Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saint Andrew's Anglican Church,
Tinley Park, Illinois

A parish of the Reformed Episcopal Church

Morning Prayer, 9:30 AM
Holy Eucharist 10:30 AM

A few more photographs of the parish from Christmastide, for your enjoyment: 1) the Nativity Window, 2) the Advent Wreath and Christ Candle with the Incarnation Window in the background, 3) the Very Rev'd Frank Levi, rector of the parish and Dean of the Convocation of the Incarnation, 4) the Nativity in front of the sanctuary.

Please come and visit us if you are in the Chicago area.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The need for a new "Anglican Missal"

According to Canon Charles Winfred Douglas, The American Missal of the 1930s was produced to counter some tendencies in The English Missal and The Anglican Missal that were distinctly Roman and peculiar to the modern Roman Church. However, as is readily evident to the most casual observer, all Missals currently in use in the continuing Anglican Churches include those elements that many churchmen continue to find odd at the least and theologically prohibitive at the worst. What I think is needed by those that utilize any of the Missals is a revisiting of the same issues that concerned Canon Douglas, so that a truly "Anglican Missal" might be brought forth for use in the classical Anglican Churches that desire it. His essay and arguments, thankfully preserved by Project Canterbury, are reproduced below for your consideration.

Missals in the Protestant Episcopal Church
The Churchman, CXLIV (July 25, 1931), 11-12.
by Charles Winfred Douglas

Why the American Missal was Produced

Obviously, the missal of the Protestant Episcopal Church is contained in the Book of Common Prayer; and no other rite possesses any authority save by Episcopal license. Nevertheless, missals containing supplementary devotions have been widely used among us for the past sixty years. About that time, an English book, Divine Service, began to be found on American altars. Later editions of this book bore the imprint of an American publisher. This work had many successors. Half a dozen of them are on my shelves. They all had the serious fault of being adapted to the English Prayer Book, not to our own. This fact led me, in association with the late Rev. Maurice W. Britton, to undertake in 1911 the preparation of an Altar Missal, to have been called The Saint Dunstan Missal. In 1913 the first section of this work, the "Ordinary and Canon of the Mass," was admirably printed by D. B. Updike at the Merrymount Press, and published by the H. W. Gray Company. It aroused no comment other than a few favorable reviews. It has been widely in use ever since, some 700 copies having been sold. But the General Convention of 1913 initiated the long process of Prayer Book revision; and further work on the missal was necessarily postponed until the conclusion of that task.

Meanwhile, two new foreign publications found their way to American altars, The English Missal and The Anglican Missal. The latter claimed to contain the American rite, but did so only in garbled and imperfect form. Both books were frankly Roman; rearranging the order of the Eucharist more Romano, interpolating the Canon of the Roman Mass before the Prayer of Consecration, and adopting the modern Roman Calendar even to such Feasts as those of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, and of Saint Peter's Chair at Rome.

To many of us these books seemed alien in manner, inadequate in preparation, and disloyal not only to our formularies, but to our whole morale as a church. Therefore when, before I could resume my own old plan, I was asked by Bishop Ivins to participate in the preparation of an altar service book not open to these grave objections, I regarded it as not only a personal privilege, but a religious duty as well, to accede at his request: and I am proud and happy to have shared with him and with his fellow-editors the labor and responsibility of preparing The American Missal. For a work undertaken through motives of utter loyalty, it has had its share of denunciation, often quite uninformed, from critics whose voices were never publicly heard in condemnation of the disloyal books which it has almost universally replaced. My honored and beloved friend, the Bishop of Colorado, told us last year that the crowning objection to the Roman system was not so much its doctrine in the main, but its rigid regimentation, which dictates every minutest detail of belief, conduct, rite, and ceremony. Some of our brethren and Fathers in God appear to be swayed for the moment by that Romanensian rigidity; against which, as against every attack on the liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free, I remain completely Protestant. But this is too solemn a matter of controversial dealing. It is a matter of man's most sacred prayer; which he cannot pray, whatever book he uses, without the Holy Spirit. We cannot quarrel about a work in which we seek to be led by the Holy Spirit of God: we can only, with complete mutual respect, lovingly try to understand one another.

Now why do some of us feel the need of a book containing devotions supplementary to the Book of Common Prayer?

Probably every priest and bishop says private prayers of some kind before, during, and after the Eucharistic celebration. Our private prayers are not prescribed by bishop or by convention; they remain completely free. Hundreds of us, in the exercise of this lawful freedom, prefer to utter prayers sanctified by ages of use in God's church, rather than our own improvisations. They are printed for the convenience of the priest who desires to say them; and they are the proper concern of no other person whatever, save possibly a lay server at his side. From among these devotions, our Prayer Book has recently been enriched by the beautiful Collect for the Unity of the Church.

The Introits, Graduals, Alleluia Responds, Tracts, Offertories, and Communions, taken from Scripture; and the Sequences, taken from the Hymnal, are of course definitely provided for in the Prayer Book in the precise places where they occur. They make up the devotional treasure of the choir, which from very early Christian times adorned the Eucharist with God-inspired words rather than with later and less worthy hymns.

In another category are the additional services for an enlarged calendar. They are supplementary to the Prayer Book, as are the similar services in the Book of Offices set forth by the House of Bishops. For the use of either, the consent, at least tacit, of the diocesan, is required. But may I point out that this calendar is a composite of those approved by the bishops visitors of the various religious orders working in our church? The priests whose devotional leadership is sought in our retreats, our parochial missions, our summer conferences, our schools of the prophets, our college of preachers, are largely those who daily use this calendar. The tree is known by its fruits: and the good tree of devout commemoration of God's Saints in every age is yielding the good fruit of saintly lives in our age. Who wishes to deny the religious and their associates the benefit of daily devotion?

The special observances of Holy Week and of some other days, when they are not wholly drawn from Bible and Prayer Book, are of course "subject to the direction of the ordinary." This means that they are to be treated precisely as the popular devotion of the Three Hour Service on Good Friday.

Apart from their practical value to those who devoutly and wisely use them, such books as The American Missal have a larger significance and importance. Their wide use is a bond of relationship with churches both Protestant and Catholic toward which we have mode overtures of sympathetic approach with a view to eventual intercommunion. Many of us are unaware that great numbers of our Protestant brethren have gone far beyond us in the matter of historical liturgical enrichment. I have before me several recently published Protestant service books, each of which contains much of the material characterizing a missal. One of them, by no means the most Catholic in tone, contains Tenebrae, the Reproaches, the Adoration of the Cross, the private prayers which have been objected to in The American Missal, Proper Prefaces for Lent, Passiontide, Corpus Christi, and Feasts of Apostles; and other similar devotions. The missal of the Old Catholics, with whom we seem on the verge of intercommunion, is precisely similar, in its faithfulness to what is Catholic and its rejection of what is merely Roman, to The American Missal. The Orthodox, with whom we already have economic intercommunion, are accustomed to greater liturgical richness than that of our official books. Perhaps The American Missal will prove to be an agency blessed by God in bringing us to that wider outlook and larger responsibility for Christian unity so convincingly urged by the Lambeth Conference.

from Project Canterbury

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some changes. . .

I know, I know. . .I said I'd be taking a holiday until secular New Year's, but I've had some time this week to work on the blog and get some entries ready for January.

As to one of the changes on the blog, now anyone can post, not just registered bloggers. However, I do reserve the right to remove posts (at any time for any reason--there may be freedom of speech in general on the net, but this particular blog is a benevolent dictatorship).

I hope to have some posting on Anglican history as well as some starters for discussion on the ever popular topic of predestination.

God bless and Merry Christmas!

As you may have noticed, I've allowed advertisements on the blog. I'm not allowed to click on them, but I can see where the link goes and check it out through the address box. I've found that some of the links are (to my mind) very good: links to Anglican Province of Christ the King parishes. Some are questionable: links going to religious sites that will tell you the "truth" about some thing or another. Some are from the mainline Episcopal Church, so (as Forrest Gump once noted) "ya never know what yer gonna get." Please use common sense and patience as the software that runs the advertisement placement "figures out" what kind of a blog "The Anglican Cleric" is and who it is for.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Earth and Altar--A Journal of Anglican Life and Worship!

