Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sydney "Anglicanism" - the other innovation

Probably, most of our readers are aware of an innovation that had arisen in the Diocese of Sydney before the end of the last century. That innovation is called "Lay Administration," which means Lay Celebration of the Eucharist. It has never seemed necessary from my home in America to spend much time and effort combating the Sydney innovation, because until recently it has been unthinkable that it might spread (perhaps our two Australian bloggers, Sandra McColl and Fr.Kirby, have run into the problem directly). After all, in the official Anglican Communion with the heresy of women's "ordination," several women have come to feel empowered-finally!-having broken through the stained-glass ceiling; and, no doubt, they'll be damned if they are going to share the "power" with just anybody.

However, some of the Sydney "Anglicans" have begun showing up in other spots, including America. Furthermore, a year after GAFCON and its American child (having appropriated a name formerly taken), the Anglican Church in North America, the Sydney innovation may come to be tolerated, helping to make it seem mainstream, conservative or orthodox compared to the Same-Sex heresies. For, sadly, that is how the re-appraisers known as "Reasserters" think: They see error as a matter of priorities that they can number in terms of their importance, rather than as symptoms of revolt against God by rejection of His word as understood according to the Universal Consensus of Antiquity.

The Reapparaisers have no concept of Antiquity, and would have to look up the term "Universal Consensus." They have a Bible, and they have modern teachers through whom they see as much of the English Reformers as those modern teachers care to let them see. Their spiritual and doctrinal epistemology jumps from the close of the first century (just the Bible), to the 16th century with a very brief stay, lest they gather more than they want, directly to the modern era. For absolute authority they have a new version of Sola Scriptura, and it is not the kind first mentioned by Thomas Aquinas, or trumpeted by 16th century Reformers. The new Sola Scriptura is an absolute sola, in the sense of something destitute. In that sense, the Reappraisers finally have no Bible, at least not the Bible recognized by the Church.

Ultimately, the Bible to them must be an original or autographa, an actual manuscript produced by the writers. That is because Scriptura Destitute cannot, finally, trust even so much as the scribes who copied it, inasmuch as discovery of a better manuscript has, theoretically, the power to overthrow the Bible as we know it. If you doubt this, consider that Wayne Grudem actually wrote that if a book were found, and verified to be the work of an Apostle from the First Century, we would have to recognize it as Scripture (apparently, without regard to its content).1 The logic of this must lead, as well, to the opposite conclusion: If a book could be shown not to be the work of an Apostle (Grudem's own dubious standard, inasmuch as no one knows who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews) it would have to be scratched from the Canon. An obvious problem with Grudem's view is that it places recognition of Scripture in the hands of modern day scientists and their methodologies, not in our trust that the Church has recognized the Master's voice as guided by the Holy Spirit with Universal Consensus in Antiquity (John 16:13, I Cor. 2:16).

Jensen vs. the Church

How does this relate to the Sydney innovation? In every way. To be fair, we may note that Archbishop Peter Jensen wrote a defense of his position favoring Lay Administration and posted in online. 2 In some ways it presents some good ideas that do not need to be disputed, but they always end with a twist that disregards the Reason of Anglican doctrine. At best, his good ideas are half-truths. That is not to accuse him of dishonesty, inasmuch as I cannot doubt that he really believes he is teaching the truth of God's word. The problem is not the direction he seems to be going, but rather, that he does not go far enough in that direction. Nor does he spend enough time paying attention along the way. In other words, he means to go in the same direction that the English Reformers traveled, towards the true meaning of Christian doctrine and practice, the truly Catholic way. However, he does not spend enough time with those English Reformers; he does not hear all that they say, and so he actually contradicts the very Formularies of Anglicanism that he professes to believe.

So, in the end he summarizes his position "in a box," with five points. The first is "1 Scripture is silent on the question as who [sic] may administer the Lord’s Supper."

Once again, this presents the difference between Sola Scriptura, and Scriptura Destitute.

We all know Article VI, which opens, "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." The Article lists the Scriptures with the words, "the Canonical Books." Here we run into the genuine Anglican doctrine, because only the Church could have determined the Canon. Anyone who even so much as uses the expression "the Canon of Scripture" has already acknowledged what we call, in Hooker's terms, the Church with her authority, in which both Right Reason and Tradition are, actually, one.3 Here we see that by having a Canon of Scripture, rather than merely a Recommended Reading List, we cannot escape the Vincentian Canon: Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est ("That which has been believed always, everywhere and by all"). In determinig doctrine, the teaching of the Church from earliest times and the Bible are interdependent. To understand the Biblical doctrine on Eucharistic Celebration, we must see the silence of Scripture on this one point as answered by the Universal Consensus of the community in which the Bible was written, handed down, and its various books recognized.

Archbishop Jensen has named Cranmer, Hooker and others, and quoted from the Articles, to try to strengthen his case, which he sets forth clearly:

"It is commonly suggested that the development of lay administration of the Holy Communion is contrary to the very being of Anglicanism. Certainly it would have to be agreed that non-priestly administration would be quite contrary to some expressions of Anglicanism. But the assertion that it is contrary to the ethos of the Anglican Church really speaks for one side of the Church only. It suggests that one particular view of priesthood and of communion, and one only, is of the essence of the Eucharistic theology. Without going into the question of whether there is only one valid opinion, it is empirically true that at least two views have been evident in the Church for a very long time. According to the thinking of one such view, lay administration is impossible. Accordingly to the other view it is possible, although opinions differ as to whether it is advisable."

Whether or not what the Ordinal presents within "the ethos of the Anglican Church really speaks for one side of the Church only," must be weighed by the Rites of Ordination that have been a part of the Church of England and Anglicanism since 1550, with the clarifications of the later editions. 4 So, does he mean that only "one side" believes the Preface to the Ordinal?

"It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Which Offices were evermore had in such reverend Estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by publick Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful Authority. And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in the Church of England, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in the Church of England, or suffered to execute any of the said Functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration, or Ordination."

To "execute" the office of priest certainly includes Eucharistic celebration. But, to get around "which Offices were evermore had in such reverend Estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except..." etc., Jensen makes this argument:

"3 The priestly role is above all that of pastor of the congregation and cannot be handed over to someone else.

"4 Delegation of the various elements of the role is possible, however, and given developments in ecclesiology, desirable.

"5 The retention of administration of the Lord’s Supper as the only element which cannot be delegated detaches word from sacrament and confuses the congregation about the nature of the sacrament and the priestly role."

Earlier, he had quoted a report by the Australian House of Bishops called Eucharistic Presidency.

"As far as the English Reformation was concerned, the Report says: ‘we find the same heavy stress on the Ministry of the Word in relation to ordination, in line with the continental reformers. In the pre-Reformation Sarum rite, the candidate for priesthood was handed the chalice and/or paten as symbols of priestly office with the words, 'Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God', whereas in the 1552 English Ordinal, the Bible alone is given, accompanied by the words, 'Take thou authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy sacraments in the congregation.’ (para 4.42)"

On which he builds his case further:

"That is to say the two dominical sacraments depend for their life upon the explicit word of Christ and upon the fact that they visibly proclaim the gospel. In particular, the Lord’s Supper focuses us on the death of Christ with the assurance of God’s favour towards us. It is a 'Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death' (Article 28).

