Thursday, August 21, 2008

In all fairness to ourselves

In recent comments we have heard about bad parishes and mean-spirited Continuing Anglicans. I do not doubt that such problems exist among some of our people, just as they do in every section of the Church and among many various sects. People are sinners, and that surely includes all of us. Nonetheless, I want to go on record as saying that in my associations with Continuing Anglicans, what I have found for the most part has been that people are gracious, and very concerned about evangelism. This is what I have encountered across the board, among people in the ACC, the ACA, the APCK, etc.

The people on the outside are ready always and everywhere to beat us up, and that includes some of the Anglo-Catholics in the mainstream Canterbury churches. Before our own St. Andrew's congregation moved into the historic building we have in Easton, Maryland (formerly Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church for about 150 years), we were renting store space for many years. Some (certainly not all) of the local Episcopalians mocked and derided our "store-front church" during those years. At one point a couple was shamed by their "conservative Episcopalian" friends into leaving our little church, and even into spreading their derision of us far and wide. In those years we had people actually say, "when you have a proper church (by which they meant building- a mark of theological ignorance) we might think about joining you."

We could only apologize for using a store-front with the excuse that Easton has no catacombs. I suppose that such people with their refined taste for attractive architecture would have preferred a temple to the Greek Pantheon, or a shrine to one of the gods, over the houses and catacombs where Christ's Church could be found during the time of persecution by the empire. Not everybody has the endurance it takes to start up a Continuing Church, to be faithful to it despite the costs and hardships of early years, with the addition of mocking and derision from established Episcopal Churches. I respect the people who have gone through such difficulties, and those who are yet in such a time. (Even now, our ability to remain in this building is uncertain, due to the current troubles in the American economy.)

About the apparent divisions among Continuing Anglicans, we do have to reply with realistic appraisal of our true condition. First of all, I see more evidence of charity and desire for unity than I see of the opposite. We need to remember certain facts.

1) Not every jurisdiction can be traced to the 1978 Denver Consecrations. Some are older.
2) Some are not splits, but imitation. As I have said before, that is simply what Freedom of Religion produces. Anybody can call himself an Anglican and start up a church.
3) Continuing Anglicans are not the only traditional Catholics who have to put up with vagante (or epsicopus vagens). There are also imitation Orthodox, and imitation Roman Catholics - such as the ones falsely identified as Catholic whenever some clumsy news outlet reports their "ordinations" of women.

The accord between the ACC, UEC and APCK is not a small matter at all. From my perspective, the ACC is needed by those other two jurisdictions, because they are small right now; and this unity is based on a true adherence to Anglican Comprehensiveness, embracing the decidedly "low church" UEC (low church does not mean un-Catholic).

Questions about mysterious jurisdictions, to those who are looking for a church, should include the following:

1. Does the jurisdiction exist for a valid reason, or simply because somebody wanted to be the bishop (or Archbishop)?
2. Does it have Canon Law?
3. Is it in communion with anybody?
4. What accountability is there concerning everything from money to doctrine?

(Some of you may add to this list in comments)

You see, not all churches are created equal.


Fr William Bauer said...

I have attended a number of parishes in a number of Continuum jurisdictions. I have been welcomed in all.

I am in the EMC. EMC's presiding bishop is in the Chambers line. The EMC is in official communion with several jurisdictions, although not with ACC, APCK or UECNA. EMC's first presiding bishop (A. Donald Davies) tried intercommunion with many many. Our current PB requests intercomunion with many many (as seen on the EMC website).

Anonymous said...

"[L]ow church does not mean un-Catholic."

Thank you Fr. Hart for saying out loud something that needed to be said. I hope we Continuers can take this to heart.

I would add another axiom we Continuers need to keep in mind, "More Roman does not necessarily mean more Catholic."

Daniel Stoddart said...

I'm a deacon in the Continuum, and my bishop is in the Chambers/Doren/ACNA line. Just wanted to say how much I appreciate this post, Fr. Hart. Especially the remark concerning low-churchers, though undoubtedly like yourself, I'm not sure how helpful the low-broad-high categories are anymore.

I am interested in how intercommunion between the UEC and the other jurisdictions, which are Anglo-Catholic, looks on the ground.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps now would be a good time to stop deriding small congregations simply for their size. Just because a congregation is small doesn't mean it isn't valid; doesn't mean it isn't comprised of a group of people struggling very hard to keep the faith in the midst of a perverted, godless society; doesn't mean they don't deserve affirmation and encouragement.

Wherever 2 or more are gathered....

D. Straw said...

"More Roman does not necessarily mean more Catholic."

Amen...After all...Are the Antiochians "less Catholic"?

Being Catholic is in your heart and in your beliefs. It is not in your churchmanship.

D. Straw said...

One more thing, It didn't take long for me to be in the Continuum for me to see a schism happen. I saw people leave for no other reason than, "I like that bishop better..." When I confronted them about what theological disagreements they had with their bishop they couldn't come up with a single one. Not one valid arguement at all... Yes, schism is the result of sin and selfishness. However, it is also a result of the lack of good theology.

Canon Tallis said...

Since it should already be evident that as soon as I finish the office in the Morning, I log into The Continuum, I refrained from being the first commentator in this discussion because while I was there at the very beginning of the Continuum, I found myself for moral reasons then unable to embrace either what became APCK or the ACC. Why, I reasoned then and now, jump from the frying pan into the fire? The situation has changed greatly since with jurisdictions beginning and ending like so many batches of popcorn, but almost always based upon bad judgment about personalities. I believe that Father Hart has here recorded one of his own tragedys of judgment and since I know the bishop in question, all I can say is that I am not and never would be surprised. But that was a rollover from the very bad judgment of another who was consecrated too quickly and may have been so in defiance of the apostolic canons. 'Nuf said. I am not up to washing very soiled linen in public.
For myself, after having ascertained that the priest was validly ordained, etc., the question is and must remain, how great is their understanding of the classical Book of Common Prayer tradition and its theological underpinnings and, given what they are able to do in the place where they have to meet, just how much of the classical prayer book pattern of morning prayer, litany, holy communion and evening prayer do they work to maintain. Or, to say it another way, just how much of it do they drop and hold in disdain? Are they attempting to create and keep alive the whole of the prayer book pattern? And, while in this country, I think we are obligated to use '28, I also believe that we must consider how much those serices reflect obedience to the rubrics of 1662 which was the vehicle which was the prayer book tradition before the beginning of the American church. In short, how consciously are we or they Anglicans in the great tradition and not pretending or aspiring to be something else?
When it comes to questions of churchmanship, I remember what St Paul had to say about 'parties' and attempt to confine myself to the question: is it "Church?" And I will confess freely that I have a horror of those willing to accept Anglican orders but who publically sneer at the prayer book and refuse on either a high or low church basis to obey it and the whole of the prayer book tradition - of which, unfortunately, most of them are ignorant.
I was very fortunate in my youth having had a great Anglican scholar, Dr John Raines, take us through "A Tale of a Tub" which satirized the church politics of its day. Between the brothers Peter, Martin and John, I chose to follow John and have not regretted it since as I want my Christianity whole and intact and as close to that of the primitive Church as I can get it or me. That being said, I can do without the struggle for who gets to sit on the biggest water lily leaf.

Anonymous said...

Thirty years later, after the founding of the continuing church, many of the original parishes are the near the point of death. There are not large numbers of new parishes and missions being founded either.

We have a true and wonderful message to bring to the world.

Why don't we have provincial Missioners, Missioners for groups of two or three parishes on the diocesan level? These Missioners could be volunteers -not just clergy, but members of religious orders, Deaconesses, concerned laity.

Why don't we have programs in place to teach parishes how to reach out into their communities for those parishes who are struggling. For the flagship parishes that are doing fine, we should let them continue to do what they do well. But why don't we recruit people from those flagship parishes to teach struggling parishes how to reach souls for Christ?

The average lay person in continuing parishes does want to see their parish bring souls to Christ. But they need leadership that will help them find the means to do it. It seems the clerical leadership is not taking seriously the need to provide training and Missioners.

ACC Lay Person

Anonymous said...

Many Roman Catholic parishes and United Methodist congregations have weekend Lay Witness Missions, a sort of retreat in the parish.

Teams of commited laity go to a parish, and have a weekend of sharing their faith with others.
There are fellowship meals, coffee hours, informal singing and worship, and during all times the laity leadership team share their testimony of faith of what Christ has done in their lives.

These are very effective at teaching the participants how to share their faith with others who live about them. If dedicated laity are in the community sharing their faith, it can be contagious.
The Christian faith more caught than taught. Once it is caught, then the new convert needs to be taught.

The Anglican Church went through one of its greatest periods of growth during the time that the Methodist Societies, a dispersed lay religious order with classes and meetings, were functioning as a part of the Anglican Church. Sadly, the American Revolution brought about their seperation from the Anglican Church. However, they were proof that laity, when actively engaged in lay retreats, lay religious orders, etc., will bring new people into the church.

ACC Member

Anonymous said...

The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) sends Evangelists to Roman Catholic Church in our area.
These Evangelists are not ordained priests, but are well-trained preachers. They preach weekend retreats in the parishes with a Friday evening preaching/singing service, spiritual renewal sessions scheduled at various times on Saturday, and they often give the Sermon during Saturday evening Mass and Sunday morning Mass.

They are trained to give sermons for spiritual renewal of the parish members. These weekends often bring new converts into the churches as well. Preaching is their specialty, as they are not ordained as priests to celebrate the Eucharist.

The Continuum does not have large numbers of religious orders, or religious in the orders that exist.
However, couldn't lay preachers or Deacons be trained to do this work of being Evangelists? Perhaps there are some who have a natural ability as speakers and who might volunteer.

Concerned Continuum Member

poetreader said...

Yes, Fr. Hart, I agree that the preponderance of opinion and desire among Continuers is for unity and cooperation, and the huge majority of contacts I've had have been very favorable, but there are some hard walls of bad feeling that still appear unyielding. particularly as between the two largest 'jurisdictions', ACA/TAC and ACC.

As a member of ACA I have been called a mere Protestant by more than one ACC priest (though far and away my reception has usually been positive and open), and I have had conversations with ACC clergy whom I love and respect, but who seem obdurate in constantly looking back at Deerfield Beach and finding a multitude of reasons for anger toward ACA -- instead of trying to find a way past those problems. At the same time, I've found conversations with clergy of my own jurisdiction (some of them saintly indeed)to be very frustrating in the intransigence and distrust showed toward ACC.

The problem is real, and if not addressed cannot but result in the destruction of our tradition. It can be addressed and solved, and I believe there is a great deal of prayerful desire that it be so. But the problem exists and is all-too-real. I don't intend harsh criticism, but rather a wake-up call.

And, yes, I love the Missal Mass, and wish we all might use it. However, I thank you for pointing out that such 'advanced' practices do not make one more "Catholic" than others. The 1928 BCP is, though capable of improvement, a fully Catholic liturgy, and Prayer Book Catholics are as Catholic as any of the rest of us. If this isn't true, we're dead in the water and should quit now.


Anonymous said...

The "decidedly 'low church' UEC" is actually not really different from many prayerbook catholic ACC parishes.

Universal usage of the Anglican Missal, Chasubles, etc., does not exist in the ACC. There are many prayerbook parishes with priest in Cassock, Surplice and Stole.

This is not something to be ashamed of, but part of our Anglican heritage that is very worthy of continuation.

1928 BCP Supporter

Anonymous said...


Cogent comments as usual. I trust, hope, and pray that we can find a way past the Deerfields of the past and move toward the unified jurisdiction of the future.

Also, I think we need to be tolerant of the Missals, the straight '28, and even the 1549 (IMHO, the first and best), as the local laity desire. Sometimes, offering both a choral, prayer-book communion and Solemn Missal Mass is the way for a parish to maximize its evangelical appeal. I believe that an ACC parish near D.C. does this with success. In any event, forcing a Missal priest on a Prayer-Book congregation, or a straight '28 priest on a Missal congregation is just pig headed and unproductive.

frron said...

