Friday, December 28, 2007

Non-Anglican Difficulties, Part Three

The following came from my answers in private correspondence. It struck me as I had completed it, that parts of it may be useful. The identity of the person to whom I wrote is confidential. The first answer is not to a Non-Anglican difficulty, just a modern one.

About contraception: The fathers were not silent. What they wrote condemns it as sin. I do understand your circumstances very well, because we have four (now grown) children, and at times my one and only source of family income seemed to be no better than desperate poverty. My health was not good, and I came close to death more than once. The last time that happened my wife was pregnant with number four. Someone did bring her to the hospital that night, assuming I might die before they arrived. That was, in fact, exactly nineteen years ago this very day (the feast of the Holy Innocents). answer cannot help but seem superficial. But, it is not really superficial at all. It is that you allow this one matter to help you develop something in addition to faith, namely trust. Whatever God has planned for your family, it is not to destroy you or hurt you. It is not adverse to your well being.

These answer Non-Anglican difficulties:

About Anglican orders: ...The question deals with apologetics, that is, a defensive argument. Argument is not a bad word, and should normally take place between "learned friends." I repeated an outline of very basic arguments in order to inform you. This is a subject that is difficult to put into a few words in an e-mail perhaps, and so I overloaded each sentence with information. This is because I keep this information in my head. If you look at the 2006 archives of the
Continuum, you will discover a wealth of information that refutes Apostolicae Curae. I recommend as well that you read Saepius Officio (1897), which was superior in scholarship to the 1896 Papal Bull it refuted. ...the See of Rome is stuck with every document bearing Papal Imprimatur as a precedent. But, the good news is you can ...receive Communion in good conscience from an Anglican priest if you study the Anglican answers.

About the Sacrifice of the Mass: the only thing rejected by the
Church of England was the plural, "sacrifices of masses." Written in the 16th century, the relevant Article was addressing the flawed understanding of the people, not the theologians in Rome. In modern times, the Church of Rome sees that the Church of England was right to reject "the sacrifices of masses." There is only one sacrifice, and only one Mass, no matter how often it is celebrated. The Book of Common Prayer draws from the Epistle to the Hebrews and produces this line in the Canon of Consecration:

ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world."

Reading through the entire Prayer, the language of sacrifice is clearly present. It is repeated in many ways, so as to include the whole of life, to summarize everything that is offered to God. If not in the Mass, where could we summarize the whole of our lives as an offering to God, in response to His gift of His Son? This includes praise and thanksgiving. It includes the bread and wine on the altar, so that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ. It includes as well our bodies as living sacrifices and our reasonable service of prayer (Rom. 12:1,2).

Excerpts from the BCP, Holy Communion:

we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make..."

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee..."

And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord..."

That last line is not to be understood as "bounden duty and service"
instead of sacrifice; but, in the context of the Prayer, it is an expanded way of saying "sacrifice." We are not worthy to make any sacrifice, but accept this duty and service- i.e. sacrifice- through Jesus Christ who gave himself once for all.

About the Real Presence:
Lex Orandi Lex Credendi. See these words of orandi, and so be helped to understand what is actually credo for us:

AND we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood."

Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us"

THE Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life...THE Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ."

My point is simple. Despite the theories of various writers, including some Anglicans, the actual Holy Communion service is the Catholic Mass of the Apostolic Church with no gaps in the theology it expresses. This is why the Patriarch of Alexandria wrote these words to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1930, delivered on Christmas day:

"The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account [1] of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord’s Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios [2] (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of Alexandria withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized."

About the 16th century: It is true that during the days of Henry VIII iconoclasm was caused by the fanatical excesses launched by Thomas Cromwell. The people were mostly outraged by this blasphemy. Of course, later the the Church of England was reunited with the Pope. A second break with the See of Rome was caused by the Pope himself. Eager to please the king of Spain, he demanded that Elisabeth be overthrown and put to death, and that the faithful of England plunge themselves into Civil War. The new queen had not split with Rome at that time; but, she was the daughter of Ann Boleyn, and so the king of Spain wanted to use this to claim that her rule was illegal, and he wanted to conquer England. This second split was not like the the earlier one that had been caused by Henry VIII's desire to have a divorce. It was caused by a pope who aligned himself with the empire of Spain, and who made impossible demands for bloodshed, and surrender of a whole country to a foreign power. The iconoclasm of Thomas Cromwell never resurfaced except among the heretical Puritans, a group that was considered to be a threat to the Church of England from its outset (even though some people pretend that the Puritans were Anglicans).

So, I would not allow the iconoclasm that had once taken place to cast a shadow over Anglican validity.

You wrote: "
Purgatory, excessive devotion to the saints with
novenas, heavy heavy heavy emphasis on works sometimes
at the expense of faith, Mariology taken too far,
indulgences, and a lack of Biblical study have all
concerned me about Roman Catholicism."

