Saturday, May 27, 2006

Benedict XVI Warns Against Relativism

During the homily that he preached at an open-air mass in Warsaw on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI warned against relativism in matters of faith. The following is courtesy of the Vatican Information Service:


Faced with people or groups who obscure Church tradition, "seeking to falsify the Word of Christ and to remove from the Gospel those truths which, in their view, are too uncomfortable for modern man," said the Pope, "every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church's Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand.

"We must not yield to the temptation of relativism or of a subjectivist and selective interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Only the whole truth can open us to adherence to Christ, Who died and rose for our salvation."

After highlighting how "faith consists in an intimate relationship with Christ," Benedict XVI made it clear that to love Christ means "trusting Him even in times of trial ... Entrusting ourselves to Christ, we lose nothing, we gain everything. In His hands our life acquires its true meaning. ... To love Him is to remain in dialogue with Him, in order to know His will and to put it into effect promptly."

He added: "Yet living one's personal faith as a love-relationship with Christ also means being ready to renounce everything that constitutes a denial of His love ... Faith as adherence to Christ is revealed as love that prompts us to promote the good inscribed by the Creator into the nature of every man and woman among us, into the personality of every human being and into everything that exists in the world."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two of Us Gathered Together

Well, we made the grade, the bare minimum for worship: two of us gathered together on Sunday for Morning Prayer at my house. We would have been five, but a strange strain of springtime flu knocked two people out, and the Cypriot parliamentary elections took the third victim, as she is a journalist and had to work.

Next Sunday we will meet for Evening Prayer, and I’m hopeful of a good turnout.

But even for two of us, the experience was a blessed one. It was simply said Morning Prayer, with absolutely no embellishments, on a gently warm late spring day. A good deal of silence; a great deal of beauty.

I would have written sooner, but I have been troubled by the observations of a friend, whose prayers I had asked as we embarked on this journey.

This friend is a priest. I will say nothing more about him except that he is a man whose knowledge and wisdom I respect. As always, he promised me his prayers, but then he took me to task for what I was doing, which took much of the joy out of it.

In a heavily edited way, I want to share some of his thoughts here.

Firstly, saying he has had some experience with what he calls the “many” (ouch?) continuing Anglican jurisdictions, he says that if I think Rome and Canterbury have lost their way (with which he agrees), I should have a look at the relatively short history of the Continuum, wracked with disputes, with posturing for supremacy, and involving many practices and people of dubious credentials.

A second point he makes is to raise the question of (active) homosexuality. Here is submits that the continuing churches are among the strongest opponents thereof but are ordaining homosexuals in a rather higher proportion than the “institutional” churches.

Thirdly, he argues that the continuing churches ought to be called ‘protest churches,’ because people tend to join not because they are attracted to them, but because they are dissatisfied with what they have or had. In this vein, he asks just what they are continuing, arguing that they are claiming to preserve a liturgical tradition which is no more that 150 years old in many cases.

Fourthly, in a sort of follow-on to that, he says that it is hard to find anyone within such churches under the age of 50 and usually they are much older. To compound that, he asserts that they have no appeal at all to the young or even the middle aged and will die out within a generation.

In response, I did the best I could to refute what he said, or at least insist on more precision in terms. I invited him to bring the discussion here, but for reasons I can understand, he preferred not to.

However, if we are to be intellectually honest, then I think we must take seriously what he says, as it is almost certainly a reflection of what other people may be thinking.

It warrants a response. What say ye?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ascension by Ed Pacht

Greetings from soggy New Hampshire. After a period of computer problems and a period of wild weather, this is my first atempt at posting here. It will say that it was posted by Albion (I don't know how to change that), but this is mine. That said, here follows a poem for Ascension Day:

Ascension
-
Ascent,
a going up,
into the clouds,
and out of sight.
-
Ascent,
ascending,
rising,
going,
where?
-
Ascent,
ascending,
rising,
to the sky?
Not there.
-
Ascending
to the heavens?
Yes,
but where are they?
And can you point,
describe,
or indicate their place?
Or tell me where they are,
or where they’re not?
You can’t.
-
Ascent,
ascending,
going from this earth,
going to a place
that is no place,
and to a time
that is no time,
infinity,
infinitely outside
the universe of place and time,
beyond all human thoughts,
or imaginations of the mind,
outside,
beyond all knowing,
beyond all finding,
beyond. . . .
-
Ascending there,
ascending where there is no where,
ascending into everywhere,
ascending far beyond yet near,
ascending here.

-
Ascending,
sending Holy Spirit,
in the Spirit present,
present on the blessed altars,
present in the hearts of men,
present even in the house of sin,
present,
never absent,
never gone,
present.
-
Present now,
and yet He is to come,
and in His presence we await
the coming of the ever-present Lord
who is,
and was,
and is to come.
Amen.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

ROGATION SUNDAY

Jas. 1:22f John 16: 23f

This fifth Sunday after Easter is called Rogation Sunday: As the on-line Wikipedia Dictionary tells us: “The word "Rogation" comes from the Latin verb rogare, meaning "to ask," and was applied to this time of the liturgical year because the Gospel reading for the previous Sunday included the passage "Ask and ye shall receive" (John 16:24).”And it goes on to say: “The faithful typically observed the Rogation days by fasting in preparation to celebrate the Ascension, and farmers often had their crops blessed by a priest at this time, which always occurs during the spring (in the Northern Hemisphere).”

Well, we know about the blessing of the crops, and what it has come to mean in terms of the annual celebration of Rogation Sunday. We must be thankful to God because of every good thing He gives us, including the crops of the field and every provision. To have the work of our hands blessed by God, so that our labors are fruitful, and meaningful, is a necessary part of health and the whole of life. Furthermore, let us consider these earthly blessings in light of the Epistle, especially the definition given by Saint James of “true religion.” To be a “doer of the Word” is about those things that we are commanded to do- not just those things we are commanded not to do. Every “thou shalt not” commandement is simply part of the two great “thou shalt” commandments: namely, to love God with our whole being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Whatever we have of earthly blessings are not meant to be hoarded, but shared with those who are in need; and we must also think on a higher level than these earthly things, or else instead of being mindful of the needs of the poor, as Saint James speaks of “the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” we will be spotted by the world. We can be people of true charity, or we can become carnal. It seems there can be no middle ground.

