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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Open Letter to ECUSA Bishops

Andy over at All Too Common has an open letter to the Orthodox Bishops of the ECUSA on the eve of Ash Wednesday. Give it a read and let us pray for that Body of believers who suffer and long for pastoral care. May God bring healing to the ECUSA this Lent. We believe in a God of miracles and pray for one this Lent.

Monday, February 27, 2006

George Herbert, Priest and Poet (1593-1633)



Today, the Church of England remembers George Herbert, priest and poet, and we give thanks for his life and work for the advancement of God's kingdom on earth. Since we are coming into the Lenten Season, I thought it proper to say something about the priest and his prayer life. Below is chapter six from The Country Parson.

CHAP. VI The Parson praying.

THe Countrey Parson, when he is to read divine services, composeth himselfe to all possible reverence; lifting up his heart and hands, and eyes, and using all other gestures which may expresse a hearty, and unfeyned devotion. This he doth, first, as being truly touched and amazed with the Majesty of God, before whom he then presents himself; yet not as himself alone, but as presenting with himself the whole Congregation, whose sins he then beares, and brings with his own to the heavenly altar to be bathed, and washed in the sacred Laver of Christs blood. Secondly, as this is the true reason of his inward feare, so he is content to expresse this outwardly to the utmost of his power; that being first affected himself, hee may affect also his people, knowing that no Sermon moves them so much to a reverence, which they forget againe, when they come to pray, as a devout behaviour in the very act of praying. Accordingly his voyce is humble, his words treatable, and slow; yet not so slow neither, to let the fervency of the supplicant hang and dy between speaking, but with a grave livelinesse, between fear and zeal, pausing yet pressing, he performes his duty. Besides his example, he having often instructed his people how to carry themselves in divine service, exacts of them all possible reverence, by no means enduring either talking, or sleeping, or gazing, or leaning, or halfe-kneeling, or any undutifull behaviour in them, but causing them, when they sit, or stand, or kneel, to do all in a strait, and steady posture, as attending to what is done in the Church, and every one, man, and child, answering aloud both Amen, and all other answers, which are on the Clerks and peoples part to answer; which answers also are to be done not in a hudling, or slubbering fashion, gaping, or scratching the head, or spitting even in he midst of their answer, but gently and pausably, thinking what they say; so that while they answer, As it was in the beginning, &c. they meditate as they speak, that God hath ever had his people, that have glorified him as wel as now, and that he shall have so for ever. And the like in other answers. This is that which the Apostle cals a reasonable service, Rom. 12 [:1]. when we speak not as Parrats, without reason, or offer up such sacrifices as they did of old, which was of beasts devoyd of reason; but when we use our reason, and apply our powers to the service of him, that gives them. If there be any of the gentry or nobility of the Parish, who somtimes make it a piece of state not to come at the beginning of service with their poor neighbours, but at mid-prayers, both to their own loss, and of theirs also who gaze upon them when they come in, and neglect the present service of God, he by no means suffers it, but after divers gentle admonitions, if they persevere, he causes them to be presented: or if the poor Church-wardens be affrighted with their greatness, notwithstanding his instruction that they ought not to be so, but even to let the world sinke, so they do their duty; he presents them himself, only protesting to them, that not any ill will draws him to it, but the debt and obligation of his calling, being to obey God rather then men.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Episcopal Priest Renounces Her Orders

You can find this over at Pontificiations. It is written by Alice C. Linsley. She writes,
One theme of Dr. Rowan’s address is that there is a Tradition that cannot be ignored. The Tradition that cannot be ignored is Catholic Orders. The Archbishop recognizes that women’s ordination is not a question that can be answered by opinion polls. He recognizes that women priests and bishops are an innovation. It remains to be seen if Dr. Williams also recognizes that this innovation is the result of and contributes to disorder in Anglicanism. Underlying the question is a biblical proposition that has deep and wide ranging implications. The Church has until the late 20th century refused to ordain women as priests because of Scripture and Tradition. Scripture and Tradition tell us that male and female, while equal in dignity and status, represent a God-established binary distinction. This binary distinction speaks of God and his People and of Christ and his Church. It speaks foremost of the nature of God’s love. This love, requiring unity yet distinction or “I-Thou”, is good, tender, just and eternal. In the Kingdom the distinction of male and female will continue, because it is eternal. Eternal verities are at stake here.
One must give this woman a biretta tip for her courage. She has been courageous and sacrificial. I admire her for the display of integrity she brings to the seriousness of holy orders.

What Do I Read During Lent?



One of the most deficient aspects of my seminary training was the institution's almost blatant ignoring of the Church Fathers for a handful of C16 authors and many modern popular ones as the "cookie cutter" list for spitting out "Reformed" pastors. Any theologian worth his salt must immerse himself in the writings of the Fathers if he is to grasp the Catholic Faith once delivered to the saints. It is in a foundation of the Faith of our Fathers that will move us into gaining wisdom in how we deal with the culture of death that we find ourselves in today. Therefore, I have found an online reading schedule of the Church Fathers through Lent that priests and pastors, irrespective of tradition, could follow this Lent, which would only enrich your lives spiritually and result in blessings for your congregations. Go to the page linked here and I look forward to hearing how many of you were enriched by spending Lent with the Fathers.

Each day you will have an assigned reading of a discipline that will take you about 10-15 minutes and by the end of Lent you will have read from ten different Church Fathers. One day you will immerse yourself in St. Cyprian on the Unity of the Church. I assure you that you will find all sorts of reflective material for prayer and transformation of life!

