Thursday, January 31, 2008

Distinctive Anglican theology

I have not written anti-Roman tracts on this blog; I have written pro-Anglican tracts. The problem is, some Roman Catholics treat any defense of our position as an attack on theirs. Furthermore, due to the nature of that communion's teaching, they are in the position of having to defend their attacks on our claims to full Catholic validity against counter-attacks, since anything less does not give sufficient weight to their understanding of Infallibility. Like the extreme Low Church parties in modern Anglicanism, the ones who define their Anglicanism by every wind of doctrine that blows from the mouth of the zeitgeist, as well as those who imagine that their heritage is either Calvinist, or even Anabaptist (such as the confused bleating of Mr. Kennedy's unfortunate sermons), these Roman Catholic apologists are eager to portray Anglicanism as no different from Continental Protestantism of the other Reformations. They are eager to assert that our Ordinal and every principle established by law in the Church of England that preserved Apostolic Succession and Catholic order was a mere accident of history, imposed by Parliament on a group of "wannabe" Geneva Calvinists or Lutherans, or even Zwinglians. This is easy to do as long as one ignores the very deliberate and conservative writings of the bishops and theologians of the second wave of secession under Elizabeth I.

When it suits them , they speak of the "Elizabethan Settlement," but on every other occasion insist there was no settlement; that all were of like mind as Calvinists, with a few exceptions who were more Lutheran (and even fewer who were Zwinglian). Yet, somehow, the Church of England produced a Book of Common Prayer based on the Rule of St. Benedict, a service of Holy Communion that was a simple but dignified Catholic Mass, and an Ordinal that retained the three Orders of ministry (by declared intention in the Preface) combined with laws that required the Apostolic Succession. To prove that this was all an accident, done by mistake against their deepest convictions, quotations from the most radical to the most inquisitive individuals are trotted out, displayed, and triumphantly quoted as if they speak for the Church of England that, in all its laws, acted somehow quite to the contrary. The logic of this exercise has been repeated so often as to have become fact in the minds of these apologists, be they modern Evangelicals of the Anglican Communion, or Roman Catholics- strange bedfellows in a common cause.

This leads me to yet another problem caused by this misinformation: The problem of my fellow High Churchmen who are troubled by the sound and fury of this tale told by...well, others. Since my recent posts have led to questions about my own speculations or "inside information" about the TAC (which I simply don't have), I was not writing in direct response to what has been reported about that jurisdiction. Mainly, this is due to everything we do not know, and to the fact that from Archbishop Hepworth on down, the bishops (at his request) do not grant interviews. The entire episode is, at the present time, a mystery wrapped in an enigma, with all cards held tightly to the chest. The result, surprise, surprise, is an abundance of speculation. At this point I cannot even confirm the reported signing of the RC Catechism in Portsmouth, let alone try to explain to anybody what such an act would have been intended to convey.

Nonetheless, as an Anglican outside the TAC who has been a friend to that jurisdiction, and whose clerical friends are, almost all of them, in it, I have concerns. This report, all the way back in October, tells us as much as we are allowed to know about the thinking of Archbishop Hepworth. As reported in the B.C. Catholic Newspaper on October 29, last year:

When Archbishop Hepworth was in Ottawa last January for the ordination of two auxiliary bishops, he told Salt and Light Television that while many Anglicans have decided to become Catholics as individuals, "we would prefer to approach Rome as a community."

Archbishop Hepworth said he did not underestimate the difficulty of coming into union with the Holy See. "The saying of Anglicans is that if you don't have one Pope, everybody is a Pope, because everybody can make up their minds what is infallible."1

"What is important, and we are having to learn as a community, is to ask not what we think, but what the Church says, and five centuries of bad habits are going to die hard," he said, "but if you ask us if we accept the Magisterium of the Church, yes, and we all have the Catechism of the Catholic Church on our desks and many of us preach from it."

This does not sound like a desire to open discussions, but to submit. For those of us who believe that some of the bad habits of the last five centuries are just as much Roman habits as Anglican habits, and who believe furthermore, that we also have some very good habits of thought that should not be killed off, these words send up a red flag. If this announces a goal of submission, then he has a very big selling job to do among the people of the TAC, which cannot be accomplished by holding cards close to the chest in secrecy; otherwise, if prodded to move, the largest jurisdiction of Continuing Anglicans will not move together, but will simply break apart.

Nonetheless, it may be that the archbishop was saying something different, along the lines that follow.

Bad Habits

Bad habits exist among all of the major branches of Christianity, whether it is the sloppy customs of modern Roman Catholics or the libertine indulgence of Anglicans. One bad habit is acquiescence to disunity among Catholic Christians, and the refusal to enter into meaningful dialogue. However, dialogue requires a defense of important doctrines, and charity compels to honesty about theological differences in essential matters. Reunion can happen only when the conscience of every party is respected, and if a good defense is made of those truths we cannot abandon.

One bad habit we do not have, that the Roman Catholics and Orthodox have, is the delusion of self-sufficiency. Here is where the Branch Fact (that the Church is divided by human weakness, though one in Christ by the Spirit) lends us humility. We, Anglicans, know that we cannot say to other members of the Body of Christ, "I have no need of thee." In the case of the Magisterium in Rome, we need the moral clarity of their teaching. They alone have had the courage and diligence to study the changes of the modern world and its ethical challenges in a thorough manner, and their teaching about morality for this confused age is a goldmine we need to draw from. And, they in turn can learn from our wisdom about the central features of the Gospel, centering more on God's grace and a bit less on complicated religious legislation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Unlike most Roman Catholics, I have read, and highly value, The Catechism of the Catholic Church that bears Papal Imprimatur from the days of Pope John Paul II. I agree with most of it, and find it a useful theological work for summarizing important doctrines of the Gospel, the sacraments and Church. But, that little word, "most" is a stumbling block for Roman Catholics who consider any deviation from the teaching of the Magisterium to be not only wrong, but a sinful gesture of license, granting oneself "Private judgment" in place of receiving what the Church has taught, what Peter has spoken.

And, they are wrong. I have already refuted the myth of "Private Judgment" for the Red Herring it is. Basing one's beliefs on the highest authority of Scripture as it has been received "always, everywhere and by all," with the clarity of doctrine consistent with the "Undivided Church of the First Millennium" is the very distinctive Anglican theology that we often forget, or claim not to possess. It is a paradox, because the only distinctive Anglican theology that exists is not distinctively Anglican; it is simply Catholic, and as such Evangelical. And, as I have argued before, it is more pure than the doctrine of Rome and of the Protestants because it is free from the innovations of both. The real via media gives no more room for a luxury of "private judgment" than does adherence to the Magisterium in Rome. It leaves the conscience no wiggle room in moral issues. So, to dismiss our stand on conscience as "private judgment" is just plain wrong.

The word "most" is significant. For, one of the things we cannot accept is the full blown theory of the Petrine See as that doctrine has developed after the largely symbolic, but very significant, date of 1054. This, all by itself, means that as a matter of conscience we cannot swim the Tiber as long as this teaching remains defined as is. This is not an anti-Roman position. It is the position that Anglicans have in common with the Orthodox, and with Protestants howbeit with a difference of kind.

I urge those who want to enter into Communion with Rome to value their Anglicanism for what it is. Do not despise it for what it is misrepresented to be, which is an easy and lazy way to shed both its challenges and its light. If discussion takes place, I pray that the best of the via media will be presented, and the pastoral love to save souls in both communions will be examined by the light of all that is best in each. That includes what is best in ours.
1. I have never heard an Anglican say this in my almost 50 years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

King Charles the Martyr January 30th

(Courtesy of Project Canterbury)


Made upon the
At Whitehall-Gate,

Immediately before his Execution,
On Tuesday the 30 of Ian. 1648

VVith a Relation of the maner of
his going to Execution

Published by Special Authority.

