with one another's burdens, for there is no man without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time of adversity -- adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

Thomas `a Kempis Obedience and Subjection

IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not to be one's own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it is to command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than from love. Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest pretext; they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God.

Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.

Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.

Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good, you accept another's opinion for love of God, you will gain much more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while one's own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.

Thomas a`Kempis Prudence in Action

DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.

Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion, not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard, is great wisdom.

Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the advice of your betters in preference to following your own inclinations.

A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

An Ecumenical Dream Fulfilled

TAIZÉ, France, Aug. 23 - Brother Roger Schutz pursued many ecumenical dreams in his long life, but in death one of them came true: At a Eucharistic service celebrated Tuesday by a Roman Catholic cardinal for Brother Roger, a Swiss Protestant, communion wafers were given to the faithful indiscriminately, regardless of denomination.

Members of the monastic order founded by Brother Roger Schutz carried his coffin at his funeral Tuesday in Taizé in eastern France.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Vatican's council for the unity of Christians, who celebrated the Mass, said in a homily, "Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé." Beyond religious divisions, Brother Roger also abhorred the division between rich and poor. "Every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad," Cardinal Kasper said.

Read it all here. Hat tip to Canon Harmon.

Anglican Glory Days?

Before we believe that there was some sort of "glory days" of our Anglican tradition let us remember history. Not only did Andrewes have the Puritans to deal with in his day who were denying silly things like not using the Lord's Prayer in the worship service, Welsby records the following in his work on Andrewes:

"The Convocation of Canterbury met on 20 February 1593, and Andrewes was appointed to preach the Latin Sermon in St Paul’s Cathedral at the opening of the session. He used this opportunity to discourse on the Church's shortcomings and the most urgent needs facing her at that time. He was sorrowful at the lax and corrupt standard of clerical discipline. He described the clergy as sitting still, half asleep, lukewarm, and tongue-tied, while the tares of error were being sown broadcast. He reproved them for their mercenary spirit: "You take heed verily to the enriching of your sons and daughters. You are so careful of your heirs that you forget your successors." 63, 64

Abuse and fanaticism abound and have turned the Church into "a very barber's shop". He urged diligent and careful preaching, and he reminded the bishops that: "to you belongs the care of doctrine. It is your deposit; to you has been committed the duty of charging men that they teach no other doctrine; of restraining them if they do so." With regard to the personal life of the clergy and their pastoral duties, he asked his hearers to remember that all eyes were fixed upon them. 64

What is known from other sources confirms the accuracy of his picture of the state of the clergy. Duties neglected, nepotism, plurality, non-residence, self-indulgence, some immorality, and, above all, ignorance—these were characteristic of the Church and clergy of the period. The bishops were the chief culprits, for they connived at these evils and were themselves the greatest examples of them. The poorer they were, the greater was the temptation to simony, corruption, plunder, and nepotism. R. G. Usher's estimate for the whole country in 1603 was 1,000 pluralists, holding between them 2,500 benefices—that is, one out of every six parishes had no resident incumbent, and this is likely to have been an understatement. 65

Andrewes, however, like most of his contemporaries, failed to perceive the root cause of this low standard. In the first place, the Crown and the laity controlled the presentation to the majority of benefices and, as Usher points out, holding such views as they did of the subservience of ecclesiastical to political interests, [they] preferred to appoint men who, although ignorant, were safe politically, rather than to take the risk that the man with learning might become troublesome. . . . Thus, the connection of Church and State, on the whole, increased the number of ignorant clergy." 65

So, what did Andrewes do in light of this? He remained faithful to the One who was always faithful to Him. Living in tough times with controversy in the Church is nothing new. We may have to deal with different things and levels of immorality may expose themselves more openly than they have before but we are not dealing with something that others before us did not have to contend with. Let us continue to read history and trust in the God who keeps His Church through such history where men are given charge over His Bride! I read in Psalm 32 this morning these words:

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

The above words are preceded by these:
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered...I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

So, take heart, Jesus says, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

Feast of St. Bartholomew

Bartholomew was from Cana in Galilee. Mentioned in the gospels as one of the twelve apostles, he is identified with Nathanael. His friend, the apostle Philip, brought him to Jesus. According to tradion, St. Bartholomew preached the Gospel in India and died there a martyr.

substain within us the faith
which made Saint Bartholomew ever loyal to Christ.
Let your Church be the sign of salvation
for all the nations of the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 21: 9b-14
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

If you like sweet foods, this is the day for you. It was once the date of London's Bartholomew Fair, which was held until the 1850s. Rich foods, such as apples coated in honey, were sold at the fair, and there are still special foods for St Bartholomew's Day. Children at Sandwich, Kent, run a race around St Bartholomew's chapel to win a currant bun.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

G.K. Chesterton's Truths

"The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." - ILN 1-3-20

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." - ILN 8-11-28

"Puritanism was an honourable mood; it was a noble fad. In other words, it was a highly creditable mistake." - Blake

