Sunday, October 10, 2021

19th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY 2021

For the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel followed by a sermon, CLICK HERE
To make an offering to St. Benedict's ACC CLICK HERE.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Justice and fairness

I have noticed that the public debate about abortion focuses exclusively on how it has an effect on women. The entire discussion is about making things fair. But to add justice to fairness, the focus must again take into account the child. The child is a distinct person whose physical dependence on the mother is always temporary, nine months at most. It reminds me of a meme I saw years ago on Facebook: “Why should male politicians get to decide that a woman’s body serves as life support?” I asked if those male politicians decided this before or after they decided that the earth would orbit the sun. To impose fairness on nature, including human nature, at the expense of justice, is a terrible loss.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

SAINT MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS 2021

Sermon, but first the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the day. CLICK HERE

If you wish to contribute to the ministry of St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church, CLICK HERE.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Sunday, September 26, 2021

17th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY 2021

For the Collect, Epistle, Gospel and Sermon click this link.
To send a donation to St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church click this link.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

16th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY 2021

Pray for a quick end to this whole COVID-19 delta Variant nightmare so we can get back to normal attendance and our mission of evangelism. Click this link for the video of the Collect, Epistle, Gospel, and my sermon from the 10:00 am Holy Communion this week.

AND to donate money to the church please click this link
https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=982V8WUN2N332

Sunday, September 12, 2021

15th Sunday after Trinity 2021

Sermon after Collect, Epistle, and Gospel: CLICK HERE
To give to St. Benedict's ACC: CLICK HERE

Monday, August 30, 2021

To Anti-vaccine zealots

This is a copy of something I said in an email conversation.

One more thing everybody: The anti-vaccine argument for a new spin on “freedom” is basically, “I have a right to do what I want with my own body.” Unfortunately, the law of the land mostly agrees with you, just it agrees with the pro-abortion argument. But I say, it’s not just the woman’s body; it’s the body of another person, a dependent child, entrusted by nature and nature’s God to her care. Similarly, it isn’t just your body either. The life and health of your neighbor is a moral obligation imposed by the second greatest commandment of the Law. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” That you imagine that your selfish position, to further the spread of this contagion, is even consistent with Christianity tells me that you don’t even have a clue about anything to do with Jesus Christ and what He commands. As He said, “Woe to you scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites… blind guides that strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”

Sunday, August 29, 2021

13th Sunday after Trinity 2021

On the Good Samaritan: Sermon after Collect, Epistle, and Gospel. Here is the link.  https://youtu.be/2-pBf3T2l_E

Sunday, August 22, 2021

12th Sunday after Trinity 2021

For the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, with a sermon, click the following link. https://youtu.be/HcQuXi4Wzt0

Friday, August 06, 2021

The Transfiguration August 6



II Pet. 1:13f   Luke 9:28f 

In the spirit of the Confessions of Saint Augustine, let me say that during a few years in my youth, I embraced a form of Protestant Evangelicalism. This was probably because the Episcopal priest who had prepared me for Confirmation, in 1971, drained the spiritual adventure out of Christianity. The Confirmation itself was quite a powerful experience; but the kind of rubbish that he presented for education as to what it was, and how I should respond to the grace of God given in the sacrament, seemed more a course in skepticism and almost agnosticism than in the Catholic Faith once delivered to the saints, and preserved and taught by the Church of the Fathers. The problem began when the very modern priest, all too typical of the 1960s and early 70s, told us that, really, there was no devil. It got worse as it went along.


When I came across people who took their faith very seriously, I was among Evangelicals in the Charismatic movement. And, though much was good, and the people were quite sincere, I found in those years that present in a certain kind of Protestant mentality, is a strong resistance to what they call "religion." These folks loaded the word "religion" with many negative connotations, depicting especially Catholics in many prejudiced ways; equating "religion" with superstition, or even with hypocrisy. So, if I sound a little hard on their way of thinking, please understand that my criticism is not without both charity and genuine pity.


Having been an Episcopalian since 1958, I grew up in a Church that was still Anglican, and that had quite a lot in common with the people that those friends of mine called Catholics, because, really, we are Catholic; that is, we believe in the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church that we speak of in the Creeds. We have just said "I believe One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." We regard ourselves to be among the inheritors of that Faith and Church along with our brethren who are Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. Having been brought up in the sort of Anglican household that appreciated the continuity of the Faith with that of the ancient Church, it was only a matter of time before I would again hunger for that very thing that my Evangelical friends regarded with great suspicion, namely "religion."


