Friday, April 24, 2009

Valid and invalid Confirmation

Recently a man from one of the Continuing jurisdictions mentioned to me that he is uncomfortable about his own Confirmation, because it was only a few years ago that he was confirmed, and that was in the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.). I suggested that it may well be the Holy Spirit speaking to him. During my entire time as a Continuing Anglican I have known that the Confirmations of the Episcopal Church have become insufficient, dubious at best. The practice in the Diocese of the Chesapeake under Bp. Joel Johnson was to disregard them as invalid. I am happy to say that the Anglican Catholic Church also sees the Confirmations in the Episcopal Church since 1976 as invalid. I am troubled to learn, however, that some other jurisdictions have never dealt with this issue conclusively. Not to add another argument, but simply to state the matter in a polite if robust manner, I am posting here a letter I once wrote to a bishop in a jurisdiction that had not yet taken the same stand we take in the ACC.
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Feast of Saint Ambrose of Milan 2005

Your Grace:

Again, I express that I am thankful to God for His grace that was evident when you visited us last month; and that remains evident among us. I believe the people made the right decision, namely, to receive their bishop as Christ Himself, with respect for the Apostolic office.

To follow up on our conversation, I want clear direction about the problem of Confirmations that have been performed by bishops of the Episcopal Church using the Confirmation Rite of the 1979 alleged Book of Common Prayer. My concern about the Rite itself is not merely that it has no statement of Sacramental Intention (which is bad enough), but that one of the revisers who created that Rite boasted to my brother, Fr. Addison Hart, when he was a seminarian in the 1980s, that they had changed the theology of the Church. It is not due to a mistake, but by deliberate non-Intention, that, in their Rite, no mention is made of receiving the Holy Spirit and His gifts.

The practical side of this matter is of concern to me, not because of the adults who have escaped from that sect who come forward for Communion in our churches, but rather that that we do not deny the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation to anyone. And, this is further complicated by the fact that, after twenty-six years of the 1979 book, the probable lack of a valid Confirmation Rite in ECUSA affects more than one generation. Obviously, as a new generation of ECUSA clergy springs up, their bishops would have to be seen as invalid anyway, and their entire abandonment of Christianity would force us to disregard as valid their sacraments that depend upon the Sacrament of Holy Orders. So, we would be faced at some point with having to regard their refugees as people who could not validly have been confirmed. Since the matter will be forced upon us due to the corruption of their orders, we are not being hasty in taking a look at the Confirmation Rite itself, aside from its dependence on a valid episcopate.

In my own congregation many of the people were confirmed long before the ’79 book was in use, and so the question is irrelevant to their needs. But, I have hopes for new people coming in; and the presence of one young family that may be coming into this church, from ECUSA, has the potential of making the question relevant fairly soon. The question is whether we may present for Confirmation people who will want this sacrament, and will have come to believe that they cannot trust the ceremony performed by the ECUSA bishops with their defective Rite. Real Confirmation is, as we know, an indelible sacrament; and, never have I come across a provisional version of the form for Confirmation. Neither am I sure that the ’79 Rite is grounded sufficiently to warrant a provisional Confirmation; rather, it appears that we can be certain that no valid Confirmation was performed at all. I am bringing this up not to hinder people who have attained to an age of reason, have been through the act of what they regarded as Confirmation, and are accustomed to receiving Communion. In fact, it is not about the Sacrament of Communion that I raise the question. It is about the grace given in Confirmation itself. When and under what conditions, may we present to your Grace for Confirmation a person who was “confirmed” using the ’79 Book, but who wants to be certain that his Confirmation is valid? It is the specific grace of this particular sacrament that prompts me to ask. An analysis of the Rite in ’79 Book does not show any Intention to Confirm according to the beliefs of the Holy Catholic Church.

Hoping this finds your Grace well, I remain,

Yours truly,

Robert Hart +

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was confirmed under the 1979 BCP. I'm unfamiliar with the term "Intention to Confirm." Can you explain that to me?

Further...I have an Evangelical streak in me. I believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God. I believe that each person is called at a time of Christ's choosing...so the idea of rounding up every 12-year old (as was done in my church) and marching them through a Confirmation Class is slightly ridiculous.