Some of these things are simply popular expressions of devotion [which are perfectly good], and some Anglo-Catholics are identical in their practices. The only theological problem that I see in the teaching of Rome, among the items you listed, is the combination of Purgatory with indulgences. It is still taught in the (otherwise excellent) Catechism of the Catholic Church that was produced under Pope John Paul II. If Purgatory is a punishment instead of purification, and if indulgences are granted on the basis that God owes mankind credit to its account due to supererogation of the saints, what happens to this clear teaching of scripture? "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5:19, 20)." I say, this point of official Roman Catholic teaching is incompatible with the Word of God, and refutes essential truth of the Gospel. It is, also, a point in which the new catechism is self-contradictory, because it affirms those same essential points of the Gospel earlier on, that this section denies. There's that problem of being stuck with every precedent again. They should, rather, just drop the Medieval innovation.

About Papal Infallibility: Like the above Medieval innovation, this modern innovation (1870) is not part of "the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)." It is not in accord with the Vincentian Canon: "Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (What has been believed everywhere, always, and by all)." Conciliar authority was the rule for a thousand years, and no pope [needed to be] present at any of the seven Ecumenical Councils, having sent representatives, and having awaited the written documents to either ratify or reject (with no more or less authority than the other Patriarchs).

On that last question of Papal Infallibility, the subject is more complicated than most people realize. Fr. John Hunwicke, a priest in the Church of England, wrote an article that helps to clarify its meaning. You can read what he has written here.


John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote:

"[After Henry VIII,] the Church of England was reunited with the Pope. A second break with the See of Rome was caused by the Pope himself.... This second split was not like the the earlier one that had been caused by Henry VIII's desire to have a divorce. It was caused by a pope who aligned himself with the empire of Spain, and who made impossible demands for bloodshed, and surrender of a whole country to a foreign power."

This is a very important point that is seldom emphasized: whatever one's view may be regarding the administrative separation between the Church of England and the Church of Rome during Henry's reign, even the most fanatical Roman ultramontane cannot deny that the two Churches were fully reconciled under Bloody Mary.

Nor can any fair-minded person deny that (1) they remained reconciled until 1570, which means Rome had no overt quibble with Anglican Sacraments during twelve years when the third edition of the BCP was the sole liturgy permitted in England, and (2) the breach, when it came, was solely at the instigation of Rome and was wholly for frivolous, political reasons, not for theological ones.

Thus all later Roman critcisms of Anglicanism are ex post facto arguments, something like the shifts Rome was put to when the Donation of Constantine was exploded (by a Roman scholar) as a fraud.

John A. Hollister+

Mike L said...

Fr Hart:

Thanks for that link to the Hunwicke article. It supports the argument I have made here.

As for your claim that the CCC contradicts itself on the question of purgatory, it goes without saying that I disagree—as would Ratzinger, who along with Cardinal Schõnborn oversaw the process of composing the CCC. To suggest that they could adopt the position they do only because they're "stuck with precedent" insinuates—without, of course, being imprudent enough to assert—that they're being intellectually dishonest. It is both more likely and more evident that they use each of the terms 'punishment' and 'purification', which certainly have different connotations, to refer to one and the same reality. And there is no logical reason why they should not. For purification necessitated by sin is painful, which is a natural and inevitable punishment.

I shall have much more to say about this nest of issues this upcoming week when I post the eighth article in my "Development and Negation" series.


Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I do not believe either Vatican I or Indulgences are heretical or an insuperable barrier.

My theological musings on the papal doctrines I have linked to recently already.

As for indulgences, I have written on this in an unpublished paper yet to see the light of the internet. I cannot do anything about this at the moment as my computer has died and I am presently accessing one not my own. Therefore I may not be able to contribute much for a while. If people are interested in what I have written on indulgences and purgatory, let me know for the future, when I have a computer again and access to my files.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I, for one, would like to see it.

My understanding of indulgences as crediting the merits of the saints from the Church's Treasury, seems utterly wrong. God owes mankind no credits due to supererogation (an impossibility in itself), since "all have sinned" and only "by the obedience of one Man are the many made righteous." If there is some other way to understand Indulgences Please share that idea.

As for Purgatory, purification as a positive good makes sense; Temporal Punishment seems like a wrong idea, altogether wrong.

Anonymous said...

