Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kissers and Smashers

Here's a nice little article on iconoclasm from Christian History. I just have one question: If you are not a smasher, why aren't you a kisser?

For many in the West today, Orthodox devotion to icons seems odd, especially the practice of kissing them. And when we learn that for a hundred-plus years in the early Middle Ages arguments raged over pictures of Jesus, causing one of the greatest political, cultural and religious upheavals in Christian History—well, we just don't understand it. What is it about icons that created such a stir, and what do they represent to the Orthodox?

Read the rest here.

Is it worth the cost?

I captured this image at 1:30pm this afternoon. Check USDebtClock.org to see what it is now. Let us all consider whether we want to see this trend continue.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Grace and Hope in Christ

On this feast of the Conception of Our Lady, perhaps the Anglican-Roman Catholic Agreed Statement "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ" merits some special attention, particularly the following paragraph:

59. Roman Catholics are also bound to believe that "the most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin" (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, defined by Pope Pius IX, 1854). The definition teaches that Mary, like all other human beings, has need of Christ as her Saviour and Redeemer (cf. Lumen Gentium 53; Catechism of the Catholic Church 491). The negative notion of ‘sinlessness' runs the risk of obscuring the fullness of Christ's saving work. It is not so much that Mary lacks something which other human beings ‘have', namely sin, but that the glorious grace of God filled her life from the beginning. The holiness which is our end in Christ (cf. 1 John 3:2-3) was seen, by unmerited grace, in Mary, who is the prototype of the hope of grace for humankind as a whole. According to the New Testament, being ‘graced' has the connotation of being freed from sin through Christ's blood (Ephesians 1:6-7). The Scriptures point to the efficacy of Christ's atoning sacrifice even for those who preceded him in time (cf. 1 Peter 3:19, John 8:56, 1 Corinthians 10:4). Here again the eschatological perspective illuminates our understanding of Mary's person and calling. In view of her vocation to be the mother of the Holy One (Luke 1:35), we can affirm together that Christ's redeeming work reached ‘back' in Mary to the depths of her being, and to her earliest beginnings. This is not contrary to the teaching of Scripture, and can only be understood in the light of Scripture. Roman Catholics can recognize in this what is affirmed by the dogma - namely "preserved from all stain of original sin" and "from the first moment of her conception."

Monday, December 07, 2009

People look east?

On December 1st, the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle delegations from the Orthodox Church in America and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth met at St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas to begin local ecumenical discussions. It was wonderful to make new friends. I look forward to the continuing dialogue.

I also visited with the cathedral's iconographer. He came from Ukraine to paint the walls and ceiling of the new church--a process which took ten years.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St Mark's in Portland

This Sunday, we went to St Mark's Church in Portland, Oregon (APCK).

The parish left the Diocese of Oregon (TEC) back in the 1990s. It is a wonderful Anglican Missal/1928 Prayer Book catholic parish in the heart of Portland.

We attended the 10am High Mass (not actually a high Mass, but only lacking the solemn vestments for the deacon and subdeacon).

The church was beautiful, an exquisitly ornamented Roman basilica-style church, full of color and images. The incense was pleasant and the minor propers sung by male voices was superb. But what really blew me away was getting to sing the "Amen" at the end of the hymns.

The sanctuary is separated from the nave by a marble screen topped with statues, reminescent of old St Peter's in Rome.

The church is dark and colorful, seating about 150 if you include the side chapel aisles. There were probably about 80-90 people there.

One of the most wonderful things was that the percentage of children in the congregation was probably the highest I've ever encountered.

The people were very nice as was Father Lillegard, the Rector.

It was great to hear the zimbelstern on the organ. The side chapel of the blessed Mother was very tasteful. In all, a great worship experience; a jewel of the pacific northwest. I wish it were closer so that we could visit more often.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photos from Grandma's house

The view out Grandma's (my mother's) front door.

Mount Si in Snoqualmie, Washington.

Grandma's house.

