An Anglican Priest

"Protestant and Reformed according to the principles of the ancient Catholic Church." Bishop John Cosin (d. 1672)

My Photo
Name:
Location: United States

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Icons, shrines, and Anglicanism

                                                                               
Iconoclasm, the destruction of images of Christ, the Virgin, or the Saints, stems from an insufficient appreciation of the full humanity of Christ, and as such it is a heresy. The creation of specific imagery of Christ and other Christian figures did not become prevalent until after the waning of paganism. Iconoclasm was most prevalent during these introductions; by the 8th Century a great deal of superstition had arisen in connection with the images and the debate concerning their use had become contentious (Moss, The Christian Faith, 1957, p 88). Saint John of Damascus clarified the issue of images as it related to Christology, stressing the reality of Christ’s humanity. The Second Council of Nicea in A.D. 787 condemned the iconoclasts and directed pictures be restored to the churches.

Churches north of the Alps not represented at Nicea II rejected the decrees of the council. The Council of Frankfort declared that pictures could be used in churches, but not worshipped (misunderstanding the nuances of Nicea II between "veneration" and "adoration" or worship). The authority of Nicea II was questioned by the theologians of the western Church as late as 1540. The Protestant Reformation ignited a new wave of iconoclasm in the West, especially in the churches of the Puritan, Presbyterian, and Reformed traditions. Iconoclasm did not affect Lutheranism to a great degree—crucifixes, statues, and paintings have been in continuous use in Lutheran worship since the Reformation.

Anglicans had varying views on the subject. The cross and candles upon the Altar were often retained by the high churchmen (for instance, Queen Elizabeth I kept an ornate crucifix in her chapel). Post-Reformation portraiture of Anglican divines such as Cranmer, Andrewes, and Laud demonstrated the development of a type of “Anglican iconography,” as did the continued practice of creating effigies for the monuments of the deceased prelates in English Cathedrals. During the Puritan Commonwealth much ancient Christian art left in place in England at the Anglican Reformation was thoughtlessly defaced (literally—it means to destroy the faces) or otherwise destroyed. Anglo-Catholic churches (from the late 1800s to the present) have brought back the crucifix, icons, and statues of Saints to Anglican places of worship, but the iconographic structure and organization of the images as found in the Eastern churches is often lacking. Indeed, in many parishes proportion and focus are lost amid a sea of statuary and images and a repetition of the crucifix.

While God the Father cannot be pictorially represented (He is never depicted in the icons of the Eastern Church, although He often is in the West—as an elderly mirror image of Christ; this is indeed an example of bad theology), both the Holy Ghost and Christ have been depicted in Eastern iconography, the Spirit as a dove or a tongue of fire, both images with biblical foundations. As Christ was Incarnate and fully assumed our human nature, it is not incorrect that His image can be likened as best we can assume He appeared in the flesh. Honor (veneration) paid to such an image is not to the wood or paint, but to the Person of Christ (just the same as when we bow in the Liturgy at the Name of Jesus, we bow not to vibrations in the air, but to the Incarnate Word). The ability to depict Christ as man, as Incarnate God, speaks to the truth of Christianity—we don’t just worship some unseen Deity. Even though we cannot imagine the glory of God the Father nor create any likeness of Him, we have the human attestation of His nature in the Person of Christ.

I have a Methodist relative (I come from that tradition myself and have a bust of John Wesley on my desk) and she has a picture of Jesus (normal European depiction: flowing blond hair, pale skin, blue eyes) in her bedroom. When I visited her house some time back she mentioned, looking at the picture, that she talks to Him every day. I knew what she meant, as would almost any other Christian. Nobody would think that she spoke to the picture or thought that it had any special power. She had an implicit theory of Christian iconography. She speaks not to the image, but to the One that it represents.

