Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Blog Site

Please Be ADVISED that meam commemorationem is now moving to a new site with a new look and broader direction. My new site is called de cura animarum "about the cure of souls". This new site will be broader in its theological discussions than the previous blog and will contain more discussion about Catholic issues and Anglican Communion issues as well. Meam commemorationem began as a blog dedicated to Lancelot Andrewes. I will still comment on my work and writings of Andrewes but his work will no longer be my main focus on my blog. Since returning to parish ministry, I thought it would be good to have a new start with a broader theological outlook for discussion.

I will keep this blog open for archive purposes. I kindly ask all readers if you would link my new blog to your sites and come pay me a visit and leave comments. Please be patient as continued tweaking is going on while I get it up and running.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Decision Made: St. Andrews it is!

Well, I have made my decision after some long hours of thought and weighing the issues involved in my particular circumstance with my supervisor. I have really learned a lot from Professor David Brown and he has supported my work and directed it to what he says is going to be a good thesis in the end. All of his PhD candidates are also successful when they go for the viva too! That is, David prepares us for what is ahead and does not put us forward until he is sure we are ready. Therefore, I have agreed to go with my supervisor and just got off the phone with him and he is pleased with my decision and now I am as well.

I also had a conversation with another potential supervisor and that went well but my time with David and our working relationship simply outweighs my desire to get the Durham degree. I have sent off my stuff to the University of St. Andrews today to be enrolled in St. Mary's College and I should be hearing something fairly soon. Once I get the written acceptance I will post that here and then do the formal stuff with Durham. If something happens and this falls through the cracks then Durham is legally bound to see me through so I will get the degree nonetheless. But David assures me that he received a letter from St. Andrews telling him that he can bring me along and there should be no problem in my coming. So, my degree will come about six months later but it will eventually come. In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do to get it ready to go. Thank you for your prayers and much wisdom from those of you who wrote me privately and commented. God Bless!

For all who are wondering and I have been asked, no, I am not physically leaving Durham since I have a curacy responsibility as well. I will do this via electronic mail with visits as needed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Major Decision to Make: Durham? or St. Andrews?

I am writing to ask for the prayers of all my readers. I have a very big decision to make very soon. My PhD supervisor, Professor David Brown, is leaving the University of Durham and is going to St. Andrews University in Scotland. I am at the end of my research and writing and obviously I need to make an important decision.

I have paid the full tuition at Durham already and do not owe any more money. I will have to pay a small continuation fee at Durham if I remain. If I do remain, I will have to get a new supervisor to finish off my research and writing. St. Andrews would accept me as a continuing student and I could remain with David Brown and get my research PhD from St. Andrews if I leave with him. I am disappointed of course but this is life! I am not sure what I am going to do at this stage as I am waiting to see what Durham is going to offer me. i have to make a decision within the next week or so. I would appreciate your prayers and any academic advice you could offer. Thanks!

If you are interested in seeing The Good University report on Theological Departments in the UK, here is how they currently stack up! Click on the link provided.

Most Holy Theotokos Save Us!

I have added a link to the little chant (The Small Paraklesis to the Theotokos) to the Holy Theotokos for your prayerful and listening pleasure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Music on the Blog

I have put a link on the blog on the right where you can listen to "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" a Cherubic hymn at the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great on the Holy Saturday. I put it in this format so that you, the reader, can choose to listen or not to listen while you surf about. I hope you enjoy it! Do click on it while you surf about my site and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

St. John Chrysostom: Christian Priesthood, Bk.III.4

4. For the priestly office is indeed discharged on earth, but it ranks amongst heavenly ordinances; and very naturally so: for neither man, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete Himself, instituted this vocation, and persuaded men while still abiding in the flesh to represent the ministry of angels. Wherefore the consecrated priest ought to be as pure as if he were standing in the heavens themselves in the midst of those powers. Fearful, indeed, and of most awful import, were the things which were used before the dispensation of grace, as the bells, the pomegranates, the stones on the breastplate and on the ephod, the girdle, the mitre, the long robe, the plate of gold, the holy of holies, the deep silence within.86 Exod. xxviii. 4 sq.