When we look at the Gospel for this Feast of the Transfiguration, we cannot appreciate its depths if we fear those things which are specifically "religious" in its presentation. Christ our Lord was on the mountain, a place that for Jews symbolized the revelation of God, going all the way back to Moses. It was as He was in prayer that He was transfigured. This is very important. For, the chief reason why many of the Protestants I was close to, in my youth, would step away from their perception of "religion" had everything to do with a hesitation to embrace and love that most important of all doctrines, that central revelation of God, the Incarnation. I have said this before when speaking of the sacraments, specifically the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the Communion with the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In all of their very sincere love for Jesus, there came a point, nonetheless, when they had a very difficult time with those aspects of our faith that involve the senses of taste, touch, seeing, and hearing. Any honor given to the Blessed Virgin mother of our Lord was, for them, uncomfortable. They profess belief in the two natures of Jesus Christ, that He is both Fully God and fully Man in One Person; but in every practical way, they fear and step back from the full implications of what that means. They fear to come close, fearing all of the echoes and ripples of what it means that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." They confuse the implications of this, and misunderstand those things as if they were some sort of idolatry.


Please do not misunderstand me. They were, as I knew them, full of faith, and quite sincere. But I say these things for your sake, that you will never fear to embrace the saving revelation that "the Word was made flesh and pitched the tent of His human nature among us." I say these things so that you will be liberated in your heart and conscience to come close and touch Christ. I say this, because of how Saint John (one of those three apostles who are part of today’s Gospel reading) described what the Church truly is, and what it shall continue to be for all time until Christ returns on the Last Day. In the opening of his first Epistle, the Beloved Disciple wrote:

 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” 

(I John 1: 1-4)

You see, the fear is that worshiping Someone Whom we see, and touch and hear must be some form of idolatry. Let me help you by being very clear. Once you know that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, it is idolatry to worship only a god whom we cannot see. Idolatry is to worship the images we ourselves make from our own minds, and therefore, it is to worship a god who is not the One known by the revelation He gives of Himself. We, who would bow down at the feet of the Man Jesus, should He walk into this room right now, would not be idolaters. Our God is not confined to heaven. The true God revealed Himself, most perfectly by taking human nature into the Divine Person of the only and eternally begotten Son of the Everlasting Father.

This is why we are not afraid to, as the hymn says, "touch and handle things unseen"- nor even to look upon visible things that both effect and signify what is invisible. We are not afraid of holy water, or visible reprentations such as icons and crosses. We do not treat the Blessed Virgin Mother, through Whom God the Son recieved His human nature, as some sort of outcast. Furthermore, we know that the bread and wine that will be placed upon this altar today, will be taken into the Person of the Son of God, and given back to us as "the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of...our Saviour Jesus Christ." And, as the Apostle John wrote, we will look upon, and our hands will handle the Word of Life." In this way, you will have fellowship with the Church of the Apostles, and in that fellowship you will have fellowship with God the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, "that your joy may be full."


On the Mount of Transfiguration, which Saint Peter called "the holy mount"- itself a phrase showing the effect of the presence of the incarnate Lord upon all creation- what the apostles saw was not actually the Divine Nature itself, because that remains invisible to the eyes of every created thing. What they saw was the Shekinah, the manifest Glory of God. They saw a manifestation of our ultimate hope, theosis. They saw that human nature itself is transformed by the presence of God; a certain kind of blindness, that protects the eyes of our yet fallen and imperfect humanity, was removed for a brief glimpse of deified human nature. Christ’s human nature was revealed to be glorious, because in His Person he is fully God. Because of God's human nature in Christ, our transformed and resurrected human nature is destined to be glorified by grace when we partake of the divine nature, as Saint Peter wrote earlier in the same epistle appointed for today 

(II Pet. 1:4).


In the Transfiguration of our Lord we see our hope, and we see why we need have no fear of death. Christ let His disciples see why His coming death should not fill them with dread. How strange that in this scene, while shining with the light of His glory, the Lord speaks to Moses and Elijah about the death He would accomplish at Jerusalem. Notice, His death would be His own to give. This was Luke’s way of telling us the same thing that John tells. No Man took His life away; He laid it down freely, and freely took it again. In speaking of His death to Moses, Christ showed that He was going to fulfill all the Law, and be the One Who dies for us that our sins could forever be taken away; that in dying He would fulfill the types and shadows of every sacrifice ever offered on the Old Testament altars. In speaking with Elijah, He showed that He is the fulfillment and subject of prophecy itself. It is He of Whom Moses and the prophets spoke. And, in this scene on the holy mountain, it is He of Whom the Father speaks: "This is my Beloved Son; hear Him."


I want the words of this sermon to ring in your ears, because my desire for you is that you never fear to come close and touch the Lord; that you never fear to live within the fellowship of the Church, and by that, within the fellowship of God the Father and of His Son Jesus Christ; that your joy may be full.