In regards to D. Straw's comments..I went through the same schism and was terminated by the Rector. I refused to betray my Bishop and Church
I would think it safe to say that the parish had no idea what they were now required to believe and never checked the Canons , Constitution and Theology of their intended destination.
They just chose to follow their rector and " Rock Star bishop"
In my opinion the passage regarding " Those with itching ears " certainly comes to mind.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Tallis wrote:

I believe that Father Hart has here recorded one of his own tragedies of judgment and since I know the bishop in question, all I can say is that I am not and never would be surprised.

I am sorry to say you lost me on this one. I wasn't commenting on a specific case when listing the questions that ought to be asked. Or, rather, I was commenting on a lot of specific little fly-by-night or other vagante horror stories I know of.

Anonymous said...


St. Andrew and St. Margaret of Scotland ACC in Alexandria, VA, has a Choral 1928 BCP Holy Communion each Sunday, as well as a Missal Mass. As I understand it, the 1928 BCP Choral Holy Communion is the largest and best attended service, but both are doing very well.

The parish is the combination of two former parishes: St. Andrew (a 1928 BCP parish) & St. Margaret (a Missal parish). The two joined together to be able to buy a lovely church building, something neither could accomplish on their own. They very wisely chose to keep alive both the 1928 BCP tradition and the Missal Tradition.

It is very good evangelism to keep both traditions alive. This parish is a flagship parish for the ACC.

I agree that forcing a 1928 BCP priest on a Missal parish, or a Missal priest on a 1928 BCP parish is a disaster waiting to happen.

ACC Member

Canon Tallis said...

I know that there are those who sincerely believe that any of the historical worship patterns that have been tolerated in Anglicanism are equally authentic and equally ok, but the talk of lack of growth, lack of effective evangelism, etc., should give all of you pause. Isn't it just possible that giving the appearance of three churches in one with no possibility of any guarantee that if you are forced to move - and most Americans do experience the forced move for economic reasons - the "Anglican" parish nearest your new home is nothing like that at your old one. Indeed, the rector and a number of the members sneer at the traditions and worship patterns that you were led to believe were entirely consistent with Anglican "doctrine, discipline and worship." They may be what various parties in the Church have done since the days of the first Elizabeth, but there is no way that they can with any degree of honesty be squared with the provisions of the classic English prayer books from 1559 through 1662. Nor can they be squared with the demand of the English prayer book that there be "one use" only. We may, as clergy or laity, like best what we think of as our own, but we need to recognize that our tolerance for our own little foibles doesn't score us either big or necessary points with others. Diversity, whether we like it or not, is not a strength, and if we really, honestly believe that Anglican Christianity is the best way (and I do), then we need to drop the distractions of party in accordance with St Paul's instructions and get own with the business of evangelism. People, all people, read the world first with their eyes. We, even when we know that we are being deliberately deceived, believe what we see. So, "in all fairness to ourselves," we have to realize that when we defend the polarities of missal masses and equate them with low church services of sung morning prayer and sermon, we are all defending our inability to accept and live what the core of the prayer book tradition requires. And that just may be what folks outside the innumerable variety of "Anglican" traditions find unacceptable about what we are selling.
I remember a number of years back I found myself on Easter in strange territory and ended up in what became the pro-cathedral of one of the big three. The service began with the introit, went immediately into the kyries in Greek followed by the prayer book Gloria. This in turn was followed by the collect, epistle and gospel, but the sermon was preached before we were allowed to sing the creed. There was no prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church and the canon that we were allowed to hear was that from the 1662 prayer book which the priest was inserting into the middle of the Tridentine canon in Latin.
Needless to say I was not happy and I did not communicate. The celebration was probably valid but it didn't seem very Anglican. It still doesn't seem so. I am still horrified by it and by what it does to all those who go there looking for Anglicanism.
I also have an almost equally bad memory of a very low church parish from my youth which was surplice without out stole, if you please. The rector, knowing that I hoped eventually to enter the ministry was always forcing very modernist theology books on me in which the Bible was shredded, the facts of the creed were denied and nobody really sinned so that there was no need for confession and repentence. None of those books were written by anyone even pretending to be Anglican. I read the epistle there on Sundays when we had communion at the main service and will never forget the Sunday when the shadows of I, the priest and the deacon bowed at the incarnatus. We didn't, but the shadows did and everyone in the church saw it. We had a very uneasy coffee hour afterwards and I was informed that a good deal of gin and white rum was consumed later in the day.
I know what missal parishes are like. I was married in one and raised by children (baptized and confirmed by Bishop Chambers) in them, but when it came my time to be ordered deacon and priest, I found the vows which I took required something very different of me. It was my Thomas Becket moment so to speak.
I know that we probably won't change and will continue to wonder why the wonderfulness, the wholeness and holiness of Anglicanism which we represent no longer attracts; why we don't grow, but until we actually face how we now appear to the world and even to ourselves we are not going to change. Or grow! And for the sake of my grandchildren and great grandchildren, I regret that more than any of you can know. I keep wondering who is going to be there to say the service, throw dirt on the casket and turn off the lights when the last true prayer book Anglican priest or bishop dies? Who will know or care when the glory, the awesome glory which God through Anglicanism and the prayer book tradition is finally done and gone? Who is going to write our Canticle for Leibowitz?

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Are any of the churches of the historic continuum in communion with (or in discussions with) the Polish National Catholic Church?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Discussions have taken place, and I can't say more.

Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis,

I understand and sympathize with your frustration. I have visited numerous Eastern Orthodox and parishes in numerous (unfortunately) ethnic jurisdiction, but have found the Holy Liturgy virtually the same in all, save for language issues. (Some use all Church Slavonic or Greek; some mix in English; others are predominantly English.) I have an Orthodox friend how finds the consistency of substance and ceremonial (even if not tongue) very comforting, as he travels a lot.

IMHO, I find believe that classic Book of Common Prayer tradition is what we Anglicans really have to offer. Indeed, I have noticed that, on the sign outside, numerous Continuum parishes advertise themselves as "Traditional Anglican" using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, but when you get inside its all Missal and Rome. I think this (hopefully) unintentional bait-and-switch tells the tale. After all, the Book of Common Prayer is the only "standard of worship" according both to the Affirmation of St. Louis and to the Anglican tradition.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

I'd noticed that +Hewett had mentioned in a piece that conversations between the PNCC and the continuum were "opening up"--I've also taken note that PNCC parishes are listed in lists of "safe" Anglican parishes, and that a PNCC priest is a member of an Anglican clergy confraternity. Would be nice to re-establish offical intercommunion with the PNCC as it was before ECUSA went off the rails.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In the United States we took our lesson from the Scots, and produced a BCP modeled after the original 1549 rather than the 1662. When the Anglo-Catholics in this country dressed up the service, they brought back what was called "historic usages," which found their way into the two standard red altar missals. It is the 1928 BCP in fancy dress, with a few extra lines.

What I find to be a problem is subtraction from the Holy Communion, not the addition of something like an introit, no more of a variant than the choice of a given hymn. But, when whole sections of the service are deleted because of undue regard for "Ritual Notes," the result is chaotic. Neither can I tolerate substituting our wonderful, potentially soul-saving Invitation to the General Confession ("Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins...") with something as empty as what the ECUSAn'79 Rite II uses. Among Anglo-Catholics I have heard "Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church, beginning with the words of the General Confession..." which means really, "to keep it short, we will delete the prayer for the Church altogether, and say nothing that moves you to make a good confession. (Is that the time? Golly!)"

But, when using the Missal, I can't say some of the collects on certain saint's days with a clear conscience. I will not confuse people by praying that we may be delivered by the merits(?) of any saint. Somehow, I can't square it with "Hear also what Saint John saith. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins." Or with, "...didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world..." Or rather, even if I perform mental gymnastics to the point where I can, with theologically acrobatic skills, somehow make it all fit together, I would not want to confuse people about the meaning of the Gospel.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Amen Father Hart! That is my main stumbling block with the Missals. I've read that some Anglican divines of the 17th century felt that these references to the "merits" of whichever saint in the old Roman Mass meant nothing more than the merits of Christ by which that saint was saved. It very well could be, but it is still confusing, and each collect written in that manner would need an explanatory footnote.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Also, for me, the inclusion of feasts like the "Chair of Saint Peter" is a bit of a stretch.

Fr. John said...

Wasn't Solomon "delivered" from the sight of the division of the Kingdom because of God's regard for David?

Can't the faith of the believing husband stand for the unbelieving wife's?

Anonymous said...

Good point Fr. Hart.

Many parishes simply use the various Missals to supply a minor proper, a proper collect, or the odd line or two that enhances the BCP in much the same way the good Hymnals do. This is an art, of course, and unless careful thought goes into it, the result can oft be overkill.

Indeed, use of the Missals "to through the kitchen sink" at the BCP, along with entirely Roman vestments, ceremonial, musical selection, and ornaments often manages to transport us back into the Counter-Reformation (minus the Latin). It is, as Canon Tallis notes, quite perturbing and unedifying. Sometimes, I get the impression that some of the "Biretta Belt" parishes are competing to be "more Counter-Reformation than thou."

Indeed, there are only so many Hail Mary's with the ahistorical, Counter-Reformation ending "pray for us sinners . . ." and so many recitations of the Angelus that can be publicly used before, during, or after "Mass" before a parish is simply no longer Anglican in any conventional sense of the word.

In sum, Fr. Hart, I like your voice of reason. Don't drop the distinctive parts of the BCP and don't add so much supplemental adornment as to cause the congregation to suffer from "Missal fatigue" or induce "Rome envy." And, in all fairness, there really is no excuse for an Anglican parish to be as "pine and plain" as Quaker meeting house.

Yes, good liturgics is an art, but that is why Continuum clergy make the big bucks!

Anonymous said...

. I will not confuse people by praying that we may be delivered by the merits(?) of any saint. Somehow, I can't square it with "Hear also what Saint John saith. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins." Or with, "...didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world...?

An excellent point, Fr. Hart. I recently received the "Traditional St. Augustine's Prayer Book" from, and it contains much the same error (though also much good to recommend it).

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...that is why Continuum clergy make the big bucks!

Perhaps, but only with the aid of a good printer, grainy paper, and good artistic skills.

Fr. John said...

If the merits of the saints are not a very real help to us, then how do you explain the power of the relics of the saints?

I know that many reject the power of such relics, but they forget about the mantle of Elijah, the prayer cloths, or handkerchiefs of St. Paul, the Shadows of Sts. Peter and John at the Temple, and the mother of all relics the Ark of the Covenant.

If these and other relics of the saints have power to convert, heal, and make whole, then it is no reach to realize that so much the more the lives of the people who owned and had a connection to them also have such power.

Fr. John said...

Now, all power and glory belong to Christ, in the Holy Trinity, alone. No orthodox Christian may dispute that fact. However, the mystery of faith and the saving power of Christ have been translated and exhibited over and over again in the lives of his holy people, or saints if you will. The lives of such saints do have merit beyond themselves and act to channel the power of Christ to others in much the same way as a sacrament does. Before exploring this more fully, let us turn to the collects known as "of the saints."

Some have cast this discussion as Book of Common Prayer vs. Anglican Missal. The Missal contains many of the prayers of the ancient sacramentaries that make reference to the "merits" of Jesus Christ our Lord coming to us through the works of holy men, the saints, but so does the Prayer Book. Read this from the 1662 BCP pg. 285, the collect for the feast of St. Luke; "Almighty God, who calledst Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist, and Physician of the soul; May it please thee, that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

This clearly states that the works done by Luke are to our advantage through the merits of Christ. I think we can agree that all of our works are naught without the sanctifying power of Christ. No meritorious work can be efficacious unless it is tied into and rooted in the merits of Christ, but the theology of this prayer is plain to even the most casual reader. Luke's meritorious works, sanctified and make efficacious through Christ, but "delivered by (St. Luke)heals the diseases of our souls.

There are other examples but this will suffice to get the debate going.

Fr. John said...

And this;

The Catechism of The Catholic Church.

946. After confessing 'the holy catholic Church,' the Apostle's Creed adds 'the communion of saints.' In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: 'What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?' The communion of saints is the Church.

