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Friday, March 31, 2006

A Eucharistic Inquiry

I have a question for the readers here who might like to think out loud with me on an important issue in reflecting on the nature of sacrifice in the Eucharist. In what sense was the Eucharist propitiatory at the time of Jesus' institution of it after He had supper with the Apostles? In what sense did Jesus redeem us from death in the Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist as the proclamation of victory over death was given within the words of institution?

Cyril develops the thought that at the Lord's Supper a sacrifice was offered by our Lord on the Altar whereby death was overcome. In a hymn in the Middle Ages found within an English prayer book of the C8 or C9 we find this same theme:

"For thy all-powerful Flesh is food indeed;
An thy Blood, O Jesus, the true drink of the faithful
BY THIS SACRED MYSTERY THOU DIDST REDEEM US FROM DEATH
That we may live in thee, O Lord,
in faith and sobriety.
Deign therefore we beg of thee,
that we may be
Partakers of this holy mystery, to
the glory of thy name."
(Found In M de la Taille The Mystery of Faith)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Journey of Faith: A Time to Confess


Durham Cathedral Nave from font to altar.

I was prompted to write the confession below due to a comment made by Mark Horne in the post titled, "Why do I care that he cares?" That comment by Mark reads as follows:
Really though, is anyone's skin as thin, or tone as shrill, as an offended traditionalist Anglican? It is easy to call for peace when peace means simply demanding conformity to ones damn recent convictions on a matter. How long ago was it, Jeff, that I was accused of violating the second commandment for defending images of Jesus. I seem to remember that that man was just as confident as the one I'm writing now.
There are times in our life when open confession is good. It makes the point of stating where we are on things. This is particularly true about theological positions. One thing that I have learned through my journey of faith and that is that it is always best to never say, “I will never!” That will get you into a place where you open your mouth and insert foot more than you care to. I’ve eaten a lot of shoe over my years in theological study and reflection. I hope to do so in humility and a teachable spirit and never resort to self-righteousness.

I confess that, in the past, I have believed very strongly about ecclesial matters of both theology and devotion where I have changed my mind while on this journey of faith. What I have consciously attempted to do is to conform myself to the teaching of the Catholic faith rather than holding matters of private opinion because it sounds good to me or agrees with my particular affiliation I may be connected to. When I left seminary (RTS Jackson) in 1998, I didn’t leave my brain there. I continued to read and mostly outside of my Reformed tradition. To my surprise, I came to learn what Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and the traditional liturgical bodies actually taught. I often found it refreshing and liberating. Rather than taking Loraine Boettner’s view of the Roman Catholic Church to be gospel, I picked up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it myself. I read books on liturgy of the East, Anglican devotion and prayer and Catholic theology. I discovered Lancelot Andrewes by reading books on the Eucharist as I was becoming more and more convinced that the rite of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ was the centre of the gathered community and not my long sermon. Much of what I read I was finding was far superior to my own catechism of the Westminster Assembly! What I mean by that is that there were things within the RCC that spoke more clearly to the community in a pastoral way rather than what often seemed as dry abstract scholastic terminology that I found within my own catechism. I was looking for something to train my children in that spoke to them about God’s love and grace for them; something that they could memorise that reflected their being loved by God. I found other catechisms much more personalised and community oriented towards the whole Body of Christ. I learned something by reading the RCC; I learned what the RCC taught, not what I was told that they taught, which was often misinformed characterisations.

On another issue, when I was a Presbyterian minister, I came to experience the vacuum of not having a shepherd over me. I needed a pastor and the Presbyterian model of government did not provide that need for me. I remember one ecclesial case that could have been settled in a couple of months by a bishop that took over two years after ending up in the highest ecclesial court of the denomination that was concerned with following procedure and never mentioned the pastoral concern for the man’s soul involved. The case was argued and handled over a phone conversation with a committee from the Standing Judicial Commission. How pastoral is that? It was a terrible experience and it repeatedly continues to happen. That was not the incarnational way of ministry that I saw in the life of Jesus and that I saw in a more Episcopal model of leadership.

I often felt on my own because I was on my own. My lay leadership was a group of wise and godly men but they didn’t study at the depth that I was studying and I knew that they didn’t have the gifts or calling to be pastors/priests or they would be doing it. It simply was not their vocation and this statement is not to reflect negatively on them whatsoever. I simply state a fact of my understanding of vocation. So, I had to go outside of my tradition to speak to bishops who welcomed spiritual direction for me on my journey. I began to deeply study the Church Fathers and look again at the scriptural passages that I used to defend Presbyterianism and through my reading, serious questions were raised for me about the nature of ecclesial authority and my understanding of the Church. I entered into further studies in an Anglican seminary in pursuit of more knowledge and a time of “testing” my feelings. The leadership of the congregation I served were well aware of my struggles and we talked long about it. They even financially supported me to go do further study in an Anglican setting. They simply asked me not to leave. I had brought that particular church a long way in liturgical changes and even prayed from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer during the Eucharistic consecration since the year 2000. We used prayers from it often within the liturgy and I spent hours upon hours teaching and training the people with what I was learning. We used the evening prayer on Wednesday evenings and Sunday evenings and I said the daily office whether people showed up or not. Often, one or two and sometimes to my surprise, more would attend. I did that at 7 am at the church. That church, to this day, is liturgical and looked for a minister who would continue in that liturgical form of worship when they were looking for my replacement. All of that is to say that my liturgical convictions have been with me for some time. The actually really began developing in 1995 when I was a student at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO. What I came to realise was that I was simply out there on my own and knew that if I were to leave that congregation any other bloke could come in and change all that I did. Not much in my tradition would honestly defend where I felt called to lead the congregation. Something was missing from that picture and I had to think hard about my commitments to remain in that denomination. I did not want to move too rashly so I sought a lot of counsel and took years to make my final decision, which was to leave and become an Anglican.

There are things that I have taught in the past that I now believe were wrong and ill-informed. For those, I confess my ignorance. So, it came to a time to make a decision. I had the struggle of realising that I was not a hired hand but a shepherd who had brought a congregation a long way down the road in six years. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to abandon them but I could no longer remain a Presbyterian. Since there was not a consensus about wanting to be an Anglican church, and rather than splitting a congregation that called a Presbyterian minister, I concluded that it was best for me to resign. I was received into postgraduate studies at the University of Durham and I resigned from my parish in February 2004 and moved to Durham England that summer and joined the Church of England. Now that I have spent almost two years studying at the doctoral level in the area of Eucharistic theology, I have become even more convinced of errors that I have held in the past and I continue the attempt of submitting myself to the teaching of the undivided Catholic faith of the first five centuries concerning Eucharistic theology. I have not arrived, but I remain on the journey of faith to learn all that I can in submission to Christ and His Bride, the Church. I am sure there is a whole lot more that I will learn as I continue down this journey. As a Catholic Anglican, I am all the more refreshed now that I am a part of a Church and tradition that defends me, not one that I have to defend. Though there are present problems within the Anglican Church and questions of authority for us to think hard about and decide on our direction, I continue to find the breadth and depth of Catholic tradition to be a deep well from which to find refreshment in a parched environment. It has freed me to be Catholic in the best sense of that word. It also gives me a place where real talks of unity can be pursued rather than merely doing so in small private chat rooms where mere talk of it bring no fruit.

Therefore, I have now given my life to theological studies in the Eucharist with the hopes of building solid bridges of ecumenism shaped by deep theological reflection. Due to my belief in episcopacy being of the esse of the Church, I have become convinced that there will be no real visible catholicity without bishops. Therefore, it was for that reason that I submitted myself to the teaching of the Church on this matter and left Presbyterianism. I moved into a Catholic community that is bigger than me and I am honoured to be given the opportunity to make some small impact towards the reconciliation of the Church at the Altar. Many issues stand in the way of that unity at present, but I give my life to labour for it. Lancelot Andrewes has reminded me of one very important point about the ecumenical enterprise; I speak of an ecumenism with substance. The point is that it is one thing to pray for the unity of the Church and altogether something else to labour for it. I trust that God is leading and guiding me to do both. May He give me the mind and heart to keep me on the journey where I am able to become a servant of servants for the good of His whole Church! I walk the journey of faith, but no longer alone; I do it with a formative and authoritative Church behind me. May God heal the divisions created by sinful men and keep me humble in His grace on the journey of faith!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Francis Clarke, S.J. Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation



Last year I read Francis Clark's book Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation. There was so much great stuff in the book and one that all Protestants ought to take the time to read and digest. For one thing, Eucharistic Sacrifice is not a problem and to argue that the Catholic faith teaches that Christ is slain again is just plain thick. I have found it most helpful to actually go to the sources to read what was actually taught and believed and then to enter into a fruitful dialogue on the subject. In my mind, Eucharistic Sacrifice is clearly taught in Scripture and in the theolog of the Church for 2,000 years. For the Church, there has always been both Altar and Table. But like all meals with God that ratified covenants, there is not a meal without a sacrifice.