Throughout the Easter Season we (that is, those of us who pray the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer) have been reminded every day of the words of Saint Paul: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (Col. 3:1).” We are told to place our desires upon heavenly things as children of the Resurrection, because our hope is not in this temporary life, but in the eternal life given by Christ. We are told to mind heavenly things where Christ is at the right hand of God. At this time of the year we are reminded to meditate upon Christ’s ascension to the throne of God, His return to Father’s right hand. It is a great mystery that the Lord is present with us, and that His saints are all around us, and that the throne of God is a place to which we may resort. And, yet, as long as we live in this world, in its condition of sin and death, these things are hidden from our eyes. What we call the Ascension is not about space or distance. It is the entrance into the pure presence of God, to which our eyes are shielded at this time: For if we saw the brightness and glory of the throne of God, and the glorious state of His saints who stand before Him to worship unhindered by sin and imperfection, it would be more than we could stand. Heaven is all around us; but we are protected from the sight of it; for as long as our sinfulness and imperfections remain, it would be more than we could endure. Yet, we are told to place our hopes there, and our affections as well.

Now, if anything tends to bother me about modern observances of Rogation Sunday, it is that in some churches the emphasis has moved from gratitude to God for giving to us the things we need, to a secular kind of emphasis on the environment. Now, it is perfectly fine to be responsible, and to be good stewards of the earth. In fact, it is a moral imperative. But two problems present themselves. First, we have the old problem of disguising self-righteousness under a cloak of false penitence. When whole congregations repent of “polluting the environment” I find it to be disingenuous. Often, when a group of wealthy white liberals repents of “polluting the environment,” or of something like racism, or whatever, they are not really repenting at all. They are saying, like the Pharisee, “I thank thee God I am not like other men.” They seem to feel virtuous about being environmentalists, and about being above those other things like racism, or what have you. So, group repentance of that sort does not impress me. Far better it is to repent of your real sins. Now of course, if you are a wasteful polluter, or a racist, or whatever, then it is necessary to repent of those specific things; but to make a show of repentance about the sins that you really blame others for, while not repenting of your own sins, is just a new, and sort of chic way of being like the Pharisee, the whole time fooling yourself into thinking that you are like the penitent Publican.

The second problem is that that whole focus takes us away from what today’s Gospel is about. On this day our attention ought to be focused on the right hand of God, to which the Lord Jesus was going to ascend. And, we are supposed to be thinking about that in terms of prayer, asking- rogation. And, we ought to be focusing on what it means to ask in this new way that our Lord Jesus teaches here. Why are we told to ask the Father our requests in His Name? In Genesis we see that there came a time when men first called upon the Name of the Lord. That is during the life one named Enos, in the fourth chapter of Genesis, verse 26: “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” When I read this in Hebrew I saw that it really should be translated: “then began men to call in the Name of the Lord.” It was quite unmistakable; “B’Shem Adonai.” So, in using the words, “ask in My Name,” the Lord Jesus is again letting us know that he and the Father are One.

And, beyond that, we are told that to pray to the Father in the human Name of the Person who is the Eternal Word, the nature He took into His uncreated eternal Person when “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” We do not pray to the Father without coming in the Name of the Son of God, specifically, the human Name of Jesus Christ. We could speak of Him as God the only begotten Son, or as the Word (or Logos). These are Names that speak of Him as God; and yet, in His human nature He is still One with the Father, while He shares our nature; fully God and fully man. Can we not simply come to the Father without this Man acting as our Mediator? Are we not good enough? The answer is no. We are not good enough to come to the Father, because we are sinners. If you are looking for a religion that flatters you, affirms you, and tells you how wonderful you are, you have come to the wrong place. Here we are all self-confessed “miserable offenders.” We spend a great deal of our time when we pray together, asking the Lord to have mercy upon us. So, no, we are not good enough to come to the Father without a Mediator.

Saint Paul wrote, in the first Epistle to Saint Timothy, the second chapter:

“1: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2: For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

This passage speaks of prayer and God’s will that people will repent and be saved. And, in speaking of both of these things, salvation and prayer, Paul is moved to remind us that we have as our only Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all. He overcame the separation between the uncreated God and human creatures by taking created nature into His uncreated Person, becoming fully man while remaining fully God. He overcame the separation between God and man due to sin by dying for our sins on the cross. He overcame the separation between the Living God and our death by overcoming death. As one Person complete in two natures, Himself both fully God and fully Man, Jesus Christ is our Mediator. No man comes to the Father but by Him. That is true of our salvation, it is true of our worship, it is true of our prayer.

This is why you must read the Epistle to the Hebrews. In that Epistle we are told all of these things very clearly. In addition, we are told that the Lord Jesus, seated even now at the right hand of God, ever lives to make intercession for us. Using the Old Testament picture of the High Priest who once a year took the blood of the sacrifice into the Holy of Holies, the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of Christ’s once for all sacrifice, that is that he died once for all sinners, and of His ascension to the Father’s throne as the true offering of the true High Priest into the true Holy of Holies, of which the temple was merely a picture, a shadow or type. The blood of the sacrifices in the Old Testament were sprinkled on the Mercy Seat before the Ark of the covenant, inside the veil, in the Holy of Holies- the Kadesh h’kadeshim. This type was given to teach of the true offering in which the Son of God would offer Himself, and His blood would be the true Atonement, the true Kippur. And, that he would rise from the dead and present His own death and sacrifice, the shedding of His blood, the pouring out of His soul unto death, upon prolonging His days by rising to life again. And, that he would ascend back to the Father to be our Mediator, pleading for us with the scars from those wounds from which His blood was shed.

To pray in the Name of Jesus reminds us of these things. It reminds us that we need a Mediator, because we are sinners. It reminds us that He died for our sins, rose again and ascended into heaven. It reminds us that He is the one Mediator between God and Man because He is fully God and fully man, unique as the one whose Name alone is given under heaven among men by which we must be saved. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my Name,” He said. “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” As the Epistle to the Hebrews puts it:

“19: Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20: By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21: And having an high priest over the house of God; 22: Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23: Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24: And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”


On this Rogation Sunday, as we prepare for the day of Ascension, and then for the Day of Pentecost, hoping for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in power, let us have these words as frontlets between our eyes: “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”



Saturday, May 20, 2006

Interview with David Bentley Hart

So where was God in the tsunami?

Where was God? In and beyond all things, nearer to the essence of every creature than that creature itself, and infinitely outside the grasp of all finite things.


The answers in this interview, coming from my younger brother, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, are all of them answers with which I wholeheartedly agree. This includes my brother's strong critique of Calvin. But, he and I have long agreed that it is time to treat Calvinism as a heresy, the same way we do Mormonism or the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Two or Three Gather Together

On May 21st, the Fifth Sunday after Easter, the continuing Anglican movement will be just a little bit larger.

If God is gracious, a handful of disaffected Anglicans, as well as people who are unchurched, will gather with me in the living room of my home in Nicosia to say Matins.

When they do, a new house church will be born -- the mission of St John the Evangelist.

For the moment, we will be without priestly ministry or episcopal oversight, but I am working toward our eventually being received into a continuing church as a mission parish.