But if any one should examine the things which belong to the dispensation of grace, he will find that, small as they are, yet are they fearful and full of awe, and that what was spoken concerning the law is true in this case also, that “what has been made glorious hath no glory in this respect by reason of the glory which excelleth.”87 2 Cor. iii. 10.

For when thou seest the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar,88 “What then? do we not make an offering every day? We do, certainly, but by making a memorial of His death; and this memorial is one, not many. How one, not many? Because the sacrifice was offered once for all, as that great sacrifice was in the Holy of Holies. This is a figure of that great sacrifice, as that was of this: for we do not offer one victim to-day and another to-morrow, but always the same: wherefore the sacrifice is one. Well, then, as He is offered in many places, are there many Christs? No, by no means, but everywhere one Christ, complete both in this world and in the other, one body. As then, though offered in many places, He is but one body, so is there but one sacrifice. Our High Priest is He who offers the sacrifice which cleanses us. We offer that now which was offered then: which is indeed inconsumable. This takes place now, for a memorial of what took place then. ‘Do this,’ said He, ‘for my memorial.’ We do not then offer a different sacrifice, as the high priest formerly did, but always the same; or rather we celebrate a memorial of a sacrifice.”and the priest standing and praying over the victim, and all the worshippers empurpled with that precious blood,89 This may be only a rhetorical expression, but perhaps there is an allusion to a custom which prevailed in some churches, that the worshippers after receiving the cup applied the finger to the moistened lip, and then touched their breast, eyes and ears, canst thou then think that thou art still amongst men, and standing upon the earth? Art thou not, on the contrary, straightway translated to Heaven, and casting out every carnal thought from the soul, dost thou not with disembodied spirit and pure reason contemplate the things which are in Heaven?

Oh! what a marvel! what love of God to man! He who sitteth on high with the Father is at that hour held in the hands of all. “Just as the bread before consecration is called bread, but when the Divine Grace sanctifies it through the agency of the priest it is released from the appellation of bread, and is deemed worthy of the appellation of the ‘Lord’s Body,’ although the nature of bread remains in it, and we speak not of two bodies, but one body of the Son: so here the Divine nature being seated in the human body, the two together make up but one Son—one Person.”and gives Himself to those who are willing to embrace and grasp Him. And this all do through 47the eyes of faith!91 Some mss. omit the word πίστεως “of faith,” having in its place τότε “at that time.”

Do these things seem to you fit to be despised, or such as to make it possible for any one to be uplifted against them?

St. John Chrysostom: Christian Priesthood, Bk.II.2

2. Will you, then, still contend that you were not rightly deceived, when you are about to superintend the things which belong to God, and are doing that which when Peter did the Lord said he should be able to surpass the rest of the apostles, for His words were, “Peter, lovest thou me more than these?”70 In some editions the words “tend my sheep” are added here.

Yet He might have said to him, “If thou lovest me practise fasting, sleeping on the ground, and prolonged vigils, defend the wronged, be as a father to orphans, and supply the place of a husband to their mother.” But as a matter of fact, setting aside all these things, what does He say? “Tend my sheep.” For those things which I have already mentioned might easily be performed by many even of those who are under authority, women as well as men; but when one is required to preside over the Church, and to be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also; and we must bring forward those who to a large extent surpass all others, and soar as much above them in excellence of spirit as Saul overtopped the whole Hebrew nation in bodily stature: or rather far more.71 1 Sam. x. 23.