I took a number of notes from Clark's book and what follows is quotations from chapter six of his book. I put them out here for discussion if any are interested. Do me a favour, link it to your blogs and let's see what kind of a discussion we can get from Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants alike.

Here is Clark with the fundamental reasons for the rejection of the Mass in Reformation Theology(page numbers follow the quotations):

Chapter Six THE FUNDAMENTAL REASONS FOR THE REJECTION OF THE MASS IN REFORMATION THEOLOGY

The English Reformation cannot be judged in isolation from the continental Reformation; what the Edwardine churchmen said and did concerning the Eucharistic priesthood and sacrifice must be seen in the setting of the great controversy about the Mass which had raged throughout Europe for the previous thirty years, And the claim, often made, that the English Reformers avoided the extreme course of the continental Protestants—who banished the sacrifice of the Mass altogether—must be tested by comparison and by a survey of the relations between them. 99

The Mass, he (Luther) said, was only a promise and a testament, like the divine promise of favour made to Noah in the rainbow. Since Christ at the Last Supper did not make an oblation to the Father, but rather left a testament to his followers, no more could the Mass be an oblation offered to God.6 (This became a favourite argument of all the Reformers. They objected that if the Last Supper had been a sacrifice then the sacrifice of Calvary would have been unnecessary.7) 100 101

It is an unwarranted reflection on some of the keenest minds of the age to suppose that the Reformers' whole protest was based on the crass misapprehension that their opponents really claimed to slay Christ daily. Their denial of the Eucharistic sacrifice was ultimately based on a theological reason much more seriously intended. Because this reason gives the key to our whole inquiry, and underlies Cranmer's denial likewise, it is well to bring it into clear relief. 102 103

The Reformation hostility to the sacrifice of the altar is found to be connected, in a coherent pattern, with the basic Reformation doctrines of grace, of justification, of the Church and the sacraments, and ultimately of Christology. 103

By sanctifying grace men are regenerated and ennobled inwardly; by virtue of this new supernatural life Christ lives and acts in them_ in the Mystical Body as a whole and in each of its members—so that they can henceforth share, actively and meritoriously, in his corporate work 103

Fallen mankind is not only saved by Christ's atonement, but is also raised up to co-operate in Christ's priestly mission of dispensing that salvation to all succeeding generations till the end of time. Endowed with Christ's priesthood, the Church through her ministers has the function of mediating to all men the fruits of Christ's all-sufficient work of salvation. This is the 'work', the opus operatum, of the sacramental system. 103

Religion for the Reformers was the personal encounter of the individual spirit with divine mercy shown in Christ. When they formulated and passionately proclaimed the gospel of justification by faith alone it was, implicitly, the whole 'incarnational' ethos of Catholicism they were rejecting. 104

The Reformers' basic protest can be summarized in the words of Adolf Hamack: rightly did they rebel against the Catholic sacramental system, he says, since it was rooted in the fundamental conception that religion is an antidote for the finiteness of man, in the sense that it deifies his nature'. And by the revolutionary force of the Reformation principles 'the axe was laid to the root of the whole Catholic sacramental concept'—that is, the mediation of grace through what he calls 'the magic of the opus operatum. 105

This fundamental difference which divides the Catholic conception of God's dealings with men from the Protestant may be described as a theology of mediation and participation. In Catholic thought, Christ's manhood, and the Church which is his fullness, and the sacraments which are his actions, form a hierarchy of created means by which the God-man communicates to men his saving activity. 105

In this great 'work' mortal priests are the vicars and instruments of the immortal High Priest. 'Thus does the particular doctrine of the Eucharistic sacrifice grow out of the general truth of the Mediation of Christ', observed R. I. Wilberforce, the Tractarian divine; 'it is nothing more than the admission of this truth, taken in connexion with the fact of the Real Presence'. With his customary discernment, Wilberforce pointed out that Luther's rejection of the sacrifice was bound up with his doctrine of justification. 106

Luther His cardinal objection against the traditional doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass was that it was a 'work', something which belonged to that whole order of instrumental mediation and of man's active participation in the economy of grace that was anathema to the Reformer. Grace, for him, was not an intrinsic elevation of man's being, but God's favour freely imputed to the elect, who were released from condemnation out of regard for the merits of Christ and who apprehended their pardon by saving faith. The celebration of the Lord's Supper was a promise and a testament of that pardon to the individual communicant; it could not 'do' anything for others, nor could it 'offer' anything to God. 'Out of a gift of God to men they have made a gift of man to God', he frequently lamented. 106, 107

This radical opposition of inner 'word' to sacramental 'work' is the theological key to the understanding of the storm of hostility to the Mass which swept across Europe. 107

'It was a direct attack on the traditional sacramental concept', comments Dr J. Lortz, 'that is, against the objectivity of the divine life operative in the Church's liturgy. Here the resolution of Christianity into a religion of inner feeling was achieved at the very point at which its victory would have the greatest impact. Here was assailed the secret centre of the Church's unity. . . . For the Catholic Church it was not the attack on the Papacy that was the most fateful event which happened in the Reformation, but the emptying out from her Mysteries of the objective source of power'. 107

'Faith alone saves', Zwingli to insists, but he presses on beyond Luther to draw out the full consequences of that revolutionary principle. His theology is the consistent antithesis of Catholicism, a radical 'religion of the spirit' over against the 'religion of incarnation'. It is then not surprising that he too soon recognized in the sacrificial concept of the Mass the kernel of the traditional system which he planned to overthrow. In his theology the Eucharist could have no salutary efficacy in the present; it was not even a promise or pledge to awaken faith as Luther held (since 'if your faith is incomplete, needing some ceremonial sign to perfect it, it is not faith'28); but it was essentially a testimonial from God of faith and divine favour already bestowed upon believers, and at the same time a thankful memorial celebrated by the congregation to commemorate the salvation once in the past achieved for them upon the cross. The Eucharist meant a word from God to man, not an offering from man to God. 108, 109

The Swiss Reformers had in addition another radical reason for denying the sacrifice of the altar. Rejecting the belief in a real objective presence of Christ under or with the Eucharistic elements (which Luther continued. to defend against them with great insistence), they argued that since the body and blood of Christ were not contained objectively in the sacrament they could not be therein offered or presented by the officiating priest. The Eucharistic oblation was, for the Zwinglians and Calvinists, bound up with the 'bread-worship' which they never tired of denouncing. 112

The conflict between Catholic and Protestant about Eucharistic sacrifice did not take its origin from a mere misunderstanding, nor from a false premise unwittingly inherited by both sides from a degenerate theology, but from a basic difference of interpretation of the Christian revelation. ll5

Strange Birthday Events!

I was reading in the library today and a Roman Catholic priest from Australia who is a very good friend of mine came to get to this afternoon to meet an American priest from Rome who has served there for 10 years. He was here visiting my friend Fr. Mark Withoos who is working on a PhD on the Theology of the Body and JPII and his use of the Fathers. While we were talking about his trip to the Holy Land, Fr. Conley was telling us about an American priest he met recently in Rome who was an Anglican. He mentioned the priest's name and I said, yes, I know who that is, I look at his blog every day. It was Fr. Perengenator of Canterbury Tales. When I went to the blog to send Fr. P an e-mail, I saw that he had posted that it was his birthday today. Well, TODAY is my birthday as well! Amazing things in this world.

A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics



Over at the Whitehall blog, he has posted a Tribute to Anglo-Catholics that is really good. It is so nice to see when real people can not take themselves too seriously.

A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics
(tune: Aurelia: The Church's One Foundation)

Our church is mighty spikey with smells and bells and chants,
And Palestrina masses that vex the Protestants.
O happy ones and holy who fall upon their knees
For solemn Benediction and mid-week Rosaries.

Though with a scornful wonder men see our clergy, dressed
In rich brocaded vestments as slowly they process;
Yet saints their watch are keeping lest souls be set alight
Not by the Holy Spirit, but incense taking flight.

Now we on earth have union with Lambeth, not with Rome,
Although the wags and cynics may question our true home;
But folk masses and bingo can't possibly depose
The works of Byrd and Tallis, or Cranmer's stately prose.