I believe that a person is "Confirmed" in the hour that they realize that they are completely unworthy of salvation, realize that they are personally redeemed by Grace and Blood, and pray for Christ to accept them as His own.

IE, it's a personal event and there is no need for a church ceremony.

If you feel I'm incorrect, please let me know and cite Scripture to support your reasoning, as I have scripture to support mine.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I'm so glad you have brought this discussion to the table. I pray that the man you mention will indeed seek to be rightly confirmed.

Allow me share a personal account, the irony of which won't escape your readers.

When I went through my year-long catechesis to enter the Orthodox Church, Father Tom must have had me read 25 books, mostly the early Patristics. I'm so grateful to him for leading me to these writings which I was never required to read in seminary. My preparation lasted a year and was highly individualized. (I think Father Tom was nervous about this former woman priest from The Episcopal Church.) When we reached the end of my preparation, he asked for my baptismal documents. Had I been baptized in ECUSA/TEC, I would have been required to be rebaptized, but as it turned out I had been baptized in an American Baptist Church with the Trinitarian formula and this baptism was recognized by the Antiochian Orthodox Church as legitimate.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart, you have put your finger squarely on one of the two issues that gave rise to the "Continuing Church" movement in the first place: grave doubt about the continued integrity and validity of the Lambeth Communion's Sacramental system after PECUSA (in 1976) and the Anglican Church of Canada (a year earlier, I believe) began the process of approving the purported ordination of women.

(The other such divisive issue was that of the novel epistemology those bodies explicitly adopted as their justification for that same change.)

The alteration in the nature of the church's ministry was not the only source of sacramental vices, however, as you also pointed out. The entire 1979 "Prayer Book", taken as a package, included the new and suspect ordinal, the new "covenant" form of baptism -- the pernicious apologetic uses of which have become all too clear in the past couple of years -- and the contentless "rite" of confirmation. This whole package was, as its principal drafters later admitted, intended to graft a new theology onto PECUSA and its sister bodies.

Those drafters did not say that this new theology was to be a non-sacramental one, but we outsiders have little trouble in identifying it as such.

And now, disturbingly, we see precisely these same adverse influences -- women's "ordination" and the suspect 1979 liturgical texts -- rising like zombies from the grave, in the hands of Neo-Anglicans such as the new "ACNA" province-in-formation.

As the man said, those who are unaware of history are thereby condemned to repeat it.

John A. Hollister+

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,

Very well written and entirely too the point. Unfortunately too many of the deacons and priests ordained in TEO since the book of 1979 simply have no adequate theology of the sacraments and have probably never taken it on themselves to read through the historic rites of the Church since the apostolic age. They believe that if their prayer book calls it Confirmation then it must be just that just as they believe (or seem to) that anyone who has been consecrated since the fatal date is a bishop and can do the bishop thing regardless of what the rite says or whom the person or persons may happen to be.

+Joel, by the grace of God, has taken all these things far more seriously as should be done by all. It is good to know that such pastoral seriousness and care has been passed to the next generation.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The Anonymous commenter above wrote:

If you feel I'm incorrect, please let me know and cite Scripture to support your reasoning, as I have scripture to support mine.I have Scripture too, as always. You are confusing Confirmation with a kind of initial conversion. These are not the same thing. Acts 8:14-17

Shaughn said...

Having just completed a course on the '79 "BCP" taught by a TEC Bishop, I can report a few things to you about the course.

1) Most folks in the course were not cradle Episcopalians, but converted after 1979. Those who were born to the denomination were born after 1979.

2) Most folks, therefore, have only known the 1979 "BCP" and see it as normative. Most folks also only know Rite II, and they see it as normative.

3) Confirmation has very, very little point in TEC at the moment. Claiming to be like the Orthodox and some nebulous form of the early church, they chrismate at baptism and allow the baptized to receive communion. We learned how to give communion to an infant at its baptism the other day, which made me cringe just a bit.

