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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

King Charles I the Martyr

The Society of King Charles I, the Martyr.
Due to my being so busy yesterday, I forgot to post the memory of King Charles I, the Martyr. So, here it is!
O Lord we offer unto thee all praise and thanks for the glory of Thy grace that shined forth in Thine anointed servant Charles; and we beseech Thee to give us all grace. by a careful studious imitation of this Thy blessed Saint and Martyr, that we may be made worthy to receive benefit by his prayers, which he, in communion with the Church Catholic, offers up unto Thee for that part of it here Militant, through Thy Son, our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Arrogance!

Bishop Tom Wright is 'right' that the government is acting a bit arrogantly with its new gospel of 'diversity' that isn't all that diverse when it comes down to it. One shoe fits all and that's that! There are NO EXCEPTIONS for people who hold a Christian moral ethic and one can only expect worse in the end. The scary thing is that all of this is happening so fast and we seem to just be running full speed ahead, straight for the cliff. How one can watch the BBC and see the culture of death all around us and remain numb to the effects that this law is going to have on a country who still maintains a 'Christian' identity is simply astounding. How did we get here? I can think of a lot of stuff that we could be repenting for this lent and maybe a REAL 40 day fast would move the Spirit to change hearts and minds. Ruth Gledhill interviewed Bishop Tom recently and here is what he had to say:
Dr Wright, in his car on his way to address a conference at Swanwick, was furious with the Government. "There is no way that the Catholic Church is going to change its mind on this one given 18 months or so." he said. "This completely fails to take into account the views and beliefs of all those involved. The idea that New Labour - which has got every second thing wrong and is backtracking on extended drinking hours, is in a mess over this cash-for-peerages business, cannot keep all its prisons under control - the idea that New Labour can come up with a new morality which it forces on the Catholic Church after 2,000 years - I am sorry - this is amazing arrogance on the part of the Government.

"Legislation for a nouveau morality is deeply unwise. That is not how morality works. At a time when the Government is foundering with so many of its policies - and I haven't even mentioned Iraq - the thought that this Government has the moral credibility to be able tell the Roman Catholic Church how to order one area of its episcopal teaching is frankly laughable. When you think about it like that, it is quite extraordinary. I suppose the hope is that in 18 months time there will be a different Prime Minister who might take a different view, and this will kick it into the long grass until then."

The BBC has this Report.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Elementary Common Sense

G.K. Chesterton is the master of common sense. I find him so refreshing to read. He makes me laugh, cry, think, reform my view, and love the Tradition of the Church. He has a gift for making Christianity come alive. The Church does need reforming at times but sadly we muck it up a lot when we attempt it because we do not realise why some certain thing was put in place in the first instance. The result is the ignorant simply look for ways to tear down what they do not understand. Chesterton speaks brilliantly to the ignorance of such a way of thinking in the quotation given. Maybe the Church of the C21 can learn why we have certain views and traditions before we go tearing them down in order to protect what has been given. If we learn the use of something we may come to learn that it would be foolish to tear it down! Chesterton said, 'The first effect of not believing in God is that you lose your common sense.' In light of that truth about the loss of faith, read the following:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it." This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Only a Father

The video says it all!

Strongest Dad in the World [From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly] Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Burns Night Celebration

Tonight we will be going to some friends house for a Burns Night celebration and supper. And yes, we will be eating some Haggis! You must click the Burns Night to see what it is all about if you do not know. Click on Haggis to see what that is all about! I have been asked to say the Selkirk Grace.

Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

A Wonderful Burns Night to yas!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Church and State: What Should Happen?

Interview with ABC ++Rowan Williams:
RP: What’s at stake here in this relationship between church and State at this particular moment?
ABC: I think what’s at stake ultimately is whether the church is answerable finally to the State as the only court of appeal or whether the church can rightly appeal to other sources for its moral compass and whatever one’s views on this particular issue, I think that remains a question of basic political and philosophical importance.

Two Anglican Divines on Sacrifice

JOHN JOHNSON, (1662-1725), Vicar of Cranbrook.
THE true and full notion of the Eucharist is, that it is a religious feast upon Bread and Wine, that have first been offered in sacrifice to Almighty God, and are become the mysterious Body and Blood of Christ . . . We do not think we offer another Sacrifice, but only continue and perpetuate that which Christ offered; yet neither are we so stupid as to believe that the sacrifice we offer is substantially the same with that offered by Him. We pretend not that His own natural Body is, or can be, sacrificed again, but only His Sacramental; and therefore we allow that it is commemorative: but we cannot see the consequence which our adversaries would draw from thence, viz. that it is not a real and proper sacrifice . . . It is therefore sufficiently clear, that God does apply the effects of the great Sacrifice to us in the Eucharist; and that in order to obtain this application, we must apply to Him by Sacrifice, even the Sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood. From The Unbloody Sacrifice

Hebert Thorndike, (1598-1672), Prebendary of Westminster
THAT the eucharist may very properly be accounted a sacrifice propitiatory and impetratory both, in this regard—because the offering of it up to God, with and by the said prayers, doth render God propitious, and obtain at His hands the benefits of Christ’s death which it representeth—there can be no cause to refuse, being no more than the simplicity of plain Christianity enforceth. From An Epilogue, Bk. III

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Prime Minister

This whole issue is becoming quite disturbing and I am happy to see the Archbishops of the CofE joining our Catholic brethren who are against these regulations. There is nothing worse than a democracy turning into "thought police". In my opinion, this is a wrong way to go about this debate. It is nothing less than giving one right to a small minority that ends up taking away another right from the majority of society. The irrationality of it is enough to do one's head in. My question concerns the rights of the children who do not get to make a choice about what sort of family they will have. The good Archbishops bring this point out quite powerfully. What do you think?

The following is the text of a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair.

Dear Prime Minister,
The Church of England, along with others in the voluntary sector, including other churches and faith communities, have been in discussion with the government for some time over what has become known as the Sexual Orientation Regulations. Those discussions have been conducted in good faith, in mutual respect and with an appropriate level of confidence on all sides.
Last week that changed. Speculation about splits within government, fuelled by public comment from government ministers, appears to have created an atmosphere that threatens to polarise opinions. This does no justice to any of those whose interests are at stake, not least vulnerable children whose life chances could be adversely, and possibly irrevocably, affected by the overriding of reasoned discussion and proper negotiation in an atmosphere of mistrust and political expediency.

The one thing on which all seem able to agree is that these are serious matters requiring the most careful consideration. There is a great deal to gain. It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that much could also be lost, as the letter from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor makes clear.

Many in the voluntary sector are dedicated to public service because of the dictates of their conscience. In legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups the government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights to have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk.

The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.
On numerous occasions in the past proper consideration has been given to the requirements of consciences alongside other considerations contributing to the common good, such as social need or human rights - the right, for example, of some doctors not to perform abortions, even though employed by the National Health Service.