For in this case let me not take the height of shoulders as the standard of inquiry; but let the distinction between the pastor and his charge be as great as that between rational man and irrational creatures, not to say even greater, inasmuch as the risk is concerned with things of far greater importance. He indeed who has lost sheep, either through the ravages of wolves, or the attacks of robbers, or through murrain, or any other disaster befalling them, might perhaps obtain some indulgence from the owner of the flock; and even if the latter should demand satisfaction the penalty would be only a matter of money: but he who has human beings entrusted to him, the rational flock of Christ, incurs a penalty in the first place for the loss of the sheep, which goes beyond material things and touches his own life: and in the second place he has to carry on a far greater and more difficult contest. For he has not to contend with wolves, nor to dread robbers, nor to consider how he may avert pestilence from the flock. With whom then has he to fight? with whom has he to wrestle? Listen to the words of St. Paul. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”72 Ephes. vi. 12.

Do you see the terrible multitude of enemies, and their fierce squadrons, not steel clad, but endued with a nature which is of itself an equivalent for a complete suit of armor. Would you see yet another host, stern and cruel, beleaguering this flock? This also you shall behold from the same post of observation. For he who has discoursed to us concerning the others, points out these enemies also to us, speaking in a certain place on this wise: “The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, fornication, adultery, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife,73 Gal. v. 19, 20, 21 backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults,”74 2 Cor. xii. 20 and many more besides; for he did not make a complete list, but left us to understand the rest from these. Moreover, in the case of the shepherd of irrational creatures, those who wish to destroy the flock, when they see the guardian take to flight, cease making war upon him, and are contented with the seizure of the cattle: but in this case, even should they capture the whole flock, they do not leave the shepherd unmolested, but attack him all the more, and wax bolder, ceasing not until they have either overthrown him, or have themselves been vanquished.

Again, the afflictions of sheep are manifest, whether it be famine, or pestilence, or wounds, or whatsoever else it may be which distresses them, and this might help not a little towards the relief of those who are oppressed in these ways. And there is yet another fact greater than this which facilitates release from this kind of infirmity. And what is that? The shepherds with great authority compel the sheep to receive the remedy when they do not willingly submit to it. For it is easy to bind them when cautery or cutting is required, and to keep them inside the fold for a long time, whenever it is expedient, and to bring them one kind of food instead of another, and to cut them off from their supplies of water, and all other things which the shepherds may decide to be conducive to their health they perform with great ease.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Women Bishops in the Church of Wales

I received the report of the Bill from the Church of Wales that is being put forth for the ordination of women to the episcopacy. I must confess that the rationale for this innovation is so far reaching in its "political" justification that I am finding it harder and harder to get my head around it as I think about the issue ecclesiologically. Bishop David Thomas has pointed out a serious issue that has not been addressed at all in this debate--at least not at any solid theological level in my opinion. To go about screaming "glass ceiling, glass ceiling" is simply not theologically on. Where is the theological and ecclesiological rationale for doing this? That is the argument I am waiting on to convince me. To simply argue from the position of equality does not address the theological and sacramental questions and to be honest, I believe most everybody realizes this in some respect. I am not one to oppose the question and theological discussion but I do oppose arguing for this on the basis of equality laws and egalitarian democracy, which is to make the Church into a human institution organised by modern secular culture rather than the Bride come down out of heaven that she is. Scripture and Tradition as well as Reason bring different conclusions than the egalitarian secularism that lurks behind much of these equality Bills. Let's have that theological debate and I am happy for it to be discussed here openly. Bishop Thomas gets to the heart of it when he says,
The longer I reflect on the proposed Bill, the more convinced I become that it is driven above all by that post-1960s feminism which has done so much to secure for women all the fundamental human rights enjoyed by men. It has rightly sought to correct stereotypes which portrayed women as inferior, which largely confined them to domestic roles and tended to keep them out of public life. Its goal has been the inclusion of women and girls in every occupation and institution open to men and boys. In general terms, I for one regard this as entirely laudable.