While there literally may be only two or three of us gathered together, we all know what that means. I bid your prayers for us as we seek to move forward.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER

St. James i. 17 f St. John xvi. 5f

“EVERY good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” writes Saint James in today’s Epistle. These words are more than a profoundly beautiful piece of prose; these words speak of the unchanging and unchangeable will of God. In God is no variableness, and not only no turning, but not even a shadow of it. “God is not a man that he should lie, neither a son of man that he should repent.” God wills, God speaks and He acts. But never does He react. The revelation that God has given of Himself in scripture has been given through language that can speak to the human mind, and as such that language is inherently iconographic in nature. By that I mean, the limitations of the human mind cannot comprehend God, and so we are given words about God that must come short of a full description. We read of Divine mercy, or we read of Divine wrath, and we picture these things in human terms; we imagine how the mercy or wrath of men comes across. Such things come across as emotion, as reactions which must, by their nature, be both variableness and a shadow of turning. For that is how we experience these things.

But where man comes closest to God, and where His image is most clearly perceived in the very nature of what we are, is the highest of the virtues, namely charity. This is that love that never fails, that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. With or without the element of reaction, always with the constancy of feeling but never dependent on the whims of emotion, this love motivates us to labor for the people most dependent on our untiring efforts. Even anger does not erase this love, because it is a deeper stream than the emotion of any given moment. When we recall that Saint John told us that “God is Love,” we begin to see that the words “no variableness neither shadow of turning” naturally move into the next phrase in today’s Epistle of James: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” The love of God for us, the love of the Father that begat us, never depended on how He felt at the time, how He reacted, on whim, fancy or any changeable thing. When we say that God is Impassible, not subject to the changes and reactions of emotion, it is our very hope itself of which we speak. His will for us runs deeper; it is the true Love itself; love that takes human nature into the Godhead, so that Jesus Christ is that one Person both God and Man, fully God and fully man, who suffers and dies for our sins. The old problem of whether or not God could have suffered on the cross is answered for us by saying that Jesus Christ suffered for us, and that He did so as One Person in two complete natures. And, in that depth that is love, stronger because it is deeper and higher, beneath and above all we know of mere emotion with its changing whims and reaction, we see the will of God carried out. In Christ we die to sin, and in Christ we rise to new life, born again because we are begotten from above by the Word of Truth.

The will of God is not capricious. It is not subject to what side of bed He got out of on a given morning. His will does not change, like the unstable will of a man who, upon getting bored, undergoes a change of tastes; or who, upon being taken by emotion at a given moment, changes his mind. In the news recently, I heard of a family suing some well-known sex symbol type of celebrity, because a rich man had married her and rewritten his will. If I heard it correctly, the rightful heirs, that is the children, were left high and dry because the rich man had, in what passion he could muster or in what vanity had taken him, married a woman several decades his junior. This kind of unstable behavior may take place among sinful men; but our Father in heaven will never be moved to forget us. He will not break His promise. Once we are in Christ we are graven on the palms of his hands. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” -Isa. 49: 14-16

Understand that when we speak of Divine mercy or of Divine wrath, we are not speaking of some reaction in God. God remains constant. Whether we experience mercy or wrath depends upon where we decide to stand, what side of that line he has laid down in His commandments. His love for us will not be satisfied, however, with our laxity. He demands that we grow in holiness and virtue because that is part of His will for us in Christ. He knows what he wants to make of us, the kind of people we are meant to be. Whatever Hell is, that place where we turn from God into darkness and the loss of all hope, about which our Lord Jesus Christ warned us many times over, it is not a place we enter due to God’s reactions. It a place we can enter by choosing to stand on the wrong side of His love, the side where we shut out His will for us in favor of any of the Deadly Sins. God does not change, and if we will not repent and change, and turn from our sins, we will be lost. For God cannot compromise: it is against His very nature. God does not negotiate or bargain. He does, however, forgive when we turn to Him.

In today’s Gospel we see that Jesus said, about the coming of the Holy Ghost- that event we will remember shortly on Pentecost- “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Look at these things closely. The world remains in sin because it refuses to believe in Jesus Christ. This is put in very personal terms. The choice to be given over to sin and death is the refusal to believe in this one Man: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Why? Because only He is the remedy for sin and death. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.”

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness by Christ’s ascension into heaven. He must sit on the throne of God with the Father; as long as the world is fallen and sinful, His presence here as the Incarnate God was extraordinary, something that the world could not long endure. Until the world is ready to be made new by his coming, His presence remains hidden and mysterious. His ascension to the throne of His Father vindicates His righteousness, even though the world treated Him as a sinner and a criminal.

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of judgement because the prince of this world is judged. The cross appeared to be the condemnation of Jesus; but it turned out instead to be the condemnation of the whole order of sin and death. Christ bore the wrath of God, and this was in fact the mercy of God at work. The one who was cast out and defeated was the Devil, the serpent’s head bruised by the bruising of the heel of the Seed of the Woman, the Son born to the Virgin. The entire system of sin and death was judged. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of the defeat and condemnation of its evil ruler, the prince of darkness, and of everything he had achieved by deception.

How does the Holy Spirit do these things? He works through the Church. So the Lord continues, in today’s Gospel, with these words: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” Indeed he has guided the Church of the Apostles into all truth. It began with the writing of the New Testament, with bringing to mind, after His resurrection and ascension, the words of Jesus that been impossible to hear while He walked among them. It began with the teaching we find in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, in the Epistles of the Apostles, Saints, Peter, Paul, John, James, and Jude. It began as they came to understand what Jesus had done in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. And, the Holy Spirit continued to guide the Church throughout the years of persecution; and He guided the Church when it emerged from persecution as it was united in the first Millennium, as the successors of the Apostles met in those seven Ecumenical Councils and agreed together about the meaning of the Word of God for all people for all time.

From the beginning this was the will of the Father who begat us in the Person of the Son, Who guides and empowers us by His Holy Spirit, sending down every good gift and every perfect gift. In Him is no variableness neither shadow of turning.

Read a 2001 interview with Archbishop Morse

I discovered an active link to an old interview, posted Dec 8th 2001 by David Virtue on his Virtuosity website. He had interviewed Archbishop Morse, something I was glad to read at the time, because I was thinking back then that Mr. Virtue had been making too much of the recent creation of the AmiA by saying (throughout much of 2000 and 2001) that Anglicans in America finally had an alternative to the Episcopal Church. I considered this to be most troubling, because the AmiA was a single issue movement in its inception, after the 2000 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, reacting against the Homosexualist movement in ECUSA, but seeming to ignore every problem that had led to the moral laxity of that 2000 General Convention; (moral laxity so hideous that the heresies of the 2003 General Convention were inevitable). Therefore, at the time that the interview was posted, I was very glad to see Mr. Virtue record the words of a truly Catholic leader in the Anglican tradition (and that was before I entered the APCK).