Please examine this new web based journal prepared by classical Anglicans:

Also, one of my favorite hymns for Advent (and for the Eucharist):

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wing├Ęd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In my "virtual" absence until January 1, I've decided to post some "re-runs" of previous topics (in that they seem to come up again and again). Enjoy.

Archbishop Temple and Anglican Orders

Archbishop Frederick Temple is not known as an original theologian or scholar. In fact, Frederick Temple is probably best known as the father of a future Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple. However, one extremely important event occurred in 1896 while Frederick was Primate of all England: The Church of Rome, in the person of Pope Leo XIII in his bull Apostolicae Curae, declared the Holy Orders of Anglicanism--the Orders that had been bestowed upon the likes of Lancelot Andrewes, William Laud, Samuel Seabury, and John Wesley--"utterly null and void."

This declaration was based upon the assumption that the revised Ordinal prepared by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549 was defective. One of the objections made to the Anglican Ordinal was that the language used was insufficient in the making of bishops. The words of the Anglican Consecration rite were "Take ye the Holy Ghost, and remember that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by imposition of hands" while the Roman Pontifical simply states "receive the Holy Ghost." If Anglican bishops are not to be accounted as properly raised to the episcopate, neither then are the Popes of Rome by the same standard so applied.

Pope Leo XIII also objected that the Anglican priests were not instructed by the Ordinal to offer the Mass for the quick and the dead; instead they are told to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. As the instruction pertaining to the Sacrifice of the Mass was only added to the Roman Ordinal in the 11th Century, again it must be stated that if Anglican priests are not properly priests then neither were any of the presbyters of Western Christendom.

Other spurious arguments were made by various Roman authorities against Anglican Orders, much of the same caliber as those already mentioned. Some of the arguments pertained to the vestments worn or posture taken by the priest during Holy Communion. One other objection was that Anglicanism itself lacked a full understanding of the Eucharist as sacrifice. Indeed, the Church of England had rejected, both in her liturgy and in the 39 Articles, the notion that each Mass offered Christ as a new Sacrifice to the Father. Instead, in its liturgical theology it chose to emphasize the teaching of Saint Augustine of Hippo:

'If you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the words of the Apostle: "You are the body and the members of Christ." If you are the body and the members of Christ, it is your mystery which is placed on the Lord's Table; it is your mystery you receive. It is to that which you are to answer "Amen," and by that response you make your assent. You hear the words "the body of Christ," you answer "Amen." Be a member of Christ, so that the "Amen" may be true.'

This sentiment is echoed in Cranmer's Prayer of Oblation (which follows the reception of the Bread and Cup in the English Rite):

"And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all partakers of the Holy Communion, may be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and be made one body with him, that we may dwell in us and we in him." This is the Eucharistic theology prayed through the Anglican liturgy.

When Frederick Temple responded to Leo concerning this important issue, he did so via a letter directed to "the whole body of Bishops of the Catholic Church."'We make provision with the greatest reverence for the consecration of the holy eucharist, and commit it only to properly ordained priests and to no other ministers of the church. Further, we truly teach the doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice, and do not believe it to be "a bare commemoration of the sacrifice of the cross," an opinion which seems to be attributed to us (by Roman Catholics). But we think it sufficient in the liturgy which we use in celebrating the holy eucharist--while lifting up our hearts to the Lord, and when now consecrating the gifts already offered that they may become to us the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ--to signify the sacrifice which is offered at the point of the service in such terms as these. . . .[F]irst we offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; then next we plead and represent before the Father the sacrifice of the cross, and by it we confidently entreat remission of sins and all other benefits of the Lord's passion for all the whole church; and lastly we offer the sacrifice of ourselves to the creator of all things which we have already signified by the oblations of his creatures. The whole action, in which the people has necessarily to take part, we are accustomed to call the eucharistic sacrifice.'This is the eucharistic theology of St. Augustine, enshrined in The Book of Common Prayer and taught by the Anglican divines of the Reformation, the Restoration, and beyond. Archbishop Frederick Temple, when faced with the challenge, asserted the theology of the Church of England succintly and authoritatively.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Christian Priest in the Anglican Tradition:

Posted originally as part of a broader discussion at

(from the Rev'd Dr. C.B. Moss and his text The Christian Faith):

The Anglican Communion claims that its bishops, priests, and deacons are bishops, priests, and deacons in the sense in which those words were used by the ancient Church and by the Roman Communion today. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a bishop in the same sense as the Pope. Every Anglican priest is as much a priest as any Romanist priest. It is his duty and his privilege to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice, to give absolution, and to bless in the name of the Church; and this claim is supported by the Prayer Book...' (The Christian Faith, 408).

There were three stages in the sacrifice or self-offering of our Lord, corresponding to three stages in the Old Testament sacrifices. The first was His death on the Cross, corresponding to the slaying of the victim. The second is His perpetual self-offering in Heaven which began with His Ascension and corresponds to the entry of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies carrying the blood of the sin offering on the Day of Atonement. The third is the Holy Eucharist, corresponding to the feast upon the sacrifice which belonged to the peace offering.The sacrifice of Christ is one and cannot be repeated. There is no sacrifice in the Christian religion other than the sacrifice of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is not in any sense whatever a repetition of Christ's death on the Cross or of His offering of Himself in Heaven. It is not called a sacrifice in the New Testament, nor are the Christian ministers called priests (hiereis). The reason is clear. Jewish priests and heathen priests were well known to the first readers of the New Testament. If the Christian presbuteroi (elders) had been called priests, it would have been supposed that animal sacrifice was part of their duty. But animal sacrifice had been abolished. Nevertheless, sacrificial language was used of the Eucharist, as we have seen, by our Lord Himself, who said, "This is My blood of the covenant", when He instituted the Eucharist. St. Paul called himself leitourgos, a sacrificial word (Rom. 15:16), doing priestly work (hierourgounta), that the offering (prosphora) of the Gentiles might be made acceptable. He contrasted the "table of the Lord" with "the table of devils", the heathen sacrifices (I Cor. 10:21), showing that he regarded the Christian Eucharist as sacrificial. The sacrifice of Christ was the Christian Passover; "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast" (I Cor. 5:7). Compare also I Cor. 10:18: the Jews who "eat the sacrifices" and "have communion with the altar" are compared to the Christian at the Eucharist.All the Fathers beginning with St. Clement of Rome called the Eucharist a sacrifice. So do all the ancient liturgies. But whereas the New Testament appears to regard the Eucharist as corresponding to the feast which was the last stage of the sacrifice, the Fathers taught that it was also the representation of earth of what is continually going on in Heaven. As the Epistle to the Hebrews constantly asserts, our Lord is the true High Priest, "a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20) who passed into the heavens at the Ascension bearing His own blood (like the High Priest into the Holy of Holies), and who perpetually presents to the Father His own life, for His priesthood is unchangeable (7:24). The Christian Church of which He is the Head is "a royal priesthood" (I Peter 2:9) sharing the priesthood of its Head and His heavenly work of offering. This the Church does by the whole of her life which is, ideally, one long self-offering, united with the self-offering of our Lord in Heaven. But she shares in His self-offering especially at the Eucharist, in which the congregation is united with Jesus Christ in Heaven, first by offering His Body and Blood (with which all their other offerings, their alms, the bread and wine, their own lives, are united), and then by receiving it in communion.The earthly priest is the necessary organ of the Church for this purpose, as the eye is the necessary organ of sight. There can be no offering without him, but the offering is the people's, not his alone... (The Christian Faith, 369, 370).