And now, unto God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed, as is most justly due, all might, majesty, dominion, glory and power, now and forever. Amen

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Thursday, August 05, 2021

David Virtue's interview of Yours Truly

The Trumpvangelicals had been people afraid of their own shadow. Instead of seeing themselves as an occupying force ("Occupy until I come"), instead of realizing that it is the powers of darkness that tremble because we are "terrible as an army with banners," that we, armed with the Gospel, are the superior force, they chose to live in fear of unbelievers. They might think they need a "Messiah like Cyrus" to save them. But I don't need any Messiah other than Jesus. I guess that makes me more like the Canadian and European Christians, and more like our [American] minority Christians.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Saturday, July 03, 2021

5th SUNDAY FATER TRINITY & INDEPENDENCE DAY 2021

The sermon is very important and timely, and begins at 14:05. I believe it needs to be heard and passed on. CLICK HERE for the link.

Monday, June 28, 2021

THE NEW ANTIPATRIOTS

(I ask readers who are not Americans to bear with my Independence Day address. But you may find it interesting no matter what country you live in)

Some may ask why I am making this point about secular history on a blog about Continuing Anglicanism. What has it to do with our specific concerns? I will begin to answer by saying that nothing in life is, for us, entirely secular. If we are believers, God is always involved in our lives, the decisions we make, the values we hold, and especially in matters that touch on issues of morality and on peace among ourselves.




Fr. Robert Hart

Following the 2020 election in the United States a number of supporters of the incumbent President were dissatisfied with the results. Two courses of action were followed. One course was by a team of lawyers representing the reelection campaign of Donald Trump. They filed sixty-four lawsuits in various states. The suits alleged massive voter fraud and sought the overturning of official certifications in those states. Court records are a matter of public record, so one can research the data without relying on the news media. This is what I found. Of those sixty-four court cases three were dismissed for Lack of Standing. Four were dismissed for Lack of Cause (not alleging enough instances of voter fraud to justify the sought remedy). The overwhelming number of cases, all of the remaining fifty-seven, were dismissed or withdrawn by the reelection campaign’s own lawyers for Lack of Evidence. Very well. The reelection campaign exercised their legal rights. One could say that their method, going to court, was in keeping with respect for the United States and the Rule of Law.

But the other course of action was the very opposite of patriotism. It was, in fact, treasonous; not against a political entity as such, but against the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law and Democracy share reciprocal protection. And in the United States the highest law of the land is the Constitution. Attackers broke into the Capitol Building at almost two o’clock in the afternoon of January 6, 2021 (hereafter to be called the Epiphany Putsch), having walked across the Washington D.C. Mall from a rally held by the defeated President. They chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” and had actually constructed a gallows with a hangman’s noose on a dangling rope. He was presiding over the Senate at that moment. They also voiced an intention to kill the Speaker of the House. Both houses of Congress were in session, not to decide anything, but to carry out the Constitutionally required duty of certifying the votes already presented by the Electors.

If indeed the President of the Senate (i.e., the Vice President of the United States) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives had died in that attack, a Constitutional crisis unlike anything in history could have created a legal loophole that had the potential to work as a coup against the Constitution of the United States, against the Rule of Law and its reciprocal protection of Democracy. An incumbent who had lost by the Rule of Law might have held onto power against everything the Founding Fathers clearly intended for the country. The actual box containing the physical votes of the Electors was spirited away to safety along with all the members of both houses. No one can say that the attackers acted in keeping with respect for the United States and the Rule of Law. They were certainly not patriots. Just the opposite.

NO AMERICAN REVOLUTION

The tragedy is that the most outspoken insurrectionists among them had been so terribly deceived that they wrongly imagined themselves to be patriots. Some thought they were acting in the same spirit as the Founders of the country. This is partly due to a seriously flawed education. What happened in the United States is called the Revolutionary War or the American Revolution, a war that lasted from April 19, 1775 to September 3, 1783, and that birthed the independence of the United States in July 1776. We have always called it a revolution. Even the greatest Founding Father of them all (in my humble opinion), John Adams, called it a revolution. But was it? The Americans did not overthrow the King and Parliament of Great Britain. It was a war of Independence; but it was not a revolution by dictionary definition. It was not a coup either. The problem with calling it a revolution is that this habit has produced a complete misunderstanding that is having dangerous consequences in our own time.

When the British colonies were founded, with their thirteen respective royal charters, they were fully empowered by the Crown and The Parliament to establish colonial legislatures. This they did, each and every one. Theirs was the binding legal authority recognized by the Parliament and commanded by the Crown. When, for example, the Boston Massacre occurred (March 5, 1770),  the soldiers who killed the colonists were tried for murder. Their defense counsel, John Adams, obtained an acquittal by convincing the jury that the soldiers were young men who acted out of fear for their lives. The real point is this: That recognition of the laws of the colonies, established by their own legislatures, was respected by Great Britain.