(Here shall the organist modulate)

So let the organ thunder, sound fanfares "en chamade";
Rejoice, for we are treading where many saints have trod;
Let peals ring from the spire, sing descants to high C,
Just don't let your elation disrupt the liturgy.


Sean Reed

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why do I care that he cares?



I was on a private discussion list recently (I have since left) where anathema's were delivered for bowing to crosses, altars, etc. For a good response to these anathema's, see Paul Owen's post. Of course, it wasn't until just 500 years ago at the Reformation that the Church really became enlightened! So, the same ole song goes. At times, I have found some to take on what seems to be almost 'cult-like' mentalities within the Reformed faith. That is a generalisation, I know, but one that is often true enough when you get behind the curtain and look around enough. Some in the Reformed camp find themselves in an argument or have issues with so many things that one wonders if that is what the Kingdom of God is all about. Many of these people are friends or have been collegues of mine in the past but I simply cannot fathom what it is where every time you turn around they have another 'issue' to bring up in order to confront. There is something wrong with this! My wife asked me, 'why do you care that he cares?' when this mindset is displayed. What a great question. At then end of the day, most of these squabbles are simply matters of personal opinion. But the Church really does have authority in matters of ceremony and ritual, even if She is developing one, for the edification of the people so long as it is not 'repugnant to the word of God.'

I have recently been examining Trent and issues of Eucharistic Sacrifice in my PhD studies. I have come to learn that there really is no banquet without the rite of sacrifice. We don't come to 'eat' with God or to 'eat' Him without a real offering being made first. That offering for the Christian is the One unique offering of Christ that is sacramentally memorialised in the Eucharist. Theological development and understanding has reflected on this for 2,000 years. Therefore, the Eucharist is more than a meal with God, it is the sacrificial offering of the Church for the forgiveness of sins. As a result, it is not sinful to kneel in order to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus and greater men than myself have theologically defended this for a long time. How does receiving the Eucharist in the posture of kneeling 'cripple the meal at the Eucharist and turn it into an abstraction'? That is what the Rev'd Mark Horne says it does:
Anti-meal?
Why do liturgical churches practice kneeling at the table for the Eucharist?

Kneeling at the Table is defended by virtue of the Real Presence. But why should this matter. If God invites us to sit and relax in his presence, it is a strange form of devotion that says we must disobey him in order to be properly humble and pious. Did the disciples kneel or sit or stand for the Last Supper? They reclined on couches as they did for every meal.

And that's the point. They were really eating a meal. They weren't performing a special ritual in the sense that we think about. The ritual was an ordinary meal. Paul told the Corinthians that they could partake with just bread and wine and not the rest of the regular meal, but the fact remains that the Lord's Supper is a supper.

Jesus didn't demand that his disciples wait on him at the Supper. He didn't demand they kneel. He elevated them by eating with them and even serving them.

In the OT, kings had cupbearers to serve them wine. Yet instead of a ritual in which we somehow give wine to Jesus, ministers serve the people in his name and stead. If we no longer recline, so be it. We should, however, assume whatever posture is really appropriate for a meal!

What I want to argue--though I'm not sure how--is the rhetoric of "real presence" and "incarnation" masks a truly Gnostic and perhaps Docetic impulse. The Church seems to be at war with the idea that God would actually condescend to use a mere meal as a means of grace. Instead we make it into this strange, meditative rite in which one is really just in prayer and grace is inserted while one maintains this devotional posture. One sees the same thing in low-church congregations when the participants have time to hold the elements and hunch over them in prayer, almost going into the fetal position, bodily denying the community that has gathered with them.

Far from affirming the "real presence" or the "incarnation," crippling the actual meal that we have been given only turns it all into an abstraction. Jesus has invited you over to eat with him. That is not the time to be on your knees.
Take note of that language! Gnostic, Docetic, War! Give me a break! I would like to hear the substanitated claims as to why this is the case rather than simply taking The Rev'd Horne's word for it because he said it. With all that he has personally been through over his own theological positions, it sure seems that he would be a bit more careful than this.

His post is found here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH: Does this include Anglicans?


Dominus Iesus

The question asked in the title has to do with the reference here to churches in apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist. I am assuming that the Anglicans do not fall into this category with the Church of Rome but that group that is not actually a proper church.

16. The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him (cf. Jn 15:1ff.; Gal 3:28; Eph 4:15-16; Acts 9:5). Therefore, the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord. Indeed, Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church (cf. Col 1:24-27),47 which is his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27; Col 1:18).48 And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”.49 This same inseparability is also expressed in the New Testament by the analogy of the Church as the Bride of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-29; Rev 21:2,9).50

Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”.51 Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity — will never be lacking.52

The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession53 — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”.54 With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that “outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth”,55 that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.56 But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.57

17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.60

On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.63

“The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach”.64 In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities”.65 “Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.66

The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but “in that it hinders the complete fulfilment of her universality in history”.67

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Eucharist and Sacrifice in Trent: Much to Commend



One of the immediate critiques from a Roman Catholic on what I am about to say would be that, once again, any nodding to this or that in the Catholic Church by an Anglican or any other outside the Church of Rome (besides the East) is simply another act of 'private judgment'. But, for the sake of this post, bear with the academic dialogue that I am having with a historical figure like Lancelot Andrewes when I write.

First of all, it is undoubtedly clear that the Christian worship is our sacrifice. It comes in many ways within the liturgy of the worshipping church but finds itself at its pinnacle in the service at the offering of Christ in the Eucharistic celebration and receiving the grace of the Body and Blood of Christ. The fruits of this offering are numerous and one of the main fruits of the Eucharistic celebration is the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26.28). This post does not have the time to get into all the discussion of the role of the priest as public minister that was discussed at Trent and was probably the central issue surrounding the discussion of the nature of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Yet one thing that all Christians ought to be able to do is to grow up from their 'misconceptions' of the Eucharistic offering in the Catholic Church and to be honest about what the Catholic Church is saying rather than what often amounts to nothing more than reductio ad absurdum or reductio ad impossibile.Prots have been grossly afflicted by both of these in their reactions to the sacrifice in the Eucharist. It's past time for us to be honest with this fact and to admit that most of the Reformers were guilty of the same.

I've recently finished David Powers book The Sacrifice We Offer: The Tridentine Dogma and Its Reinterpretation and found it to be an excellent work on the conclusions and the broad views found within the gathering of Trent. I am posting a quotation from the book for dicussion for any who would like to have an intelligent discussion that isn't based on a reductio ad absurdum but would rather engage the theology of sacrifice within Eucharistic theology that is rooted in the Passion of Christ and hence inescapable from theological reflection.

The quotation from Powers that really struck me is as follow:
(5) That this communion between all the living, and between the living and the dead, is a communion in faith and hope in Jesus Christ was made clear by the Council in the measures that it took to assure that there would be no room for the charge of the reformers that catholic practice allowed for a remission of sins [without devotion and faith on the part of the beneficiaries] of the offering of the mass. The move away from theories about the mass's ex opere operato efficacy, and from minute calculations about the value of the mass, to more general statements is itself significant, for though these statements remained vague they at least prevented any reductionism of mass offerings to penitential commutations. In this respect, one may say that the Council's teaching was never, up to the present, fully received by the catholic church, since much of its practice continued to be guided by an understanding of mass offerings more in tune with medieval eccentricities than with the theological caution of the Council. 158 159

(6) In choosing the definition of the mass as a sacrifice of propitiation, Trent at one and the same time illustrates the need for propitiatory language and the difficulties of dealing with it. That it itself did not come to a satisfactory resolution of the issue Is as important to its reception as are its actual statements. By the end of its tenure the Council had become so circumspect on this score that it did not support the propitiatory character of the mass with the same sense of excluding other aspects that one might feel present in the earlier moments of conciliar discussion. Its interests remained thoroughly practical and in effect it found no adequate language with which to deal with the range of theoretical issues involved. It wanted above all to give its support to a given sacerdotal and institutional practice of offering mass, and to say that in as much as this represented the passion of Christ and was a public act of the church, it 'somehow' was pertinent to the forgiveness of sins. This involved no particular understanding of how the death of Christ itself mediated the forgiveness of sins, or of how this continued to be done through its sacramental memorial. In fact, propitiatory turns out to be one of those words that is more attached to a given practice than to a doctrinal understanding of what is involved in the practice, as well as to a particularly historically bound institutional way of mediating Christ's grace to the church. The particular meaning of the priestly act could be retained only in a church that could find given sacerdotal structures its most appropriate faith expression, and that was party to a cultural perspective that made this vision of church possible. Reconsidering the propitiatory character of the eucharistic memorial, therefore, involves a double task. The one is a quest for church structure and a practice of ordination that is appropriate to an awareness that the community of faith is the ecclesial subject of celebration, so that the act of the ordained minister is understood in this context, rather than in the terms conjured up by the expression public minister. The second is to look for the ways in which forgiveness of sin and reconciliation ire mediated through the celebration of the eucharist, and how this pertains not only to the communion of those who are present, but also to those not present, both living and dead. Naturally, this would mean putting the question of eucharistic reconciliation and mediation within the broader context of the church's total activity in bringing about reconciliation and in witnessing to the peace of God. Something of the interest in the humanum that is found in Trent's desire to find in the mass a perfect realization of natural religion would also need to be retrieved in this context, since it could be asked how the commemoration of Christ's death speaks to the role that the church has in bringing God's peace and forgiveness to all humanity, and how this corresponds to a fundamental human desire for a transcendence that heals and reconciles. 159 l60

Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Collect:
God our Father,
Your word became man and was born of the Virgin Mary.
May we become more like Jesus Christ,
whom we acknowledge as our redeemer, God and man.
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.