"There is an indissoluble connection, therefore, between the word of God and the sacraments indicated by the necessity of the sermon in the service of Holy Communion. It is not 'Anglican' to equate word and sacrament. A non-preaching communion service is a contradiction in terms, where the taking of bread and wine is removed from the context of the preaching of God’s word. It is the word of God which warrants the sacrament and explains it. The communal eating of bread and wine is the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace, namely the grace of God towards us in Christ and at work in our lives. Despite the current emphases of Eucharistic theology, the emphasis of the Book of Common Prayer (including the Catechism thereof) dwells on the Lord’s Supper as spiritual union with Christ (the refreshment of our souls by the bread and blood of Christ) and the faithful remembrance of what Christ has done on our behalf. What is required of those who come to the Lord’s Supper is that they 'examine themselves, whether they repent them truly of their former sins; steadfastly purposing to lead a new life; have a lively faith in God’s mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his death; and be in charity with all men' (Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer). Not surprisingly, the ordination service published with the Book of Common Prayer emphasises the priestly role of preaching and living the word of God rather than the administration of the sacraments"

The obvious, glaring problem with his reasoning is that he ignores what the bishop says in even the earliest Ordinal, when Ordering a man to the priesthood:

"Receive the holy goste, whose synnes thou doest forgeve, they are forgeven: and whose sinnes thou doest retaine, thei are retained: and be thou a faithful despensor of the word of god, and of his holy Sacramentes. In the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen... Take thou aucthoritie to preache the word of god, and to minister the holy Sacramentes in thys congregacion[, where thou shalt be so appointed]."

In this earliest Ordinal it is sacramental ministry that identifies the specific Order of "priest" with the words of Scripture, "whose synnes thou doest forgeve, they are forgeven: and whose sinnes thou doest retaine, thei are retained."5

The later editions say the same thing, adding only these words to clarify, for those untrained in the use of Scripture, the specific Order , "... for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands." The words, "be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments," and "Take thou Authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy Sacraments in the Congregation, where thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereunto," suffer at the hands of extremists. Some Anglo-Catholic extremists (yes, Virginia, there are some Anglo-Catholic extremists) seem only to hear the mention of sacraments, and the Sydney "Anglicans" seem only to notice the part about preaching. But, the priest is a minister of both.

As has been stated on The Continuum, more than once, efforts by some Anglo-Catholics (following an alleged Roman Catholic lead) to reduce the priestly office to its sacramental role, and thereby to under-emphasize the pastoral and teaching responsibilities and gifts inherent in that Order, is quite wrong. This I have stated in clear terms more than once, summarizing my arguments with the words of E.J. Bicknell (from a footnote):

"As we have said, the English word priest by derivation simply means 'presbyter'. But it has acquired the meaning of 'sacerdos'. The Christian presbyter in virtue of his office is a 'priest'. Priesthood is one of his functions."6

However, as we must turn neither to the right hand nor to the left, but walk within a via media that avoids extremes, and follows the advice of St. John Chrysostom not to accidentally endorse one error by refuting the opposite error,7 we must refute Jensen's view. Archbishop Jensen argues that the laity may preach, and that, of necessity, along with preaching is Eucharistic Celebration; if they may do one thay may do the other. 8 We may explore the argument itself presently, but first we must note that he tries to pin Sydney's new and novel idea on Cranmer. What he fails to see is that we cannot interpret the English Reformers accurately by drawing our own conclusions from their writings, no matter how intact our logic, unless we face the facts of what polity they insisted on, both by the full body of their teachings and by Canon Law.

In the words of Richard Hooker:

“Is it a small office to despise the Church of God? ‘My son, keep thy father’s commandment,’ saith Solomon, ‘and forget not thy mother’s instruction: Bind them both always about thine heart.’ It doth not stand with the duty we owe to our heavenly Father, that to the ordinances of our mother the Church we should show ourselves disobedient. Let us not say we keep the commandments of the one, when we break the law of the other: for unless we observe both we obey neither.” (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, 3.IX.3)

Hooker upholds not only the teaching of the Church, but also, what he calls “her ecclesiastical authority,” not to be redundant, but to extend the meaning to include all aspects of polity.

It may be that some sort of Lay Preaching is permissible under certain conditions, and certainly no one should silence a member of the laity who can, by writing and teaching, edify and instruct us in the ways of holiness and in theology, or who may be a very effective evangelist. Indeed, and without any dispute, Deacons may preach from the pulpit if licensed by the Bishop. But, the Anglican Ordinal in the Ordering of Priests, lays specific and particular emphasis on the authority, responsibility and the gift through Ordination to be a minister of God's word in a new way that he had not been heretofore as a Deacon, and does so in a line that includes as well his sacramental role. Surely this teaches us something of substance. The priest has a duty and a charism to be that minister of Word and Sacrament, and this answers the subject Jensen raises about the connection between preaching and celebrating the Eucharist. Furthermore, it answers it according to the only practice ever permitted in the Church, both before and after the English Reformation.

Archbishop Jensen and the Sydney "Anglicans" quite rightly reject women's "ordination." But, using the same methodology of Scriptura Destitute, rejecting both the particular teaching of Anglicanism, and how that teaching is one of fidelity to Scripture via Universal Consensus and Antiquity, they promote an innovation every bit as rebellious and heretical.


1. Grudem, Wayne: Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishers, 1995 Van Nuys.
2. It is entitled Theological reflection on lay administration.
3. “Be it in matter of the one kind or of the other, what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after this the Church succeedeth that which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason overrule all other inferior judgments whatsoever.” (Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book 5.VIII.2)
4. That is, clarification of what the Rites always had meant.
5. From an earlier Latin Ordinal translated by Cranmer, the first English Ordinal used verses of Scripture to identify respectively the three Orders.
6. E.J.Bicknell, A Theological Introduction to The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. See Pastoral Priesthood, and The Elders that Rule Well.
7. St. John Chrysostom: Six Little Books on the Priesthood.
8. What does he make, then, of Cranmer's rubric from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer? "When the holy Communion is celebrate on the workeday, or in private howses: Then may be omitted, the Gloria in excelsis, the Crede, the Homily, and the exhortacion, beginning..."


Canon Tallis said...

Beautifully argued; beautifully written. I think the major thing which offends Archbishop Jenson is the very word, 'priest.' But it was a word chosen by Cranmer and the English Reformers and retained even in the book of 1552 by men who knew that the word used in the Latin pontificals was 'presbyteros' and not 'sacerdos.' Further he ignores the official Latin prayer book of Elizabeth I which is careful to use the 'sacerdos' where the minister according to tradition and the teaching of the Church must be a priest.

But to the man determined to embrace a teach a new thing, nothing of that has any meaning. Jensen argues that he wants the Eurcharist celebrated more often and the Church can not afford the additional seminary priests necessary to make that happen, but as the Ordinal itself makes plain, it is episcopal ordination and not university and seminary education which is necessary and critical. Anyone who knows the history of the Church knows that we have not always had the resources to provide the level of education and training which many now think essential. (The other side of the argument being that if women can succeed at just this type of professional training there can be no reason not to ordain them.) We should also recognize that these same untrained and uneducated men have freqently succeeded at preaching the gospel and celebrating the sacraments faithfully to the conversion of whole nations when their more educated counterparts have miserably failed. The unspoken part of Jenson's argument is that the educated frequently find what they believe are better uses of their time that saying the daily offices in the church or celebrating the Eucharist on all those times for which the prayer book provides propers or by rubric indicates a celebration of such appropriate and proper.

poetreader said...