Later, by 1775, things had changed. So it was that when war broke out because the British had become increasingly heavy-handed, it was not, as the much later 2021 Epiphany Putsch attackers of the Capitol Building wrongly believed about American history, a sudden uprising of rebels. Not at all. The mislabeled American “Revolution” was a perfectly legal act, carried out within the Rule of Law to preserve the Rule of Law. Each Colonial Legislature, the actual legal authority in each colony by Royal Charter, agreed to appoint the Continental Congress, and each legislature sent their delegates to Philadelphia. It was in that lawfully constituted Congress that Independence from Great Britain was voted on quite properly, and in which it passed on July 2, 1776. It was publicly announced two days later on July 4, which we celebrate as Independence Day. In short, Parliament back in London, with the aid of the King, was guilty of violating the Rule of Law, all thirteen Colonial Charters, and empowering their soldiers to come to these shores and break those laws in any manner they chose. They usurped power over the properly established legal authorities, and therefore exercised tyranny.

But the Epiphany Putsch insurrectionists (and by definition that is the correct word to use for them) were nothing like the Founding Fathers. They acted in complete disregard for the Rule of Law. They had nothing in common with the people who fought in the war for American Independence. And they were the very opposite of patriots because they rejected the Rule of Law, even after the courts had properly ruled sixty-four times. They were actually terrorists at that point. And they were just as pathetic as those ridiculous organizations that proclaim themselves to be state militias despite the fact that no state has ever authorized any of them, and so they are not regulated, let alone “well regulated,” and so not really militias at all.

WHY ON THIS CHRISTIAN BLOG?

Some may ask why I am making this point about secular history on a blog about Continuing Anglicanism. What has it to do with our specific concerns? I will begin to answer by saying that nothing in life is, for us, entirely secular. If we are believers, God is always involved in our lives, the decisions we make, the values we hold, and especially in matters that touch on issues of morality and on peace among ourselves. Currently, in the United States, we face a new danger. In place of what was once an intellectually rigorous form of Conservative thought, possessing a willingness to hold debates, to express different opinions, and accept the outcome of elections within the Rule of Law with its reciprocal protection of Democracy, there is in this time a new brand of anti-intellectual Right-wing violence that dares to masquerade as “Patriotism.” But true patriotism for Americans is nothing if not respect for the Constitution and the order it maintains.

Far too many of our own people are being deceived by these efforts, efforts that consist of insane, and I say demonic, Conspiracy Theories, with calls for violence and a “new civil war.” Everyone who is too sane to be lulled into the mass hysteria of this paranoia is accused of being unpatriotic. The whole movement is largely fueled by a desire to throw away our cherished Rule of Law in favor of the rule of men, specifically of one man. A very real problem exists among us even in our own churches: People advocating violence against their fellow citizens.

Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matt. 26:52).’”

It is demonic voices that call for blood and rage. Those who follow the Son of Man are forbidden to even entertain the thought of such things. Conservative thought has been replaced, on all the major outlets, by the “Chicken Little” New Right. Its message of a falling sky, with the evil bogeymen of socialism, gays, Muslims, immigrants (shudder), CRT, and “Jewish space-lasers,” etc., has created even within Christian circles the worst kind of fear, the kind that turns to hate.

“Perfect love casteth out fear (I John 4:18).”

“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matt. 24:12).”

Unbelievers will do what unbelievers do. You are not called to fear the world, nor to take up arms for the Kingdom of God (John 18:36). You are called to be salt and light. Do not be one of those who hide their light, and among the salt that has lost its savor.

 


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

My brother's latest

Again, in the case of Meditation Two, the basic issues are quite simple. There the difficulty lies in convincing readers to relinquish their certitudes regarding what they imagine they know about the text of scripture, as a result of long indoctrination (fortified in most cases by misleading translations). I have, for example, repeatedly seen readers claim with considerable assurance that the Christ of the Synoptic Gospels spoke of a place called “Hell” where souls suffer eternal torment through the application of unquenchable fire and the tender ministrations of an immortal worm. In fact, Christ spoke of a place called the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) which lay outside Jerusalem, and which had become a rather nebulous image in his time of God’s judgment both within and beyond history; and he described that valley in terms borrowed from Isaiah, as a place where corpses would be consumed by flames that were always burning and by worms that were always devouring carrion. It is an image of the final disposal and destruction of the dead, not of their perpetual suffering. And, given that Jesus told his followers that in many instances he was speaking of things that would occur within their lifetimes, it is also clear that much of that imagery applies to intra-historical calamities, not just to some final judgment at history’s end. Then, too, Jesus used a whole host of other images of judgment as well that, read literally, are not compatible with one another, and certainly provide no simple uniform theology of the afterlife; some, in fact, clearly suggest an eventual deliverance from “final” punishment. But, no matter the imagery he employed, absolutely nowhere did he describe a place of eternal misery.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