Reading the Fathers through Lent.Do let me know if you will be joining me in this reading! May the Fathers of the Church be a rich blessing to you this Lent and may this discipline give you the hunger to expand your horizons to hear from those who have carried on the Tradition to the Church today and in whose shadows we live!

If you want to see the contents of what you will be reading, click here.

Al Kimel on Tradition



Go and take a look at Pontifications and Al Kimel's discussion of Sola Scriptura and Tradition. Here is a portion of one of his articles.

The witness of the Fathers was valued by the Caroline Divines because of its temporal nearness to Scripture. On the writings of the Fathers, says Andrewes, the anointment of the Spirit “lieth thick, and we thence strike it off, and gather it safely.” The closer a writer lived to the time of the Bible’s composition the more likely his interpretation of Scripture was deemed to be accurate. As time proceeds, the probability of misunderstanding, corruption, and deviation increases.

At this point the difference between the appeal to antiquity by Anglicanism and the invocation of Sacred Tradition by Orthodoxy and Catholicism becomes evident. For Caroline divinity, the appeal to antiquity is historical reference to consensual interpretations of Scripture or earlier patterns of church order and liturgy. Its authority, therefore, is relative, subordinate, confirmatory, precedential, rational. The patristic period enjoys honor because this was the time when, in the words of William Laud, “the Church was at the best.” For Orthodoxy and Catholicism, the invocation of Tradition is the invocation of a living, present, dynamic reality; it is a mystical abiding in the Spirit who illumines and forms the Church in the faith once delivered to the saints. It includes the appeal to antiquity but also transcends it, because it refuses to restrict the witness of the Spirit to an arbitrarily chosen period of the past. Scripture is read in, not alongside, the Tradition.

This is one reason why, I believe, that it is accurate to describe even the Caroline Divines as advocating a form of sola scriptura. The magisterial Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura does not eschew secondary authorities; it includes them. Surely Laud, Cosin, and Taylor would agree, for example, with the following statement:

Two New Novels

I added two new novels to the family collection this week:

The Citadel of God, a novel about Saint Benedict by Louis de Wohl

and

The Joyful Beggar, a novel about Saint Francis of Assisi by Louis de Wohl.

Friday, February 24, 2006

What will you be doing Shrove Tuesday?



How about going to Confession? In a sermon preached by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes on the passage John xx. 23, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I at Whitehall, the call to confession and remission of sins sounded forth from that pulpit. Considering the piety of the man from whose mouth these words came, I imagine that the place shook with fear followed by joy and much relief due to mercy. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosever ye retain, they are retained. Andrewes concludes his sermon with the following four principles on confession of sins.

And to that end, even for comfort, I will only point at four things in the inditing of it, all expressing the efficacy of it in more than common manner.

1. The order in this, that Remiseritis standeth first, and Remittuntur second. It is St. Chrysostom 's note, that it beginneth in earth, and that heaven followeth after, So that whereas in prayer and in other parts of religion it is sicut in coelo, sic in terrâ, 'here it is,' sicut in terrâ, sic coelo. A terrâ judicandi principalem authoritatem sumit coelum. Nam judex sedet in teræ: Dominus sequitur servum, et quicquid hic in inferioribus judicærit, hoc Ille in supernis combrobat, saith he.

2. The time in this, that it is Remittuntur in the present tense; there is no delay between, no deferring or holding in suspense, but the absolution pronounced upon earth, Remittuntur, presently, they are remitted; that He saith not, hereafter they shall be, but they are already remitted.

3. The manner, in setting down of the two words. For it so delivered by Christ as if he were content it should be accounted their act and that the Apostles were the agents in it, and Himself but the patient and suffered it to be done. For the Apostles' part is delivered in the active, Remiseritis, and His own in the passive, Remittuntur.

4. The certainty; which in the identity of the word, in not changing the word, but keeping the selfsame in both parts. For Christ hath not thus indited it: Whose sins ye wish or ye pray for; or, Whose sins ye declare to be remitted; but 'Whose sins ye remit;' using no other word in the Apostles' than He useth in his own. And to all these in St. Matthew He addeth His solemn protestation of 'Verily, verily,' or 'Amen, amen,' [102/103] that so it is and shall be. And all to certify us that He fully meaneth with effect to ratify in heaven that is done in earth, to the sure and steadfast comfort of them that shall partake it.

The sermon is online at Project Canterbury.

The Sacramental Principle for an English Catholic



The sacraments are not magical. Unlike the processes of magic, they are not used to bend an unwilling god to the will of the worshippers. Rather, they are the provision of the loving God, who wills by means of them to help His creatures. Unlike the processes of magic, they are not devised to produce mechanical effects in those who use them. There are indeed objective results. Those who are baptized or confirmed or ordained are and must remain baptized or confirmed or ordained persons even though there is no spiritual response in them to the administration of the sacrament. But the lack of spiritual desires in the case of an adult prevents him from being spiritually benefited by the sacramental gift. The consecrated bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ even if the officiating priest is faithless, and if the recipients are without repentance for wilful sin. But the reception of spiritual benefit is dependent on the presence of right conditions in the soul. In the middle ages, when the insistence on the objective value of the sacraments was at its height, the terror of unworthy reception ran like a nightmare through theology and devotion. "Let it not be to me for judgement and condemnation" are words which express a thought constantly found and deeply felt. And, moreover, throughout the middle ages the notion of magic was rejected in the habitual teaching that, when sacramental communion cannot be received, all the benefits of it may be obtained by a communion wholly spiritual. The sacramental principle, then, involves the use of material things as means of spiritual processes in a way that is not magical. Another element in the principle is the value of priesthood. The idea of priesthood is very deep in human life. In ordinary affairs, one human being represents another, and one human being helps another. The State, the society, the family, the great man, the father, the mother, afford instances at every turn. In religion the same principle is at work. The priest is the representative of God to man, and the representative of man to God. The priest is the helper by whom the oblations of man are offered to God, and by whom the gifts of God are conveyed to man. The priest is between man and God not as one who severs or interrupts or divides but as one who conveys those appointed means of divine succour which are the stay and strength of the inner and unseen communion of the soul with God. Again, the rites are not magical. There is power in them which is not of man but of God. There is grace in them which man could not create. The power and the grace call out what is best in man himself. They make demands on his whole being and challenge the strength of his spiritual resources. In themselves always the same, their effects in those who receive them are proportionate to the good will and the right desire of the recipients.