Good statement. Some years ago, in the process of extricating myself from a position not terribly like that of Abp Jensen, I wrote a little series of papers on the place of Scripture. I still stand by most of what I said, and have posted them on my Poetreader blog, beginning at



John A. Hollister said...

As Fr. Hart notes, for most of us who (a) consider ourselves "Anglican" in some traditional sense and (b) are located outside Australia, just to hear the words "Lay Presidency of the Eucharist" is to flinch from something unthinkable. But that is too simplistic a reaction.

When we encounter this notion, it challenges us to ask ourselves a question and to commit ourselves to one or the other possible answer to that question. The question is: "Do we believe that the Eucharist is a Sacrament, that is, a Mystery established by Our Lord and that operates according to principles He established, or do we believe it is a mere ad hoc memorial -- in the English sense of that word, not an 'anamnesis' -- of something He did once, a very long time ago, and that experienced its temporal reality only on that one historic occasion?"

Christians may choose either answer. Those who choose to believe the "memorial" concept are, in the modern sense of the word, Protestants (i.e., are not Catholics); those who choose to belive in the Divine Mystery are (again in the modern sense) Catholics.

Once each of us has determined his or her personal position on this, the rest follows easily. For "Protestants" in this sense, there is absolutely no essential reason that the "presider" or "celebrant" of such a "memorial eucharist" need be ordained at all. For them, ordination is simply the congregation's licensing of its leader which is a function of good order and discipline but not of theology nor, most certainly, ontology.

For "Catholics" in this sense, it is absolutely essential that the "presider" or "celebrant" be validly ordained, which means by a Bishop who stands in the undoubted Apostolic Succession. This is required by all the Ordinals that have governed Anglican life from the 1540s through 1963 (the date of the Church of India's last orthodox Prayer Book) and that themselves simply reflect the universal, immemorial practice of the Church Catholic.

Were someone to claim simultaneously to be an "Anglican" in the traditional sense and to reject the normative nature of those Ordinals, anyone who regularly reads this blogspot should have no trouble in showing those contradictory claims to be hopelessly oxymoronic.

Now to the crux (pardon the pun): If "Lay Presidency of the Eucharist" is impossible from the Catholic, and therefore traditional Anglican perspective, then it remains impossible even when the purported "president" or "celebrant" is someone who has undergone an invalid rite of ordination, i.e., is a woman. Such an "ordination" is akin to a bigamous marriage: no matter how elaborate the service that was celebrated, or how fancy the vestments of the participants, or how resounding the title of the purported ordaining prelate, nothing of substance took place as a result of his/her/its ministrations.

So, if one thinks about it, we have had "Lay Presidency of the Eucharist" in self-professedly "Anglican" bodies in North America since at least 1976, if not before. So no one should complacently assume that the unthinkable thought will not in fact be thought here; it already has been and, by a couple of million purported "Anglicans", has been accepted.

John A. Hollister+

Sandra McColl said...

Actually, I had a cursory look through Dr Jensen's 'justification' and found that the word 'priest' popped out of it a large number of times. I also found that a lot was irrelevant. He may be against Communion services without preaching--since they always involve reading from the Bible, however, I don't see how that is so great a problem. I've been to plenty of Communion services in my mispent youth that would have been a lot better, and more orthodox, without the preaching! He is also obsessed with 'administration'. It's not administration, as Fr Hart so rightly says, but celebration.

Of course, in the Anglican Church of Australia, the Appellate Tribunal, a panel of bishops, judges and the odd QC, all of them far better theological and/or legal minds than mine, held that there was nothing contrary to the constitution of said Anglican Church of Australia (which constitution begins with an affirmation that said Anglican Church of Australia is a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church) in either the ordination of women or lay celebration of the Eucharist. It was before my legal days, so I didn't really take in the details, but it had something to do with bishops, priests and deacons being administrative functions, so I believe. And no, I haven't run into the instant problem directly. I don't think it's allowed in Melbourne, and the only Melbourne church I feel safe in is Forward in Faith, and even then I usually only frequent Evensong.

By the way, people who appeal to the BCP (which edition, we may ask?) make much of 'Dr Cranmer'. Now, it's my imperfect understanding of these things that the 1549 BCP and those that followed were not the sole translation and compilation of Cranmer, but that he actually had a committee. Am I wrong? We are not Cranmerites, after all, in the way Lutherans are Lutherans. Is sentimental appeal to Cranmer, or blaming it all on Cranmer, going a bit far?

poetreader said...

While I agree entirely with Fr. Hollister's conclusion, I must admit that I find his reasoning a bit unconvincing, and, did I not so agree, would find it easy to dismiss it. There is no question that the Lord could have set up a fully valid sacramental system, a Eucharist in every sense of the word, without an ordained priesthood. In plain fact, He did do so in the case of Baptism, which is valid when administered by a layperson.

The Church Catholic believes that he did not do so in the case of the Eucharist, And there is the point. It makes no difference whatever whether we think it would be good for the Eucharist to be 'administered' by a layperson, but rather what, in fact, God has included in the specifications for such a rite. The point then, is not what could logically have been, but rather what the Church, from a time before the closing of the NT canon, has seen to be the case. The preface to our Ordinal is quite clear as to what that determination was and is.

The OT gives advocates of lay presidency something they should seriously consider. When the sons of Korah, though not valid priests, attempted to offer sacrifice, the ground opened up and swallowed them. Could Scripture contain a stronger statement that God cares about such matters?


Canon Tallis said...


I am very glad that you brought up the example of Korah and company. It has always seemed to me that this portion of the Old Testament is precisely to the point and it pleases me that someone besides myself sees it. Thank you for mentioning it.

Anonymous said...

I find Canon Hollister's definitions of "catholic" and "protestant" to be a very interesting way of defining those terms. I also makes great sense to me how he defines them: catholics believe in the "divine mystery" or "holy mystery" of communion, whereas "protestants" believe it is only a memorial.

This cuts "Anglicanism" (using the term very loosely, not meaning just "classical Anglicanism") in two, so to speak. Anglo-Catholics, Prayerbook Catholics and some Anglicans believe in the "divine mystery", but many evangelicals and low church Anglicans do not.

Officially, the United Methodist Church believes in the "divine mystery" as evidenced by their doctrine of the Eucharist, entitled "This Holy Mystery". But like Anglicanism, actual usage in its various congregations would be split down the middle between the "catholic" view (Metho-Catholics as they are called) and the "protestant" view.

If one is truly a classical Anglican, then they must accept only priests as presider. It is essential to Anglicanism, as made clear in the Ordinals of the BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER from the beginnings of that liturgy/daily prayer guide.

For other denominations, who do not have such an historic ordinal, and have lay presiders, or ordained clergy outside of the historic succession, I personally cannot make judgements on whether the "divine mystery" has occured in their celebration of communion, or not.

The Holy Spirit is not limited by the rules of churches and human beings. The Holy Spirit may well perform the "divine mystery" even if the presiders/recipients don't ask the Holy Spirit to do so, or even understand the "divine mystery" themselves.

The Holy Spirit, not we mere humans, knows the truth of whether the "divine mystery" is present, or not.