Printed by Peter Cole, at the sign of the
Printing-Press in Cornhil, near the
Royal Exchange. 1649.

About ten in the Morning the King was brought from St. James's, walking on foot through the Park, with a Regiment of Foot, part before and part behind him, with Colours flying, Drums beating, his private Guard of Partizans with some of his Gentlemen before and some behind bareheaded, D. J U X O N next behind him and Col. Thomlinson (who had the charge of him) talking with the King bareheaded from the Park, up the stairs into the Gallery, and so into the Cabinet-Chamber where he used to lie, where he continued at his Devotion, refusing to dine, (having before taken the Sacrament) only about an hour before he came forth, he drank a glass of Claret wine, and eat a piece of bread about twelve at noon.

(It is observed the King desired to have the use of the cabinet and the little room next it where there was a trap door.)

From thence he was accompanied by Dr. Juxon, Col. Thomlinson and other officers formerly appointed to attend him and the private guard of partizans, with musketeers on each side, through the Banqueting house adjoining to which the scaffold was erected between Whitehall Gate and the Gate leading into the gallery from St. James's: The Scaffold was hung round with black and the floor covered with black and the Ax and Block laid in the middle of the Scaffold. There were divers companies of Foot, and Troops of Horse placed on the one side of the Scaffold towards Kings-Street and on the other side towards Charing Cross, and the multitudes of people that came to be Spectators, very great.

The King being come upon the Scaffold, look'd very earnestly upon the Block and ask'd Col. Hacker if there were no higher; and then spake thus (directing his speech chiefly to Col: Thomlinson).

King. I shall be very little heard of anybody here, I shall therefore speak a word unto you here. Indeed I could hold my peace very well, if I did not think that holding my peace would make some men think that I did submit to the guilt as well as to the punishment. But I think it is my duty to God first and to my country for to clear myself both as an honest man and a good King, and a good Christian. I shall begin first with my innocence. In troth I think it not very needful for me to insist long upon this, for all the world knows that I never did begin a War with the two Houses of Parliament. And I call God to witness, to whom I must shortly make an account, that I never did intend for to encroach upon their privileges. They began upon me, it is the Militia they began upon, they confest that the Militia was mine, but they thought it fit for to have it from me. And, to be short, if any body will look to the dates of Commissions, of their commissions and mine, and likewise to the Declarations, will see clearly that they began these unhappy troubles, not I. So that as the guilt of these enormous crimes that are laid against me I hope in God that God will clear me of it, I will not, I am in charity. God forbid that I should lay it upon the two Houses of Parliament; there is no necessity of either, I hope that they are free of this guilt; for I do believe that ill instruments between them and me has been the chief cause of all this bloodshed; so that by way of speaking, as I finde my self clear of this, I hope (and pray God) that they may too; yet for all this, God forbid that I should be so ill a Christian as not to say that Gods Judgments are just upon me. Many times he does pay Justice by an unjust Sentence, that is ordinary; I will onely say this, That an unjust [6/7] Sentence (Strafford) that I suffered for to take effect, is punished now by an unjust Sentence upon me; that is, so far as I have said, to shew you that I am an innocent man.

Now for to shew you that I am a good Christian; I hope there is (pointing to D. Juxon) a good man that will bear me witness that I have forgiven all the world, and even those in particular that have been the chief causes of my death. Who they are, God knows, I do not desire to know, God forgive them. But this is not all, my charity must go further. I wish that they may repent, for indeed they have committed a great sin in that particular. I pray God, with St. Stephen, that this be not laid to their charge. Nay, not only so, but that they may take the right way to the peace of the kingdom, for my charity commands me not only to forgive particular men, but my charity commands me to endeavour to the last gasp the Peace of the Kingdom. So, Sirs, I do wish with all my soul, and I do hope there is some here (turning to some gentlemen that wrote) that will carry it further, that they may endeavour the peace of the Kingdom. Now, (Sirs) I must show you both how you are out of the way and will put you in a way; first, you are out of the way, for certainly all the way you have ever had yet, as I could find by anything, is by way of conquest. Certainly this is an ill way, for Conquest, (Sir) in my opinion, is never just, except that there be a good just Cause, either for matter of wrong or just Title, and then if you go beyond it, the first quarrel that you have to it, that makes it unjust at the end that was just at the first: But if it be only matter of Conquest, there is a great Robbery; as a Pirat said to Alexander, that He was the great Robber, he was but a petty Robber: and so, Sir, I do think the way that you are in, is much out of the way. Now Sir, for to put you in the way, believe it you will never do right, nor God will never prosper you, until you give God his due, the King his due (that is, my Successors) and the People their due; I am as much for them as any of you: You must give God his due by regulating rightly His Church (according to the Scripture) which is now out of order. For to set you in a way particularly now I cannot, but onely this. A national synod freely called, freely debating among themselves, must settle this, when that every opinion is freely and clearly heard.

For the King, indeed I will not, (then turning to a Gentlemen that touched the Ax, said, Hurt not the Ax, that may hurt me) [meaning if he did blunt the edg] For the King:) The Laws of the Land will clearly instruct you for that; therefore, because it concerns My Own particular, I onely give you a touch of it.

For the people. And truly I desire their Liberty and Freedom as much as any Body whomsoever. But I must tell you, That their Liberty and Freedom, consists in having of Government; those Laws, by which their Life and their gGods may be most their own. It is not for having share in government (Sir) that [9/10] is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a soveraign are clean different things, and therefore until they do that, I mean, that you do put the people in that liberty as I say, certainly they will never enjoy themselves.

Sirs, It was for this that now I Am come here. If I would have given way to an Arbitrary way, for to have all Laws changed according to the power of the Sword, I needed not to have come here; and therefore, I tell you, (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) That I Am the Martyr of the People.

Introth, Sirs, I shall not hold you much longer, for I will only say thus to you. That in truth I could have desired some little time longer, because I would have put then that I have said in a little more order, and a little better digested than I have done. And, therefore, I hope that you will excuse Me. [10/11]

I have delivered my Conscience. I pray God, that you do take those courses that are best for the good of the Kingdom and your own Salvations.

Dr. Juxon.

Will Your Majesty (though it may be very well known Your Majesties Affections to Religion, yet it may be expected, that You should) say somewhat for the Worlds satisfaction.


I thank you very heartily (my Lord) for that, I had almost forgotten it. Introth, Sirs, My Conscience in Religion, I think, is very well knowne to all the World; and, therefore, I declare before you all that I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of ENGLAND, as I found it left me by my father. And this honest man [pointing to Dr. Juxon] I think will witness it. Then turning to the Officers said, Sirs, excuse me for this same. I have a good Cause, and I have a gracious God; I will say no more. Then turning to Colonel Hacker, he said, Take care that they do not put Me to pain, and Sir this, and it please you: But then a Gentleman coming near the Ax, the King said, Take heed of the Ax. Pray take heed of the Ax.

Then the King, speaking to the Executioner said, I shall say but very short Prayers, and when I thrust out my hands„„. Then the King called to Dr. Juxon for His Night-Cap, and having put it on said to the Executioner, Does My Hair trouble you? Who desired Him to put it all under His Cap, which the King did accordingly, by the help of the Executioner and the Bishop: then the King turning to Dr. Juxon said, I have a good Cause, and a gracious GOD on my side.

Doctor Juxon.

There is but one Stage more. This Stage is turbulent and troublesome; it is a short one: But You may consider it will soon carry You a very great way; it will carry You from Earth to Heaven; and there you shall finde a great deal of Cordial, Joy, and Comfort.


