Monday, February 26, 2007

Blogging Going Silent for a Time

Dear Readers,

My life has recently gotten very hectic and very very busy!!!! I have so much to do and new things being added regularly that I am going to have to take a leave from blogging and reading other material until 1 May, 2007.

For a number of reasons concerning my preparation for the priesthood in the Church of England, my PhD on Lancelot Andrewes' Eucharistic Theology, my family time, and worship time, I humbly ask your prayers. Please come back to visit in a couple months time and I should be able to engage in writing again. I will have another chapter finished by then so I will have a lot to reflect on concerning Eucharistic presence in Andrewes' theology.

Thanks for the prayers! All the best wishes these next two months!


Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Catholic Church at its Best!

I recently added Fr. Jay Scott Newman (Random Thoughts) to my Catholic Blog links as well as his personal web page. These pages only go to show what a faithful witness and worship can be like in a Catholic setting. His site shows him to be a Catholic priest with an evangelical appetite for reaching out to his community and building Christian community in his parish. What a blessing and an encouragement to see what hard work can build in the faithfulness of God's kingdom. Pay Fr. Newman a visit and be prepared to be enriched spiritually as you journey in the Faith once delivered to the saints!

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is Wrong on Corporeal Presence

In an article I read on EWTN, Fr. Longenecker writes,
Likewise, the Church has always insisted—despite the difficulties—that the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not simply spiritual and subjective. It is objective and corporeal. In some way it is physical. At the Fourth Lateran Council the Church explained this belief with the phrase "transubstantiation." As the Oxford Dominican, Fr. Herbert McCabe has said, "Transubstantiation is not a complete explanation of the mystery, but it is the best description of what we believe happens at the consecration.
The problem with this quotation is that his explanation of 'corporal' presence is the very thing Aquinas denied Transubstantiation to teach. In Quodlibetales, lib. III., ques. 1. art. 2. Aquinas affirms that 'God cannot cause that the same body should be locally in two places at the same time.' Aquinas writes, 'It is impossible that the Body of Christ should be made present under the Sacrament by a local motion, because if this were so, it would follow that the Body of Christ would cease to be in heaven whenever the Sacrament was celebrated.' (Contra Gentiles, lib. IV., cap. 63) And in the Summa Aquinas writes, 'In no way is the Body of Christ locally in this Sacrament.' (III., 57.1) The corporal presence of Christ was withdrawn from us, and according to Aquinas this was more profitable for us. We are in the world by a corporal presence but Christ is not in the Sacrament by a Corporal presence according to Aquinas. For Aquinas, the Sacrament is not seen in its proper form in this Sacrament and I am interested to know in what manner Fr. Longenecker believes in a corporal presence for the doctrine of Transubstantiation. It was sense is it physical? It was not so for Aquinas!

Therefore, for Andrewes to deny the corporal presence of Christ in the Sacrament while embracing the substantial presence of the whole Christ within the elements is nothing short of his being faithful to St. Thomas Aquinas' theology of Sacramental Presence. The modus of that presence does indeed differ. Andrewes does not deny the realness of the substantial presence of Christ in this sacrament, i.e., the receiving the humanity and the divinity of Christ in the elements, yet he keeps it in the place of the mystery of the Sacrament and does not venture to describe it beyond what the scriptures and the early Fathers stated in the first five centuries.

Irenaeus: The Friendship of God

Our Lord, the Word of God, first drew men to God as servants, but later he freed those made subject to him, He himself testified to this: I do not call us servants any longer, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead I call you friends, since I have made known to you everything that I have learned from my Father. Friendship with God brings the gift of immortality to those who accept it.

In the beginning God crated Adam, not because he needed man, but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings. Not only before Adam but also before all creation, the Word was glorifying the Father in whom he dwelt, and was himself being glorified by the Father. The Word himself said: Father, glorify me with that glory that I had with you before the world was.

Nor did the Lord need our service. He commanded us to follow him, but his was the gift of salvation. To follow the Savior is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light. Those who are in the light do not illuminate the light but are themselves illuminated and enlightened the light. They add nothing to the light; rather, they are beneficiaries, for they are enlightened by the light.

The same is true of serve to God: it adds nothing to God, nor does God need the service of man. Rather, he gives life and immortality and eternal glory to those who follow and serve him. He confers a benefit on his servants in return for their service and on his followers in return for their loyalty, bu he receives no benefit from them. He is rich, perfect and in need of nothing.

The reason why God requires service from man is this: because he is good and merciful he desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service. In proportion to God’s need of nothing is man’s need for communion with God.

This is the glory of man: to persevere and remain in the service of God. For this reason the Lord told his disciples: You did not choose me but I chose you. He meant that his disciples did not glorify him by following him, but in following the Son of God they were glorified by him. As he said: I wish that were I am they also may be, that they may see my glory.

Forty Days of Lent

Friday, February 23, 2007

A New Communion: Is it Wanted?

Of course it is wanted if anyone cares about the real catholicity of the Church. If there is ever going to be any further discussions with our ecumenical partners with Catholic ecclesiology then it must be wanted and it is desperately needed. The global Anglican Communion cannot go on with every province doing 'what is right in its own eyes' regardless of the 'standards' of the Communion as a whole. This remains one of the greatest weaknesses of Anglicanism of which the formation of the Covenant is seeking to correct. Our provinces are a part of a whole and one province cannot go against the explicit teaching of the Communion on something like sexuality and expect to maintain its rightful place in the Communion. This means that the entire Communion and each and every province must begin to learn to police itself and hold one another accountable to the same standard across the board. That goes for us in the C of E as well as any other province in the global communion. It will take time to work this out but it is kingdom work nonetheless.