As a classical Anglican, I prefer not to take a risk, and so I receive the Eucharist only from a properly ordained priest. But I would never presume to outguess the Holy Spirit and proclaim another Christian denomination as not having proper sacraments.

BCP Catholic

charles said...

What is your opinion on lay preaching? Is lay preaching outside worship justifiable? (say public preaching in a mall or open field). Where do we draw a line between evangelical preaching to convert sinners and internet preaching? Both can easily ignore parish boundaries and diocesan authority? How does such apply to blogs? Should only ordain blog? If ordain do, do they need to receive diocesan or provincial approval, otherwise they are crossing jurisdictions, etc.? I have a very opinionated blog but am only lay. Nor have I sought approval from the bishop though my rector knows about it and occassionally reads. Good order?

Fr. Robert Hart said...


It is really Jensen who is "blaming" Cranmer, though he means to credit him. If his ideas are so Cranmerian, and if the connection between preaching and celebration is the key, what about this rubric from 1549? "When the holy Communion is celebrate on the workeday, or in private howses: Then may be omitted, the Gloria in excelsis, the Crede, the Homily, and the exhortacion, beginning..." (Notice, the word "may" simply allows; it does not require). I believe I ought to add that to my footnotes.


Everything must be done decently and in order. To what extent anyone preaches or teaches, whether by spoken or written word, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."(Heb. 13:17) Remember the attitude of the Centurion, who said, "I am a man under authority."
The gifts of the Spirit in the Body of Christ ought to be esteemed highly, and I would never want to silence the next C.S. Lewis, or for that matter my brother David Bentley Hart, simply because the man is not a priest.

My point is that the priest preaches with a different kind of authority and charism specific to his Order. That we have also prophets and teachers in the Body of Christ is also good.

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Hart commented: "Everything must be done decently and in order. To what extent anyone preaches or teaches, whether by spoken or written word, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."(Heb. 13:17) Remember the attitude of the Centurion, who said, "I am a man under authority."
The gifts of the Spirit in the Body of Christ ought to be esteemed highly, and I would never want to silence the next C.S. Lewis, or for that matter my brother David Bentley Hart, simply because the man is not a priest.

My point is that the priest preaches with a different kind of authority and charism specific to his Order. That we have also prophets and teachers in the Body of Christ is also good."

This captures the essence of the issue in Fr. Hart's essay. A hardy "Amen" from this corner.

- a regular reader & infrequent commenter,

Sandra McColl said...

I'm not sure whether Dr Jensen was blaming or claiming in respect of Cranmer, and I wasn't really referring to him. It was just the 'Cranmer this' 'Cranmer that' phenomenon. Die hard BCP loyalists sometimes make sentimental appeals to Cranmer's authorship. 'You can't start Evening Prayer with "O Lord, open thou our lips", that's not how Dr Cranmer intended it.' (Too right, he actually started it with 'O God, make speed to save us' back in 1549, but that's not what these folk mean, either.)

Against that, you get our self-loathing papalist friends, who make dismissive comments referring to 'Mrs Cranmer's husband' when anyone speaks up who dares to be fond of the BCP version instead of the Nervous Disorder, or of anything that's in the BCP that isn't in the Nervous Disorder, in order to tar anything distinctively Anglican with the brush of Cranmer, who, I understand, did veer a little too far from the via media in his later years.

Or am I talking through my hat here?

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I read that in the U.S. there are at least 500 plus different denominations/associations of Baptists.

While those who use loosely the term "Anglican" are not numbering 500 yet, the numbers of different "Anglican" denominations/jurisdictions are certainly growing.

Not only are there many "Anglican" denominations, there are many "flavors" of Anglican practice within that general loosely-used term, that at best anymore means a denomination that somehow connects to the Church of England, be they "protestant" or "catholic".

Even within the narrower grouping that is called "the continuum" on this blog, and in general usage, there are wide varieties of practice.

Some "Anglicans" love the classic BCP, while others detest it and prefer the Novus Ordo, or even no Liturgy at all. Some "Anglicans" love traditional British church music - organs, chamber orchestras and surpliced choirs - while others
embrace "praise bands" and mega-church entertainment-style services.

Among the continuum, even, some hold the BCP in great respect and admiration, while others make fun of it, and use the various missals.

I guess the positive side of this is that there is something for everyone. The negative side is that much of true, classcal Anglicanism has been lost, even among the continuum in some cases.

Back to the Baptists: even though there are 500 plus different kinds, all with differing beliefs, differing worship, and differing practices, when one hears the word "Baptist" you get at least a general impression of what to expect.

Even though there are wildly differing groups of Anglicans, I think that at least when someone hears the word "Anglican", they will at least know, if they can't know anything else, that somehow that denomination claims to descend from the Church of England.
Knowing more than that may have, in today's world, become impossible.

I'll standly firmly beside the 1928 BCP. If the continuum abandons it, which at times I hear many of the continuum clergy say they would love to do, I'll stay at home and read my BCP.

BCP Catholic

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...If the continuum abandons it, which at times I hear many of the continuum clergy say...

This I have not heard. But, some Anglo-Catholics have failed to appreciate their patrimony as Anglicans, and it usually shows when they say foolish things about formuularies like the Articles, etc.

Anonymous said...

Father Hart:

I have never understood why self-styled Anglicans say foolish things against the 39 Articles.

If one truly reads and studies those articles, as you frequently point out here, the 39 Articles protect and defend the faith of the undivided and primitive catholic church.

Sadly, I have heard continuum priests make fun of the BCP, saying it isn't truly Catholic enough, etc., etc. That is a dangerous argument to make. If the BCP weren't, as they falsely contend, a Catholic liturgy, then there is no such thing as Catholic Anglicans.

Its a sad state of affairs when priests in the continuum openly ridicule the 1928 BCP.

BCP Catholic

charles said...

Isn't the Anglican Missal really a replacement for the 1928 BCP?

If the Anglican Missal is substantially the 1928 BCP repackaged, then I imagine so is the WRP St. Tikhon book?

But what does such flexibility in usages mean with respect to canon? Can rites be simply replaced by 'fuller, ancient ones' without doing harm to common order? Can churches modify the rites of ordination, baptism, etc. on their own if they feel a mandate to appropriate orthodox (eastern) or Roman practice? I believe in the end, even with 1928 as a "foundation", it undermines the legitimacy of Anglicanism.

Anonymous said...

If one merely reads the New Testament, Holy Communion could have easily become a daily practice, led by the head of the Christian household, rather than a church rite. If so we would have had lay celebration - but no role for the Bishop in regulating it. Or it could have become an annual commemoration which might naturally have been led by the leader of the local church and nobody else, so that lay celebration would never have happened. In fact, neither happened. We had an at least weekly rite under the control of the Bishop, at a time when the leader of the local church was its Bishop.
Now we are not living in the second century and we are not going to get back to local churches each led by its own bishop. It is an effort for us to remember that for several centuries the bishop was the normal celebrant and preacher.
However, from the beginning (Ignatius of Antioch) delegation is mentioned. The case for Jensen is that Ignatius associates validity with episcopal delegation. We naturally take Ignatius as meaning what the later church took for granted, that a presbyter (and only a presbyter) to whom this function is for a time delegated will indeed celebrate a valid eucharist .But one might in the early church live a long and blameless life as a presbyter without ever celebrating or preaching, so ordination to the presbyterate did not carry the expectation of exercising these ministries frequently or indeed at all. But Ignatius just might mean that the bishop can delegate, again for a time to any Christian, which would perhaps be Jensen's position.
The (doubtful) proposition that the bishop (as ordinary minister of word and sacrament) can delegate even to a layman is not the same as an imagined inherent right of any Christian to exercise these ministries, necessarily without episcopal control. I am happy to believe both propositions are wrong, but they are not the same, and it is unfortunate to apply the same term to both.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Charles mentions the 1928 BCP, and by that means the American, or Episcopal Church's BCP. I do not see the Missal as a replacement, but merely as an embellishment. However, it should be used only with the recognition that it is the Book of Common Prayer that carries the weight of authority, and that has rubrics that should be observed (e.g., the Decalogue, reading the Exhortation, etc.). Furthermore, no one anywhere really uses the Missal fully (for if they did, services would begin on Sunday Morning and end on Monday Evening).