947. 'Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others...We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ since he is the head....Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments. As this Church is governed by one and the same spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund.

948. The term communion of the saints, therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta) and among holy persons (sancti).

956. The intercession of the Saints. Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in Heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness...they do not cease to intercede to the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you more effectively than during my life. (Saint Dominic, dying, to his brothers.)

I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth. (Saint Therese of Lisieux)

957. Communion with the saints. It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself.

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their King and Master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples! (Martyrium Polycarpi, 17:Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396)

2683. The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those who the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise Him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were put in charge of many things. Their intercession is the most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.

Excerpts taken from Cathechism of the Catholic ChurchCopyright © Concacan Inc. - LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA, 1994, for the English translation in Canada. All rights reserved.

And this also;

Praying to the Saints and Angels

Maria Hernandez

One of the main practices which Protestants often greatly misunderstand is the custom praying to the saints and angels for intercession. We believe that the angels and saints in Heaven not only pray with us, but also for us. The saints in Heaven have the ability to offer up to God the prayers of the faithful on earth. This may be seen by a passage from Saint John the Evangelist in the Book of Revelations:

Rev. 5:8 '....The twenty four elders (the leaders of the people of God in Heaven) fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full on incense, which are the prayers of the saints.'

The angels are also mentioned as doing essentially the same thing:

Rev. 8:3-4 'An angel came and stood at the altar in heaven with a golden censor; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.'

The Protestants who have a problem with Catholics giving honor to and praying for intercession from the angels and saints usually mention one passage to support their position: 1 Timothy 2:5 in which Jesus is mentioned as the only Mediator between man and God. This verse is very true, Jesus is the sole Mediator, but this does not mean that we are restricted from asking our fellow Christians to pray both for us and with us. This would include our fellow Christians in heaven and in Purgatory, who are all a part of the body of Christ: the Church.

If you are ever asked by a Protestant why we pray to the saints, ask them this:

'If your mother was very ill, would you come to me and ask me to join you in prayer for her? If you would come to me, a mere person, a sinning human being, and ask me to intercede in prayer for your intention, why not of to a saint in heaven who is already purified and perfected and sees the face of God? Our brothers and sisters in Heaven have already been sanctified, so why can't we ask for them to pray for our specific intentions?'

We believe in giving honor to the communion of saints, in heaven. One way, aside from directly praying to them is by wearing medals with their images and displaying statues and pictures of them in our homes. Again, we do these things as visual reminders of these wonderful saints who are just waiting for us to call upon them and their powerful intercession. When we display a small statue of Saint Michael the Archangel on an altar or in a child's room, we are reminded of his courage in rejecting Lucifer and fighting the good battle for Christ. We can feel his powerful intercession and presence as protection against evil. Any type of picture or image of the saints, angels, Blessed Mother or Christ serve as ways to bring our hearts, minds and thoughts to God and godly things. There are so many distractions in our world today, we all need something visual during the course of our day to bring us back to God now and again. That is the purpose of having images and statues of the angels and saints.

Protestants may use the argument that having such images constitutes 'worshipping false idols,' but once again, this is a great misunderstanding. We do not worship the actual stone from which the statue is made from, not the actual paper and frame from which a picture is made. Just as most of us have pictures of family members and loved ones around our homes, we have them as visual reminders of those we love. We do not actually worship the picture itself, but love and honor the friend or relative which the picture represents.

Help your children develop a personal relationship with specific angels and saints. Patron saints are a good place to start, but devise other ways in which your child may discover specific saints and learn to pray to them for intercession. Some ways [to do this] are visiting saintly shrines, reading books about the lives of the saints and watching television programs on the lives of specific saints on Catholic programming networks. Teach your children that they saints and angels in heaven, and the souls in purgatory, are all part of the Church. We ask them for their intercessory prayers because we are all members of this same Church. We hope to join the saints in heaven some day to be part of the Church Triumphant. Until then, we will ask them to pray for us and with us, because they are already blessed to see the face of God and their prayers are perfect.

Excerpt from 'A Crash Course in Apologetics for Catholic Mothers' by Maria Hernandez.

The only criticism I have of the above is that I would use the phrase "invocation of saint" rather than reference "praying to saints," which is theologically misleading. We cannot know for certain that the saints hear our prayers, but we may rest assured that they are made aware of them through the Communion of Saints.

Anonymous said...

I have 'popped into' two Continuing Churches here in the UK (ACC & TAC) whilst on holiday and as a member of the Canterbury Communion I've been welcomed and very impressed with the dedication of both congregations.

However, the sad thing was that, even over here, there is talk of 'splits' and even of Deerfield. While the ACC prepares to consecrate a Bishop for the UK one wonders if the Continuing Churches in England couldn't strive for that unity that hasn't been possible so far in the US. Should those 'state-side problems' really matter on this side of the pond?

James Russell

Anonymous said...

Fr. John,

I believe that the criticism of the Missals' use of "merits of the saints," was not that the concept is theologically indefensible, but patient of serious confusion to an Anglican congregation. Hence, pastoral prudence may indicate avoiding same, as they are not required in the BCP tradition, which is the core of our tradition.

Also, you are correct that there can be no dispute that the Missals do contain ancient prayers, introits, graduals (grails), collects, and commemoration of saints of the Latin Church before the Schisms into English, Latin, Greek, and Oriental. Consequently, using the Missal with discernment to supplement (but hopefully not swamp or subvert) the BCP is a legitimate option, even for a Prayer-Book Catholic parish.

OTOH, as an Anglican Cleric correct notes, the Missals (as well as the Anglican Breviary) also contain Feasts, Fasts, and Commemoration of Saints that, strictly speaking, are local and peculiar only to the Latin Rite of the Roman Communion after the Counter-Reformation. Generally speaking, they are not celebrated in public liturgy by the East or by traditional Anglicans, as Universal Feasts, Fast, and Saints as well as our own local, Anglican Saints, should take precedent.

In sum, Godly, Anglican careful discernment regarding both the (1) amount; and (2) the content, of any Missal supplementation to the BCP is highly desirable. Those clergy who do well will not only edify their folk, but also will begin receiving large payments from Fr. Hart's new printing press -- er, I mean Mint. [A trick: the 1962 Canadian BCP, which is the last traditional edition and is very similar to the U.S 1928 edition, has a calendar, propers, and a table of introits and grails that does 99% of the work of integrating the BCP with good, solid supplemental material contained in the various Missals.]

* * * *

Speaking of peculiarly and local Anglican Saints and "blesseds," in addition to the 1962 Canadian Calendar and Propers, I highly recommend (1) Lesser Feast and Fasts (United States)[read with discernment and discretion]; (2) For all the Saints (Canadian); and (3) Celebrating the Saints (British) for supplemental liturgical material should a parish want to go beyond the sparse 1928 Calendar. We Anglicans should be glad that we have a great patrimony of catholic witness, which was once the envy of the entire Church -- Britain was called the Isle of Saints for good reason -- to exhaust before we have any need to look to Rome or the East for supplementation.


Fr. Robert Hart said...


You misunderstand what I dislike about some of those collects. Simply put, it is that the very explanation you have taken the time to write becomes necessary each time. I prefer something simple, like invoking saints and saying, "Pray for us." "That we may be delivered by the merits of..." can suggest that ultimate deliverance from sin and death that only Christ can give. Perhaps I am failing to give credit to some of our people, who no doubt know better; but, I prefer to keep the Gospel very clearly defined for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Why do we have quote from the Cathechism of the Roman Catholic Church?

This is why the Continuum is headed for future division. The true Anglicans will have to seperate from the priests and parishes who have begun to practice Roman Catholicism (not the faith of the primitive catholic church).

Why do Continuum bishops continue to ordain clergy who are actually Roman Catholics at heart and in practice?

Concerned Continuum Member

Fr. John said...

Fr. Hart,

I understand, but I cannot accept that Maria Hernandez should be better instructed than our own laity.

Anonymous said...

"Anglican Catholic Faith And Practice" by The Most Rev. Mark D. Haverland is an excellent book that summarizes the catholic faith in the Anglican tradition.

There are also such classics as "The Catholic Religion" by Staley, et. al.

It seems to me that an ACC Priest should quote from those sources rather than the Roman Catholic cathechism.

1928 BCP Supporter

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very good for the most part. It is not perfect, not infallible and not an authoritative text for us; but it has a lot of good parts.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

I agree with everything that Father Hart, Mr. Nelson, the Concerned Continuum Member, and the 1928 BCP Supporter have said. Let me also express concern that we're bringing the concept of "Purgatory" into this discussion, given that this is NOT a Catholic concept and is rejected by the Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church (who seems very well read in what is Catholic and what is not). Praying for the faithful departed is not the same as believing in Purgatory. I've heard far too many Anglicans and Romans link the two together. Purgatory has no relationship to a defense of the invocation of the saints or devotion to them. Indeed, trying to link the two is a dangerous move in that it is likely to cause most Anglicans to reject the saints because they see them as tied to the Roman doctrine of Purgatory. Falling back onto the Roman Catechism or EWTN as a defense for such things is unlikely to calm the hearts or convince the minds of Anglicans who fear that we're just "aping Rome."

Also, we do not invoke the saints to gain access to Christ--we have union with the saints because we are in communion with them through Christ.

Purgatory is not a Catholic doctrine (rejected as it is in the Eastern Church and without foundation in the ancient Church), but a Roman one. Here too we again must distinguish the Roman from the Catholic, for they are not identical. We can still pray for the departed (as we do in the 1549 and 1928 Eucharists) and have no need to embrace the Roman justification for engaging in the practice by making recourse to the concept of Purgatory. So, do we Anglican believe that the saints pray for us? Yes, for we pray with “all the company of heaven” in the Holy Eucharist (whether one uses the 1549, the 1662, or the 1928 variations). I’ve read pieces by C.S. Lewis and the Rev’d Dr. Toon supporting the notion that as we can ask the saints on earth for their prayers (“oremus”), so too can we ask the Saints in heaven for theirs. However, are there objections to the practice? I must admit that there are, if we engage in this practice after a certain way, namely phrasing the prayers to the saints without reference to God the Father or Christ Jesus. Can the objections be overcome? I believe they can, in a manner commensurate with the thinking of the Caroline divines of Anglicanism and the practice of the ancient Church. On this issue I will first turn to a favorite English Catholic text of mine—Vernon Staley’s The Catholic Religion, for I believe Canon Staley addresses this issue in a concise, honest, and forthright manner:

“That the saints who have gone before pray for us, has always been the belief of the Church. We believe that they join in prayer for us on earth with a power which was not theirs whilst in the flesh—the mother for her children, the priest for his flock, friend for friend. And it is lawful to ask God to grant us a share in their intercession. In what way, or to what extent, the saints are conscious of our needs, has not been revealed to us. The Church of England, in Article XXII condemns “the Romish doctrine concerning invocation of the saints,” that is to say, that system of prayer to the saints which led to their being regarded otherwise than as exalted supplicants. Before the Reformation serious abuses had arisen. It was supposed, for instance, that the saints had power with God because of their own merits, and that they were kinder, and had greater sympathy for sinners than Christ our Saviour. Upon this subject we quote the words of Dr. Pusey—

“The exclusive address of unseen beings has an obvious tendency at once to fall into a sort of worship; it is too like the mode in which we address almighty God to be any way safe; the exclusive request of their intercession is likely at once to constitute them intercessors in a way different from God’s servants on earth, and to interfere with the office of the Great Intercessor;”

and again ,

“For members of the English Church, who desire the prayers of the departed, it has to him ever seemed safest to express the desire for those prayers to God ‘of whom and through whom and to whom are all things.’”pp 130-131

Here we are actually left with a solution to any perceived problem with “invoking the saints.” In summary of the points above, Canon Staley notes that the Roman practice was tied up with the saints having merits of their own, something that is rejected in the Articles when they reject the works of supererogation: “whereas Christ saith plainly When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.” The only merits we can rightfully plead are the merits of Christ. We must also reject the notion that the saints are, in a sense, replacements for Christ as a mediator—that Christ is too far off, too fearfully awful that we must come to Him through another channel. The is a notion of the Middle Ages that Staley rightfully notes as erroneous. This idea must be countered, for Christ is our only Mediator and Advocate who intercedes with the Father on our behalf. That Christ is too remote or unsympathetic is no justification for invoking the Saints: Once again--We do not come to Christ through the Saints; rather we have communion with the Saints in and through Christ.