I go from a corruptible, to an incorruptible Crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the World.

Doctor Juxon.

You are exchanged from a Temporal to an eternal Crown; a good exchange.

The King then said to the Executioner, is My Hair well: Then the King took off His Cloak and His George, giving His George to Dr. Juxon, saying, Remember„. (It is thought for to give it to the Prince.) Then the King put off His Dublet and being in His Wastecoat, put His Cloak on again; then looking upon the block, said to the Executioner, You must set it fast.

Executioner. It is fast Sir.

King. It might have been a little higher.

Executioner. It can be no higher Sir.

King. When I put out my hands this way (Stretching them out) then„

After having said two or three words (as he stood) to Himself with hands and eyes lift up. Immediately stooping down, laid His Neck on the Block: And then the Executioner again putting his Hair under his Cap, the King said, Stay for the signe. (Thinking he had been going to strike)

Executioner. Yes, I will, and it please Your Majesty.

And after a very little pawse, the King stretching forth his hands, The Executioner at one blow, severed his head from his Body.

That when the Kings head was cut off, the Executioner held it up, and shewed it to the Spectators.

And his Body was put in a Coffin, covered with black Velvet, for that purpose.

The Kings body now lies in His Lodging Chamber at Whitehall.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Putting the “P” back in “Anglican”

I know that you’re thinking, well some of you: “This Fr. Hart wants to make Protestants out of us. After all, since he does not want to swim the Tiber he must have descended to some sort of Low Churchmanship. We all know that the opposite of 'Catholic' must be 'Protestant,' mustn’t it? The opposite of 'Papalist' must be 'Puritan.'” Ah, but what if I am really so Catholic that I believe that the opposite of "Tridentine" must be "Patristic?"

Perhaps, just perhaps, some of the self-proclaimed Anglo-Papalists need to think about something. Maybe the definition of “Catholic” should be based on its Credal use, as we use it in the Book of Common Prayer where either the Apostle’s Creed or the Creed called Nicene are part of all the major services (Article VIII). Combined with that other Creed, Quicunque Vult, or the Creed of St. Athanasius, we say we believe the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith.

Frankly, the effort to embrace and continue the Catholic Faith was the motivation for embracing Protestantism in the time of the Reformation- or, rather, the Reformations. We believe that the efforts on the Continent of Europe threw away the baby with the bathwater, which is why Anglicans early on debated with Calvinists and Lutherans, sometimes more vigorously than with Rome. Anglicans debated as well with Puritans in England and Scottish Presbyterians.

What we find in the second wave of English secession was a very conservative and anti-innovative mind prevailing against new ideas that had formed only in recent centuries, during which their fathers had lost sight of the Patristic and Scriptural teaching of the ancient Church. It prevailed, as well, against the innovations of Puritans and other inventive Protestantisms. This via media was always a true course that avoided the errors of many extremes, not just two. It rejected the innovations of Rome, and strove against such a Reformation as Mr. Knox had up in Scotland. This was not a compromise in the modern sense. It was not simply the legislation of Parliament either. It was the result of what the bishops of the Church of England contended for throughout the times of monarchs stretching from Elizabeth I to Charles II, especially strong after the Restoration.

This effort, and what was achieved, is not appreciated by too many people calling themselves Anglo-Papalists. All too often I find that such people are quite sincere, but only know their own Anglican heritage based on the opinions presented to them by Roman Catholic polemicists instead of having actually read and learned from old Anglican sources. They take a position not due to deeply held Catholic convictions, but due to a combination of ignorance about Anglican doctrine and history with superficially held Tridentine affectations. For, when Tridentine sentiments become genuine conviction, the conscience impels one to the only logical course of action without delay.

What is truly Catholic in content was not defined at so recent and innovative a Council as Trent, and certainly not in later councils at the Vatican. It was defined in seven Ecumenical Councils (Affirmation of St. Louis), and more so in the Scriptures as embraced in every time and place where the Church was built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself the chief cornerstone.

I would indeed place the “P” of Protestantism back in “Anglicanism” to the via media degree required to make it truly Patristic, and so truly Scriptural and truly Catholic.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


II Cor. 11:19-31 Luke 8:4-15

Among the many books by C.S. Lewis, the one it seemed to Lewis himself that everybody had read was The Screwtape Letters. He said that he had more difficulty writing that book than any other, because he kept having to think opposite his convictions. For example, because Screwtape is a senior devil writing to a junior devil about subverting and damning the soul under his charge- his patient- he refers to God always as “the Enemy.” To help us with the parable in today’s Gospel we should look at part of the first of these letters. Writes Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood:

Remember, [your patient] is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (oh, that abominable advantage of the Enemy's!) you don't realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years' work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defence by argument, I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control, and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter-suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line, for when I said, "Quite. In fact much too important to tackle at the end of a morning," the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added "Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind," he was already halfway to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man's head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of "real life" (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all "that sort of thing" just couldn't be true. He knew he'd had a narrow escape, and in later years was fond of talking about "that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safe guard against the aberrations of mere logic." He is now safe in Our Father's house.

This is, of course the seed by the wayside. In fact, it is not quite on that level. Screwtape’s atheist at the British museum has only had a mere course of thought removed from his mind; but the ground by the wayside loses the seed of the word of God as it has been preached by a messenger. It does not require always a lie as intricate, or as ridiculous, as The DaVinci Code; it can be something as simple as perceiving lunch to be reality, and perceiving God to be a fantasy. Today’s Old Testament lesson covers this ground, so to speak (from the 50thchapter of the book of Isaiah the prophet):

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.

The sufferings of Christ are foretold here, in part. And, His true followers have suffered often the same persecution. In the midst of his own sufferings as a genuine servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Paul addressed the Corinthian Church with an expression of the kind of love a good father always has for his children. He knew that false teachers were allowed into their services, presenting strange ideas, and always bad-mouthing Paul. That he himself was spoken evil of, did not bother the saint and apostle. What bothered him was that the Christians at Corinth chose to believe some of the strange doctrines that could lead them away from pure and simple devotion to Christ.

That is always the issue. If you wonder why some of us among the clergy are very dogmatic and even strict at times, why we don’t change with the times, why we don’t accommodate allegedly new ideas about morality, or about God, it is because the care of the churches is upon us. We are responsible for the cure of your souls. We are here to present the word of his Servant, His Suffering Servant who went to the cross for the sins of mankind; we must be the servant of that Suffering Servant, and so we must present His words. And, we know that just like Screwtape’s atheist at the British museum, even as you sit here in a pew as members of the Church, the devil can steal the word out of your hearts.

It is easy to see this happening. One trick is to make you think of yourself as a preaching critic. While you ought to be hearing, you are thinking instead about all sorts of irrelevant things, like how well you think the delivery is going. The best advice I can give you is this: During a sermon, listen, pay attention and learn. That may sound brazen and self-confident; but take the advice anyway. Another trick is for a little devil to sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear about how long this is taking, and about how hungry you are.

You see, the people who need to hear are not only those outside the Church, yet to become believers. Everyone needs to hear the word of God. It is the seed that has that power we call life; that power that alone can grow and bear fruit. If conversion were as simple as a one-time decision (to use the favored phrase of Billy Graham), this parable would have a very limited application. But, conversion (though often including a major life changing epiphany), involves for most of us a lifetime of turning every day away from sin and darkness to God and His light.

The words that our Lord Jesus spoke, in concert with all His prophets who had come before Him, had more to do with hearing than with listening. Without the grace of God, we cannot hear His word.