It would be deeply regrettable if in seeking, quite properly, better to defend the rights of a particular group not to be discriminated against, a climate were to be created in which, for example, some feel free to argue that members of the government are not fit to hold public office on the grounds of their faith affiliation. This is hardly evidence of a balanced and reasonable public debate.

As you approach the final phase of what has, until very recently, been a careful and respectful consideration of the best way in which to introduce and administer new protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in England and Wales, we hope you, and cabinet colleagues, will do justice to the interests of the much wider grouping of interests within the nation that will be affected. It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest. And that conditions are not inadvertently created which make the claims of conscience an obstacle to, rather than the inspiration for, the invaluable public service rendered by parts of the voluntary sector.

Yours faithfully,

Most Rev and Rt Hon Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

Most Rev and Rt Hon John Sentamu
Archbishop of York

Monday, January 22, 2007

N.T. Wright: Space, Time and Worship

Here are some recent lectures at Calvin Seminary from The Rt. Rev'd Dr. N.T. Wright, Lord Bishop of Durham. I hope to listen to them soon and write up some thoughts on what he says concerning the Eucharist. Watch this space!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Church which Presides in Love: Primacy, Can it Exist?


Nicholas Afanassieff

Orthodox polemics against the primacy of Rome depend, broadly speaking, on Roman Catholic theology.[1] This is not surprising, since the actual aim of Orthodox theology is to refute arguments put forth in favor of Roman primacy. Now the Catholic doctrine of primacy is founded on their doctrine of the primacy of the Apostle Peter: and therefore Orthodox theologians concentrate their attention on this subject. Exegesis of New Testament texts on the position of Peter results in a discussion between Orthodox and Catholic theologians. Meanwhile, a similar discussion has arisen concerning the oldest Patristic evidence about the Church of Rome. Rome’s role in history is also under dispute, and so far no agreement has been reached on the matter. No one denies, today, that she has held a leading position, but we have still to ask what position it was and what was its nature. In other words, we started discussing the primacy of Rome before we raised the question: what is primacy itself? Can primacy—whether of Rome or of any other church— really exist in the Church? This is the really important question, and the answer, whether positive or negative, will help us to work out our own views of the Church of Rome. If we are to solve the problem of primacy within the Church, our starting point must be ecclesiology; i.e., we must ask, does the doctrine of the Church contain the idea of primacy (in its present or any other form), or exclude it altogether? This method can be used to solve problems of exegesis and of history too; it is really the most natural approach, for the problem of primacy is inherent in the doctrine of the Church. We can thus pose the problem of primacy in general, for Orthodox and Catholics alike. But we must not think of such a method as involving any renunciation (even provisional) of our confessional allegiances. That sort of thing would only be possible for a bad Orthodox or a bad Catholic. As we study the problem of primacy in general, and especially the primacy of Rome, we must not be ruled by polemical motives: the problem is to be solved to satisfy ourselves and Orthodox theology. The solution of the problem is urgent, since Orthodox theology has not yet built up any systematic doctrine on Church government. And although we have a doctrine concerning Ecumenical Councils as organs of government in the Church, we shall see presently that our doctrine is not enough to refute the Catholic doctrine of primacy.

Cathedra Unitatis

I've just discovered the following blog Cathedra Unitatis. Give it a read as it looks to be a promising blog. I am not sure who the blogger is but I look forward to reading the posts there.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Church Unity Week: The Eucharist at the Heart of Unity


This week we are in the midst of the worldwide Church's prayer for unity. With the level of divisions and threats of factions, everyone seeming to do what is right in one's own eyes, obviously calls for a lot of prayer. Unity is only to be found in the Spirit of the Liturgy where the Presence of Christ in the corpus mysticum becomes a reality in the corpus verum. In his book on the Spirit of the Liturgy (I received in this morning's post from a friend in the US!) Pope Benedict XVI writes,
Again, the Eucharist is not aimed primarily at the individual. Eucharistic personalism is a drive toward union, the overcoming of barriers between God and man, between "I" and "thou" in the new "we" of the communion of saints. People did not exactly forget this truth, but they were not so clearly aware of it as before. There were, therefore, losses in Christian awareness, and in our time we must try to make up for them, but still there were gains overall. True, the Eucharistic Body and the Lord is meant to bring us together, so that we become his "true Body". But the gift of the Eucharist can do this only because in it the Lord gives us his true Body. Only the true Body in the Sacrament can build up the true Body of the new City of God.
The scriptural text for this week's prayer for unity is selected from Mark 7.31-37. It reads,
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI: For Many or For All?


Now let us turn back to look at yet a third saying in the Last Supper accounts: "This is the new covenant in my blood." We saw just now how Jesus, in accepting his death, gathers together and condenses in his person the whole of the Old Testament; first the theology of sacrifice, that is, everything that went on in the Temple and everything to do with the Temple, then the theology of the Exile, of the Suffering Servant. Now a third element is added, a passage from Jeremiah (31:31) in which the prophet predicts the New Covenant, which will no longer be limited to physical descendants of Abraham, no longer to the strict keeping of the law, but will spring from out of the new love of God that gives us a new heart. This is what Jesus takes up here. In his suffering and death this long-awaited hope becomes reality; his death seals the Covenant. It signifies something like a blood brotherhood between God and man. That was the idea underlying the way the Covenant had been depicted on Sinai. There, Moses had set up the altar to represent God and, over against it, twelve stones to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and had sprinkled them with blood, so as to associate God and man in the one communion of this sacrifice. What was there only a hesitant attempt is here achieved. He who is the Son of God, he who is man, gives himself to the Father in dying and thus shows himself to be the one who brings us all into the Father. He now institutes true blood brotherhood, a communion of Godand man; he opens the door that we could not open for ourselves. We can do no more than give a little tentative thought to God, and it is not in our power to know whether or not he responds. This remains the tragic element, the shadow hovering over so many religions, that they are simply a cry to which the response remains uncertain. Only God himself can hear the cry. Jesus Christ, both Son of God and man, who carries on his love right through death, who transforms death into an act of love and truth, he is the response; the Covenant is founded in him.

Thus we see how the Eucharist had its origin, what its true source is. The words of institution alone are not sufficient; the death alone is not sufficient; and even both together are still insufficient but have to be complemented by the Resurrection, in which God accepts this death and makes it the door into a new life. From out of this whole matrix-that he transforms his death, that irrational event, into an affirmation, into an act of love and of adoration-emerges his acceptance by God and the possibility of his being able to share himself in this way. On the Cross, Christ saw love through to the end. For all the differences there may be between the accounts in the various Gospels, there is one point in common: Jesus died praying, and in the abyss of death he upheld the First Commandment and held on to the presence of God. Out of such a death springs this sacrament, the Eucharist.