Ignoring the large part which the Church has played in Western culture in
advancing the status and dignity of women, some women have seen the sacred ministry as just such an occupation or institution from which their exclusion is a matter of fundamental injustice. The major weakness in this view of the ordained ministry is that it assumes that the Church is organized like a modern, secular, democratic society. But the Church is not a voluntary association of the like-minded, whose task is to create and maintain structures to serve its own purposes. It is a divine institution, whose sacraments are given by Christ. Holy Orders are conferred within it not for the honour or advancement of the recipient, but for the service of God and the building up of the whole. To consider the ministerial priesthood and episcopate as a human right is to misunderstand their nature completely.

The fundamental confusion at the root of this argument is neatly expressed in the Christian feminist slogan, 'If you won't ordain us, don't baptize us.' The Church has always baptized women; it has never (until recent innovations) ordained them to the priesthood or episcopate. This is not due to any devaluation of women. It arises from the fact that there is no necessary progression from baptism to priestly/episcopal ordination. If such a progression did of necessity exist, the Christian life would presumably be a sort of religious 'career path'. Such a concept can hardly be said to sit comfortably beside the Lord's warning that those who follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross daily.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Andrewes: Eucharistic Presence and Incarnation

I have been tied up with my new title parish in the C of E by trying to get my mind and body into the rhythm of Church life and out of full-time academia. Thankfully, I am now back to serious writing and thinking in order that I finish my PhD as well. I have done some re-reading of Andrewes' sermons on the incarnation and find his explanation of Eucharistic presence described within the categories of the incarnation to be fascinating and quite in line with the Orthodox in many ways. Yet, Andrewes maintains the emphasis of the Western Church that communicates the realness of that objective presence with the elements themselves. A particular emphasis of this is seen in his sermon on Isaiah 7:14 and his description of God's name Immanuel. Below are some thoughts that I typed up after reading this particular sermon. I would love to hear what the readers here think about it! So, leave a comment or two!
Presence for Andrewes is much like his understanding of the nature of the incarnation. For instance, what Andrewes says about the incarnation is that it is ‘nisi credideritis non intelligetis’ that is, ‘to be believed, is otherwise not understood.’[1] Reason is not able to comprehend the mystery of the Eucharist but faith in what God can do embraces the mystery. God is able to do that which our reason is not able to reach. As the working of the mystery of the incarnation was ex Spiritu Sancto, so the presence of Christ in the creaturely elements of bread and wine is also from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it was Andrewes’ theology that taught a view of God who was above and not bound by nature that makes the reality of Christ’s presence in the actual elements to be a real presence. Therefore faith rests in ‘tota ratio facti est in potential facientis’ which is ‘the power of the doer is the reason of the thing done.’[2] Hence we have Andrewes stating once again his absolute surrender to the power of the supernatural in the nature of God.

Yet it was God’s condescending love towards us when he took on flesh and was conceived in the Virgin’s womb and brought forth in our nature that makes his presence in the Eucharist effectual for our salvation. In the incarnation we are brought forth in love, honour, and due regard since it is where God’s love condescended to by going to the very root of our defilement to cleanse us and set us right again.[3] The incarnation is the healing of our nature and this honour was bestowed upon us by his dishonour in taking on sinful human flesh. As the incarnation and the pariet (bringing forth) makes his love appear in bodily form, so his condescending to us in the holy sacrament reveals his ongoing love and presence with us. As Jesus was thesaurus absconditus as the incarnation of God’s love so that hidden treasure is pariet in the Eucharistic elements.

When Andrewes speaks of the Eucharistic presence it is in the language of the name of God with us Immanuel. The incarnation is where God comes amongst us and is made one with us and in the Eucharistic rite history past, present and future is recapitulated and summed up as one in Christ. It is the 'knitting together' of the two natures where the human and divine becomes one thing, univoce again. Andrewes describes this union that has taken place between us and God as a new ‘kind of Trinity—God, we and Christ.’[4] Since it is Christ who makes the Trinity one with us it is Christ who makes God to be with us in the flesh. This union with us is knit together so closely with Christ that Andrewes describes the union with the imagery of clothing. As Christ wears the name Immanuel so he wears us. This wearing is a comfort and a glory to us.[5] The result is that when Christ is named we are also named with him.