Momma's baking some bread from scratch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Vicar is on holiday

But I may still have some posts before I return for Advent.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tour the pope's cathedral

There is a fantastic new online tour of the Archbasilica of St. John the Lateran. Check it out. Tours of other Roman basilicas are to follow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This offer was 400 years in the making

This article from the Catholic Herald was so interesting, I just could not help but post it.

Fr Michael Rear says that new provisions for the reception of Anglicans should not surprise those who are familiar with English history

6 November 2009

Pope Paul VI presents a mounted 13th-century fresco of Christ to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, on March 23 1966 at the Vatican (AP Photo)

Years before Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, and absolved the people of England from their allegiance to her (at a stroke turning Catholics into traitors), years before the threat of a Catholic invasion and plots to unseat her, Pope Pius IV had invited the Queen to send Anglican bishops to the Council of Trent, and, it was rumoured, was willing to approve the use of the Book of Common Prayer in the English Church.

The next initiative came not from Rome but from King James I, who wrote to Pope Pius V offering to recognise his spiritual supremacy and reunite the English Church to Rome, if only the Pope would disclaim political sovereignty over kings. The offer was rejected. Too late would a new pope, Urban III, succeed to the papacy two years before James died, and declare: "We know that we may declare Protestants excommunicated, as Pius V declared Queen Elizabeth of England, and before him Clement VII the King of England, Henry VIII... But with what success? The whole world can tell. We yet bewail it in terms of blood. Wisdom does not teach us to imitate Pius V or Clement VII."

Hopes ran high under Urban VIII. Archbishop Laud of Canterbury mentions in his journal that on the very day he was appointed he was seriously offered the dignity of being a cardinal. Nothing more is known of this mysterious offer, but soon a Benedictine monk, Dom Leander, was sent to England by the pope to report on the English Church. Dom Leander, a close friend of Archbishop Laud from their student days, had been expelled on suspicion of being a Catholic from St John's College, Oxford, where they had shared a room.

Dom Leander made extensive contact with Anglican bishops and his report was optimistic and lengthy.

"In the greater number of the articles of the faith the English Protestants are truly orthodox... they contend they have been treated unworthily as heretics and schismatic; that greater differences than theirs were tolerated by the Council of Florence; and that the importance of Great Britain and its dependencies renders it an object of as much importance to reconcile her to the Roman Church, and as much worthwhile to call a special council for the purpose, as it could have been to obtain the reconciliation of the Greeks." But he did note that the Puritans were very numerous and fierce. Dom Leander suggested a way of reconciling "moderate Papists and moderate Protestants". This was by allowing:

1) Communion under both kinds;
2) Marriage of the clergy;
3) Liturgy in English;
4) The admittance of English Protestant clergy to benefices (coming to agree in points of faith) either by re-ordination sub conditione, or by way of commenda;
5) To allow Roman Catholics to take the Oath of Allegiance to the monarch.

The plan hotted up. Gregory Panzani was sent as an agent and spent two years in England in detailed discussion with the King and others in Church and state. Opposition to unity, he noted, came from Jesuits and Puritans. Most Anglican bishops were in favour of unity. Some, particularly the Bishops of Gloucester and Chichester (nothing changes) were very keen, and only the bishops of Durham, Salisbury and Exeter "were violently bent against the See of Rome". But like Leander, he spoke warily about the rising power of the Puritans. The Civil War broke out. King Charles was beheaded, going to the scaffold declaring: "I die in the Christian Faith, according to the profession of the Church of England." Archbishop Laud was impeached for corresponding with Rome and treating with the pope's men in England, and he too was beheaded.

And for the next 15 years there was no Anglican Church. All the bishops were banished, imprisoned or fled. Priests lost their parishes. The Book of Common Prayer was banned. Presbyterianism became the new religion.