They're not sure what to do with confirmation. The assistant bishop of the local Episcopal diocese mused about a period of time where it was a Rite of Passion akin to a Bar Mitzvah, which proved to be something of a joke. The argument goes that the baptized are "to be full members of the church," which to me rather misses the point of confirmation in the first place. It isn't about "becoming a full(er) member of the church," so much as receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

4) I've long since started to believe that monkeying around with a sacramental system inevitably results in the destruction of the whole system. As has been noted, if we say that gender doesn't matter for ordination, it only follows that it oughtn't matter for holy matrimony. Since both of these issues concern the Matter of the sacrament, any notion of prescribed Matter in general becomes severely weakened. By referring to non-traditional Trinitarian forms, and by redefining Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, and Holy Orders, they have weakened any notion of proper sacramental form.

And since few have any clue how to engage the laity in proper, meaningful catechesis that teaches the Anglican Tradition, except for watered down, ahistorical notions of the Via Media and Anglican "comprehensiveness" and "tolerance," it must be darn near impossible to be sure anyone has proper Sacramental Intent.

It is a giant mess, and I would at any time prefer Calvin's elegant, beautiful, and ultimately not essential for salvation sacramental theology to this murky mess. (Yes, I willingly kicked that hornet's nest. Sue me. It is so much fun to needle the Calvinists at school about that. I prefer the Anglican notion of "General Necessity" any day of the week.)

Of course, if one points any of this out to the average seminarian at school, one receives a long lecture about how all of this is rather secondary to social justice, inclusivity, "being in relation with others," and so on. Mention "My Kingdom is not of this world" to them for even more fun reactions.

--S.

The veriword, as it happens, is "Egreglop," which sounds like something you get in the cafeteria line.

McCallester said...

Fr. Hart, you speak of the "Sacrament of Confirmation". How does this square with the quintessential statement of Anglican belief, the 39 Articles. In Article 25 "Of the Sacraments" Confirmation is clearly identified as NOT a Sacrament: "Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation... are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel..." It seems as though the Episcopal Church's explanation of Confirmation as a "Sacramental Rite" is a more in line with the Articles.

I understand your concern about Sacramental Intention. But, in the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer (p. 860), the intention of Confirmation is clearly made: "Q. What is Confirmation? A. Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop." I believe most Episcopalians and Episcopal bishops "intend" the reception of the Holy Spirit, which is why hands are laid on the one being confirmed. This is the way it was taught in every Episcopal church I was ever familiar with.

McCallester said...

I've just read again the Confirmation service in the '28 and '79 Prayer Books. And I don't see how you can say the "intention" is lacking in the '79. The prayers are nearly identical, the main difference simply being the '79 is in modern English. The crucial parts compared:

'28: "Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter..."

'79: "Strengthen, O Lord, your servant N. with your Holy Spirit..."

AND

'28: "Defend, O Lord, this thy Child, with thy heavenly grace; that he may continue thine forever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more..."

'79: "Defend, O Lord, your servant N. with your heavenly grace, that he may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more...

Given the classical explanation in the '79 Catechism and the same language regarding the Holy Spirit I wonder where you find the lack of "intention"?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Clergy who want to know can esily discover how the 1979 Book departs in form and substance from all versions of the true Book of Common Prayer. They need only compare the editions.

See the difference between the formularies of the 2 books, here: http://college-ethics.blogspot.com/2009/04/episcopal-church-prayer-book.html

Fr. John said...

Please let us not get sidetracked into a catholic vs. evangelical thing over confirmation.

If one doesn't accept it as one of the seven sacraments, this is no place for them to be. Indeed that is why the Anglican Catholic Church came into existence, there is no debate about such in our ranks.

To the point of the posting:

Yes Fr. Hart, you have made the important point, why would we deny them the additional graces conferred by confirmation? They could receive communion to their profit even with an invalid confirmation, but if there is a remedy, it should be used.

The same with baptism. There is the baptism of desire which effectuates a ceremonial baptism especially in extreme circumstances. That is why we see the names of catechumens in the canon of saints.

The scriptures tell of the Holy Ghost falling on unbaptized people, but it also tells that they were baptized in a formal way with water as soon as possible afterwards.

When we are aware of and able to remedy defective sacraments we are duty bound to do so.

The verification word is ; ancor

Fr. Robert Hart said...