We finally have to return to the question with which we started. Did Jesus fail? Well, he certainly was not successful in the same sense as Caesar or Alexander the Great. From the worldly point of view, he did fail in the first instance: he died almost abandoned; he was condemned on account of his preaching. The response to his message was not the great Yes of his people, but the Cross. From such an end as that, we should conclude that Success is definitely not one of the names of God and that it is not Christian to have an eye to outward success or numbers. God's paths are other than that: his success comes about through the Cross and is always found under that sign. The true witnesses to his authenticity, down through the centuries, are those who have accepted this sign as their emblem. When, today, we look at past history, then we have to say that it is not the Church of the successful people that we find impressive; the Church of those popes who were universal monarchs; the Church of those leaders who knew how to get on well with the world. Rather, what strengthens our faith, what remains constant, what gives us hope, is the Church of the suffering. She stands, to the present day, as a sign that God exists and that man is not just a cesspit, but that he can be saved. This is true of the martyrs of the first three centuries, and then right up to Maximilian Kolbe and the many unnamed witnesses who gave their lives for the Lord under the dictatorships of our own day; whether they had to die for their faith or whether they had to let themselves be trampled on, day after day and year after year, for his sake. The Church of the suffering gives credibility to Christ: she is God's success in the world; the sign that gives us hope and courage; the sign from which still flows the power of life, which reaches beyond mere thoughts of success and which thereby purifies men and opens up for God a door into this world. So let us be ready to hear the call of Jesus Christ, who achieved the great success of God on the Cross; he who, as the grain of wheat that died, has become fruitful down through all the centuries; the Tree of Life, in whom even today men may put their hope.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Orthodox Eucharist: Alexander Schmemann


The central place among the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church is held by the Holy Eucharist - the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In modern times the Holy Eucharist is celebrated in the Orthodox Church at the following Liturgies:

1. The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom - the usual Liturgy of Sundays and Weekdays.2. The Liturgy of St. Basil the Great - celebrated on the Sundays of Great Lent and certain Feast Days.3. The Liturgy of St. James the Brother of the Lord - celebrated on October 23 (St. James' Day) in certain places only (e.g., Jerusalem).4. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts - celebrated on Weekdays of Great Lent and Holy Week. (At this Liturgy there is no consecration of the Holy Gifts, but rather Communion is given from the Gifts consecrated on the previous Sunday - hence Pre-sanctified.)


The Savior Himself said, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst... If any one eats of this bread he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh (John 6:35,51). At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and give it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body'. And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins' (Matt. 26:26-28; cf. Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13; 1 Cor. 11:23-30).This institution of the Eucharist by our Lord is the means whereby we become united with Christ and with each other as a church, for, as St. Paul says, the goal of every Christian is to grow up in every way into Him Who is the head, into Christ, from Whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied - makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love (Eph. 4:15-16). This is so since Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior (Eph. 5:23).


We become part of the Mystical Body of Christ by our communion of the Holy Eucharist. As St. Paul says: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17).Only by belonging to the Church, or in other words, being in communion with the very essence of Christ through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, can one attain salvation unto eternal life. Thus we can answer the question, "Who can be regarded as a member of the Church of Christ?" by saying, "All those who have been properly baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the true Son of God come in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3), and are united by the grace of the Sacraments - in particular the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist administered by the Priesthood of Apostolic Succession."


The unity of all Christian believers in the Holy Eucharist is strongly stressed by the Fathers of the Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch, in his Letter to the Ephesians reminds them that "all of you to the last, without exception, through God's grace are united in common faith and in Jesus Christ..., so obey the Bishop and the Presbyters in complete harmony, breaking one bread, this remedy for immortality." Moreover, the Eucharist is not only a testament to the internal and external unity of the Church, but is also the means for strengthening this unity. Therefore St. Ignatius stresses more frequent Communion: "Try to gather more often for the Eucharist and glorification of God. For if you gather together often, the forces of Satan are overthrown, and his destructive deeds are wrecked by your single-hearted faith" [To the Ephesians].The union of believers with Christ in the Eucharist is also stressed by St. Cyprian of Carthage who, speaking of the mixing of water and wine in the cup, gives an extended meaning to this mixing: "The people are designated by water, the blood of Christ by wine. Mixing water and wine in the cup shows the people's union with Christ, the believers' union with Him in Whom they believe. Water and wine after mixing in the Lord's Cup are so inseparably and closely united that they cannot be separated one from another. In just this way nothing can separate from Christ the Church, that is, the people that make up the Church, firmly and unshakeably abiding in faith and joined by eternal, indivisible love" [Letter to Cacaelius].This is reaffirmed in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great when, after the blessing of the Holy Gifts, we pray that the Heavenly Father "unite us all, as many as are partakers in the one bread and one cup, one with another in communion with the One Holy Spirit." Thus we can say that whereas entrance into the Church begins with Holy Baptism, its fulfilment lies in the Holy Eucharist.


Orthodox Theology sees the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice and this is affirmed in the words of the Priest, when he says, during the Eucharistic Canon, "Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee on behalf of all and for all." The sacrifice offered at the Eucharist is Christ Himself, but He Who brings the sacrifice is also Christ. Christ is, at one and the same time, High Priest and Sacrifice. In the prayer before the Great Entrance, the Priest prays: "For Thou art the Offerer and the Offered, the Receiver and the Received, 0 Christ our God...." This Eucharist is offered to God - the Holy Trinity, and so if we ask the threefold question, What is offered? By Whom is it offered? To Whom is it offered? we say in answer, Christ. In addition, the sacrifice is offered "on behalf of all and for all," for it is a sacrifice of redemption which is brought for the living and the dead.According to St. Nicholas Cabasilas, a medieval Orthodox teacher, the Church's understanding of the Eucharist is, as follows: "In the first place, the sacrifice is not only an enactment or a symbol, but a real sacrifice. In the second, that which is sacrificed is not bread, but the very Body of Christ. In the third place, the Lamb of God was immolated only once and for all times. The Eucharist sacrifice consists not of the real or blood sacrifice of the Lamb, but in the transformation of bread into the sacrificed Lamb" [Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 32].According to the Orthodox Church, then, the Eucharist is not just a reminder of Christ's sacrifice or of its enactment, but it is a real sacrifice. On the other hand, however, it is not a new sacrifice, nor a repetition of the Sacrifice of the Cross upon Golgotha. The events of Christ's Sacrifice - the Incarnation, the Institution of the Eucharist, the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, are not repeated during the Eucharist, yet they become a present reality. As one Orthodox theologian has said, "During the Liturgy we are projected in time to that place where eternity and time intersect, and then we become the contemporaries of these events that we are calling to mind" [P. N. Evdokimov, L'Orthodoxie, p. 241]. Thus the Eucharist and all the Holy Liturgy is, in structure, a sacrificial service.How all this takes place is a mystery. As Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow wrote in his Longer Catechism, concerning the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, "this none can understand but God; but only this much is signified, that the bread truly, really and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord." Furthermore, as St. John of Damascus states, "If you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it is through the Holy Spirit.... We know nothing more than this, that the Word of God is true, active and omnipotent, but in the manner of operation unsearchable" [On the Orthodox Faith, IV, 13].Concerning the Communion itself, in the Orthodox Church both laity and clergy always receive Communion of both the Body and Blood of Christ.