Church Times Editorial
AS “GOOD NEWS” stories go, it has scope for improvement: Anglican leaders avoid split. The Primates’ conduct in Tanzania was not good enough to set an example of Christian charity to the world — the absence of seven Primates from the Sunday eucharist put paid to that. None the less, the news from the Primates’ Meeting was much better than many had feared. Whatever the reasons, whatever the explanations, a formal split in the Anglican Communion would have been a disgrace.Just how successful the Primates were in avoiding schism remains to be seen. Much rests on how the new pastoral council is viewed: as a welcome contribution to healing within the Episcopal Church in the United States, or as the imposition of a clumsy structure that can only formalise division. Will the proposed pastoral scheme draw the secessionists back into the fold? Or will it create a separate fold of its own? Before these questions need to be answered, the US House of Bishops must produce a clear, unambiguous statement eschewing gay bishops and same-sex blessings. If it fails to do so, all bets are off. The immediate questions, though, serve only to mask the bigger question that lurks behind them. Because the Anglican Communion has existed without rules or boundaries for so long, individuals and congregations have belonged to it by accident of birth or geography. The adoption of a covenant would turn the Communion into an intentional Church. If one wanted to invent a global church structure, this is one relatively gentle way of doing it: lots of definition, a bit of process, and very few sanctions. But Anglicans have arrived at this point without in any way committing themselves to a global Communion. Many churchgoers find it hard to accept that any power resides outside their parish. The suggestion that they might be prevented from doing something, or encouraged to do something else, by an overseas body is still a novel one. Dr Williams and the Primates have been working on the premise that Anglicans are willing to slide from the old form of Anglicanism to the new one. Even those who would agree, probably the majority, need to see a better model of how this greater accountability would work. Three of the four instruments of unity — the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates’ Meeting — are entirely episcopal. Only the Anglican Consultative Council contains priests and lay people. The de facto arbiter of Anglican polity is the Primates’ Meeting. Its functioning in Tanzania has not greatly enhanced its reputation. Indeed, it might single-handedly scupper the Anglican experiment, if churchgoers see only tense wrangling ahead. The workings and supervision of the pastoral council in the US, if it is accepted there, will be a serious test of how a new Communion might work on the ground.

St. Clement (Letter to the Corinthians): Repentance

Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God's message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God's forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God's people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God's grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added the evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, "Father", and I will listen to you as to a holy people.

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarreling and jealousy which only lead to death.

Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must no glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches.
Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just.

Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.

Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As scripture asks: Whom shall I look upon with favor except the humble, peaceful man who trembles at my words?

Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Happened in Tanzania?

First Things: Jordan Hylden is a junior fellow at First Things.

“We came very close to separation,” said Archbishop Gregory Venables of this weekend’s meeting of global Anglican leaders, “but Biblical doctrine and behavior have been affirmed as the norms in the Anglican Church.”

It could have gone the other way, and for a time it looked as if it would. But, in the end, Anglican conservatives everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief on reading the strongly worded statement issued unanimously by the Church’s thirty-eight primates, which bluntly called on the Episcopal Church—the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States—to reverse its course or face expulsion. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not the liberal American church will decide to comply. But by avoiding schism and enacting meaningful discipline upon one of its errant members, the Anglican Communion proved itself to be a reality with substance rather than the failed experiment many feared it had become. Today, concluded the theologian Philip Turner, “Anglicanism remains a credible expression of Catholic Christianity.”

Those who follow the story know that the current crisis stems from the Episcopal Church’s decision in 2003 to consecrate a non-celibate homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire and to allow priests in several dioceses to bless same-sex unions formally. Global reaction was swift and sharp, with multiple Anglican provinces (notably Nigeria and Rwanda) immediately declaring a state of “broken” or “impaired” communion with the Episcopal Church. Tensions were high even within the Episcopal Church itself, as numerous conservative parishes began leaving or threatening to leave—with the national church office suing or threatening to sue all who tried it.

Although on its surface it all seemed to be an argument merely about sex, on a deeper level it was a crisis of unity and authority. Five years prior to Gene Robinson’s consecration as bishop, the 1998 Lambeth Conference (a gathering of all Anglican bishops, which meets every ten years) had upheld the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and sexual ethics. Anglicans, who lack a central executive authority, have long depended on its thirty-eight member churches to abide by the decisions made together in council. The consecration of Gene Robinson called that expectation into question—and thereby the very idea of Anglican unity and authority.

Since the earliest times of the Christian Church, bishops have acted to represent the unity and authority of the global Church to the local diocese, and the local diocese to the global church. So if Gene Robinson did not believe what the Church believes, then how could he represent the Anglican Church in New Hampshire? The same problem presented itself on a church-wide level: If the Episcopal Church did not believe what the Anglican Church believes, then in what sense does it remain an Anglican church? And what good is the Lambeth Conference if no one actually has to follow it?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday: Thoughts from Leo the Great

Relying, therefore, dearly-beloved, on so great a promise, be heavenly not only in hope, but also in conduct. And though our minds must at all times be set on holiness of mind and body, yet now during these 40 days of fasting bestir yourselves to yet more active works of piety, not only in the distribution of alms, which are very effectual in attesting reform, but also in forgiving offences, and in being merciful to those accused of wrongdoing, that the condition which God has laid down between Himself and us may not be against us when we pray. For when we say, in accordance with the Lord's teaching, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors," Matthew 6.12 we ought with the whole heart to carry out what we say. For then only will what we ask in the next clause come to pass, that we be not led into temptation and freed from all evils: through Christ Jesus our Lord, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

protect us in our struggle against evil.
As we begin the discipline of Lent,
make this day holy by our self-denial.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen

Father in heaven,
the light of Your truth bestows sight
to the darkness of sinful eyes
May this season of repentance
bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness
and the gift of your light. Amen.

If you are keen, I am returning to the Lenten reading with the Church Fathers this year. It proved very beneficial last year and I am going to do it again. A BIG thanks goes out to Ancient and Future Catholics for their work in putting some excellent material together. Make sure to pay them a visit!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Interview with Archbishop Orombi

Listen to it here.

Primates Communique

The Primates have issued their communique and it is stronger than I had expected due to the news trickling out of Tanzania. It only goes to show that we wait and let those who make the decisions speak before too much speculation. "Assume" does a number of things and one is not very glamourous!

There is a lot to hope for in the communique but as one phrase said in it, there will have to be good will exercised for it to be accomplished in the situation that is currently in the American church. A lot of mistrust will need to be overcome. The track record of the American church signing things and doing the exact opposite does not leave many there hopeful for a real solution in the near future. This point brings me to critique some of the American culture that demands immediacy in everything it does. The worldview that built the cathedrals of England--particularly my cathedral here in Durham England--is absent from many. Those who laboured on the cathedral knew that they would not see it completed or never experience a worship service within it. They did not labour for themselves but the future Church which would follow them. We have been enjoying the beauty of the building for nearly 1,000 years! It is this view that I would encourage all of us to consider when we put our hand to the plow in God's kingdom. We labour not knowing if we will ever see the final results or any at all. Yet, we go on working for the coming of God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That means, things will not happen in our time but in God's. We are merely called to be faithful and God will work the details out for himself. When we place our heads on our pillows each night to rest, we might not feel we saw any fruit from our labours, but it is another day where another stone was placed on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ there as the cornerstone.