The Faith of an English Catholic by Darwell Stone, D.D.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pontifications and Catholic Blog Awards

Over at Pontifications, Al Kimel was voted three out of the four categories for the Best Catholic Blog. Congrats to him and his writing team who help contribute to the minds and hearts of devoted Christians across denominational barriers! Pontifications won in three of the four categories in which it was nominated: Most Insightful Blog, Most Intellectual Blog, and Most Theological Blog. Pontifications also came in second in Best Apologetics Blog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Theological Honesty: Not Often Told

In a very interesting story of a woman priest in ECUSA found at the site 'Pontifications' has offered space for her to make clear her decision to renounce her ordination. She is brave and honest and for that she merits our prayers. She says,
As an orthodox person who believes it is important to keep Scripture and Tradition in tension, I cannot in good conscience continue to function as a priest. There are many reasons. First, as Anglo-Catholics correctly maintain, there is no precedent for women priests or bishops in either the West or the East. Second, the Evangelical wing approves this practice on the basis of flawed exegesis of Scripture (a result of separating Scripture from Tradition and uncritical acceptance of ECUSA’s “enlightenment”). Third, ECUSA never submitted the question of women priests to the Anglican Communion for deliberation. As with the ordination of Gay and Lesbian clergy, it framed the issue as a matter of social justice and presented it as a fait accompli.
Read it all at Pontifications.

Bishop N.T. Wright on the Freedom of Speech Law


Read This: Moral Climate Change and Freedom of Speech in the House of Lords, February 9 2006 by the Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright

But it isn’t just the invention of new moralities that should concern us, my Lords. It is the attempt to enforce them – to enforce, that is, newly invented standards which are in some cases the exact opposite of the old ones. How else can we explain the ejection of a heckler from a party conference for questioning the government’s stance on Iraq, or the attempted silencing of protests on the same subject in Parliament Square? How else can we explain the anxiety not only of religious leaders but also of comedians when faced with that dangerously vague and insidious Religious Hatred legislation? How else can we explain the police investigation of religious leaders such as my Right Reverend colleague the Bishop of Chester, or the Chair of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, for making moderate and considered statements about homosexual practice? And since the crimes in question have to do, not with actions but with ideas and beliefs, what we are seeing is thought crime. People in my diocese have told me that they are now afraid to speak their minds in the pub on some major contemporary issues for fear of being reported, investigated, and perhaps charged. My Lords, I did not think I would see such a thing in this country in my lifetime. All that such a situation can achieve is to add another new fear to those which minorities already experience. The word for such a state of affairs is ‘tyranny’: sudden moral climate change, enforced by thought police.

That is the situation, my Lords, which faces us now, nationally and globally. But the answer cannot be to repeat the old eighteenth-century slogans of ‘tolerance’, or ‘freedom of speech’, as if they were straightforward concepts that would commend themselves and bring us back to sanity. Part of the moral landscape we now inhabit is the fact that the Enlightenment modernism where those concepts found their home has crumbled under the postmodern critique where facts are reduced to spin, where the narrative of ‘progress’ has been shredded, and where personal identity itself is deconstructed and reconstructed at will. In that climate, we have seen ‘tolerance’ and ‘freedom’ reduced to mere licence – and then redefined so that we will not, any longer, tolerate dissent from the new party lines. Intolerant ‘tolerance’, my Lords, is one of the greatest obstacles to genuine freedom of speech.

Centrality of the Liturgy for the Life of the Priest


In his book, Towards a Renewed Priesthood, Canon Arthur Middleton exposes many downfalls in the priesthood due to the reduction of theology and liturgy. He argues that liturgy and life begin to be shaped in theological college and must continue to transform the priest during the whole of his life and ministry. Concerning the centrality of the liturgy in the priest's life he writes,
As the Liturgy is to be central to the Church's life so it becomes central for the priest's life and ministry, making the faith of the Church its very source and datum. Such eschatological experience gives wholeness to his thinking and praying as it brings his mind and spirit into a living relationship with certain events, making him a constant witness and participant in these events, their saving, life-giving and transfiguring reality. What is disclosed is that the Church's faith cannot be divorced from her experience of these events, nor can they be known in their rational meaning outside the experience that reaveals their reality. For it brings one into direct encounter with living, saving and transforming Truth, beyond the limitations of a given 'situation' or 'Age' or culture. At the same time, in the spirit of the pastor he will lead his people away from philosophies and ideas that can only bring spiritual death, by bringing them into this direct and life-giving knowledge of the Truth in which they will be saved and transformed.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Attack on Bishop Kwashi's Family



Thank you to Canon Harmon for posting this request for prayer on his blog. Here is from the email that Canon Harmon received.