ROGATION SUNDAY 2021

5th Sunday after Easter. CLICK HERE

ABSOLUTE Line in the Sand

I am very annoyed when I hear young progressives use the euphemism, "Women's reproductive health." Abortion is about killing, and is therefore the opposite of health. There is nothing healthy in killing. A living human being who is developing naturally is healthy, and so killing that person is the antithesis of health. Destroying the developing life is certainly the opposite of "reproductive." And to say "women's" is to assert that a pregnant women has, for nine months, two heads, two hearts, four arms, four legs, two distinct DNA patterns, two distinct sets of fingerprints, and two distinct identities. Yes, I get it that it just isn't fair that women get pregnant and men don't; but pregnancy is always of very limited duration: Unlike death, it is not a permanent condition. 

The scientific fact is that the two sexes predate the evolution of the species Homo sapiens. Even atheists must admit that human beings did not create this situation that is simply nature beyond our control. We might enforce fairness then, but only by enacting injustice, the injustice of killing innocent human beings. Fairness, at the expenses of justice, is evil. 

I say these things because I respect the claim of progressives to the moral high ground when it comes to addressing the reality of racial injustice, and the injustice of continuing economic policies that are, in effect, kleptocracy by the One Percent. I believe that the United States is, by choice, a backward third world country in its harsh and unenlightened treatment of the poor. We need to catch up with all the other democratic and developed countries when it comes to many issues, especially healthcare, campaign funding, economic justice, and police reform. 

But, when progressives use the euphemism "women's reproductive health" they forfeit the moral high ground. They opt for the selfish indulgence of the "sexual revolution," to do what feels good, at the expense of accepting the reality that human behavior is capable of responsibility. I understand why the younger generation has turned away from its shift to a more pro-life position than that of the "Baby Boomers." They have retreated to the "Baby Boomer" position because, through the foolishness of many Evangelicals, and many pro-life spokesmen, the obviously hypocritical and morally reprehensible Donald Trump was allowed to appear as the face of the Pro-Life cause. It is heart breaking, because it has a been a total lie all along. But, I ask progressives everywhere, especially the young, to consider this basic argument. The child in the womb is an individual human being; if you argue that that child has no right to life, then you are also arguing for a definition of Personhood.

Now, you may ask, "What is wrong with a definition of personhood?" The answer is simple: Such a definition is never about the objective truth, but about exclusion. Who may we exclude as non-persons? History provides this perspective: Defining personhood has already excluded all people of color, to justify slavery; it has excluded Jews in Europe, to justify the Nazi Holocaust. It excluded the Native Americans to justify the evil of imperial "Manifest Destiny" with its genocide. If the child in the womb is to be treated as a non-person, based on the lie that this separate and equal individual is merely part of her mother's body (which, clearly defies scientific reality), than the argument for the absurd and unjust euphemism "women's reproductive health" is the same argument for slavery, the Holocaust, and the Native American Genocide, etc. 

So, there is the forfeit of any claim to a moral high ground. 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

More on why MAGA is of the spirit of antichrist

Back in 2016 we expected Anglican refugees from Burmese and Congolese origin to arrive in the Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill triangle of North Carolina. Our parish, St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church, knew that these Christians feeling persecution would be welcomed into the country and helped by our parish, and that here they would have, also, a parish home with us. But, in early 2017, Executive Orders by the new President, Donald Trump, blocked these Christians, fleeing persecution, from entering the United States. It did not matter to many of you, because that new President assured Pat Robertson (theologically a strange bedfellow) that only Muslims, certainly not Christians, were blocked from coming to America. This was, to me, the earliest sign of the evil that directly interfered with the ministry of our Continuing Anglican parish. 

How can the truth, the love of God, the evangelistic order of the Great Commission given us by the Risen Christ compete with the deception of partisan antichrist political ideology? Those of you still wearing your MAGA Nazi hats, stop helping Satan. He is simply laughing at you - though not for long.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER 2021

Click here for the Ante-communion and sermon. God bless you

COME APART FOR A WHILE

From Touchstone Dec. 2006. It goes well with the music video link posted directly below it.
 

The Bonds of Silence

Robert Hart on Finding Friends While Alone with God

An hour or so from moist and chilly Berkeley, our cars, filled to capacity with fugitives from secular turmoil, with luggage and sacramental appointments, traveled into the Napa Valley, amid mountains standing guard over the vineyards. Pine forests grow up the sides all the way to the top, and clouds envelop the tallest of these, as if lending modesty to the peaks.