Now it is time for me to go work on the stone God has given for me to lay today for his kingdom. Before I do, I leave you with the highlights of the communique which are nicely pointed out by those at Anglican Mainstream. The entire Communique can be found here at ACNS. Read it very slowly and very carefully! God bless! Iwould love to hear any of your thoughts.

Communique key points
The Archbishop of Canterbury said at the press conference that ‘the meat of our recommendations is paragraph 17. This reads “At the heart of our tensions is the belief that The Episcopal Church has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by consenting to the episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed same-sex relationship, and by permitting Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions. The episcopal ministry of a person living in a same-sex relationship is not acceptable to the majority of the Communion.”

The report of the sub-group has effectively been over-ridden. Para 23 reads “Further, some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.” And Para 24 says, “The response of The Episcopal Church to the requests made at Dromantine has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships.”

The Primates request through the presiding bishop that the house of Bishops of TEC:

1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the Bishops will not authorise any rite of blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through general Convention - see Windsor 143, 144 - and,
2. confirm that the passing of resolution B033 of the seventy-fifth general convention - means that a candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent - see Windsor 134;
unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the communion - see Windsor para 134.

The Deadline for the answer is September 30th 2007.

“If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.”

On AMia and CANA
“Although there are particular difficulties associated with AMiA and CANA, the Pastoral Council should negotiate with them and the Primates currently ministering to them to find a place for them within these provisions. We believe that with goodwill this may be possible.”

The Primates urge TEC and those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. Bishop Martin Minns of CANA has said “I am pleased that the Anglican Communion leadership has recognised the serious break in the Episcopal Church and that CANA and AMiA are valid expressions of Anglican life and need to be part of the solution. The Primates are saying that all legal action should stop. I hope so. The Presiding Bishop initiated the legal actions and she has signed on to a document that says she will.”

The Communique is unanimous.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Growing Together: Catholics and Anglicans

My current research includes two chapters on Eucharistic sacrifice. One is Andrewes' theology and understanding of Eucharistic sacrifice and the other is seeing Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism today. Earlier today, the commission on ministry together between Anglicans and Catholics made public a 40-plus page document on unity. What this statement says and what I have discovered in Andrewes proves my thesis that Andrewes was the progenitor of ecumenism on this issue that I am convinced he was. Here is the statement on the Eucharist found in the document Growing Together in Communion and Mission.
We agree that the Eucharist is the memorial (anamnesis) of the crucified and risen Christ, of the entire work of reconciliation God has accomplished in him.84 By memorial, Anglicans and Catholics both intend not merely a calling to mind of what God has done in the past but an effectual sacramental proclamation, which through the action of the Holy Spirit makes present what has been accomplished and promised once-and-for-all. In this sense, then, there is only one historical, unrepeatable sacrifice, offered once for all by Christ and accepted once for all by the Father, which cannot be repeated or added to.85 The eucharistic memorial, however, makes present this once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ. It is therefore possible to say that “the Eucharist is a sacrifice in the sacramental sense, provided that it is clear that this is not a repetition of the historical sacrifice.”86 “In the Eucharistic Prayer, the Church continues to make a perpetual memorial of Christ’s death, and his members, united with God and one another, give thanks for all his mercies, entreat the benefits of his passion on behalf of the whole Church, participate in these benefits, and enter into the movement of his self-offering.”87 The action of the Church in the eucharistic celebration “adds nothing to the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross” but is rather a fruit of that sacrifice. In the eucharistic celebration Christ’s one sacrifice is made present for us.88

The Anglican Communion?

I am sure you are praying this morning for the Primates' meeting as am I. To be honest, I have a very heavy heart due to what has been reported throughout the week. Rhea and I are very saddened by the news where it appears we are on the brink of a serious division. We have offered the Lord so much of our lives to serve him in the Anglican Communion and it will break my heart if it divides. My love is for the C of E and the people in the NE (Durham Diocese) where I feel God has called me to serve. However, I still have a heart for our friends around the world that I desperately do not want to see come to an end. The news reports have made it very hard to concentrate on my work because of the deep sadness I feel today. Please join me in praying for the Spirit to overcome divisions where humility, love, trust and truth prevail in the Anglican Communion. We need all four virtues for unity to be restored in order to build a healthy communion. May God bless his Church and show those who lead his will for the Bride of his Son!

Anglican Mainstream has reported on the forthcoming communique which is to be released this evening at 6:45 Tanzania time 3:45 GMT. Anglican Mainstream reports the following:
The final press conference will be addressed by the Archbishops of Tanzania, Canterbury and Australia tonight at 18:45 Tanzania time (GMT 15:45). The Communique is five pages long and will be released with the covenant in time for the press conference. The Communique was presented as a unanimous report by the communique group which included Archbishops John Chew (South East Asia), Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean) and Drexel Gomez (West Indies). Drexel Gomez chaired the discussion of the Communique. The agenda has been completely changed today, the Lambeth Conference will be discussed this afternoon. Jim Rosenthal, the Director of Communications, expects the Primates to be working on the Communique till the last second. There will be a group photo of new Primates at 16:00 Tanzania Time. Jim Rosenthal also referred to the story in today’s Times about the Anglican Communion and Rome. He expressly said that the report was released a week and a half ago and was not leaked. He denied that there was anything new in it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Archbishop Orombi's Primate Sermon on 16 Feb.

Source: Anglican Mainstream

The Church of Uganda

The Church of Uganda was born in 1877 through CMS missionaries who were invited by the King of Buganda. In 1885 Bishop James Hannington was murdered as he came to Uganda through the eastern part of the country. He was believed to be an enemy because he was approaching Uganda from the east. On June 3rd 1886, the Martyrs of Uganda were killed because they refused homosexual advances by the then King of Buganda. In 1962 Uganda became independent. In 1971 Idi Amin took over from Dr Apolo Milton Obote, the elected President of Uganda.


Janani Luwum spoke of when he surrendered his life to Christ:

“Today I have become a leader in Christ’s army. I am prepared to die in the army of Jesus. As Jesus shed his blood for his people, if it is God’s will, I do the same.” Such were the words of a primary-school teacher in his own village where he was well known and where his family and village had wanted him to be a chief. “When I was converted, after realising that my sins were forgiven and the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy and peace. I suddenly found myself climbing a tree to tell those in the school compound to repent and turn to Jesus Christ. From time to time I spoke in tongues. I stayed up that tree for a long time.”

“Later on I discovered that some boys were converted due to my sermon I preached up that tree. The reality of Jesus overwhelmed me – and it still does. But I would be wrong to demand that those who are converted should climb a tree and speak in tongues.”