As Christ was Incarnate, we can depict Him and revere His image and likeness. As the Saints were humans, we can do likewise. We cannot think that the images have any value or power in and of themselves. They are not magic. I believe most protestants have an understanding of icons close to the understanding of the Second Council of Nicea, even though they might abhor or question their use in Lutheran, Orthodox, Anglican or Roman Catholic worship. Pictures of Christ (or even the Holy Family, if it is Christmas time) might be set upon the mantle and treated with respect in Christian homes of many traditions. If someone were to come into the home and spit upon the image of Christ or smash the crèche the person would probably be horrified, because they would rightly interpret the attack upon the image as an attack on the idea of Christianity or the person of Jesus. If a Democrat has a picture of Kennedy on the wall or the Republican a picture of Reagan and a visitor looks at the image and expresses pleasure or disdain, almost everyone knows that the displeasure or appreciation is directed at the person, not at the image.

The Affirmation of Saint Louis embraces the Seven Ecumenical Councils without qualification. The Constitution and Canons of the Reformed Episcopal Church states: “Nicea II (787). . .is disputed in respect of its ecumenicity and application, though in principle its condemnation of Iconoclasm is conceded to be orthodox.” Therefore, the bulk of classical Anglicanism embraces the theology of Nicea II. The main questions that remain for many classical Anglicans pertain not to the general theological conclusions of Nicea II, but rather to the wording of many of the directives within the pronouncements of the Council. The canons resulting from this council do not just allow for images in places of worship, but direct that images be placed in all churches and that honor be paid to these images through gestures (bowing, kissing, etc), and that those who reject “all ecclesiastical tradition, whether written or non-written” be condemned (something that would have to be reconciled to the Articles and their affirmation that nothing is required than that which can be proven by Holy Scripture). An Anglican service of the Holy Eucharist can be validly celebrated without a cross upon the Holy Table; an Orthodox liturgy (to the best of my knowledge) demands the use of an icon. It is in these regards that many Anglicans still question the “ecumenicity and application” of the council, while readily admitting that its Christology in defense of Christian art and its use is orthodox. If any Anglican you speak with says otherwise, ask him if he has a Nativity set or has sent a Christmas card with the Virgin and Child upon it.


Relics and Pilgrimages
Every year or so I go to a large shrine that houses the mortal remains, the relics, of a man beloved by millions--the shrine is huge and impressive, filled with icons of the man entombed there. There are paintings, busts, and in a museum nearby numerous wax figures. It is the shrine of the 16th president of the United States. Usually I will take a token of my pilgrimage back with me; last time it was a bust of President Lincoln. With this example we see that most people will embark on some manner of pilgrimage in their lives to visit the tomb of a famous person now deceased, even if it is a secular one. All of us visit the graves of those we have loved and lost. Even the most ardent Protestant must admit the similarity between the two practices.

Wheaton College in Illinois has a collection of the "relics" of C.S. Lewis (personal belongings, etc) and many Christians have made pilgrimages to see them. However, there are no indulgences granted for such trips, and no years will be taken off of time to be spent in purgatory. What such pilgrimages will do is help to connect the living with the faithful who have "departed this life in Thy faith and fear" that "we might follow in their good examples."

There should be no objection to pilgrimages to such shrines, either to C.S. Lewis or to Lancelot Andrewes, or to the site of Cranmer or Laud's martyrdom. What most find abhorrent (as the Reformers did in the late Middle Ages) is the creation and selling of relics--body parts taken from the grave, dismembered portions from a desecrated corpse removed from his resting place in Christian burial and sold for profit. There is a great and important difference between visiting the tomb of a faithful Christian and taking parts from that faithful Christian in order to create "a tomb away from the grave." We must ask ourselves if we would approve of the dismemberment of a saintly elder of our family so that a church might have "a piece of her" for the parish. . .I would hope not.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Scriptural Way of the Cross

 

"Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger. Lamentations 1:12

ASSIST us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The First Station: The Last SupperMatthew 26:26-29
26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 27And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of it; 28for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's Kingdom."

