Friday, June 30, 2006

Something from Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome

In speaking of the Old Testament faithful: "They were all therefore greatly glorified, not for their own sake, nor for their own works, nor for the righteousness that they themselves wrought; but through His will. And we also, being called by the same will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, neither by our own wisdom, or knowledge, or piety, or any works which we did in holiness of heart, but from that faith by which God Almighty has justified all men from the beginning: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost!

I’ve only been posting for a short time, but I want to state explicitly that I truly desire to make this a positive blog. I’m not here to tear others down, so I won’t be doing a great deal of contemplation of what’s wrong with every other denomination or church body. There is enough web space devoted to that already. I think it is the duty of every Christian cleric (and the entire Church militant) to focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for in this priestly service we seek to bring others into union with God the Father through the Son. Anglicans, I believe, have often tried to do that in their worship. We have a liturgy that we cherish because we believe it is orthodox and catholic in its teaching and allows us to humbly enter into the worship of the Triune God. As a result of that, Anglicans have usually placed emphasis as well on the idea of sacred space (although we do indeed believe that Christ is present when two or three are gathered for the preaching of the Word, prayer, and the Sacraments—especially the great sacrament of the Holy Eucharist). With that in mind, I’d like to begin a short “blog series” on some of the parish churches of classical Anglicanism to inform and inspire others to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” The first church is Saint Mark’s in Vero Beach, Florida. This is a parish in the Anglican Province of America and it is beautifully designed for traditional liturgical worship and “illustrated” with some excellent stained glass; the photos that accompany this entry are of St. Mark’s. Behind the altar there is the stained glass shown above with Christ the King.

If you have a church you’d like to see highlighted here please let me know.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A sad fate for a parish church

The Right Reverend Philander Chase was the first Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Illinois, having been elected (without his knowledge) in 1835 by the parishes that had gathered in that state. One of those historic parishes was Christ Church in Joliet, 30 miles southwest of the city of Chicago. The same year of Bishop Chase’s election, Christ Church was begun by a celebration of the Holy Eucharist where the church still stands. An original structure burned down, but the church was rebuilt using Illinois limestone. The interior was a classic example of high church Gothic architecture, as can be seen in the accompanying photographs. The nave was flanked by beautiful stained glass windows, all dedicated to the memories of loved ones. Behind the altar in the side chapel the remains of church members were interred. The church closed its doors for worship in 2004, after 169 years as an Episcopal Church. A private developer has purchased the church and plans on turning it into a center for live entertainment: the sanctuary will be used as a stage (after the “holy, holy, holy” is scraped from the towering wooden reredos still within the sanctuary), the nave—now stripped of pews—will be used as a dance floor, and the parish hall will be a bar. The stained glass remains. In the meantime, the gutted church was used for a celebrity wedding. I know that the church is not the bricks, stone, and wood of a building, but it is hard not to feel sorrow for a space hallowed by years and years of Christian worship come to this sad end. One can only pray that the remains of the faithful parishioners are no longer housed in the side chapel adjacent to the main sanctuary.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We have no doctrine of our own. . .We only possesses the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these Creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that Rock.

Geoffrey Francis Fisher
Archbishop of Canterbury

As everyone well knows, there is a crisis in Anglicanism going on outside of the traditional continuing Churches (and within some of them as well); as the “official” and largely heterodox Episcopal church crumbles the faithful Anglicans in this body are left with the question “Where should I go?” As a traditional Anglican priest I would suggest seeking out a parish of one of the faithful Anglican bodies in the United States (such as the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Province of Christ the King, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the United Episcopal Church, the Anglican Catholic Church, etc--this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I have worshipped in these communities). In these bodies, I believe, the Catholic Faith as described by Fisher is held, taught, and worshipped in.

Others may seek the comfort and security of Rome—indeed, many have done so, and have entered into the Roman Communion with the same fanfare as Cardinal Newman. However, when they arrive they often quickly start throwing stones—in love, they say, because they fear for our immortal souls—back towards orthodox and catholic Anglicans because we are “not in communion with the Holy See.” This necessitates that the bishops, presbyters, deacons and laity of classical Anglicanism have a ready response. Too often we do not, and the strength of orthodox Anglicanism is sapped.