The Lord said to the prophet Isaiah: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed (Isa. 6:10).” The very ability to know the truth is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus, after His resurrection, gave the Apostles the gift of understanding the scriptures: “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45).” He did not give them an “open mind.” An open mind is a bad thing, because it leaks its contents all over the place. It is quite messy really. Rather, He opened their understanding. This takes humility to receive, and so receive it if you can. Without this gift, no matter how clever or enlightened you may seem to be, you cannot see, hear or understand. Saint Paul spoke of those who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (II Tim. 3:7).” How telling it is that some of the modern advocates of Gnostic ideas see this kind of busy and perpetual ignorance as virtuous. Virtuous it is not: it is the mark of someone who has yet to meet the risen Lord.

It takes humility to believe that the Church in its Tradition, in its Scripture, has the mind of Christ and the authority to teach; it takes humility to grasp the fact that the Church is smarter than I am. It takes humility to see that only by a gift from the Risen Christ can my understanding be opened and unlocked. It takes humility to look at the words that God spoke to Isaiah, and then to pray that the Lord, in His mercy, will give us eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that understands, that we may convert to Him and be healed. Only by the Holy Ghost and His gift can we hear the word, let it take root in us and bring forth its fruit to perfection.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Easter out of Season


When the Lord appeared to Saul, and made him an eyewitness of the resurrection, many things changed in his understanding. His righteous act of persecuting the Church was revealed to have been the sin of persecuting the Messiah himself, his own self-attained righteousness was shown to be a delusion, the curse that was evident in the manner of Jesus’ death was revealed to be atonement paid by the Righteous one for the many sinners, thus taking away the curse from those who deserved it, and the prophecies of scripture were revealed to have been speaking of two comings of Messiah, not one. How much of this was clear immediately and how much had to develop over time as he thought about it, is not clear. But, right away, in his conversion, is the revelation that would become Paul’s bold teaching about faith in Jesus Christ and the grace that he gives, himself our only Salvation.


Every winter on January 25th traditional churches celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. On that day we remember the story recorded in the Book of Acts, the history of how the persecutor of the Church saw the risen Lord Jesus Christ and became a convinced preacher of the Gospel. And, as we remember the conversion of the Apostle, we are presented with a puzzle that requires a little bit of explanation. The traditional calendar contains four colors, one of which applies to every day of the year (sometimes two colors on certain days).

White is the Lord’s color, and it is used as well for saints who are not martyrs. But, for saints who are martyrs the color is red; and Saint Paul is a martyr, for he was beheaded in Rome. The puzzle is that white, not red, is the color for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. White, the color for the Lord himself, is proper to such times as Christmas, the Annunciation, or Easter. But, the Church long ago decided that white was the appropriate color for this day. If we figure out that puzzle, and meditate on its meaning, we have the answer to the biggest challenge facing the Christian message in our own day and age.

The current challenge to the truth of the Gospel, coming from a school of philosophy that pretends to be a school of science, stretching from Charles Darwin to Richard Dawkins, has to do with an evaluation of what sort of God, God ought to be. The challenge may seem to be an apologetic against Intelligent Design, since that is how it is being presented currently. However, it goes back to the days of Darwin, who considered the world as it is to be less than practical and efficient. The argument has developed along lines of philosophy, particularly of Ethics (part of the larger discipline of Philosophy). It contains criticism of such details as the design, or rather (seeing that it is difficult to come up with a phrase to fit the argument) the shape and form of the human back.

What the argument boils down to is simply this: If the universe were designed, it ought to have been designed better, so as to be more congenial to the people who have to live in it. Therefore, it could not have been designed. This assumes that the critics of God, those who have placed Him in, as C.S. Lewis put it, the dock, are correct about what would be the best way to go about making a world and its creatures. And, assuming their way is the better way, the argument is one of Ethics, that God ought to have made a better world, one that gives more consideration to our needs, and that demonstrates kindness on the Creator’s part. Furthermore, the whole scheme of this Ethics argument depends upon the Christian and Jewish paradigm of goodness. It requires, to summarize the Torah, not doing what is odious to others, as Hillel taught, and doing to others what we would have them do to us, as Jesus Christ taught.

Because this argument is about what kind of God, God ought to be, it is based on conjecture and speculation. Therefore, it places everything in a context that is theoretical, and being theoretical, concerned with logic based upon assumption, or even a kind of reasoning. What if, however, the Christian message is not based on any theory about how the world ought to be, what sort of designer the Creator should have been, or any other concept? What if we should brush aside all that is theoretical and speculative in favor of something evidentiary that is rooted in fact?

The Church’s use of white for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul points to the answer, summoning to the mind very strong accounts of reported history as contained in the Bible. It points to the testimony of eyewitness, in some cases to the testimony of martyrs. The message does not claim to answer any questions about what the Creator ought to have done, but instead it reveals how he has intervened in human affairs. It is fact based, not logic based. That is, it does not come to us as a result of reasoning through to a conclusion, but of accepting reports of fact. The only use of logic that we may use, in this case, begins with the facts rather than with mere conjecture.

We have been given a set of facts that rightly include both revelation and history. Revelation, because God has acted in such a way that the truth has been made known; and history, because the facts are recorded as eyewitness accounts. Testimony of this type constitutes evidence, and the record of it constitutes history, both of which are far more in the nature of science than of philosophy. The Christian message treats as irrelevant arguments that place God in the dock and judge His existence by the conjecture of a system of Ethics. Instead, it simply states a testimony, that of the eyewitnesses who saw the resurrected Jesus Christ.

From the facts of their testimony we draw logical conclusions about the sort of God that God is, rather than trying to figure out what He should be. So, we come to what may be called “The Gospel according to Paul.” This is in the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, vs. 1-11. In this passage he declares to them the Gospel he had preached to them, and urges them to be faithful to it. After reminding them that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose the third day, all in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, Paul gives a list of several eyewitnesses who saw the Risen Christ. All of these witnesses saw Him between the first Easter and the day of His Ascension. That is, except for one. The last witness who saw the resurrected Christ was Saint Paul himself, significantly later than the others.

The last appearance was to Saul on the road to Damascus, the day of the conversion of Saint Paul. The traditional celebration calls for white as the Lord’s color, white for Easter, though it falls in the season of Epiphany (or, as this year, in the Pre-Lenten season). It is Easter out of season, because of Paul’s own words: “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (v.8) The Church is teaching us that this day, the day of Paul’s conversion, is about the Risen Christ. And, not simply about Him in a theoretical sense, but in a historical sense. He was seen alive after His death, and the Gospel is not complete without the proclamation that witnesses gave us this testimony, reporting facts rather than trying to figure out answers to philosophical problems.

We are certain that in those facts every philosophical question can finally be answered. But, the Christian message is not that we can figure out what God ought to be like, and then pronounce a verdict either on Him or His existence. The Christian message is the Gospel as preached by eyewitnesses who proclaimed the revelation of God in Christ as historical fact, a testimony that was worth dying for. In this sense, the Christian Gospel is far more a matter of fact and history than it is of philosophy. To those who want to begin with their opinions and speculations, the answer of the Church is that we begin elsewhere; we begin with the facts. This testimony of the eyewitnesses is why, if you enter a traditional church on January 25th, you will see the priest and the altar vested in white.

Purgatory, Indulgences and the Treasury of Merits

A little while ago when purported dogmatic differences between us and the RCC were being discussed, I commented a couple of times that I did not believe any such differences were genuinely irreconcilable, but that I couldn't say much more till I had access to a computer of my own. I have now replaced my dead laptop and re-accessed my old files. So, I am now able to spell out how I think the RC doctrines regarding Purgatory, Indulgences and the Treasury of Merits may be interpreted so as to successfully address traditional Anglican and Eastern objections while not denying anything Rome has given dogmatic status. Due to complications of formatting it is easier for me to post this at my personal site. Here it is.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

St.Timothy Bishop and Martyr January 24th

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Phil.2:19-22

A good summary of St. Timothy's life was given by Pope Benedict XVI in his December 13, 2006 General Audience. You may read it here.