The Communion is given to the laity in a spoon containing a small piece of the Holy Bread together with a portion of the wine, and it is received standing. A strict fast is observed, usually from the night before, and nothing can be eaten or drunk after waking in the morning before Communion. As a theologian of the Church has well put it, "You know that those who invite the Emperor to their house, first clean their home. So you, if you want to bring god into your bodily home for the illumination of your life, must first sanctify your body by fasting" [Gennadius, Hundred Chapters].After the final blessing of the Liturgy, the faithful come up to kiss the Hand Cross held by the Priest and those who have not communed receive a small piece of bread, called the Antidoron, which, although blessed, was not consecrated, having been taken from the same bread(s) from which the Lamb was taken in the Proskomedia. This bread is given out as an expression of Christian fellowship and love (agape).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Christ, the Priest, and Death to Sin

Ignatius Insights
For the priest, as for every Christian, the Gospel has established clearly the two fundamental conditions for salvation: an act of faith and the reception of baptism: qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit salvus erit (Mk 16:16).

Having discussed faith, I shall now speak to you of the life of grace which we receive in baptism. This grace is like a seed which needs to grow, and which every Christian must develop constantly during his whole life.

Here is how St. Paul describes the secret, supernatural force of baptism: "For we are buried together with Him, by baptism unto death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). These words give us a comprehensive view of the essential elements of our sanctification and the direction we must give to our efforts towards virtue.

God's ways and views are not ours. He has said it Himself "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways ... as the heavens are exalted above the earth., so are My ways exalted above your ways" (Is 55:8-9). In order to sanctify the world, He has chosen what St. Paul calls the "folly of the cross": stultitia crucis (1 Cor 1:18). Which of us would ever have imagined that for the salvation of men, it would be necessary for God to deliver up His only Son to the opprobrium of Calvary and the death of the Cross? And yet, that which seemed folly to the eyes of men is the plan ordained by the divine wisdom: "But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen that He may confound the wise" (1 Cor 1:27).

The world has been renewed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and every Christian, in order to achieve his own salvation and sanctification, must be in spiritual communion with the mystery of this death and this life restored. The whole essence of perfection for the follower of the Gospel and for the priest lies in participation in this double mystery.

The soul can only be united to God in proportion to its likeness to Him. In order that God may draw it to Himself and elevate it, He must be able in some way to identify Himself with it; that is why, from the beginning, He had created it to His own image and likeness.

According to the divine plan, man is the link between the pure spirituality of the angels and corporeal matter; he is destined to reflect, more perfectly than material creation, the perfections of God: "Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, Thou hast crowned him with honour and glory" (Ps 8:5). In this canticle the Psalmist contemplates in ecstasy the divine work in its primitive beauty; he chants the glory of God as it is revealed in the universe: "0 Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy name in the whole world" (Ps 8:1). This august plan was thwarted by the fault of Adam. Sin destroyed in mankind the splendour of the divine image and rendered man incapable of uniting himself henceforth to God. But, in His infinite goodness, the Lord decided to repair in a wondrous manner the evil of sin: Mirabilius reformasti. And how was this to be accomplished? You know the answer: by the coming of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, Whose merciful grace makes us sons of God, like to His image and fitted for the divine union: Et sicut in Adam omnes moriuntur, ita et in Christo omnes vivificabuntur (1 Cor 15:22).

Baptism is the sacred means established by God to cleanse the soul of original sin and place in it the seed of eternal life. By what secret power does the sacrament effect this prodigy? By the ever active power of the death and resurrection of Christ. This power engenders in the soul a state of death and a state of life derived in their entirety from Jesus Christ. As He Himself entered into His glory only by the immolation of the Cross: Oportuit pati Christum et ita intrari in gloriam suam (Lk 24:26), so every Christian must be spiritually associated with this death in order to receive the divine life.

It is in this way that Christ is the archetype and the source of our sanctification: "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom 6:6).

In what sense are we to understand this spiritual death which the grace of baptism inaugurates in us?

It is, first of all, in the voluntary order; by the infusion of sanctifying grace and charity, baptism orients the soul and its affections towards the possession of God. By original sin man was radically averted from God, his one supernatural end. The gift of charity transforms this fundamental disposition of the soul; it destroys in it the active domination of sin and lays open for it access to the divine life.

It must, however, be noted that it is not sufficient to be in the state of grace to be fully dead to the melancholy capacity to commit sin. Baptismal grace leaves many evil roots alive in us; from them arise what St. Paul calls the "works of the flesh": opera carnis (Gal 5: 19).

Like baptism, the sacrament of penance, although it destroys the actual reign of sin, does not effect in us a complete dying to sin. Attachments, deeply-rooted habits, inclinations which are more or less voluntary, combine with our natural tendencies to keep alive in us the sources of sin.

Death to sin, which begins with the justification of baptism and is maintained by virtue of the sacrament of penance, is only consummated by our personal efforts assisted by grace; these must achieve in the soul a voluntary and ever more active revulsion from everything which constitutes in us an obstacle to the supernatural life.

This idea of the absolute necessity of renouncing everything which is an obstacle to the justice of God in our souls is proclaimed frequently in the Epistles. St. Peter echoes the thought of St. Paul: Ut peccatis mortui justitiae vivanius: "that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet 2:24). These words are merely a commentary on those of the Master: Nisi granum frumenti cadens in terram mortuum fuerit, ipsum solum manet: "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone" (Jn 12:24). This death is required, not as an end in itself, but as an essential condition of the new life. Thus "the grain of wheat" dies in the ground; this is essential; but by its destruction it gives birth to a new life more beautiful, more perfect and more fruitful.

We must understand clearly the language of St. Paul. To live means to retain the power of acting for oneself. We attribute life to a being when it possesses in itself its own motive power and directs it towards its own perfection, while we attribute death to any being which has lost this power. The Apostle is fond of using this metaphor when he speaks of sin and its reign in our souls. Sin–according to him–"lives" in us when it dominates us to the point of becoming the effective inspiration of our actions: Non ergo regnet peccatum in vestro mortali corpore ut obediatis concupiscentiis eius: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions" (Rom 6:12). When sin, therefore, is the inspiration of our activities, its reign is established in us. "We are its slaves," qui facit peccatum, servus est peccati (Jn 8:34), and, as it is impossible to serve two masters at the same time (Mt 6:24), by living for sin we separate ourselves from God; we die to Him.