McCallester wrote:

In Article 25 "Of the Sacraments" Confirmation is clearly identified as NOT a Sacrament: "Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation....
.
You have it backwards, and that is because the old quaint English phrase "commonly called" is not recignized by modern readers; it was an affirmation. Its usage in other places shows this; and it is no accident that the Prayer Book is properly titled the Book of Common Prayer. What is common is the voice and mind of the Church. These are commonly called sacraments, i.e. by the Church; therefore they are sacraments.

"..... are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel...".
.
Unlike Baptism and Holy Communion, these five were in the Old Testament, and are not "of the Gospel," but came before it. Neither are they "of the Gospel" in that these five are not "generally necessary to salvation."

The main problem with modern readers and Article XXV is that it was written in a foreign language: English. That is, "The past is a foreign country..."

I believe most Episcopalians and Episcopal bishops "intend" the reception of the Holy Spirit....
.
But, what does TEC as a body intend? Nevertheless, point 2 comes in anyway; the corruption of Holy Orders.

I wonder where you find the lack of "intention"?..
.
The following prayer is the essential Form, and it is missing entirely in the '79 Book:

"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."

This was the prayer that spoke of receiving the Holy Spirit so as to have those gifts that come under the various categories in the 11th chapter of Isaiah, which produced several lists of gifts in the New Testament; which gifts are directly related to the member's benefit to others within the Body of Christ. The prayers that are still in the '79 Book simply have to do with continuing with the grace of Baptism. It is not the same in meaning, or intention.

Alice C. Linsley said...

"...regenerate these thy servants by Water and the Holy Ghost..."

TEC doesn't want to talk about regeneration!

Comparison of the 1979 baptismal rite with that of 1549 and 1928 reveals that the Standing Liturgical Committee was not fond of the term. Consider the following frequency of terms in the 1979 and 2 versions of the BCP.

The terms “regeneration" or “spiritual regeneration”:
BCP 1549 - used 4 times
BCP 1929 - used 4 times
1979 - not used

The terms “born again” or “born anew”:
BCP 1549 - used once
BCP 1928 - used 4 times
1979 - used once

The term “reborn”:
BCP 1549 – not used
BCP 1928 – not used
1979 – used once

McCallester said...

Fr. Hart, if I understand correctly, you are saying that Article 25 affirms that there are two "Sacraments of the Gospel" and five other Sacraments, not of the Gospel. This seems a difficult interpretation given the comment that they "have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles" and the rather emphatic "have not like nature of Sacraments". I also point out the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, in wide usage in the Continuum, requires the following answer to the question of how many Sacraments there are: "Christ hath ordained two Sacraments only". I'm not an expert so I'm wondering if your view of Article 25 has been the historical intrepretation.

The following prayer is the essential Form, and it is missing entirely in the '79 Book Well, no, it is not entirely missing. Yes, the prayer is shorter but both prayers in the '79 speak specifically of the Holy Spirit, the crucial element of Confirmation, in exactly the same fashion as the '28. The key is there. I'm having a hard time seeing how the intention is missing.

Now, if you feel that Episcopal confirmations are invalid because of "corruption of Holy Orders" that is a different issue and I can understand your view on that.

Sandra McColl said...

Alice, the Orthodox penchant for rebaptising worries me at times. In a diocese to the west of where I live, where women's ordination began in Australia, the local Greek bishop took to rebaptising Anglicans who went over to Orthodoxy. As I see it, he did what a lot of Orthodox tend to do--observed what it was that they had just came from, and made a judgment as to a sacrament that given to them some 40, 50 or 60 years previously. For myself, I was baptised 50 years ago using the BCP of 1662. I wouldn't want an Orthodox rebaptising me on the basis of some deficiency existing in the Prayer Book currently in use in the denomination that originally baptised me. I would likewise expect, Alice, dear, that you, being no more of a spring chicken than am I, if baptised in ECUSA as an infant, would have had it done properly.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

McCallester:

"Of the Gospel" simply means, in this case, having their origin in the Gospel, or as it otherwise says, ordained by Christ himself. The five commonly called sacraments are sacraments that were changed and deepened by the New Covenant, but which we clearly see in the Old Testament.