The martyrdom of St. Timothy took place in Ephesus, when angry Pagans murdered him with stones and clubs because he interrupted an annual festival procession in honor of their gods. He preached that they should turn from their dead idols to the Living God through His Son Jesus Christ, and so they fell on him in anger, killed him and dragged his body through the streets.

The Feast Day for St.Timothy is January 24th in the West, but is on January 22nd in the Orthodox Church.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No Checks and Balances Here

“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)

Richard Hooker has been both praised and blamed for creating the “Three-legged Stool.” I am not alone in rejecting this image of three equal legs as the meaning of Hooker’s own argument. But, not a few modern Anglicans have decided that this is the way best to summarize the essence of his teaching about epistemological authority, that is specifically, how we know the truth. As a result of this idea of a Three-legged Stool, some have created a system of checks and balances. Furthermore, they have recast the terms of this in endless and creative fashions, with no fidelity to anything but their whims.

The Three-legged Stool, by correct definition, is “Scripture, Right Reason and Tradition.” These three as sources of knowledge can rightly be said to come from Hooker’s work. However, the word “tradition” was not often used this way by Hooker himself, who used it sometimes in a negative way referring to excesses and distortions associated with the papists of his times. It is, however, quite correct to use the word “Tradition” for the collective mind of the Church, and therefore the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2: 16), and in this way to understand part of Hooker’s meaning in the words, “the Church by her ecclesiastical authority.”

Nonetheless, the problem with the Three-legged Stool is, as I said, that it carries the idea of three equal legs. For Hooker the idea of equality among these three things was simply wrong. The Scriptures have the highest place of authority, for in the Scriptures it is God Himself who speaks, since the word of God is directly revealed there, teaching and setting forth “all things necessary for salvation.” Second, to Hooker, is Reason. In light of the whole of his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity we must add the word “right.” Right Reason (see Books 1.VIII.3, and 3.IX.3), rather than simply reason, is best understood in light of the opening chapters of Book II, where he teaches that wisdom, as it is explained in the Proverbs of Solomon, and mentioned in other passages of the Bible, includes more than simply what is revealed in scripture. It includes knowledge of the natural world, and practical matters of understanding. We can draw from this that a mad man possesses reason, but not Right Reason (the same may be said of an untrustworthy Enthusiast, whose claims to private revelation defy credibility if only on the basis of his apparent instability). We can draw, as well, that Right Reason placed after Scripture, rules out the notion that human reason is equal by its own weight to the Word of God.

That the teaching and authority of the Church comes third tells us that to Hooker, only a mind enlightened by the Word of God and possessing Right Reason responds truly to the teaching and authority of the Church. So he says in Book 3.IX.3:

“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.”

In this way, he upholds not only the teaching of the Church (to which we add the words, Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est: “What has been believed everywhere, always, and by all”), but also, what he calls “her ecclesiastical authority,” not to be redundant, but to extend the meaning to include Government and Canon Law.

False notions

The first mistake concerning the Three-legged Stool is conveyed by the image itself. Hooker taught a hierarchy of authority with Scripture at the highest place, Right Reason as second because it is necessary that the word of God communicate to human minds, and what we call Tradition, but that he called the Church, as the third. (Yes, Hooker meant as well to include the Church’s Government and Canon Law, but for purposes of Epistemology these need to be placed on the back burner.) However, not everyone means to imply equality when using the phrase “Three-legged Stool.” Here the weakness of analogies as a method can meet with innocence. But, the image tends to convey equality nonetheless. Better we should think of a small ladder with three rungs. The revelation of Holy Scripture is the highest rung. This is essential and absolutely necessary to understand because of the deceptive ways in which this idea of three sources of authority is misused. It is misused every time that it is applied as a system of checks and balances.

When used this way it is a method for any party that wants to eliminate from authority the disfavored commandments of God. They find that the Scriptures are against their innovation. So, they pretend that the Scriptures can be weighed either against Tradition or Reason. Furthermore, because Tradition cannot be used as easily as Scripture itself- by misapplication and sophistry of “interpretation”- they replace Tradition with Experience, pretending that these two mean the same thing. The result is a new “Three-legged Stool” of Scripture, Reason and Experience, always put forth as “the historic understanding of comprehensiveness in Anglicanism.” But, in fact, it is nothing but a new invention of dishonest minds relying on the credulity of the uneducated. It is sophistry, not wisdom; a sales-pitch, not teaching; politics, not doctrine. It is a wide gate and a broad path that leads to destruction.

By this means, every teaching of Scripture can be ruled out, whether it is the fact that a bishop must be the husband of one wife rather than simply the spouse of one spouse, or that only when a man cleaves to his wife are the two made one flesh. By claiming that “reason” or “experience” teach things contrary to Scripture, and that these two “legs” must be weighed against that one “leg,” they manage to overthrow all true teaching whenever it stands in the way of Satanic progress.

The older perpsective

It was relayed to me that a popular blog (weak in theology and content) contained an article in which one of their writers claimed that she did not worry about the Anglican Catechism having always taught that two of the sacraments are “generally necessary for salvation,” because for her the scriptures were good enough. What she really meant was not the scriptures, but her very limited understanding of the scriptures. Then she said that for Anglo-Catholics the scriptures are not enough: “They need something from tradition too.” This is not a “liberal” speaking, but rather a sort of theological “new conservative” whose foundation is every bit as innovative as that of the revisionists. She decides for herself what is and is not “a salvation issue” with absolutely no regard for the Anglican heritage she claims as her own. This is also a misuse of the Three-legged Stool as a system of checks and balances.

The Catholic mind of a Traditional Anglican does the opposite of what this writer said. For us the tradition is not enough; we must also be persuaded by Scripture. But, this is in response to what the writer meant when she used the word “tradition.” She thinks of the tradition in strictly superficial terms. For such people, the tradition is only as old as the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the 1940 Hymnal, the pattern of church buildings and other practical matters to do with how we carry out the Form in which we worship God together. But these things are not the Tradition, even though they are traditional.

When we really understand it is sufficient to say, simply, the Tradition. However, for the sake of clarity and communication, it is not always possible to speak this way to everyone. The Tradition always refers to teaching; it is a purely doctrinal Tradition. As such it safeguards the validity of the Sacraments, and in fact cannot continue without them, nor they without it. Properly understood, even the three things put forth by Hooker are within the Tradition. The Scriptures, Right Reason and the Church-with-her-Authority live inside this Tradition, that is, the teaching carried on along with the Apostolic Succession from age to age. Our liturgical life has taken useful forms due to the wisdom of Right Reason that helped the Church to form them in the earliest years, and that has from time to time and place to place given variety in details according to the needs of the people. But, always, within the Tradition, it is the same Gospel, the same Sacraments, and the same Teaching commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, quickened and empowered by the same Holy Spirit, taking us into the presence of God the Father. In a sense, speaking of the Scriptures and the Tradition as two separate things is itself a mistake. The Scriptures are part of the Tradition, and these speak not with voices that must be weighed against each other in the scales. These speak to us with the one voice of God. And, as wisdom teaches, they cannot contradict or vary.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rachel Wept

Holy Innocents Day five years ago got me to thinking about the innocents being ripped from their mothers' wombs in our own day, and I wrote:

Rachel wept, and wept, and wept,
for her son, her son, her slain son,
and comfort could not be found.

The king raged, and raged, and raged,
for his power, power, earthly power,
and murder was found in the land.