The word "priest" represents both presbuteros, presbyter, and hiereus, sacerdos. The latter title was given to bishops from the third century onwards and later to priests as well. It describes them as "offering sacrifice". The Christian priest is not a priest in the same sense as the Hebrew priests under the Old Covenant. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Priest in the proper sense under the New Covenant. In what sense the Christian "presbyter" is also "sacerdos", sacrificing priest, has already been explained. The use of the word "presbyter" in the Catholic Church to mean a member of the second order of the Apostolic ministry is not to be confused with its use by the "Reformed churches". The Calvinist "presbyter" is not a priest but a preacher, as we shall see.The essential duties of the priest which cannot be performed by anyone but a priest (all bishops being also priests) are to consecrate the Eucharist, to give absolution to sinners, to anoint the sick, and to bless in the name of the Church. (Anyone may bless as a father blesses his children, but the blessing of the Church is given only by the bishop, or in his absence by the priest.)All these duties of the priest belong properly to the bishop and are performed by the priest as the representative of some bishop (or person with the jurisdiction of a bishop). In early times the bishop, when present, was always the celebrant of the Eucharist. The absolution and the blessing in the Eucharist are still given by the bishop of the diocese (or the suffragan or assistant bishop who represents him), even though he is not the celebrant.The priest is also ordinarily a pastor, teacher, and evangelist. He is the normal minister of baptism. These duties can also be performed by others; but they form the largest part of the priest's work, and his training is chiefly directed to prepare him for carrying them out. Experience has shown that though the functions which are confined to the priest are limited and can easily be learned, priests who should do nothing but perform those functions would be of little use. The priest's highest duty is to consecrate the Eucharist, and the next to give absolution. But the Eucharist must be accompanied by preaching and teaching, and the absolution must usually be accompanied by counsel. Therefore the priest must be a man of holiness, of learning, and of knowledge of human nature. He must know his Bible and be trained in dogmatic, moral, and ascetic theology, and in the art of teaching (The Christian Faith, 393, 394).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

John Kass

The Chicago Tribune

Ancient faith faces an uncertain future

Published November 26, 2006

Imagine the Vatican surrounded in a fiercely secular yet very Muslim Italy.The Christian community there has dwindled to only a few thousand after decades of ethnic cleansing. Much of the church's property has been seized. The government has closed the only seminary and refuses to reopen it.A law has been passed: Any future Roman Catholic pope must be born on Italian soil, even though there is no seminary to train the young priests, even as the Christian community shrinks to a handful. A cold shadow falls on the Western church.

I asked you to imagine this because it's going on, right now, but not in Rome.It is happening in Istanbul, where Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, patriarch of Constantinople and spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Church, is facing extreme pressure by the Turkish government.This week, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Turkey and pray with Bartholomew, and witness the liturgy in the Church of St. George.The focus will be on the pope relying on the patriarch to help make inroads with Muslims, after comments the pope made this year about violence and Islam.But I hope his visit will also draw attention to the desperate plight of the Orthodox Church, which has been largely ignored.

There are an estimated 250,000 Orthodox Christians in the Chicago area, enough, you might think, for attention to be paid, especially now.The pope will hear the liturgy as it was sung more than a thousand years ago, when there was only one church, before the split into East and West."They will exchange the kiss of peace, and they will bless the people, and they will recite together the `Our Father' in Greek, the original [scriptural] language," said Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, who will lead the American delegation."Then the two of them will go out to the elevated balcony, if you remember it, and bless the people who will be gathered in the courtyard," the archbishop told me.I do remember. I was there, at St. George, at the patriarchate this past summer, watching the baptism of my nephew. We had the honor of visiting with Bartholomew, who said with a smile that he reads the Chicago Tribune online.

Obviously, I have strong, personal and religious feelings about this and can't pretend otherwise, yet I mean no disrespect to Turkey or to Islam.The streets in that quarter of Istanbul are narrow. The bus stops at the bottom of the hill. You walk past a few shops, on up, and eventually, through the gates of the compound.Once there, you begin to realize how central the patriarchate has been to Christianity, dating from about A.D. 300, when the Gospels of the New Testament were being selected, and later, when the Nicene Creed, a statement of faith recited by Catholics, Orthodox and other Christians, was created before the schism.That the media ignores the patriarch's plight is astounding and hurtful to me. As is the realization that all that history could be gone if things don't change in Istanbul, in what was once called Constantinople, the heart of the Byzantine Empire.At the patriarchate, one of the exterior doors is never opened. It has remained closed since 1821, when Greece fought for its independence from the Ottoman sultans, and the patriarch then was dragged out and hanged from that very doorway.Today, Turkey is a fascinating, wonderful place, worthy of American tourism, worthy of American respect.The people are friendly and hospitable, and the history is astounding. The Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, the ancient covered market, still thriving. That it has remained a nation is testament to the intense will of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern secular Turkish state, which now must deal with growing Islamic fundamentalism.All of this is important for Americans to grasp, as the West realizes, finally, that ignoring Islam is impossible.For me, it was especially important to visit Hagia Sophia, literally, the Church of Divine Wisdom, the ancient domed structure that was turned into a mosque when the Turks took Constantinople in 1453.It is an immense structure, larger even than its copy, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, and is nearly 1,500 years old.There, I thought of the worshipers fearfully singing the liturgy as the city walls were breached, as the slaughter began, as a Christian empire that had stood for more than 1,000 years perished.

Most icons were destroyed, but you can see the Virgin Mary on the wall near what had been the altar. A sign prohibits religious observance, but the guards don't stop you from praying.Pope Benedict is also scheduled to visit Hagia Sophia, now tersely referred to as a museum.As he visits there, the news images may be sent around the world to remind us of what was, and how what little is left is slipping away.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A little vacation. . .

To the faithful readers of this blog (many of whom I know have been disappointed lately by the infrequent postings), I will be signing off until the start of the (secular) New Year.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

ENGLAND: Outrage as Church backs calls for severely disabled babies to be killed at birth

The Daily Mail
November 12, 2006

The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions.The shock new policy from the church has caused outrage among the disabled.A spokeswoman for the UK Disabled People's Council, which represents tens of thousands of members in 140 different organisations, said: "How can the Church of England say that Christian compassion includes killing of disabled babies either through the withdrawing or withholding of treatment or by active euthanasia?"It is not for doctors or indeed anyone else to determine whether a baby's life is worthwhile simply on the grounds of impairment or health condition."

The church's surprise call comes just a week after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology sparked fury by calling for a debate on the mercy killing of disabled infants.But it has been made in a carefully thought out official Church of England paper written by Bishop Butler for a public inquiry into the ethical issues surrounding the care of long premature or desperately ill newborn babies.The inquiry, by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, began two years ago and its findings are due to be published in London - but the church's contribution to the debate has been leaked in advance.The Nuffield Council, an independent body which issues ethical guidelines for doctors, began the inquiry to take account of scientific advances which mean increasingly disabled and premature babies can technically be kept alive.In practice, doing so can be controversial - with the three months premature Charlotte Wyatt a case in point.The Portsmouth baby weighed just 1lb at birth, and had severe brain and lung damage. Doctors wanted to be allowed to leave her to die, but her parents successfully campaigned through the courts against them.Now that the child is three, however, and could be cared for at home, her parents have separated and are considered unsuitable to look after. In future cases doctors may work to guidelines proposed by the Nuffield inquiry.In the Church of England's contribution to the inquiry, Bishop Butler wrote: "It may in some circumstances be right to choose to withold or withdraw treatment, knowing it will possibly, probably, or even certainly result in death."The church stressed that it was not saying some lives were not worth living, but said there were "strong proportionate reasons" for "overriding the presupposition that life should be maintained".The bishop's submission continued: "There may be occasions where, for a Christian, compassion will override the 'rule' that life should inevitably be preserved."Disproportionate treatment for the sake of prolonging life is an example of this.The church said it would support the potentially fatal withdrawal of treatment only if all alternatives had been considered, "so that the possibly lethal act would only be performed with manifest reluctance."Yet the Revd Butler's submission makes clear that there are a wide range of acceptable reasons to withdraw care from a child - with the cost of the care among the considerations."Great caution should be exercised in bringing questions of cost into the equation when considering what treatment might be provided," he wrote."The principle of justice inevitably means that the potential cost of treatment itself, the longer term costs of health care and education and opportunity cost to the NHS in terms of saving other lives have to be considered."

The church also urges all the parties involved in care for critically ill babies should be realistic in their expectations, demands, and claims.The submission says: "The principle of humility asks that members of the medical profession restrain themselves from claiming greater powers to heal than they can deliver."It asks that parents restrain themselves from demanding the impossible.":UK Disabled Peoples Council spokeswoman Simone Aspis said the group's members were appalled that the Church was joining doctors in calling for disabled babies to be left to die."It appears that the whole debate on whether disabled babies are worth keeping alive is being dominated by professionals and religious people without any consultation with disabled people," she said.Out of babies born at just 22 weeks of pregnancy or less, 98 per cent currently die. In Holland babies born before 25 weeks are not given medial treatment.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Heresy of Heresies!