The Feast of the Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on March 25 each year. The Feast commemorates the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb.

The biblical story of the Feast of the Annunciation is found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke (1:26-39). The Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary, who was living in Nazareth, and said to her, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you.” Mary was perplexed and wondered what kind of greeting this was.

The angel told her not to be afraid, for she had found favor with God. He said, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary responded to the angel by asking how this could happen since she had no husband. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit and the power of God would come upon her, and that the child to be born of her would be called holy, the “Son of God.”

The angel then proceeded to tell the Virgin Mary that her cousin Elizabeth had conceived a son in her old age (John the Baptist), and affirmed that with God nothing is impossible.

In faith and obedience to the will of God, Mary replied to the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be according to your word.” Upon her response, the angel departed.

see more here

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Human and Divine Nature of the Church: J.H. Newman



THE ORATORY,
April 21, 1875.
MY DEAR JOHN,
There is nothing ungenerous, as you fear, in your new questions; and, if you had asked them distinctly before, I should have answered them to the best of my power.

You now ask me whether I agree or disagree with your judgment "that the Church of Rome, as a society, has sometimes done, more often sanctioned, actions, which were wrong and injurious to mankind." I find no difficulty in answering you. I should say that the Church has two sides, a human and a divine, and that everything that is human is liable to error. Whether, so considered, it has in matter of fact erred must be determined by history, and, for the very reason that it is human as well as divine, I am disposed to believe it has, even before the fact has been proved to me from history. At the same time I must add that I do not quite acquiesce in the wording of your question. It sounds awkward to ask, e.g., "Has the Kingdom of England done or sanctioned wrong?" It would be more natural to say, "Has the nation done wrong, or the sovereign, or the legislature done wrong, or all of these together"? I have no difficulty in supposing that Popes have erred, or Councils have erred, or populations have erred, in human aspects, because, as St. Paul says, "We have this treasure in earthly vessels," speaking of the Apostles themselves. No one is impeccable, and no collection of men.

I grant that the Church's teaching, which in its formal exhibitions is divine, has been at times perverted by its officials, representatives, subjects, who are human. I grant that it has not done so much good as it might have done. I grant that in its action, which is human, it is a fair mark for criticism or blame. But what I maintain is, that it has done an incalculable amount of good, that it has done good of a special kind, such as no other historical polity or teaching or worship has done, and that that good has come from its professed principles, and that its shortcomings and omissions have come from a neglect or an interruption of its principles.

The question that remains is, Has that which claims to be divine in the Church sanctioned that which is human and faulty in it? I maintain, No: and, in alleged cases brought in proof of the affirmative, I should contend either that its sanction of the act in question had no claim to be considered divine, or that the act itself was not faulty. Thus St. Paul says, "I wist not that he was high priest, for it is written," &c., and some commentators say that he was ignorant—that is, his act did not proceed from the divine inspiration with which he was gifted; others that his act was not wrong, for the man whom he reviled, in fact, was not high priest.

However, I cannot simply grant to you, as you assume, that mere {366} omission to pronounce upon a faulty act is necessarily itself a fault. Things are so constituted in this world, that the power of doing good has a maximum. The Church, viewed as a political body, has always been in advance of the age; up to 1600 most men would grant this; but, as the Jews were allowed divorce as practically a necessity in order to avoid worse evils, so it has not always been possible for the Church to do upon the spot that which was abstractedly best, as Elisha shirked the question of Naaman about bowing in the house of Rimmon. Nor am I disposed to deny that, as time goes on, the authoritative view of moral and religious truth becomes clearer, wider, and more exact.

I do not know how I can answer your question more closely than in what I have now said, and as, I think, I did answer it in my former letter.

As to the last three centuries, the Church's great battle has been against the various forms of error to which Protestantism has opened the door. The work of the Church has on every side been met and thwarted by the opposition of rival religions. In India the work, begun by St. Francis Xavier, has been brought to a stand by the variety and discordance of Christian sects. Still, if it is a great work to preserve Christianity in the world, this I think the Church has done and is doing: and at this moment Christianity would be dying out in all its varieties were the Catholic Church to be suppressed.

I hope I need not say I shall always feel a pleasure and interest in hearing whatever you are moved to tell me about yourself—pray do, for I am always
Yours affectionately,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Reading the Fathers

There were a number of you that agreed to read through the Church Fathers this Lent and I was wondering how it was going for everyone? I would love to receive a comment from you to let me know how you are doing and how you are finding it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

450th Anniversary of Cranmer's Martyrdom



Archbishop's sermon at the service to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer

St Mary the Virgin, Oxford

From today’s epistle: ‘The word of God is not bound’.

When it was fashionable to decry Cranmer’s liturgical rhetoric as overblown and repetitive, people often held up as typical the echoing sequences of which he and his colleagues were so fond. ‘A full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction; ‘Have mercy upon us, miserable offenders; Spare thou them which confess their faults; Restore thou them that are penitent’; ‘succour, help and comfort all that are in danger, necessity and tribulation’; direct, sanctify and govern’; and of course, ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. The liturgical puritan may well ask why it is not possible to say something once and for all, instead of circling back over what has been said, re-treading the ground. And in the same vein, many will remember the arguments of those who complained of the Communion Order in the Book of Common Prayer that it never allowed you to move forward from penitence to confidence and thanksgiving: you were constantly being recalled to your sinful state, even after you had been repeatedly assured of God’s abundant mercies.

Whether we have quite outgrown this reaction, I’m not sure. But we have at least begun to see that liturgy is not a matter of writing in straight lines. As the late Helen Gardner of this university long ago remarked, liturgy is epic as well as drama; its movement is not inexorably towards a single, all-determining climax, but also – precisely – a circling back, a recognition of things not yet said or finished with, a story with all kinds of hidden rhythms pulling in diverse directions. And a liturgical language like Cranmer’s hovers over meanings like a bird that never quite nests for good and all – or, to sharpen the image, like a bird of prey that never stoops for a kill.

The word of God is not bound. God speaks, and the world is made; God speaks and the world is remade by the Word Incarnate. And our human speaking struggles to keep up. We need, not human words that will decisively capture what the Word of God has done and is doing, but words that will show us how much time we have to take in fathoming this reality, helping us turn and move and see, from what may be infinitesimally different perspectives, the patterns of light and shadow in a world where the Word’s light has been made manifest. It is no accident that the Gospel which most unequivocally identifies Jesus as the Word made flesh is the Gospel most characterised by this same circling, hovering, recapitulatory style, as if nothing in human language could ever be a ‘last’ word. ‘The world itself could not contain the books that should be written’ says the Fourth Evangelist, resigning himself to finishing a Gospel that is in fact never finishable in human terms.

Poets often reinvent their language, the ‘register’ of their voice. Shakespeare’s last plays show him at the edge of his imagination, speaking, through Prospero, of the dissolution of all his words, the death of his magic; Yeats painfully recreates his poetic voice, to present it ‘naked’, as he said; Eliot, in a famous passage of the Quartets, follows a sophisticated, intensely disciplined lyrical passage with the brutal, ‘that was a way of putting it’. In their different ways, all remind us that language is inescapably something reflecting on itself, ‘talking through’ its own achievements and failures, giving itself new agendas with every word. And most of all when we try to talk of God, we are called upon to talk with awareness and with repentance. ‘That was a way of putting it’; we have not yet said what there is to say, and we never shall, yet we have to go on, lest we delude ourselves into thinking we have made an end.