And ever the power of their own will,
seems to give people the right to kill,
and no child is safe in the land.

And empty the womb, empty the heart,
where the infant in promise was living,
but living could never draw breath

And ever before the shrine of "I will",
or mightily driven by deep guilty fears,
murder is found in the land

Rachel wept, and wept, and wept,
for her child, her child, her slain child,
and comfort could not be found.

Save in the arms of the One who knows
the pain that flows from innocent death,
and open-armed calls to the guilty

-----------------------------ed pacht

Worse than Carthage

35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade January 22nd

"Sanctity of Human Life
Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful." -from The Affirmation of St. Louis

Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon." -II Kings 24:3,4

On this day, in 1973, the worst decision of the Supreme Court of the United States since the Dred Scott decision, was handed down. This is an evil anniversary, like the Day of Infamy on Dec.7th, or like September 11th. Continuing Anglicans do not share the moral ambiguity of the Episcopal Church, but rather, as the quotation from our founding document shows, we denounce the evil of legalized abortion. It is murder, and the Pro-Life argument requires no verification beyond that of the Ten Commandments. Any members of our churches who call themselves "pro-choice" have but one option: Repent. The "pro-choice" position is a pro-murder position. To hold such a view is, itself, sinful and heretical. Any members of our churches who support abortion, any who give money to Planned Parenthood or other outlets of this evil, must be excommunicated immediately. I pray that we have no one who is so bent on evil.

Our western society, with the United States leading the way, is far more evil than the ancient Pagan societies. The pagans thought that the gods required human sacrifice, and so they offered their children to Baal (Molech) to prevent the gods from destroying the whole tribe or people by drought or famine. The Aztecs slaughtered countless millions over several centuries in daily sacrifice so that the gods would not put out the Sun, and so destroy all life on earth forever. This agonized killing seemed to them a necessary evil, being blinded by the darkness of Satanic cruelty. In its wisdom, the Church built on the former sacred space of pagans, in this way carrying out the missionary command of the Law of Moses, to destroy their altars and tear down their groves. It was charity, and the result was civilization.

In our Post-Christian West, children are not murdered as offerings to appease the powerful gods, sacrifices offered by the noble instincts of tortured parents to preserve the human race. They are simply slaughtered for convenience. It is not fair to the slaves of Molech to compare our selfish murder of helpless infants to their painful sacrifices, done from ignorance of the true God. Our modern western guilt is greater than the guilt of Carthage and of the Aztecs.

No one I know is more heroic than Diane, my wife, in the pro-life cause. Apart from the priestly ministry at the Lord's altar, I have no higher honor in this world than being father of her children- all of them, including one by adoption. See this article I posted last year.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I got curious and consulted the tables in my Prayer Book, which give the date of Easter from 1786 through 2013 (which latter is coming right up!)

There are only three dates of Easter which will yield a year with no Second Sunday after Epiphany:
March 22 (the earliest possible date),
March 23 (oddly, my birthday), and March 24.

The last time it fell on March 22 was 1818.
The last time it fell on March 23 was 1913,
-----also 1788, 1845, and 1856, and this year.
The last time it fell on March 24 was 1940,
-----and before that in 1799

That's 8 times in 227 years.
Yup, Fr. Hart, it does happen sometimes:
about 3 1/2 percent of the time.
Since I was born in 1941, this is my first year ever
with such a short Epiphanytide.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Food for thought

Here is food for thought that was posted several days ago by "An Anglican Cleric." Some of you make think I have gone off the deep end into some kind of Protestant low church view, by reposting this here. Rest assured, I have not. Neither Hooker nor Fr. Schmemann (yes, that Fr. Schemann, of the Orthodox Church) quoted in the post were theological lightweights. My purpose in reposting this is to emphasize the reason why Anglicans coined the name "The Holy Communion" as an additional name for the Mass, the grace given through this sacrament unto salvation, the need to receive Christ's Body and Blood as the food and drink of everlasting life.

What it the intent of the Eucharist?

It is communion. Pure and simple. The Real Presence of Christ, which is the Catholic doctrine enshrined in the Articles, is there to be received. In Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians we read of the Eucharist still embedded in a communal meal, and Paul is concerned that those who came to the Lord's Table did not discern the presence of Christ that they were partaking of nor their Communion with Christ and with one another that was achieved through the bread and the cup. Please read these comments from our learned doctor Richard Hooker taken from his Ecclesiastical Polity:

"Take, eat; this is my body; drink ye all of it; for this is my blood." [Mat. 26. 26–28.]

If we have any doubt as to what is expressed by these admirable words, let that one be our teacher as to the meaning of Christ, to whom Christ himself was a schoolmaster. Let our Lord’s Apostle be his interpreter, and let us content ourselves with his explanation, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" [1 Cor. 10. 16.] Is there anything clearer and easier than the fact that just as Christ is called our life because we obtained life through him, so the parts of this sacrament are called his body and blood because when we receive these elements we do receive the body and blood of Christ?

We say that the bread and the wine are his body and his blood because through their instrumentality we participate in his body and blood, and that is a valid assertion because we quite properly give the name of the effect to the cause which produces it, for the cause is in the result which grows out of that cause. Our souls and bodies receive eternal life, and this life in them has as its source and cause the Person of Christ, and his body and blood are the source from which this life flows. The influence of the heavens is in plants, animals and men, and in everything which they make alive; but the body and blood of Christ are in that communicant to which they minister in a far more divine and mystical kind of union, a union which makes us one with him, even as he and the Father are one.

We all agree that Christ really and truly carries out his promise by means of the sacrament; but why do we trouble ourselves by such fierce contests about consubstantiation and the question whether the elements themselves contain Christ or not? Even if consubstantiation or transubstantiation are true, it does not benefit us, and if they are not true it does not handicap us. Our participation in Christ through the sacraments depends upon the cooperation of his omnipotent power, and that power makes the sacrament a means of creating his body and blood in us. Whether there is or is not such a change in the elements themselves, as some people imagine, need not make any great difference to us.

Let us, then, accept that in which we all agree, and then consider why the rest should not be considered superfluous rather than urged as necessary. In the first place, it is generally agreed that this sacrament is a real participation in Christ, and that by its means he imparts his full Person as the mystical head of every soul who receives him and thereby becomes a very member incorporate in his mystical body, which is the blessed company of all faithful people.

In the second place, it is also agreed that the communicant who receives the Person of Christ through the sacrament also receives the Holy Spirit who sanctifies the communicant as it sanctified Christ who is the head of all those who participate in him. In the third place, it is commonly held that whatever power or virtue there is in Christ’s sacrificed body and blood we freely and fully receive this sacrament.

In the fourth place, it is agreed that the result of the sacrament is a real transmutation of our souls and bodies from sin to righteousness, from death and corruption to immortality and life. In the fifth place, all believe that the sacramental elements are only corruptible and earthly things; therefore, they must seem to be an unlikely instrument to work out such admirable effects in man. For that reason, we must not rest our confidence in these elements themselves, but put our trust altogether in the strength of his glorious power, which he can and will give us."

Now read these comments from a learned theologian and presbyter of the Orthodox communion, the late Father Alexander Schmemann taken from his excellent text The Eucharist (the complete text of which I urge everyone, especially clergy, to read and digest) and see the same points that were made by Hooker. The first comment will strike many as "rather protestant" due to the similarity of the argument made to some of the same arguments made by Cranmer and Hooker (indeed, one could easily misatribute Schmemann's quote to Hooker), but realize that Father Schmemann is speaking past the arguments made in the West, as Hooker was attempting to do. Both men, Hooker and Schmemann, are trying to reach past the disagreements based on scholastic logic to the real crux of the matter, the purpose of the Eucharist:

"The purpose of the eucharist lies not in the change of bread and wine, but in our partaking of Christ, who has become our food, our life, the manifestation of the Church as the body of Christ.