More on the Free Church of England/Reformed Episcopal Declaration of Principles:

This Church CONDEMNS and REJECTS the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word:

That the Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine

Oh my! What novel protestant nonsense is this? Obviously, a clear rejection of the “real and objective presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. . .well, not quite.

Let’s see if there are some other “reputable sources” we could quote that make the very same point:

Saint Thomas Aquinas:

“That one body should be at the same time locally in two different
places is not possible, even by a miracle. Therefore, the Body of Christ is not on the altar locally.”

Scriptum in Sent., lib. IV., dist. 44, ques. 2, art. 2, ad quar.

“A body is in place where its dimensions are commensurate with the dimensions of the place; and according to this, the Body of Christ is not present except in one only place, that is in heaven (secundum hoc corpus Christi non est nisi in uno loco tantum, scilicet in coelo).”

Ibid. lib. IV., dist. 10, ques. 1, art. 1, ad quin.

“It is impossible that the Body of Christ should be made present under the Sacrament by a local motion, because if this were so, it would follow that the Body of Christ would cease to be in heaven whenever the Sacrament was celebrated.”

Contra Gentiles, lib. IV., cap. 63.

“In no way is the Body of Christ locally in this Sacrament.”

Summa, III. 76. 5.

Vernon, on the doctrine of the Council of Trent:

“Not only may the body of Christ under the symbols be called a spiritual body, and Christ himself a spirit, but the body of Christ may be said to be under the symbols in a spiritual manner or spiritually, and not in a natural or corporal manner, that is neither corporally nor carnally.”

Regula Fidei. Ed. Brunner, p. 108

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury:
By means of the Bread He is present to our souls. He is not locally in the elements. ‘Corpus Christi non est in hoc sacramento sicut in loco’ is the explicit declaration of St. Thomas Aquinas. . .”

Christus Veritas, p 239.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Very Brief Overview of the Reformed Episcopal & Free Church of England Declaration of Principles:

In response to Father Anderson's request to examine some of the foundational tenets of the REC I've prepared this very brief overview.

First let me state by saying that, like the Articles of Religion themselves, we must keep in mind the historical context in which the Declaration was written/adopted. Too often we read theology or actions within history without knowing what was actually being said and the context in which it was said or written. We rip apart the writings or actions of Luther or Cranmer (or Laud or Keble) for being "so extreme" without fully understanding what it was they were reacting to and why. We see the reasoned result of decades or centuries of theological debate and judge those that came before us with that rather unrealistic yardstick.

While the early Anglo-Catholics were reacting against lukewarm, rationalist, sedentary elements in the CofE that failed to see the CofE as the “Catholic Church in England,” it must be acknowledged that some of them went so far in equating “Catholicism” with 19th century Romanism (adopting the Latin Missal, Roman feast days, Roman doctrine, non-communicating High Masses, compulsory Confession, not allowing "non-Catholics" to the Eucharist, etc) that it was inevitable that many in the CofE and PECUSA would react against such extremism with their own manner of extremism. Not to say that the Declaration of Principles is "extreme," but many in the REC went so far in trying to eliminate all elements in Anglicanism that could possibly present "Roman germs" that it made Anglicanism into something like "Presbyterianism with a Prayer Book." In my opinion, neither side was right, but both had substantive objections as to why the other side was wrong.

This Church CONDEMNS and REJECTS the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word:

First, That the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity;

(Paraphrase of the 17th century Anglican divines; Andrewes, Cosin, and Laud, while believing in the Divine Right of the Episcopacy, did not believe that the lack of an Episcopacy in other Christian bodies "de-churched" them. This was a concept introduced in the Tractarian movement, hence the reason for the inclusion of the point here. It is true that the Free Church of England and the REC in America have usually held that Episcopacy is not of "essence of the Church" but is ancient and apostolic and there is no reason to do away with it because it was the most ancient form of Church structure. However, like the later Continuing Church, these bodies have always been careful to obtain and preserve the Anglican episcopate).

Second, That Christian Ministers are "priests" in another sense than that in which all believers are "a royal priesthood";

("The Articles of Religion allow the use of the word priest as the anglicized version of the word presbyter by their consistent use of it to describe a minister of the Word and Sacrament (XXXII, XXXVI), and not as someone who can uniquely provide atonement (XXXI)" (from the web pages of the Reformed Episcopal Church).

There is a sense in which the Eucharist is sacrifice, but it is not a new sacrifice which the priest offers on his own behalf, and it adds nothing to the Sacrifice made upon the Cross--it is a memorial sacrifice, a Eucharistic sacrifice, but its sacrificial nature is eternally linked to a single and all sufficient Sacrifice. There is also a very real sense in which the ministers of Christ, both in Word and Sacrament, are serving a priestly function via the preaching of the Gospel and administering Baptism, Eucharist, pronouncing Absolution, performing anointing, etc., but the danger is there in thinking that these functions can be viewed as somehow "apart from" the Body of Christ, the Church, which itself is a priestly Body because it is united to the One True High Priest, Jesus Christ. We must remember that when those in the REC and FCofE adopted the Declaration many Anglo-Catholics (Anglo-Romans) in the CofE and PECUSA were adopting Roman theories of both the Mass and the nature of Holy Orders, making pronounced distinction between their thinking and the writing of the 17th and 18th century Anglican divines.

Also, I always have to wonder what is wrong with the term "presbyter"?--it is more ancient than the use of the term "priest" in Christendom, and widely employed in Orthodoxy.)

Third, That the Lord's Table is an altar on which the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father:

(Only a rejection of Anglo-Romanism: Table and altar are used interchangeably in Holy Scripture (Malachi 1:10, 12)--there is no real problem in calling the Lord's Table an altar, for it is here that the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood is celebrated. However, there should be no difficulty in calling it the Holy Table either. Also, take note of the word "anew"--this is the line of demarcation between saying that Christ is sacrificed again at the Eucharist or He is not).

Fourth, That the Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine:

(Again, we have to take note of the word "in" the elements. The same view as that expressed by Cranmer, Hooker, Laud, etc; even Thomas Aquinas rejected the notion that Christ was localized in the elements. To paraphrase Cardinal Newman--when the host moves in procession, Christ does not move. A bit ironic using the official theory of Rome to explain and defend this stance, which I hold to, but there it is nonetheless. Even so, Keble and Pusey--to my knowledge--stick close to the Anglican Formularies and refer to the Presence of Christ's Body and Blood being "with and under" the bread and wine, not "in them" by way of a localized interpenetration. Rejecting Christ being "in" the elements is not a rejection of the objective Real Presence as presented by the Caroline Divines or by the early Anglo-Catholics. Again, take careful note of the phrasing: "The Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper"--Christ's Presence is acknowledged--is not "a presence in the elements of bread and wine." Nothing un-Anglican, nothing even that goes against the founders of the Anglo-Catholic movement, only a rejection of the "prisoner of the tabernacle" mentality that was already in existence in Roman Catholicism and was growing in branches of Tractarianism).

Fifth, That Regeneration is inseparably connected with Baptism.

(More elaboration is needed to fully understand this statement. Bp. Cheney affirmed the doctrine of "ecclesiastical regeneration" such as that taught by Lord Bp. Browne in his Exposition on the Articles, but felt that he could not use the word in good conscience due to its meaning having changed in use by the late 19th century--here in the Declaration there is only the rejection that Regeneration is inseparably tied to Baptism, but not that it occurs at Baptism. For a full explanation of the historical theology of this point see Bishop Sutton's text on this issue; for a full understanding of the traditional Anglican teaching on the Sacrament of Baptism, see Bishop Browne's Exposition on the Articles).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Articles of Religion of the Church of England: XV. Of Christ alone without Sin.

"Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world; and sin (as Saint John saith) was not in him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

In light of the recent Anglican-Roman Catholic statement tacitly accepting the Marian doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the related ideas concerning her bodily assumption into Heaven, as well as in light of the fact that many modern Anglicans are open to these speculations, I think several factors need to be considered pertaining specifically to the Immaculate Conception: 1) This is not a “Catholic” doctrine; it is not accepted by the East nor by the West during the period of the Ecumenical Councils; 2) The Orthodox reject this doctrine, 3) The Old Catholics reject this notion; 4) Early Anglo-Catholics rejected this notion as “un-Catholic” and heretical. Its modern acceptance by many Anglo-Catholics is therefore noteworthy, troubling, and unfortunate. Per the Old Catholic rejection of the Immaculate Conception, the Fourteen Theses state:

"We reject the new Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as being contrary to the tradition of the first thirteen centuries according to which Christ alone is conceived without sin."