What is seen in baptism by Andrewes is our being brought forth from the womb of the Church and our baptisms moving us in a God-ward direction. By baptism we are brought forth as children of God. In this rite we come to participate in the divine nature of Christ who was brought forth from the Virgin’s womb to participate in our nature. And in this sense of being knit together with Christ, God shall be with us.[6] As a result of Andrewes’ description of the name Immanuel and all that this name means for us as creatures that are fitted to the oneness of God—a oneness only now experienced in the presence of the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist—it is evermore realised in the Christian feast. Andrewes describes this oneness in relationship with the incarnation saying,
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.[7] 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 nostrum, ‘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.[8]
For us to be ‘with God’ now is for us to discover his ‘with us’ in the sacrament of his Body—the Body in the sacrament is the Body that was conceived and brought forth from the Virgin’s womb and Andrews emphasises that the Eucharist is especially for God’s being with us. The doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is communicated in the shadows of the incarnation that describe what it means for God to be with us in this rite.
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.[9]
What we have in the Eucharist is the preparative to that Day when Christ will come to be with us again in the flesh. Andrewes stated that immediately after Jesus gave them the Eucharist, ‘He prayed straight that they that had so been with Him in the blessed Sacrament—‘Father, My will is,’ My prayer, My last prayer, ‘that where I am they may be also.’[10] Therefore, for Andrewes the Eucharist carries with it not only the recapitulation of time in the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection and ascension, but also the eschatological hope of what it means for God to be with us in the flesh again. For Andrewes, just as Jesus is with us ‘in the flesh’ by way of his real presence in the Eucharist so also will we be with him when he comes in the fullness of his kingdom. For Andrewes, this is the hope set forth in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

[1] Andrewes, Works, i. 138.
[2] Andrewes, Works, i. 139.
[3] Andrewes, Works, i. 141.
[4] Andrewes, Works, i. 146.
[5] Andrewes, Works, i. 147.
[6] Andrewes, Works, 150-151.
[7] Is. 8.8
[8] Andrewes, Works, 151.
[9] Andrewes, Works, 151-152
[10] Andrewes, Works, 152.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it."

I love what Flannery O'Connor says in this piece! It is so outstanding and this is one lady that I would have loved to see in the world of blogging!

I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. (She just wrote that book, "A Charmed Life.") She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went at eight and at one, I hadn't opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say. . . . Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them. Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the most portable person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it. That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of
existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Anglicans for Life

Go give Anglicans for Life a look through and pray about becoming a member and supporting this very important cause that promotes life as humans created in the image of God. May God give his world a heart for the unborn and those for whom the secular world views as less valuable.

Garden Party at the Clergy House

Yesterday we had a beautiful day in Durham and were able to get away from the very wet weather for a few hours and had our Garden Party. We were able to raise a good amount of money and we are thankful to all who worked so hard to make it the success that it was. There were a number of good pictures that we were able to get off and you can see those on our church web site that is now up and running and just about fully complete. We hope to have a big cookout before the summer is over with a few "American" twists put on it. One thing that we are going to supply is a bit of "hunch punch"!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summer Cookout

At the ordination we had a lot of friends come over for a cookout! It was great fun and I put a few of the pictures up here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

RooT: Religious of orthodox Tradition

Here is the new site from RooT that should be most useful to those in the Catholic Tradition that was announced by FiF today. Give them a visit and pass on the details to others.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Parish Church Website

One of our members and I are building a website for our parish church. It is nowhere near finished yet but we are under way. I toss it out here for any comments or suggestions. It is a free domain so we are only able to do so much with it at this point. Brandon parish.
    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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