Now it is precisely the contrary result towards which we must strive: we must "die to sin" in order to "live to God". We achieve this death of our own volition when we oppose and break in ourselves this domination of sin, when we prevent it from being the moving spirit in our actions. By refusing to obey the maxims of the world, the desires of the flesh and the suggestions of the demon, the baptized soul frees itself more and more from sin. In this manner it "dies to sin". This interior liberation, according as it is established in the soul, permits the Christian to submit himself ever more fully to Christ, to His example, to His grace, and to His will. Thenceforth the source of all his actions is Christ, Whose life replaces in him the reign of sin: "So do you also reckon," says the Apostle, "that you are dead to sin but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus Our Lord", Viventes Deo in Christo Jesu (Rom 6: 11).




Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923) was a Benedictine monk who wrote several works that are considered spiritual classics, including Christ: The Life of the Soul.

He was born in Dublin, Ireland, to an Irish father and a French mother. Given the name Joseph Aloysius, he entered the Dublin diocesan seminary in 1874 and completed his theological studies at the College of the Propagation of the Faith in Rome. He was ordained a priest on June 16, 1881. Several years later he entered the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium.

He would eventually author Christ the Life of the Soul (1917), Christ in His Mysteries (1919) and Christ the Ideal of the Monk (1922).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sacramental Causality: Aquinas and Chauvet



For those readers interested in Sacramental Theology from a Catholic perspective, I recommend reading the following article. I would love to have some of the readers link it up to their blogs to bring some good discussion and dialogue from what is written. I insert a portion of the introduction below to hopefully whet your appetite for the entire article. Give it a read and leave a comment--I look forward to any discussion that may be forthcoming.
Those who spend much time seeking the wisdom of the Church Fathers or the great scholastics are thus given a challenge to dialogue with this new and growing theological movement. I will offer some reflections on Chauvet’s Heideggerian critique of Aquinas’s doctrine of sacramental causality found in his Symbol and Sacrament and propose a Thomistic response. Chauvet is a major representative of a significant theological movement, and he has devoted considerable attention to
Aquinas. He is thus an ideal partner for a dialogue between postmodern and Thomistic theology. Furthermore, Chauvet is opposing what is perhaps the best theological expression of a doctrine that appears to be quite central to Catholicism, that is, the belief that the sacraments cause grace. It will become clear that Chauvet’s critique of Aquinas inevitably targets patristic sacramentology as well.6

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Eric Mascall: The Ultra Catholic

You just have to love Mascall. I would have really enjoyed sitting around his vicarage sipping sherry and listening to stuff like the following:

THE ULTRA CATHOLIC

I am an Ultra-Catholic -No 'Anglo, I beseeech you!
You'll find no trace of heresy in anything I teach you.
The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler, (Derby hat)
But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a feriola.

My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
The Psalms of David I recite in heaven's own native Latin,
And though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

I read the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
Explaining how the C. of E.s in heresy and schism.
The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
I have not met the Rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

The Bishop's put me under his 'profoundest disapproval'
And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission stations.

The music we perform at Mass in Verdi and Scarlatti.
Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren't so catty.
Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

We've started a 'Sodality of John of San Fagondez,'
Consisting of five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
The Cardinals in curia, the Sacred Congregations;
And, though I've not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Florida Gators National Champs!!!



I know I live a long way from Florida now that I am living in the UK, but I still look at Florida Gator football highlights each week on the web. I would have loved to see the game last night and I do hope that my very good friend (and best man at my wedding) Tom Dixon taped the game for me. I am longing to watch Florida beat Ohio State. 'It's great to be a Florida Gator!'

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bishop N.T. Wright Interviewed by Christianity Today

If you haven't read Simply Christian, I highly recommend you do so! Here is a portion of an interview recently given from CT of Bishop Tom. Give it a close read!

Lewis's Mere Christianity presents itself as inescapably rational. It's an apologetic that traps you in its logic, a very modern approach. But you present a different kind of rationality that seems more attuned to a postmodern world.

I'm quite sure that Lewis would be rather cross at being told that he was some kind of modernist, because his self-description was that he was the last surviving dinosaur from the pre-Enlightenment period. But he was an Oxford-trained philosopher from the early years of the 20th century, and he was conscious of the need to explain things to people who thought in a certain way.

I'm sure Lewis would say he was talking about something that would blow apart the assumptions of modernity, nevertheless addressing people who were within those assumptions. In the same way, I wouldn't want to be thought of as a postmodern writer, but I'm addressing people who live in that world.

And if the argument has a compelling force, it's not the force of A plus B equals C, where there's no escape. I want you to try seeing yourself as part of the picture that we've painted. Or try humming one of the parts of this symphony that we're writing, and see if it doesn't make an awful lot of sense while nonetheless being very challenging. And that's the apologist's dilemma, that if you simply address the God-shaped blank that people think they've got, the God you end up with is the God shaped by the blank. The real God specializes in taking the blanks in people's lives and pulling and tugging and turning them into a new shape.

Thomas a Kempis: 'On the Blessed Sacrament'


On The Blessed Sacrament

The Voice of Christ

`COME TO ME, ALL WHO LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL REFRESH YOU, says the Lord (Matt. 9:28),

`THE BREAD THAT I WILL GIVE IS MY FLESH, FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD.'( John 6:51)

`TAKE AND EAT; THIS IS MY BODY WHICH SHALL BE OFFERED FOR YOU; DO THIS IN COMMEMORATION OF ME. '( Luke 22:19; I Cor. 9:24)

`WHOSOEVER EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD, DWELLS IN ME, AND I IN HIM.'(John 6:56) `THESE THINGS THAT I HAVE TOLD YOU ARE SPIRIT AND LIFE. ' (John 6:63)

On the Deep Reverence with which Christ should be Received

THE DISCIPLE. 0 Christ, Eternal Truth, these are Your own words, although not spoken all at one time or in one place. And since they are Your words and are true, I must accept them with gratitude and trust. They are Your words and You have spoken them; they are also mine, since You have given them to me for my salvation. Gladly do I receive them from Your lips, that they may be the more deeply imprinted in my heart. Your words, so tender, so full of sweetness and love give me courage; but my own sins appal me, and a stricken conscience restrains me from receiving so high a Sacrament.

You command me to approach You in faith if I wish to have part in You and to receive the food of immortality if I desire life and glory. `Come to Me,' You say, `all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.' 0 Lord my God! How sweet and loving in the ears of a sinner are these words, with which You invite the poor and needy to the Communion of Your most holy Body! But who am I, O Lord, that I should presume to approach You? The very Heaven of Heavens cannot contain You; (I Kings 8:27) and yet You say, `Come you all to Me.'

What is the meaning of this kindly invitation? Unaware of any good in me on which I may presume, how shall I dare to come? How shall I invite You into my house, who have so often done evil in Your sight? The Angels and Archangels do You reverence; Saints and holy men stand in awe of You ; yet You say, `Come you all to Me'! Unless You Yourself had said it, who would believe it true? And who would dare approach, unless it were Your command?