The "corrupt following of the apostles" that has grown over centuries made it necessary to study those sacraments afresh. How did Absolution turn into "penance"? How did anointing the sick to pray for healing turn into "extreme unction" to prepare for death (and with ridiculous Canon Laws added to it)? The Anglicans saw the need to address the correct meaning of these Biblical mysteries, which meant the necessary teaching to clean up the errors of centuries. A good example of their work is in how the 1549 Book of Common Prayer restored the true meaning of Confession and Absolution, making that clarity part of the Holy Communion service.

Now, about this next question, I must find fault with you. You wrote:

the following answer to the question of how many Sacraments there are: "Christ hath ordained two Sacraments only"..
.
Come man, you know perfectly well that the full answer is, "Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord."

Let's not leave out the words that give the full meaning to the answer.

poetreader said...

Mr. McAllister,
since you are speaking of things repeatedly discussed by Fr. Hart, it might be helpful for another voice to speak here. The Prayer Book does indeed distinguish sacraments into two categories. In bringing up the offices of instruction on page 292, you treat the Prayer Book in precisely the way I sued to treat Scripture as A pentecostal, to enable me to present heretical or questionable doctrines with authority. That is, by quoting just as much of a passage as will seem to support my position, and no more.

How many sacraments ...?

...two only, comma, as generally necessary to salvation; semicolon that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
This is a very carefully constructed sentence "two, as generally necessary" is a clause, set off from identifying the two by stronger punctuation. It does not say only two sacraments, bi\ut rather only two with that characteristic, thus not excluding others lacking that characteristic.

Article 25 refers to two ordained in the Gospel, and five commonly called sacraments, a phrase which includes them, rather than excluding, just as Father Hart pointed out, though meriting the label on a different basis. The article goes on to recognize that they do have a place, but not like nature with the two 'of the Gospel'. That seems quite clear.

With regard to Confirmation, I'm not sure I'm convinced that thise rites are of necessity invalid as they stand, but they surely look more like a mere part of the Baptismal rite (perhaps a good part) than loke a rite such as that in Samaria in which something was conveyed that was not conveyed at Baptism. I was involved in the process back in the 70s before I left ECUSA, and every argument I heard for the new book made a point of insisting that what was intended was NOT a separate conferring of the Spirit, but merely a logical conclusion of Baptism. Samari seems to have disappeared altogether. Yes, there is a problem.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Samaria seems to have disappeared altogether. Yes, there is a problem.Indeed, it has disappeared. The 1928 BCP had a reading, and it was:

¶ 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.
-Acts 8:14-17

They removed it, and that effort at redaction was not without significance.

McCallester said...

Thanks to Fr. Hart and Ed for your further explanations. Regarding the '79 Prayer Book and its intentions, I can only attest that the parish I attend definitely teaches what the Catechism states. While there is certainly a large emphasis on the "mature" affirmation of baptismal vows made for one as an infant, the receiving/strengthening of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands by the bishop is also taught. Given the state of TEC I suppose it is possible some places no longer include this teaching.

As for the number of sacraments, I am still not convinced that the full seven were included in Article 25 as claimed by Fr. Hart. Some quick research shows that John Jewel, who was around when the Articles were written, clearly did not read Article 25 as Fr. Hart does. My apologies for this lengthy quote, but it seems that Jewel clearly had a different understanding.

"Now for the number of Sacraments, how many there be: it may seem somewhat hard to say, and that it cannot be spoken without offense. For men’s judgments herein have swerved very much. Some have said, there are two; others three; others four; and others, that there are seven Sacraments. This difference of opinions standeth rather in terms than in the matter. For a Sacrament in the manner of speaking which the Church useth, and in the writings of the holy Scriptures, and of ancient Fathers, sometimes signifieth properly, every such Sacrament which Christ hath ordained in the New Testament, for which He hath chosen some certain element, and spoken special words to make it a Sacrament, and hath annexed thereto the promise of grace. Sometimes it is used in a general kind of taking, and so every mystery set down to teach the people, and many things that indeed, and by special property, be no Sacraments, may nevertheless pass under the general name of a Sacrament.