ALMIGHTY Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, did institute the Sacrament of his Body and Blood; Mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the same in remembrance of him, who in those holy mysteries giveth us a pledge of life eternal; the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Second Station: The Agony in the GardenLuke 22:40-46
40And when He was at the place, He said unto them, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation." 41And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed, 42saying, "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done." 43And there appeared an angel unto Him from Heaven, strengthening Him. 44And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45And when He rose up from prayer and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow. 46And He said unto them, "Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."

O GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Third Station: Jesus is Arrested
Luke 22:47-48, 52-54
47And while He yet spoke, behold, a multitude; and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him. 48But Jesus said unto him, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" 52Then Jesus said unto the chief priests and captains of the temple and the elders, who had come to Him, "Have ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves? 53When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against Me; but this is your hour, and the power of darkness." 54Then they took Him and led Him, and brought Him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.

ALMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Fourth Station: Jesus is Brought Before the Sanhedrin
Mark 14:55-62
55And the chief priests and all of the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death, and found none. 56For many bore false witness against Him, but their witness agreed not together. 57And there arose certain ones who bore false witness against Him, saying, 58"We heard him say, `I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'" 59But neither did their witness agree together. 60And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, "Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee?" 61But He held His peace and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him and said unto Him, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" 62And Jesus said, "I am; and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fifth Station: Peter Denies Jesus
Mark 14:66-72
66And as Peter was below in the courtyard, there came one of the maids of the high priest. 67And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him and said, "And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." 68But he denied it, saying, "I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest." And he went out into the porch, and the cock crowed. 69And a maid saw him again and began to say to those who stood by, "This is one of them." 70And he denied it again. And a little after, those who stood by said again to Peter, "Surely thou art one of them, for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto." 71But he began to curse and to swear, saying, "I know not this man of whom ye speak!" 72And the second time the cock crowed. And Peter called to mind the words that Jesus had said unto him: "Before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice." And when he thought thereon, he wept.

LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Sixth Station: Jesus is Brought Before PilateLuke 23: 1-5
1And the whole multitude of them arose and led Him unto Pilate. 2And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king." 3And Pilate asked Him, saying, "Art thou the king of the Jews?" And He answered him and said, "Thou sayest it." 4Then said Pilate to the chief priests and the people, "I find no fault in this man." 5And they became the more fierce, saying, "He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place."

ALMIGHTY God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Seventh Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned
John 19: 1-3
1Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged Him. 2And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe 3and said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they smote Him with their hands.

O LORD God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters and hid not his face from shame; Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst will to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that all the kindreds of the earth, set free from the captivity of sin, may be brought under his most gracious dominion; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Eighth Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death
John 19: 12-16
12And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend. Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar." 13When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14And it was the Preparation of the Passover and about the sixth hour, and Pilate said unto the Jews, "Behold your king!" 15But they cried out, "Away with him, away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate said unto them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!" 16Then he delivered Him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led Him away.

O GOD, who by the passion of thy blessed Son hast made the instrument of shameful death to be unto us the sign of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the Cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss; for the sake of the same thy Son our Lord. Amen.

The Ninth Station: Jesus Meets SimonMark 15: 21
21And they compelled one Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was passing by, coming from the country, to bear His cross.

DIRECT us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Tenth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Luke 23: 27-31
27And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women who also bewailed and lamented Him. 28But Jesus, turning unto them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For behold, the days are coming in which they shall say, `Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore and the breasts which never gave suck.' 30Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, `Fall on us!' and to the hills, `Cover us!' 31For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Crucified
Mark 15: 22-27
22And they brought Him unto the place called Golgotha (which is, being interpreted, The Place of a Skull). 23And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh, but He received it not. 24And when they had crucified Him, they parted His garments, casting lots for them to see what every man should take. 25And it was the third hour when they crucified Him. 26And the superscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27And with Him they crucified two thieves, the one on His right hand and the other on His left.

O GOD the Father, Creator of heaven and earth; Have mercy upon us. O God the Son, Redeemer of the world; Have mercy upon us. O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful; Have mercy upon us. O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God; Have mercy upon us.