Eleven months after his conversion, on one Sunday afternoon, Janani Luwum was moved to address an open-air meeting at All Saints Church in Kitgum, and he said: “The Holy Spirit has been showing me how many educated men are deserting the Church. When the Church dies out of existence they won’t be there to take the blame. I feel deeply convicted that it the church faces extinction in this my native land, I will be around to die first before the Church falls, collapses or dies. It will have to fall on me. I totally surrender myself to the Church.”

Then he fell on the ground and wept bitterly amid loud shouts of praise, thanksgiving and tears of joy of repentance. Yusto Otunno responded by saying that Luwum, as one of the educated brethren, should join the full time ministry of the Church. God was calling him to sacrifice his teaching career, and the real possibility of being a local chief, and to offer himself for ordination.

His death

Early in 1977, a small army rebellion was put down with only seven men dead. However, Amin determined to stamp out all traces of dissent. His men killed thousands, including the entire population of Milton Obote’s home village. On Sunday, 30 January, Bishop Festo Kivengere preached on “The Preciousness of Life” to an audience including many high government officials. He denounced the arbitrary bloodletting, and accused the government of abusing the authority that God had entrusted to it. The government responded on the following Saturday (5 February) by an early (1.30 am) raid on the home of the Archbishop, Janani Luwum, ostensibly to search for hidden stores of weapons. The Archbishop called on President Amin to deliver a note of protest at the policies of arbitrary killings and the unexplained disappearances of many persons. Amin accused the Archbishop of treason, produced a document supposedly by former President Obote attesting his guilt, and had the Archbishop and two Cabinet members ( both committed Christians) arrested and held for military trial. The three met briefly with four other prisoners who were awaiting execution, and were permitted to pray with them briefly. Then the three were placed in a Land Rover and not seen alive again by their friends. The government story is that one of the prisoners tried to seize control of the vehicle and that it was wrecked and the passengers killed.

The story believed by the Archbishop’s supporters is that he refused to sign a confession, was beaten and otherwise abused, and finally shot. His body was placed in a sealed coffin and sent to his native village for burial there. However, the villagers opened the coffin and discovered the bullet holes. In the capital city of Kampala a crowd of about 4500 gathered for a memorial service beside the grave that of the martyred Bishop Hannington. In Nairobi, the capital of nearby Kenya, about 10,000 gathered for another memorial service. Bishop Kivengere was informed that he was about to be arrested, and he and his family fled to Kenya, as did the widow and orphans of Archbishop Luwum.

The following, about 25,000 Ugandans came to the capital to celebrate the centennial of the first preaching of the Gospel in their country, among the participants were many who had abandoned Christianity, but who had returned to their Faith as a result of seeing the courage of Archbishop Luwum and his companions in the face of death.


Archbishop Janani Luwum, the third Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire died a sacrificial death. His death brought revival to the Church of Uganda and changed the political climate of Uganda. He was declared the twenty-first saint in the Anglican Communion in 1998.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Catholics set to pass Anglicans as leading Church in UK

Roman Catholicism is set to become the dominant religion in Britain for the first time since the Reformation because of massive migration from Catholic countries across the world.Catholic parishes will swell by hundreds of thousands over the next few years after managing years of decline, according to a new report, as both legal and illegal migrants enter the country. It says that the influx of migrants could be the Catholic community’s “greatest threat” or its “greatest opportunity”.

While in some places the Catholic Church has responded positively, in others it has been “overwhelmed” by the scale of the challenge. The growth of Catholicism in Britain comes as the established Church of England and the Anglican provinces in Scotland, Wales and Ireland face continuing, if slow, decline. Average Sunday attendance of both churches stood even at nearly one million in 2005, according to the latest statistics available for England and Wales, but the attendance at Mass is expected to soar.

See the full article here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Commenting Problem

It has been reported to me that some are having trouble commenting on this blog. If you are having problems, would you please send me an e-mail telling me what is happening? I would really appreciate it. Click on the e-mail tab on the right to send me an email.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Should I Even Respond?

Over at Reformed Catholicism, Mr. Escalante, in his characteristic way of poking people with his barbs lacks any ability of true dialogue. He knows better than us all so why even bother with people like this? Every scholar I have read on Andrewes (Anglican, Roman Catholic Jesuit, Eastern Orthodox) disagrees with him on how he has framed the arguments in addition to his continual refusal to see the evidence that is before his eyes. Nobody argues that the Caroline Divines believed in transubstantiation or in localized presence. Mr. Escalante's arguments are further proof of his philosphical commitment to nominalistic categories.

The Caroline Divines denied the use of the word (transubstantiation) due to its absence in the Fathers in the first 400 years and in scripture. Therefore, this 'how' of presence should not be made a test for faith. By the way, does anybody else--who has ever read at any depth in sacramental theology--believe that a realistic view of presence ever thought about teaching that Jesus leaves heaven? Why should I even chase such red herrings? I shouldn't and I am not! Mr. Escalante can go read Aquinas for himself and find the references to what is meant by real presence. With regards to his thorough analysis on "Andrewes' Calvinist sacramentology", I simply ask the reader to examine closely the comments on your own (you'll have to search the RC site for them) to see who answered what.

In case the reader may think I simply want to cop out because Mr. Escalante has proven me wrong, I will leave a quotation or two from Andrewes from his Responsio ad Bellarmine. Let the reader understand.

Durandus it is told to have formerly said, it does not displease us: we hear a word, we perceive a movement, we do not know the mode, we believe in the presence. Presence (I say) we rightly believe, we believe in real presence no less than you. About the mode of presence we define nothing rashly, I add, we do not anxiously investigate; which is not more than, in our baptism, how the blood of Christ cleanses us: which is not more than, in the incarnation of Christ, how the human nature is united to the Divine nature in the same hypostasis. We place it amongst the mysteries, and indeed the Eucharist is a mystery itself as elegantly put amongst the first Fathers, it should be worshiped by faith and not discussed with reason....But he says, the thing itself still, though nameless, is used by the Fathers against which our Jesuits deny that the Fathers ever dealt with the matter of Transubstantiation. The matter of Transubstantiation is for him a change of the substance. And he summons several witnesses to this matter. And this still, (whether there is a conversion of the substance) not long before the Lateran Council the Master of the Sentences himself says, I am not able to define. Indeed all witnesses speak about an alteration [mutatione], a replacement [immutatione], a change about [transmutatione]. But in the Substance or of the substance there is nothing mentioned. But also the preposition there Trans we do not deny: we also allow for the elements to be changed. We truly look for Substantial, we discover it nowhere. (My translation)

In a sermon on the Incarnation Andrewes writes:
Of the Sacrament we may well say, Hoc erit signum. For a sign it is, and by it invenietis Puerum, 'ye shall find this Child.' For finding His flesh and blood, ye cannot miss but find Him too. And a sign, not much from this here. For Christ in the Sacrament is not altogether unlike Christ in the cratch. To the cratch we may well liken the husk or outward symbols of it. Outwardly it seems little worth, but it is rich of contents, as was the crib this day with Christ in it. For what are they but infirma et egena elementa, 'weak and poor elements' of themselves? Yet in them find we Christ. Even as they did this day in praesepi jumentorum panem angelorum, 'in the beasts' crib the food of angels,' which very food our signs both represent and present unto us.