…Last night (night of February 17), a group of men armed with clubs, knives and guns descended on the Bishopscourt in Jos. They injured Morris, the gatekeeper, broke down the door and burst in. Demanding to know where Bishop Kwashi was, they overpowered his sons- Rinji (who was knocked unconscious) and young Nanminen (who is in hospital now for injuries suffered to his mouth). They then took Mama Gloria and tortured her for information on the Bishop’s whereabouts. Unable to find him, they then proceeded to humiliate her and violate her personally, causing much damage to her head, back, hips, and other areas (she is currently in intensive care at Jos University Teaching Hospital).

They then robbed the house and marched Gloria by foot some 3km to the Diocesean offices, where staff including Miss Susan Essam, Administrative Chaplain to the Bishop, suffered minor injuries as well. After some theft there, they departed and Deaconess Susan was able to rally help. At this time, it is not known who the attackers were.

Father, you know our difficulties and our needs.
In your love we can overcome all things;
Strengthen our confidence and our faith,
And let us know your fatherly care. We put before
You, Bishop Kwashi's family and all those involved
in this terrible act upon them. Lord pour
out on us your Spirit of love, understanding and sacrifice;
may we then give effective help to the suffering
we meet on our way. Help us to answer their cry,
for it is our own. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

UPDATES: ht to Canon Harmon.
Here and Here.

What is amazing is some of the press and comments that I have personally heard concerning how these Christians are being "supported" by the wealthy Western churches and are playing church politics with statements made and actions taken. I sometimes wonder if we are even worthy of being in their presence. May God protect our Christian brethren in Nigeria and may He confuse those who seek to do them harm. Kyrie eleison!

Ritual, Authority, and the Tradition of the Church


I gather that these two places cacoethes scribendi and mark horne web blogs are referring to my post below on Chesterton and Tradition. Mark simply misses the entire point of Chesterton and I am honestly baffled as to how I would even begin to respond except to encourage him to go and read Chesterton. I have the utmost respect for both of these men as capable theologians who are beyond my own capabilities but I do strongly disagree with the mentioned posts and specifically the collapsing of the Fathers and Councils does not get to the heart of the issue. (See the cacoethes post specifically.) Due to a lack of time myself and writing this post in haste, I would simply refer any interested reader to Tract 34 from the Tracts of the Times. I realise that my referencing this work will not convince the two mentioned authors of the mentioned blog posts but it does address some of their concerns.

Here is a portion of it; read it all here.

St. Basil, whose work on the HOLY SPIRIT, S 66, shall next be cited, flourished in the middle of the fourth century, 150 years after Tertullian, and was of a very different school; yet he will be found to be in exact agreement with him on the subject before us, viz. that the ritual of the Church was derived from the Apostles, and was based on religious principles and doctrines. He adds a reason for its not being given us in Scripture, which we may receive or reject as our judgment leads us, viz. that the rites were memorials of doctrines not intended for publication except among baptized Christians, whereas the Scriptures were open to all men. This at least is clear, that the ritual could scarcely have been given in detail in Scripture, without imparting to the Gospel the character of a burdensome ceremonial, and withdrawing our attention from its doctrines and precepts
."Of those articles of doctrine and preaching, which are in the custody of the Church, some come to us in Scripture itself, some are conveyed to us by a continuous tradition in mystical depositories. Both have equal claims on our devotion and are received by all, at least by all who are in any respect Churchmen. For, should we attempt to supersede the usages which are not enjoined in Scripture as if unimportant, we should do most serious injury to Evangelical truth; nay, reduce it to a bare name. To take an obvious instance; which Apostle has taught us in Scripture to sign believers with the cross? Where does Scripture teach us to turn to the east in prayer? Which of the saints has left us recorded in Scripture the words of invocation at the consecration of the bread of the Eucharist, and of the cup of blessing? Thus we are not content with what Apostle or Evangelist has left on record, but we add other rites before and after it, as important to the celebration of the mystery, receiving them from a teaching distinct from Scripture. Moreover, we bless the water of baptism, and the oil for anointing, and also the candidate for baptism himself......After the example of Moses, the Apostles and Fathers who modelled the Churches, were accustomed to lodge their sacred doctrine in mystic forms, as being secretly and silently conveyed...This is the reason why there is a tradition of observances independent of Scripture, lest doctrines, being exposed to the world, should be so familiar as to be despised......We stand instead of kneeling at prayer on the Sunday; but all of us do not know the reason of this. Again, every time we kneel down and rise up, we show by our outward action, that sin has levelled us with the ground, and the loving mercy of our Creator has recalled us to heaven."
For an excellent article on Tradition see Rather Not blog who points out many necessary issues for us in order to rightly understand what it is we should be explaining when we use the word Tradition. Thanks for the link RatherNot!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Challenging stuff at Canterbury Tales

Fr. Peregrinator over at Canterbury Tales has some interesting posts up today. He quotes Luther saying things like,
We should throw the epistle of James out of this school [i.e. Wittenburg], for it doesn't amount to much. It contains not a syllable about Christ. Not once does it mention Christ, except at the beginning. I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. Since he heard that Christians place great weight on faith in Christ, he thought, 'Wait a moment! I'll oppose them and urge works alone.' This he did.
Augstine saying things like the following:
We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place."
and this on falling from grace:
If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, "I have not received," because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received. And if, stung with compunction by rebuke, he wholesomely bewails, and returns to similar good works, or even better, certainly here most manifestly appears the advantage of rebuke. But yet for rebuke by the agency of man to avail, whether it be of love or not, depends only upon God.
Go give him a visit!

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How many of the readers here are having trouble with the font size? I received an e-mail about it today and I am looking to increase it so that the problem of not being able to see it will get resolved. Please do let me know. Thank you!