I feel I must point out that the Church of England did not exist before the Reformation. It is a body created by Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. St. Augustine, and the missionaries who came before him, established the Catholic church in England, also known as Ecclesia Anglicana ie. the English branch of the Catholic church, a term which describes the Catholic church in England today. The Catholic church ( which came to be known as Roman at the Reformation ) was the Christian church of this land for over 1000 years up to the time of Henry VIII, at which time it was effectively forced underground and deprived of it's churches and clergy. Faithful English Catholics were heavily penalised for not attending the newly created church with it's Protestant services. 'Massing' priests were put to death if caught. A great many men and women were executed for refusing to accept the new religion and the new church. Centuries later, the Catholic church was fully restored to England. This is the true history of the Catholic faith in England and the origin of the Church of England.
England has been known as the dowry of Mary since ancient times and so at the end of Benediction we say the following beautiful prayer for our country's conversion:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our Hope was given unto the world; and he has given thee to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us thy children whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of the Son. Pray for us all dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.

John A. Hollister said...

The Anonymous who posted the fifth comment on this thread (hereinafter identified as "AWPFC") wrote:

"I feel I must point out that the Church of England did not exist before the Reformation. It is a body created by Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I."

The only information conveyed in these two sentences, or indeed in that entire comment, is that (a) AWPFC is a Roman Catholic or, at a minimum, is so crypto-Roman in his or her sympathies as virtually to be one, and (b) AWPFC is unacquainted with the histories of either the Seventh or the Sixteenth Centuries.

While AWPFC accurately conveys the current official Roman view of the matter, that view itself is a retrojection of the late Roman doctrine that "Catholic" means not "descended from, and partaking of all the esssential features of, the one undivided Church of the Apostles" but instead signifies "under Roman administration".

To show the fallacy and essential frivolousness of this concept, we need only look at a 20th-Century example, one that may be less contentious in the present context than would one drawn from Anglicanism or even the Old Catholics.

When the Roman authorities, quite improperly and in complete breach of trust, told all of the Eastern Rite [Roman] Catholics that they could no longer ordain married men in North America and could no longer import married clergy to North America from their home countries, one group took this denial of the integrity of its heritage at face value, i.e., as a repudiation of the terms under which it had first transferred its administrative oversight to Rome from the Eastern Orthodox.

That group then transferred itself back to Eastern Orthodoxy, where it was placed directly under the OEcumenical Patriarch as the "Carpatho-Russian Church".

Now AWPFC's analysis, if it were to be applied to this situation, would conclude that these Carpatho-Russians (who have a flourishing parish 4 miles from my house) are NOT who they were prior to the 1930s or thereabouts and are NOT part of "The Holy Catholic Orthodox Church". Instead, his logic concludes, they are a new church created 70-some years ago out of the whole cloth while the REAL Carpatho-Russian Church "was effectively forced underground and deprived of its churches and clergy".

To state the proposition is to demonstrate its vacuousness.

The fact is that "the Christian church of this land [i.e., England] for over 1000 years up to the time of Henry VIII" continued to subsist in the Church of England right up until ca. 1992. The tragedy is that it then committed suicide, after nearly two thousand years of unbroken existence, and did so without the slightest involvement in that murder from the Romans or from anyone else other than the heretics of PECUSA/ECUSA/T?C, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of New Zealand, and their ilk.

O tempore, O mores.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Of course, we welcome Roman Catholics who wish to comment, and (unlike another blog or two) we don't ban people who disagree with us. But, we do answer and defend our position- which may be harder for disenters to take. Fr. Hollister has done such a good job already that I have only a little more to add.

The Roman Catholic Church, as it has been since the 16th century, is every bit as new as the Church of England was under Henry VIII, and then later under Elisabeth (when it broke the second time with Rome, the relevant break that lasted and that did so with better and more Traditional theology than in the days of Henry).

The Council of Trent established a new, and by Orthodox standards Protestant, Reformation denomination called the Roman Catholic Church. This new Protestant denomination had a genuine history and continued its Apostolic Succession (imitating the Anglicans, as they were later to be called), even retaining use of its properties, such as the Vatican Hill church buildings. They wrote a new Mass (the Tridentine, drawing from older sources, again just as the "Anglicans" had done a few years earlier), and taught doctrines with some difference in emphasis, in some ways in allegedly infallible contradiction of previous infallible teaching. This led to the "infallible" way that Vatican I corrected the previously infallible teaching of the Council of Constance. This shows that the true mark of infallibility is the infallible power to correct infallible teaching.

This is not the standard way of telling the story, but it is just as accurate. It is certainly no more partisan and slanted than AWPFC's tale of Merry Old England.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Excellent piece. I, for one, think that limiting the Catholic faith proper to that of the Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Councils is the best thing for Anglicans to do if they wish to have any credibility in saying that they profess "the Catholic faith." When Anglicans start saying that they can adopt or adapt teachings like Purgatory and Indulgences we break with the Faith of the Fathers, shared with the East, and betray those Anglicans who died to preserve the Faith of the Church free from Roman additions and Protestant deletions. I think I agree with Fr. Hart on this issue.