The last issue that Staley notes it the idea that the Saints in heaven may not be conscious of our needs. This issue must be addressed. Pusey remarks that “The exclusive address of unseen beings has an obvious tendency at once to fall into a sort of worship; it is too like the mode in which we address almighty God to be any way safe.” Pusey is not rejecting prayers to the Saints—he is commenting that prayers composed in a manner in which they are exclusively addressed to the Saints comes too close to the form of prayer we use to address God alone. What then is the remedy to this and to the criticism that we have no assurance that the Saints even hear our requests? Pusey provides the suggestion that addresses both of these issues, that

“. . .for members of the English Church, who desire the prayers of the departed, it has to him ever seemed safest to express the desire for those prayers to God ‘of whom and through whom and to whom are all things.”

Here we have a conclusion that was arrived at also by the Caroline divines, one that is illustrated by reference to the old Roman Mass itself. For in the old Roman Mass, we have a prayer addressed to God Almighty, but within this prayer there is a request for the prayers of the saints. Again, note that this is not initially a prayer addressed to the Virgin, St. Andrew, or St. Agnes—it is addressed to God and concluded “through Christ.” What many Anglo-Catholics rejected (see Pusey, Staley, or Westcott’s Catholic Principles) were long prayers addressed to the saint alone and giving the saint (especially the Blessed Virgin) titles usually reserved for Christ. But the prayer in the old Roman Mass is different. Within it is a petition that the saints may pray for us. Several other prayers of the old Missals resemble this prayer. Consider this prayer on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Andrew:

“Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God: that as we do prevent the festival of Thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, so he may implore Thy mercy for us; that we being delivered from all our iniquities, may likewise be defended against all adversities. . .”

At this point it should be clear that this older manner of requesting the prayers of the Saints addresses the main concerns that usually arise. In that we are addressing the prayer to God through Christ, we have the assurance that the Saints in heaven are being commanded by God. We do not pray to the saints to bypass Christ because He is too stern and the saints more merciful—the mercy of God is implored and His omnipotence is rightly assumed. Also, we do not use titles and manners of address reserved for God in Trinity. As Pusey rightly states, those who desire the prayers of the saints ought address this desire to God, in whom are all things.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Fr. Hart that CCC is a valuable resource for Anglicans, as it equally should be the case for St. John Damascene's older EXACT EXPOSITION OF THE FAITH, written before the Great Schisms.

But, I also agree with other posters that neither ought be cited as authority for Anglicans, or even cited before recourse to such Anglican classics as Dean Staley's trusty catechism.

Indeed, the entire point of Anglicanism is that Roman teaching as a whole contains serious error, which needs correction by the consensus patrum of antiquity. The Tiber, not the Thames, is for folks who sincerely believe that Trent and the New Dogmas constitute better instruction.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Whereas the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a lot that is of value, I have seen too many cases of Anglicans preparing their people to swim the Tiber by constantly appealing to RC sources. Also, I have seen too many potential Anglicans turn away in disgust, because they see RC sources treated as inherently superior or authoritative; so they return to their Reformed, Lutheran or Baptist sects. Why are these people being lost to Anglicanism and the via media, and sent into different directions? Why do so many Anglican clergy seem unwilling or unable to use Anglican sources? Our classic sources are second to none.

Fr. John said...

We were corresponding concerning the nature of prayers for the various feast days of the saints from the Anglican Missals.

So many straw men have been set up here it seems like an army of scarecrows. For instance, purgatory (whatever that means) does not enter into this discussion.

I do not quote Roman sources as an "authority" for anything. The fact that the documents offer a clear explanation of why the prayers in question are so worded (and guess what? Those prayers precede the great schism between East and West) is why they are presented for inspection. To dismiss them out of hand because they are from a Roman source says more about the critic than the expressions of theology found therein. Why not take issue with what you find there and argue against it?

Gentlemen, this is not Prayer Book vs. Missal. My only point is that the Missals can be used profitably, and takes nothing away from the core Prayer Book service, In my parish we have both the 1928 BCP, and the People's Anglican Missal in the pews. One works as well as the other for our Mass. If one wants to see the priestly prayers, and to take advantage of the additional devotional materials, they would probably prefer the Missal, but many work off of the BCP just as well.

If some one has a problem with the use of the Missals, they should be aware that they are authorized for use in the Anglican Catholic Church under our canons. If someone wants to offer a critique of where the missals teach error, I stand ready to debate them. Otherwise, it just is a matter of taste.

I have no problems with a "straight Prayer Book service," and have conducted them at parishes that prefer them. Some here though seem to have issues with using the Missals. Why not make your case against the Missals and not the Roman Church? I am not going to defend Rome.

I notice that no one has taken me up on the example of the collect for the Feast of St. Luke from the 1662 BCP. Any takers?

John Dixon said...

An excellent post Anglican cleric.

While I am hopeful that Archbishop Hepworth has a copy of Staley and Pusey and intends to remain Anglican while seeking Communion with Rome, for me and my parish Purgatory and other such non-Catholic inventions are deal breakers. I see no difference in the invention of Purgatory and WO. Both are non-Catholic products of particular generations and have pious adherents and both groups of adherents demand acceptance of the innovations with equal zeal.

Purgatory has no basis in scripture and there are many verses that counter any Roman twisting. I would recommend William Wake's treatment in More and Cross: Romviii, 18; II Cor. iv, 17; Rev. xiv, 13;Phil. i, 23; II Cor. v, 1,6; aas well as others from the Psalms.

I agree that any reasonably orthodox catechism or source should be availed of and for some a new book is preferable to an old one that may be crumbling and let's face it you cannot go to the local book sellar and pick up seveeral copies of Staley for a class study. However when foreign sources supplant our own tradition and scholarship we are off the rails.

Personally I see no need for the RCC Catechism as there are abundant Anglican resources. Possibly a good rainy day project for Fr Hart and Anglican Cleric to assemble, edit and publish an Anglican Catechism.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Thankfully, new editions of the old version of the Staley text are available via amazon in a handsome paperback. However, the entire text can be downloaded as a pdf (free!) via the following link:

Also, Father Tarsitano's Outline of An Anglican Life is available from the Reformed Episcopal Church and Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice is available from the Anglican Parishes Association of the Anglican Catholic Church. All three of these books are excellent and (as others have said) we should consult these texts (two modern, one from the last century--all three very much in doctrinal agreement) before we pull out a copy of the Roman Cathechism.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

If Father Hart would like to do it, I would be happy to compose a classical Anglican Cathechism with him.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Father John,

Maria Hernandez's piece mentions teaching Purgatory to our children to foster a devotion to the saints. This was my reason for addressing this topic.

Anonymous said...

Fr. John,

* * * * *

"Those prayers precede the great schism between East and West) is why they are presented for inspection. To dismiss them out of hand because they are from a Roman source says more about the critic than the expressions of theology found therein."

* * * * *

As I recall, Fr. Hart and the other Missal "critics" acknowledged that certain Missal prayers were ancient, and Fr. Hart most certainly did not "dismiss them out of hand [simply] because they are from a Roman source," but rather for prudent and cogent reasons of pastoral concern for his flock.

Nevertheless, I glad that a self-avowed Missal advocate in the Continuum has publicly acknowledged that the Missal is from "a Roman source." This fact was readily admitted by the Missal creators and early adherents and, of course, their express purpose was to to anticipate reunion with Rome by being Roman within the C of E, NOT to supplement and strengthen the BCP tradition -- though the latter motive is probably that of contemporary Missal proponents in the Continuum (or at least I hope and pray this is so, for its is what was Affirmed at St. Louis).

But, as for those who do "dismiss [certain prayers from the Missal] out of hand because they are from a Roman source," does say "more about the criticthan the expressions of theology found therein." Indeed, it says, to me, that the critic is simply not Roman, and just perhaps that he is an Anglican that realizes that his own patrimony SO OVERFLOWS WITH DISTINCTIVE -- YET FULLY CATHOLIC -- PRAYER, RITUAL, CEREMONIAL, HYMNOGRAPHY, ORNAMENTATION, VESTMENTS, ART, ARCHITECTURE, CEREMONIAL, USAGE, AND CUSTOM, ETC. so as to obviate any need for recourse (or longing for) Rome Use, not that the occasional discerning employment of an element of Greek, Slavic, Latin, or other catholic tradition is fine.

Pax Anglicanum

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart and others:

I agree wholeheartedly with you that Anglican clergy using the RCC Cathechism, and using it as a source, is just encouraging our people to swim the Tiber.

I don't deny that there is much truth in it, but there is also contained in it the doctrinal error that provided the need for the English Reformation, or as I like to call it, the English Restoration.

We have classic writers like Staley, and wonderful contemporary writers like The Most Rev. Haverland that we can use as a reference.

1928 BCP Supporter

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I criticize the Missal, but also use it.

Anonymous said...

"I have seen too many cases of Anglicans preparing their people to swim the Tiber by constantly appealing to RC sources."

Their people, or, more often in my observation, themselves.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

There is nothing unbiblical about references to the merits of the saints benefiting us as long as it is understood that they do so via their connection with intercessory prayer: "the prayer of a righteous man avails much", James 5.16. See also John 9.31. And the RCC teaches that it is only by their prayers that the saints help us, as taught at Trent. As a general rule, the holier the person, the more effective their prayers, though God can do what he likes and goes beyond what such considerations in his mercy (cf. Collect for Trinity 12). All of this is taught by the RCC, the ancient Missals, and the ACC in its canonical authorisation of the Missals.

As for purgatory, once one accepts, as we all do, that our prayers benefit the faithful departed and that some growth and purification (1 Corinthians 3.12-15, 2 Corinthians 3.18, 1 Thessalonians 5.23, see also the prayer in the 1928 BCP, p.335-336) and particular judgement (Luke 16.19-31) are elements of the period before the Resurrection-Life in the New Age due to our imperfections, it is difficult to see how this differs from purgatory as a dogma. After all, what I just described is pretty much all that is de fide in that teaching in the RCC. Beliefs such as Purgatory being a literally separate "place", and a place where literal, fiery, hell-like tortures are applied are mere opinions not binding and are becoming less common in the RCC. And the "years" of punishment referred to in indulgences are explicitly said not to literally apply to time in the intermediate state.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

The Eastern Orthodox Church is still withholding judgment whether the new Roman gloss on Purgatory somehow erases centuries of quite different teaching. Also, it is far from clear how much support the "minimizing version" of Purgatory has within the Communion. In short, IMHO, it is way to soon in the slow working of ecclesiastical time to conclude that Rome has seen the light on this one, though I am buoyed a bit by your comments.

Also, does the ACC hold that the Missals are standards of doctrine and worship or that they may supplement and be used in conformity with the Book of Common Prayer?

I had thought that the subordination of the Missals to the BCP was fundamental in the Continuum. I quote the Affirmation of St. Louis:


Prayer Book -- The Standard of Worship

In the continuing Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer is (and remains) one work in two editions: The Canadian Book of 1962 and the American Book of 1928. Each is fully and equally authoritative. No other standard for worship exists.

Certain Variances Permitted

For liturgical use, only the Book of Common Prayer and service books conforming to and incorporating it shall be used."

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Ok. . .the canaonical status of the missals has been mentioned several times. This does not mean that everything in them is perfect. Everything must be interpretted in the light of and context of the the doctrine of the Seven Councils. If the content doesn't pass that test (modern Roman saints and feasts or anything that teaches doctrine not affirmed in the church prior to A.D. 1054) it probably shouldn't be used.

Anonymous said...