If you wish to maintain a place in this discussion, please identify yourself with a name, nickname or handle. That way we know it is you when you reply. You wrote:

If one merely reads the New Testament, Holy Communion could have easily become a daily practice, led by the head of the Christian household, rather than a church rite.

Only if you read no further than Chapter two of Acts, in which case the vague nature of "breaking of bread" might be taken this way. But, the phrase "the Apostle's doctrine" may well imply their presence with the breaking of bread. Certainly, with the rest of the New Testament, your point completely falls apart. Throughout the rest of Acts it is only Apostles who break bread in the reports it contains, and only when the church is gathered together (e.g. Acts 20:7). The major text about how to understand the Lord's Supper, and how to treat it, is I Corinthians chapter 11. The context most certainly is a Church gathering, which was, according to this same Epistle, at least weekly, on the first day of the week (16:2).

It is an effort for us to remember that for several centuries the bishop was the normal celebrant and preacher.

He still is. The evidence of history gives us no one who may be the bishop's appointed representative except for a πρεσβύτερος. Try as you may to find evidence of a layman in this role, you will not find any. A few obscure documents suggest that in some places those who were regarded as prophets said Eucharistic prayers; but, there is no evidence, even so, that any of them were laymen, or that that they did more than offer prayers alongside the bishop or his appointed representative, an elder (i.e. a πρεσβύτερος).

Tradition gives us only one certainty: When the bishop cannot be present, a presbyter may celebrate in his place. We have nothing to justify any other practice, neither from the Bible, nor from Church history.

Besides all this, Jensen writes as if the Sydney innovation is based on a long standing difference of opinion among Anglicans. In fact, the whole idea was dreamed up only in Sydney itself, and only during the episcopate of his predecessor (who flatly said "no"). The very suggestion is completely brand new for any Anglicans anywhere, and no precedent whatsoever. There is no difference of opinion beyond Sydney itself (although, what Fr. Hollister said, above, is quite correct).

Canon Tallis said...

"But, some Anglo-Catholics have failed to appreciate their patrimony as Anglicans,. . ."

But it is not just the Anglo-Catholics or Anglo-papists, and they certainly are not the ones who started it. Indeed, as noted as early as Cosin, those who came back from the continent and accepted positions and ever preferment in the Church began almost immediately to plot its destruction. They did not want to wear the vestments ordered by the rubrics or leave the chancels and sanctuarys as they had always been. The Zurich Letters are full of their complaints about what they were required to do under threat of losing their offices and of their intention to push disobedience right up to the edge.

After the interregnum when the bishops could have purchased some additional peace by deleting some or all of the rubrics hated by "low church" party, they kept all but one of them, saying that they hoped for better times to indicate that they knew exactly what they were doing and that they intended to do so. But we have continued to have those attempting to pass themselves as Anglicans while letting all and sundry know that they neither accepted the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer nor intended to obey its rubrics.

Under these circumstances one can almost understand and sympathize with the 'Anglo-Catholic' extremist - but not quite. Both of these sets of people, precisely like The Most Reverend Doctor Jenson, are presumed to be educated enough to be able to read and understand the English of the 1662 book, but their actions indicate a level of at least intellectual dishonesty that would not be tolerated in most other places in our society - or any society. The ultimate result is what has happened in establishment Anglicanism, repeating itself in the ACNA and has its residuals in the Continuum. And we wonder just why we fail to attract the numbers we should and why we are not growing. Could it be that in an age when people move or are moved on the average of every seven years they don't want to have to relearn their faith and religion every time they move. Of course, this is equally true of other denominations and perhaps more so, but it would seem reasonable the the last orthodox prayer book of any country and the general prayer book pattern would be respected by the clerics of the Continuum.

A friend of mine was talking to one of the bishops now in ACNA who said that his group had wondered how they could keep their children in the Church. They looked at other denominations and copied those that they believed were successful. The result, they lost their children at a faster rate because they had validated the other churches and that is where their children went. We, as classical orthodox Anglicans need to learn to validate Anglicanism, our Anglicanism, both to keep our children and to attract others, but we don't. Why?

John A. Hollister said...

The Anonymous who is truly anonymous, i.e., who did not sign his/her comment with any "handle", wrote about "lay presidency" to distinguish between "The (doubtful) proposition that the bishop (as ordinary minister of word and sacrament) can delegate even to a layman [and on the other hand] an imagined inherent right of any Christian to exercise these ministries, necessarily without episcopal control."

(S)he is correct that these two positions are not identical. However, they share one vitally important characteristic, viz., the Church never adopted either one.

Thus, while one possibly could read either the New Testament or St. Ignatius, or even both, to leave room for either or both of those notions, we know for a fact that the Church did not read its authorities in that fashion. To the contrary, the Church always upheld the position that was later summarized in the Preface to the Edwardine Ordinal, i.e., that episcopal ordination (of a man) is essential to the valid celebration of the Eucharist.

Thus Scripture + Tradition = a conclusion Hooker would have had no difficulty approving.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Tallis:

I was not singling out the Anglo-Catholic extremists only, but simply acknowledging that "BCP Catholic" has a legitimate point (though, again, I have never heard any Continuing clergy speak ill of the BCP). I was thinking, really, of what a certain Bp. Langberg said about a "450 year-old experiment," and that, he said, some think it has failed. Frankly, I see it more as a small expression of that larger Way we call Christianity, and therefore of Chesterton's observation, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." On a smaller scale, our Anglicanism is not a failed experiment, and those who write it off always prove to be ignorant in some very substantial way.

The same applies to extremist Protestants (by Fr. Hollister's definition, above). Right now, I find that the way to be Anglican is to walk a via media between those who share, if only by descent, our family name.

charles said...

Hello Canon Tallis,

Growth is key. I was a member of a conservative Presbyterian church before coming to 1928 BCP Anglicanism. The conservative (confessional) Presbyterians have a high rate of retention amongst those who move as well as 'covenant children'. I would attribute this to their emphasis and preoccupation with apologetics. They take their catechism and confession very seriously (precisionist), catechizing adults and children repeatedly and very regularly.

I think Anglicans should consider something similar. I realize we reject portions of the 39 Articles, but even when REC left the American Episcopal they retained 35 out of 39 points? It is better to have a confession than none at all. Articles bracket error, expressing us as neither Radical (e.g., fundamentalist) nor Papist. Perhaps even giving out an apology by John Jewel or Hooker as required reading during Lent would help? As it is I know parishes which read books by Benedict XVI instead, treating England's reformation as a sad mistake. This is a disavowal. It's this kind of defense (capitulation) which I find frustrating.