Let me add something due to some comments below by Kevin (whose desires are honourable). Andrewes (along with all the other Caroline Divines) absolutely denied transubstantiation. YOu could lose your head for coming close to teaching it (oops, Laud along with his king did). Andrewes denied transubstantiation as the modus of presence not the reality of presence. The doctrine of real presence within the elements is clearly seen throughout his writings and sermons. The quotations above further show Andrewes' realistic language of which myself and Dr. Brian Douglas have aruged all along. For Andrewes, the sacrament consists of a heavenly and earthly part, the res sacramenti and the signum sacramenti, the signum and the signatum, which are united together without either being "evacuate or turned into the other" as are the two natures of Christ (Andrewes' words). Andrewes aruges this position following the realistic language of Irenaeus of whom reference is made in the Christmas sermon where his view is clearly stated. Andrewes says, 'Christ in the Eucharist is really present and truly to be adored, that is to say the res sacramenti,...and yet none of us adore the sacrament.' Well, who argues for the latter? It's interesting that Andrewes says this and then goes on in his notes on the BCP where he genuflects three times at the altar at the moment of the Eucharistic celebration. If Rome believed that they could worship the elements, then any of the Reformers would be right to condemn them as charged. But the whole point of Christ being present in the sacrament, according to Andrewes, is so that the 'who' and not the 'what' is worshipped, offered and received.

What Mr. Escalante puts into Dr. Douglas' and my mouth is an argument that says Christ is 'naturally' present in the Eucharist as he is in heaven. That is not what is meant by the word verum. He makes the mistake of claiming that red herring as my argument when neither I nor Dr. Douglas ever made such claims when we speak of a realist view of presence in the Sacrament. Mr. Escalante claims that we argue a view where Christ is somehow 'naturally' squeezed into the Eucharistic elements. The problem with this claim is that nobody believes it and to keep repeating it gets us away from dealing with the real issue. Andrewes uses the metaphor of the Eucharist as a 'conduit pipe' 'to convey into us all the benefits that come by our Saviour. ' If you want to argue that Calvin and Andrewes agree with a realist view of presence then I am more than happy to see that proof. This was Mr. Escalante's original thesis. I would like to see where Calvin takes such a high view of consecration (not to mention sacrifice) if you want to argue that the two are the same in their views. Andrewes writes,
That hath a special Cum of itself, peculiar to it. Namely, that we be so with Him, as He this day was ‘with us;’ that was in flesh, not in spirit only. That flesh that was conceived and this day born, (Corpus aptasti Mihi,) that body that was this day fitted to Him. And if we be not with Him thus, if this His flesh be not “with us,” if we partake it not, which was soever else we be with Him, we come short of the Im of this day. Im otherwise it may be, but not that way which is proper to this feast. This, as it is most proper, so it is the most straight and near that can be—the surest being withall that can be. Nihil tam nobiscum, tam nostrum, quam alimentum
‘nothing so with us, so ours, as that we eat and drink down,’ which goeth, and growth one with us. For alimentum et alitum do coalescere in unum, ‘grow into an union;’ that union is inseperable ever after...This then I commend to you, even the being with Him in the Sacrament of His Body—that Body that was conceived and born, as for other ends so for this specially, to be “with you;” and this day, as for other intents, so even for this, for the Holy Eucharist. This, as the kindliest for the time, as the surest for the manner of being with.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Parasitic Catholicism? Anglo-Catholics and Private Judgment

Fr. Al Kimel has written an article where he states at one point that the Anglo-Catholic is merely submitting him or herself to "private" judgment. Here is what Fr. Kimel says:
Yet as difficult as it may be for this good priest to hear, I must continue to maintain that the catholic Anglican is in an untenable and incoherent position. He confesses the faith of the Church catholic, yet the church in which he serves makes no such confession—nor can it. Though the Anglo-Catholic may declare his agreement with many catholic essentials, yet he does so from within an ecclesial body that has always allowed disagreement on these essentials. The real presence, eucharistic sacrifice, prayer for the dead, invocation of the saints, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the necessity of the historic episcopate—each of these doctrines, all of which are considered essential by both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, are judged optional, if not rejected outright, by historic Anglicanism. So it has been from the very beginning of the English reform (see William Tighe’s discussion of the 39 Article). More recently, the bulk of Anglicanism has rejected the catholic doctrine of the male priesthood. Catholic Anglicans sincerely seek to submit themselves to catholic authority, yet their church does not and cannot command their catholic obedience. As a result, they are forced to create their own versions of the catholic faith, each version varying from individual to individual. And this is true not only for individual Anglo-Catholics but also for the small Anglo-Catholic denominations within the Continuing Anglican movement. The Anglo-Catholic, whether individually or corporately, lives by private judgment.
Is he right?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Primates Meeting in Tanzania: In Hope Against Hope

Well, the news hype continues to grow with regards to the Primates Meeting in Tanzania this week. Undoubtedly, the decisions made there will cause pain and probably more division. I am not sure what God is doing in his Church today, but I know the level of division runs very deep. As a member of the Church of England and a future priest within the C of E, all of this is quite painful on the global scale. Yet when you walk through the villages around Durham and talk to people, it is actually the last thing on their minds. Most do not even know it is happening. So much is needed here in the way of ministry. There are places within England where the people barely make it each week. Giving £5 a week to the church is often more than they can spare. Church attendance is down and the amount of the "unchurched" in this part of the world is shocking to be honest.

I am concerned and do approach this week with a heavy heart, if I am really honest. But whatever happens at the Primates Meeting, the people in my diocese will still need faithful priests to love them, teach them and exercise the sacramental ministry of the Church on their behalf. Major decisions of discipline against the Americans may cause further divisions within our beloved C of E. That possibility gives me the most concern. No matter what takes place, I feel called to stay the course and serve Christ's Church here in England while I still have the breath and energy to do so.