I am with Fr Hart in extreme theological discomfort with the notion of "merits" of the saints.
Our Lord has silenced any discussion of pretended merits when he said,
"When ye have done all that is commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants." (Lk 17:10, quoted in Article XIV).
For those disposed to quote the Missals as doctrinal sources, it may be of interest that the American Missal (to my way of thinking a more scholarly product than the Anglican Missal)has on page 455 a rubric which says,
"the phrase 'merits of the saints' refers to the triumphs of Christ in them."

As for the discussion of purgatory, the real question is not "Do we believe in purgatory," but rather "What do we believe about the Intermediate State?" Fr Benedict Groeschel says wisely that Purgatory is NOT a temporary hell, but rather a prelude to heaven. Anybody who makes it to purgatory is guaranteed salvation!
But the word purgatory is so laden with unBiblical connotations (notions of temporal penalties for unshriven venial sins and the like) that it is better not to revive it.

While I refuse to use the word purgatory (if anyone asks me to give a name to the Intermediate State, I call it by the NT term Paradise), the Protestant denial of purgatory has boomeranged on them, so that they have only a vague notion of just "going to heaven when we die," so that the Resurrection of the Body at the Last Day is minimized if not rejected outright.

Anonymous said...

Fr Kirby writes:

"As a general rule,the hoiler the person, the more effective their (sic) prayers."

Consider two Biblical examples:

"Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

"Father, let this cup pass from me."

Now I would ask, which was more effective? And which was the holier person?


Fr. John said...

Fr. Kirby,

Your comments are like a breath of fresh air.

Reference some other comments: As for the Missal being from a Roman source, I wrote no such thing. Better go back and reread the comments. The Sarum Missal, on which the Anglican Prayer Books are based, well precedes the Council of Trent, and also the Great Schism between East and West (I have already noted this in regard to the collects that we were discussing originally in this thread)they can therefore, in no way, be considered "Roman."

In many cases we are using the ancient (undivided Church's) formularies, and the Romans are the ones who have abandoned them. Case in point, the Anglican Priest's Manual has an exact translation of the formula for the "Blessing of Water" from the ancient sacramentaries. The Romans no longer use this formula.

Do not fall for Rome's propaganda that they had an objective existence going back to the time of Peter (yes, I know, there was a Church in the City of Rome). The Roman Catholic Church really begins at the Council of Trent. Don't confuse the ancient Western Church with the current Roman one.

The Sarum Missal, which is the basis of our Anglican Prayer Books, cannot honestly be called a Roman one. If you want to gain a greater understanding of the origins of the Prayer Books read Massey Shepard's "American Prayer Book Commentary," and "The American Book of Common Prayer, Its Origin and Development," by The Very Rev. John Wallace Suter, D.D., and The Rev. George Julius Cleavland, and the "Annotated Book of Common Prayer, Being An Historical, Ritual, and Theological Commentary on the Devotional System of the Church of England," edited by the Rev. John Henry Blunt, D.D. You are in for quite an education from these unimpeachable Anglican Sources. Of course, Massey Shepard turned heretic, so that may disqualify his works to some, even though this particular tome is generally recognized as very valuable by the continuing churches various jurisdictions.

Pope Benedict XVI jettisoned the title "Patriarch of the West" not long ago, apparently he, like some on this thread, want to forget that the Western Churches had a past that did not include the modern Roman version of the Church.

No one at my parish has "swam the Tiber" since my being there, and that goes back to 1996. However, we have had quite a few Roman Catholics convert to us. They, of all my parishioners, are the most horrified by any prospect of union with Rome. They know what is going on in the American franchise of the Roman Church and are not ever going back.

If you want a stripped down, dumbed down, "Christianity for Dummies" kind of church, become a full fledged protestant and quit monkeying around with Western Rite Christianity.

Does anyone here honestly think that wearing a chasuble is aping Rome? That using the ancient minor propers, observing saints feast days and trying to understand just what the Communion of Saints really means is a "Romish" thing?

Again, by the arguments presented by some on this thread, the Prayer Book is from a Roman root. For the last time, the collects in the prayer book predate the Roman Catholic Church. They, and the ones in the Anglican Missals, belong to the entire Western Church and are not exclusive to, or copyrighted by Rome.

I find myself in the classic Anglican position of being accused of being a Roman Catholic by protestant minded Anglicans, and of being a protestant by Roman Catholics. Apparently RCs feel just as threatened by High Church Anglicans as protestants do.

I am still waiting for someone to explain why the 1662 Prayer Book has "Roman" (by the standards of some here)prayers.

p.s. I never even implied we should use the CCC to instruct our people. That is one of many straw men set up here. If anyone is suggesting we should avoid all sources save Anglican ones in any discussion of theological points, well that is pretty stupid, and cuts us off from the vast majority of Christian writings. Anglicanism as a stand alone venture, cut off from the past history of the Church, is a prescription for failure. There is, after all, only One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

From the (Roman) Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with (Roman) Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions."

Purgatory is Roman, not Catholic doctrine. Why not just call it the intermediate state, where we all--even the blessed Virgin herself (for the Orthodox continue to pray for her as well)--grow in knowledge and love of God. In traditional Roman thought the "real" saints are in heaven, but all those not pure enough to see God are in another place (Purgatory) suffering punishment for their sins.

Again, ++Haverland rejects purgatory as without basis in Scripture or the ancient Church. While I am not in the ACC, I keep brining him up because I think he's right and Catholic (and therefore properly Anglican) on this issue. Is he infallible? No, but he's got a good theological head on his shoulders and his words should be taken note of.

The equation of Purgatory with the Intermediate State (in the Anglican teaching, the state in which the souls of all of the faithful departed exist before the Resurrection of the dead) is an erroneous one, especially since the Roman Church elaborates upon both Purgatory and the Intermediate State

Indeed, in that the Roman teaching is clearly rejected in the East, such a teaching can in no wise be held as a “Catholic” doctrine proper. When we read Eastern Orthodox texts on such issues there are often narrow variances of opinion than those found in the West and far less elaboration. This from Father Pomazansky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology:

"After being separated from the body, they immediately pass over either to joy or into sorrow and grief, however, they do not feel either complete blessedness or complete torment. For complete blessedness or complete torment each one receives after the General Resurrection, when the soul is reunited with the body in which it lived in virtue or in vice (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18). Thus the Orthodox Church distinguishes two different conditions after the Particular Judgment: one for the righteous, another for sinners; in other words, paradise and hell. The Church does not recognize the Roman Catholic teaching of three conditions: 1) blessedness, 2) purgatory, and 3) gehenna (hell). The very name “gehenna” the Fathers of the Church usually refer to the condition after the Last judgment, when both death and hell will be cast into the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15)."

Here it would seem difficult to apply the “Purgatory” label as many moderns wish to use it.

Few Anglican authors and even fewer Orthodox authors use the term or designation “Intermediate State” to denote a place of pain, suffering, or retribution for sin. However, the Roman Catholic tradition, and some Anglo-Catholics modeling their views after it, emphasizes the pain and satisfaction that are required of the sinner for the sins of his life. How are we to keep this line of thinking in concert with the Comfortable Words (all from the Holy Scriptures) of the Anglican Eucharist, in which we are assured from Scripture that Christ is the propitiation for our sins? Indeed, how are we to read such a view of purgation (in which a satisfaction of pain is required) in light of the Anglican Eucharist’s canon that states Christ is the “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”?

We should view any period of “purgation” (if we are even to employ the term, perhaps “growth” or “purification” would be better terms) in the Intermediate State as the 1549 English and 1928 American Prayer Books put it; as simply a period of “continual growth” in God’s “love and service,” a view I have heard espoused by Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox, and Baptists alike. This way of thinking of the Intermediate State puts to rest notions of satisfaction for sin and places the emphasis on the inexhaustible nature and love of God; it also eliminates any notion of the ahistorical and theologically incoherent idea of an “Anglican doctrine of Purgatory.”

As Meyendorff (1979) recounts in Byzantine Theology:

"The debate between Greeks and Latins (on the question of Purgatory). . . showed a radical difference in perspective. While the Latins took for granted their legalistic approach to divine justice—which, according to them, requires a retribution for every sinful act—the Greeks interpreted sin less in terms of the acts committed than in terms of a moral and spiritual disease which was to be healed by divine forbearance and love. The Latins also emphasized the idea of an individual judgment by God of each soul, a judgment which distributes the souls in three categories: the just, the wicked, and those in a middle category—who need to be “purified” by fire. The Greeks, meanwhile, without denying a particular judgment after death or agreeing on the existence of the three categories, maintained that neither the just nor the wicked will attain their final state of either bliss or condemnation before the last day. Both sides agreed that prayers for the departed are necessary and helpful. . .even the just need them;. . .in particular. . .the Eucharistic canon of Chrysostom’s liturgy. . .offers the “bloodless sacrifice” for “patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith,” even for the Virgin Mary herself." p 220-221

So here even the state of the most blessed is to be viewed". . .not as a legal and static justification, but as a never-ending ascent, into which the entire communion of saints—the Church in heaven and the Church on earth—has been initiated in Christ. In the communion of the Body of Christ, all members of the Church, living or dead, are interdependent and united by ties of love and mutual concern; thus the prayers of the Church on earth and the intercession of the saints in heaven can effectively help all sinners, i.e., all men, to get closer to God." p 221This view of growth during the Intermediate State as a “never-ending ascent” is expressed, as was mentioned above, in the Anglican Eucharists of the 1549 English and 1928 American Prayer Books. The emphasis is not on penance, nor on pain, nor satisfaction for sins (which Christ has already paid) but on growth “in the knowledge and the love of God” of those who have “died in thy faith and fear.”

Let's be Catholic and Orthodox about this--let's set aside the habit of trying to get as close to Rome as possible, adopting their terms whenever possible. Let's truly try to be a New Testament people of the Seven Councils.

As I said before, both the Prayer Books and the Missals are bounded by the consensus of the ancient Church; if we try and make up new doctrine and site them (the Missals) as authorities because there is such and such a prayer that suggests such and such a doctrine, let's test it against the Scriptures, the Councils--and yes, what the Orthodox and the Anglican divines have to say on the matter (not what the Roman Catechism says).

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

As can probably be plainly seen, I am with Father Wells on this one.

Anonymous said...

The Missals are authorized by the Affirmation of St. Louis and Canon Law of the ACC, only as supplements to the BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.

The Missals are just that -supplements to the prayerbook Holy Communion service. They are incomplete and unusable as a replacement for the BCP. The Missals do not contain Morning or Evening Prayer, an Ordinal, a Psalter,supplemental prayers, The Litany, etc. In short, the Missal is incapable of functioning by itself. Thanks be to God for that, or some of our priests would be burning the BCPs!

The importance of the Daily offices and Sunday Morning Prayer and Sunday Choral Evensong should never be underestimated. If you truly study successful Anglican parishes, the majority of successful parishes hold Morning Prayer each Sunday, Evensong on Sunday, and the Daily Offices in the church Monday - Friday. I don't believe this is coincidence. Prayer is important to the health of any parish.

The Oxford Movement taught us the importance of having Holy Communion weekly. Nowhere did the Tractarians suggest we do away with Morning Prayer and Evensong. In fact, they encouraged the Offices to continue. The prayerbook Rubrics, themselves, make fairly clear that Communion should follow Morning Prayer.

ACC Member

Fr. John said...

Matthew David Nelson wrote:

'But, as for those who do "dismiss [certain prayers from the Missal] out of hand because they are from a Roman source,"'

Go back and read the thread again. No one ever asserted this! I was clearly referring to the CCC and the piece by by Maria Hernandez about the "prayers of the saints."

If we were to reject the prayers in the BCP that came from the ancient sacramentaries we would have about a half dozen collects to work with. And again, they are not "Roman" prayers. They belong to the undivided church's Western half.

Please pay closer attention to the thread comments.

Fr. John said...

Anglican Cleric writes:

"Maria Hernandez's piece mentions teaching Purgatory to our children to foster a devotion to the saints."

Not really, she is writing of teaching this to RC children. I don't support the Romish doctrine of Purgatory. I do not use, or recommend the use of, the CCC for instructing Anglicans. I only referenced her piece for the cogent comments on the Communion, and intercession of the Saints.

Do you find any area of disagreement other than the comments on Purgatory?