Early Anglo-Catholic rejection of the notion of the Immaculate Conception is usually tempered by accepting notions of Mary’s perpetual virginity and high degree of sanctity. Even so, Westcott’s statements in his dogmatic theology text Catholic Principles illustrates the continuing problems with the doctrine in a manner similar to the Old Catholic reflection:

"The first example of a papal definition of doctrine made independently of a council occurred in 1854, when, under Jesuit influence, Pope Pius IX declared that the doctrine that the Blessed Virgin was "preserved in the first instant of her conception from all stain of original sin . . . was revealed by God, and is therefore to be firmly and steadfastly believed by all the faithful." We must be careful to note exactly what this doctrine means and involves. Anglican Churchmen do not deny that the Blessed Virgin may have been so sanctified by the Holy Ghost, that she was preserved from actually committing sin, though this is merely a pious opinion; nor do Anglicans dispute the Catholic tradition of the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin. What the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception affirms is, that she did not inherit original sin, a sinful nature, the taint which has been transmitted from Adam; and if this be true, then it would seem to follow that the Blessed Virgin, and not our Lord, is the starting point of our redemption; the beginning of the new humanity, the second Adam; and that the inherited taint of sin was cut off by Mary, not by Christ; and that from Mary we inherit the new nature, rather than from Christ. Now of this doctrine, there is not the slightest hint in the Bible; and when it first began to be taught, it was controverted and disputed. St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas, taught the contrary; and the whole Greek Church has always repudiated it. It virtually contradicts one of our Lord’s unique attributes, namely, that He alone was born without taint of sin. If this doctrine be true, then salvation begins with the Blessed Virgin, rather than with Christ; and yet this doctrine was proclaimed in 1854, as a dogma divinely revealed."

Another point of concern would be that through the Immaculate Conceptions as the Romans teach it that you could argue that Christ's humanity, the humanity he took on in order to redeem it (kai o logoV sarx egeneto kai eskhnwsen en hmin; St. John 1:14), need not be subject to the suffering (hunger, thirst, pain) and death that resulted from the Fall if Mary were cleansed from every taint of Original Sin at her conception and then did not sin throughout her life (was she able not to sin, or not able to sin due to her arguably perfect human nature?).

If Mary is the New Adam (so to speak), rather than Christ, our new nature and redemption is brought to us not by Christ, but by the Virgin: "If this doctrine be true, then salvation begins with the Blessed Virgin, rather than with Christ" (Catholic Principles, Westcott, 1902). Then all of the Roman titles that have been allotted to the Virgin Mary would be accurate and valid and we're bordering on Christological heresy to the point of making Jesus superfluous. In short, the Immaculate Conception is an un-Catholic doctrine that contradicts the Scriptures.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

All Saints Church,
Amarillo Texas

This is one of the best websites I’ve seen for a traditional Anglican parish—please check it out. Turn on your volume for the Gregorian chant.

From the website:

"At All Saints Church our aim is to help people understand they were made to love and worship God. This is why we exist. In the middle of the 4th century a man by the name of Augustine wrote this short prayer that summarizes our purpose, "Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee."

We believe there's one hour of the week unlike any other hour. It is Sunday's corporate appointment with God when we say with the Psalmist, "O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is (Psalm 63:1)."

Our worship is shaped and directed by the ancient liturgy. The theology and wisdom of these extraordinary prayers help us maintain a balance between doctrinal purity and warm-hearted devotion. C.S. Lewis captured our sentiments when he wrote the following,

"Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best...when, through familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God (Letters to Malcolm)."

All people are welcome in our church. The Bible affirms that we are all sinners in need of repentance, conversion and amendment of life. Hence, we open our arms to everyone and invite them to discover the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

We're especially interested in meeting people who are on a spiritual journey. People who value learning, reading and the collective wisdom of church history will feel at home at All Saints.
When you visit All Saints you'll be inspired by the wonder and pageantry of liturgical worship. The worship of God will awaken in you an unknown capacity for joy and you'll say with King David, "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory (Psalm 63:1).

Thank you for taking time to visit us on the web. We look forward to meeting you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Short Reflection on Terminology. . .

As the Patristic Anglican has pointed out on his blog on not a few occasions, the use of the term "Anglo-Catholic" is a bit elastic (at best); I sometimes lament that I even use the term, for it often confuses instead of clarifies: "Oh, that means you're closer to Rome--why don't you just 'join the Catholic Church'?" The follow up attempt to explain many of the points set forth in the post below will often lead to more confusion. Many people today proudly proclaim that they or their parish is "evangelical," but if you ask them if their priest wears a chasuble and celebrates the Eucharist every Sunday and they've already said they're "evangelical" you can point out that these are the marks of early Anglo-Catholicism. However, the parish may very well be "evangelical," for this is not a dirty word and it is not opposed to "Catholicism." Again, more confusion than clarity.

Similarly, terms such as "low church" or "evangelical" are often meaningless and usually depend on who is talking. One person will look at the service at St. Andrew's and call it "low church" because we don't use incense. Another will call it "just right" because it is nearly identical to the old Episcopal services from the 1950s. A third person will think us too "high church" or "catholic" because we're always making the sign of the cross and bowing (to the cross, to the Holy Table, at the Name of Jesus, at the Name of the Trinity, etc), and we've got all of those fancy gold vessels on the altar.

While I consider myself an "Anglo-Catholic," my thinking is most in line with the Caroline divines, the early Tractarians like Pusey and Keble, writers like Staley, and those who sought to conform the reformed Church of England to the theology of the ancient Church (so I also have an affinity for Eastern Orthodox authors such as Fr. Alexander Schmemann). I know that others will say, "Well, you're not really Anglo-Catholic" and then go on to expand the definition of the term to eliminate my line of thinking or place me into some other category.

I think that I and other like minded bloggers (if I may be so bold as to include writers such as the Patristic Anglican and the Anglican Parish Priest) are simply attempting to foster "mere Anglicanism" centered around the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the teaching of the ancient Church.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Some Thoughts on Oxford Martyrs Day, October 16th

Hugh Latimer, Bishop and Martyr
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop and Martyr
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr

There is a seemingly unending debate as to whether Anglicanism is "Catholic" or "Protestant"--Some Anglo-Catholics often view Cranmer as a heretic, and William Laud is often viewed by evangelicals likewise. As everyone has noticed, at the top of this page is a quote from Bishop John Cosin (d 1672): "Protestant and Reformed according to the principles of the ancient Catholic Church." My reason for placing this quote in such a prominent position is to emphasize that the Anglican Reformers, Cranmer, Ridley, Jewel, etc (and the reformers on the contintent, Luther and Calvin) were protesting against the Church of Rome because they felt that Rome had added so much to the primitive faith so as to make it unrecognizable when compared to the faith and practice of the ancient Church: Purgatory, pardons, and indulgences, transubstantiation and gazing upon the consecrated bread with awe rather than following the command "take and eat," the service in Latin rather than the common tongue, priestly celibacy, papal jurisdiction over the whole Church, ritual that obscured rather than clarified the faith? Are these the characteristics of Catholicism? Do we find such things supported by an appeal to the Scriptures and the Fathers? Certainly not.

Cranmer faced the flames of martyrdom confessing that he believed nothing but that which the ancient Catholic Fathers and Doctors taught and professed--Cranmer was a martyr for the Catholic Faith, stripped of all that obscured it from the view of the common man. Many Anglo-Catholics proudly state that they themselves are Anglicans that "do not knock and kneel at the name of Cranmer" because the man was a "black hearted protestant." All of this stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of Catholicism, the continual confusion of the very term "Catholic" with the Church of Rome and her ritual, and the legacy Cranmer has left us in his Book of Common Prayer and the homilies. As Anglicans we are not Cranmerians, but we do need to take notice that when we hold the Prayer Book in our hands it was bought with the blood of men like Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and King Charles and William Laud.