To the clergy and laity I suggest two short texts that will provide good foundational information for answering the historical and theological claims of former-Anglicans-turned-Roman. The first is the late Father Louis Tarsitano’s An Outline of an Anglican Life. It has been endorsed by and used in the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Province of America, and the Reformed Episcopal Church. This text is very good for covering basic Anglican doctrine and practice and can be purchased from the publication society of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The other text I’d recommend is Archbishop Mark Haverland’s Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice (available from the Anglican Parishes Association via the link in the post “What is the Catholic Church”); this book contains a wealth of historical information dealing with the ecumenical councils, the papal claims, and Marian doctrines (which are “necessary to salvation” in the Roman Communion). However, this text is a bit lighter on basic doctrine than Father Tarsitano’s text, and some of it is oriented directly toward the Anglican Catholic Church. Both books, when taken together will provide the educated cleric or layman with the tools to respond to demonstrably false historical and theological claims made by Roman Catholic proselytizers.

To paraphrase the Rev'd Dr. C.B. Moss, the Anglican claims are minimal: we claim to be Christians in the apostolic tradition, teaching apostolic doctrine, and worshipping according to apostolic patterns. The Roman claims are a bit more bold: they claim to be The One True Church, having universal jurisdiction over all Christians, and having an infallibility (uniquely held by her head Bishop) that allows new doctrines to be added to the faith of the undivided Church. It is the duty of the one making the greater claims to prove her case. As Anglicans, we need to know what the claims are and be ready and able to respond.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What is "The Catholic Church"?

In order to answer this question, a fine quote from Archbishop Mark Haverland's text "Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice," available from the Anglican Parishes Association

“The Catholic Church is the one, true Church of God throughout the world. Anglicans reject the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is wherever Christians gather around a bishop of apostolic succession and faith. The presence of Apostolic Succession and faith, and thus Catholicity, certainly requires and presupposes, acceptance of the Old and New Testaments as the record of God’s decisive self-revelation; acceptance of the doctrine of the undivided, ancient Church, which is summarized particularly in the Creeds, celebration of the sacraments, particularly in Baptism and the Eucharist, through which God unites his people to himself; maintenance of the historical line of bishops sometimes called the tactile succession. Mere maintenance of a mere outward or tactile line of succession does not by itself maintain catholicity: the faith and worship of the Church also must be maintained.”

I've added the italics for emphasis. I think this is an important point to take note of, in that sometimes Anglicans place episcopacy over faith. The point, the purpose of the episcopacy is to transmit the Christian faith inviolate. If bishops cease to do this they break the catholicity of the Church.

Monday, June 12, 2006

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.

Archbishop Temple's prayer of rememberance for the faithful departed: We also praise Thy Hole Name for all Thy servants departed from amongst us in Thy faith and fear; and we humbly beseech Thee so to bless all that remain on earth, that, being protected from all evil, ghostly and bodily, we may ever serve and please Thee with quiet minds and thankful hearts, and together with those that are gone before may have our refreshment in Paradise and our portion in the Resurrection of the just, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen."

Saturday, June 03, 2006

An Excellent essay on Eucharistic theology: Real Presence or Substantial Transformation? An Anglican Reflection on Eucharistic Theology

Friday, June 02, 2006

Christus Rex--Reflections on the image of Christ the King

One of the most striking and meaningful images to me in Christian art has been the Christus Rex, Christ the King "reigning from the Tree." This is the image that most frequently greets me when I've visited Lutheran parishes.