Fr. John said...

Matthew David Nelson wrote:

"Indeed, the entire point of Anglicanism is that Roman teaching as a whole contains serious error,"

Really? Aside from the claims of papal infallibility, and the compounding of that error by elevating pious beliefs about the BVM to the status of doctrines (a serious error by any theological standard, I agree) how is Roman teaching as a whole in serious error? Please be specific and give real world examples.

I am not defending the Roman Church, I am asking that such broad sweeping statements be backed up with sources and examples. Yes, the American franchise of the Roman Church is in serious error as a whole in fact, but not on paper. For the most part the Vatican remains fairly orthodox in belief and practice, and compared to the Anglican Communion looks even more so. The American branch of that Church has an inferior liturgy to ours, but aside from the admittedly serious error of papal infallibility, in what way doctrinally are they in serious error?

Fr. John said...

matthew david nelson wrote:

"As I recall, Fr. Hart and the other Missal "critics" acknowledged that certain Missal prayers were ancient, and Fr. Hart most certainly did not "dismiss them out of hand [simply] because they are from a Roman source," but rather for prudent and cogent reasons of pastoral concern for his flock."

As a matter of fact Fr. hart said just the opposite, that the CCC could be profitably read.

Some on this thread are tad confused however and think that I recommended using that Catechism for instructing Anglicans. I did not.

Some also allowed that anything from a Roman source should not be viewed, or referred to in a discussion of theological points. That opinion speaks for itself.

Concerned Continuum Member wrote eloquently:

"Why do we have quote from the Cathechism of the Roman Catholic Church?"

Nathan said...

"Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

"Father, let this cup pass from me."

Now I would ask, which was more effective? And which was the holier person?

Lk 22:42 above is incomplete and therefore out of context. In answering the questions one has to consider that the first was promised paradise, but still had to hang on a cross in agony before the promise was kept. The second was sent an angel who strengthened him.


Anonymous said...

Kudoes to Fr John for bringing to our attention the splendid Collect for St Luke's Day which was found in all editions of the BCP from 1549 until 1928, when the seeds of liberalism replaced it. Why? Very likely the allusion of the fine phrase "whose praise is in the Gospel" to 2 Cor 8:18, "and we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches." That text had traditionally been applied to Luke, and taken as evidence of very early composition of the third Gospel. B H Streeters's "documentary hypothesis" seems to have been the driving force for removing that splendid Collect.

But sorry, Fr. John, no cigar. The Collect, and the text behind it, do NOT even vaguely insinuate that Luke ever did anything meritorious. The "medicine of our souls" is the doctrines of grace contained in the Gospel, not the deeds or prayers of Luke himself.

But I do love the Collect and always use it both as a bulletin cover and also as the final collect before the Blessing on St Luke's Day.

I am proud to own a copy of a rare book, Milton Huggett's Concordance to the Book of Common Prayer. Huggett finds no fewer than 24 occurrences of the word "merit" in the Prayer Book, mostly in the terminations to collects. But all, with only one exception, refer to the merits of Christ. He and He alone is meritorious. The only exception is a familiar phrase at the end of the Prayer of Consecration, "not weighing our merits but pardoning our offenses," which echoes the Missal phrase "non aestimator meriti, sed veniae largitor" which goes right back to Gregory the Great himself.

While others may rely on the merits of the saints, I will rely on the merits of Christ. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling." "For lo, between our sins and their reward, we plead the passion of thy Son our Lord."

The notion of any human merit simply cannot be reconciled the the NT doctrine of grace. The two ideas are mutually exclusive and there is no way to bring them into one harmnonious system. St Paul said very clearly, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy" (Titus 3:5).

Anonymous said...

I don't see how one can offer a real defense of the use of the "power of the relics of the saints" from an Anglican perspective (though I would certainly be open to hearing one).
The biblical objects Fr. John cites are specific are in a completely different category from, say, the left pinky digit of St. Gregory of Nyssa.

It seems like their use is, apart from being powerful memorial of the person in question, is little more than talismanic magic.

Canon Tallis said...

For those who wish to enrich the BCP service from Anglican sources i would recommend first the black letter holy days from 1662 and the English and Scots prayer books of 1928 and 1929. That being done, I would use both the proper prefaces from those books as well as the collects, epistles and gospels from same. At the same time I think it would be helpful to add offices, graduals, alleluias, tracts, offertory's and communions from the English Hymnal. These were taken from the Sarum Missal and adapted to the ancient chant. The same hymnal has a variety of office hymns from the Sarum Breviary that are not to be found in The Hymnal 1940. The addition of the use of that hymnal would certainly enrich our services.

But the best thing which could be done for making our services Anglican rather than Roman would be to abandon the counter-Reformation ceremonial of the missal of Pius V for the more masculine and restrained ceremonial of the Sarum rite which was universal in England from 1541 until the introduction of the first prayer book in 1549. And that would or should include the use of the Anglican colour sequence instead of that of the Roman. It would set our usage off against the Roman and serve as a symbol of our theological differences.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

P.S. -- I used the term "aping Rome" only in reference to using the Roman Catechism and using purgatory to defend the invocation of the saints.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Father John,

No, I just objected to the doctrine of Purgatory, as I think my previous postings illustrate. I'm in general agreement with the majority of everything else you've said (here and in other threads).

I have to say that I think several of us may be speaking (or writing) past one another here.

The original comment that sparked this was that Father Hart said "when using the Missal, I can't say some of the collects on certain saint's days with a clear conscience. I will not confuse people by praying that we may be delivered by the merits(?) of any saint. Somehow, I can't square it with "Hear also what Saint John saith. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins."

I said something to the effect of while the Missal is used and explicitly allowed in the Continuum, the theology, like that of the BCP, must be interpretted according to the theology of the 7 Councils and the ancient Church.

Anonymous said...

Fr. John,

Sorry if I have offended. All I can say is that we read the English language employed in the thread in a much different manner.


Anonymous said...

Let's clarify some terms and historical facts here.

First, England has been using the Latin Rite for some time now, but with local usages -- Old Sarum being the most predominant prior to the Reformation (other neighboring countries also used the Old-Sarum Use of the Latin Rite.

Second, the Roman Use of the Latin Right has been has been generally required in the RC Communion for Western Churches for quite some time now (Milanese Usage of the Latin Rite being one of the few allowed exceptions).

Third, the Book of Common Prayer represented a conservative recension of the Old Sarum Use and may fairly be termed "New Sarum." Both Old Sarum and New Sarum are materially distinct from both pre- and post-Counter Reformation, Roman Use.

Fourth, the Anglican Missals are NOT based on Old Sarum, but were expressly published in the early 20th century to satisfy the Advanced Ritualist party of the C of E, who wanted a liturgy that, unlike the BCP, embodied Counter-Reformation spirituality and Tridentine theology.

Fifth, in the early 20th century, Prayer-Book Catholics and Old High Churchman vigorously opposed the Missals on the truly Catholic grounds that the Advanced Ritualists were conflating "Catholic" and "Roman," and violating the very constitutional principles of the English Reformation. (The Ritualists' response was essentialyl, "We know, tough titty.")

Sixth, since the early 20th century, the English Advanced Ritualist further proved their critics point about conflating Catholic and Roman and disloyalty to Anglicanism by following Rome in adopting the Novus Ordo in complete violation of English canonical and civil law. Of course, such action was logically consistent with the Anglo-Romanism of the Advanced Ritualists, who are simply comprise the Anglo-Catholic party in the contemporary C of E (though most will probably be swimming the Tiber now that the C of E has made lawful the ordination of female bishopresses.

Seventh, in North America, Anglo-Catholics have:

(1) generally embraced the Missals thoroughly along with Counter-Reformation spirituality and Tridentine dogmatics; or

(2) used the Missals to supplement the spare calender and propers of the Book of Common Prayer with those portions of the Missals that are consistent with the broader framework of the Anglican formularies and the "New Sarum" liturgy; or

(3) generally, adhered closely to BCP tradition, looking mostly to the Hymnal 1940 and Lesser Feast and Fasts (or analogous works) for supplementation of the BCP, if any.

* * * * *

The discussion in this thread seems to indicate that a few commenters seem to defend Category-One style Anglo-Catholicism on the ground that the terms "Roman" and "Catholic" ARE in fact virtually the same, and by implication that supplanting the BCP Tradition with Tridentine Roman-Use Missals is a good thing.

Most of our commenters, however, are comfortable only with Category-Two and -Three style Anglo-Catholicism on the ground that the better part of 39 Articles issued at the time of the English Reformation, as well as the reference to only Seven General Councils in the Affirmation of St. Louis sufficiently explains to all but the most obtuse and invincibly ignorant why "Roman" is not synonymous with "Catholic," and why Tridentine Roman-Use is beyond the pale of the authentic Anglican liturgical tradition.

IMHO, the majority is correct here because Anglo-Catholic spikes are plainly in conflict (1) with the witness undivided Church catholic, preferring instead Roman sectarianism; (2) with fundamental and constitutional Anglican principles (e.g., the 39 Articles); and (3) with the Affirmation of St. Louis, the foundational document of the Continuum.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Matthew David Nelson.

The Rome-imitator types really need to be honest with themselves and swim the Tiber. I honestly think that they would be happier in the long run. Why should they remain Anglo-Catholic when they are clearly unhappy, and seem to desire a reunion with the Pope, and Rome in general? They should do what would ultimately make them happy.

And, if we are to avoid a rebellion from those of us in the laity, the Continuum bishops need to stop ordaining Rome imitators. Eventually, the laity will say "enough is enough" and the result could be massive defections of parishes.

1928 BCP Supporter

Anonymous said...

"The Rome-imitator types really need to be honest with themselves and swim the Tiber."

I do not entirely agree with this advice. Even when Rome is wrong,
Roman priests understand discipline and holy obedience in a way which the Roman imitator types really do not grasp. Roman clergy are well aware of their Anglican imitators and generally do not hold them in much respect. I have sat among Roman priests who were regaling each other with tales of liturgical silliness at various spike parishes. They look upon Anglicans as a sort of Stephen Foster minstrel show, in which the servants try to dress up and imitate their masters. One RC priest (a very fine man) told me bluntly that he is comfortable among real Protestants but cannot abide Ersatz Catholics. You cannot put a cheap plastic imitation beside the real thing.

Fr. John said...

Matthew David Nelson,

You wrote:

"Indeed, the entire point of Anglicanism is that Roman teaching as a whole contains serious error,"

I replied:

"Really? Aside from the claims of papal infallibility, and the compounding of that error by elevating pious beliefs about the BVM to the status of doctrines (a serious error by any theological standard, I agree) how is Roman teaching as a whole in serious error? Please be specific and give real world examples."

Please allow me to simplify for you.

Your statement is sweeping, a generalization, and factually unsupportable.

I offer you the chance to show us how "Roman teaching as a whole contains error." Those are your exact words.

Please explain how all the doctrines (we all agree that some are in serious error) contain serious error.

I eagerly await your response.

Fr. John said...

Brian G.,

You are correct. Not all relics are equal.

But the Biblical objects I cited are indeed relics.

Consider the Shroud of Turin, it is a relic. I believe, for intensely personal reasons, that it is indeed the shroud of our Saviour. I experienced the power of the Shroud first hand.

Anonymous said...

Fr. John,

For a fairly complete list of Roman predating the Vatican I and the new dogmas, please read the 39 Articles of religion. Dean Vernon Staley's and Archbishops modest Catechisms are another good source of information on this matter.

Of the top of my head, the interrelated complex of Roman dogmas regarding Merits, Purgatory, Indulgences, and works supererogation are generally regarded as THE major cause of the Reformation, along with the popular and common place Roman teaching about the carnal/corporeal nature of the eucharist, an error still found not infrequently among non-AmCath Romans (who are largely Zwingilians) to this day. Also, abuse of images and prayers of direct invocation to the Saints come to mind.



Anonymous said...

Fr. John,

As matter of basic English grammar, the sentence of mine that you quote does not equate to "all the [Roman] doctrine . . . contain serious error."

Nevertheless, I have supplied some fundamental erroneous Roman dogmas that materially corrupt the Good News.


Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Once more, since people seem to be ignoring the biblical and RC theological evidence I cited, "the merits of the saints" are not claimed to themselves save us from our sins. By any church. Or Missal.

Read John 9.31, Galatians 6.9, James 5.16 and 1 John 3.22. Then see if you can deny that Christian obedience empowers prayer or that God rewards us, in some sense, in accordance with that obedience. Fr Wells notes some apparent exceptions, which Nathan reads differently. But the point is that I specifically said there were exceptions in my first post when I said "God can do what he likes and goes beyond such considerations in his mercy (cf. Collect for Trinity 12)"!

I am, however, happy to agree that these prayers can be misleading as they do not explicate the necessary connection with and dependence on the intercession of the Saints that the Saints' "merits" must have to effectively benefit us.

As for the "Missal vs BCP for lex orandi, lex credendi" issue, it is based on a false premise. The claim that the 1928 and 1962 BCPs have some absolute liturgical priority due to the Affirmation ignores the fact that the Affirmation's historical context is North America, just as new, questionable liturgies were taking hold in ECUSA and the AC-Canada, at the beginning of the Continuing Church. Which is why those 2 books were said to be the exclusive standard at that time: "No other standard ... exists". Since then the ACC has become international and other BCPs have joined the authorised list of liturgical resources described as the "Standard of Public Worship" (in Article XIV of the Constitution), such as the Indian and South African, "together with" the Missals. The Missals thus form part of that standard. Indeed, Abp Haverland himself appeals to them to make the point that receptionism is ruled out by our liturgical formularies considered in full (see p.113 of Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice).

On the other aspects of the BCP vs Missal, Sarum vs Tridentine issue, permit me to quote something I have written before:

'There are two related aspects of the English vs Roman rite choice, ritual (the words) and ceremonial (the actions).

All the talk about Church architecture, decoration and extra-liturgical devotions that is often brought in is a separate issue in reality, as neither the BCP nor the Missals say anything about these. One could and can find parishes using the missal but with reserved practices in the other areas, and parishes that have BCP Mass but also Benediction at times.

So, if one sticks to the main question, one finds that the argument for English usage (BCP and Percy Dearmer) and against Roman usage (the Missals and Ritual Notes) may be summarised as follows:-

1. Catholics must go by authority in liturgical matters.
2. The BCP and all that its Ornament Rubric implies, as well as its "lack of rejection/overuling of mediaeval ceremonial customs implying permitted/expected retention" are that authority for Anglicans, along with what Bishops command.
3. The Roman Church and its decrees on liturgy are not authoritative for Anglicans.
4. Therefore, the English Rite is obligatory for Anglican Catholics and the Roman rite illicit.

The problem is that we know insertions of non-BCP ritual material into the post-Reformation English Liturgy were made in the 16th Century from the Roman Missal by Catholic-minded C of E priests, in the 17th Century by Bishops such as Andrewes from personal compositions based on ancient precedents, and in the 18th Century by the Non-Jurors using similar sources. The latter two groups at least are heroes of "PB Catholics", as is early 17th Century Anglican apologist Dean Field, who said the Latin Rite contained nothing in its Missals contrary to sound doctrine. So, the High Churchmen were not as different to the 19th Century Ritualists as has been implied.

Even one who largely stuck to the Prayer Book, Bp Overall, did so by re-appending the prayer of oblation and thanksgiving to the Consecration prayer, showing that he was not enamoured of the then-contemporaneous (and authoritative!) English BCP Rite unaltered. And, in fact, it was successfully argued long ago (1685!) in a legal context that additions to the BCP service that did not substitute for it were permissible.

Therefore, at the very least, Missals which take the BCP rites and add to them from the Latin rite are following Anglican precedents in principle and not breaking any Church laws, especially since most of what is added consists of private prayers of the priest said in the low voice. (In other words, when I say the Mass according to the Anglican Missal 1549 Canon option, I am being a faithful Anglican Catholic.) If there are plausible arguments that the introduction of the BCPs and quashing of the old rites were not done in a completely canonically regular manner, which there are, then even the "BCP must not be contradicted in any way" principle need not be considered sacrosanct. (That means if I wanted to use the Gelasian Canon translated into English in the Missal instead of the 1549 BCP Canon, I need feel no discomfort. However, I prefer the 1549.)

As for the rulings of bishops, which naughty Ritualists are supposed to have ignored to their own condemnation as congregationalists, the following facts should be noted. Many 19th and 20th Century bishops tried to stop anything looking Catholic, even those things mandated by the Ornaments Rubric, and they made no distinction between English and Roman ritualism. Anybody who supported Eucharistic Vestments, Candles, Incense, etc., was the enemy. By the time such unjustified persecution ceased, the bishops who were happy for all these Catholic customs to be re-introduced also made little distinction between the Rites in the main, as I understand it. So the episcopal jus liturgicum was to begin with largely irrelevant to the choice between Rites because unlawfully anti-BCP, and irrelevant to the choice later because by then many bishops were either permitting the Roman usages or turning a blind-eye to them.

Therefore, the claim that the BCP rite and its explicit and implicit [i.e., neo-Sarum, Ornaments Rubric-based] ceremonial cannot be touched or enriched without being unAnglican and unCatholic is false. Once tradition, law and reason are taken into account, the authorities mentioned in point 2 above are seen to be important but relative, not absolute.

The question then becomes "but is the Latin Liturgy after Trent in any way appropriate or authoritative as a source for Anglicans?" The answer is "Yes" for three reasons. One, the RCC is our main sister Church in the West, to whom we are in many ways closer liturgically and culturally (at least with respect to their Latin Rite) than to the EOC, so its practices provide a relevant, easily accessible and useful precedent. Even the Old Catholics with whom we were in communion used the Tridentine rite. Two, common-sense reference to such a handy precendent is NOT equivalent to claiming that this option MUST be taken simply because it has Papal backing. So, the fear that using the Tridentine Rite for supplementary or alternative material is the same as uncritically accepting the absolute monarchy of the Pope is an unreasonable one. Three, even the cleverest arguments by pro-English Rite apologists cannot hide the fact that when it came to determining how we should "clothe" the BCP liturgy when that need became apparent in the 19th Century there was a lack of binding, explicit and unambiguous instruction within Anglicanism that answered that question in detail. With such an authority vacuum, once the convenient Roman option had been established, then become customary and eventually explicitly permitted in places, any later attempt to paint this option as merely rebellious has to be seen as illegitimate.

Finally, this is largely an argument about nothing. Most PB Catholics are content to follow their traditions and let Missal users follow theirs without interference, and the feeling is mutual, even within the ACC. The differences in ceremonial are not very great since both "The Parson's Handbook" and "Ritual Notes" allow use of incense, the mixed chalice, Vestments, Frontals, Candles, crossings, etc., etc. The differences in the prayers used are greater but irrelevant, since the pre-Tridentine English Rites (e.g., Sarum) were not that different to the Tridentine rite, the insertions from these and other sources had been made long before Tractarians or Ritualists existed, and such insertions were never condemned by authority, but instead sometimes used by respected bishops! These are just some of the reasons why I have followed both traditions at different times and felt comfortable with both. There is no need to pronounce against those who use a tradition you don't prefer, as both have a defensible place within the greater tradition, and both are used to worship God in reverence and truth and to edify the people of God.'

Anonymous said...

"Finally, this is largely an argument about nothing. "

Then why did you write so much?

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

I believe Fr. Hart and others made clear that we all already KNOW that many, if not all Counter-Reformation and older practices in the Missal have sound theological defenses. BUT, given the medieval abuses, and given the popular RC mis-explication of many of the things, the need to establish a self-identity, and given that they are often extremely patient of heterodox construction, as matter of pastoral prudence, the Anglican Church, relying on its own authority to decree rites and ceremonial agreeable to the Tradition, including omission of unnecessary things, has, (at least until the lawless and very protestant Anglo-Catholic movement of the early 20th century) always avoided or amended prayers mentioning the merits and saints, and has generally avoid otherwise unnecessary terminology, such as "transubstantiation," as those things are proper and peculiar to another tradition not our.

IOTWs, why unnecessarily introduce foreign spiritualities, risking confusion within our own house, when our treasury and patrimony of catholic teaching and tradition in our tongue and terminology is inexhaustibly rich?

Indeed, we are about forming orthodox and catholic Christian within our own culture and idiom -- the English-Speaking Tradition, not apologizing for the Romans or Orthodox, etc., as those churches are more than capable of doing that themselves and advanced layman are free to incorporated legitimate portions of those traditions privately -- Lancelot Andrewes comes to mind -- IF and when they find it edifying.

In short, we are not damning Rome. We are just asserting that as Anglicans, at least in public prayer, we ought to be Anglicans, even if we see much virtue in the distinctively Roman or Eastern ways (I say distinctively Roman or Eastern because so many things are common to all three churches). Indeed, I doubt it would ever cross the mind of a Greek or Polish priest to use the BCP in public worship (though he might in his private prayers!).

And, should we sincerely conclude that our own tradition is material deficient, we are also free to go to those places we happen to think are superior. But, if we profess Anglicanism, why not strive to stay in the heart and center of that tradition as much as God's law allows?


Anonymous said...

Anyone can readily discern the Biblical teaching that God richly and generously rewards those who seek to be obedient to His revealed will. The word "misthos" (reward) appears frequently in the NT, 9 times in Matthew alone. Even St Paul, the Apostle of unconditional grace, wrote, "each will receive his wages according to his labor" (1 Cor 3:8b). No-one has to defend this well known truth.

But it is shallow reasoning and exceedingly poor exegesis to make the inference which is being made here, that God's rewards are evidence of human merit. The laborers in the vineyard truly received a reward, but as the husbandman had to explain to them,
the reward was a matter of grace, not of merit.

No matter how many hoops we may jump through in the attempt to rehabilitate the Pelagian notion of merit, it is simply indefensible. The learned compilers of the American Missal must have grasped this problem in their clarifying rubric. Some Old Catholic translations also replace the phrase "merits of the saints" with "prayers of the saints." The term also seems to be eclipsed in modern RC vernacularizations: the verb "mereamur" is rendered "that we may win"-- a good Pauline verb.

Let us mediate more deeply on the patristic phrase "not weighting our merits, but pardoning our offenses." We implore God, as we ask Him to look upon Calvary re-presented on our altar, not to be "aestimator meriti" for we have no merit of our own for Him to estimate. We stand before Him as spiritual bankrupts, destitute of any good thing. Therefore we beseech Him to be "largitor veniae," a lavisher of pardon.

poetreader said...

Fr. Wells,
Fr. Kirby is writing so much because he has to when others make so much of what is really an indifferent matter. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to establish one's own position as legitimate without thereby declaring someone else entirely out of order for differing. I think Fr. Kirby just now did an exceptional job of just that. And I agree with him that ultimately it is a loud argument about nothing. Can't we continue to coexist?


Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

You appreciation of our "sister church" following the Reformation is truly charitable given that it (1) once formally damned all non-Roman Catholic Englishmen to hell; (2) essentially issued a hit on the then monarch of the English-Speaking people, (3) and encouraged and authorized wars of aggression against our mother land; and (4) to this day, denies the validly of our Orders and Sacraments!

Personally, to my mind, Rome lost its sisterhood status with the Counter-Reformation and the East gain it -- despite matters of historical, common origins of rites and some ceremonies, most of which no longer obtains. Indeed, what have the majestic BCP and the very common Novus Ordo have to do with each other?


Fr. John said...

From my perspective because the comments reeked of blind anti-catholic bigotry, and demonstrated a real lack of understanding both historically, liturgically, and theologically.

I am in no sense a fan of the Roman Church. I left it in 1981 for the ACC and have never looked back. I find what the TAC/ACA is doing vis-a-vis Rome, at best, highly questionable and ill advised, at worst, dangerous to the future of the continuum. Yet, we must be accurate and logical with our responses to the action. Leading with our emotions makes us look uneducated and mercurial, as well as a tad extreme. If our arguments and comments are based on the spirit of secular politics rather than an authentic Anglican view of theology, we lose.