Those last two names mentioned bring us to another point: On the other side of the extreme there are those Anglicans who look at a man such as Archbishop William Laud and see all the evils of prelacy and view him simplistically as a man who sought to "bring back popery" to England. They find themselves in a strange predicament defending the actions of those who, in the end, saw their desire achieved in the Archbishop with his head on the executioner's block, the Church of England and its bishops in exile, and the Book of Common Prayer suppressed--going so far as to forbid it for the funeral of a king. While they may view the death of Cranmer as an example of martyrdom (as I do as well) they look upon Laud as a Romanist fanatic and his death as justified. What did Laud seek to do that earns him such hatred? A return to the Latin Mass? Subjection to Rome? No. Foremost, Laud endeavored to enforce the use of the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, so that throughout the realm there was truly "Common Prayer." Yes, he wanted the communion table placed "altar-wise" and he wanted reverence and uniformity in worship--he wanted the canons of 1604 upheld and put into effect and the Prayer Book followed. Imagine someone running into a modern service of the Holy Communion or Morning Prayer at the local Anglican parish and throwing excrement at the priest (because he was wearing a surplice) and tearing up the Prayer Books and Bibles all the while yelling "anti-Christ." Imagine ministers never celebrating the Eucharist (for decades) because they believed there was not one among the parish worthy to receive it? If you were the head bishop of the realm, what would you have done? Laud, at his execution, prayed for his executioners and expressed his belief that in all he had done he was only trying to defend the Church of England, protestant and reformed.

Cranmer died to defend the Catholic Faith without Roman additions. Laud died to defend the Protestant Church of England, rightly reformed to conform to the ancient Church, not wishing to see its faith and worship destroyed. I see them both as martyrs for the Anglican Church.

As C.B. Moss pointed out, the opposite of Catholic is not Protestant, but heretic. The opposite of Protestant is not Catholic, but Roman. Anglicanism: "Protestant and Reformed according to the principles of the ancient Catholic Church." As Anglicans, we should proudly proclaim the fullness of our heritage.

Prayer on this Feast:
Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after The examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Tinley Park, Illinois

A Reformed Episcopal Parish

Per the request of at least one reader, here is some information about the parish I serve in as a curate, St. Andrew's Anglican Church.

St. Andrew's is a traditional Anglican parish south of Chicago, with Morning Prayer and the Holy Eucharist celebrated every Sunday at 9:30 and 10:30 AM, respectively.

In June of 2006 the parish hosted the 100th Synod of the Diocese of Mid-America; this Synod saw the gathering of all of the bishops of the Diocese as well as the current Presiding Bishop and a former Presiding Bishop and rector of the parish, the Right Reverend Franklin Sellers. The Synod Eucharist was celebrated according to the 1928 rite included in the 2006 Book of Common Prayer of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The parish church contains many beautiful stained glass windows, including several Tiffany windows, the original Holy Table used by Bishop Cheney, and a beautiful brass eagle lectern from the late 1800s . If you are in the Chicagoland area you are sincerely invited to join us for the Eucharist. As a retired Episcopal priest who is now a member of the parish has commented several times: "It is like the church I remember from my youth."

Erratum: Fr. Brad of St. Timothy alerted me to the fact that the Synod was indeed not in August (August was when I received the Diocese news letter that contained the group photo of bishops above). Here's some additional info on the Synod from The Crozier Connection, the Newsletter of the Diocese of Mid-America:

"The 100th Synod of the Diocese of Mid-America was held June 15-16, in Chicago (Tinley Park), Illinois. Chicago was the original See of the Diocese when it was first established under The Rt. Rev. Charles Edward Cheney in the late1800's. Delivering the sermon at the Synod Eucharist was The Rt. Rev. Franklin Sellers, retired Bishop of this Diocese and past Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.[In the picture L to R: Bp. Morse, Presiding Bp. Riches, Bp. Sellers (retired), Bp. Grote, Bp. Sutton, & Bp. Fincke.] "

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Christ Church, 1884

Joliet Illinois, before the city was even really there.

Again, a short history of the parish (from the Joliet Herald):

May 1835: Bishop Philander Chase and eight area residents convene a Communion service forming the parish at the home of Joliet's first physician. It became Joliet's oldest recognized congregation.

May 1848 - April 1853: During the Gold Rush and cholera epidemic, church members do not hold vestry meetings as numbers dwindle to seven.

June 1857: Members worship in their new church building: a small, wooden structure featuring stained glass windows at the northeast corner of Joliet and Van Buren streets. The windows were later incorporated into the modern-day structure.

January 1887: Episcopal Church clergy consecrate the new church, constructed of Joliet limestone, on Van Buren Street. The architect is F.S. Allen.

May 1935: Christ Episcopal Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding with activities and a special book featuring well wishes from clergy and the parish's history. The theme is "They have builded Him an Altar."

June 1953: Bishop Wallace Conkling dedicates St. Edward Chapel at Campbell Street and Midland Avenue. It is intended to serve as a West Side extension of Christ Episcopal.

August 1982: The Christ Episcopal Church building erected in 1887 is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

November 2003: Faced with dwindling numbers and mounting expense for the Christ Episcopal building, members from Christ and St. Edward vote to close the Christ Church building and merge the two congregations.

January 2004: Members celebrate their final Eucharist at Christ Episcopal Church.

January 2004 - early 2006: The future of the old Christ Episcopal Church building is uncertain.

August 2006: Joliet resident Mark Tomac and other local investors publicly confirm they have purchased the building and plan to reopen it as a concert venue in March 2007.

Oct. 8, 2006: An early morning fire sweeps through the historic sanctuary, hall and rectory gutting the beloved building.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fire destroys Joliet, Illinois church

(Note: This church was mentioned in a previous blog article. This is a horrible loss. Even though the building was no longer being used as a place of worship, almost 20 years of fond memories, culminating in my marriage at this beautiful gothic church, now no longer have a focus. I know this sounds rather self-centered, but I've spoken with other former members of the church and they feel similarly.

I joined the Episcopal Church in 1987 through this parish and was confirmed there. I remember serving as a layreader, assisting the rector on Good Friday, and the many beautiful Midnight Masses on Christmas Eve. Soon even the ruins pictured above will be gone).

By Jeff LongTribune staff reporterOctober 8, 2006, 4:42 PM CDTA fire in Joliet destroyed a historic church building early Sunday, forcing several people to flee, but no one was injured, according to the fire chief.Firefighters arrived at the former Christ Episcopal Church, 73 W. Van Buren St., at about 5:15 a.m. Sunday, said Joliet Fire Chief Larry Mores.Mores said five people escaped the former rectory. But Tony Menza, who had been living in the former church's rectory, said six people were in the house-three rent-paying tenants and three others. All escaped without injury."My girlfriend heard the crackling of the roof being on fire," said Menza. "She saw the fire and yelled for me to get up. I saw the orange flashing outside my window and knew it was bad."Menza said the building's owner wants to convert the church, which was closed in 2003, into a nightclub. The owner could not be reached Sunday."Definitely a total loss," Mores said of the building. "The rectory portion does still resemble some sort of building.Mores said it's too early to tell whether the fire is suspicious. Joliet police, city and regional fire investigators and the state fire marshal's office are investigating.When crews arrived, Mores said, flames were already visible coming from the church's roof and the sanctuary area."It's been a long time since we've seen a fire of this magnitude," Mores said. "There were fireballs going everywhere."But firefighters kept adjacent buildings from catching fire and Mores praised their efforts."The crews did an excellent job containing the fire," he said.The church is the second oldest Episcopal Parish in the metropolitan Chicago area, according to the Landmark Illinois' website.

Invocation of the Saints.

XXII. Of Purgatory.The Romish Doctrine concerning. . .the Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

In previous posts we’ve already dispatched with the issues of Purgatory, Pardon, and Relics and Images. This leaves us with the "Invocation of Saints" and "Worshipping and Adoration." I’ve chosen to address the Invocation of the Saints as the next topic (so the last topic we'll cover will be "Adoration").

How to address this contentious issue, the issue of the Invocation of the Saints? Do Anglicans accept this practice? Many do, but think that the Articles are thereby opposed to “Catholicism” as they see it because it denounces the Romish Doctrine of Invocation. As with some of the other issues we’ve addressed, we must not equate the Roman practices of the Reformation era (or the 19th century, which many Anglicans chose to mimic) with Catholicism proper. We’ve seen that Purgatory is not a Catholic doctrine (rejected as it is in the Eastern Church), but a Roman one. Here too we must distinguish the Roman from the Catholic, for they are not identical. We can still pray for the departed (as we do in the 1549 and 1928 Eucharists) and have no need to embrace the Roman justification for engaging in the practice.