There is a typo in this interview, in which the 1978 Denver Consecrations read as having taken place in 1987. Some of the news has changed a bit since then, but, the position of the Archbishop and of the Province is clearly stated in the interview with frankness, good humor and deep conviction. In fact, much that is said in this interview has grown more relevant in the few years that have passed. It covers many subjects, including the Vagante problem, the relations between East and West, and the need for stability and growth.

Before you read the interview, let me add my thoughts about the vagante problem. The simple fact is we have Freedom of Religion in the United States, and in most of the Western world. Whereas this brings many good things, it also creates a situation in which any fool can start a church in his garage. His entire Diocese may cover all of North America, but his membership might consist only of his wife, his neighbor, his neighbor’s wife, and his dog. So, when his dog dies, he loses 20 percent of his church membership. The vagante may trace his orders through disreputable characters, sometimes involving the old practice of Simony. Some guys just want to wear purple shirts and pointed hats. The problem is, these jokers give a bad name to honest and valid bishops who are lumped in with them by some people who assume that all of the non-Canterbury Anglicans are cut from the same cloth. This is why I continue to emphasize the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which states the real basis for why we must exist as separate from ECUSA, and other corrupted national churches of the official Anglican Communion.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Did we put up straw men?

One of the common arguments of Anglican Catholics concerning the English Reformation is that the denials of Transubstantiation and Propitiatory Sacrifice at the Eucharist that occurred then were aimed largely at crude, materialistic and unbiblical conceptions that were popular even among theologians. This is especially said to be the case for official and authoritative documents of the English Church.

The Roman Catholic response from scholars such as E.C. Messenger, F. Clarke and others has been to show that the true doctrine of the times was not deficient in these ways and that the Reformers uniformly rejected this true doctrine, not any cruder version. Thus, both the ascription of “carnal” characteristics to Roman doctrines by the Church of England’s early teachers and the defence of them on this basis by later Anglicans are disingenuous.

However, while picking the right mediaeval scholars can give an impression of unassailable orthodoxy, there were four very good reasons why the early Anglicans described and reacted to Roman doctrine as they did.


  1. Berengarian Oath: During an early mediaeval controversy a theologian named Berengar was forced to make a recantation stating that in the Communion the Body and Blood of Jesus “are in truth sensibly and not only sacramentally touched by the hands of the priests and are broken and chewed by the teeth of the faithful” [emphasis added]. While these phrases were explained away by various scholastic authors, during the Marian reign between phases of the English Reformation this part of the Oath was used again to “reconcile” Sir John Cheke with a similar recantation, without the scholastic qualifications.
  2. Miracle proofs: One of the most popular ways to defend and preach the doctrine of Transubstantiation both before and after the Reformation was to appeal to a multitude of purported miracles revealing the Presence of Jesus. These ranged from bleeding Hosts to Hosts that would partly or wholly disappear to show the infant Jesus or a portion of his flesh, such as a finger. (Other miracles involved much slaying of disrespectful unbelievers, Protestants and Jews!)
  3. Chantry system: A system had developed in the mediaeval Western Church where a large number of priests were created with no pastoral responsibilities but to continually offer Masses for the departed souls of once-rich benefactors of religious institutions. A popular mechanical perception of the efficacy of these multiplied Masses along with a similarly mechanical or mathematical perception of the Purgatory the benefactors were being delivered from led to the rich apparently enjoying benefits over the poor in the next life as well as this one. There also existed the view, though not widespread, that the Cross dealt with Original Sin but the Mass with actual sins. The combination of these abuses and errors unmistakably reflect an unhealthy sacerdotalism both with respect to the Ministry and the Eucharist.
  4. Nominalism: The predominance of Nominalist philosophy in this period rather than the moderate Realism of Aquinas meant that the word “substance” was more likely to be interpreted as only truly meaningful in terms of material substance. Nominalism does not acknowledge a real distinction between substance and accidents, only a logical one. It is thus more difficult in this mode of thinking to distinguish an underlying metaphysical substance from material, sensible properties.


In the light of all of this bishops and doctors of the reformed Church of England were quite justified in seeing transubstantiation as really referring to material substance in the physical and localised sense, whatever the subtleties of their RC interlocutors. That many did is easily seen from their works, where the critical epithets are “grossness”, “sensibleness”, “carnal”, “local”, “material”, “corporal”, “natural” and “physical”. Once the Roman conception of Presence was so conceived, the related conception of Sacrifice could not be seen otherwise but as essentially materialistic, relating to activities really physically performed upon or with Jesus flesh and blood. This, in combination with certain prayers after the Words of Institution in the Canon of the Mass and related elevations, would have easily persuaded the critics that what was proposed was a sacrificial act involving Christ distinct from and additional to the Sacrifice of the Cross being made mystically present. Indeed, there were RC scholars such as the Dominican Melchior Cano (1520-1560) who made the oblation itself later than (though dependent upon) the consecration. Bellarmine and De Lugo taught that the Sacrifice was not complete until the Priest’s communion, since this act of eating best constituted the act of “destruction” said to be necessary for any “true and proper” sacrifice.

Even the early Twentieth Century Catholic Encyclopedia says “the sacrificial gift must exist in physical substance, and must be really or virtually destroyed (animals slain, libations poured out, other things rendered unfit for ordinary uses), or at least really transformed” [emphasis added]. Later in the same article this is effectively qualified by this statement: “We have an absolute sacrifice, for the Victim is -- not indeed in specie propria, but in specie aliena -- sacramentally slain, we have also a relative sacrifice, since the sacramental separation of Body and Blood represents perceptibly the former shedding of Blood on the Cross.” However, the tension between the belief of the author that he had to prove a “real” and “absolute” sacrificial act of destruction belonging properly to the Mass-action itself and the unavoidable biblical understanding that only the Cross is the Absolute Sacrifice has led to a bemusing conclusion. The “absolute sacrifice” is actually a sacramental representation which does not affect the Victim in Himself at all! How this is different to the denial by many early Anglicans of a “proper” sacrificing of Christ conjoined with their affirmation of an effectual sacramental representation of the act of the Cross is difficult to tell!