Jeremy Taylor Infant Communion

For the primitive church had all this to justify their practice, "That the sacraments of the gospel are the great channels of the grace of God;--that this grace always descends upon them that do not hinder it, and therefore certainly to infants; and some do expressly affirm it, and none can with certainty deny, but that infants if they did receive the communion should also in so doing receive the fruits of it;--that to baptism there are many acts of predisposition required as well as to the communion, and yet the church, who very well understands the obligation of these precepts, supposes no children to be obliged to those predispositions to either sacrament, but fits every commandment to a capable subject,--that there is something done on God's part, and something on ours; that what belongs to us, obliges us then when we can hear and understand, but not before; but that what is on God's part is always ready to them that can receive it,--that infants although they cannot alone come to Christ, yet the church their mother can bring them in her arms;--that they who are capable of the grace of the sacrament may also receive the sign, and therefore the same grace being conveyed to them in one sacrament, may also be imparted to them in the other;--that as they can be born again without their own consent. so they can be fed by the hands of others, and what begins without their own actual choice may be renewed without their own actual desire; and that herefore it may be feared lest, if upon the pretence of figurative speeches, allegories and allusions, and the injunction of certain dispositions, the holy communion be denied them, a gap be opened upon equal pretences to deny them baptism;--that since the Jewish infants being circumcised is used as an argument that they might be baptized, their eating of the-paschal lamb may also be a competent warrant to eat of that sacrament in which also, as in the other, the sacrificed lamb is represented as offered and slain for them. Now the church having such fair probabilities and prudential motives and no prohibition, if she shall use her power to the purposes of kindnesses and charity, she is not easily to be reproved, lest without necessity we condemn all the primitive Catholic Church, and all the modern churches of the east and south to this day. Especially since without all dispositions infants are baptized; there is less reason why they may not be communicated, having already received some real dispositions towards this, even all the grace of the sacrament of baptism, which is certainly something towards the other.

And after all, the refusing to communicate infants entered into the church upon an unwarrantable ground; for though it was confessed that the communion would do them benefit, yet it was denied to them then when the doctrine of transubstantiation entered, upon pretence lest by puking up the holy symbols the sacrament should be dishonoured: which indeed though that doctrine were true, were infinitely unreasonable; as supposing that Christ who suffered. His body to be broken upon the cross that He might convey grace to them and to us would refuse to expose the symbols to the accidents of a child’s stomach, and rather deny them that grace than endure that sight, who yet does daily suffer mice and mouldiness to do worse unto it.

Works Volume 8 'Worthy Communicate'

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bp. Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) on Infant Communion

"And since the Ancient Church did with an equal opinion of necessity give them [infants] the Communion, and yet men now adayes do not, why shall men be more burdened with a prejudice and a name of obloquy, for not giving the infants one sacrament more then they are disliked for not affording them the other. If Anabaptist shall be a name of disgrace, why shall not some other name be invented for them that deny to communicate infants, which shall be equally disgracefull, or else both the opinions signified by such names, be accounted no disparagement, but receive their estimate according to their truth?"

The Liberty of Prophesying 232, 233.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Garver Translates Davenant

A friend of mine, Dr. Joel Garver, has translated a letter written by the English Divine John Davenant. It was a letter that was written in Latin and we should all thank Joel for his work here. Davenant is important in the English Church as one of the members who attended the Synod of Dort.

Here is a portion of the translation of the letter concerning the perseverance of faith, translated by Dr. Joel Garver. Read it all here.

So, the gift of perseverance is given to those who truly believe, are adopted, and sealed with the Spirit of adoption, as those who from the mutability of their will are able to fall from salvation, yet, nevertheless, by an effectual divine operation do not, in fact, ever fall.

The reason is at hand: because effectual calling, from which justification, sanctification, and adoption are afterwards drawn, flows from predestination.90 And such is the admirable operation of God, in effecting the salvation of those predestined, so that he permits their will to operate in its own manner, that is, contingently; and yet he himself infallibly produced their salvation. Thus Aquinas, "The order of predestination is certain, and yet the will produces its own effect only contingently. A predestined person may perish, if his own power be considered; he cannot, if the order be considered, which he has from God's predestination."91 When, therefore, we set justification, sanctification, adoption, and glorification, as the fruit or effect of absolute predestination, and indeed permanent, we do not, nevertheless, establish that free will is compelled to believe, to have permanence in faith and obedience to God, but by God is both efficaciously and sweetly turned and moved to whatever act is connected with salvation from the ordinance of God--thus they unjustly thrust upon us the calumny of Stoic fate.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Roman Church growing in Southern States

Here is an interesting article that I picked up from titusonenine today.

A portion of it reads:

The numbers of Catholics are growing because Catholic families are moving from northern cities to work in the technological industries. Their numbers are swollen by Hispanics moving north from the Caribbean and Latin America. In the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, nearly half the Catholic population is Hispanic. The ratio of newly ordained priests in Charlotte is one to 7,000 parishioners — compared to one to around 50,000 in Chicago.

A “New Catholicism” is emerging that is likely to influence the whole US Church. These young Catholics tend to be faithful to the Church’s teachings while being educated and media-savvy. One of their hot spots in the South is the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in Alabama. Started by a nun, Mother Angelica, the network broadcasts radio and TV programmes worldwide (including to Britain).

The Catholicism on EWTN is accessible and it is also traditional — EWTN likes to say that it makes no compromises about being Catholic. One of its leaders, Father Mitch Pacwa, says: “There’s lots of religious TV out there. When channel-hoppers hop over to EWTN we want them to know exactly what they’re getting.”

Students at the new Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, should know exactly what they are getting, too. Set up by Tom Monaghan, who made a fortune from a chain of pizza restaurants, Ave Maria has ambitious plans to build a new campus and town in central Florida where the Catholic faith will be taught without compromise, and where every subject will be taught with a Catholic philosophical foundation. The college already has more than 500 students.

