Sunday, January 23, 2022
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Today is January 22, a day to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I am here reposting a brief essay from last year.
I am very annoyed when I hear young progressives use the euphemism, "Women's reproductive health." Abortion is about killing, and is therefore the opposite of health. There is nothing healthy in killing. A living human being who is developing naturally is healthy, and so killing that person is the antithesis of health. Destroying the developing life is certainly the opposite of "reproductive." And to say "women's" is to assert that a pregnant women has, for nine months, two heads, two hearts, four arms, four legs, two distinct DNA patterns, two distinct sets of fingerprints, and two distinct identities. Yes, I get it that it just isn't fair that women get pregnant and men don't; but pregnancy is always of very limited duration: Unlike death, it is not a permanent condition.
The scientific fact is that the two sexes predate the evolution of the species Homo sapiens. Even atheists must admit that human beings did not create this situation that is simply nature beyond our control. We might enforce fairness then, but only by enacting injustice, the injustice of killing innocent human beings. Fairness, at the expenses of justice, is evil.
I say these things because I respect the claim of progressives to the moral high ground when it comes to addressing the reality of racial injustice, and the injustice of continuing economic policies that are, in effect, kleptocracy by the One Percent. I believe that the United States is, by choice, a backward third world country in its harsh and unenlightened treatment of the poor. We need to catch up with all the other democratic and developed countries when it comes to many issues, especially healthcare, campaign funding, economic justice, and police reform.
But, when progressives use the euphemism "women's reproductive health" they forfeit the moral high ground. They opt for the selfish indulgence of the "sexual revolution," to do what feels good, at the expense of accepting the reality that human behavior is capable of responsibility. I understand why the younger generation has turned away from its shift to a more pro-life position than that of the "Baby Boomers." It is heart breaking, because it has a been a total lie all along. But, I ask progressives everywhere, especially the young, to consider this basic argument. The child in the womb is an individual human being; if you argue that that child has no right to life, then you are also arguing for a definition of Personhood.
Now, you may ask, "What is wrong with a definition of personhood?" The answer is simple: Such a definition is never about the objective truth, but about exclusion. Who may we exclude as non-persons? History provides this perspective: Defining personhood has already excluded all people of color, to justify slavery; it has excluded Jews in Europe, to justify the Nazi Holocaust. It excluded the Native Americans to justify the evil of imperial "Manifest Destiny" with its genocide. If the child in the womb is to be treated as a non-person, based on the lie that this separate and equal individual is merely part of her mother's body (which, clearly defies scientific reality), than the argument for the absurd and unjust euphemism "women's reproductive health" is the same argument for slavery, the Holocaust, and the Native American Genocide, etc.
So, there is the forfeit of any claim to a moral high ground.
Sunday, January 09, 2022
Friday, January 07, 2022
Romans 12:1-5 * Luke 2: 41-52
What brings all of these scriptures together for this day is the collect, asking for perception and knowledge of God’s will, and for the grace and power to be faithful to it. The collect reminds me very much of what St. Paul said was his prayer for the Church of the Colossian Christians:
“For this cause also, since the day we heard of it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to His glorious power...” (Col. 1: 9-11)
The passages we have heard this day all speak of the mystical charism, the gift, of wisdom by which we know the will of God, and of the grace God gives us to carry it out. The wisdom that we receive is, in a very mysterious way, coming to us from the Person of Christ our Lord, mediated to us by the Holy Ghost. It is the wisdom that the world does not know, for it does not know God. By this wisdom we know God, and we know His will for us.
Now, that sounds pretty heady and possibly not even very sober. Yet it is very practical.
Before talking about the practical side however, let us look very seriously at what we see in the twelve-year old Jesus, as Luke tells the story. To begin with, He knew Who He was, and He knew the Father. For some reason contemporary commentators have imagined, since some time about the middle of the 20th Century, that Jesus suddenly became aware of His identity when He was baptized (which we will read about next Sunday), and the heavens opened, the Spirit came upon Him, and the Father spoke. How they come up with this I cannot understand, for the manifestation of each Person of the Trinity was a revelation given to John the Baptist, and to all who stood by at the banks of the
No indeed, for here we see Him quite aware of Who He is at the tender age of twelve. His wisdom is greater than that of all of the Doctors of the Law, and all they can do is marvel at Him. I have heard preachers get this all wrong too, and say that He was getting ahead of Himself, and needed to be “put in His place” by Mary and Joseph. Again, not so. If anything, Jesus had to reply to His mother, and remind her who His Father is (cp “thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” with His reply: “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?”). This is a revelation given to us in scripture of the simple fact that this human child, this boy, was at the same time God, One with the Father. He had taken human nature, alien as every created nature is to His Divine Uncreated Person, so that He could become Man, while yet, as St Athanasius tells us, filling the heavens as the Eternal Son of the Father. He did not “empty Himself” of Divine Nature, as some bad theologians have twisted the marvelous Christological passage from Philippians chapter two to mean; but rather, as it says in Psalm 113:5:
“Who is like unto the LORD our God, that hath His dwelling so high, and yet humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth!”
Yes, He would go back to
To do the Father’s will required knowledge of that will, and it required wisdom that cannot come from human origin, especially not from fallen and sinful men. The phrase “about My Father’s business” is also translated “in My Father’s house.” In other words, “why were you looking anywhere but here? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” Both being in the temple, and then going back with them to be obedient, were all part of His journey to the cross, as He came to do the Father’s will, not His own.