The Sacraments instituted by Christ are only two; the Sacrament of Baptism, and of our Lord’s Supper; as the ancient learned Fathers have made account of them. St. Ambrose, having occasion of purpose to treat of the Sacraments, speaketh but of two. He saith, “I begin to speak of the Sacraments which you have received.” And yet in his whole treatise divided into six books he writeth but of two. His book is extant; if any man doubt this, he may see it.

St Augustine reckoned them to be but two; “These be the two Sacraments of the Church.” Again he saith, “Our Lord and His Apostles have delivered unto us a few Sacraments instead of many; and the same in doing most easy, in signification most excellent, in observation reverend, as is the Sacrament of Baptism, and the celebration of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.” Thus St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, unto whom I might also join other ancient Fathers, reckon but two Sacraments. Let no man then be offended with us for doing so; but restore the ordinance of Christ, and keep the example of the holy Fathers.

What then? Do we refuse Confirmation, Penance, Orders and Matrimony? Is there no use of these among us? do we not allow them? Yes. For we do confirm and teach repentance, and minister holy Orders, and account Matrimony, and so use it, as an honourable state of life. We visit the sick among us, and anoint them with the precious oil of the mercy of God. But we call not these Sacraments, because they have not the like institution. Confirmation was not ordained by Christ: Penance hath not any outward element joined to the word: the same may be said of Orders: and Matrimony was not first instituted by Christ; for God ordained it in Paradise long before. But in these two, we have both the element and the institution. In Baptism the element is water; in the Lord’s Supper, bread and wine. Baptism hath the word of institution. “Teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The Lord’s Supper in like manner hath the word of institution. “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Therefore these two are properly and truly called called the Sacraments of the Church, because in them the element is joined to the word, and they take their ordinance of Christ, and are visible signs of invisible grace.

Now whatsoever lacketh either of these, it is no Sacrament; therefore are not the other five, which are so reckoned, and make up the number of seven, in due signification and right meaning taken for Sacraments."


John Jewel, A Treatise of the Sacraments, Salisbury A.D. 1570

McCallester said...

I can't speak to the motives behind the changes in '79 Prayer Book, as some here can, but they certainly exist. The reading from Hebrews is removed and the prayers are shortened. Indeed, the service is sort of tacked on to the end of the baptism service. If, however, the intent was to alter the meaning of Confirmation, the attempt was not a complete success. One, the Catechism still retains the traditional explanation and, two, the prayers, though shortened, still retain the crucial appeals for the Holy Spirit. Thus, while I understand your complaints about the changes, I think your claim that it "does not show any Intention to Confirm according to the beliefs of the Holy Catholic Church" is overstated. I think the "intention" is still there and the rite is valid. If the Catechism had been changed and the bishop no longer laid on hands with an appeal to the Holy Spirit your point would be made. I suppose we will remain in disagreement on this issue.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Sandra, I agree that rebaptism is not a good thing. The Greek Orthodox bishop to whom you refer appears to take this too lightly in treating all converts from Anglicanism alike. The Greeks are rather purists and sometimes behave as if they were the sum and crown of Orthodoxy. I take this as a lesson in humility.

Albion Land said...

Sandra and Alice,

Χριστός ανέστη!

I am still a catechumen in the Church of Cyprus, but my priest and spiritual father tells me that the bishop has said I will not require baptism (the Orthodox do not "re-baptise) because of my baptism in the Episcopal Church. Instead, I will only be chrismated.

As I understand it, the position is that the chrismation will correct any defects that may have been attendant upon my baptism and fill any lacunae.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Albion, I was not re-baptised either. My year-long preparation ended with my chrismation and reception of Holy Communion for the first time as an Orthodox Christian. (I worship at an Antiochian Orthodox parish of a diverse ethnic character. It is not unusual to hear 5 or 6 languages spoken on a given Sunday.)

A friend of mine, also formerly an ECUSA priest, was rebaptised in her Greek Orthodox church in New England. She was a cradle Episcopalian.