The college has close links to the Vatican. Cardinals Schönborn of Austria and Arinze of Nigeria have visited its new campus, and its chancellor, Father Joseph Fessio, is not only a friend and former student of the Pope but also the publisher of his works through his own Ignatius Press.

This New Catholicism is young and optimistic, but it is unlikely to tolerate the open dissent that went with the 1970s and the “cultural Catholicism” of generations past. That form of Catholicism is dying, and its death is symbolised by the northern US parishes with plummeting congregations, a shortage of priests and huge debts as they pay off child-abuse scandals. It seems that in the parishes where “anything goes”, everybody went.

Read it all here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Windy Day for the Pope

Take a visit over to Whitehall and see the pictures of how the wind was an issue for the Pope as many young people cheered his arrival. They are quite funny.

Celebrating Joshua's B-Day

Well today is my 2nd son and fourth child's birthday. I can hardly believe that he is already seven years old. My, how time flies! Happy birthday Joshua, we love you! Joshua is the one to the right. Abigail, our two-year old was excited this morning saying "yeah, it's happy birthday!" What that means to her is cake. Every cake is called happy birthday. His granddad and Nana are out sailing in the north Atlantic right now heading towards Maine until November so I thought I would post a picture of Joshua at the helm of the Turk so that granddad would know that we are thinking about them. We have gotten on to them to start their blogging and they are really behind since they left Florida the 2nd of July and started their way up north. They are stopping in Massachusetts for the weekend they say. Perhaps if you visit their blog you can comment on their lack of comments! They do like adventure. They have moved onto their 52 foot sailboat and plan to cross the Atlantic next summer to stay with us here in England and then to sail on to the Med. Our hope is to make the Med trip with them and then fly back to England after a visit to Turkey, Crete, et.al.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI on Transformational suffering

This sermon is a must read and it is very encouraging. I thank Canon Harmon over at titusonenine for posting it.

It will help us all to really begin to think deeply about the Kingdom of God. This is especially true of us in the European community. We do suffer from a very powerful secularisation of our communities. May we begin again to plant the seeds of faith and may they fall on good soil!

The question and problem that I have with some of his answers to particular questions concerns being a part of the Church but not receiving the Eucharist. How can one be a part of the vine and not commune with the vine? The way we maintain life in the vine is through the Sacrament of the Eucharist that feeds and nourishes us in the Tree. Divorce is a real problem and it is way too easy to get one in our cultures but there are those who are divorced who are also victims of unfaithfulness and adultery. Can God not bring a faithful godly and honourable spouse in their life after having suffered the pain of unfaithfulness of the other party? Do we honestly believe that it honours the Sacrament to refuse this grace to them? How so? I can't help but think that Jesus would give them bread and wine to comfort them in their suffering. In our plight and suffering He gives Himself to us and the way we receive Him is through the Eucharist. He is the bread of life and He calls those who suffer to come to Him in the Sacrament and the Church says, "no" when Jesus has invited and called? How can we have communion with the cross of Christ without receiving the Blessed Sacrament? I don't see how the Church undermines the sacrament of marriage when She offers the Sacrament of forgiveness to them. Are we undermining the forgiveness of Christ and His powerful love displayed on the Cross when those who come to the Church in full repentance and contrition ask for the Body and Blood?

Anyway, here is a portion. Do read it all and offer comments.

"We ourselves must have a renewed certainty: he is the Truth; only by walking in his footsteps do we go in the right direction, and it is in this direction that we must walk and lead others.

The first point of my answer is: in all this suffering, not only should we keep our certainty that Christ really is the Face of God, but we should also deepen this certainty and the joy of knowing it and thus truly be ministers of the future of the world, of the future of every person. We should deepen this certainty in a personal relationship with the Lord because certainty can also grow with rational considerations. A sincere reflection that is also rationally convincing but becomes personal, strong and demanding by virtue of a friendship lived personally, every day, with Christ, truly seems to me to be very important."

Br. Roger of the Taize Community stabbed to death

The Swiss-born founder of the Taizé ecumenical community, Brother Roger, has died after being attacked during a religious service.

Police said a woman stabbed the 90-year-old cleric three times in the throat during the service at the Taizé community in eastern France. He died immediately.

Read it all here.

We thank thee, O God, for all the goodness and courage which have passed from the life of this thy servant, Brother Roger, into the life of others and have left the world richer for his presence--for a life's tasks faithfully and honourably discharged; for good humour and gracious affection and kindly generosity; for sadness met without surrender, and weakness endured without defeat; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of all comfort; Deal graciously, we pray thee, with all those who mourn, that, casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

God and Human Suffering

The below article was referenced on titusonenine concerning God's suffering with humanity. I post it here for your thoughts. In an article in First Things, Thomas Weinandy writes:

"It is love and not suffering that ultimately is at the heart of compassion, for it is love that brings true healing and comfort. Thus for Aquinas “mercy is especially to be attributed to God, as seen in its effects, but not as an affection of passion.” The truly compassionate person endeavors to dispel the cause of suffering, and thus God’s mercy and compassion is most clearly manifested in His divine power and perfect goodness through which He overcomes evil and the suffering that it causes. While I would agree with Aquinas that mercy is not “an affection of passion” in the sense that it is a passible emotional state within God, I would see it, nonetheless, as a positive facet of His perfectly actualized and so completely altruistic love.