This week of mine will be committed to prayer for repentance and unity that will create a new space for a restored Church and the healing of broken relationships. Many are hoping for justice--hoping that the American church gets their due. I am hoping for mercy because I know what justice will say about what is due me on the last day. Of course, I pray the Church remains faithful to the Faith once delivered to the saints; and that includes the manner in which she approaches human sexuality. But it will not be a high-five slapping event if the North Americans are removed from the Communion. It will be another tragedy and black mark on the Church in history.

May God bless the Anglican Communion, our bishops and all who love and serve the Lord Jesus. Heal the brokenness within all of us, Father, that we might become wounded healers for a broken world! God be with our Primates!

Prayer in a Workaday World

Arthur Middleton: Go here to buy it!!!!

Real prayer consists of three essential constituents - oral or bodily prayer, prayer of the mind and prayer of the heart or 'of the mind in the heart', and if one or the other constituent is absent it is not prayer at all. This book is not just about theory it is also about the practicalities of prayer. The author's concern is to help people discover their rule of prayer in a way of living where contemplation and action harmonize so that they can 'pray without ceasing' in a busy world.

0 85244 677 2 216 pages £9.99

Here is what Bishop Geoffrey Rowell had to say:

As an experienced retreat conductor and spiritual guide over many years, Arthur Middleton brings out of his treasury things old and new,and it is a welcome relief to read a book on Christian praying so rooted in the Christian tradition - the Fathers, the great spiritual writers of the Middle Ages, the Anglican seventeenth-century divines and the Tractarians and their successors - and which is yet so properly practical as to how to go about the business of praying, both personally and corporately. Arthur Middleton's gift of writing with exemplary lucidity and theological profundity has served him well in what he has offered to us in this book.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Richard Montagu (1577-1641) Real Presence

One of the things I think about a lot is the sad division over the Sacrament of Unity. Zwingli's and Oecelampadius' 'real absence' must be rejected as heterodox teaching. But, does one have to use the language of 'transubstantiation' or 'consubstantiation' (the latter is debatable for Luther's position) in order to embrace 'real presence' in the Eucharist where the recpient receives really and truly the whole substance of Christ by this sacrament? Montagu said,
Christ giveth us his very body and bloud and really and truely performs in us his promise in feeding our soules unto eternal life. As for the manner how, This inexplicable, that unutterable: it is faith onely that can give the resolution. Trans or con. skill not of...otherwise acknowledge, there is, there need bee, no difference in the point of reall presence.
With favour, Montagu quotes from Justin Martyr's testimony that said,
For wee do not receive these things as common bread or common drink: but even as our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ, by the Word of God and Prayer, through which food beeing altered and changed, our flesh and bloud is sustained becommeth the flesh and bloud of him, that Jesus, who took our flesh in his Incarnation.
Is this, in all honesty, anything less than what the Church of Rome or that of the East have always been desirous of protecting against those who would see the Eucharist as an empty figure? A transmutation, transelementation, transignification, divines such as Montagu and Andrewes, Forbes and Thorndike NEVER denied. That the word transubstantiation must be used to explain the 'HOW' of the mystery; they denied. Besides the WORD transubstantiation, what is missing?

A Few New Books

I just received a few books in the post thanks to a couple of charities for those preparing for the priesthood in the Church of England. I was happily given a nice gift towards books and I look forward to the 25 or so that are on the way! Here is what just came:

1) Joseph Martos, Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacraments in the Catholic Church (Revised and Updated)
2) Robert Sokolowski: Christian Faith and Human Understanding: Studies on the Eucharist, Trinity and Human Understanding.
3) Gerhard Muller: Priesthood and Diaconate

An Interesting site

Take a look at Anglicana Ecclesia! I have added it to my 'links'. biretta tip: Fr. Al Kimel

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Beauty of Snow in the Morning

It was a beautiful walk into Morning Prayer at 7.30 this morning as the snow fell (quite cold too) as I walked in the quiet of the morning. It is so amazing how quiet everything goes when snow is on the ground. The only thing one hears is the snow falling through the trees. That was what it was like this morning as I walked along the River Wear into college for Morning Prayer and breakfast. As I now sit in my study room, i am able to look out the window as the snow falls around the Durham Cathedral. Hopefully some inspiration will be the result as I write on Eucharistic sacrifice and presence in Andrewes' theology!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bishop Tom Wright on the Primates' Meeting: Brilliant!!!

Read it all!
He is absolutely right here: the American church did it to themselves. It is on their own heads if they find themselves out of the Communion because they were warned and did it anyway. If they want to be prophets, then they have to follow the rules of prophecy: you may be found wrong and with that comes consequences!

Image and video hosting by TinyPicTom Wright said: "For the last three years, every meeting has looked like this is the make-or-beak one. There is a bit of this now - yet one more time round the tracks. However, the film is gradually unwinding and we are closing in on the fact that something has got to happen soon. By the end of 2007 the Archbishop of Canterbury will have had to send out invitations to the Lambeth Conference. One way or another, the decisions he has to make in relation to that are bound to have some kind of effect in various parts of the Anglican Communion.

"That is a way of saying that by this time next year, we will certainly not be where we are now. Some lines will have hardened, one way or another.There is so much sound and fury in many different directions that it is a matter of several different pressures from several different corners - trying to hear them and listen to the voice of God in the middle of it all and make some sense of it.

"The question is, is there any solution that a solid central ground will assemble around? My view is that it would be a solution based on the Windsor Report and what has flowed from it. It is the only thing on the table. If we are going to scrap that we would have to go back three years to start all over again. The solution would consist of the Primates accepting what the Covenant Drafting Group did in Nassau. The word is they made good progress at that meeting. I assume that means they will have something to put before the Primates. Then the question is how far that can be taken and how soon. I assume the immediate plan is to take it to Lambeth 2008. There is also the question of what the provinces will say about it.

"The more sharp-edged question is who is seen to be speaking for the American evangelicals. Rowan has invited to Dar Es Salaam two of the leading Windsor bishops, the ones holding the ground around the Windsor report, who are not secceding and going to Nigeria but who are not going to waver in the terms that Ecusa got it wrong and it is still getting it wrong and needs to be called to order. The question is how that is going to be resolved in the first few days of the meeting. I do not have a game plan on how that is going to work. Rowan is head and shoulders above all of them in terms of his wisdom and ability. He listens extremely carefully to everybody and then goes away and prays about it. He is never an uncritical listener. There is noone who Rowan will allow to tell him what to do. He will think and pray through everything that he hears. His commitment is to work for the unity of the Church and the advancement of the Gospel. Those who want to go and do their own thing do not like it when the Archbishop of Canterbury says the unity of the Church means you cannot."