So the bird is bound to hover and not settle or strike. Cranmer lived in the middle of controversies where striking for a kill was the aim of most debaters. Now of course we must beware of misunderstanding or modernising: he was not by any stretch of the imagination a man who had no care for the truth, a man who thought that any and every expression of Christian doctrine was equally valid; he could be fierce and lucidly uncompromising when up against an opponent like Bishop Gardiner. Yet even as a controversialist he shows signs of this penitent scrupulosity in language: yes, this is the truth, this is what obedience to the Word demands – but , when we have clarified what we must on no account say, we still have to come with patience and painstaking slowness to crafting what we do say. Our task is not to lay down some overwhelmingly simple formula but to suggest and guide, to build up the structure that will lead us from this angle and that towards the one luminous reality. ‘Full, perfect and sufficient’ – each word to the superficial ear capable of being replaced by either of the others, yet each with its own resonance, its own direction into the mystery, and, as we gradually realise, not one of them in fact dispensable.
You can see a poignant concomitant of this in Cranmer’s non-liturgical prose. When he wrote to King Henry in unhopeful defence of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell, the convoluted sentences and sentiments show, not only a constitutionally timid man struggling to be brave (and all the braver for that), but a man uncomfortably capable of believing himself deceived and of seeing the world in double perspective. What both letters in effect say is: I thought I saw the truth about this person; if I was wrong, I was more deceived than I could have thought possible; how in this world can even the King of England know the truth of his servants’ hearts? I see both what I always saw and the possibility that it has all been a lie; is this a world where we can have certainty enough to kill each other?

And in his last days, this was Cranmer’s curse. If there was no easy certainty enough to kill for, was there certainty enough to die for? That habit of mind which had always circled and hovered, tested words and set them to work against each other in fruitful tension, sought to embody in words the reality of penitence and self-scrutiny, condemned him, especially in the midst of isolation, confusion, threats and seductions of spirit, to a long agony, whose end came only in this church minutes before his last hurrying, stumbling walk through the rain to the stake. It is extraordinary to think of him drafting two contradictory versions of his final public confession, still not knowing what words should sum up his struggles. But at the last, it is as if he emerges from the cloud of words heaped up in balance and argument and counterpoint, knowing almost nothing except that he cannot bring himself to lie, in the face of death and judgement. What he has to say is that he has ‘written many things untrue’ and that he cannot face God without admitting this. He cannot find a formula that will conceal his heart from God, and he knows that his heart is, as it has long been, given to the God whom the Reformation had let him see, the God of free grace, never bound by the works or words of men and women. Just because he faces a God who can never be captured in one set of words, a God who is transcendently holy in a way that exacts from human language the most scrupulous scepticism and the most painstaking elaboration possible, he cannot pretend that words alone will save him. ‘If we deny him, he also will deny us’. He must repent and show his repentance with life as well as lips; ‘forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished’.


My father-in-law at the mark where Cranmer died. I am behind the camera.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bishop N.T. Wright and Publishing



Well, there are two new books by the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, that are out and that I purchased today. One is Simply Christian and the other is Evil and the Justice of God. On the back of the Simply Christian book it states the following:
Not since C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity has there been such a thrilling attempt to re-express the heart of the Christian faith and the transformation it offers to every area of personal and social life.

Now, I should say a little something about the "gospel confusion" of Dr. Wright. Being interested in what Dr. Wright might have to say about evil and its relationship to the atonement, I opened the book to see if he would address the issue. Well, he did. Here is Dr. Wright in his own words from his new book Evil and the Justice of God. The topic is results: atonement and the problem of evil.
I find myself compelled towards one of the well-known theories of atonement, of how God deals with evil through the death of Jesus, not as a replacement for the events or the stories, nor as a single theory to trump all others, but as a theme which carries me further than the others towards the heart of it all. I refer to the Christus Victor theme, teh belief that on the cross Jesus has won the victory over the powers of evil. Once that is in place, the other theories come in to play their respective parts. For Paul, Jesus' death clearly involves (in e.g. Romans 8.3) a judicial or penal element, being God's proper No to sin expressed upon Jesus as Messiah, as Israel's and therefore the world's representative. This is the point at which the recognition that the line between good and evil runs right through the middle of me, and of every one of us, is met by the gospel proclamation that the death of Jesus is 'for me', in my place and on my behalf. Because, as Messiah, he is Israel's and the world's representative, he can stand in for all: for our sake, writes Paul, God made him who knew no sin to be sin, to be an offering for sin, on our behalf (2 Cor. 5.21). p. 59
I don't know about any of you who may read this, but the claims of some of these 'Reformed' critics of Dr. Wright are beyond any scope of sanity in my opinion. Maybe they can come to Durham and give a paper in the NT Seminar or write something a bit more worthwhile and reflective on why Dr. Wright remains dangerous for the 'Evangelical' and 'Catholic' world in regards to the Gospel. One thing these critics are right about, both Evangelicals and Catholics like Bishop Wright's work. Maybe one day these critics will start looking for the proper enemy of the Gospel.

St. Cuthbert's Day



Today is the Feast of St. Cuthbert and it is always a real privilege for me to live in Durham where the Shrine of Cuthbert has its home in the Durham Cathedral (995). At lunch today, I will say my prayers at the Shrine before eating. Tonight will be a service of Festal Evensong and Procession to the Shrine with prayers and hymns. See more on Cuthbert here.

What follows was taken from here.
St. Cuthbert lived in England in the seventh century. He was a poor shepherd boy who loved to play games with his friends. He was very good at them, too. One of his friends scolded him for loving to play so much. In fact, his playmate said words that he didn't seem to be saying himself. The child said, "Cuthbert, how can you waste your time playing games when you have been chosen to be a priest and a bishop?" Cuthbert was confused and very impressed. He wondered if he really was going to be a priest and a bishop.

In August, 651, fifteen-year-old Cuthbert had a religious experience. He saw a totally black sky. Suddenly a bright beam of light moved across it. In the light were angels carrying a ball of fire up beyond the sky. Sometime later, Cuthbert learned that the same night of the vision, the bishop, St. Aiden, had died. Cuthbert did not know how this all involved him, but he made up his mind about his life's vocation and entered a monastery. Cuthbert became a priest and a bishop.

From one village to another, from house to house, St. Cuthbert went, on horse or on foot. He visited the people to help them spiritually. Best of all, he could speak the dialect of the peasants because he had once been a poor shepherd boy. He did good everywhere and brought many people to God. Cuthbert was cheerful and kind. People felt attracted to him and no one was afraid of him. He was also a prayerful, holy monk.

When Cuthbert was ordained a bishop, he worked just as hard as ever to help his people. He visited them no matter how difficult the travel on poor roads or in very bad weather. As he lay dying, Cuthbert urged his monks to live in peace and charity with everyone. He died peacefully in 687.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tolkien and his Catholic Imagination



Here is a site for any of the readers here that may be Tolkien fans. The imagery of a sacramental world in his writings is simply astonishing. I used a number of images today in my sermon when I spoke of self-denial and carrying the cross in the journey of faith. I hope you enjoy the link.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fr. Alexander Schmemann on Forgiveness



It is impossible to go to Christ without taking with me the essential. It is not the abandonment of everything as we go to Christ; it is finding in Him the power of that resurrection: of unity, of love, of trust, of joy, of all that which, even if it occupies some place in our life, is at the same time so minuscule. It is tragic to think that from churches, from seminaries, what comes to heaven are complaints ... being tired, always something not going right... You know, sitting in my office from time to time, I am admiring people for inventing new "tragedies" every half hour.

But we are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. And if we had – because we know – just a little bit of that which would bring us together, we would replace all my little offenses with even a little amount of that joy. That is the forgiveness we want and ask God to give us. Because if there is a strict commandment in the Gospel, it is that commandment: "if you forgive ... your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive ... neither will your Father forgive ... " (Mt. 6:14-15). So, of course it is a necessity. But the NOW of that, I repeat it once more, is to be horrified by the fragmentation of our own existence, by the pettiness in our relationships, by the destruction of words, and by the abandoning of this reverence.

Now we have to forgive each other whether or not we have any explicit sins or crimes against each other. That reconciliation is another epiphany of the Church as the Kingdom of God. We are saved because we are in the Body of Christ. We are saved because we accept from Christ the world and the essential order. And finally, we accept Christ when we accept each other. Everything else is a lie and hypocrisy.