The compassion of God is seen then not in His suffering in solidarity with humankind, but in His ability to alleviate the cause of human suffering—sin. Here we witness the good news of the gospel and its evangelistic importance. The eternal Son of God, sent by the Father, came to exist as an authentic man by the power of the Holy Spirit. In becoming man the Son assumed our fallen humanity inherited from Adam, and so as one of us lived a holy life of obedience to the Father which culminated in the offering of His life on the cross to the Father as a loving sacrifice of atonement for sin. Thus the Son of God, who is impassible as God, truly suffered and died as man and as a man truly rose bodily from the dead. The import of this, in the light of the contemporary espousal of a suffering God, must be clearly grasped."

Read it all here.

Eucharistic Sacrifice in Catholic Teaching

Please comment after reading!

While reading Francis Clark's S.J. work Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation last year I came across some quotations that have really begun to help me re-think what it is that the Catholic Church ACTUALLY taught about sacrifice and propitiatory offering of the Mass. One thing that was proven without a shadow of doubt in this work is how often the ACTUAL teaching of the Roman Church has been misappropriated by Protestants during the Reformation and even worse by many Reformed Christians today. It's almost embarassing for us to try to refute things that the Church directly said they were NOT teaching. That does not mean that we can merely respin Lombard and pretend that there were no real abuses in the Church. I think the reality of popular piety proves that there were terrible abuses and abuses that I have even heard modern Catholic Eucharistic theologians admit to having. But, what is clear is how often we (non Roman Catholics) have taken the abuses to equal the teachings. We quickly scream when "revisionists" do it to the traditionalists in the Anglican Communion; why then do we look so surprised when Reformed Churches are criticised for their misappropriations of Roman teaching? Let's just be honest and deal with the underlying issues rather than the abuses. We can make all sorts of cases for abuses within Protestantism that could also nullify its existence as a "True Church" if we use the same standard for our Church that we force the Roman Church to subscribe to.

In reading the sermons and writings of men like Bishop Lancelot Andrewes who corresponded with Cardinal Robert Bellarmine S.J, shows that in many cases they were speaking past one another rather than carefully listening to one another. That happens a lot in polemical writings, particularly those that are politically charged like the Responsio ad Bellarmine.

Here are a few words from Francis Clark, S.J. on the Roman Church's teaching.

It was indeed an error to suppose that the offering of Mass has a direct sacramental action like the sacraments of baptism and penance; for it was the teaching of Catholic theologians—and of the Council of Trent, in the decree quoted at the beginning of this chapter—that the efficacy of the Mass-sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is not direct, but mediate. That is, it does not confer justifying grace on the penitent soul ex opere operato in the manner of those two sacraments; but the offering of Christ at the altar obtains from God by way of impetration the grant of actual graces for sinners, by which they are moved towards repentance and contrition, and so eventually may receive forgiveness 'even for the greatest crimes'. This effect does not infallibly follow, of course, since it can be thwarted by the obstacle which a rebellious will opposes to the promptings of grace. 346

In Catholic teaching, therefore, the Mass is a general instrumental cause by which the salutary effects of Christ's sacrifice are applied in every age and place; but its particular causality in bringing about the conversion and justification of an individual sinner is nevertheless indirect, gaining for him those graces which will lead him to seek forgiveness through the means established by God for that purpose. It was clearly the mind of the Council of Trent, as can be seen both from its decree and from the report of its debates on the subject, that the sacrifice of the altar, in its propitiatory function for the remission of sins, is not a rival to or substitute for the sacrament of penance, but rather the means by which men are led to repent of their sins and so to submit them to the Church's power of the keys. 346 347

***Although the Mass has only an indirect action in obtaining forgiveness for the guilt of sins, it is, according to Catholic teaching, a directly efficacious means for obtaining remission of the punishment due for sin after the guilt has been forgiven; but in what measure has not been revealed. This distinction between culpa and poena is necessary for an understanding of the mediaeval documents which speak of the propitiatory effect of the Mass. 347

Here is the kicker!
Catholic theology has always taught that the sole source both of propitiation and of efficacious satisfaction for sin is the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the effects of which are applied through the Eucharistic sacrifice to the members of his Mystical Body. 347

Whereas the propitiatory efficacy of the Mass is mediate, by way of impetration, its satisfactory efficacy can be direct, remitting the debt of punishment by virtue of the solidarity which joins Christ the head with his members who are in grace. The eccentric theory ridiculed by Cano, Suarez and Vasquez erred in postulating a direct instead of a mediate operation of the Mass in remitting the guilt of mortal sin. 347

Now, here is Andrewes commenting on Isaiah 6 and the "burning coal."