Here's a final question which I've tried to sort out:

Q. Who do we have more in common with-- Eastern Orthodox, ACNA #2, or Rome?

William Tighe said...

A few disiecta membra.

When did Sydney accept "lay presidency," in theory I mean? I have read that the Church of England in South Africa, whose "toehold" in the Anglican Communion has always been through Sydney (which provided episcopal consecration for its bishops) has practiced both "lay celebration" and "diaconal celebration" since 1936.

Canon Tallis alluded to the complaints in the Zurich Letters about vestments being retained in 1559 etc. It is interesting that one of the most outspoken complainers in these letters is none other than the future Bishop of Salisbury, John Jewel.

I suppose it is theoretically possible to argue that St. Ignatius might have delegated celebration to deacons as well as presbyters. In the aftermath of both Decius' persecution and Diocletians' there were reports of deacons as well as presbyters taking it upon themselves to celebrate -- but we never hear any reports even in such dire circumstances of "lay celebration." And "diaconal celebration" itself was reprehended in the most categorical fashion by various local councils in the aftermath of that latter persecution.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Charles wrote:

I realize we reject portions of the 39 Articles, but even when REC left the American Episcopal they retained 35 out of 39 points?

Did you mean to write "we" or they?i.e., the REC.

I reject nothing in the 39 Articles, not even the punctuation.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


The South Africa thing is new to me. If so, they needed Continuing Anglicanism before it came to be.

Sandra McColl said...

Dr Tighe: I can help you slightly on one point (and Fr Kirby might do better). Under what I think was the name of 'lay presidency', the Sydney debate on lay celebration was running at the same time as the Melbourne (and most other dioceses' and national) debate on women's 'ordination'. The latter came to a head in the late '80s and went to the Appellate Tribunal and General Synod a few times until it squeezed over the line in 1992. I believe that Sydney had, but for its archbishop, pretty much accepted the former at that time (which, to me, made it clear that its opposition to the latter was not on the basis of any principles I would recognise) and there was an Appellate Tribunal decision some time in the early to mid-90s as well. Dr Jensen has been archbishop since the mid-90s. That's a bit garbled, but at least I can say the answer isn't '1936'. I was raised in a kind of Sydney outpost parish in Melbourne (we took the Sydney diocesan paper, for example), but my early memories of public worship in the 1960s were of pretty straight 1662 BCP services (without the Exhortations) led by the Vicar.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart, I did not think that you were singling out Anglo-Catholics. In fact, I think your criticism was gentle and more than justified. I simply wanted to point out that they were not alone in their mischief but that it had a long and baleful history with us. I am very much in agreement with you including your position of the Articles probably must to the consternation of Charles. I simply want the prayer book rubrics respected and obeyed so that those who call themselves Anglicans look, act and smell like the same. (I prefer a very high grade of frankincense or the mixture recommended int he Torah so that we can fulfill the what God demanded in Malachi.)

And, of course, having read the letters I was more than well aware that Jewel was one of the whiners. But he redeemed his himself elsewhere and chiefly in his Apology and fostering Richard Hooker.

Charles, I would agree with you that if we are going to foster reading, then we should push Anglican works and not Roman ones, even those whose work might as well be Anglican.

And there is a marvelous suggestion for a "what if" novelist, i.e., a pope who swimns the Thames, marries the recently widowed Queen and become archbishop of Canterbury.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

And there is a marvelous suggestion for a "what if" novelist, i.e., a pope who swims the Thames, marries the recently widowed Queen and becomes archbishop of Canterbury.

I like it. It could be called Fr. Elisha.

William Tighe said...

The REC has never, to my knowledge, practiced "lay celebration," but they certainly, and almost routinely, allowed "diaconal celebration," provided the bishop authorized it. A good friend of mine, who once was a deacon in the REC, annoyed his bishop by refusing to celebrate the Eucharist as a deacon. Now, of course, as part of their ongoing effort to rehabilitate their Anglican credibility, they have supposedly abandoned all that -- but in the past year I have been twice told, in both cases by sons of REC clergymen, that "diaconal celebration" still goes on occasionally in circles in which nobody would make a fuss about it.

Canon Tallis said...

As much as I hate having to do so, I must report that 'diaconal celebration' also took place in the "Free Church of England." A one time friend of mine who felt forced into the "Free Church" when male candidate for Holy Orders were getting shorted in England as they prepared for WO by filling the seminaries with female students, was ordained by the Free Church and while he was a deacon pushed into such celebrations although he knew better. Unfortunately he felt he had no where else to go.

This, of course, leaves me with a large amount of resentment against the "Free Church." These are people who claim to represent true, reformational Anglicanism but who pay as much attention to what Holy Scripture says, what the rubrics of the classical prayer books have said or the canons of the CofE since Elizabeth I's time as Cromwell's roundheads. And this is why I consider the Continuum and rising theologians such as Fathers Hart and Kirby as such a miracle. They prove again and again that they can actually read and, further, believe that the words have real meaning which they must acknowledge and live by.

Laus Deo!

Anonymous said...

Just what is meant by the term "diaconal celebration" as it has been used in recent posts?

Does this mean a Deacon distributing from the Reserved Sacrament? Or does someone mean a Deacon presiding over the Eucharistic Prayers?

Frankly, I don't approve of either. But a Deacon distributing the Reserved Sacrament is certainly less problematic than a Deacon presiding over the Eucharistic Prayers. However, to me, both are problematic.

I was taught throughout my childhood, and it still is strongly in my mind and heart, that Deacons are ordained for a ministry of Service and Word; Priests/Presbyters are ordained for a ministry of Service, Word and Sacrament; and, Bishops are ordained for a ministry of Service, Word, Sacrament, and Order.

To me Deacons are to serve the people of the parish with various helping/visiting/charitable ministries, and reading the scriptures and preaching - but no more.

Even the Rubrics of the 1928 BCP, on page 84, make it clear that "In the absence of a priest, a Deacon may say all that is before appointed unto the end of the Gospel." To me that clearly leaves out the sacrament of the Eucharist altogether.

To my way of thinking, if a bishop is going to authorize deacons, who were clearly not ordained for presiding over the Eucharist, to preside at the Eucharist, then they might as well go ahead and allow laity to do so as well. Neither one is truly in the spirit of Anglican Holy Orders. Both violate the practice and order of classical BCP Anglicanism.

BCP Catholic

Sandra McColl said...

"I simply want the prayer book rubrics respected and obeyed so that those who call themselves Anglicans look, act and smell like the same."

Hmmmmmm. It doesn't sound like much to want, but . . .

My veryword is 'stripado'. Sounds both humiliating and painful

Fr. Robert Hart said...

BCP Catholic:

Since Bill Tighe raised the issue, I am very sure it refers to deacons presuming to celebrate a complete service of Holy Communion. In every place, deacons may serve by taking the chalice to those at the rail. Why not the Reserve Sacrament to the sick? They most certainly did in ancient times, as we know beyond doubt. The Prayer Book rubric you quote is from the Holy Communion, and it suggests use of Reserve Sacrament in church; otherwise, why use any of the Holy Communion service instead of Morning or Evening Prayer, substituting the Epistle and Gospel for the lessons? Deacons are clergy, though they are not priests.