So, fathers, brothers, sisters: let us forgive one another. Let us not think about why. There is enough to think about. Let us do it. Right now, in a kind of deep breath, say: "Lord, help us to forgive. Lord, renew all these relationships." What a chance is given here for love to triumph! – for unity to reflect the Divine unity, and for everything essential to return as life itself. What a chance! Is the answer we give today yes or no? Are we going to that forgiveness? Are we gladly accepting it? Or is it something which we do just because it is on the calendar – today, you follow, forgiveness; tomorrow, let’s do...? No! this is the crucial moment. This is the beginning of Lent. This is our spring "repair" because reconciliation is the powerful renewal of the ruin.

So, please, for the sake of Christ: let us forgive each other. The first thing I am asking all of you, my spiritual family, is to forgive me. Imagine how many temptations of laziness, of avoiding too much, and so on and so forth. What a constant defense of my own interests, health, or this or that... I know that I don’t even have an ounce of this self-giving, self-sacrifice which is truly a true repentance, the true renewal of love.

Please forgive me and pray for me, so that what I am preaching I could first of all somehow, be it only a little bit, integrate and incarnate in my life.

Father Alexander Schmemann

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Where is the Catholic Church? S. Ignatius answers



CHAPTER VII.--LET US STAND ALOOF FROM SUCH HERETICS.
They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that ye should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.

CHAPTER VIII.--LET NOTHING BE DONE WITHOUT THE BISHOP.
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of,that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

CHAPTER IX.--HONOUR THE BISHOP.
Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God. It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil. Let all things, then, abound to you through grace, for ye are worthy. Ye have refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ [shall refresh] you. Ye have loved me when absent as well as when present. May God recompense you, for whose sake, while ye endure all things, ye shall attain unto Him.

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas before study

Weighing through the teachings of Trent on the Eucharist as Sacrifice, I am praying the following prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas each day before my studies. Kyrie Eleison!


Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas before Study
CREATOR ineffabilis, qui de thesauris sapientiae tuae tres Angelorum hierarchias designasti et eas super caelum empyreum miro ordine collocasti atque universi partes elegantissime distribuisti: Tu, inquam, qui verus fons luminis et sapientiae diceris ac supereminens principium, infundere digneris super intellectus mei tenebras tuae radium claritatis, duplices, in quibus natus sum, a me removens tenebras, peccatum scilicet et ignorantiam. Tu, qui linguas infantium facis disertas, linguam meam erudias atque in labiis meis gratiam tuae benedictionis infundas. Da mihi intelligendi acumen, retinendi capacitatem, addiscendi modum et facilitatem, interpretandi subtilitatem, loquendi gratiam copiosam. Ingressum instruas, progressum dirigas, egressum compleas. Tu, qui es verus Deus et homo, qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O INFINITE Creator, who in the riches of Thy wisdom didst appoint three hierarchies of Angels and didst set them in wondrous order over the highest heavens, and who didst apportion the elements of the world most wisely: do Thou, who art in truth the fountain of light and wisdom, deign to shed upon the darkness of my understanding the rays of Thine infinite brightness, and remove far from me the twofold darkness in which I was born, namely, sin and ignorance. Do Thou, who givest speech to the tongues of little children, instruct my tongue and pour into my lips the grace of Thy benediction. Give me keenness of apprehension, capacity for remembering, method and ease in learning, insight-in interpretation, and copious eloquence in speech. Instruct my beginning, direct my progress, and set Thy seal upon the finished work, Thou, who art true God and true Man, who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bishop Tom Wright on the Anglican Crisis

HT: Canon Harmon.

Read it all
ELEANOR HALL: Now to what may be an irreconcilable split in the world-wide Anglican Church over sex and faith.

A senior member of the Church of England currently in Australia says members of the Church in the United States are set to continue appointing openly gay clergy.

The Bishop of Durham Tom Wright says this will push the Anglican Communion of more than 70 million followers into unchartered waters.

Toni Hassan has our story.

TONI HASSAN: The Bishop of Durham Tom Wright is a renowned New Testament scholar and something of a pop star in Anglican circles.

It's his first visit to Australia, and big audiences are preparing to hear him speak at a series of lectures in Sydney about a range of things, including his fresh perspective on the tradition and authority of St Paul.

Bishop Wright shot to prominence when he helped author what's called the Windsor Report, sparked by the 2003 appointment in the United States of the first openly gay bishop.

The Windsor Report urged its dissenting arm to take time out, repent the appointment and return to the fold.

But many months later, Bishop Wright is not hopeful American Anglicans will express regret for the sake of Anglican unity.

TOM WRIGHT: If they vote to go with the Windsor Report then that will pull the whole thing back from the brink.

But my friends in America tell me on many different sides of this issue that that's actually very unlikely, that it looks as though, the way they are at the moment, they are going to ratify what they did last time in electing Gene Robinson, which means that, if the Windsor Report was followed and if the Primate's (inaudible) were followed, that ought to mean that the American Church is voting to stay away from the next Lambeth Conference.

And we've never been in this position before, so there is no roadmap. And if anyone out there listening to this ever says their prayers, please pray for Rowan Williams because he needs prayers right now. He's got some very difficult decisions to make.

TONI HASSAN: Well, it wouldn't come as a surprise. For at least three years now Sydney Anglicans at least in this town have warned of a split in the communion. And just last week the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying that the worldwide movement was heading for schism. He feared that, anyway.

So do you believe that it is inevitable now?

TOM WRIGHT: I think it is quite possible, and indeed has already happened in some quarters, that people who insist on not only the permissibility but the goodness and to-be-celebrated-ness of homosexual behaviour, people who believe in that are going in a particular direction which they know perfectly well is not where the majority of the Anglican Communion is.

And I came upon a quote from a leading American clergyman just recently basically saying it's time to show our colours, and if that means we're going to be independent we're going to be independent.

And I think there's a lot of people in America who don't really realise that, who can't quite take it in that there are millions of people who are Anglicans out there.

Eucharist, Ecumenism and the Episcopacy



I have been thinking a lot about the Eucharist and the need to labour for a real ecumenical enterprise with hopes of it coming into fruition. One of the things that Andrewes reminded me of in my reading of him is that it is one thing to pray for the unity of the Church and it is altogether another thing to labour for it. I have come to firmly believe that there will be little to no unity in the Church without an episcopal structure. Unity is impossible to exist without the Church being centred around its Bishop who is centred on Christ. Look around at Protestantism and its many factions and schisms shows the necessity of the episcopacy for real unity. It is pride that keeps us from submitting to those who rule over us (Heb. 13.17). We simply do not care to be ruled in our ever-growing individualistic worldviews. But, until the Church recognises that unity will not be maintained without an episcopate, the Church will continue to divide itself. The problem is getting around these 'self-proclaimed defenders of the faith' who believe their individual calling is to determine the purity or lack of purity in the Church. Some will assert their authority through their paper popes and call them a confession of faith. Making any headway with these characters is difficult because their soul authority is their private interpretation of the Scriptures. It's as if the Church hasn't been reading the scriptures for 2,000 years; and being led to do so by the Holy Spirit. These are the people who, as Luther said so rightly, have Popes in their own bellies. They decide what and to whom they will submit. They pick and choose Church custom and liturgical practices based upon their own taste. They may romantically talk of the Church's authority and importance but it is frequently subject to their interpretation and the will of the democratic vote of a committee. Like G.K. Chesterton once asked, what park has ever erected a monument to a comittee? Uniformity is a threat to schismatics. If there is disagreement on a theological point, then they decide that it's time to pack up and move to other fields. Pride is at the heart of this problem.

In my Lenten reading, I have been following the reading of the Fathers. St. Ignatius of Antioch makes this very point that I have written above. He writes,
CHAPTER III.--AVOID SCHISMATICS.
Keep yourselves from those evil plants which Jesus Christ does not tend, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I have found any division among you, but exceeding purity. For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.].

CHAPTER IV.--HAVE BUT ONE EUCHARIST, ETC.
Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever ye do, ye may do it according to [the will of] God.
What this doesn't mean is that there is a 'pure' episcopacy presently to follow. One could just as easily look around those churches with an episcopal structure and see all sorts of abuses. What will give in these situations? How do we keep what St. Ignatius is calling the Church to keep? This is a tough question but one that must be asked if we are going to reach an ecumenical enterprise that Jesus calls us to work towards. I am increasingly convinced that the abuse of the episcopacy is not an open door to abolish the episcopacy but to correct the errors of those who are called to maintain and uphold the faith once delivered to the Saints. We must get our heads around this important ecclesiological point if we are going to ever have true unity that matches that of the Church, which Jesus established. The episcopacy may need some reforming but unity will not be possible if it is demolished.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger) on Art and Liturgy



In the course of this struggle the true theology of icons matured and bequeathed us a message that has a profound relevance to us today in the iconographic crisis of the West.

