Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Octave Day of Pentecost

The above is another name the Prayer Book gives today. And so on this last day of the Pentecost season, I will take the opportunity to remind our readers of three posts regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit beginning Easter Monday (when the Epistle from Acts 10 refers to Jesus being "anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power").

Anglican Catholicism and the Charismata
The Charismatic reality of the Church
Being Filled with the Spirit

A subsequent post quoting Bishop Brian Iverach's email to me sent in support of the above articles created some controversy. At least some of this controversy seemed to be due to ascribing views to the Bishop (such as denigrating medical science) which could only be extracted from the letter by ignoring the actual words and illegitimately attempting to read between the lines. There was even a reference to the completely irrelevant heresy of Christian Science, as if to prove guilt by a non-existent association.

In order that the record be set straight, here are some further thoughts from Bp Iverach, written by him to me after I asked him to look at the thread and its comments:
The plus in the discussion is that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit have been in focus, with mention of the wide spread application of such gifts. In the case of the miraculous healing of Lana's eye, this did not lead her into Christian Science. It lead her into the healing ministry in the Body of Christ, the Church, ... The full impact that her ministry has had on others is known unto God. Most recently we praised God for the healing she received at the hands of a highly qualified surgeon and in nursing care during many weeks in hospital.

The down side of the discussion has been the distracting focus on the exercise of the gift of glossolalia, especially in public, and the shame of some disparaging remarks about healing miracles. As Anglicans we have the discipline to apply all the gifts as mentioned by the blessed Apostle, such discipline not prevalent in the practice of some of our Pentecostal brothers and sisters. Should the excesses of modern day Corinthians preclude ministry in the Gifts of the Spirit? No. Are any gifts (apart from those specifically related to leadership such as Apostleship or Pastoral ministry) excluded from the laity? No, assuming they have been Baptized, Confirmed and are living in the love of Christ and neighbour. Is it necessary to have the gift of tongues? No. Are you inferior if you do not speak tongues? No. Are we to exercise Spiritual Gifts in general? Yes. Can we do better to educate the saints concerning the Gifts of the Spirit and then go into the world to serve Christ? Yes.

I speak from experience; of what I have personally seen in an Anglican congregation when the Spirit of God moved upon the people. All was in good order. The occasional prophesies were given during the offertory preparations or during the ablutions after communion. There was no grandstanding whatsoever. Nothing was forced. Worship was not disrupted. The prophetic blessings were applied in the life of the parish. The congregation grew in numbers exponentially and also in love and service of the Lord, in ministry outreach into the local community, and into the barrios of Mexico. The youth went over the boarder to help build housing and schools for the poor, shipments of beans were regularly delivered, and all the time the parish contributed the largest tithe to the diocese. We speak of the fruits of the Spirit. All glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

The main difference between my liturgical suggestion and the Bishop's past experiences is that I put the allocated time for prophetic ministry before the Sermon as "communications ... enjoined by lawful authority", to quote the Canadian 1962 Book of Common Prayer, whereas the Bishop mentions the Offertory and Post-Communion times. The latter options, effectively corresponding to pre- and post- Consecration thanksgivings, seem not dissimilar to the timing implied in 1 Corinthians 14.16 and the Didache 10. The reasons for my suggestion were given in the first article above.

It is also appropriate here to thank my Metropolitan for his kind, eirenic words in this post. I would like to make two observations, however, about elements of what was said therein.

To begin at the end, so to speak, the Archbishop finished with the following paragraph:

"I am not a 'cessationist'. I believe in miracles and do not doubt that God can infuse knowledge of unknown tongues or prophecy. I do not presume to judge any man's personal religious experience, except by the proper standards of charity, of consistency with the known and authorized teaching of the universal Church, and of the spiritual fruit of Christian living. But I also believe that where the faith is truly taught and the sacraments are rightly administered, personal religious experience is mainly of private significance."

While the last sentence makes perfect sense if referring to the gift of tongues uninterpreted, which was the subject of much of the previous discussion, it cannot be said to apply to other gifts such as the gifts of prophecy or tongues as interpreted. Why not? Because St Paul makes abundantly clear that such gifts are provided by God specifically to edify the Church as a whole. They are not meant to be limited to personal edification (1 Co. 14.3-5). And it would be wrong of us to pretend that any gift God truly gives is an optional extra that we don't need because we have the sacraments and orthodox teaching!

Which brings me to my next qualifying point. Archbishop Haverland also said: "When the Catholic faith is alive and well, however, neo-pentecostalism tends to be at best unnecessary and at worst divisive." If neo-pentecostalism refers to the belief (common among Pentecostals) that all must speak in tongues or demonstrate some other outwardly miraculous gift, or they cannot be filled with the Spirit, that is one thing. And that belief has not been defended here. However, if neo-pentecostalism was taken to refer simply to the resurgence and use of all the charisms, including among the laity, the statement above would suffer the same problem I mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph. In the latter connotation, "neo-pentecostalism" is perfectly in accord with the Catholic faith and any division caused should not be assumed to be the fault of those simply wanting to exercise or experience the benefit of, in decency and order, true gifts of the Holy Spirit designed to edify the Church.