Ironically, given the claim that the true Roman doctrine is not and was not materialistic or crude and the related claim that everybody has or should have known this, I found the following recently written by a Fr Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap., in Homiletic and Pastoral Review (Feb. 2006, pp.12,13):

The bread and wine still remain subjectively, as an “appearance” or “species,”
in the minds of the priest and members of his congregation, but not objectively
as “physical reality” outside the mind and on the altar …

… obviously … there is some physical reality put in the hand or on the tongue of the
communicant. … What is this physical reality? … Christ’s “physical ‘reality’” is
“corporeally (bodily) present” …

… substantial change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ must involve a material and “physical” change …

… substantial change of the bread and wine … includes a change of the
bread and wine into … the divine Being of the Blessed Trinity


No, I’m not making this up.

Now, if anyone wants to make the point that this is not an accurate representation of Transubstantiation, he’ll get no argument from me. Concomitance has flown out the window here with respect to the presence of the Divine Essence, as have the Angelic Doctor’s careful qualifications, such as denying the mode of the presence is corporal or local and affirming that the species or accidents of the Elements are real outside the mind and continue to exist as proximate objects of the senses. But if an educated, respected and frequently published RC priest such as Fr Scanlon can write something like this in the 21st Century, then accusing English Churchmen of dishonest “straw man” arguments is even more conclusively demonstrated to be entirely unjust.

Only a minority, it is true, of Anglican Divines in earlier centuries fully and unambiguously affirmed the Real Objective Presence, though they were much more strong and consistent on Eucharistic Sacrifice. However, their rejection of a “change of the substance” and a repeated physical offering of Christ made Present by this change was not unorthodox, especially given the context in which they had to interpret the Roman doctrine and its intrinsic difficulties.

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER

SERMON


The Epistle. 1 St. Pet. ii. 11f The Gospel. St. John xvi. 16f

When I was very young, a mere teenager, I had a good friend who was color-blind. It was during a very sunny afternoon that I, as a passenger in his car, saw how dangerous it is to dispense with an idea just because it is old. Stop lights, in case you have not noticed, are always lined up the same way from top to bottom. The red light at the top, the yellow light in the middle, and the green light at the bottom. Furthermore, they have long visors that cast enough of a shadow that even a very sunny day cannot hide which color light is on. But, some very clever person had managed to redesign the stop light. The ugly visors were gone, and the light was not hanging up and down, but sideways, horizontally. Because the light was horizontal my color-blind friend was becoming panicky- was the light green or red? He figured the middle was still the place where yellow would be, but what about the rest of it? He could not see green from red; and now he could not rely on the vertical system that all color-blind drivers have always used. But, I could not help him; because without the visors it was impossible for anyone, color-blind or not, to see which light was on. We escaped with our lives. Others were not so fortunate, and in a few accidents some people were killed.

The lesson is simple: Anyone who wants to change a tradition should be forced to answer a question, and forced to answer it correctly. Correctly, that is, instead of according to his prejudices, especially prejudices against things he thinks old fashioned. The question would be, why does the tradition exist? Why, for example, do we teach children to read using what is called phonics? An old idea, admittedly. All the more reason to keep it, since it is time tested and proven. For some reason we are being subjected quite a lot to new ideas which are still theoretical, still untried, still experimental and subject to failure, in preference to the tried and true. If the traffic light designer had been forced to answer why the lights hang vertically, and to answer why the visors are there- whether or not he finds them to be attractive- lives would have been spared.

So, remember that rule. No tradition should be overturned unless you know exactly why the tradition exists; and I mean the real reason why, not based on logic plus assumption, but based on logic plus fact. Furthermore, you had better be sure that your experiment is worth the abandonment of the tried and true, time tested and proven. You had better be very sure that your wisdom exceeds that of many generations and of their experiences.

It is a joy to baptize anyone, and a rare joy for some to witness an adult baptism. You will notice that we had two witnesses up here in addition to our server and myself. The rubrics say that we should do this when using the baptismal font. Why?

Before I answer that question, I want to tell you something I learned from a Rabbi named Harold White back in Maryland. He told about a family in which a young mother kept alive a tradition that had been passed down from her grandmother’s time. When cooking a roast beef, she would cut it in two and roast it in two small pans. One day, at a family gathering, the question was put to her why she did this, and she replied that her mother had always done it that way. When asked why she had always done it that way, the mother was able to refer the question to the elderly grandmother, who was present herself at this gathering. She said, “The reason I cooked it that way was because we were so poor we could not afford a large roasting pan. But we had two little pans.” And then Rabbi White asked me a question: “Now then, upon learning this, does the young mother stop this tradition and use one large pan, or does she continue the family tradition?” I disappointed the Rabbi, because my immediate reply was, “If there is really no need to go to the trouble of cutting the roast in two, why not use just one pan?” “No. She continues the family tradition,” he told me. “Now it has special meaning: We were once so poor that we had to cook it this way. God carried us through that time.” I thought about that, and saw that this is a valuable lesson from a mind trained in Judaism. I thought of passages in the Torah where Moses tells the people of Israel that after they enter the Land of Promise, they are to observe certain traditions, and that is in order to teach their children: “We were once slaves in Egypt, and God brought us out by a Mighty Hand”

So, why do the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer tell us to have two witnesses for an adult baptism? Because we were once criminals in the Roman Empire. In the early centuries of our Faith, the Church was persecuted by the Roman authorities. The sentence of death hung over the head of every Christian any time he might be caught. To gather together in Church every Sunday was dangerous, because to be found out, coming together for this Eucharist, would mean not only arrest, but certain trial and execution, with a trial so brief as to make the sentence of death a summary judgment. And, the only way to escape execution, carried out the same day, was to renounce Christ and offer a sacrifice to Caesar as a god. During those centuries the Church spread and grew, even though hundreds of thousands of Christians were put to death for their Faith.

However, as willing as Christians were to die for their Faith, they were also practical. To invite martyrdom when it was avoidable and unnecessary, was something that the Church condemned as a form of suicide. If caught, if interrogated, the Christian dies rather than renounce His Savior. But, he does not invite it, or cause it to come about that he has to be caught or interrogated. He dies if he must; but he lives unless martyrdom becomes the only way to be faithful to the One Who died for us, Jesus Christ.

In those years, most of the people being baptized were adult converts turning to God from paganism. Even after a time of preparation as catechumens, it was not until their baptism that they entered into the hidden and secret places where the Eucharist was offered. The presence of witnesses, which historians are more likely to call sponsors, was a practical way of knowing at least something about the identity of the people being admitted for the first time into the general gathering of the church. If an unknown person could sneak in he could be an informant, and hand over the whole church gathered there to the authorities. So, every convert coming to be baptized was recognized and sponsored by witnesses. It was simply a means of trying to have some kind of practical security.