The icon of Christ is the icon of the risen Lord. That truth, with all its implications, now dawned on the Christian mind. There is no portrait of the risen Lord. At first the disciples do not recognize Him. They have to be led toward a new kind of seeing, in which their eyes are gradually opened from within to the point where they recognize him afresh and cry out: "It is the Lord!" Perhaps the most telling episode of all is that of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Their hearts are transformed, so that, through the outward events of Scripture, they can discern its inward center, from which everything comes and which everything tends: the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They then detain their mysterious companion and give him their hospitality, and at the breaking of bread they experience in reverse fashion what happened to Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: their eyes are opened. Now they no longer see just the externals but the reality that is not apparent to their senses yet shines through their senses: it is the Lord, now alive in a new way.

In the icon it is not the facial features that count (though icons essentially adhere to the appearance of the acheiropoietos). No, what matters is the new kind of seeing. The icon is supposed to originate from an opening up of the inner senses, from a facilitation of sight that gets beyond the surface of the empirical and perceives Christ, as the later theology of icons puts it, in the light of Tabor. It thus leads the man who contemplates it to the point where, through the interior vision that the icon embodies, he beholds in the sensible that which, though above the sensible, has entered into the sphere of the senses. As Evdokimov says so beautifully, the icon requires a "fast from the eyes". Icon painters, he says, must learn how to fast with their eyes and prepare themselves by a long path of prayerful asceticism. This is what marks the transition from art to sacred art (p. 188). The icon comes from prayer and leads to prayer. It delivers a man from that closure of the senses that perceives only the externals, the material surface of things, and is blind to the transparency of the spirit, the transparency of the Logos. At the most fundamental level, what we are dealing with here is nothing other than the transcendence of faith.

The whole problem of knowledge in the modern world is present. If an interior opening-up does not occur in man that enables him to see more than what can be measured and weighed, to perceive the reflection of divine glory in creation, then God remains excluded from our field of vision. The icon, rightly understood, leads us away from false questions about portraits, portraits comprehensible at the level of the senses, and thus enables us to discern the face of Christ and, in Him, of the Father.

Thus in the icon we find the same spiritual orientations that we discovered when emphasizing the eastward direction of the liturgy. The icon is intended to draw us onto an inner path, the eastward path, toward the Christ who is to return. Its dynamism is identical with the dynamism of the liturgy as a whole. Its Christology is trinitarian. It is the Holy Spirit who makes us capable of seeing, he whose work is always to move us toward Christ. "We have drunk deeply of the Spirit", says Saint Athanasius, "and we drink Christ" (Evdokimov, p. 204). This seeing, which teaches us to see Christ, not "according to the flesh", but according to the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor 5:16), grants us also a glimpse of the Father Himself.

Only when we have understood this interior orientation of the icon can we rightly understand why the Second Council of Nicaea and all the following councils concerned with icons regard it as a confession of faith in the Incarnation and iconoclasm as a denial of the Incarnation, as the summation of all heresies. The Incarnation means, in the first place, that the invisible God enters into the visible world, so that we, who are bound to matter, can know Him. In this sense, the way to the Incarnation was already being prepared in all that God said and did in history for man's salvation. But this descent of God is intended to draw us into a movement of ascent. The Incarnation is aimed at man's transformation through the Cross and to the new corporeality of the Resurrection. God seeks us where we are, not so that we stay there, but so that we may come to be where He is, so that we may get beyond ourselves. That is why to reduce the visible appearance of Christ to a "historical Jesus", belonging to the past, misses the point of His visible appearance, misses the point of the Incarnation.

The senses are not to be discarded, but they should be expanded to their widest capacity. We see Christ rightly only when we say with Thomas: "My Lord and my God!"

We have just established that the icon has a trinitarian scope, and now we must come to terms with its ontological proportions. The Son could only become incarnate as man because man was already planned in advance in relation to Him, as the image of Him who is in Himself the image of God. As Evdokimov again says so strikingly, the light of the first day and the light of the eighth day meet in the icon. Present already in creation is the light that will shine with its full brightness on the eighth day in the Resurrection of the Lord and in the new world, the light that enables us to see the splendor of God. The Incarnation is rightly understood only when it is seen within the broad context of creation, history, and the new world. Only then does it become clear that the senses belong to faith, that the new seeing does not abolish them, but leads them to their original purpose.

Iconoclasm rests ultimately on a one-sided apophatic theology, which recognizes only the Wholly Other-ness of the God beyond all images and words, a theology that in the final analysis regards revelation as the inadequate human reflection of what is eternally imperceptible.

But if this is the case, faith collapses. Our current form of sensibility, which can no longer apprehend the transparency of the spirit in the senses, almost inevitably brings with it a flight into a purely "negative" (apophatic) theology. God is beyond all thought, and therefore all propositions about Him and every kind of image of God are in equal proportions valid and invalid. What seems like the highest humility toward God turns into pride, allowing God no word and permitting him no real entry into history. On the one hand, matter is absolutized and thought of as completely impervious to God, as mere matter, and thus deprived of its dignity.

read it all here.

Rev'd Jeffrey Meyers on Luther and Tradition



Rev'd Jeffrey Meyers has been running an interesting series on Luther and the Tradition of the Church via the Fathers. The series is seven parts and begins the series with the title The Discerning Reception of Ecclesiastical Tradition as the Gift of Dead Pastors. Go give it a read and see what you think.

Eucharist and Sacrifice



Now that I have pretty much completed my opening chapter of my dissertation, I am now working on the chapter that covers the Eucharist as a Sacrifice. I am presently reading a number of books. One is Jungmann on the Mass, de la Taille on the Mystery of Faith, Frere on the Anaphora, and Powers on the Sacrifice We Offer: the Tridentine Dogma and Its Re-Interpretation. Andrewes states a number of very interesting things concerning the Eucharist as Sacrifice that are in maintaining the Tradition of the Church’s teaching on this and what I will argue can be used as a catalyst for the ecumenical enterprise. One such question that Trent set out to answer in the 1562 session was whether the mass was merely a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving or was it a propitiatory sacrifice. In a number of places, Andrewes answers that question according to the view of the English Church. In one place where he discusses the imaginations creeping in from the Continent to the English Church, Andrewes writes,
Contrary to St. Luke here, who calleth it fractionem panis, and to St. Paul who saith, Panis quem frangimus [1 Cor. 10.16]. As these are their imaginations, so we want not ours. For many among us fancy only a Sacrament in this action, and look strange at the mention of a sacrifice; whereas we not only use it as a nourishment spiritual, as that it is too, but as a mean also to renew a “covenant” with God by virtue of that “sacrifice,” as the Psalmist speaketh [Ps. 50.5]. So our Saviour Christ in the institution telleth us, in the twenty-second chapter of Luke and twentieth verse, and the Apostle, in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews and tenth verse. And the old writers use no less the word sacrifice than Sacrament, altar than table, offer than eat; but both indifferently, to shew there is both.