He begins by setting his interpretation within the tradition of the Fathers and particularly Basill in reference to this text. The direct fruit of Eucharistic efficacy for Andrewes is the forgiveness of sins. He calls this the whole fruit of Religion. Referencing St. Basill he says,

That at the celebration thereof, after the Sacrament was ministered to the people, the Priest stood up and said as the Seraphin doth here, Behold this hath touched your lips, your iniquity shall bee taken away, and your sinne purged. The whole fruit of Religion is, The taking away of sinne, Isaiah the twenty seventh Chapter and the ninth verse, and the specially wayes to take it away, is the Religious use of this Sacrament; which as Christ saith is nothing else, but a seale and signe of his blood that was shed for many for the remission of sinnes, Matthew the twenty sixth Chapter and the twenty eighty verse…

For Andrewes the Sacrament of the Eucharist’s prime purpose is the instrumental means of removing sin. Continuing on with this theme of sacramental efficacy Andrewes says,

For the Angell tells the prophet, that his sinnes are not only taken away, but that it is done sacramentally, by the touching of a Cole, even as Christ assureth us, that we obtain remission of sinnes by the receiving of the Cup: Now as in the Sacrament, we consider the Element and the word; so we are to divide this Scripture.

But, this has a two-fold use that is to bring comfort through the word. The analogy of the Altar where the Cole was taken from and the Table of the Lord where the Eucharist is offered and received provides the forgiveness that is sought by the people. As the washing with water is for the taking away of original sin, the receiving of the Eucharist is for the taking away of actual sin. He argues this, not from the doctrines and teachings of the Reformation, but rather from the ancient Church’s teaching on this particular passage that applied this text in this way. Andrewes clearly sees that Eucharist and the One Sacrifice of Christ to be one and the same offering. For he says, “That our sinnes are no lesse taken away by the element of bread and wine, in the Sacrament, then the Prophet’s sinne was by being touched with a Cole.” One would immediately ask whether or not Andrewes is arguing for a sacramental causality of instrumentality. Andrewes answer to this question is given when he makes clear that it is not the Sacrament that takes away and forgives sin, so that it must be acknowledged that “none can take away sinne but God only, wee must needs confesse that there was in this Cole a divine force and virtue issuing from Christ, who is the only reconciliation for our sins without which it had not beene possible that it could have taken away sin.” Thus Christ is both the Cole and the Altar from which it comes. Once it touches the lips, like the chalice, sin is forgiven. The Altar represents the Cross on which Christ takes away the sin of the world through His sacrifice. Andrewes discusses the possessing of “a perfect sense of this coal”, that is Christ. So, as we eat of the blessed bread and wine corporally we know inwardly or spiritually our sins are forgiven. This means we all share in the blood of Christ and of His body. It is this partaking that enables one to have eternal life. All through this sermon one is conscious of sacramental teaching by Andrewes – God can take anything and use it to be an instrument of whatever he wants, but by His divine counsel and wisdom he has determined the creatures of bread and wine for this task. One is also conscious of Irenaeus’ teaching of the hypostatical union throughout this sermon.

©Jeff Steel

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty God, who looked upon the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary and chose her to be the mother of your only Son: grant that we who are redeemed by His blood may share with her in the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ you Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Post Communion:
God Most High, whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh: we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption you visit us with your Holy Spirit and overshadow us by your power; strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Anniversary trip to the lake district

Rhea and I just returned from the Lake District in northwest England this afternoon to celebrate our 13th anniversary. It was a wonderful trip and quite a treat to be able to get away by ourselves. We had a wonderful couple of days and spent some quality time together dating. It was simply a blast! Rhea will be posting more pictures to our family blog real soon. We stayed in a beautiful hotel just 200 metres from Lake Windermere and it was one of the most beautiful places we've been. We stopped at Barnard Castle ruins on the way over and hung out there for about an hour and a half before making our drive across the country. It only took a little under 3 hours to do that! I am convinced that the northern part of England has some of the most beautiful countryside in all the world. If you ever come to England to visit, make sure you spend most of your time in the north. There is plenty to see here after a quick trip through London. It is in the north that you encounter a bit of old English culture.

Here's Windermere.

A little weather on the way home.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

St. Clare of Assisi

God of mercy,
You inspired St. Clare with the love of poverty.
By the help of her prayers
may we follow Christ in poverty of spirit
and come to the joyful vision of Your glory
in the kingdom of heaven.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daughters of a count and countess. Her father died young. After hearing Saint Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, she confided to him her desire to live for God, the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday 1212 the bishop presented her with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. Clare and her cousin Pacifica ran away from her mother's palace during the night. She eventually took the veil of religious profession from Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi.

Founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano, and led it for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith on God to provide through people; a lack of land-based revenues was a new idea at the time. Clare's mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members living lives of prayer in silence.

Clare loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, and chivalrous. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who'd kicked off their covers. She daily meditated on the Passion. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morrocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God, but was restrained. Once when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrace at the convent gates, and prayed before it; the attackers left.

Toward the end of her life, when the was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would display on the wall of her cell; thus her patronage of television. She was ever the close friend and spiritual student of Francis, who apparently led her soul into the light.
16 July 1194 at Assisi, Italy
11 August 1253 of natural causes

John Richardson supports Bishop Wright

Post-modernism is passing away, leaving behind a deeply destructive mistrust of all claims to truth. And unless we are to accept that the future intellectual condition of humankind will always be ignorance and an ‘agreement to differ’, we must tackle and overcome this legacy. It can be done, provided we are humble enough to be right, as well as wrong.

Read it all here.

Near the Edge of the Abyss

"In Pope Benedict's words at Subiaco: "Muslims do not feel threatened by our Christian moral foundations, but by the cynicism of a secularized culture that denies its own foundations." The same is true for religious Jews, he said. "It is not the mention of God that offends those who belong to other religions, but rather the attempt to build the human community absolutely without God." If the only moral standards are supposed to be those calculated by governments and individuals, Ratzinger argued, then society loses its way." Read it all. Please feel free to comment.