Canon Tallis said...

Thank you, Father Hart, for clarifying the matter for BCP Catholic. It is an issue which I wish we did not have to discuss, but better our own laundry than that of others.

Sandra, you last post comes across almost as a Zen Koan. Did you mean it so or am I just really dense this evening.

Bed calls. I hope it will bring sleep.

Hmm? My ver word is ungel. It sounds like the name of a charactor in a sword and sorcery novel.

William Tighe said...

es, I meant deacons "celebrating" the Eucharist, rather than distributing the consecrated elements.

The FCE has always been more "Evangelical" (in the party sense) than the REC, well, at least in recent decades. And the FCE (as some of you probably know) split in two in 2003-2994, with (as I recall) about 11 or 12 of its 25 or 26 congregations adhering to the "Free Church of England -- Evangelical Connection" and the rest remaining with what has been legally deemed to be the original body, the "Free Church of England."

The split was in part over issues and in part over personalities. The primary issue was how prescriptively "Evangelical" the FCE should be: one group wished to be more "ecumenical" or at least more open to friendly relations with conservatives within the CofE, as well as more affirming of "Anglican distinctives." The other group regarded this as a betrayal of the FCE's history and a sad following of the REC into (as they see it) abandonment of its evangelical identity.

On a personality level, in 1994 the Evangelical clergyman from the Church of England John Barry Shuicksmith joined the FCE and soon was made one of their bishop (the FCE has two dioceses). He soon became what some regarded as a "polarizing figure," insisting that the FCE should emphasize and underline its opposition to Anglo-Catholic errors as well as liberal ones, and should have nothing to do with Continuing Anglicanism. Some years later an academic Evangelical clergyman (trained as an scholarly liturgist) who had been "Ecumenical Officer" to Abp. Carey, John Fenwick, joined the FCE and has been a strong campaigner for a recovery of its "Anglican identity" and the utility and desirability (if not the necessity) of bishops. He, too, has become a bishop in the FCE, but only after the split. (I believe I gave to Fr. Hart a copy of Fenwicke's book on the FCE and its history.)

If I may make something of an exaggerated contrast, it is almost as though the FCE-EC has as its ideal the "Church of England in South Africa" while the FEC's is the REC.

I might also note that the FCE did not originate as a daughter-church of the REC, although it did obtain its episcopate from the REC. It emerged ca. 1800 in the same milieux as the "Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion," which was (and is) a body founded by Anglican Evangelical clergy refused recognition by their bishops and who eventually founded independent congregations, often funded by Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, who used the 1662 BCP and an entirely Anglican f0orm of worship. By the 1820s the "Connexion" had become effectively presbyterian in its polity, with clergy (presbyters) "ordaining" other presbyters, which it remains. The FCE arose among those in that mulieu who wished to recover an episcopal polity when it became possible to obtain bishops from the REC. The Connexion has about 900 members, the FCE before its split about 1,100.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart:

I find Deacons presiding over the Eucharistic Prayer to be very unacceptable.

As far as Deacons "extending the Table" by taking the reserved sacrament to the sick, shut-ins, etc., I have no problem. That is certainly part of their calling of service.

As far as distributing from the Reserved Sacrament for the Sunday service, this should only be done in emergency situations, when a priest in unavailable. This should be an extraordinary practice, not an ordinary practice.

I am not questioning, or arguing against Canon Law, but what I am saying is the for the congregation, repeated distribution by a Deacon can be dangerous, leading to superstition and misunderstanding of the Eucharist.

Superstition can grow up from the laity beginning to think a priest is a magician, etc. The priest in fact leads the Eucharistic prayers, but it is the gathered assembly, praying together with the priest, who makes invocation of the Holy Spirit to perform the "divine mystery". The Eucharistic Prayers are the act of the whole gathered community, not just a priest acting alone.

Repeated distribution from the Reserved Sacrament week after week, without a priest leading the Eucharistic prayers and the gathered community joining in those prayers, can lead to all sorts of such superstitions.

Secondly, the very brief form of distribution for the reserved sacrament could lead laity to believe the practice of "sloppy Agape" (skipping the Eucharistic Prayers altogether and offering a quick extempore prayer), prevalent in many denominations today, is OK.

While it may be legal, and necessary for emergency situations,to distribute from the reserved sacrament, it should never be used as an ordinary means.

Personally, I think it best that a Deacon, when distributing from the Reserved Sacrament, do so at the end of Morning Prayer or Evensong, following the collects. This is Rubrical, as is the Morning Prayer with Communion option for a priest, using Morning Prayer as the service of the Word.

This makes, what the Deacon does, different from the Holy Communion properly presided by a priest. I believe it makes the difference more clear and avoids problems understanding the Eucharist for the laity.

BCP Catholic

poetreader said...

BCP Catholic. What you suggest for the administration by a Deacon may indeed make sense. There is a certain amount of confusion in references to a "Deacon's Mass", and coupling such a rite with MP rather than with portions of the Communion Office might indeed be a good thing.

However, I'd like to know how a person whose moniker professes loyalty to the BCP can justify the supposed option of omitting the antecommunion. I find no rubric that can be seen to permit that (though the '79 which I don't accept as a BCP does make such an allowance). The rubrics in MP referring to the "Communion service" quite obviously have in mind the complete Communion Office beginning on page 67, and make no reference to shortening that, instead allowing for a certain shortening of MP when they are done together.


Anonymous said...


Using Morning Prayer, instead of the ante-communion, is a well-established tradition in our region of the country, long before the 1979 book came out.

On page 10 & 17 are Rubrics that would indicate it is indeed proper to use the Morning Prayer as the liturgy of the word, and then proceed to communion.

Note the words: "That on any day when the Holy Communion is immediately to follow, the Minister at his discretion, after any one of the following Canticles of Morning Prayer has been said or sung, may pass at once to the Communion Service." It doesn't say pass to the ante-communion service. It does say when the Holy Communion is immediately (immediately is a key word, I think) to follow.

My main thought is that to avoid the pitfalls of laity beginning to believe it is OK to skip the Canon of the Mass, and moving into the "sloppy agape" problems, that distributing "Reserved Sacrament" at the end of Morning Prayer, would make it clear that the deacon is not taking it upon himself to preside. I think that it also makes clear that this is an extraordinary method of communion distribution.

Just my thoughts, but the term "Deacon's Mass" makes no logical sense. To be a Mass, a sacrifice should be offered, which isn't going to happen in distribution of the Reserved Sacrament. Also, Mass involves both the Body and Blood of Christ. Reserved Sacrament is generally in one kind only.

BCP Catholic

Fr. Robert Hart said...

BCP Catholic wrote:

I find Deacons presiding over the Eucharistic Prayer to be very unacceptable.

Well, that goes without saying. It is simply not allowed, and has no validity that we can be certain of. What I have been aware of is congregations without a priest on Sundays having "Deacon Celebrations," i.e., the ante-communion, generally with the Lord's Prayer and Prayer of Humble Access. (The "Deacon's Celebration" for any long period worries me because the General Confession cannot be followed by any kind of Absolution.) I was aware of this in the APCK, that it was standard in Fountain Hills, AZ. for several months before I arrived there and solved the problem simply by being there as a priest.

What I fail to see is why a deacon, in that case, served faithfully for months and months, acting as a pastor in every way he could, without that bishop having ordained him to the priesthood. If he is worthy to be a pastor in every other way, he is ready for the priesthood.