Christ is our Passover for Andrewes but He is not that until He is offered Et oblatus est. Christ was immolatus offered in sacrifice. Christ is the Lamb slain, said Andrewes, “and the sprinkling of His blood in Baptism, maketh the destroyer pass over us.” As there are many offerings in scripture, Andrewes sees Christ as the peace-offering upon whom we must feast. Bringing this to the essence of sacrifice in the Eucharist Andrewes said, “Christ’s blood not only in the basin for Baptism, but in the cup for the other Sacrament. A sacrifice—so, to be slain; a propitiatory sacrifice—so, to be eaten.” Therefore, Andrewes see Christ in this light as a Passover. He is this Passover for us. All of this was for the quitting us of our sins. That is passing our sins over and transferring them to Christ, (transferendo abstulit). The action of the passing of our sins to Christ and the wrath of God over us makes this feast-day a memorial. Therefore we are called to celebrate. The feast is celebrated with joy for two particular reasons. One Christ passed from life to death for our sins and secondly, He rose for our justification. Andrewes goes on to say,

From the Sacrament is the applying the Sacrifice. The Sacrifice in general, pro omnibus. That Sacrament in particular, to each several receiver, pro singulis. Wherein that is offered to us that was offered for us; that which is common to all, made proper to each one, while each taketh his part of it; and made proper by communion and union, like that of meat and drink, which is most nearly and inwardly made ours, and is inseparable for ever. There, celebremus passeth with the representation; but here epulemur, as a nourishment, abideth with us still. In that we “see,” and in this “we taste, how gracious the Lord is,” and hath been to us. Will ye mark one thing more, that epulemur doth here refer to immolatus? To Christ, not every way considered, but as when He was offered. Christ’s body that now is. True; but not Christ’s body as now it is, but as then it was, when it was offered, rent, and slain, and sacrificed for us. Not, as now He is glorified, for so He is not, so He cannot be immolatus, for He is immortal and impassible. But as then He was when He suffered death, that is, passible and mortal. Then, in His passible estate did He institute this of ours, to be a memorial of His passible and Passio both. And we are in this action not only carried up to Christ, (Sursum corda) but we are also carried back to Christ as he was at the very instant, and in the very act of His offering. So, and no otherwise, do we represent Him. By the incomprehensible power of His eternal Spirit, not He alone, but He,as at the very act of His offering, is made present to us, and we incorporate into His death, and invested in the benefits of it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Alice Linsley in Open Discussion of Priestly Orders



Biretta Tip to Al Kimel for posting the interview with Alice Linsley. I have been following her journey with great interest. Here is a portion of her latest interview from questions put to her by Wim Houtman. Here is a sample:

Question: You mention the importance of Tradition, but ultimately Tradition is rooted in Scripture, so how do you read Scripture on this matter?

Response: The 2 male priests who helped me discern my call to ordination in the mid-1980’s were both godly men and students of the Bible. They concluded that Paul’s instructions concerning women are prescriptive. In those days I agreed with this view that Paul restricted women’s leadership because he wanted order in the churches. Today, after 25 years of research on Genesis, I have come to a different conclusion. Paul’s thoughts on gender are formed by his biblical Tradition. He recognized that the Hebrew Scriptures teach a permanent binary distinction between men and women. This binary distinction is fixed by God as much as the distinctions of east and west, night and day, and hot and cold. When we ignore the binary distinctions established by the Creator for our benefit, there is disorder in our thoughts and actions, and humans become lost. This suggests strongly that Paul’s teaching on gender was not merely to address a social problem limited to that time and place. Paul wanted gender roles in the Church to reflect God’s order in creation as a way of honoring the Sovereign Creator. After all, does mankind have the power to change night to day, or east to west? Choosing to have sexual relations with a same sex partner is defiance of God’s sovereign order of creation. It is not a new thing. It is as old as the first rebellion.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI Lenten Message



Here is a portion from Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten Message. Find it all here.

In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world’s population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the “gaze” of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten Season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this “gaze”. The examples of the saints and the long history of the Church’s missionary activity provide invaluable indications of the most effective ways to support development. Even in this era of global interdependence, it is clear that no economic, social, or political project can replace that gift of self to another through which charity is expressed. Those who act according to the logic of the Gospel live the faith as friendship with God Incarnate and, like Him, bear the burden of the material and spiritual needs of their neighbours. They see it as an inexhaustible mystery, worthy of infinite care and attention. They know that he who does not give God gives too little; as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta frequently observed, the worst poverty is not to know Christ. Therefore, we must help others to find God in the merciful face of Christ. Without this perspective, civilization lacks a solid foundation.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Called to Holy Orders



Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet on what a Catholic priest is in the Church of England. Found in New Directions, March 06.

From the theological foothills I would make this observation. There is no simple answer to what the priesthood is about, just as there is no one simple version of the doctrine of the Atonement, and the reasons for the complexity are not unrelated. What Catholics believe – and it is the Catholic priesthood to which our ordinands are called – is that the ministerial priesthood is intimately bound up with the offering of the Holy Eucharist, the offering made by Christ the Great High Priest, who enfolds us in his priesthood just as the Eucharist we celebrate is enfolded in the Paschal mystery.

One is that if we are called to be deacons, priests and bishops in the Church of God, that is not to say that we are necessarily called permanently to work in the Church of England (nor indeed that any other communion may discern and accept the calling we think we have received). The Way of the Cross is not a broad road but a steep and rugged path.

The second is that the Church of England is not going imminently to disintegrate like some bouncy castle where the plug has been pulled. We shall not be seeing the floor, walls and ceiling collapse as we vainly try to keep jumping up and down. There are congregations – there will long be congregations – which are trying to live the Catholic life, and they will continue to need pastoring, and such pastoring remains an honourable calling for us even at a time of disintegration.

In short, those who want ‘a job for life,’ and all the comfort that that suggests, are looking in the wrong place if they look at the priesthood. The call to follow a young man who apparently came to a sticky end after a promising start is not a call to a job for life or to a high level of security. What God is calling us to – every baptized person – is the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Within that calling he is also calling young men to the Catholic priesthood and, I believe, still calling young men to the Catholic priesthood as practised in the Church of England, for the care and salvation of souls.

Remember Lot's Wife

Lent and Beyond has been running a Lent devotional for the past seven days. There have been some wonderful entries each day to read during Lent from different bloggers from around the world. I was kindly asked to submit an entry and my submission is there today. It is called 'Remember Lot's Wife.' Go read the entries eah day and I am sure you will be enriched by all of them as I have been.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saint Ignatius to the Ephesians



CHAPTER X.--EXHORTATIONS TO PRAYER, HUMILITY, ETC.
And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast
to their error, be ye stedfast in the faith; and for their cruelty, manifest your gentleness. While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brethren in all true kindness; and let us seek to be followers of the Lord(who ever more unjustly treated, more destitute, more condemned?), that so no plant of the devil may be found in you, but ye may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and spirit.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

St. Augustine on Confessing our Sins



6. For see what He saith; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Consequently, if thou hast confessed thyself a sinner, the truth is in thee: for the Truth itself is light. Thy life hath not yet shone in perfect brightness, because there are sins in thee; but yet thou hast already begun to be enlightened, because there is in thee the confession of sins. For see what follows: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to purge us from all iniquity.” Not only the past, but haply if we have contracted any from this life; because a man, so long as he bears the flesh, cannot but have some at any rate light sins. But these which we call light, do not thou make light of. If thou make light of them when thou weighest them, be afraid when thou countest them. Many light make one huge sin: many drops fill the river; many grains make the lump. And what hope is there? Before all, confession: lest any think himself righteous, and, before the eyes of God who seeth that which is, man, that was not and is, lift up the neck. Before all, then, confession; then, love: for of charity what is said? “Charity covereth a multitude of sins.” Now let us see whether he commendeth charity in regard of the sins which subsequently overtake us: because charity alone extinguisheth sins. Pride extinguisheth charity: therefore humility strengtheneth charity; charity extinguisheth sins Humility goes along with confession, the humility by which we confess ourselves sinners: this is humility, not to say it with the tongue, as if only to avoid arrogancy, lest we should displease men if we should say that we are righteous. This do the ungodly and insane: “I know indeed that I am righteous, but what shall I say before men? If I shall call myself righteous, who will bear it, who tolerate? let my righteousness be known unto God: I however will say that I am a sinner, but only that I may not be found odious for arrogancy.” Tell men what thou art, tell God what thou art. Because if thou tell not God what thou art, God condemneth what He shall find in thee. Wouldest thou not that He condemn thee? Condemn thou. Wouldest thou that He forgive do thou acknowledge, that thou mayest be able to say unto God, “Turn Thy face from my sins.” Say also to Him those words in the same Psalm “For I acknowledge mine iniquity.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to purge us from all iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” If thou shalt say, I have not sinned, thou makest Him a liar, while thou wishest to make thyself true. How is it possible that God should be a liar, and man true, when the Scripture saith the contrary, “Every man a liar, God alone true”? Consequently, God true through Himself, thou true through God; because through thyself, a liar.

St. Augustine: Homilies on the First Epistle of John Soliloquies.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Praying the Stations of the Cross



Tonight after our 7 pm Mass, we will be remaining in the church to pray through the Stations of the Cross as a part of our Lenten devotions with our parish. It is always a moving time during Lent to pray through these stations as we patiently await Easter and allow the season of Lent to mold us into a people of the Cross.

To pray the way of the cross requires only that you meditate before each station. Before each station you may say:
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross,
you have redeemed the world.
After each station you may say an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be...

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
take me along that holy way
you once took to your death,
Take my mind, my memory,
above all my reluctant heart,
and let me see what once you did
for love of me and all the world.
    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

Societas Sanctae Crucis

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