This is why the holy gifts themselves never became in the Orthodox East an object of special reverence, contemplation and adoration, and likewise an object of special theological "problematics": how, when, in what manner their change is accomplished. The eucharist--and this means the changing of the holy gifts--is a mystery that cannot be revealed and explained in the categories of "this world. . ." It is revealed only to faith. . .

We find the answers to these questions in the epiklesis. But the answer is not "rational," built upon the laws of our "one-storied" logic; it is disclosed to us by the Holy Spirit. . .

Thus the epiklesis concludes the anaphora, the part of the liturgy that encompasses the "assembly as the Church," the entrance, the proclamation of the good news of the word of God, the offering, the oblation, the thanksgiving and remembrance. But with the epiklesis begins the consummation of the liturgy, whose essence lies in the communion, in the distribution to the faithful of the holy gifts, the body and blood of Christ."
posted by An Anglican Cleric | 10:55 AM

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Integrity is not plural

Open Questions to Bishop Martyn Minns

With both Christmas and the feast of Epiphany now past, and an early Septuagesima coming at us, I turn attention to a subject upon which I have already touched, and that I should no longer put off. With all due respect for anyone who has tasted the warfare from the leaders of TEC, and has tried to be faithful to Christ, I am addressing open questions to Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA. First I will set up the questions for the readers.

On December 9th Bishop Minns consecrated four new bishops for the CANA churches in North America. At that time he addressed the subject of women's "ordination." It should come as no surprise that among those of us who have led the way out of the Episcopal Church without giving up our Anglicanism, this topic is one of the essential issues. People who laugh it off as a "non-salvation" issue ("off topic" is the popular excuse in one venue where erudition is scarce at best), cannot lay claim to a historic connection with Anglicanism. As one of two sacraments "generally necessary for salvation," the Holy Communion is directly affected by the validity of priests and bishops. So, the connection is obvious (John 6:51-53). Bishop Minns appears to have made a statement that satisfied no one, but that left open the possibility that he intends to "ordain" women as priests. The full text is in the link I have provided (above) to my earlier post.

My first open questions to his Grace are based on this part of his statement (these will not be softball questions):

"At this time the Church of Nigeria, to which we owe canonical obedience, has no provision for the ordination of women although there has been acceptance of women in the order of deacons. At their most recent gathering the Church of Nigeria’s General Synod tabled discussion about ordination of women to a future date. Archbishop Peter Akinola has stated that while he supports this action he recognizes that there needs to be freedom for CANA to take a different direction because of its North American context."

1. Are we to understand that Archbishop Akinola has reversed a long held position to create some kind of exception for CANA churches?

2. If so, how can his words be verified? Where can we find a quotation that comes from his own mouth?

3. Even if Archbishop Akinola were to make this promise, how can even he simply skirt around Canon Law?

4. We know that in TEC this was done in 1975 as an act of rebellion, deemed "prophetic" one year later at General Convention in Minneapolis. Just because the American church proved to be lawless, should we expect the same from the Nigerian church?

My second set of open questions are based on this part of his statement:

From the inception of CANA we have made it very clear that we are committed to the full participation of women in the life and leadership of the church. We recognize that among biblically faithful members of the Anglican Communion there are differing theological positions as to whether women should serve in ordained ministry. There are, as have been described, two integrities: those who believe that women should not be ordained at all and those who do believe that women can serve in ordained ministry– although within the latter group there are differing understandings as to whether this includes priesthood and extends to congregational oversight and serving as bishops."

And also from this part:

We will keep our promise to honor both integrities within CANA and fulfill our commitment to the full participation of women, in the life and leadership of the church. We will seek to do so in such a manner that both those who are unable to support the ordination of women and those who embrace it will know that their position has been honored."

1. Where did this expression "two integrities" come from?
2. Exactly how will two conflicting beliefs be honored?

Again, with all due respect, I have no intention of making this easy. I protest that the plural use of "integrity" takes the meaning out of the word "integrity." I believe this word has been chosen in Screwtape fashion (unwittingly) to prevent thought. This is an example of a word employed for the opposite of communication, a scrambling device to silence the mind from objecting. His Grace could not say: "There are, as has been described, two traditions." In fact, the Church has no tradition of "ordaining" women at all. Even the office of deaconess was, from ancient times until 1976, a lay ministry. This is historic fact, and we are not discussing the definition of a word, but its usage from the earliest times of the Church. His Grace could have said: "
There are, as has been described, two doctrines." But, since doctrine can be either true or false, this would not serve the purpose of making the two positions appear equal in weight, or due equal consideration. So, the language has been tortured and mangled in modern ECUSAN fashion (like Frank Griswold's "pluriform truths") in order to pass something completely illegal through customs, hoping that it would not be detected.

As I said, I am not making this easy for the bishop; and I hope he will realize that my purpose is not hostile at all. In many ways I am very much on his side in his fight with TEC. It is simply the case that these matters are important.

My last set of questions is from this part of Bishop Minns' statement:

We will continue to accept applications from qualified congregations and female clergy with the expectation that women clergy will be licensed to continue their ministry within CANA. We will request permission of the Church of Nigeria to ordain appropriately qualified women candidates to the diaconate within CANA as soon as possible."

I expect the Church of Nigeria not to create provisions for women "priests" in its Canon Law. Such a provision would have a direct effect on the Nigerian Anglicans themselves, and the people of that church seem unwilling to adopt this modern innovation.

1. Does this mean that women are encouraged to apply for "ordination" to the priesthood?
2. If the Church of Nigeria makes no provision in its Canon Law for an exception to be granted the CANA churches, what responsible steps will be taken to prevent women from incurring loss by pursuing a dream with expectations that was never really possible for them?

I hope his Grace, if he takes time to read this, will know that he has our love and our prayers. I hope he would be willing to reply. This is not written out of opposition, but out of charity and with a sense of responsibility for the good of the Church and for its mission to save souls as the Body of Christ, the agent of Jesus Christ our Lord in the world. In this purpose that we share, I am asking these difficult questions.

Schori still at it

Presiding B--er, um--"Bishop" Katherine Jefferts Schori

Sometimes it helps to look back at the Egypt from which our fathers were delivered.

TEC further demonstrated disdain for the Windsor Report and the Communiqué from Dar es Salaam. Both documents called for an end to legal wrangling. As we know, each of the bishops of TEC, including the bishop formerly of TEC, who have looked to the Southern Cone for primatial oversight, received thinly veiled threats of legal action from the Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori back in October and November.

Further legal action appears to be forthcoming, since TEC will oppose the actions of each bishop and diocese seeking to realign with the Province of the Southern Cone. In the words of Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, Canon to the Presiding "Bishop," "In this way the Presiding Bishop is reaching out with open arms once more to those bishops contemplating realignments for their dioceses, while also warning them of the consequences should they choose to follow through with their proposed actions."

In the course of this “reaching out with open arms,” Schori has written threatening and bullying letters to each of the bishops looking to the Southern Cone.

Demonstrating even further how she “reaches out with open arms,” in a series of hostile maneuvers beginning shortly after the Epiphany, Schori attempted to inhibit both Bishop Schofield and Bishop Duncan, and proceeded to threaten Bishop Iker with an ecclesiastical trial.

Her first shot was aimed at Bishop Schofield, and had the necessary support of the three senior bishops of TEC if one of their bishops is to be inhibited. It reads in part: "I hereby inhibit the said Bishop Schofield and order that from and after 5:00 p.m. PST, Friday, January 11, 2008, he cease from exercising the gifts of ordination in the ordained ministry of this Church; and pursuant to Canon IV.15 I order him from and after that time to cease all 'episcopal, ministerial, and canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of San Joaquin,' until this Inhibition is terminated pursuant to Canon IV.9(2) or superseded by decision of the House of Bishops."