There is a debate among Orthodox over this question of re-baptism and chrismation. What your priest and told you corresponds to what my priest told me.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

McCallester:

John Jewell was one of the English Churchmen who had always thought to expand the definition of the word "sacrament," and by that expanded definition there are only two sacraments. The expanded definition makes only those things ordained by Christ that bring the grace specifically of salvation; and there is a distinction between graces (χάρισμα) as "spiritual gifts" and the grace of God unto salvation; that is, in degree not kind, "for every good gift..." (James 1:17)

If we make the definition thus, ordained by Christ (in his human nature while on earth) and generally necessary to salvation, we must limit them to two. And, if we did that we would have to consider that the list ought to take two more in by implication: Confirmation as the completion of Baptism, and Absolution without which receiving Communion is unthinkable.

In the selection you have quoted, Bishop Jewel was making a case for his point of view, a view he had held during the lifetime of Henry VIII; and here he was writing near the end of his life during the second secession (Elizabeth's separation from Rome). Nonetheless, the Church of England already had moved past some of his views (i.e. Hooker wrote of the Church of Rome in much softer tones than Jewel); and therefore Jewel wrote a defense of his own opinion against differing opinions that were acceptable for argumentation, and always had been.

That he quotes Augustine is significant, for Augustine also said that there were sacraments that numbered beyond our telling, but we know only of seven mysteries.

The Bible does not give us a list of sacraments, and so there is no number that is revealed in any direct way. But, because of the accepted definition of universal consensus long before 1054, the Sacraments or Mysteries (E.O.) were numbered at seven.

The definition comes from studying the content of Scripture in which we see these elements in seven mysteries:

1) Based on a divine revelation that includes a specific promise, Man acts with Intention, using Matter and Form (i.e. of words).

2) This human action brings a response in which God acts, fulfilling the promise specific to each revelation (i.e. "what God therefore hath joined together...", or, as in Confirmation, "when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given...")

3) God's promised response imparts grace (χάρις).

Jewel felt obliged to argue for his old view that dated back to the first secession (Henry's time) as a beloved and respected elder statesman of the Church of England.

It is worth asking what occasioned the argument in the first place among his own people, that is, to members of his own church? It would have been occasioned by the language of Article XXV as it was published in its final form, if by nothing else.
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About the '79 book, it retains one of two prayers that mention the Holy Spirit; but it omits the prayer that was always understood to refer to the new action of this sacrament, receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

McCallester said...

I checked out Jewel because it is my understanding that he was heavily involved in the revision of the Articles to their final form, approved I believe in 1571, a year after he preached the sermon I quoted above. I assumed he would of course be intimately familiar with Elizabethan English and hardly mistake the meaning of Article XXV, especially as he assisted in its final composition. You suggest he was merely arguing his own peculiar take on the issue. I guess my questions would be: 1) as it appears there is a long tradition of many (most?) Anglicans agreeing with Jewel that there are two Sacraments and five "Sacramental Rites" is this interpretation a legitimate Anglican position? and 2) what is the problem with viewing the other five as "Sacramental Rites"? I'm sure you have an opinion... BTW I found an interesting quote from Pusey in which he lamented the "unfortunate language" of Article XXV.

You state that the '79 completely omits one of the two prayers found in the '28, the deleted one being the most important. I must point out that this is not correct. On page 309 there are found two prayers for Confirmation. Each is a greatly shortened version of the prayers found in the '28, but importantly, both retain appeals to the Holy Spirit. So the prayer which you say is completely missing actually reads as follows:

Strengthen, O Lord, your servant N. with your Holy Spirit; empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen.

Perhaps you feel this prayer has been truncated to the point that it is no longer valid (and apparently no longer recognizable), but I would simply point out the bishop still lays on hands and calls on the Holy Spirit exactly as the '28 does, indicating at least some intention.

Nathan said...

If we make the definition thus, ordained by Christ (in his human nature while on earth) and generally necessary to salvation, we must limit them to two. And, if we did that we would have to consider that the list ought to take two more in by implication: Confirmation as the completion of Baptism, and Absolution without which receiving Communion is unthinkable.

Or without Holy Orders, how are any conveyed?

Nathan

'unceple'

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jewel argued his position within the C of E after publication (which no one man controlled). Why? For a reason we see in his own words:

"...and many things that indeed, and by special property, be no Sacraments, may nevertheless pass under the general name of a Sacrament."