ALSO: I have been told that some are having problems posting and if you are, please go to my profile and e-mail me. Thanks so much for the help as I try to get these issues worked out.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Benefits of the Eucharistic Offering

In the past, I have read theologians within the Protestant Tradition who have actually argued for the "benefits" of the Eucharist and its celebration to be instrumental in changing the world. This is true, they say, even though the world does not necessarily recognise that it is happening. It is something mystical. It is bringing in God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Fair enough! In 1521, there was a call in Wittenburg to abolish any sort of votive Mass for the reason that the Mass only benefitted those who particularly received it. In some sense (secundum quid) that is true. But in another sense, it is true that benefits are received by the Church's celebration of the Eucharist offered for the life of the world. The question is, "in what sense?" I find it interesting that within the language and theology of Lancelot Andrewes in dialogue with Cardinal du Perron, which was much less acerbic than his conversation was with Cardinal Bellarmine, embraces the secundum quid of Eucharistic benefits received by those not necessarily receiving the elements.

According to the Roman teaching of the Mass, the Eucharist serves two purposes: that of a sacrifice and a sacrament. Andrewes did not have a theological problem with the sacrifice of the Mass but actually embraced it with strong Catholic leanings, save the doctrine of transubstantiation. He agrees that the Eucharist has a two-fold purpose: that of sacrifice and sacrament. He says that it is a fulfilment of the Old Testament sacrifices and that it was available for the whole Church both living and the dead.
The Eucharist ever was, and by us is considered, both as a Sacrament, and as a Sacrifice. A Sacrifice is proper and applicable only to divine worship. The Sacrifice of Christ’s death did succeed to the Sacrifices of the Old Testament. The Sacrifice of Christ’s death is available for present, absent, living, dead, (yea, for them that are yet unborn.) When we say the dead, we mean it is available for the Apostles, Martyrs, and Confessors, and all (because we are all members of one body:) these no man will deny. In a word we hold with Saint Augustine in the very same chapter which the Cardinal citeth, as far as this Sacrifice of the flesh and blood, before Christ’s coming, by means of the likeness of the repayment that was promised; according to the suffering of Christ, by means of the true sacrifice of himself being handed over; after Christ’s coming [ascension], by means of the memorial celebrated in the Sacrament.
quod Hujus Sacrificii Caro et Sanguis, ante adventum Christi, per victimas similitudinum promittebatur; in passione Christi, per ipsamm veritatem reddebatur; post adventum [leg. Ascensum] Christi, per Sacramentum memoriæ celebratur. (S. Aug. contra Faustum. lib. xx. cap 21. Op. tom. viii. col. 546 B.C.)

The Church was in dire need to reform the exaggerations that were being practiced, but how do we talk about the benefits of the Eucharistic offering from the Church's celebration even for those who did not receive the Body and Blood via the instrumental means of bread and wine? I would welcome any thoughts as I am in the midst of ecumenical explorations.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Eucharist and Ecumenism and the role of the Priest

I’m sitting here in the post-grad study room right now and a few thoughts and questions popped into my mind that I would like to throw out here. (I haven’t had any sort of discussion on my blog recently, so that either means everybody just agrees with it, doesn’t give .02 pence or thinks it’s all unworthy of a response!  ) Anyway, here is the question/thought. I am reading David Power’s book The Sacrifice We Offer and he is looking at the ecumenical statements out of Lima 1982 and the sacrificial language of the Eucharist. In what sense can we come to terms with what the real issue is concerning this offering of the mass and the connection of it for the living and the dead with the priest? What I mean is, since Trent understood that the priest was given power to offer this sacrifice, is there a way for the Church Catholic to come together on what the celebrant is doing in that offering? The idea for the propitiatory sacrifice as something that is reduced to the intercession of the living and the dead was not what Trent was saying. There was more. Given the new context of the Church today and what we have learned from biblical studies concerning words like anamnesis and its liturgical meanings, can the role of the celebrant be put through the same scrutiny to come to some agreed statements? What is going to have to be faced in order to do this? I realise that this gets at the very heart of the Roman Catholic magisterium.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Truth of Nevin

Well, how many do you know that Nevin defines?

“It is hardly necessary to say, that Puritanism, as we always take it, is by no means the same as Protestantism. It is of later appearance, a sort of second growth upon the original work of the Reformation; and its distinctive features in this view are by no means hard to understand. It is one side simply of the original whole of Protestantism, the Reformed tendency; not in polar union as this was at first with the Lutheran tendency, and so in organic connection with the proper historical life of the Catholic church; but cut off from both these relations, and under such miserable unhistorical and unchurchly abstraction, now claiming pedantically to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, of all that Christianity has ever been in the world. It resolves all religion into private reason, by making this to be the only oracle of what is to be considered the divine sense of the Bible. It is always in this way rationalistic, even when it may seem to be most orthodox. It has no sense of a supernatural church, no faith in the holy sacraments, no sympathy with the reigning drift and tone of the ancient creed. It makes no account of Catholic Christianity. Anglicanism, in its eyes, is sheer foolery and falsehood. The sense of Lutheranism . . . it has no power even to comprehend; the whole system is a terra incognita to its brain. Even the old Calvinistic or Reformed faith has passed quite beyond its horizon. And yet it now claims to be the whole fact of Protestantism, and as such the whole truth of Christianity!”

–John Williamson Nevin, “Early Christianity,” pp. 278-279 (in Catholic and Reformed: Selected Theological Writings of John Williamson Nevin).