So, we have the two witnesses when baptism occurs here in the church at the font. They are not needed to make the sacrament valid. All we need for that is the Form, the Matter and the Intention of the sacrament of baptism. But, taking a lesson from our parent religion, Judaism, we look to the past and use our traditions as a way to teach. We were once criminals in the Roman Empire, and many of our fathers, and mothers too, gave their lives as martyrs. The Church- the same Church that we belong to, to this day- survived and thrived nonetheless, thanks be to God. The sight of sponsoring witnesses reminds us that the Church was not suicidal, but that it did thrive in the midst of danger. This danger lasted from Nero to Constantine, roughly two and a half centuries. And, even today Christians are being turned into martyrs for their Faith. The earliest generations of the Church knew that the faith of Christ is worth dying for; and for all we know, the day may come that we will need to know that as well, even here in America. We were once criminals in the Roman Empire, as the people of Israel once were slaves in Egypt. From the tradition, even this little rubric, learn a valuable lesson.

In the recent weeks, leading up to Easter, we kept getting closer and closer to Passion tide and Holy Week. In our liturgical tradition we lived through the troubles and fears of those ancient disciples; the five hundred disciples and the apostles who were closest to the Lord. Think again of the words He spoke to them: “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father…Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”

In Passion tide we hid from our eyes the things that remind us our Lord’s presence, all under purple veils. When you walked through the door on Easter the veils were gone, and you rejoiced at the presence of the Risen Christ. For a while you did not see Him, then you saw Him, and your joy could not be taken from you. Think about what the disciples had gone through; their Lord was dead. They had placed not only their love, but also all their hope, in this one Man. He had said that he was One with the Father, that He would be the salvation not only of Israel, but the light to the Gentiles, the hope for all nations. Several times He told them how it would be. He would be handed over and crucified, and rise the third day. But, like most of us, they could only hear just so much.

And, instead of watching Him take an earthly throne and seize the power that justly belonged to the Son of David as King in Jerusalem, they saw that he was humiliated, unjustly condemned, and given to the Romans to die the worst death of all, the death of the cross. Their hope was shattered. They mourned and wept while the world rejoiced. But, after three days He appeared to them alive again. He had not conquered Rome; he had conquered the real enemy. He had overcome sin and death. He had been the Suffering Servant spoken of by Isaiah the prophet; now he was the man who died, and would, as the prophet had said, after dying “prolong His days” as the one in whose hand the will of the Lord would prevail.
Their joy no man could take away.

In a few weeks we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. In every way our traditions teach us and remind us of those most important events that changed the world forever, because we are able to walk through our salvation history.

We do many things that seem not to make sense to a carnal and unspiritual mind. But, it is our wisdom if we learn from these traditions.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Comment on Comments

How nice to be able to follow up on my last post by noting what is becoming a spirited debate on Fr Hart's item about Anglicanism and Orthodoxy.

It leads me to make a small request: I would ask that anyone commenting be kind enough to identify themselves.

I cannot imagine why anyone would be ashamed to use their own name, but if someone feels the need to remain anonymous, fair enough. However, at least use an identifying monicker, such as "Orthodox in Peoria." Otherwise, true debate will be impossible, as a dozen different people may be commenting under the same "Anonymous" label.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam

Confirmation and Sacramental Intention

From the Book of Common Prayer, Second Office of Instruction p. 291 in the 1928 edition:

Question. What special means does the Church provide to help you to do all these things?

Answer. The Church provides the Laying on of Hands, or Confirmation, wherein, after renewing the promises and vows of my Baptism, and declaring my loyalty and devotion to Christ as my Master, I receive the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit.

From the Book of Common Prayer, The Order of Confirmation, selections from pages 296 and 297 in the 1928 edition:


REVEREND Father in God, I present unto you these persons to receive the Laying on of Hands.
¶ Then the Bishop, or some Minister appointed by him, may say,
Hear the words of the Evangelist Saint Luke, in the eighth Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
WHEN the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost...
…Bishop. Let us pray.


ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by Water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins; Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace: the spirit of wisdom and under-standing, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever. Amen.

In comments on Al Kimmel’s Blog, Pontifications, I just happened to mention the problem of the Rite of Confirmation in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (so-called). I recalled that when my brother, Addison, was in Seminary (during his wayward youth as an Episcopalian), one of the designers of the 1979 Book boasted to him that, concerning Confirmation, they had “changed the theology of the church, and no one noticed.” Specifically, the service called Confirmation does not contain the Sacramental Intention so clearly defined above in the selections from the Book of Common Prayer, and that maintained the Catholic understanding dating back to the beginning, indeed, back to the time of the Apostles Peter and John. Instead of the Catholic understanding of the Sacrament, supported by the scriptures that reveal its meaning, a Lutheran concept was introduced. According to this view, all that takes place is a commitment on the part of a baptized person to live as a Christian. Now, that is certainly fine, as far as it goes. In fact, it is a very important element that really ought to be stated before Confirmation is administered by any Bishop. But, is it the true meaning? Does it state the Intention of the Sacrament?

The answer is easy to find. Just look at the selections from the Order of Confirmation above (remembering that the Office of Instruction, also quoted above, has informed the confirmand of what this sacrament is all about). Here we see the Apostles Peter and John administering Confirmation from the eighth chapter of Acts, as one account of this Apostolic ministry among others in Saint Luke’s narrative (such as the 19th chapter where Saint Paul confirms the Ephesian Christians after their Baptisms). Later, after this portion of scripture has been read, the Bishop must say a prayer that states the Sacramental Intention. That Intention is that the baptized person receives the Holy Ghost, and that His gifts will empower the Christian for service and for a holy life. It is supernatural, it is grace imparted through those three elements of a Sacrament, Form, Matter and Intention.

Though oil is generally used to anoint the Confirmand, the essential Matter of the sacrament is the Laying on of the Apostle's (Bishop's) Hands. In this the ’79 Book is not lacking. But, the Intention of Confirmation is stated both in the reading of scripture, and in the Bishop’s prayer. These elements of the Form are missing from the Rite in the 1979 Book. And, with their omission goes the Intention. Imagine a Mass without the Words of institution, or a Baptism without any words spoken. Similarly, just what is the meaning of the service called “Confirmation” in the ’79 Book? Without the Form that states the Intention, the whole ritual is meaningless. Should we regard it as valid?

From Strength to Strength

It is still less than six months since I created The Continuum, and we are going from strength to strength.

In the past few hours, we passed 10,000 hits since the site was born back in November, and the average daily readership is on the rise. From a low of around 40 hits a day, we are now up closer to 100.

That is due in part to the kindness of fellow bloggers, who have linked us from their sites.

It is also undoubtedly due to the work of my contributing editors -- Father Robert Hart, Father Matthew Kirby and Reader Ed Pacht. I would like to thank them again, publicly, as I have privately.

There are two things that I regret, though.