The point is, such a situation should never go on and on. Can it suffice in a very temporary emergency? I never questioned that, but as I am not a bishop, it has never been my call.

Canon Tallis said...

BCP Catholic,

Some established traditions should be junked. And that which you suggest is one of them. It is, unfortunately, a mis-reading of the rubric. When it says Communion Service, it means the whole of the Communion service and not simply the stuff after the sermon.

Everything you say about the so called "Deacon's Mass" is true. But our good old Anglican desire to have priests who were "Stupor Mundi" has frequently resulted in having no priests at all. Personally I would settle for a good honest man who meets St Paul's standards and who does an adequate job of reading (and singing) Morning Prayer, the Litany and Holy Communion in complete obedience to the rubrics as was so frequently the case in most of the Christian world up until the Reformation to not having any priests at all. To that end I would recommend Peter Hammond's The Waters of Marah which was written about the Greek church during the years of the Communist uprising which tells how they kept parishes staffed when the insurgents were shooting priests as fast as they were able.

I would also like folks to read Roland Allen's books, Missionary Methods: St Paul's or Ours and The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church. Why? Because we Anglicans, myself included, seem to have lost the ability to be truly evangelical what still being "Church." Maybe it is age which has slowed some of us down, but I don't think that is the whole of the argument. So consider this partly - maybe wholely - a cry for help.

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Michael Ramsey, the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury (1961-1974) recommended the combination of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion to those parishes desiring to preserve the Anglican Morning Prayer tradition, while being obediant to the apostolic tradition of receiving the Communion each Sunday.

This became a well-established tradition that survives today at many classical Anglican Churches.

For a church that loves music and singing, Morning Prayer with the Anglican Chant, and the chanting of the Psalm (which the Holy Communion service lacks), is a far richer service musically than the Holy Communion service. It also allows for more flexibility musically, as there is a choice of Canticles, etc.

Nonetheless, I am glad that some of you agree that a "Deacon's Mass" makes no sense and really cannot be called a "mass" with no sacrifice made.

I think distribution from the Reserved Sacrament following MP/EP using the Prayer of Humble Access, etc. certainly is more faithful; and leaves less chance of misunderstanding for the laity.

BCP Catholic

poetreader said...

I won't enter an argument over whether this kind of combination is good liturgy or not (though I don't see it as such), or whether it has been recommended by reliable people (apparently it has), but it simply doesn't hold up to claim that it is in accord with the rubrics -- that can only be said by a gross misreading of the rubrics and their attention. What is envisioned is the normative use of MP and HC, in full, with the option of shortening MP in one of several ways in such a combined service. No permission is given to shorten HC.

If MP is used, as you suggest and as is sometimes done, as the Liturgy of the Word, that may be a decent service, and certainly is a valid Eucharist, but it is a considerably more drastic readjustment of the Prayer Book Service than is the use of the Missal; and it lacks the formal approval in either ACA or ACC that has been given to the Missal service.


William Tighe said...

BCP Catholic wrote:

"but it is the gathered assembly, praying together with the priest, who makes invocation of the Holy Spirit to perform the 'divine mystery'."

I know of absolutely no evidence for this, in either the early liturgies, or the writings of the Fathers, and in fact it sounds like the sort of modern conceit one can find in Anglican, Lutheran and Latin Catholic liturgical faddists in recent decades.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

But neither can we find evidence that any priest ever celebrated without the gathered church before the Middle Ages, and only in the west. At least no evidence I know of.

Canon Tallis said...

Is Doctor Tighe suggesting that the 'Amen' of the Church is not required and that a priest may celebrate in a solitary situation without so much as a single server to respond? That may not be what he intended but that is certainly what his remarks might lead one to conclude.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Latin Rite priests still celebrate at least one Mass everyday, often completely alone. The fact that no one did this in ancient times, and that no one in the "east" would think to do it, really doesn't matter to them. They do not get "this my sacrifice and yours." It is one of those Medieval innovations that Rome continues to this day. I was disappointed that Dix and Mascall defended this practice; but, nobody is perfect.

Canon Tallis said...

I can understand Dom Gregory believing that it was ok, but I am surprised at Doctor Mascall. On the other hand that Roman priests continue to do so does not surprise me although I know of a few who have given up the daily celebration if there is no congregation.

poetreader said...

IF my understanding is correct, it is still the case in the RCC that solo celebration is illicit unless one has a specific indult so to do. as late as the 19th c such a permit was not easy to obtain. St. Charles de Foucald, entirely alone at his mission station in the Sahara, went for a considerable time without Mass before he received permission. Thus, though rather common, the practice, even by Roman standards, remains questionable.


Fr Matthew Kirby said...

2 points:

One, it is not true, according to one EO source I read, that solo celebration of the Eucharist is completely unknown in the East, but it is restricted to isolated priest-monks by special, rare permission. The wider use of the practice has existed in the West since long before the E-W schism, and has never been an official reason given by the EOC for the schism. However, like the English Reformers, they do criticise the practice wherever it normalises the separation of the pastoral and sacerdotal aspects of the ministry. I have previously and recently defended the position on this weblog that solo celebrations need not in all circumstances tend to this abuse, and that such celebrations are intrinsically valid. They should not, however, be treated as a "standard" either de facto or de jure, but as a permitted exception for special circumstances, exactly as, for example, solo consecrations and ordinations (or per saltum consecrations) have been viewed by the Church in the past.

Two, the Eastern Orthodox Church has had theologians state that the triple-Amen of all present at the end of the Consecration prayer itself is the key moment and completes the Act. Bp Ware is one of them, but I think the position is much, much older than him.

Albion Land said...

Fr Kirby,

You tweaked my curiosity when you spoke of a triple Amen said by clergy and people. I didn't recall any such thing, so I've just had a look in the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and don't find it. There is an Amen by the people after "Take eat..." and after "Drink ..."

Then, during the epiclesis, divided into two parts for the bread and the wine, the deacon says Amen. Then, bringing them together in one declaration, after the priest says "bless them both, changing them by thy Holy Spirit," the deacon says Amen (though the rubric gives the option of him saying it three times). There is no provision for the people to join in, though I seriously doubt that anyone would object if they did.

John A. Hollister said...

Canon Tallis asked, "Is Doctor Tighe suggesting that the 'Amen' of the Church is not required and that a priest may celebrate in a solitary situation without so much as a single server to respond?"

I can't speak for Dr. Tighe, who in any case is more than capable of making his own point clear. However, on this same issue, I was taught that the BCP Canon of Consecration actually commences with these words:

"Priest: Lift up your hearts.
"Answer: We lift them up unto the Lord.
"Priest: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
"Answer: It is meet and right so to do."
(BCP 1928, p. 76.)

I was further taught that "Let us give thanks [i.e., make Eucharist] unto our Lord God" is an old grammatical form, the name of which I forget, meaning in effect "I propose that we should now offer the Eucharist to God."

I was told that if "we" do not respond, saying in effect, "It is appropriate and proper that we do so", thus implicitly empowering the priest to proceed, the service must at that point either stop or covert to a mere Ante-Communion one.

This interpretation, at least, suggests that the participation of the people, by their express authorization of the celebrant to proceed on their behalf, is essential to the valid celebration of the Eucharist.

John A. Hollister+