Our small caravan of priests, deacons, and seminarians had already begun to create that informal fellowship best expressed with the good humor of jokes, the wittier the better. (Humor and meaningful conversation, rather than “male bonding,” makes friends of men.)

Our cars drove uphill along the thin road that serves as an entrance to the Carmelite monastery. We were greeted inside the large main house by an elderly Irish monk. After being signed in, we were taken to our rooms and left to prepare. In the early evening, in our cassocks, we made our way to a beautiful chapel, where we sang Evening Prayer and heard the first of several talks, meditations on the Desert Fathers.

We sat across from each other in two “choirs,” with the sound of the prayers, mostly the chanting of the old Prayer Book Psalter, echoing off the stone. High above us, near the ceiling, were great windows admitting the dying light of the ending day. Over the marble altar was a very stark crucifix, the Son of Man in his agonies looking down at us.

God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Together Alone

This was the beginning of the silence, silence broken only by the offices of prayer, the daily Mass, and the reading out loud, in turn one by one, of The Screwtape Letters during each meal. Otherwise, only a private confession would serve as a reason to speak. As the leader of our retreat pointed out, the purpose in coming together was to be alone. The shared solitude is itself a very old tradition, giving us time for prayer and meditation unlike the kind we attempt regularly during our busy lives in the world.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while (Mark 6:30–31).

The silence itself teaches and refreshes. Without words, without the need to speak—without the social pressure to direct our gaze constantly on what others place before us—we find freedom. In the silence we discover that we are resting not only from the cares, the business, and the turmoil of the world. We rest as well from the amusements and entertainments, learning only in this way that these things, too, are a burden.

They, creating their own demands upon our time, shut out prayer as much as do the cares and anxieties of life. It is only in this silence, silence that is directed towards God, in solitude that is protected by a community in which to be alone, that we finally see what a burden those entertaining forms of relaxation can be, what labor in themselves. But, for now, we lay that labor down and discover peace, blessed relief, in so doing.

We cannot find this kind of solitude nearly so well if we are alone. The presence of other men contemplating God as they pray, meditate, or read, reinforces our attention and directs our gaze heavenward. The presence of our brothers, and the respect we owe to their solitude, protects us from turning our own solitude into isolation, a time in which thoughts wander all too easily back to the duties and amusements that await us.

And should we take the opportunity to examine ourselves and prepare for confession, we direct our gaze as well into our own hearts, our thoughts, words, and deeds. This we do before God, knowing that his light must shine into whatever place we have tried to hide away even from ourselves.

Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

The communal silence increases charity. Here you see each man, like yourself, directing his attention to God, living in prayer and in the most serious and essential of reflections. Here, with him, you stick to contemplative prayer and the rhythm of corporate daily offices, and you keep to the rule of silence and do not speak, in charitable consideration, because he needs this time as much as you do. To violate it is unthinkable.

When it must end, and you will speak at last, the next communication will be all the more profound. How many of the words we speak are no more than wasted, having no thought in them, are an invasion of another’s time, a theft of his few brief hours in this world. For now, we respect his silence, and will be glad to speak later, for we shall value words in a different way, no longer as obligatory.

Men at Prayer

Our charity builds also because for a few days we have, in solitude before God, been a community of men at prayer. We have begun each day together in the chapel, at noon have held the Mass in the chapel, and at night have ended each day once again in the chapel with the familiar words of compline. In each of the offices of prayer, we have chanted the familiar psalms and other prayers in Cranmerian English to Gregorian notation:

“Our Father, who art in Heaven. . . . My soul doth magnify the Lord. . . . I believe in God, the Father Almighty. . . .”

Surrounded as it is by the beauty of the monastery grounds, the sweet air from the vineyards, and the pines and mountains, the chapel itself becomes the place each man wants most to be. After an office is completed, several minutes pass before we depart. We simply grow to like sitting there in the place of prayer, a room designed for worship and for celebration of the Blessed Sacrament, a place where that Presence is reserved.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3).

It will not be like this when we return to our homes and the silence is driven away by business, even, as in my case, the business of pastoring a church. We know we go from rest to battle. But we may carry back into the battle the benefits of the retreat.

I am grateful to those who live in the religious orders and keep to the Rule of St. Benedict. We can enter into their way of life only to a small degree, and only temporarily. But they do not hide it away and keep it a secret; they do not begrudge those who want to share a bit of it.

When we leave, they let us take some of that treasure where it can be adapted to the life we must live in the world. As much as it is a treasure, it is also an armament.