I had hoped for a great deal more conversation here than we are experiencing, and I would encourage more direct participation by readers -- either in commenting on existing posts or proposing new ones.

Secondly, I had hoped for more involvement from the Establishment, particularly in terms of linking us from provincial, diocesan and parish sites. To date, as far as I know, only the Anglican Province of America has done so, and I thank them.

I would imagine that some of our readers are decision-makers in their respective branches of the Continuing movement, and I would urge them to get the word out about us. Others among you may be nothing more than what the wags like to call "bums on pews," but you have a voice as well. Please exercise it.

Of course, all of what I have just said presupposes that you think it is worthwhile plugging The Continuum. My vision is for this blog to become the preeminent site for news, analysis and commentary on the Continuing movement. It only will if you help us to make it so.

Over to you.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Gay Divorcé

From Touchstone, a Journal of Mere Christianity, March 2004:

The Gay Divorcé

Robert Hart on the Real Robinson Affair

Last August the Episcopal Church’s General Convention approved the election of V. Gene Robinson to be the bishop of New Hampshire. Many protests have been made, meetings held, resolutions passed, and stands taken by conservative Episcopalians and other Anglicans because of this man’s open and unrepentant life of homosexual sin. In protesting his elevation to the episcopate on these grounds alone, many conservatives have only advanced the agenda of his supporters, and have shown that their understanding of the issue is little better than that of the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church...

See the entire article here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Orthodoxy and Anglicanism in a road block

It is the hope of myself and of all who have the unity of the Church of Christ at heart that the agreements already reached may lead to further progress along the road to that full intercommunion between the Church of England and the Orthodox Churches of the East, which is the burden of our prayers and the goal of all our efforts.

-Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Rumanian Patriarch, 1937

(Pictured, Archbishop Meletios of Alexandria and Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang in 1930)

In 1978, after it became clear that churches within the Anglican Communion were “ordaining” women and intent on spreading this untraditional practice, Orthodox Archbishop Athenagoras remarked: “…the theological dialogue [between the Orthodox and the Anglicans] will continue, although now simply as an academic and informative exercise, and no longer as an ecclesial endeavor aiming at the union of the two churches.”(1) Looking back at this, in the context of many theological discussions, what comes as a surprise to many is the fact that the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the Patriarchs and other chief Bishops of the Orthodox Church had been discussing the prospect of joining into one church at all. It would be an understatement to say that reference to this historical fact often meets with incredulity. Nonetheless, the serious discussion of combining the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion of Churches as one Church began in earnest at least as early as 1922. Just how much hope one should have had in that endeavor, either in how practical it was or how long it would have taken in the most promising of circumstances, seems less important than the fact of the effort itself. What does it tell us that for decades the hope of union between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism was pursued, not by well meaning people on the fringes, but by the highest levels of leadership in both communions? And, why did it take only one issue, women’s “ordination,” to bring it to an end, so that only a mere “academic exercise” could remain as a sort of fossil that testifies to this extinct animal?

This process began as Orthodox Patriarchs and other Orthodox Bishops recognized, one by one, the validity of Anglican Orders and sent letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury to that effect. The first came in 1922, from Constantinople (as it is called when referring to the Patriarchate- instead of Istanbul). Soon after in 1923 came letters from Jerusalem, and then from the Archbishop of Cyprus. In 1923 came a letter from the Patriarch of Alexandria. In 1936, the Orthodox Church of Romania sent a letter, also recognizng the validity of Anglican Orders. (2)

The Orthodox Church has in it many people who are now embarrassed, some to the point of denial. The Anglicans of today have, in many places, earned a bad reputation, winking at more than mere innovation; approving of what the Bible calls "abominations." How can the scandalized Orthodox accept the fact that their Church, "the One True Church," was ever considering real unity with people like the Episcopalians- a church with priestesses, bishopettes and at least one Ordinary living in a same sex union? Well, the fact is that they were never considering unity with such people. The Anglicans that they were talking with up until 1976, had at that time approved none of these errors. In fact, the Anglicans were so highly regarded that here, in Amercia, when Orthodox Christians lived very far away from an Orthodox Church, they received special letters from the Orthodox Hierarchy giving them permission to attend the Episcopal Church and to receive the sacraments- including the Holy Communion of Christ's Body and Blood (and so throughout the countries where the Anglican Churches could meet this need). Today, with Orthodox Churches in most major cities and towns, this situation does not exist (Orthodox people who remember this are still alive).

Was this because the Orthodox Patriarchs were a bit thick, and carelessly allowed themselves to be duped by deceitful Anglicans, "Protestants in Catholic clothing?" Having too much respect for their diligence and godly character to imagine such a thing, we must believe that they understood what Anglicanism really was. Furthermore, the kind of Anglicans who were at the highest levels of leadership, and who were in direct communication with the Orthodox Church, believed in the same Catholic Faith as we who Continue the Faith of our fathers. The irony is obvious. Thanks to the same heretics who drove us out, into Athanasian style exile, it may be a long time before the Orthodox Church, represented by any of its Patriarchates, will be willing to enter into serious discussions with any Anglicans. But, when the time comes, they ought to talk to us, not to the Canterbury Club.

(In those decades the Church of England had begun an endeavor to seek Reunion with Rome, and to help make their Orders more acceptable to Rome in the hope of that eventual Reunion as a genuine possibility. If true unity could have been acheived, however long it took, think of the implications. No more Great Schism- talk about the Bridge Church was not empty rhetoric. More on that later.)

(1) As quoted in Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: The Dublin Agreed Statement, (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985), p.3