Noah, a good man,(Gen.6:9) is said to have worked a hundred years to build the ark, so that he and a few others might be saved .(I Pet. 3:20) How, then, can I in one short hour prepare myself to receive with reverence the Creator of the world? Moses, Your great servant and especial friend, constructed an Ark of imperishable wood, (Ex. 25:10) and covered it with purest gold, in order to house the Tablets of the Law : and how shall I, a corruptible creature, dare so lightly to receive You, the Maker of the Law and Giver of life? Solomon, wisest of Israel's kings,( I Kings 5:7) spent seven years in building a splendid Temple in praise of Your name. For eight days he kept the Feast of its Dedication, and offered a thousand peace offerings. To the sound of trumpets, he solemnly and joyfully bore the Ark of the Covenant to its appointed resting-place. How, then, shall I, unworthiest and poorest of men, welcome You into my house,(Luke 7:6) when I can hardly spend half an hour devoutly? If only I could spend even haf an hour as I ought!

0 my God, how earnestly did all these strive to please You! And how little, alas, can I do! How short is the time that I employ in preparing myself for Communion ! Seldom am I entirely recollected, and very seldom free from all distraction. Yet in Your saving presence, 0 God, no unbecoming thought should enter my mind, for it is not an Angel, but the Lord of Angels who comes to be my guest.

How great a difference there is between the Ark of the Covenant and its relics, and Your most holy Body with its ineffable powers : between those sacrifices of the old Law which foreshadowed the Sacrifice too come, and the true Victim of Your Body, which fulfils all the ancient rites!

Alas, why does not my heart burn within me at Your adorable presence? Why do I not prepare myself to receive Holy Communion, when the Patriarchs and Prophets of old, Kings and Princes with all their people, showed so great a devotion in Your holy worship?

The holy King David danced before the Ark with all his might,(2 Sam.6:14) recalling Your blessings to his fathers; he wrote psalms, and taught his people to sing with joy; inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit, he often sang and played on the harp ; he taught the people of Israel to praise God with thewhole heart, and to bless Him every day. If all these performed such acts of praise and devotion before the Ark of the Covenant, how much greater devotion and reverence should I and all Christian people have in the presence of this Sacrament, and in receiving the most adorable Body of Christ?

Many make pilgrimages to various places to visit the relics of the Saints, wondering at the story of their lives and the splendour of their shrines ; they view and venerate their bones, covered with silks and gold. But here on the Altar are You Yourself, my God, the Holy of Holies, Creator of men and Lord of Angels! When visiting such places, men are often moved by curiosity and the urge for sight-seeing, and one seldom hears that any amendment of life results, especially as their conversation is trivial and lacks true contrition. But here, in the Sacrament of the Altar, You are wholly present, my God, the Man Christ Jesus ; here we freely partake the fruit of eternal salvation, as often as we receive You worthily and devoutly. No levity, curiosity, or sentimentality must draw us, but firm faith, devout hope, and sincere love.

O God, invisible Creator of the world, how wonderful are Your dealings with us! How sweetly and graciously You welcome Your chosen, to whom You give Yourself in this Sacrament! It passes all understanding; it kindles the love and draws the hearts of the faithful to Yourself For Your faithful ones, who strive to amend their whole lives, receive in this most exalted Sacrament the grace of devotion and the love of virtue.

O wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament, known so well to Christ's faithful, but hidden from unbelievers and servants of sin! In this Sacrament, spiritual grace is conveyed, lost virtue restored to the soul, and its sin-ravaged beauty renewed. Such is the grace of this Sacrament, that from the fullness of devotion You afford greater powers not only to the mind, but to the frail body.

We cannot but regret and deplore our own carelessness and tepidity, which hinders us from receiving Christ with greater love, for in Him rests all our merit and hope of salvation. He is our Sanctification ( I Cor. 1:30) and Redemption : He is the comfort of pilgrims, and the everlasting joy of the Saints. How sad it is that so many have small regard for this saving Mystery, which is the delight of Heaven and preservative of the whole world. Alas, man is so blind, and his heart so hard, that he does not appreciate more fully this wonderful gift, and, from frequent use of it, grows even less reverent towards it!

If this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place only, and were offered by one priest only in the whole world, men would rush to this place and to the priest of God, to be present at the divine mysteries. But there are now many priests, and in many places Christ is offered, that the grace and love of God may be better known to men, the more widely Holy Communion is diffused through the world. 0 good Jesus, eternal Shepherd, we thank You that You deign to refresh us poor exiles with Your precious Body and Blood, and invite us to receive these Mysteries, saying, `Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.'

Record on Blog Hits

Yesterday I posted the 'Why Not Rome?' piece and Fr. Kimel linked it to his blog and I got over 850 hits on it. It is definitely a record day on the blog thanks to Fr. Al.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Facing East as Cosmic Orientation



I just received Pope Benedict XVI's book Feast of Faith from a dear friend in the States. I was very glad to receive this gift and I immediately picked it up to read the contents. Cardinal Ratzinger (Ben. XVI) writes of the reasons for facing eastward in the liturgical celebration. In the past, especially by Protestant objectors, it has been wrongly described as the priest 'putting his back to the people.' Not so, says, Ben. XVI; we need to understand the liturgy and facing towards towards the rising of the sun as a liturgical gesture we do all together--priest included. The eastward gesture of the eucharistic celebration creates the context of cosmos and parousia. He writes,
Priest and people were united in facing eastward; that is, a cosmic symbolism was drawn into the community celebration--a factor of considerable importance. For the true location and the true context of the eucharistic celebration is the whole cosmos. 'Facing east' makes this cosmic dimension of the Eucharist present through liturgical gesture. Because of the rising sun, the east--oriens--was naturally both a symbol of the Resurrection (and to that extent it was not merely a christological statement but also a reminder of the Father's power and influence of the Holy Spirit) and a presentation of the hope of the parousia. Where the priest and people together face the same way, what we have is a cosmic orientation and also an interpretation of the Eucharist in terms of resurrection and trinitarian theology. Hence it is also an interpretation in terms of parousia, a theology of hope, in which every Mass is an approach to the return of Christ.

Why Not Rome? James Fitzpatrick from Catholic Exchange

This morning I received the article mentioned above in my e-mail. There are some serious questions to be answered within this article. That I am posting it is NOT a hint that I am in the Tiber swimming. It's simply an interesting question when we read about so many in America making these moves. I would suggest that there are many who are Anglicans and remain such not because it is a via media between Rome and Protestantism but because there seems to be freedom in the midst of parameters. At least that would be so for many 'traditional' Anglicans. I would guess that the fear of dogmatic restrictions as opposed to embracing the rites and dogmas that one likes is likely the reason for some. For others, it is for reasons of dogma. Such as, the Immaculate conception of Mary not being more than an opinion but made dogma. I believe the bottom line would possibly be the nature of dogmatic development and what parameters the Catholic Church are required to operate in without being classed as modern day prophets as some within the Episcopal Church are claiming. There is a lot more to be said but I'm interested in what the different readers here may think.