The State we're in

The Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt Bishop of Winchester, gives a first-hand commentary from his seat in the Lords, and a hard-hitting critique as a bishop of the effect upon marriage of recent parliamentary legislation. Take the time to read it all.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

'Imitation of Christ'

One may rarely think that spiritual encouragement and growth can be a result of academic work. Quite often it can seem stale and to even make spirituality become cold and distant in one's life. This is a real danger for sure. As I prepare a chapter for my thesis, I am having to dig deep into the life of this wonderful prelate, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes and all that surrounded him, including being plagued by the fact that he too was a weak man. But what is often termed as Andrewes' weakness is in reality real symbols of his pastoral sensitivities to real people he was dealing with and not merely following canon law in a legalistic way. (There are many today who could learn from him.) Particularly I am thinking about the annulment of the marriage of Frances Howard and Lord Robert Devereux, the third Earl of Essex. It's a long complicated story and scholars have given Andrewes a black eye in my opinion and wrongly defended ABC George Abbot in this very difficult issue. All of this is to say the following about the depth of spirituality in Andrewes' life that I am gaining from an indepth study of his life.

Back in March of this year I blogged on a new book that was published by my supervisor. I quoted the following from the introduction that is exactly what I am trying to say above. What he maintains in his book about how we look at the saints in the Church is exactly the experience I am beginning to really get my head and heart around as I read deeper into the theology of Andrewes and particularly his Eucharistic theology. Canon David Brown writes:

That is why I have attempted in what follows to achieve two purposes at the same time: both to tell the story of the Church and to draw lessons from the lives of some of the major figures involved. Among professional teachers of theology spiritual issues are not uncommonly contrasted with academic, as though to write about the one is inevitably to abandon standards associated with the other. But there is no necessity that this should be so. Indeed, spiritual insights are likely to be much better grounded, the more thoroughly the lives from which they are derived have been properly investigated and placed in their historical context. That remark may make it sound as though a rather dry academic work now follows. This is not so. The underlying academic apparatus (roughly indicated in the Notes and Further Reading) is kept firmly beneath the surface. Instead, readers are encouraged to focus on the challenges raised by individual lives.

I have entitled this book Through the Eyes of the Saints: A Pilgrimage Through History because my aim throughout has been to present the issues these individuals faced as they themselves might have viewed them in their own particular historical context. This is important because we learn most from others when we do not come with predetermined ideas but rather first engage with the world as they saw it. The result, I hope, will be that, for example, there will no longer be a temptation to suppose that saints of the Reformation era (whether Catholic or Protestant) could not possibly transcend the divisions of their age (Cosin, Ferrar and Teresa of Avila all give the lie to any such view). Again, persecuters of heretics can be otherwise good men (Arundel), Cranmer can resist martyrdom for reasons other than cowardice, Wesley achieve great things for God despite and in part because of his poor relations with women, and so on. God continues to speak to us through such people not because they were perfect but precisely because they were so like us in being creatures of their time and circumstance. Where they differed was in trusting God to pull them through into a deeper commitment and holiness.

Looking deeper and deeper each day into the life of Andrewes within his historical and theological context I am finding his writings to be more nourishing in my own life of prayer. It is developing into a more frequent watering of the Word and Sacrament of the Church. Nicholas Lossky comments on this at the closing of his first chapter on Andrewes' sermons and says,

Besides the spectacular hero-saints, there are those who, in the secret of the heart, grow by prayer, nourished and watered by the Word and Sacrament of the Church. They enter more and more deeply into the deified humanity of Christ, by the Spirit who dwells in their heart. Christ has assumed the whole of humanity. He is the complete man who recapitulates humanity. Men and women who consecrate their lives to prayer grow little by little to a Christic dimension of a humanity responsible for the whole of creation. And the more they grow, the more they recognize themselves as sinners before God. The Preces Privatae (Private Devotions), by this permanent intercession for all that Lancelot Andrewes knew of the world of his time (and of all time, for his prayer has a Eucharistic dimension), gives an indication that his interior biography is an example of this type of experience. In our humble opinion, it is right that the new sactorale of the liturigical calendar of the Church of England has allotted the 25 September to 'Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626'.

I couldn't agree more. When we lose sight of this, sin is allowed to enter in and cloud our vision of the light of what is described by Nicholas Lossky. In my pursuit of academics, I pray that I will not abandon the standard of spirituality as if academia and spirituality are not mysteriously connected. As I get more grounded in the former it is my prayer that I will truly grow deeper in the later. With God's help, I will.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Living Vatican II and the AC in the news

If you haven't ever visited the Pontificator, please do so. His blog is lively and full of good discussion and it is almost always filled with charity no matter where one is in reference to what is being discussed. Fr. Al is to be commended for a very inspiring and challenging blog.

There is also a host of news on the Anglican Communion being discussed at Titusonenine. You can visit Canon Harmon's site if you want to know the latest on all that seems to be going on. If nothing else, it will get you to praying for the Church and we need all the prayers we can get right now.