(2) Orthodox Statements on Anglican Orders

http://xoomer.alice.it/anglican-mission-italy/anglican_order_validity.html

Encyclical on Anglican Orders from the Oecumenical Patriarch to the Presidents of the Particular Eastern Orthodox Churches, 1922
[The Holy Synod has studied the report of the Committee and notes:] 1. That the ordination of Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury by four bishops is a fact established by history. 2. That in this and subsequent ordinations there are found in their fullness those orthodox and indispensable, visible and sensible elements of valid episcopal ordination - viz. the laying on of hands, the Epiclesis of the All-Holy Spirit and also the purpose to transmit the charisma of the Episcopal ministry. 3. That the orthodox theologians who have scientifically examined the question have almost unanimously come to the same conclusions and have declared themselves as accepting the validity of Anglican Orders. 4. That the practice in the Church affords no indication that the Orthodox Church has ever officially treated the validity of Anglican Orders as in doubt, in such a way as would point to the re-ordination of the Anglican clergy as required in the case of the union of the two Churches. ================================================================
The Patriarch of JERUSALEM, 1923
The Patriarch of Jerusalem wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the name of his Synod on March 12, 1923, as follows: To His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, First Hierarch of All England, our most beloved and dear brother in our Lord Jesus, Mgr. Randall. Greeting fraternally your beloved to us, Grace, we have the pleasure to address to you the following: Yesterday we dispatched to Your Grace the following telegram: ‘We have pleasure inform Your Grace that Holy Synod of our Patriarchate after studying in several meetings question Anglican Orders from Orthodox point view resolved their validity.' Today, explaining this telegram, we inform Your Grace that the Holy Synod, having as a motive the resolution passed some time ago by the Church of Constantinople, which is the church having the First Throne between the Orthodox Churches, resolved that the consecrations of bishops and ordinations of priests and deacons of the Anglican Episcopal Church are considered by the Orthodox Church as having the same validity which the Orders of the Roman Church have, because there exist all the elements which are considered necessary from an Orthodox point of view for the recognition of the grace of the Holy Orders from Apostolic Succession. We have great pleasure in communicating to Your Grace, as the First Hierarch of all the Anglican Churches, this resolution of our Church, which constitutes a progress in the pleasing-to-God work of the union of all Churches, and we pray God to grant to Your Grace many years full of health and salvation.
(Signed) DAMIANOS
February 27/March 12, 1923 Official translation published in The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, pp. 121-122. The Archbishop of the autonomous Church of Sinai expressed for his Church adherence to the decisions of Constantinople and Jerusalem.
================================================================
The Archbishop of CYPRUS, 1923
The Archbishop of Cyprus wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the name of his Synod on March 20, 1923, as follows: To His All-Holiness the Oecumenical Patriarch Mgr. Meletios we send brotherly greeting in Christ. Your Holiness – Responding readily to the suggestion made in your reverend Holiness' letter of August 8, 1922, that the autocephalous Church of Cyprus under our presidency should give its opinion as to the validity of Anglican Orders we have placed the matter before the Holy Synod in formal session. After full consideration thereof it has reached the following conclusion: It being understood that the Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Church by the Sacrament of Order was not broken at the Consecration of the first Archbishop of this Church, Matthew Parker, and the visible signs being present in Orders among the Anglicans by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is supplied, which enables the ordinand for the functions of his particular order, there is no obstacle to the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the validity of Anglican Ordinations in the same way that the validity of the ordinations of the Roman, Old Catholic, and Armenian Church are recognized by her. Since clerics coming from these Churches into the bosom of the Orthodox Church are received without reordination we express our judgment that this should also hold in the case of Anglicans – excluding intercommunio (sacramental union), by which one might receive the sacraments indiscriminately at the hands of an Anglican, even one holding the Orthodox dogma, until the dogmatic unity of the two Churches, Orthodox and Anglican, is attained. Submitting this opinion of our Church to Your All-Holiness, we remain, Affectionately, the least of your brethren in Christ,
Cyril of Cyprus
Archbishopric of Cyprus. March 7/20, 1923 Published in The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, pp. 122-123.
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The Patriarch of ALEXANDRIA, 1930
After the Lambeth Conference of 1930, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria found itself able to join in the recognition of Anglican Orders. The decision was announced in a letter from the Patriarch to the Archbishop of Canterbury as follows: To the Most Reverend Dr. Cosmo Lang, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, Greetings in the New Born Christ The Feast of the Nativity, according to the Flesh, of the Redeemer of our Souls being a most suitable occasion for us, as it were, to visit your Beatitude, our friend, by means of a letter, we come to you hereby with a heart that is filled alike with joy, that "unto us is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord," and with fervent prayers both for your health and for the peace and stability of the holy Churches of God over which you preside. At the same time, together with our greetings for the Feast, we send you as our gift the news, which we are sure will be good news, to you, that having derived the greatest gratification from the accounts which it has received, both of the marks of honor which were rendered in London, alike by your Grace and by the general body of your Church, to the office which is ours, and also of the happy results which by the favouring breath of the Holy Spirit have emerged from the contact of the Orthodox Delegation with the Lambeth Conference, our Holy Synod of the Metropolitans of the Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of Alexandria has proceeded to adopt a resolution recognizing the validity, as from the Orthodox point of view, of the Anglican Ministry. The text of that resolution is as follows: "The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account [1] of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord's Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios [2] (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of Alexandria withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized." We rejoice to see the middle wall of partition being thrown down more and more, and we congratulate your Beatitude that under God you have had the felicity of taking the initiative in furthering that work. May the Lord Who was born in Bethlehem give to you and to us the happiness of its completion. In Alexandria upon the Feast of Christ's Nativity, 1930 Your Beatitude's Beloved Brother in Christ
Meletios of Alexandria

In reporting this decision to the Oecumenical Patriarch Meletios emphasized that his Synod was acting on the basis that the statements made at Lambeth had removed their former hesitation "as to the teaching of the Anglican Church upon the mysteries and Apostolic succession," and could be held to have met the desire expressed by the Romanian Patriarch in replying to Constantinople in 1925, when he wrote, But in order to make a definite pronouncement, we desire especially that the Anglican Church herself should precise her doctrine concerning the holy mysteries and particularly concerning orders: does she hold it to be a mystery or not? Since that requirement had now been satisfied, wrote Meletios, It is proper that the validity of Anglican Orders should now be recognized by all Orthodox Churches. For that which, according to the same letter, was "one of the most serious obstacles in the way of the Union of the two Churches," has been "removed." Letter published in The Christian East, vol. XII, 1931, pp. 1-6, with notes as above; the quotation in Note 2 is from No. 11 in the Resume of the Lambeth Discussions, reprinted below, p. 22.

FOOTNOTES
[1] The words in the Resolution of the Lambeth Conference are "sufficient account." [2] We transliterate the term, thusia hilasterios, and do not translate it by propitiatory sacrifice, or expiatory sacrifice, because, as generally used, these terms present conceptions which are not attached by the Orthodox to thusia hilasterios. The words used by the Anglican Bishops in their discussions with the Orthodox Delegation, as recorded in the Resume, and endorsed by the Lambeth Conference are: "… that the Anglican Church teaches the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice as explained in the Answer of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII, on Anglican Ordinations: and also that in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Anglican Church prays that ‘by the merits and death of Thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in His Blood, we and all Thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His Passion,' as including the whole company of faithful people, living and departed." Lambeth Conference Report, 1930,

Monday, May 01, 2006

RIP James Orin Mote

Bishop James Orin Mote of the Original Province of the Anglican Catholic Church passed from this life at 8:45 p.m., 29 April at Indianapolis.

He was one of the original four Bishops Consecrated at Denver for the Original Province of the Continuum and a champion of the pro-life movement many times suffering imprisonment.

Joseph DeHart, Archdeacon, ACC diocese of the Midwest, at The York Forum.