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks from the CrossLuke 23: 39-43
39And one of the malefactors who was hanged railed against Him, saying, "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us!" 40But the other answering rebuked him, saying, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this Man hath done nothing amiss." 42And he said unto Jesus, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom." 43And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise."

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and Circumcision; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,
Good Lord, deliver us.
By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion; by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.
In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

The Thirteenth Station: The Heart of Jesus is Pierced
John 19: 30-34
30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, "It is finished." And He bowed His head and gave up the ghost. 31The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, and so that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that Sabbath day was a high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs, 34but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith there came out blood and water.

O GOD, merciful Father, who despisest not the sighing of a contrite heart, nor the desire of such as are sorrowful; Mercifully assist our prayers which we make before thee in all our troubles and adversities, whensoever they oppress us; and graciously hear us, that those evils which the craft and subtilty of the devil or man worketh against us, may, by thy good providence, be brought to nought; that we thy servants, being hurt by no persecutions, may evermore give thanks unto thee in thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Buried
Luke 23: 50-56
50And behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, and he was a good man and a just. 51(The same had not consented to their counsel and deed.) He was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself also waited for the Kingdom of God. 52This man went unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. 53And he took it down and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54And that day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. 55And the women also, who came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher and how His body was laid. 56And they returned and prepared spices and ointments, and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

GRANT, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world;
Grant us thy peace.
O Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world;
Have mercy upon us.
O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
From our enemies defend us, O Christ.
Graciously look upon our afflictions.
With pity behold the sorrows of our hearts.
Mercifully forgive the sins of thy people.
Favourably with mercy hear our prayers.
O Son of David, have mercy upon us.
Both now and ever vouchsafe to hear us, O Christ.
Graciously hear us, O Christ; graciously hear us, O Lord Christ.
O Lord, let thy mercy be showed upon us; As we do put our trust in thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
(Scripture selections from Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Adapted with selections from The Book of Common Prayer and Lesser Feasts and Fasts)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Anglican unity and the doctrine of the Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist


There is obvious and lamentable disunity among those who consider themselves to be faithful, orthodox, and catholic Anglicans. Part of this disunity stems from differing views on the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Where are we to find harmony on this very important issue of Christian doctrine and fellowship? As Anglicans I believe we must first go to the Scriptures, where we are told by St. Paul that the “. . .Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread;and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death until He come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and then let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body” (1 Cor 11: 23-29). Similarly, St. Paul declares to us that “The cup of blessing which we bless: is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break: is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one Bread” (1 Cor 10: 16-17). The writings of the Church Fathers, especially the Apostolic Fathers, declare likewise without any great philosophical speculation. The truth of Christ’s words, and the words of St. Paul, are accepted through faith.

When we turn to the formularies of classical Anglicanism (the 1549-1928 Prayer Books, the Articles, and the homilies) what are we told about the Eucharist? We are told that it is an “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” the outward part being bread and wine and the inward part being Christ’s Body and Blood. The Articles declare likewise that the “The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.” In the homilies we read of “the due receiving of the blessed Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ under the form of bread and wine.”

Here, in the classical Anglican documents, we have a very Scriptural teaching which conforms as well to the teachings of the Church Fathers. All, I would hope and pray, could unite around these truths as plainly taught. However, some wish to press beyond these points of agreement and engage in all manner of scholastic inquiry, sowing disunity where there ought to be concord. Some will ask the manner of Christ’s Presence in the Sacrament? Is it bodily, physical, carnal, corporal, localized? Even Saint Thomas Aquinas, the elaborator of transubstantiation, denies these points. If it is “substantial and essential” (which many Anglican divines affirm) does this not require that the substance of the bread and wine cease to be, taken over wholly by the substance of the Body and Blood? Here only Aquinas answers in the affirmative, leaving only “accidents” and “appearances” of bread and wine. The words of St. Paul cannot support this (“The bread which we break: is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"), and numerous Church Fathers can be quoted against it, many of them arguing on Christological grounds. Indeed, to take this stance we must allow a Thomist interpretation of Aristotle’s logic to completely supplant the Scriptures and the Fathers.