This produced a quick replay in support of Bishop Schofield from his archbishop. "As of December the 8th, 2007 Bishop John-David Schofield is not under the authority or jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church or the Presiding Bishop. He is, therefore, not answerable to their national canon law but is a member of the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone and under our authority. Un fuerte abrazo. ++Greg.” The Diocese of San Joaquin stated on its website: “The Episcopal Church's assertion that Bishop Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church is an admission that The Episcopal Church rejects the historical Anglican faith. This is why the Diocese of San Joaquin appealed to the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America for emergency and temporary protection.”

Taking their stand with the Anglican Communion against the innovations of TEC, the San Joaquin statement continues, “How is it that over 60 million Anglicans worldwide can be wrong and a few hundred thousand in the American Church can claim to be right?” In response to a misleading announcement by a public relations firm, the Diocesan statement continues: “There is no confusion on the part of the Bishop of San Joaquin or the clergy, people, leadership, and convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin of their status.”

Also, on January 11, Schori attempted to inhibit Bishop Duncan for, as ENS, the official organ of TEC “reported,” having “abandoned communion of Episcopal Church” according a “Title IV Review Committee.” Bishop Duncan responded: “Few bishops have been more loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. I have not abandoned the Communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh." This attempt to inhibit Bishop Duncan failed, since Schori was unable to obtain the support of the three senior TEC bishops. But, it could mean that instead of having to answer to the HOB in March, he may be facing his trial in September, before the scheduled Diocesan Convention of 2008. Bishop Jack Iker said it is “tragic and deeply disturbing’ that Bishop Schori would move against Bishop Duncan before Pittsburgh took ‘any final decision’ to separate from the Episcopal Church.”

Bishop Iker informed The Living Church on Jan. 15 that he received a letter from Schori threatening him with disciplinary action. “Unlike her November letter, it did not imply a charge of ‘abandonment of the communion of this church’, but it said that I would be liable for charges of violation of my ordination vows if I continue ‘any encouragement of such a belief’ (i.e. that parishes and dioceses can leave The Episcopal Church).” In other words, because Bishop Iker does not consider a line from an old memo (by a staffer for former Presiding Bishop Griswold) as equal to the Canon Law of TEC, he is being accused of spreading a false belief. “I lament your belief,” Schori wrote, that those “with your theological position are being systematically eliminated from positions of leadership and influence. If they are disappearing, it is by their own decision and at their own hands.” About Bishop Iker’s concern that TEC would file lawsuits, Schori claimed that such a fate would be self-inflicted. “Depositions and lawsuits have no substance if there has been no violation. Fear of same is probably not rational if there is no basis for same.” In other words, in clear violation of the Windsor Report, Schori further risks schism from the most of the Anglican churches in the world by using legal action to enforce her version of Christianity. Also, she calls any deviation from her opinion a “violation.”

Well, we Continuers know why we are not in TEC and other post-Anglican sects (like the Church of England). This is no time for "I told you so" to those who took a little longer to see the truly hopeless state of that cult. They are trying to break free, and we ought to pray for their full deliverance. We must pray that all of them will see the truth about Holy Orders, and about the full inheritance of the Catholic Tradition.

And, we must pray that after the smoke clears, they will persevere along with us, and that attention will be turned to our mission as the Church.

Requiem for a Priest

January 12, 2008. I go to Concord for the funeral Mass of Father Szala, a retired priest of our diocese. There are three bishops present and presiding as Father Christian celebrates the Requiem Mass with all due solemnity. There is sadness, but yet there is joy, as we gather with our departed brother priest for one more Mass . . . January 16, a poem emerges . . .

Father Szala

In an urn before the throne
the earthly remnants lie,
as smoke of incense fills the air,
and candles cast a gentle gleam,
and bishops lay their pointed hats aside,
while, at their bidding Father says the words,
and takes the bread and lifts the cup,
and leads us all across the veil,
to kneel before the awesome sacrifice,
where at the Cross all time is joined,
and distance makes a bar no more,
but where, before the Lamb once slain that lives,
we who walk the earth are one
with angels and with saints now gone before,
and, though we bid our brother priest farewell,
there is no truly final separation,
for at the Cross the veil is thin,
and at this Mass, though sadness is upon us,
there is joy because we know it.

-------------------ed pacht, Rochester NH

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gesimas - Layreader Homilies

A bit later than promised, the next two weeks (Septuagesima and Sexagesima) of the layreader homilies are posted at

ed pacht

Wisdom. Stand Upright!

Σοφια. Ορθοι! Ακουσωμεν του αγιου Ευαγγελιου.

Wisdom. Stand upright. Listen to the Holy Gospel.

How strange it was, after so many times over the years having heard the priest, in Greek, calling the people to order to hear the reading of the Holy Gospel, this morning to hear the bidding in English.

I finally made it today to my first-ever celebration in English of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, something I have been trying to get myself to do for more than a month now. It hasn't been made any easier by the fact that it is only offered every other Sunday, and then only at the unsociable hour of 8 o'clock in the morning.

The liturgy was held in Old St Nicholas Church in the village of Pano Lakatamia, near to where we lived during our first four years in Cyprus, and now still only a leisurely 15 minute drive from my new home on the sadly un-congested Sunday morning roadways.

Taking the orthopraxis in as laid-back a fashion as I expected of the Orthodox, I had already decided not to arrive on time, heaven forbid arriving early, for the start. I walked in about 20 minutes past to find the church virtually empty -- an elderly man here, a scarf-covered woman there and three female cantors making up the entire congregation -- as the young Texas-born priest, Fr Joseph Coleman, stood at the altar.

I noticed when I walked in that there was a small portable gas heater on the far side of the church, but there was no way it had any hope of warming the space. After about 15 minutes of holding out with T-shirt, long-sleeve dress shirt, a sleeveless woolen sweater and a heavy tweed jacket, I could take it no longer. I went out to my car and got my oilskin jacket and thermal gloves.

As time passed, more and more people began to arrive, including parents with infants, toddlers and young children. In the end, I would imagine there must have been 25 or 30 of us there. I later discovered the old man whom I had first seen on coming in was English, and I also met a man from San Antonio, Texas. For the most part, though, it was an assortment of Greek Cypriots who had returned to their homeland from such places as Australia, England and South Africa, and for many of whom English was their first language.

I had brought with me the English translation of the liturgy (with the Greek on facing pages) that I bought at a meeting of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius in St Albans, England back in 1997, just after it had been issued by the Greek Orthodox Church there. I was pleased to find that I could actually follow along, though Fr Coleman was using a slightly different -- and better translation.

And I was deeply moved to find that without the "mystery" of hearing the liturgy in Greek, but in very clear yet eloquent English, the words had lost none of their awesome power.

As an Anglican, I dearly love the Prayer of Humble Access, but this prayer of those who are about to receive the Sacrament is equally powerful, if not even more so:

"I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is truly Your pure Body and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to You, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of Your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. Amen.

"How shall I, who am unworthy, enter into the splendor of Your saints? If I dare to enter into the bridal chamber, my clothing will accuse me, since it is not a wedding garment;and being bound up, I shall be cast out by the angels. In Your love, Lord, cleanse my soul and save me.

"Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, let not these holy Gifts be to my condemnation because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body and the pledge of the future life and kingdom. It is good for me to cling to God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation.

"Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not reveal Your mystery to Your adversaries. Nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to You: Lord, remember me in Your kingdom."