Furthermore, the greater weight of authority must rest where universal consensus was found in the Church of the First Millennium; which consensus agrees with the words "commonly called." The problem is not the number of sacraments, but rather why Reformers of the first secession felt obliged to redefine the word. Jewel is actually arguing for this other definition within the Church of England, where he felt a need to argue his case.

2) what is the problem with viewing the other five as "Sacramental Rites"?Because they actually impart grace. The ordinal makes it very clear, for example, that Absolution was no mere declaration, emphasizing it as the distinguishing χάρισμα of priesthood; etc.

Perhaps you feel this prayer has been truncated to the point that it is no longer valid (and apparently no longer recognizable)...Yes indeed, to the point where even if their orders were still valid, the Form would would be at least dubious. Again, this is not even another form of the same ancient prayer (translated from Latin) that was deleted. It is a different version of the less significant prayer.

Nathan wrote:

Or without Holy Orders, how are any conveyed?Good point. Two takes us to at least five that are intimately connected, indeed interdependent.

McCallester said...

The Catechism of the '79 Prayer Book agrees that a Sacramental Rite is a "means of grace" so it seems by definition they should simply be called Sacraments as well. I certainly would have no problem with that. The distinction seems a bit contrived.

You assert- Again, this is not even another form of the same ancient prayer (translated from Latin) that was deleted. It is a different version of the less significant prayer. According to your earlier post the following is what you consider the "essential Form", i.e., the prayer which validates the Confirmation Rite:

"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."

I have put in italics the portion of this prayer which makes reference to the receiving of the Holy Spirit. A very shortened form of this prayer is found on page 309 of the '79 Prayer Book. Here the portion which remains essentially the same follows, also in italics:

Strengthen, O Lord, your servant N. with your Holy Spirit ...

I assume the "lesser prayer" is this one:

"Defend, O Lord, this thy Child with thy heavenly grace; that he may continue thine forever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more..."

A shortened version of this prayer is also found on page 309. It reads as follows:

"Defend, O Lord, your servant N. with your heavenly grace, that he may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more..."

So, while the prayer has been greatly shortened, it is not accurate to say it has been completely deleted, and importantly, the reference to the Holy Spirit remains.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Here is the part that states the Intention directly: "...and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace..."

The Holy Spirit is always with the Christian, and has come to each one in Baptism. But Confirmation is about the charismata, the gifts the Holy Spirit gives to the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12).

McCallester said...

Although we have nearly exhausted this topic it is good to have finally pinned down why you feel “intention” is lacking in the ‘79 Confirmation rite. It is not the lack of reference to the Holy Spirit, which is there twice, but rather insufficient mention of the purpose for this prayer requesting “strengthening” and “increasing” of the Spirit, i.e., no specific mention of “gifts”. Interestingly the current Order of Confirmation of the RC Church does not include the specific phrase you feel validates Confirmation:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord

I also note the RC Catechism lists increasing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, unmentioned in the prayer, as the third of the effects of Confirmation. Unlike Baptism, which has a very specific wording vital to validity, Confirmation has none. Thus demands that a very specific wording be present for validity seems highly dubious. The ‘79 prayers for “strengthening” and “increasing” of the Holy Spirit seem to me quite sufficient.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I disagree with that part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that relegates the charismata to a third effect, and call the weight of Antiquity and Scripture against it. The Biblical accounts that have been there from the beginning, in the Book of Acts, are related directly to the coming of the Holy Spirit, not to regenerate as He did in Baptism, but to impart those charismata that make up the function of the various members of the Body of Christ.

Whatever goes on in our Western Novus Ordo lands, when the Pope Confirms in Rome, he says the original Latin version of this prayer:

"ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who hast vouchesafed to regenerate these thy servauntes of water and the holy goste: And haste geven unto them forgevenesse of all their sinnes: Sende downe from heaven we beseche thee, (O lorde) upon them thy holy gost the coumforter, with the manifold giftes of grace, the spirite of wisdom and understandyng; the spirite of counsell and gostly strength; The spirite of knowledge and true godlinesse, and fulfil them, (o lord) with the spirite of thy holy feare."

McCallester said...

It was a very pleasant discussion with you Fr. Hart. It made me do a lot of research and I learned quite a bit. Thanks.