Great Anglo-Catholics like Kebel, Pusey, and Gore deny the metaphysical annihilation of the bread and wine, as do many great theologians in the Orthodox Communion. Sadly, I have heard of priests in one Anglican jurisdiction refusing to receive the Eucharist from priests in another (or condemning them as heretics) because they have inquired into their personal doctrine of the Presence and found that they do not affirm some element of Aquinas (such as the annihilation of the bread and wine) or elements that go beyond Aquinas (such as a carnal or corporal presence).

My plea is to find unity in the teachings of the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Articles. Points of unity should be identified and affirmed among traditional Anglicans using our common heritage; various sacramental theories with no consensus from the undivided Church should be left to the individual’s consideration and debate, but the individual should not unbendingly assert his theory as though it were that of the Church.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Ministry of Absolution in the Anglican Church


"ALMIGHTY God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness, and live; and hath given power, and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins : He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel. Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him, which we do at this present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure, and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord."

"And because it is requisite, that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God's mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned Minister of God's Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God's holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness."

"Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession, the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort:

OUR Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: And by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

--1662 Book of Common Prayer

With these things in mind I am posting one of the best (in my humble opinion) pieces on the ministry of Confession and Absolution available from the traditional Anglican perspective. Many texts written on this topic can have a tendency to simply mimic Roman practices and the theological justification for them. Other authors ignore what the Prayer Book and the Anglican divines have to say on the topic entirely and offer no guidelines as to its use at all.

Again, I hope this volume will be useful to priests and laity.

The Ministry of Absolution : An appeal for its more general use with due regard to the liberty of the individual

Cyril Bickersteth, M.A. of the Community of the Resurrection

http://www.archive.org/details/ministryabsoluti00bickuoft

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quotes worth noting. . .

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."
— G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Anglicanism: Protestant or Catholic?

That Anglicanism is wholly "protestant" is an extremely simplistic assertion and hinges on the meaning of the term itself. However, so too is the contention among some that the term "protestant" doesn't apply to Anglicanism in even the slightest sense. If asked if we Anglicans are Protestant or Catholic some will say: "We are Catholic, but not Roman--we are not Protestants." This is simplistic and historically erroneous, and any layperson with an interest in reading would soon find very Catholic sounding Churchmen of the 16th and 17th centuries embracing the term Protestant. (But my rector said it wasn't so!) What to make of it then?

If we are using today's terminology perhaps "Protestant" isn't wholly accurate, but neither would be the use of the term "Catholic," for in today's use of the term this means Roman. Many Anglicans are happy to explain the historic and correct use of the term "Catholic" but do not wish to do so with the term "Protestant." This is a selective use of logic--if the historic usage of one term is explained the other term ought to be likewise explained. "You see, you misunderstand the term Catholic dear friend. . ." The follow up should be they also misunderstand the historic use of the term Protestant. However, it needs to be noted that many Anglicans today have become Latter-Day Puritans, attempting to sweep the Anglican Church of any hint of "Romanism" (which may mean choirs robed in surplices, a priest wearing a coloured stole, or keeping the 1662 Prayer Book calendar of saints days): Many from this group do indeed wish to deny any "Catholic" character or nature existing within Anglicanism. This also is to deny history. 


How do the Anglican divines use the terms? It is shocking to many that the terms are used together: Protestant Catholic, Reformed Catholic, etc. Again, as I say so often quoting Bishop Cosins: "Protestant and Reformed according to the principles of the ancient Catholic Church." What does this mean? Well, it should be clear to most. The English Reformation was built upon removing erroneous beliefs and practices (the Mass not in the vernacular, the Bible not in the vernacular, Purgatory, indulgences, transubstantiation, doctrines about the excess merits of the saints, etc). All needed to be stripped away--reformation was needed, and the Church of England protested against the errors of the Roman Church.

To put it more concisely: "At the Reformation the Church of England became protestant in order to become more truly and perfectly Catholic." William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham 1826-36.

