Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thoughts on St. Barnabas Day

Before I get to my real points, let me get something off my chest.

In the Book of Common Prayer June 11th is the Feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle. Because the Book of Common Prayer should take precedence, I have no patience with the exclusion of this Prayer Book Saints Day from one "Anglican" Missal. I put "Anglican" in quotation marks because this one omission brings into question whether the name applies. The Book of Common Prayer should be the standard, even when we use some freedom, as allowed by one of the Book's own stated principles. I also think the Ordo Calendar should say "St. Barnabas" rather than "St. Bartholomew"- which is August 24th. Is this some new kind of elitism, being different from the BCP just to be different? It's enough to make me feel like a Low Churchman!
"Barnabas" is interpreted by St. Luke to mean, "son of consolation." In fact, it is Bar-Nabiy', which means Son of Prophet. Does this mean that what St. Luke saw in the Old Testament Prophets was consolation? The prophet's burden was often strong denunciation of sin, warnings of judgment spoken by Jeremiah or Ezekiel don't seem very consoling. But, what Luke saw in the prophets was that their central message was the message of salvation in Messiah. Indeed, as strong as their denunciation of sin was, the hope and joy of that salvation is the major theme of their books, when taken as a collection.

Another thought that comes to me on this day has to with an occasion that is not part of today's appointed readings. Rather, it from a later passage in the Book of Acts. We know that Paul and Barnabas worked together for years, and that it was Barnabas who sought out Paul to bring him to Antioch, and that they were called and sent out together. And, this makes the story we shall look at now even more disturbing.

Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. (Acts 15: 35-41)

One of the marks of Divine Inspiration is that the Scriptures never whitewash anybody, even the heroes of our Faith. Here are two saints who had, as the same Book tells us, "hazarded their lives" for the Gospel, now falling into contention with each other.

Even so, these apostles, separated by contention, were apostles nonetheless. The ministry continued, and the power of the Holy Spirit was never diminished. From this we, especially as Anglicans in this whole diaspora and continuum, can take heart. The division between our jurisdictions and bishops reminds us that the Church is a divine institution among flawed human beings, and that it always has been. Words from today's Gospel (which is John 15:12-16) provide the important key to open our understanding of how Christ works through his Church, filled as it is with mere human beings, sinners all. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." It is very correct to say that the sacrament of Orders is indelible. What that means is the work is Christ's work, and he continues his ministry despite human weaknesses and failings.

The other comfort is that God restored trust between the two apostles, as is evident from Colossians 4:10: "
...Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him...)." It is even more evident from the very moving final chapter of Paul's Second Epistle to St. Timothy. "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (v.11) St. Paul had come to new perspective on the subject of that contention years earlier, namely John Mark (writer of the Gospel of Mark). He now valued the ministry of the man whom Barnabas had championed.

It is impossible to put together all the pieces of this story, since St. Barnabas almost fades away after he takes Mark on a separate mission from that of St. Paul back in Acts chapter 15. The few pieces we are given provide consolation.


Anonymous said...

'Is this some new kind of elitism, being different from the BCP just to be different?'

Unfortunately, in my experience it's not new.

Anonymous said...

I have used and do use the "Anglican Missal" for twenty years and have on ocassion the "American Missal" and have never seen anything but the BCP Saints' Days as primary. What "missal" are you referring to?

I have often used the Sts. Barnabas-Paul contention as an example of the antiquity of the infighting amongst Bishops.

Fr. D.

Anonymous said...

I too am curious about which Missal changes June 11 from Barnabas to Bartholomew. June 11 belong to Barnabas in the old Missale Romanum and in the wretched 1979 so-called BCP alike. The same is true in the American Missal and (as far as I can detect) the Anglican Missal.

I strongly concur in your principle
that the historic BCP is normative, and the two Missals are strictly supplementary. As an illustration of how that principle should come into play, check the various Ordo Kalendars to see where St Philip & St James landed this year: May 2, May 9, or May 21, depending on how the kalendarist interpreted the phrase "the next open day."
Laurence K. Wells

Paul Goings said...

Yes, which missal is this? It can't be an issue of slavishly following the traditional Roman rite, as it has S. Barnabas, Ap. on 11th June as well. Is this a provision of one of the newer calendars?

Anonymous said...

I must admit I have never understood Continuum Order Kalenders. Their cobbled construction seem obscure and pedantic, but if any principle is involved it seems to be that the Counter-Reformation was correct -- which begs the question, why call it Anglican at all?

Hence, I form my own Sanctorial. First principle, Saints observed by both East and West (universal Saints of the undivided Church) have priority and are observed on their Western Day. After that, Western Saints and "Blesseds" with the greatest British and/or English-Speaking Affinity are observed on their traditional calendar days. Finally, all "Counter-Reformation" Saints are excluded as "local" (at best) and peculiar to a different Communion, which you are free to join.

In practice, this means starting with the 1928 BCP, then going to Lesser Feasts and Fasts (omitting dubious new additions and Counter-Reformation interpolations), and finishing up with "Celebrating the Saints" and "For All the Saints" (respectively British and Canadian versions of Lesser Feast and Fast). The sum product is VERY Anglo-Celtic in ethos and devoid of any post-Schism, Ultramontane feeling -- in other words its Anglican, not Roman, as we are.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I too am curious about which Missal changes June 11 from Barnabas to Bartholomew.

Actually, that was an edition of the Ordo Calendar. I suspect, since they left Aug. 24, intact, that it was a misprint.

palaeologos said...

I'm fairly sure this was a misprint; whoever edited the Kalendar simply typed (or wrote) Barnabas instead of Bartholomew.

An easy mistake to make, if you're in a hurry and pressed by a deadline.

John A. Hollister said...

An anonymous Anonymous wrote:

"I form my own Sanctorial.... In practice, this means starting with the 1928 BCP, then going to Lesser Feasts and Fasts ... and finishing up with 'Celebrating the Saints' and 'For All the Saints' (respectively British and Canadian versions of Lesser Feasts and Fasts)."

As a first step toward this sort of thing, but wishing to remain within the ambit of the traditional BCPs, I have compiled a table for each month of the year which gives, in parallel columns and for each day of that month, the Red Letter Days and lesser observances set out in several traditional BCPs: 1662, 1928 American, 1929 Scottish, 1954 African, 1962 Canadian, and 1963 Indian (together with the 1960 Indian Supplement).

If anyone is interested in this, I would be happy to email him or her a copy upon request. My personal email is

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

Canon Hollister and Death Bredon, may I ask if you (and others) find the calendar found in the ANGLICAN SERVICE BOOK published by Good Shepherd Rosemont to be acceptable?