May I be so bold as to suggest that some of the commentators on this thread may be agent provocateurs who seek to discredit our reaction to this ACA initiative by presenting themselves as advocates for our cause, and then setting up arguments that are easily demolished by ACA partisans. Either that, are they simply do not know what they are writing about.

Fr. Wells, you are one of the good guys, I've served at Mass at your parish. Honestly now, do you not find many of the comments on this thread way over the top and indefensible? I had expected a higher standard than the one over at "Stand Tall" or "Fast" or "Firm" or whatever. This has all the intellectual content of a hog calling contest.

But maybe its just for fun?

Fr. John said...


I wish Bishop Mote were here.

Bp. Mote, please pray for us!

Through the merits of our Lord and Savious Jesus Christ.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr.John wrote:

From my perspective because the comments reeked of blind anti-catholic bigotry, and demonstrated a real lack of understanding both historically, liturgically, and theologically.

This calls for specifics, a need to identify which comments you mean.

Anonymous said...

Fr John:
I do hope it is not my comments which you find over the top!
While I have not addressed the matter, I do concur with Fr Kirby that Rome is our "sister" church
('m glad he did not say "mother"), and I'm glad you did not let MDN slide by with the statement "Roman teaching as a whole...."

It must be firmly pointed out that Rome is soundly orthodox on the central doctrines of the faith, i.e., the Trinity and the Incarnation. (The same must be said for classical Calvinists and Lutherans.) Roman sacramental theology is for the most part acceptable; the issues I would raise are fairly minute (that business about annihilation, and the role of faith in appropriating sacramental grace. There is very little in CCC which I could not sign on to.

I will continue to argue strenuously for the Reformational doctrines sola gratia, sola fide, solo Christo. But when it comes to "Catholic-bashing," maybe I should speak up more often.

BTW: is fr john and Fr John one and the same?

Anonymous said...

Fr. John,

How in the world are the positions that (1) Anglicans have a rich catholic history and need not make any reference to Roman Liturgical Uses or Catechetical books; and (2) that many, many Medieval and Counter-Reformation Roman Catholic uses and teachings (Trent) are so flatly wrong or patient of heterodox construction that no Anglican ought knowingly and intentionally publicly use same "bigotry?"

I find your ad hominem rhetorical device quite offensive and beneath civilized, intelligent discourse.

Fr. John said...

No Fr. Wells, I am not referring to you.

Fr. John and fr. john I think are both me. Everybody's handle appears in lower case letters, but when some of us keyboard them in we use uppercase

Upon rereading the thread I find that I agree with Fr. Kirby that there really is no argument here worth pursuing.

I do remain somewhat irked, however, over the negative comments claiming unfriendly parishes and incompetent priests. I have never had such an experience in any ACC parish.

I offer my apologies to any who may have been offended or put off by any of my remarks.

Anonymous said...

Just what, at the moment, is the Romish doctrine of purgatory? I had a little dip into Prof Ratzinger on the subject and found that, after an historical survey, he concludes that the Christian concept of purgatory had developed to the point that it is not to be regarded as 'a kind of concentration camp in the hereafter' (as in Tertullian), in which one has to undergo punishment, but is 'much more a necessary process of transformation of the man from within in which he becomes fit for Christ, fit for God and therefore fit for the unity with the entire communio sanctorum'. (My off-the-cuff translation, with apologies.)

Now, to the best of my knowledge and belief, Prof Ratzinger was never banned from teaching in RC theological faculties, even though he was moved out of that position into one which, in German society, is probably a little less exalted. This position is a long way from the Catholic Encyclopedia and strangely reminiscent of the position of C S Lewis, where he says that life is like walking through rain and mud and Heaven is like the party you were walking to--you don't want to be invited in just as you are, but first need an opportunity to clean yourself up.

Now, either Mr Lewis was a closet RC, or Prof Ratzinger was a closet Anglican (which has, I think, been established already in an earlier post), or 'the Romish doctrine of purgatory' has now become a straw man.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Father John,

I don't think that anyone has engaged in "anti-catholic" bigotry per se. Along with Father Hart, I'd like to know which comments in particular were interpretted as such. For myself, the only things I mentionend were:

1) Holding both the BCP and the Missals to the standard of the Seven Councils. (I doubled checked the Anglican Missal, and I guess the "Chair of Saint Peter at Rome" feast isn't so bad, given that there is a "Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch" as well).

2) Rejecting purgatory as part of defense for an invocation of the saints.

3) Agreeing with Father Hart that bringing in the use of the term "merits of the saints" can be problematic (and if used, might necessitate the explanatum that Father Wells mentioned from the American Missal).

On a somewhat related note, the Lancelot Andrewes Press (a Western Rite Orthodox Press) is working on the Saint Austin's Missal built upon the BCP rite and the Gregorian. I'm interested to see the final product and if it could be something that could be used alongside the American and Anglican Missals in the Continuum. Their other products have placed a firm emphasis on pre-schism English saints and feasts, so I'm hopeful that this too will be an excellent work.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...


I would agree that Benedict's view of Purgatory is very close to the Anglican and Orthodox views of the Intermediate State. However, the EWTN types (from what I've seen) still view it (Purgatory) as the sort the holdhing place for sinners not fit to see God until punishment is set out for the sins of this life. That's the sort of view I reject.

Anonymous said...

An Anglican Cleric: And I could point to the large numbers of RCs who believe in the ordination of women and have very fuzzy beliefs concerning the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. But is it fair to say that such doctrines are 'Romish'?

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know that Rome (as represented by the current Bishop of Rome and others like the revered and rightly beloved Benedict Groeschel) has moved to a view of "purgatory" more like that of classic Anglicanism and EO, moving away from the unBiblical notions of temporary penalty and painful suffering. Well and good.

But the deeper issue is how theological truth is established. This shift is too reminiscent of politicians who change their positions as the polls dictate, or Mormons who have new revelations whenever convenient. Too frequently Roman theology is a nose of wax, which changes when perceived needs change. I always grab hold of my wallet when I hear that lovely word "nuance." We have seen the manner in which the term "merit" can be defined, re-defined, and molded like play-dough. The same thing has happened with justification.

There is a name for this sort of shifting and twisting. It is called dissembling.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...


I think it is somewhat fair if this has been the prevailing belief of those claiming orthodoxy within Roman Catholicism for a few hundred years.

The definition I quoted:

("Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with (Roman) Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.")

was from the (R) Catholic Encyclopedia, so it must have a wide and common standing in the Church of Rome.

Simply put, it is this definition (place or condition where temporal punishment must be had as satisfaction for sins) that I reject and why I am very hesitant to use the term itself when discussion of the Intermediate State need not be laden over with such historical misconceptions and baggage.

Anonymous said...

"I think it is somewhat fair if this has been the prevailing belief of those claiming orthodoxy within Roman Catholicism for a few hundred years."

So for a few hundred years our Roman brethren prayed for the dead for the wrong reasons.

And for a fewer hundred years, Anglicans for whom the 1662 BCP was the norm didn't pray for the dead at all. I know, because I played for plenty of 1662 funeral services in my youth and I was taught by the priest who prepared me for Confirmation (who also admitted to occasionally pouring the leftover 'wine' down the drain, but let's not go there) that the rather lovely funeral right in the 1928 book was the reason it was never authorised for use.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Sandra wrote,

"So for a few hundred years our Roman brethren prayed for the dead for the wrong reasons."

I don't know how many times or in how many ways I can state the same position:

The doctrine of Purgatory as a "place or condition where temporal punishment must be had as satisfaction for sins" not only was the common understanding of those writing catechisms and teaching of the faith of the Roman Church for hundreds of years, it is still the belief of those claiming orthodoxy in the Roman Church as evidenced by modern dictionaries and catechisms. It was (up until quite recently) used to teach the belief that the penalties imposed by the Church followed one into the afterlife, thereby supporting the practice of indulgences.

For these reasons I believe it is inadvisable to use the term "Purgatory" (or to pull in Roman authors who use the tmer) when describing the Intermediate State, defending prayers for the dead, or defending the invocation of the saints.

As to the lack of explicit prayers for the faithful departed (not simply "the dead"), one of the reason remains debates such as these. I've heard Romans and Roman-leaning Anglicans use this argument far too often: "Of course we believe in Purgatory--we pray for the dead, don't we?" Instead of rejecting a term with such odious historical baggage and a lack of Catholic consensus, we try and adopt and adapt it, sowing confusion and discord.

See also the comments of Father Wells above.

Anonymous said...


The English did not pray for the dead in Common Prayer (i.e., public worship).

Many clergy, laity, and divines, prayed for the dead privately. (Also, in the territories, colonies, and possessions, many Anglicans publicly prayed for the dead.)

This admittedly bitter-tasting bargain helped restore and keep public order in England for hundreds of years.

Anonymous said...

As I unpack my thoughts on this, I begin to conclude that the reason that purgatory is, in my opinion, a dead horse to flog when complaining about the errors of Rome, is that it is clear that, no matter how widespread the erroneous belief is in the Roman communion, it would appear that it is not, or at least no more, compulsory. Therefore, it is not a point of conscience with regard to belief that divides us.

"Many clergy, laity, and divines, prayed for the dead privately." If they were lucky enough to have been taught to do so. If brought up where 1662 was strictly applied as the public standard, this was likely not to happen. The baby went out with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, I cannot agree that the word "purgatory" is exactly a dead horse.

We all know that Rome has made much improvement in how she views the intermediate state. The statement of the CCC on purgatory is mercifully brief, and most of it I would concur in. But it plainly reaffirms the mediaeval teachings of the Councils of Florence and Trent, and goes on to say, "The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead." (Bishops of the TAC signed that, remember.)

In another internet debate with a renowned RC apologist, I made the point that with our view of Paradise, we can assure a grieving family "your mother's suffering is ended, she is safe with Christ." The RC apologist said this was false assurance, as the loved one is now suffering the penalties of her venial sins as she is being purged. When you deal pastorally with the grieving as many times as I have, you understand the importance of a clear and Biblical doctrine.

Funny thing about Purgatory: I have attended many RC funerals, played the organ for quite a few.
You never hear this doctrine preached there. Nobody wants to hear or to say that after Mom spent 10 years in the darkness of Altzheimers she has now been sent to a place of "cleansing fire," as CCC clearly states.

And that "almsgiving" on behalf of the departed?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

And that "almsgiving" on behalf of the departed?

Is not the blood of Christ, shed for the remission of sins, the only acceptable sin offering? The RCC does obscure and even corrupt the Gospel. If that sounds "protestant" of me, too bad.

Anonymous said...

We seem to be arguing on different planes. I was concerned about using a doctrine that is no longer compulsory as a reason for bashing Rome. It appears that the real argument was about the word one used.

I once played the organ at a 1662 funeral (actually, I think it was its modern-language replacement, which was even more dire) of a 20-y-o woman who had committed suicide. Must've been the modern version, because, unlike the old one, it was not barred from use for those who had laid violent hand upon themselves. So there we all were, thanking God for her life, comforting those left behind, and joyfully celebrating the deceased's passage to glory. Somehow, I'd rather be acknowledging that demented Granny had gone to meet One who is like a refiner's fire than doing everything but pray for the soul of a poor creature whose life had been so miserable that she'd prematurely ended it.

Anonymous said...

Sandra writes:

"We seem to be arguing on different planes. I was concerned about using a doctrine that is no longer compulsory as a reason for bashing Rome."

Sandra, you do not seem to grasp the point that it is highly incorrect to say that Purgatory is "no longer compulsory" in the RC Church. I gave you a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That is the official and mandatory body of doctrine of that Communion. Remember, as they say, "the cafeteria ia closed." So unless one wishes to be a "pick and choose" Catholic, Purgatory, with its penal suffering, indulgences, and almsgiving for the dead, is indeed compulsory. Do not listen to the siren voices of EWTN. Go to the source, the CCC.

Sounds like a priest did not do the best possible job in that sad funeral of the suicide. Mercifully, I have never had to take the funeral of a suicide.
But it is not logical or fair to compare an imperfect instance in one church with the official dogma of another.