What is interesting is a e-mail response from a reader who is a Catholic convert from the Church of England. I have copied his response below the portion of the article I have placed here. Leave your comments! You can read it all here.
In the years since the consecration of Gene Robinson, about three dozen American Episcopal churches have voted to secede and affiliate with provinces overseas. But things seem to be coming to a head in recent weeks. On Sunday, December 17th, the story was all over the newspapers. As the New York Times' reporter phrased it, "the family is breaking up." On December 17, nine Episcopal churches in Virginia announced an overwhelming vote by their parishioners to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. The Falls Church and Truro Church in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington voted to join the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America organization, which is linked to the Episcopal Church of Nigeria. Other churches are considering joining Anglican dioceses in Asia and Latin America. As the Reverend John Yates, rector of the Falls Church, puts it, "The Episcopal ship is in trouble. So we're climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There's a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria."

Rwanda? Bolivia? Nigeria? Why not Rome? There have been some notable Episcopalian conversions to Catholicism, of course, but not a great wave. What is holding the Episcopalians back?

Some will argue that recent events in the Catholic Church make that step unattractive for them, everything from the sex scandals to the tampering with the liturgy. No doubt there is something to that proposition. If I were an Episcopalian serious about my beliefs, and I thought of the Catholic Church as the church of Sr. Joan Chittister and Fr. Robert Drinan, I wouldn't be lining up for conversion classes. But there must be something else going on. Intelligent and informed Episcopalians know that Drinan and Chittister do not represent Catholicism. They know the percentage of Catholic priests caught up in the sex scandals is no greater than that of Protestant clergy involved in the same sort of shameful behavior. We have to look elsewhere.

Some will contend that it is certain Catholic teachings that hold the Episcopalians back, specifically the Church's teachings on divorce and birth control; that Episcopalians who are genuinely convinced that these practices are not immoral cannot reconcile themselves to joining a Church that forbids them — and which therefore is demonstrably in error, in their eyes. Fair enough. But here's the rub: Episcopalians who take this position are saying that their forebears in the Episcopal Church who first challenged their Church's traditional teachings on birth control and divorce — which took place not that long ago — were correct to do so, but that people like Bishop Robinson are not entitled to challenge the current teaching on homosexuality.

How does the logic go? That we should extend the line on acceptable morality to include behaviors and beliefs of mine that clash with traditional Christian beliefs, but not so far as to include those of my less righteous fellow congregants? That sounds like worshipping the spirit of the age to me — just a different spirit of the age. Are we to believe that that is what Jesus wanted for us? I can't help but think that large numbers of Episcopalians have thought this thought.

Which leads me to believe that there is something else that holds the Episcopalians back, something they would be reluctant to admit to in public, not due to any dishonesty on their part as much as to their characteristic good manners. I submit that becoming a Catholic would seem to them too much a betrayal of their people and their family heritage.

We know the stock images of the Episcopalians: tweedy WASPs, the "blue-stocking" crowd, the upper crust, the guardians of the Social Register, the people who can be found at the opening of the Metropolitan opera and at polo matches in the Hamptons. It is a caricature, of course. Not all Episcopalians are like that. But many are, especially those in positions of influence. Central to their understanding of the Episcopal Church is their belief that educated, refined, high-minded, socially conscious people like themselves do not need Rome to preserve a virtuous social order.

Let me be blunt: their belief is that they do not need the Church of the lower-class Irish, Italians and Slavic immigrants to instruct them on righteousness; that their collective religious endeavors will lead to a preservation of what Jesus wants for the modern world. Turning to Rome would mean abandoning the church that was central to the lives of the men and women of their stock who built not just the businesses, grand homes and country clubs of upper class America, but also the museums, universities, libraries and hospitals that represent the best of the American experience.

It is not unfair to say that Episcopalians have traditionally thought of themselves as the moral guardians that would lift the huddled masses to a higher understanding of how one behaved in a well-ordered society, one more enlightened than the priest-ridden world the immigrants left behind. They were convinced that proper people of their class did not need the church of Bishop Sheen and Mother Cabrini to preserve and extend for future generations the correct understanding of what it means to be a good Christian. The serious deliberations of well-intentioned folks of good breeding were enough for that.

It will not be easy for them to say, "I guess we were wrong." Better to turn for leadership to an Anglican bishop in Rwanda or Bolivia, who they believe has correctly preserved the dispensation given to him by the Episcopal Church of old, than to Rome. Even if there is no guarantee that doing so will preserve those teachings for any length of time.

The writer of the email follows:

As a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England, I can easily see the parallels between the mother of Anglicanism and the American Episcopalians. Both have become essentially middle-class, old money organizations; both share the engrained English belief that decency is at least equal to holiness, if not preferable to it; "decency" being defined by the polite society of the well-meaning and well-informed - which in our day, means adherence to all the mantras of political correctness.

However, I think Mr Fizpatrick omits two major obstacles to more widespread conversions. Although the remnants of "Anglo-Catholicism" are still there, conservative High Anglican clergy are a dwindling band; and for many congregations that view themselves as High Church, it is the trappings of Anglo-Catholicism - the vestments, the neo-Gothic architecture, the well-polished liturgy - that define their religious life. Preserve these, and after some harrumphing, many will go along with fundamental doctrinal and moral shifts. Indeed, a similar method was employed when the C of E was originally foisted on Catholic England! And to be fair, when the Church first converted the ancient pagan world.

No - it is conservative Evangelicals who both offer the greatest resistance to the liberal Protestant agenda, yet find the thought of converting to Rome problematic. Why? Some - relatively few - undoubtedly still see Rome as the whore of Babylon: the enemy of true, personal faith, substituting for it a legalistic religion of observances and submission to human authority. In pursuit of truth, they go on arguing and splintering into ever smaller factions: the classic experience of sincere Protestantism.

To a great many more, however, the Catholic Church is simply outside their experience. They have no great animus against the Church; many will have admired the late Pope John Paul as a man of obvious vision, faith and holiness; but the Catholic church , certainly in England and Wales, has been very diffident about reaching out to them, partly out of an historic fear of rocking the boat, but largely because the same is true of Catholics - they have little knowledge of what happens outside, despite the obvious debt much current Catholic liturgical practice and thought owe to the Reformed traditions. As an organist, a lady recently approached me after mass to tell me that she loved the "old hymns" like the one I had just played - Charles Wesley's "Love divine, all loves excelling", and that she had heard that Protestants had started singing that sort of devotional hymn too! I hadn't the heart to tell her they had been singing it ever since one of them wrote it. This is of course anecdotal, but illustrative of the sort of religious isolationism common in England, and I suspect in the US too. It is not something our fellow Christians in say, Pakistan, suffer from - they will have a very full awareness of the doctrine and practice of Islam. The Catholic church itself has to reach out, both clergy and laity, if it is to reclaim what is its own.