G.K. Chesterton and Tradition


After reading exchanges such as the one over at Al Kimel's blog, I couldn't help but think of Chesterton's great quotation on Tradition. It is the Church's teaching and what Chesterton says so clearly here that is spot on. Too bad many just can't get their head around to listening to it.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Anamnesis and its Meaning


The World Council of Churches met in Lima, Peru in 1982 and produced the below portion of the meaning of the Eucharist. This is a crucial paper with reference to the way we understand or don't understand the concept of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It is within this light that I see Lancelot Andrewes as a catalyst to ecumenical dialogue on this very important understanding of what this means when the Church offers the Eucharistic intercessory prayer. Can we move further along in this discussion is my question and it is through Andrewes' manner of speaking of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the theology that supports it that makes me believe that we can. The major stumbling block will be transubstantiation. I am thinking of arguing for I would see as "Transelementation". Does Christ's presence adhere in the elements themselves? According to James I in a discussion with Percy S.J. and the teaching of Lancelot Andrewes, it does. Take a look at the statement below and you can read all of it here.

B. The Eucharist as Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ

E5. The eucharist is the memorial of the crucified and risen Christ, i.e. the living and effective sign of his sacrifice, accomplished once and for all on the cross and still operative on behalf of all humankind. The biblical idea of memorial as applied to the eucharist refers to this present efficacy of God's work when it is celebrated by God's people in a liturgy.

E6. Christ himself with all that he has accomplished for us and for all creation (in his incarnation, servanthood, ministry, teaching, suffering, sacrifice, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Spirit) is present in this anamnesis, granting us communion with himself. The eucharist is also the foretaste of his parousia and of the final kingdom.

E7. The anamnesis in which Christ acts through the joyful celebration of his Church is thus both representation and anticipation. It is not only a calling to mind of what is past and of its significance. It is the Church's effective proclamation of God's mighty acts and promises.

E8. Representation and anticipation are expressed in thanksgiving and intercession. The Church, gratefully recalling God's mighty acts of redemption, beseeches God to give the benefits of these acts to every human being. In thanksgiving and intercession, the Church is united with the Son, its great High Priest and Intercessor (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). The eucharist is the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us. It is the memorial of all that God has done for the salvation of the world. What it was God's will to accomplish in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, God does not repeat. These events are unique and can neither be repeated nor prolonged. In the memorial of the eucharist, however, the Church offers its intercession in communion with Christ, our great High Priest.


COMMENTARY (E8)
It is in the light of the significance of the eucharist as intercession that references to the eucharist in Catholic theology as "propitiatory sacrifice" may be understood. The understanding is that there is only one expiation, that of the unique sacrifice of the cross, made actual in the eucharist and presented before the Father in the intercession of Christ and of the Church for all humanity.

In the light of the biblical conception of memorial, all churches might want to review the old controversies about "sacrifice" and deepen their understanding of the reasons why other traditions than their own have either used or rejected this term.

An Ecumenical Call to a Deeply Divided Church

There is a recent and interesting exchange going on at two blogs that I visit that may also be of some interest to the readers here. Many of the readers here may also visit these blogs so forgive the repetativeness of links. For those who may not be aware of the discussion, I invite you to read both of these for yourself. Eucharistic ecumenism has become a very important hope of mine where our differences in the Church can be discussed and worked through via the Grace offered in the Holy Eucharist. There has been much progress made over the years and many setbacks as well due to actions in the Church that will keep the Protestants and the Catholics separate from one another. Sadly, it is in the very meal that was given to celebrate the unity we have in the Body of Christ. Authority is the major issue that faces the Church and this is particularly difficult in an age that looks down on any aspect of submission and obedience. Yet the issue remains that not only are we called to pray for unity, as Andrewes says, we are also called to labour for it. Within the midst of these debates, it is my hope that we are all willing to labour for the very thing our Saviour knelt and prayed for.

See the Pontificator's Response to Mark Horne and Kevin Johnson here.

See Mark Horne's Response to Al Kimel here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

All Too Common on the PCA and Baptism

All Too Common has a post with regards to a Presbyterian (the church is in the US) denomination's view of Roman Catholic baptism. They have claimed to have a view to catholicity but the report that he has posted on his blog sure doesn't look like it if this is what most would believe. I know that many within that church would probably not hold the position that Roman Catholics needed to be rebaptised but it is simply astounding that any Christian at all could hold the position in this report. This is just another case when the Reformed believe themselves to be more pure than their own fathers. Look here to see what the Reformed Fathers said on Roman Catholic baptism. The actual article is here.

Rites and Customs of the Church



Here is Tertullian on the Rites and Customs of the Church and how it is that they are determined by Church Tradition.

"Though this observance has not been determined by any text of Scripture, yet it is established by custom, which doubtless is derived from Apostolic tradition. For how can an usage ever obtain, which has not first been given by tradition? But you say, even though tradition can be produced, still a written (Scripture) authority must be demanded. Let us examine, then, how far it is true, that an Apostolic tradition itself, unless written in Scripture, is inadmissible. Now I will give up the point at once, if it is not already determined by instances of other observances, which are maintained without any Scripture proof, on the mere plea of tradition, and the sanction of consequent custom. To begin with baptism. Before we enter the Water, we solemnly renounce the devil, his pomp, and his angels, in church in the presence of the Bishop. Then we are plunged in the water thrice, and answer certain questions over and above what the LORD has determined in the written gospel. After coming out of it, we taste a mixture of milk and honey; and for a whole week from that day we abstain from our daily bath. The sacrament of the Eucharist, though given by the LORD to all and at supper time, yet is celebrated in our meetings before day break, and only at the hand of our presiding ministers….. We sign our forehead with the cross whenever we set out and walk, go in or out, dress, gird on our sandals, bathe, eat, light our lamps, sit or lie down to rest, whatever we do. If you demand a scripture rule for these and such like observances, we can give you none; all we say to you is, that tradition directs, usage sanctions, faith obeys. That reason justifies this tradition, usage, and faith, you will soon yourself see, or will easily learn from others; meanwhile you will do well to believe that there is a law to which obedience is due. I add one instance from the old dispensation. It is so usual among the Jewish females to veil their head, that they are even known by it. I ask where the law is to be found; the Apostle’s decision of course is not to the point. Now if I no where find a law, it follows that tradition introduced the custom, which after wards was confirmed by the Apostle when he explained the reason of it. These instances are enough to show that a tradition, even though not in Scripture, still binds our conduct, if a continuous usage be preserved as the witness of it."—Tertullian, de Coron. S 3.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tagged by the Pontificator