Recently I came across a posting on The Patristic Anglican which contained this excellent quote from Collin Morris in The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity in regards to the development of the traditional (corpus in repose) crucifix we usually think of as being a mark of "Catholicism." Morris observes:

"The crucifix was becoming a prominent feature of church decoration, replacing the Christ in majesty which dominated early buildings, and it was a crucifix in a new style. The Lord was no longer shown upright and majestic, clothed in purple and reigning from the tree: now, a dying man was offered for the loyalty and compassion of the beholders. . . "

I commented once to a priest who had a Christus Rex upon the altar how much I liked that particular cross. To my surprise he told me how much he disliked it: To him it was an image of the living Christ re-crucified, brought back to the cross following the resurrection and sacrificed again. This comment resulted in my spending some time researching the theology and history of the Christus Rex. My findings were those that Morris expresses above: The Christus Rex is the more ancient emphasis, and the dead Christ is a more recent development. Indeed, is it--the image of the dead Christ--the most proper image to have on the altar when celebrating the Holy Thanksgiving of not only Christ's sacrifice, but of His resurrection, glorious ascension, and His coming again? Here are some comments on the image and its place in Western iconography from various sources:

Percy Dearmer, Anglican liturgical scholar, notes in his 1899 edition of The Parson's Handbook (p 88):

"A CROSS was sometimes set on the Holy Table before the Reformation; but it was by no means the rule, though nowadays many seem to consider it a necessity. In cases where a painting forms the altarpiece it is often better dispensed with (even where there is room for a small cross below the picture), especially in the case of minor altars; and the appropriateness of using a cross where the Crucifixion forms part of the altarpiece is more than questionable. Under no circumstances should a cross be placed on the altar when it would stand in front of a picture or of the figures of a sculptured reredos, The idea that an altar is incomplete (or ‘Protestant’) without a cross needs to be strenuously combated. Indeed, although altar crosses and crucifixes are certainly included under the rubric, there is much to be said both from the ceremonial and from the theological point of view against their use on the altar. The proper place for a representation of the crucified Redeemer is the Roodscreen. In any case the primitive crucifix, in which our Lord is represented in an attitude of benediction and majesty, is more seemly than the twisted and distorted figure one often sees."

Similarly, Canon Vernon Staley, the Anglo-Catholic scholar, wrote in his 1904 Ceremonial of the English Church (p 113-115):

"It is not well to regard the Eucharist as commemorative solely of the death and passion of our Lord, and to forget that it is also the memorial of His mightly resurrection and glorious ascension. In thus emphasizing His humiliation at the expense of His exhaltation some have been led to associate the crucifix with the altar rather than the cross of glory. In connection with this, it may be pointed out that our Lord in glory is a much more suitable subject. . .over the altar, than our Lord crucified."

The question remains, why were Christus Rex images (or variations of this image) prevalent in the ancient Church? Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries addresses this question in his book The Passion in Art. He comments first on the first depiction of the crucifixion (about 400 A.D.):

". . .This is no defeated Christ: his eyes are open and head upright, and his arms stretch firmly outwards. He looks boldly to the front, not so much constrained by the cross, as superimposed upon it. The contrast is deliberately made with Judas hanging on the tree, the thirty pieces of silver spilled onto the ground at his feet. . .Judas is dead and defeated, but Christ is alive with the life of triumphant love. . . .Over. . .anger and sadness and death the love of God wins through. Christ reigns from the tree" (p 13).

"In the earliest depictions of the Passion that have surivived, Christ is shown alive on the Cross. This was true both in the West and in the East. . . .The major theological issue that concerned the Church from the fourth to the eighth centuries. . .was the person of Christ. The Church came to assert that he is truly God and truly human, yet remains one undivided person. If this is the case then how should Christ be depicted on the Cross? If he was simply shown dead, or in the tomb, people might wonder what happened to his divinity. So it would seem that from the fourth to the end of the seventh centuries artists chose to avoid the controversial questions by not showing him dead on the Cross at all. Christ is shown, as we have seen, with arms outstretched, head upright and eyes open, very much alive. This had the doctrinal adavantage of making it clear that Jesus had indeed been crucified as a human being, for there he was on the Cross. But his open eyes could be interpreted as the logos, the eternal word of God. . .being very much alive" (p 29).