The second point follows from this: if we are looking to convert whole bodies rather than individuals, there is no harm in adopting or adapting practices compatible with Catholic truth. The wording of the Book of Common Prayer and its modern derivatives requires very little alteration to render them unambiguously Catholic. I hope the Pope's advisers are looking at this.

Submitted by Andrew Bowyer

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Joseph Jungmann, S.J. 'The Sacrifice of the Church'

It is very interesting to me that this encyclical of 1943 is already showing strong signs of the corporate nature of the offering of the Mass. What Jungmann, S.J. says about this ecclesial act through the ministry of the priest is not much different, if at all, from that of Lancelot Andrewes. Interestingly, there is little debate, even amongst early Reformers and even in places like the Westminster Assembly that it was only the priest/minister who was to be responsible for the consecration of the sacrament. Of course, I am not saying that these bodies had the same view of vocation. Far from it. I only mention this in light of the necessity of the priest alone who calls upon God for the sacramental change of the bread and wine. What does give me interest is the use of the term Corpus Mysticum for the Church rather than the Eucharist as is shown in de Lubac's work Corpus Mysticum. There will be more on his work in the not too distant future as that book will help shape my final chapter on how Andrewes can be used as a catalyst for ecumenical explorations in Eucharistic sacrifice.

Already in the encyclical Mystici Corporis of 1943 the thought [participation of the faithful] finds expression. In that part where the eucharistic sacrifice is discussed we find: 'The sacred ministers represent not only our Saviour but also the whole Mystical Body and each one of its members; in that sacrifice the faithful are associated in the common prayer and supplication and, through the hands of the priest, whose voice alone renders the Immaculate Lamb present on the altar, they themselves offer to the Eternal Father this most pleasing Victim of praise and propitiation for the needs of the whole Church.'

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Vestments in Rome

I am looking to purchase some vestments here in the near future. I already have the essentials but I am looking for some vestment shops in Rome that may be on line. If you know of any, would you please let me know in the comments. Thanks! I hope to make a trip to Rome before this summer if possible! If you know of internet links, please leave those as well.

Ss. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen 'Theologian'

Collect:
God our Father,
You inspired the Church
with the example and teaching of Your saints Basil and Gregory.
In humility may we come to know Your truth
and put it into action with faith and love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Basil to St. Gregory

Now solitude is of the greatest use for this purpose, inasmuch as it stills our passions, and gives room for principle to cut them out of the soul. [For just as animals are more easily controlled when they are stroked, lust and anger, fear and sorrow, the soul's deadly foes, are better brought under the control of reason, after being calmed by inaction, and where there is no continuous stimulation.] Let there then be such a place as ours, separate from intercourse with men, that the tenour of our exercises be not interrupted from without. Pious exercises nourish the soul with divine thoughts. What state can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the choruses of angels? to begin the day with prayer, and honour our Maker with hymns and songs? As the day brightens, to betake ourselves, with prayer attending on it throughout, to our labours, and to sweeten our work with hymns, as if with salt? Soothing hymns compose the mind to a cheerful and calm state. Quiet, then, as I have said, is the first step in our sanctification; the tongue purified from the gossip of the world; the eyes unexcited by fair colour or comely shape; the ear not relaxing the tone or mind by voluptuous songs, nor by that especialmischief, the talk of light men and jesters. Thus the mind, saved from dissipation from without, and not through the senses thrown upon the world, falls back upon itself, and thereby ascends to the contemplation of God. [When that beauty shines about it, it even forgets its very nature; it is dragged down no more by thought of food nor anxiety concerning dress; it keeps holiday from earthly cares, and devotes all its energies to the acquisition of the good things which are eternal, and asks only how may be made to flourish in it self-control and manly courage, righteousness and wisdom, and all the other virtues, which, distributed tinder these heads, properly enable the good man to discharge all the duties of life.]

3. The study of inspired Scripture is the chief way of finding our duty, for in it we find both instruction about conduct and the lives of blessed men, delivered in writing, as some breathing images of godly living, for the imitation of their good works. Hence, in whatever respect each one feels himself deficient, devoting himself to this imitation, he finds, as from some dispensary, the due medicine for his ailment. He who is enamoured of chastity dwells upon the history of Joseph, and from him learns chaste actions, finding him not only possessed of self-command over pleasure, but virtuously-minded in habit. He is taught endurance by Job [who, not only when the circumstances of life began to turn against him, and in one moment he was plunged from wealth into penury, and from being the father of fair children into childlessness, remained the same, keeping the disposition of his soul all through uncrushed, but was not even stirred to anger against the friends who came to comfort him, and trampled on him, and aggravated his troubles.] Or should he be enquiring how to be at once meek and great-hearted, hearty against sin, meek towards men, he will find David noble in warlike exploits, meek and unruffled as regards revenge on enemies. Such, too, was Moses rising up with great heart upon sinners against God, but with meek soul bearing their evil-speaking against himself. [Thus, generally, as painters, when they are painting from other pictures, constantly look at the model, and do their best to transfer its lineaments to their own work, so too must he who is desirous of rendering himself perfect in all branches of excellency, keep his eyes turned to the lives of the saints as though to living and moving statues, and make their virtue his own by imitation.

4. Prayers, too, after reading, find the soul fresher, and more vigorously stirred by love towards God. And that prayer is good which imprints a clear idea of God in the soul; and the having God established in self by means of memory is God's indwelling. Thus we become God's temple, when the continuity of our recollection is not severed by earthly cares; when the mind is harassed by no sudden sensations; when the worshipper rites from all things and retreats to God, drawing away all the feelings that invite him to self-indulgence, and passes his time in the pursuits that lead to virtue.]

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Mother of God Solemnity

495 Called in the Gospels "the Mother of Jesus," Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord." In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God".

115. On New Year's Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because "through her we have received the Author of life".

"[T]o all generations they [the prophets] have pictured forth the grandest subjects for contemplation and for action. Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, his advent by the spotless and God-bearing (theotokos) Mary in the way of birth and growth, and the manner of his life and conversation with men, and his manifestation by baptism, and the new birth that was to be to all men, and the regeneration by the laver [of baptism]" (Discourse on the End of the World 1 [A.D. 217]). Hippolytus

Collect:
God our Father,
may we always profit by the prayers
of the Virgin Mother Mary,
for You bring us life and salvation
through Jesus Christ her Son
who lives and regins with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Happy New Year 2007

May all readers and have a blessed New Year! May God protect and sustain you and may he work miracles in his Church and the world to bring both back to him in humility and love. The Lord be with all of you!
    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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