The Pontificator has tagged me to fill in these life details so here they are:

4 jobs you have had in your life:

US Marine HF/Intel Radio Operator
Physical Therapy Tech Orthopaedics
Rehab Nurse for Trama Patients
Parish Minister

4 Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

The Cardinal
Fletch
Borne Identity
Shadowlands

4 Places You Have Lived:

Ocala Florida
Pacific Beach California
Ruston Louisiana
Durham England

4 TV Shows You Love To Watch:

CSI
Everyone Loves Raymond
Travel Channel
Church Fathers EWTN

4 Places You Have Been On Vacation:

Jamaica
Belize
Madrid, Spain
Pensacola Beach, Florida

4 Websites You Visit Daily:

Titusonenine
Pontifications
Thinking Anglicans
Canterbury Tales

4 Of Your Favorite Foods:

Steak
Fish and Chips
Anything Mexican
Lobster

4 Places You Would Rather Be Right Now:

Australia
Caribbean Island
Sailing in the Med
Right where I am actually

(4 Bloggers You Are Tagging:

Rhea
Tex Anglican
Canterbury Tales
Mark Horne

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

John Keble: Adoring Christ in the Eucharist


Now the gift in the Holy Eucharist is Christ Himself--all good gifts in one; and that in an immense, inconceivable degree. And how can we conceive even Power Almighty to bring it more closely and more directly home to each one of us, than when His Word commands and His Spirit enables us to receive Him as it were spiritual meat and drink? entering into and penetrating thoroughly the whole being of the renewed man, somewhat in the same way as the virtue of wholesome meat and drink diffuses itself through a healthful body: only, as we all know, with this great difference, (among others,)--that earthly meat and drink is taken up and changed into parts of our earthly frame, whereas the work of this heavenly nourishment is to transform our being into itself; to change us after His image, "from glory to glory," from the fainter to the more perfect brightness; until "our sinful bodies be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood; and we dwell evermore in Him, and He in us:" "we in Him," as members of "His mystical Body, which is the blessed company of all faithful people;" "He in us," by a real and unspeakable union with His divine Person, vouchsafed to us through a real and entirely spiritual participation of that Flesh and Blood which He took of our Father Adam through the Blessed Virgin Mary; wherewith He suffered on the Cross, wherewith also He now appears day and night before His Father in heaven for us. So that a holy man of our own Church was not afraid thus to write of this Sacrament:--

"By the way of nourishment and strength
Thou creep'st into my breast,
Making Thy way my rest,
And Thy small quantities my length,
Which spread their forces into every part,
Meeting sin's force and art.

"Thy grace, which with these elements comes,
Knoweth the ready way,
And hath the privy key,
Opening the soul's most subtle rooms." (G. Herbert's Remains, p. 99, ed. 1826.)

§ 10. The sum is this. Renewed nature prompts the Christian, and Holy Scripture from beginning to end encourages him, to use special adoration to Almighty God at the receiving of any special gift;--adoration the more earnest and intense as the gift is greater, and the appropriation of it to the worshipper himself more entire and direct. So it is with all lesser, all partial gifts; how then should it not be so when we come to the very crown and fountain of all, that which comprehends all the rest in their highest possible excellency, and which is bestowed on each receiver by way of most unspeakable participation and union,--that gift which is God Himself, as well as having God for its Giver? "Christ in us," not only Christ offered for us; a "divine nature" set before us, of which we are to be made "partakers." Must we cease adoring when He comes not only as the Giver, but as the Gift; not only as the Priest, but as the Victim; not only as "the Master of the Feast," but as "the Feast itself?" (Bp. Taylor, Holy Living: Works, iv. 310, Heber's edition.) Nay, but rather this very circumstance is a reason beyond all reasons for more direct and intense devotion.

For the entire article, click here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Giving it a go!

Well, it's almost midnight and I have been working pretty much non stop on my opening chapter since 9 am this morning. I took an hour off at dinner to eat and then half an hour for family prayer and reading. I am drained and can't wait to move on to another topic for a while. (Eucharistic Sacrifice will be the focus this term). What may end up shaping up into my opening chapter is now 43 pages with two sentences bleeding over into the 44th page and 18,200 words. It's a long chapter but it can be cut and worked through more as I progress in my research.

The Chapter is: Eucharist and the Fulness of Catholicity.
"That there need not such ado in complaining, if men did not delight rather to be treading mazes than to walk in the ways of peace."
1.1 Introduction
1.2 The Ecumenical Dream in the Reign of King James I
1.3 Andrewes in Formation
1.4 Andrewes and the Puritans
1.5 Eucharist and Liturgy (as a way of life)
1.6 Eucharist and Authority
1.7 Eucharist and Ecclesiology
1.8 Eucharist and Ecumenism
1.9 Conclusion

Tomorrow I meet with the Bishop of Jarrow concerning my future service in a parish in the C of E upon completion of my thesis. I would appreciate all the prayers I can get for this very busy time.