I want to be very careful at this point not to teach that if He could do it so can we; the old “pull yourself up by your bootstrap.” True religion does not teach that life is a test. It teaches that life is a shipwreck. We need a Saviour, and no one less than God will do, while also our Saviour must be a Man like us to pull us out of the curse of sin and death. That Jesus did it perfectly does not mean that we can do the same. It means, in fact, that we cannot. For though fully Man from the nature of His Virgin Mother, He never ceased to be God, eternally begotten of the Father. This is the Gospel: That God himself came to save us.
So then, am I saying to give up and live in sin? Admit defeat and then “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die?” As
But, all of this is grace, that is, a gift. It is given because we are in Christ, and He is the True Son of the Father. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3: 2).” Because He has come into the world, and taken our nature, and taken our death which He did not deserve, and has passed through death into life, we can receive life. And the life we are given is not of this world, but is the life of Christ Who is One with the Father and the Holy Ghost. This is the change we are given, and our partaking of the Divine Nature.
Now are we the sons of God. So then, how shall we live? We have not the power to live like sons of God within ourselves, or by our own effort. What we have is the Holy Ghost Who is given to us, Who abides in us. Now, what is the practical side which I have promised to speak about? Indeed, I seem to have gotten as far away from practicality as possible- or have I? Is it not practical to learn to depend upon God, upon His Spirit Who abides with us? How? By what steps?
By the steps given to us in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans just as we have heard it this day. In light of God’s mercies, we must know that we no longer belong to ourselves, but to the One Who paid for us by His very life-blood, the pouring out of His soul upon the cross of death. In light of that unspeakable mercy, we give ourselves as living sacrifices to God. No, we will not be perfect. Anyone who has had a heady conversion experience, no matter how mystical and indeed real, soon learns that he is still a sinner. No, we cannot be perfect, but we can humble ourselves and practice obedience. That is what a living sacrifice does: He carries his own cross daily and follows the Son of Man. Jesus did not carry the cross only on that one Friday, but every day; for He lived always to do the will of the Father Who sent Him. Unlike Him, we will not be perfect, we will not be a sinless sacrifice. All we can do is practice obedience, however imperfectly we practice it. But, the sins of a living sacrifice are those which he discovers within himself; that is, they are not done willfully and deliberately. If we choose to do wrong, we are not living sacrifices- something to consider before saying “amen” to the Eucharistic prayer in which “we offer our selves, our souls and bodies...”
This offering of ourselves to God is our “reasonable service.” In the original Greek it is our logika latre’ia (λογικv λατρεία). Literally, our “logical worship.” That is, a liturgy, a service, and one that is logical, reasonable, quite in keeping with wisdom. The Liturgy we offer to God this day must be in the proper sense a very real collect of our lives; for the whole life of each one of us should be itself a liturgy, with every part having its place as an offering of worship to God. Is all that we do done to the glory of God? In the last chapter of Zechariah, we see that even the washing bowls will be inscribed with the words “Holiness unto the LORD.”
Lastly, this means that our minds must be renewed, so that we are not conformed to this world. “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” Remember this definition of how the expression “the world” is often used in the New Testament. It does not know Christ, and so to it we must not conform. Christians are supposed to be non-conformists. The renewing of our minds transforms us so that we are able to do His will. This is practical. If we are too lazy to employ our minds, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the scriptures in light of the teaching of the Church, we will not be thinking of doing God’s will.
And, I would suggest that God’s will, for most of us, is not a mystery veiled in thick darkness. Rather, faced with the realities of life, if we are thinking about what it means to live a life that is offered to God, and are thus renewing our minds by His word, the way to do His will should be clear to us. Sometimes it will require effort to recognize that each moment of life has its own calling and purpose; other times a path opens before us that we must choose, not because it is easy, or because it is a way to find what we imagine to be happiness. No. It will be because it is the way that we know, in light of our Christian minds and our consciences, to be the way that is right.
It is not for us to choose the times in which we live, but, as Gandalf said to Frodo: “All we can do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” It may be quite hard for us to see the time and place in which we find ourselves as the place of God’s call upon us; and yet, often it is that when life is most ordinary and even mundane, we are faced with those choices, opportunities and even inconveniences that are, in fact, the time and place to know and do the will of the Father. And His will is always the way of love, the Summary of the Law in the two greatest commandments as our Lord Jesus Christ taught us.
What we can do is possible not because of our cleverness in knowing His will, but because we are in Christ, and given His wisdom: The same wisdom of the twelve-year old Boy Who knew Who He was, where He belonged, and the will of His Father.
Thursday, January 06, 2022
Sunday, January 02, 2022
I see a typo- I wrote 2021 instead of 2022. Nonetheless. here is the video to the Collect, Epistle, Gospel, and then my sermon from this morning, at this link.
If you wish to make an offering to the ongoing ministry of St. Benedict's here is the link.
If you wish to make an offering to the ongoing ministry of St. Benedict's here is the link.
Sunday, December 26, 2021
The second day of Christmas is Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr ("The Feast of Stephen" that you have sung about in "Good King Wenceslas"). Mr. Nicholas Harrelson is a postulant for Holy Orders. When Archbishop Haverland gave me permission to allow him to preach (as is expected by Duke Divinity School) he required only that I first read his sermons. God willing his ordination to the diaconate is scheduled for the coming summer. Pray for him during this time of preparation. To see the video with the Collect, Epistle, Gospel and Sermon, CLICK HERE
To contribute to St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church you may CLICK HERE.