God our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity, new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity; that the eternal message of thy Son, undefiled by the traditions of men, may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through him who maketh all things new, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Percy Dearmer)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Shepherd of the Fallen: Trusting in Repentance

An Exhortation to Theodore After His Fall

4. And speak not to me of those who have committed small sins, but suppose the case of one who is filled full of all wickedness, and let him practice everything which excludes him from the kingdom, and let us suppose that this man is not one of those who were unbelievers from the beginning, but formerly belonged to the believers, and such as were well pleasing to God, but afterwards has become a fornicator, adulterer, effeminate, a thief, a drunkard, a sodomite, a reviler, and everything else of this kind; I will not approve even of this man despairing of himself, although he may have gone on to extreme old age in the practice of this great and unspeakable wickedness. For if the wrath of God were a passion, one might well despair as being unable to quench the flame which he had kindled by so many evil doings; but since the Divine nature is passionless, even if He punishes, even if He takes vengeance, he does this not with wrath, but with tender care, and much loving-kindness; wherefore it behoves us to be of much good courage, and to trust in the power of repentance. For even those who have sinned against Him He is not wont to visit with punishment for His own sake; for no harm can traverse that divine nature; but He acts with a view to our advantage, and to prevent our perverseness becoming worse by our making a practice of despising and neglecting Him. For even as one who places himself outside the light inflicts no loss on the light, but the greatest upon himself being shut up in darkness; even so he who has become accustomed to despise that almighty power, does no injury to the power, but inflicts the greatest possible injury upon himself. And for this reason God threatens us with punishments, and often inflicts them, not as avenging Himself, but by way of attracting us to Himself. For a physician also is not distressed or vexed at the insults of those who are out of their minds, but yet does and contrives everything for the purpose of stopping those who do such unseemly acts, not looking to his own interests but to their profit; and if they manifest some small degree of self-control and sobriety he rejoices and is glad, and applies his remedies much more earnestly, not as revenging himself upon them for their former conduct, but as wishing to increase their advantage, and to bring them back to a purely sound state of health. Even so God when we fall into the very extremity of madness, says and does everything, not by way of avenging Himself on account of our former deeds; but because He wishes to release us from our disorder; and by means of right reason it is quite possible to be convinced of this.

The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. IX. Chrysostom: On the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters, Homilies on the Statues.

G.K. Chesterton on the Transfiguration

JOY, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth, and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

Chesterton: 'Orthodoxy.'


God our Father,
in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son,
you strengthen our faith
by confirming the witness of your prophets,
and show us the splendor of your beloved sons and daughters.
As we listen to the voice of your Son,
help us to become heirs to the eternal life with him
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The gospel is taken from the Gospel according to St. Matthew:

Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then said Peter unto Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice cried out of the cloud, which said: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, and were sore afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, and said: Arise and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man save Jesus only.

From a sermon on the transfiguration of the Lord
by St. Anastasius of Sinai
Bishop - Early Church Father

This excerpt from a sermon on the Transfiguration by St. Anastasius of Sinai (Nn. 6-10: Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire 67 [1955], 241-244) is used in the Roman office of Readings for the feast of the Transfiguration on August 6.

Upon Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed to his disciples a heavenly mystery. While living among them he had spoken of the kingdom and of his second coming in glory, but to banish from their hearts any possible doubt concerning the kingdom and to confirm their faith in what lay in the future by its prefiguration in the present, he gave them on Mount Tabor a wonderful vision of his glory, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of heaven. It was as if he said to them: “As time goes by you may be in danger of losing your faith. To save you from this I tell you now that some standing here listening to me will not taste death until they have seen the Son of Man coming in the glory of his Father. “Moreover, in order to assure us that Christ could command such power when he wished, the evangelist continues: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. There, before their eyes, he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Then the disciples saw Moses and Elijah appear, and they were talking to Jesus.

These are the divine wonders we celebrate today; this is the saving revelation given us upon the mountain; this is the festival of Christ that has drawn us here. Let us listen, then, to the sacred voice of God so compellingly calling us from on high, from the summit of the mountain, so that with the Lord’s chosen disciples we may penetrate the deep meaning of these holy mysteries, so far beyond our capacity to express. Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and - I speak boldly - it is for us now to follow him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in his radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into his own likeness, making us for ever sharers in his Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.

Let us run with confidence and joy to enter into the cloud like Moses and Elijah, or like James and John. Let us be caught up like Peter to behold the divine vision and to be transfigured by that glorious transfiguration. Let us retire from the world, stand aloof from the earth, rise above the body, detach ourselves from creatures and turn to the creator, to whom Peter in ecstasy exclaimed: Lord, it is good for us to be here.

It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here for ever. What greater happiness or higher honor could we have than to be with God, to be made like him and to live in his light?

Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into his divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here - here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity and stillness; where God is seen. For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up his abode together with the Father, saying as he enters: Today salvation has come to this house. With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of his eternal blessings, and there where they are stored up for us in him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the first fruits and the whole of the world to come.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Feast of St. Oswald martyr 642

Lord God almighty, who so kindled the faith of King Oswald with your Spirit that he set up the sign of the cross in his kingdom and turned his people to the light of Christ: grant that we, being fired by the same Spirit, may always bear our cross before the world and be found faithful servants of the gospel; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

- collect prayer from the memorial Mass of Saint Oswald

Son of the pagan King Aethelfrith the Ravager of Bernicia and Princess Aacha of Deira, the second of seven children. Brother of Saint Ebbe the Elder. Nephew of Saint Ethelreda. When his father was killed in battle when Oswald was eleven years old, his mother fled with the family for the court of King Eochaid Buide at Dunadd in modern Scotland. There he converted to Christianity. Educated at the Iona Abbey with his brother Oswiu. Soldier; known to have fought at the Battle of Fid Eoin in 628. Contemporary writings describe him as having "arms of great length and power, eyes bright blue, hair yellow, face long and beard thin, and his small lips wearing a kindly smile". Reported to have had a pet raven for years.