He referred to the recent controversial correspondence initiated by the ACO's Kenneth Kearon. "For Kenneth Kearon to accuse Rowan Williams of fostering schism is quite extraordinary. That is like someone in a house that is on fire accusing the firemen of ruining the book collection because they have sprayed water on it. It is quite clear that the split is coming from those in the American church who are insisting on doing something that the Lambeth Conference and the rest of the Communion had asked them not to do. To accuse Rowan Williams of fomenting schism is really projecting onto Rowan the schismatic actions which happened in 2003 when the Americans first gave acquiesence to Gene Robinson at their General Convention and then went ahead and consecrated him. In October 2003, the Primates said clearly that if this action goes ahead it will tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level. The Americans went ahead and did it. All that has happened subsequently is the rest of the Communion saying we really hope you did not mean that but if you did, have you thought through the consequences? There are many in America who are trying to have their cake and eat it, who are doing the schismatic thing and then accusing those who object of being schismatic. That is the bizarre thing."

He cannot see how the Primates' Meeting will play out. "I wish I had a glimmer. Obviously my hope would be that the recommendations of the Windsor report will be followed through and will have their effect in terms of renewing The Episcopal Church rather than splitting it. But there will be lots of people who won't like that renewal, if and when it happens. If the Windsor report is not followed, then we do not have another apparent standard. We have to remind ourselves that the fact that the Windsor Report was being written through 2004 was what enabled us to hold together when otherwise things would have split apart. We have got to stick with it, otherwise we have wasted our time.

"If the Anglican Communion, and particularly the American church and others like it, can be renewed according to the pattern of the Windsor Report, which is of course according to the pattern of Scripture, then those who are looking to foreign jurisdictions will find a way to come back into the fold. Then there would be a sigh of relief all round. In American there are dozens of breakaway bits and pieces, it is confusing and very messy. It is very American. But it is very unhelpful to the cause of the Church and the Gospel. As for what would happen to Gene Robinson? Pass. I really do not think there is a good answer to that one. The Windsor Report quotes the Archbishop of Canterbury himself saying in 2003 that if Robinson were in most other provinces of the Anglican Communion, he certainly could not be a bishop. As a priest he would be under discipline because of what has happened in terms of his marriage and partnership. In most provinces he could not have been a bishop. Therefore to ask other provinces to come to Lambeth and accept Gene Robinson as one of their number is a very big ask.

"The Lambeth invitation list is entirely up to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think if the Windsor report is followed through then we have to say that those who have taken certain actions and who have not expressed regret in the way that Windsor requested should voluntarily absent themselves from the councils of the Communion."

So why was Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori going to Tanzania? "At Dromantine the Primates said they wanted Ecusa to answer some questions. Ecusa did what they did last summer, which was not to answer the questions. They gave half an answer to two of them, and no answer at all to the third, which was about authorising blessings. Bishop Jefferts Schori herself authorised same-sex blessings in her former diocese in 2003, so she is one of the bishops who did what Lambeth specifically asked not to be done. Whenever she has been asked to comment on that, she says she stands where she always did. That is a real problem. That is the real issue. The fact that she is a woman is not the point."

But not inviting her was not an option. She has to be there, to explain the actions of General Convention, as requested by the Primates at Dromantine. "The Primates next week are receiving a report on what Ecusa did at General Convention. That has to be discussed. That is why Rowan Williams has invited two bishops to represent the solid, Windsor-rooted centre of the American Church. We are not talking here about dissident conservatives. These are people who are not dissidents."

His outlook is pretty bleak. "Almost everybody involved with this question recognises that there is no way forward from here without pain. It is painful for everybody. There are not going to be winners and losers. There are going to be losers catergory one, two, three, four and five. When there is some kind of parting of the ways it is always painful for everybody. But I do think there is hope that the rootedness of the Anglican Communion in Scripture and tradition, that by doing its reasoning work wisely, this will enable it to come up strong after this crisis. Even if it means a bit of pruning, the plant will be healthier for it. And I rather hope that anything that needs pruning will not be lost but grafted back on sooner or later."

He quoted Romans 11:11-26, about the pruning of the olive tree, and John 15: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." Dr Wright continued: "I rather hope that anything that needs pruning will not be lost, but grafted back on sooner or later." It is significant I think that he does not think TEC will be cut away, merely pruned back a bit. He said: "There are some people in The Episcopal Church who dig themselves very firmly in and talk about rights and justice in the gay lobby. I do not see any way they can be reconciled with those in the Windsor position firmly committed to the truth by which Anglicanism lives today. My sense is that there are a lot of people in America, ordinary folk in the churches who have not really caught up with what is going on. Part of the difficulty is that there is a myth about in some circles that historic Anglicanism has no particular doctrine and is just a matter of worshipping together and believing what you like. If you go back to the 16th and 17th centuriesm who will find them arguing in great detail over the Articles of Religion which became the Thirty-Nine Articles. They were hugely important. The idea of doctrinal indifferentism is a very recent idea which has sprung up in some parts of America."
He ends by quoting the last paragraph of Windsor. "If we finally discover we cannot walk together, we may have to learn to walk part. None of us wants that."

Ruth Gledhill concludes: "He's right, none of us does. Outside my front door in Kew is a cherry tree, budding unseasonally in the January sunshine. Soon it will need pruning. I cannot bear to do it, and will ask a gardener to do it for me while I hide inside. But it will have to be done, if it is to flower as beautifully again next year. I guess, from what Tom Wright is saying, that Rowan Williams will be taking a pretty fine set of shears with him to Tanzania next week, newly sharpened, nice and polished. I wonder who, or what, the shears will be, and who will be the gardener he gets to wield them. And whether either, or both, will be of this world, or the next."

History Closes with a Marriage between a Husband and a Bride

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The family is the basic unit or 'cell' of society, and the Christian family is also a major building block of the Orthodox Church. The Church places greet importance on the family to fulfil its role as a small church, as expressed by the Apostle Paul. When St. Paul greeted Priscilla and Aquila, his "fellow workers in Christ Jesus" he also greeted "the church that is in their house" (Romans 16:3, 5). He also greeted "Nymphas and the church that is in his house" (Col 4:15).