Anonymous said...

Where does the 1928 BCP give "the Octave Day of Pentecost" as another name for Trinity Sunday? The Collect for Pentecost/Whitsunday "is to be said daily throughout Whitsun Week" (Whitsunday and the following six days) and the Proper Preface is to be said "Upon Whisunday, and six days after".

Isn't Trinity Sunday the first day of Trinity Season, rather than the "last day of the Pentecost season"?

poetreader said...

I think it was an infelicitous wording. It would have been better to say that it is another name given by classic liturgical history. Trinity Sunday was originally assigned, at least according to many scholars, as a specific observance of the Octave day. There is no liturgical problem with a day being both the end of one observance and the beginning of another. Though the Prayer Book does not specify this date as the octsve of Pentecost, it most certainly is the eighth day after that Sunday, and it is the culmination of the Festal half of the Calendar, being the last doctrinal feast before the beginning of all those practical green Sundays. The season "After Trinity" in our use or "after Pentecost" in the Roman use is simply not a continuation of Trinity Sunday, but quite distinct in its emphasis. To call it "Trinity Season" is common, but, in the view of many liturgical scholars, a misnomer. It is more accurately the "Season After Trinity", and does not thus include Trinity Sunday.

In other words there really isn't anything cut and dried about all this, and, whether the terminology was the most expeditious or not, the general tenor of Fr. Kirby's remarks is very appropriate indeed to the day and season.


As for the season

Canon Tallis said...

Historically, Trinity Sunday was the Octave day of Pentecost with its current title and propers being the work of Archbishop Thomas Becket.

That being said, I wish to thank Father K. for this post. Entirely too many Anglicans think and act as if the age of miracles is past and the spirit does not move among us and would more powerfully if we would but acknowledge and allow it. And that, not only as the Church, but also as individuals. Neither should the age of heroic holiness be a thing for past ages. In fact it is not, but too many Anglicans in the Continuum and elsewhere are more than ready to be, if not embarrassed, frightened of the power and work of the Holy Ghost. We should not be and can not be if we have any real hope of doing the work of and being the Church.

Ed is right in that it is the last major doctrinal feast of what I would prefer to think of as the dogmatic, rather than festal, half of the Christian year. (Love them as I do, neither Advent, Pre-Lent or Lent are intended to be Festal.)
We then come to the part of the year in which we are intended to
"continue stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship . . .", etc., by making it the central part of the way we live and move and have our very being. In the English usage it is kept in red which from Genesis through the Book of Revelations is clearly His colour. I don't understand why Tridentine Rome chose Green except that it would have been both practical and cheap! It certainly has without the Scriptural connection which red has with the life and work of our Lord.

poetreader said...

I used "festal" as meaning "related to the Feasts", rather than as an unbroken party. Advent and Lent are clearly preludes to the Feasts they precede, and thus an essential part of those celebrations. As such I still think the term expresses the mood and purpose of that half of the year better than does the cold-sounding "dogmatic".


Fr Matthew Kirby said...

"Where does the 1928 BCP give "the Octave Day of Pentecost" as another name for Trinity Sunday?"

Perhaps it doesn't, but the other foundation BCP of the Continuing Church, the 1962 Canadian, does.

We members of the British Commonwealth like to use a Prayer Book that prays for the Queen and her "council", old chaps! No presidents for us yet. Hence the choice of the Canadian Book in Oz.

Sandra McColl said...

Strange to relate, but when the C of E brought out the Alternative Service Book in around 1980, it changed its calendar to count Sundays After Pentecost, southern style, rather than the good old northern style Sundays after Trinity. I don't know what the purpose of the change was, especially since by that stage the Roman calendar had Sundays in Ordinary Time.

Fr. John said...

Fr. Kirby,

I thank you for this wonderful reminder and explanation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and their uses.

I always take advantage of Whitsunday and Trinity to remind my parishioners to pray for the gifts of the Spirit, especially those most needed by the Church.

I have seen people healed that the doctors had given up on. I have experienced the gift of tongues in a modest and edifying way. I have seen the Spirit move through the peoples of the parishes I have served in ways that have amazed me.

I am reminded of my first meeting with the late Archbishop John Cahoun at a clergy retreat in Virginia. One thing he said that has stuck in my mind all these years, "whenever the power of God is made manifest a division always occurs, because there are those who like it, and those who do not like it at all."

This is almost like a theological law, and Holy Scripture backs it up. It shouldn't be a cause for division, but it is.