So, do we Anglican believe that the saints pray for us? Yes, for we pray with “all the company of heaven” in the Holy Eucharist (whether one uses the 1549, the 1662, or the 1928 variations). I’ve read pieces by C.S. Lewis and the Rev’d Dr. Toon supporting the notion that as we can ask the saints on earth for their prayers (“oremus”), so too can we ask the Saints in heaven for theirs. However, are there objections to the practice? I must admit that there are, if we engage in this practice after a certain way, namely phrasing the prayers to the saints without reference to God the Father or Christ Jesus. Can the objections be overcome? I believe they can, in a manner commensurate with the thinking of the Caroline divines of Anglicanism and the practice of the ancient Church.

On this issue I will first turn to a favorite English Catholic text of mine—Vernon Staley’s The Catholic Religion, for I believe Canon Staley addresses this issue in a concise, honest, and forthright manner:

“That the saints who have gone before pray for us, has always been the belief of the Church. We believe that they join in prayer for us on earth with a power which was not theirs whilst in the flesh—the mother for her children, the priest for his flock, friend for friend. And it is lawful to ask God to grant us a share in their intercession. In what way, or to what extent, the saints are conscious of our needs, has not been revealed to us.

The Church of England, in Article XXII condemns “the Romish doctrine concerning invocation of the saints,” that is to say, that system of prayer to the saints which led to their being regarded otherwise than as exalted supplicants. Before the Reformation serious abuses had arisen. It was supposed, for instance, that the saints had power with God because of their own merits, and that they were kinder, and had greater sympathy for sinners than Christ our Saviour.

Upon this subject we quote the words of Dr. Pusey—“The exclusive address of unseen beings has an obvious tendency at once to fall into a sort of worship; it is too like the mode in which we address almighty God to be any way safe; the exclusive request of their intercession is likely at once to constitute them intercessors in a way different from God’s servants on earth, and to interfere with the office of the Great Intercessor;” and again , “For members of the English Church, who desire the prayers of the departed, it has to him ever seemed safest to express the desire for those prayers to God ‘of whom and through whom and to whom are all things.’”pp 130-131

Here we are actually left with a solution to any perceived problem with “invoking the saints,” which we will come back to shortly. In summary of the points above, Canon Staley notes that the Roman practice was tied up with the saints having merits of their own, something that is rejected in the Articles when they reject the works of supererogation: “whereas Christ saith plainly When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.” The only merits we can rightfully plead are the merits of Christ. So this element of the practice must be left by the theological wayside. Lamentably, the Anglican and American Missals copy Roman prayers verbatim and make mention of the “merits of the saints.”

We must also reject the notion that the saints are, in a sense, replacements for Christ as a mediator—that Christ is too far off, too fearfully awful that we must come to Him through another channel. The is a notion of the Middle Ages that Staley rightfully notes as erroneous. This idea must be countered, for Christ is our only Mediator and Advocate who intercedes with the Father on our behalf. That Christ is too remote or unsympathetic is no justification for invoking the Saints.

The last issue that Staley notes it the idea that the Saints in heaven may not be conscious of our needs. This issue must be addressed. Also, Pusey remarks that “The exclusive address of unseen beings has an obvious tendency at once to fall into a sort of worship; it is too like the mode in which we address almighty God to be any way safe.” Pusey is not rejecting prayers to the Saints—he is commenting that prayers composed in a manner in which they are exclusively addressed to the Saints comes too close to the form of prayer we use to address God alone.
What then is the remedy to this and to the criticism that we have no assurance that the Saints even hear our requests? Pusey provides the suggestion that addresses both of these issues, that “for members of the English Church, who desire the prayers of the departed, it has to him ever seemed safest to express the desire for those prayers to God ‘of whom and through whom and to whom are all things.”

Here we have a conclusion that was arrived at also by the Caroline divines, one that is illustrated by reference to the old Roman Mass itself. For in the Roman Mass, we have a prayer addressed to God Almighty, but within this prayer there is a request for the prayers of the saints. Again, note that this is not initially a prayer addressed to the Virgin, St. Andrew, or St. Agnes—it is addressed to God and concluded “through Christ.” What many Anglo-Catholics rejected (see Pusey, Staley, or Westcott’s Catholic Principles) were long prayers addressed to the saint alone and giving the saint (especially the Blessed Virgin) titles usually reserved for Christ. But the prayer in the old Roman Mass is different. Within it is a petition that the saints may pray for us. Several other prayers of the old Missals resemble this prayer. Consider this prayer on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Andrew:

“Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God: that as we do prevent the festival of Thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, so he may implore Thy mercy for us; that we being delivered from all our iniquities, may likewise be defended against all adversities. . .”

At this point it should be clear that this older manner of requesting the prayers of the Saints addresses the main concerns that usually arise. In that we are addressing the prayer to God through Christ, we have the assurance that the Saints in heaven are being commanded by God. We do not pray to the saints to bypass Christ because He is too stern and the saints more merciful—the mercy of God is implored. Also, we do not use titles and manners of address reserved for God in Trinity. As Pusey rightly states, those who desire the prayers of the saints ought address this desire to God, in whom are all things.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Indulgences? Follow up from the post on Purgatory

XXII. Of Purgatory.The Romish Doctrine concerning. . .Pardons (or Indulgences). . .is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

Note: Lord Bishop Browne's Exposition on the Articles is the basis for the historical information in this piece.

In the last post I dealt with the question of linking prayers for the dead with a belief in the Roman doctrine of Purgatory, this doctrine holding that there is a place where the faithful must suffer for their sins in their existence after death. As we saw, via recourse to sources from the Eastern Church and the more "reformed" tradition in Anglicanism, that growth in the Intermediate State is not to be equated with Purgatory. The two concepts are not identical, although some defenders of the concept of Purgatory often present them in this manner.

As Father Anderson pointed out in a comment to the Purgatory post, the belief in this state was tied tightly in the Middle Ages to the practice of Indulgences ("Pardons" in the Article). Bishop Browne traces the history of "indulgences" or "pardons." They were not originally tied to Purgatory. In the ancient Church a martyr or confessor in prison could intercede on behalf of an individual censured by the Church--such a relaxation of a penance was done by the bishop of the diocese. The bishop might shorten a term from which someone was kept from the Eucharist or, as was mentioned, lessen some other penalty. It must be noted that these penalties were temporal in nature, imposed in the here and now and to be completed in the here and now.

You can see where the logic might now go, becoming tied to the concept of Purgatory. The teaching concerning pardons was expanded to include not only the censures of the Church but the pains of Purgatory as well. If the episcopacy could lessen a sentence in the temporal realm, could it not also lessen the pains in the life after this? So, we see the concept of "pardons" from temporal punishment in this life carried over to the next. But how could a bishop grant indulgences to the souls in Purgatory? Someone in this life would have to do some deed or another to merit this action. Prayers, masses, donations to the Church all became reasons for the granting of Indulgences. The first use of indulgences tied to Purgatory can be dated to the papacy of Alexander III at the end of the 12th century. This corruption of an ancient practice reached its height with Leo X with Tetzel openly selling indulgences in Germany:

"When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory spring!"

It is this that the Article rejects. Being tied to Purgatory as it is in the corrupt form mentioned above, we must also point out that the Old Catholics (in the Fourteen Theses) retain the older teaching concerning indulgences:

"We agree that “indulgences” can only refer to penalties actually imposed by the Church herself."

Therefore, prayers for the departed are 1) in no way tied to the teaching of Purgatory held in the Middle Ages, and 2) even if one were to hold to the Roman teaching of Purgatory, this does not logically require one to accept the Roman teaching on Indulgences, for in their original use they were tied only to temporal punishment imposed by the Church. However, the two tied together, as they were in the Western Church of the Middle Ages, were in need of reformation and/or outright repudiation.

In this writer's humble opinion, the Rev. Dr. Luther had just cause for his protestations against both the concept of Purgatory as a place were penalties were imposed for sins, and the notion that the Church had the authority to buy and sell Christian souls out from such a place. In our previous examination of the teaching concerning the Intermediate State, there is no need to throw the "baby" of spiritual growth after death and prayers for and with the faithful departed out with the murky bathwater of late Roman doctrine, for such practices existed in ancient Church and in the Eastern Church--without ties to erroneous doctrine these practices can be rightly kept as orthodox. If they are ever misunderstood by the faithful, it is the role of the clergy to provide clear and correct information.