N.T. Wright Interview on the Radio

Here is an interview with Bishop N.T. Wright in the States. It's not very long but an interesting talk about his work. The interviewer is Jerry Bowyer.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Eucharist, Alms, and Pope Leo the Great


In searching through the Fathers for some material the other day, I ran across this section that I found quite interesting. It's amazing how Lancelot Andrewes saw what Pope Leo says here to be the very heart of the Eucharistic celebration.

III. The Truth of the Incarnation is Proved Both by the Eucharistic Feast and by the Divine Institution of Almsgiving.

Dearly-beloved, utter this confession with all your heart and reject the wicked lies of heretics, that your fasting and almsgiving may not be polluted by any contagion with error: for then is our offering of the sacrifice clean and oar gifts of mercy holy, when those who perform them understand that which they do. For when the LORD says, “unless ye have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man, and drunk His blood, ye will not have life in you5 ,” you ought so to be partakers at the Holy Table, as to have no doubt whatever concerning the reality of Christ’s Body and Blood. For that is taken in the mouth which is believed in Faith, and it is vain for them to respond Amen6 who dispute that which is taken. But when the Prophet says, “Blessed is he, who considereth the poor and needy7 ,” he is the praiseworthy distributor of clothes and food among the poor, who knows he is clothing and feeding Christ in the poor: for He Himself says, “as long as ye have done it to one of My brethren, ye have done it to Me8 .” And so Christ is One, True GOD and True Man, rich in what is His own, poor in what is ours, receiving gifts and distributing gifts, Partner with mortals, and the Quickener of the dead, so that in the “name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things on earth, and of things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that the LORD Jesus Christ is in the glory of GOD the Father9 ,” living and reigning with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Andrewes vs Reformed Systematics

In the process of writing my opening chapter, which continues to grow into something that will have to be cut later, I was struck again by the insights of Nicholas Lossky's understanding of how Andrewes understands the very nature of theology. It is undoubtedly, Nicholas Lossky, who, as a modern theologian, has the clearest grasp on the manner in which Andrewes approached theology and for what purpose he reads and studies theology. This difference that Lossky picks up on is all the difference between a Reformed systematician and a Catholic Christian. Lossky writes,
For Andrewes, an authentic witness to the apostolic faith is not simply someone who is content to think more or less correctly. It is someone who, like him, has made deeply his own the experience of the Church. It is someone for whom theology is not a system of thought, an intellectual construction, but a progression in the experience of the mystery, the way of union with God in the communion of the Church. In this perspective, theology is for the understanding an ascetic way, a way of the cross, by which it empties itself of itself, of its own content, in order to be made transparent to the light of grace and adapted to contemplation of divine things. Theology is then for the service of the entire man on his way towards union with the personal God, the way of deification. It is this most profound experience of the Church that the theologian expresses in the Church and for the Church. Theology is then a service of the Church, and not an exercise of private reflection on God. 345
It's so good to be Catholic! It is for this well of life that the Church is so desperately searching. This is the well-spring of life and where people really are living out their union with the Triune God. Compare this rich calling and the rediscovery of the writings in the Renaissance and the high Middle Ages that captured the mind of this saintly bishop to attending a conference on the 5-Points of Calvinism (yawn!)and tell me which one you would benefit more from. Again Lossky writes,
As for Andrewes, he forms a link between the two centuries. He was in fact one of the first Western theologians not simply to have read the Fathers. He truly re-established contact with them, essentially by his conception of theology, which he shared with them: theology understood as being at the service of the deification of man. It is in this sense that one can speak, in connection with his theology, of a veritable patristic renaissance. He integrated into his teaching the essence of what the Fathers had in common, because he shares with them the experience of relationship to the personal God as constituting the essential component of humanity. And this theocentrism, this 'theotropism' one might say, in man created after the image and likeness of God informs his whole understanding of the entirety of human existence. 345 346
This is the difference between thinking about God and experiencing life in God.

Candlemas


Collect:
All-powerful Father,
Christ Your Son became man for us
and was presented in the temple.
May he free our hearts from sin
and bring us into your presence.
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

Nunc Dimmitis
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel." Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever will be, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

PhD Update

Well, I apologise for my terrible blogging habits of late. I've been swamped trying to pull together a chapter of my dissertation. I've written the second chapter and this one that is about complete is 41 pages and about 17,200 words. I have three more chapters to go. This opening chapter is called 'The Eucharist: The Ecumenical Heart of the Church'. The chapter covers Andrewes' methodology for framing his Eucharistic theology and answering questions about his place in the English Church during his time like whether he was a Puritan or not. I've laid out how the Eucharist was central to his ecclesiology shaped around an episcopacy de jure divino. I've explained Andrewes giving somewhat of a critique of the C16 English Reformation particularly in the area of Eucharistic theology. It may be rubbish but I have time after my supervisor looks at it to get it into better shape. At least it's something on paper.

I hope to have it wrapped up enough to submit it Friday evening and then take the whole weekend off!!! Next week, I begin the hard research and writing of my chapter on Eucharistic Sacrifice in Andrewes' theology. I am quite motivated to study this section and I should have some fun stuff to blog about this over the next term. I would appreciate your prayers as I finish the last of this over the next two days!!

Admin update: In further reflection of what I have written and further thought about considering what Andrewes meant by being 'catholic', I've changed my title to the opening chapter to be 'Eucharist and the Fullness of Catholicity'. I think that's better. It represents the etymological sense of the word catholic, not so much in the sense of universal as 'fullness' kathe holon in the Greek. (Lossky's credit)
    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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