In 634, Oswald formed his own army, returned to Northumbria, defeated King Cadwallon of Gwynedd, and took the throne of Northumbria. Prior to the battle, he had received a vision of Saint Colman; he had also erected a large cross on the field on the night before, attributed his win to his faith and the intervention of the saint, and the victory is known as the Battle of Heavenfield. Brought Saint Aidan to Northumbria as bishop to evangelize the kingdom. Built churches and monasteries in his realm, and brought in monks from Scotland to help establish monastic life. Married the daughter of King Cynegils of Wessex, and convinced Cynegils to allow Saint Birinus to evangelize in that kingdom.

Due to victories in combat, and family alliances, Bede claims that Oswald was recognised as Bretwalda by all of Saxon England. His Royal Standard of purplish-red and gold forms the basis of the coat of arms of modern Northumberland. Because he was killed in battle with invading pagan forces, he is sometimes listed as a martyr. Noted for his personal spirituality, piety, faith, his devotion to the kingdom, his charity to the poor, and his willingness to take arms to defend his throne

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Saint John Vianney: Patron saint of all priests

(1786-1859) Born new Lyons, France, he was ordained in 1815 in Grenoble, and in 1818 was assigned to the parish of Ars, where he spent the rest of his life. He was best known for his steadfast care of souls, for his spirit of prayer and mortification and, above all, for his tireless dedication to the Sacrament of Penance. He spent most of his life in the confessional, drawing energy from his intimate and constant friendship with our Lord in the Eucharist. Pius XI declared him Patron of Parish Priests.

A statue of St. John Vianney stands on my desk as a gift from a priest when I arrived in England a little over a year ago to encourage me in the calling God has given me to serve as a transplant priest from the US to the UK.

Father of mercy,
you made St. John Vianney outstanding
in his priestly zeal and concern for your people.
By his example and prayers,
enable us to win our brothers and sisters
to the love of Christ
and come with them to eternal glory.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone - for the good, and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good.

If people would do for God what they do for the world, what a great number of Christians would go to Heaven.

I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the Cross than in serving the world and its pleasures.

You cannot please both God and the world at the same time, They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.

We must always choose the most perfect. Two good works present themselves to be done, one in favour of a person we love, the other in favour of a person who has done us some harm. Well, we must give preference to the latter.

Saint John Vianney

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Andrewes: The Church's Kingdom Star

I come to the end of my work day and have worked late. It has been a busy day but one of the most edifying. It has been over a year since I looked at Isaacson's brief description of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes' life but after reading it slowly, taking notes and pondering this prelate's life, I am most moved by his piety and example of what it means to be a bishop in Christ's Church. His zeal and piety, charity and compassion; faithfulness and integrity; gratitude and thankfulness to others; hospitality, humanity, affability, and modesty; his rigorous study; his eloquent sermons and sound writings; his learning, wit, memory, judgment, gravity and humility simply place him in the category of the greatest of saints. He loathed all sin but especially usury, simony, and sacrilege. His generosity to the poor and needy simply leaves me speechless. He followed the path of his life while he travelled the road leading up to his death continuing to exhibit his generosity and graciousness to those around him. After his death, his will leaves one in an almost paralyzed state as you meet face-to-face, in Isaacson's words, a man of whom the Church of God "suffered an irreparable loss by his death."

This autumn we celebrate the 450th year of his life and the 400th year of his consecration as bishop. We will be having a big celebration at Southwark Cathedral for a day of joy and thankfulness where +Andrewes is buried and a monument is erected to this great prelate. There will also be a celebration at Oxford and details of that will be posted here as well. The celebration at Southwark will be on 3 November at the Festal Evensong. Speaker will be Nicholas Lossky who has written a wonderful book on Andrewes' sermons in French and was translated by our own, Professor Andrew Louth, here at the University of Durham. I hope you can make these celebrations if you are in the area.

I leave the reader with this poem about Andrewes at the end of Isaacson's treatment of the Life and Death of Lancelot Andrewes:

Reader, be serious let thy thoughts reflect
On this grave father with large respect;
Peruse his well-spent life, and thou shalt finde
He had a rare and heav'n=enamell'd minde.
He was our kingdome's Star, and shin'd most bright
In sad affliction's darke and cloudyst night;
Let his example teach us how to live
In love and charity; that we may give
To those, whose wants inforce them to implore
Our ayde, and charity makes no man poore.
ANDREWES was fill'd with goodnesse, all his dayes
Were crown'd and guilded with resounding praise.
The world shall be his herald to proclaime
The ample glories of his spreading fame.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Chesterton speaks to us today

JUST as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought. It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, 'Why should anything go right; even observation or deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?' The young sceptic says. 'I have a right to think for myself.' But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, 'I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all.'

Chesterton: 'Orthodoxy.'

Hmmm. Does all of this just seem sadly too familiar?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rescuing the Bible from the New Enchanters

My friend, Fr. Al Kimel has a stimulating post on rescuing the Bible from the deconstructionist. Go visit the pontificator and enjoy the read.
    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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