The next entry will address the Invocation of the Saints.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Purgatory? Is there an Anglican position?

XXII. Of Purgatory.The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory. . .is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

Often, when in debate or discussion with other Christians, it is posited that Anglicans believe in “Purgatory.” I often reply “Why do you think that?” The answer usually is “Because you pray for the dead.” Indeed, we do pray for the dead, and we believe the dead pray for and with us—but does this mean that we follow the peculiar teaching of the Church of Rome on this matter? The answer is, based on historical and dogmatic theology, an emphatic “no,” but one that often demands explanation to both Anglicans and those outside of the Anglican tradition.
The equation of Purgatory with the Intermediate State (in the Anglican teaching, the state in which the souls of all of the faithful departed exist before the Resurrection of the dead) is an erroneous one, especially since the Roman Church elaborates upon both Purgatory and the Intermediate State (in this line of thinking, occupied when “the souls” pass out of Purgatory before the Resurrection, translating their status from that of mere “souls” into true “saints,” and thus necessitating the feast day of All Souls along with that of All Saints); to adopt the Roman terms while attempting an Anglican description usually results in linguistic confusion and theological consternation (See Bishop N.T. Wright’s For All the Saints ). Indeed, in that the Roman teaching is clearly rejected in the East, such a teaching can in no wise be held as a “Catholic” doctrine proper. When we read Eastern Orthodox texts on such issues there are often narrow variances of opinion than those found in the West and far less elaboration. This from Father Pomazansky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology:

"Concerning the state of the soul after the Particular Judgment, the Orthodox Church teaches thus: “We believe that the souls of the dead are in a state of blessedness or torment according to their deeds. After being separated from the body, they immediately pass over either to joy or into sorrow and grief, however, they do not feel either complete blessedness or complete torment. For complete blessedness or complete torment each one receives after the General Resurrection, when the soul is reunited with the body in which it lived in virtue or in vice (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18). Thus the Orthodox Church distinguishes two different conditions after the Particular Judgment: one for the righteous, another for sinners; in other words, paradise and hell. The Church does not recognize the Roman Catholic teaching of three conditions: 1) blessedness, 2) purgatory, and 3) gehenna (hell). The very name “gehenna” the Fathers of the Church usually refer to the condition after the Last judgment, when both death and hell will be cast into the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15)."

Here it would seem difficult to apply the “Purgatory” label as many moderns wish to use it. When we look at other Anglican dogmatic texts, such as Browne’s Exposition on the Thirty-Nine Articles, or The Christian Faith by C.B. Moss we are confronted with differing views on these issues within a narrow range of opinion, seeming closer to the Orthodox teaching than to the Roman.

Few Anglican authors and even fewer Orthodox authors use the term or designation “Intermediate State” to denote a place of pain, suffering, or retribution for sin. However, the Roman Catholic tradition, and some Anglo-Catholics modeling their views after it, emphasizes the pain and satisfaction that are required of the sinner for the sins of his life. How are we to keep this line of thinking in concert with the Comfortable Words (all from the Holy Scriptures) of the Anglican Eucharist, in which we are assured from Scripture that Christ is the propitiation for our sins? Indeed, how are we to read such a view of purgation (in which a satisfaction of pain is required) in light of the Anglican Eucharist’s canon that states Christ is the “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”? N.T Wright summarizes the issue when he says in For All the Saints:

"I cannot stress sufficiently that if we raise the question of punishment for sin, this is something that has already been dealt with on the cross of Jesus. Of course, there have been crude and unbiblical versions of the doctrine of the atonement, and many have rightly reacted against the idea of a vengeful God determined to punish someone and being satisfied by taking it out on his own son. But this is to mistake caricature for biblical doctrine. Paul says, in his most central and careful statement, not that God punished Jesus, but that God 'condemned sin in the flesh' of Jesus (Romans 8.3). Here the instincts of the Reformers, if not always their exact expressions, were spot on. The idea that Christians need to suffer punishment for their sins in a post-mortem purgatory, or anywhere else, reveals a straightforward failure to grasp the very heart of what was achieved on the cross." p 30

We should view any period of “purgation” (if we are even to employ the term, perhaps “growth” or “purification” would be better terms) in the Intermediate State as the 1549 English and 1928 American Prayer Books put it; as simply a period of “continual growth” in God’s “love and service,” a view I have heard espoused by Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox, and Baptists alike (a Baptist New Testament professor of mine from Westminster Seminary described it in this manner). This way of thinking of the Intermediate State puts to rest notions of satisfaction for sin and places the emphasis on the inexhaustible nature and love of God; it also eliminates any notion of the ahistorical and theologically incoherent idea of an “Anglican doctrine of Purgatory.”

I include the Eastern Orthodox position to show that the notion of Purgatory as found in Roman teachings is not found in the East, and therefore cannot as such be labeled as “Catholic,” unless we take the Roman doctrine to be the measure of the terminology. Indeed, the classical Anglican position on prayers for the departed bears a greater resemblance to Orthodoxy than it does to the medieval concepts of the Church of Rome. As Meyendorff (1979) recounts in Byzantine Theology:

"The debate between Greeks and Latins (on the question of Purgatory). . . showed a radical difference in perspective. While the Latins took for granted their legalistic approach to divine justice—which, according to them, requires a retribution for every sinful act—the Greeks interpreted sin less in terms of the acts committed than in terms of a moral and spiritual disease which was to be healed by divine forbearance and love. The Latins also emphasized the idea of an individual judgment by God of each soul, a judgment which distributes the souls in three categories: the just, the wicked, and those in a middle category—who need to be “purified” by fire. The Greeks, meanwhile, without denying a particular judgment after death or agreeing on the existence of the three categories, maintained that neither the just nor the wicked will attain their final state of either bliss or condemnation before the last day. Both sides agreed that prayers for the departed are necessary and helpful. . .even the just need them;. . .in particular. . .the Eucharistic canon of Chrysostom’s liturgy. . .offers the “bloodless sacrifice” for “patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith,” even for the Virgin Mary herself." p 220-221

So here even the state of the most blessed is to be viewed
". . .not as a legal and static justification, but as a never-ending ascent, into which the entire communion of saints—the Church in heaven and the Church on earth—has been initiated in Christ. In the communion of the Body of Christ, all members of the Church, living or dead, are interdependent and united by ties of love and mutual concern; thus the prayers of the Church on earth and the intercession of the saints in heaven can effectively help all sinners, i.e., all men, to get closer to God." p 221

This view of growth during the Intermediate State as a “never-ending ascent” is expressed, as was mentioned above, in the Anglican Eucharists of the 1549 English and 1928 American Prayer Books. The emphasis is not on penance, nor on pain, nor satisfaction for sins (which Christ has already paid) but on growth “in the knowledge and the love of God” of those who have “died in thy faith and fear.” This emphasis is the Body of Christ as the Communion of Saints, who all continue in their walk with God before the Resurrection, is taught in the American Prayer Book—but it goes no further than this measured theology and it is accepted by and differentiated from Purgatory by Reformed minded Anglicans. Litton’s Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, a text that places Anglican theology firmly in the Reformed (Calvinist) school of thought, summarizes the difference between the Roman concept of Purgatory and the traditional doctrine of the Intermediate State shared by most Christians not in the Roman Communion (notice the similarity to Meyendorff’s logic):

"The Romish doctrine of purgatory must not be confounded with the belief of spiritual progress in the intermediate state, against which no objection from reason or Scripture can be urged. . . .But the doctrine of the Roman schools is of a different character. It is forensic in nature, and implies the payment of debt not fully discharged in this life. "

As noted above, in Orthodox theology, the prayers for the faithful departed are even offered for the Virgin Mary (assuming that she too is increasing in grace and the knowledge and presence of God and being conformed to His image—theosis). Therefore, praying for the faithful departed—as expressed in the 1928 American Prayer Book—is a truly “Catholic” doctrine and can be held by Anglicans, as is praying with them in the worship of the Church: “Therefore with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name. . .” We pray for the faithful departed in their growth in love and knowledge of God’s love as well as with them in the thanksgiving of the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.