Monasticism is also another major Christian social unit. The Church places this unit above married life as monasticism has played an important role as the guiding element in Her history. Monasticism supports the Church, preserves Her dogmas and keeps the Divine Liturgy Orthodox. While the Church blesses the monastic life, She also blesses marriage knowing that not all can take on the responsibility and commitment that comes with celibacy and living a monastic life. This blessing is acknowledged as a Mystery (Sacrament) of the Church.

The Sacrament (Mystery) of Marriage
In the Mystery of Marriage the Church asks God to help the couple being married understand, fulfil and establish a 'church' at home, i.e. to establish Christian relationships within the family, to raise children in the faith and life according to the Scriptures, to be an example of humility and patience for your children to follow.

The Christian family begins with the Mystery of Marriage, and specifically with the exchange of rings and placing of the wedding crowns (wreaths) upon those being married. This is accompanied with the words, "The servant of God N____ is married to the servant of God N____ in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", and then, "O Lord our God, crown them with glory and honour". The rings have a deep symbolic meaning. This symbolism is indicated with the words, from the Service of Betrothal, "Through a ring the authority was given to Joseph in Egypt; through a ring Daniel was glorified in the land of Babylon; through a ring the true identity of Thamar was discovered; through a ring our heavenly Father showed mercy on the prodigal son; for he said, Put a ring on his fingerÉ". The crowns and their exchange symbolise the couple's citizenship in the Kingdom of God, where "there is neither male nor female" (Gal. 3:28), and of their dying to each other (c.f. Rev. 2:10).

The Holy Scriptures tell us that God "blessed" marriage from the beginning of time saying "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth" (Gen. 1:27-28), showing that marriage is part of God's eternal purpose for humanity. Further on, in Genesis 2:24, we read, "Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh". Our Lord Jesus Christ reiterated these words when asked if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. He continued, "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matt. 19:4-6).

Christ forever sanctified marriage by His presence at the marriage in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). This was the first time Christ performed a miracle, and the first time the Theotokos interceded with Christ on behalf of others saying, "They have no wine", and then instructs all humanity, "Whatever He say to you, do it".

The Apostle Paul compares the Mystery of Marriage with the Church in these words, recited during the Crowning Service, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her", and "for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:25, 31-32). In 1 Corinthians 7, St. Paul gives detailed guidance on virginity and marriage. He also commands that marriage should be preserved.

Thus, marriage is holy, blessed and everlasting sacrament in the sight of God and His Church.

Finally, history closes with marriage of the Bride to the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9), thus fulfilling the earthly marriage in the heavenly, showing the eternal nature of marriage.

Reference - The Orthodox Study Bible, p449
Copyright © 1993 by St. Athanasius Orthodox Academy, Nelson ISBN 0-8407-8391-4

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sacramental Presence; Not Local--Thomas Aquinas

For Sacramental conversion, i.e., consecration, Aquinas understood sacramental change as the substance of Christ's body only, not with its dimensions. This is well-known! So, if that is so well-known, then why do we have so many reformers arguing against a local presence when local presence would require accidents, which is what takes up space? Aquinas denies such presence when Christ is present on the altar. For Aquinas, Christ was not local on the altar. He was substantially present in the elements as a result of the sacramental sign (hence Augustine) and as a result of natural concomitance. It was not the flesh, Jesus said, that profits us life, but the substance of receiving the whole Christ in the Eucharist. We are to feed on him, and yes it is by faith that we are to do so, but it is a real feeding and not something merely going on in the mind (William Perkins). But we feed on him objectively as he is offered in the Sacrament. What Aquinas is wanting to protect is not a physical Christ that can be sacrificed again on the altar, but a substantially present Christ, which is the real Christ who is present in the Sacrament.

Through our union with him, we join in his eternal priesthood in offering his self-same offering made once and for all on the cross as a memorial offering to the Father. Real (not crass) presence from which sacrifice is a necessary deduction is the result of his condescending to us in love in this sacrament and we memorialise his death. Sacrifice is necessary in the sense that we 'proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again'. Sins actually committed after baptism are forgiven and through the Eucharistic celebration, the one offering of Christ is applied to us anew.For Aquinas, sacrifice is the substance of the liturgy of the Church of Christ who offered himself as 'self-gift' and our offering ourselves to God and the world as 'self-gift' with him is our response.

We must be clear when speaking of a Roman Catholic view of presence acknowledging that Christ's body is not present as in a place, but in the way which is proper for substance to be under dimensions. So, Christ's body is not under the dimensions of bread locally on the altar. Aquinas said,
The place is not empty where the body of Christ is. But properly speaking it is not filled by the substance of the body of Christ, which is not locally present, as we have just seen. It is filled by the sacramental appearance which are able to fill a place either because the dimensions themselves naturally do this or are enabled to do so by a miracle, just as they miracuously subsist as if they were substance. ST 3a. 76, 6

Friday, February 02, 2007

39 Articles: A Confession for Anglicans?

William Tighe writes the following over at Pontifications: Read it all and see what do you think?

Historically, Anglican Erastianism took the form of, in England, the authority over the church of the Crown-in-Parliament and, more recently, by the Church of England’s slavish obsequiousness to bien-pensant public opinion, and, in America, the “social Erastianism” of deference to elite secular opinion and social consensus, spiced up at times by romantic Anglophilia and medievalism; and as elite opinion has moved away from Christian moral and social teaching in both countries (if at different speeds and in different ways), so Anglican bishops and clergy have found ways to “sanctify” its every stage and advance in a facilis descensus Averni that has led from the approval of contraception to that of routine remarriage after divorce and from priestesses to the sanctification of sodomy. A sad confirmation of the analysis of this essay can be found in the utter inability over the past three decades of “Continuing Anglican” bodies to arrive at a coherent and prescriptive consensus about what constitutes the “Anglican orthodoxy” that they profess, for the most part, to preserve — save by their clear if (for the most part) tacit repudiation of the distinctive views of the English Reformers and striving instead to embody a purported non-papal Western Catholicism, and one in which the 39 Articles seem more an embarrassment than an asset.

Anglicans and Orthodox: Reunion Not Beyond Hope?

In the Church Times today, there is a report from the ecumenical Metropolitan to the Archbishop of Canterbury that took 16 years to create. The report speaks of the 'innovations' of women's ordination as 'hindrances' to this visible union along with the 'internal' debates on sexuality. The ABC spoke favourably of the report's work as it 'had returned to the “wellsprings” of faith, to take a long run up to the present problems between the Churches.' The Orthodox Church asks: 'What do you say to us?'
    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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