Robert Hart is rector of St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Anglican Catholic Church Original Province). He also contributes regularly to the blog The Continuum. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaSpfu6l97g&t=5s



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

St. Justin Martyr April 14

Just before Rusticus sentenced them he asked Justin, “If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven, and receive a reward?” Justin said, “I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it.”

Justin was beheaded in the year 165.



Sunday, April 04, 2021

SECOND EASTER SERMON

Preached at the Easter Mass, April 4, 2021. St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, NC. Fr. Robert Hart. Audio only. CLICK HERE.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

EASTER 2021

CLICK HERE for the Ante-communion with Easter hymns and Fr. Hart's Easter sermon.
CLICK HERE for an original Easter Fugue on Salzburg composed by Fr. Hart

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

ASH WEDNESDAY 2021

The Noon Mass at St. Benedict's. Sermon begins at 24:12. CLICK HERE.

Friday, February 05, 2021

To my fellow American Pro-life people

Unless you have been on the frontlines, outside of abortion mills, trying to save women from doing themselves great spiritual harm, and trying to save the lives of the innocent children in their wombs, facing the police, being “fingered” and jeered, and threatened and insulted for obeying your conscience, I am not impressed by your voting record. I will stack up my record of pro-life activism, with the saving of real lives (some of whom are as old as thirty-two at the time of this writing) against the claims of anybody to be pro-life. Were the demands of your conscience easily satisfied by supporting a political candidate based solely on words alone? Well, I have put myself out there.

I am tired of people defending all of Trump’s evils based on only one issue. I have been on the frontlines, sometimes able to save lives. For decades I have been active in pro-life work. I know this: When women are deciding whether or not to have an abortion there are many factors that can influence them in either direction. Who sits in the Oval Office is not among those factors.

PREVENTING ABORTION 

The only real way to prevent abortions is to provide things, such as moral guidance to the young, moral support for pregnant women, material support from our pockets, etc. Those who want it to be a political and legislative issue are simply trying to put a hypocritical band-aid on their basic indifference to the poor, and to asylum seekers, and to foreign victims of our Military Industrial Complex. They are lost in Chicken-Little “Conservation” because they are irrationally afraid of losing some precious privilege that makes them feel safe. Such are not the kind who actually have done what I have done: Save lives on the frontlines out of love for Jesus and for my neighbor.

If the Republicans are actually pro-life, then answer me this: Why, when they had all the power, between 2001 and 2006, and again in 2017 and 2018, did they not even attempt to bring pro-life legislation to the floor for a vote? Why did they not even propose to end, or to even merely reduce, funding to Planned Parenthood? In 2015 they passed the elimination of funding to Planned Parenthood in both houses. That was when they could count on President Obama to veto it. Later, throughout the twenty-four months of power in Trump’s first term, why did they never, having the same majority that passed it before, even propose it again? 

The answer is obvious to anyone with even as little as half a brain: If they proposed it at that time, with the majority they had, and brought it to the floor for a vote, they would have won in both houses of Congress. President Trump would have had to sign the legislation. They would have won, and all your years, as a dedicated Republican voter, expecting pro-life legislation from those folks we put in Congress every two and six years, respectively, would have paid off. But, our continued support, with money and votes, could no longer be taken for granted. 

So, I do not want to hear any more crap, especially after the failed Epiphany Putsch, from anybody, that any of us owed some loyalty to the Republicans in November, or that not to vote for them was a “mortal sin,” or that Donald Trump, of all the unworthy perverted sinners out there (a pal of Jefferey Epstein) was the only morally acceptable choice demanded by God of Christians. After Trump’s attempt to overthrow the Rule of Law, via the Constitution, with the reciprocal protection of democracy, which would have resulted in the loss of all of our liberties as Americans, how can any of you fail to see the evil of the man? Why did even the violence and evil of what happened at the Capitol on January 6 fail to awake you from your slumber? 

Whatever it is that blinds you to the truth, it is not anything pro-life.

Friday, January 29, 2021

An Annual Meeting Report

I post this because many of you may identify, and need some encouragement. I will be reading it on Sunday, January 31, at the St. Benedict's Annual Meeting.

STATE OF THE PARISH

For the Annual Meeting of St. Benedict’s ACC in 2021.

Fr. Hart, Rector. 

To speak of the State of St. Benedict’s Parish during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is like firing a shot in the dark. No clergyman was ever trained for what we have been going through. No normal protocols are in place for it, and no handbook was ever written for it. I have no interest in every armchair quarterback’s expertise on masks or vaccines, or even on the disease itself. For understanding the virus as much as possible, this parish has a physician with Duke University Hospital, and it is my personal policy to listen to Dr. Karen St. Claire more than any other member of this parish when it comes to medical matters. It is my personal policy also to listen in the same way to Dr. Gordon Ibeanu on the subject of the vaccines.