Let me turn to the good Father Moss for a fuller explanation (from Answer Me This):

"Remember, 'Catholic' means universal. Strictly speaking, only those doctrines and practices are Catholic which have always been believed and used in all parts of the Church. More loosely, the word is applied to practices and traditions (such as the observance of Christmas Day or the use of special dress by the clergy) which have a long continuous history and are universally accepted, even though they do not go back to apostolic times. The word also implies 'orthodoxy,' holding the right faith and worshiping God in the right manner as required by the Church."

In answer to the question: Is the Anglican Church Catholic or Protestant? Moss replies

"Both; it is Catholic positively and Protestant negatively. It is Catholic in its essential nature because it maintains the Catholic and apostolic faith and order. It is Protestant, in the old sense (emphasis added), negatively because it rejects the papal claims to supremacy, infallibility, and universal jurisdiction, and the decrees of the Councils of Trent and the Vatican."

When one is confused as to the use of these terms, they ought to be clearly explained. Some will argue (as Moss actually does) that the term Protestant has changed so much that we should omit its use all together (many Lutherans argue likewise, in that the old use of the term Protestant only referred to Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians; now that it refers so loosely to almost anyone not Roman Catholic it has become meaningless). However, the same could be said of the term "Catholic," since almost everyone means Roman when they say "Catholic" in the United States: Let's just stop using the word since it is so easily misunderstood. In my opinion we should follow the language of the Anglican divines, using both terms correctly and explaining the meaning in a clear manner to avoid confusion.

Is Anglicanism Protestant or Catholic? Ideally it is both, in the best sense of both terms.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Anglican Way: A Faith that Shaped a Culture

When one holds the classic Book of Common Prayer and prays from it, when one reads the Scriptures in the version commanded by King James and guided in its translation by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, one holds a culture (the cultus of the Anglo-Saxon Christian people). One prays the prayers penned by a martyred Archbishop, cribbed and molded from the older prayers of the British and English Churches, as well as from the ancient Eastern Churches and the contemporary German Church. One worships according to a rite that inspired a King and his Archbishop to succumb to the executioner’s blade, fidelity to which resulted in exile or clandestine and persecuted worship.

When one holds the Prayer Book one holds nearly half a millennium of religious and literary heritage that guided a nation and helped bring many nations to faith in Christ. When one holds a Book of Common Prayer in the classic lineage (1549-1929 editions for the Church of England) one holds a volume that united a nation in worship and inspired magnificent cathedrals and humble parish churches. We in the Anglican Church in North America and in the Continuum are now entrusted with this heritage of faith and the culture it produced in the British and English Churches; in this sense we are like the Christian peoples of Eastern Europe, whose faith and worship have been suppressed by Islam and Communism in turn and now by Islam again. Many of these people have immigrated to the West and preserve their faith and culture in the United States, sometimes outnumbering those they left behind in the "Old World." Often this is the reason one will see in this country Armenian Churches (their people slaughtered by the Turks in the first genocide of the 20th century), Coptic Churches (now a minority in Muslim Egypt and under increased threat to their existence in that land) and various other Orthodox Churches that suffered under Communism. I feel for these people and sympathize with their attempts to preserve what was in danger of being destroyed from without. Similarly, we now see "Anglican" (a word that conveys an ethnic and cultural heritage) parishes rather than simply Episcopal (a word that describes polity) parishes. Sadly, the Anglican Church and its preservation is being done because the West has largely destroyed this tradition from within, perverting the ancient faith and defacing the traditional worship of the English Church and her sister Churches.

Know the history and faith of the Christian Church, especially the Church of the British and English peoples, know the devotions of the English divines, know the music of the English Church—know what it is you are “Continuing” in and why, know why the Anglican Church in North America came into existence, so that you may faithfully preserve it for your children and your children’s children.

As the Anglican Church in North America develops a new Book of Common Prayer let us pray that it keeps in mind the great heritage with which it has been entrusted.

Continuing Anglican BlogRing

Next

Random

List