          However, when it comes to the effect of the pandemic on the parish, we have to take into account perception. Perception affects us as much as reality. Therefore, whatever opinions individuals may hold, including the rather absurd conflation of scientific reality with politics (a very real indicator of how much some people revel in fantasy), the reaction to what is going on has come at a very annoying time. It is annoying to me personally. I have watched the ups and downs of both membership and attendance for almost twelve years here. I have seen many people join our parish, but usually just enough to replace those who have departed this mortal life, or have moved away. In 2019, and early in 2020, we saw growth in the ways that matter. Our active membership had been growing, and it was reflected not only in more predictable and regular attendance, but also in the parish income. People were joining us, in general, because they loved what they experienced at our services. This was not, as in times past, mostly disaffected Episcopalians, as a good percentage of new members expressed delight in finding traditional and liturgical worship for the first time.

          As things stand now, however, we must all hope and pray that people are not happy with staying home on Sunday morning. It is not that I want our people to be generally unhappy. But, for their spiritual health, I hope and pray that they are getting quite tired of missing church. Perhaps some of you think they are wrong to stay home, and others think they are doing what is right. Again, the perception prevails that being among several people in a church service is neither safe nor wise until the pandemic is over. I respect their decision, and I have made the repeated offer to visit them with the Reserve Sacrament (which some have responded to positively, and others by saying they will be back in church soon – something I prefer not to hear when I would rather go to them now). I continue to feed them as much as I can, with the help of James Lazenby, by making videos for every Sunday, and for special Feast Days.

          Due to the pandemic our ministry at the Startford Senior Care Facility has been suspended since March of last year. I am ready to resume it again when they allow us back in. Our hope to have a new Sunday School program has also been put on the back burner. We have a good number of children in the parish, but several of them are at a pre-school age (including our newest member, whom I baptized last month).

          A new ACC church is forming in Raleigh, and it has been because members of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church approached the Rev. Dr. Michael Carreker to help them do so. As a result, our own membership will show that his extended family has relocated to another ACC church. I have mixed emotions, sorry not to see them here, but pleased to see that we have a sort of St. Benedict’s Plant.

          We have a Postulant in our parish, who is also studying at Duke Divinity School; so, pray for Nicholas Harrelson. He was wounded serving in Iraq, and has a family that includes a son, and another child on the way. The Archbishop and I are very pleased with what we see, and have hopes for his ministry.

          I had a dream back just before Easter, and I woke up laughing. It was a splendid Sunday morning, and people were suddenly attending in good number. We had just completed our Sunday Mass. But one thing, that made sense only during the dream, was what made me laugh upon waking up. As a postlude, James was playing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. I thought about it, and considered that I dreamed that, quite likely, because the song was featured during the very happy ending of the story in the movie. We know that, because of vaccines, people will soon feel safe gathering in church again. I will not expect our organist to play that selection. But we can expect a happy ending. Let us be ready to rebuild and restore, and go forward.



Saturday, January 23, 2021

On Facebook

I just posted this comment to an angry person demanding that no man has a right to be pro-life.

“So, do you have two heads? Two hearts? Two distinct sets of fingerprints? Two distinct DNA sequences? 

It’s not YOUR body that is at issue. And no man on earth created us male and female. Address your complaints to God.”

THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY 2021


Click on the picture for the link

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Hear

Many of you trusted me in the past, especially when we were threatened by those who tried to bully Continuing Anglicans into the RCC. You were assured by my defense of our orders, the validity of our sacraments, and the truth of our doctrine and patrimony. I am still the same man. My reputation has been under assault because I have consistently refused to violate my conscience, formed by the Word of God, in order to give public allegiance to a political agenda of fear and hate, oppression of the poor, and hatred of the stranger who flees to us for Asylum. I refuse, also, to tolerate chaos, violence, and insurrection against the Rule of Law in the United States. Those of you who, in your hearts, have placed a very sinful man on the throne rightfully belonging only to the Lord Jesus Christ, must immediately cease from all further propagation of your political sympathy with the violent terrorists who threaten a violent revolution in the United States.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Anathama

In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, fully God and come in the flesh, born of the Virgin Mary His mother, crucified dead and buried to take away the sins of the world, and risen from death and mortality to make us partakers of the divine nature: As a priest in God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: I condemn the attempted violent insurrection against lawful authority at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, incited by Donald J. Trump in an attempt to overthrow the lawful election of his opponent based on lies that his lawyers could not substantiate in sixty cases presented in courts of law, in a futile attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the United States, in which five persons died violently, in which he broke his promise to a crowd to take part with them as their President: And I condemn all sympathy and defense of the same, as directed by the Holy Ghost.