The restoration of the monarchy under Charles II restored the church. Enough exiled bishops were alive to consecrate new ones. The king opened Parliament calling for religious toleration and the repeal of laws against Catholics, but the House rejected his proposals and actually increased the discriminatory legislation. Nonetheless, it was in the reign of Charles II that what amounted to a Uniate Church was proposed:

1) The Archbishop of Canterbury to be designated Patriarch, responsible for governing the Church in the three realms, except a few rights reserved to Rome;
2) A Roman Legate, a native Englishman, to reside in England to exercise the rights reserved to the pope;
3) Existing archbishops, bishops and clergy to remain in office if they accept Catholic ordination;
4) An annual General Synod to be convened;
5) The King to nominate bishops;
6) Complete religious freedom for Protestants;
7) Priests and bishops could be married, though celibacy would be introduced later;
8) The Eucharist in two kinds for those who wish;
9) Mass in Latin, with English hymns;
10) A Catholic catechism based on Scripture to be published;
11) Some religious orders to be restored;
12) The most disputed questions, like the infallibility the Pope and his right to depose monarchs, not to be discussed either in the pulpit of in writings, though Catholic preachers could dispute with Protestants, providing they avoided the narration of miracles or speaking of a material purgatory.

Nothing happened. The Protestants were far too powerful. But as the centuries went by the vision of unity was kept alive by many individuals. The 1833 Oxford Movement of Newman, Pusey and Keble gave it fresh impetus. The Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom was formed in 1838. At the first Lambeth Conference, in 1867, the Bishop of Salisbury presented a petition signed by more than 1,000 clergy and 4,500 laity urging the Anglican bishops to end the long separation of their church from Rome.

The Catholic League was formed to promote reunion. Many do not know this, but the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 as an Anglican initiative to promote unity between Anglicans and Catholics; only from 1936 was it decided, under the influence of a French priest, Abbé Paul Couturier, to widen its scope to embrace all Christians.

After the Appeal for Christian Unity at the 1920 Lambeth Conference, Cardinal Mercier of Belgium and Lord Halifax gathered a group of theologians into what became known as the Malines Conversations, producing a plan for a Uniate Church similar to that proposed in the reign of Charles II. The talks ended when the Archbishop of York visited the Pope, the first Anglican archbishop to visit the Pope, and explained that Lord Halifax had no official standing.

It was not until the Second Vatican Council that the time became more auspicious, and through the visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in 1996, the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC)_was created "to work for the restoration of complete communion of faith and sacramental life". Archbishop Ramsey had already indicated what form he thought it might take.

Building on the plans of past centuries he suggested: "Unity could take the form of the Anglican Communion being in communion with Rome, having sufficient dogmatic agreement with Rome, accepting the Pope as the presiding bishop of all Christians, but being allowed to have their own liturgy and married clergy and a great deal of existing Anglican customs; that is to say, it would be in a position rather like the Eastern Uniate Churches in relation to the see of Rome."

Bishop Butler in 1970 picked up the old idea of the Archbishop of Canterbury becoming a Patriarch of the English Rite "with its own bishops, liturgy and theological tradition". Later the same year Pope Paul VI stressed there would be no seeking to lessen the prestige and usage proper to the Anglican Church, which he called a sister church. He returned to the theme, assuring Archbishop Coggan in 1977: "these words of hope 'The Anglican Church united not absorbed' are no longer a mere dream".

To suggest now, as some have done, that Pope Benedict is seeking to undermine the Anglican Church is unfair and untrue. He has not undermined it; it has undermined itself. Strictly speaking, there is now no such thing as the Anglican Communion. It would be more accurate to call it a Federation of Anglican Communions, for there are several groupings, which are no longer in communion with each other or with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Cardinal Kasper addressed the Anglican bishops at Lambeth, pointing out the difficulty this presents. " In several contexts, bishops are not in communion with other bishops; in some instances, Anglican provinces are no longer in full communion with each other." How can the Catholic Church maintain a dialogue for organic unity with an Anglican Communion so divided in itself? The ARCIC conversations were inevitably downgraded to cooperation and friendship, but are still most important for all that, and more so now when relations are under strain.

For there are very large numbers of Anglicans, like the allegedly 400,000 Anglicans of the Traditional Anglican Communion, and others no longer in communion with their diocesan bishops, who have separate "episcopal visitors". Many of these have earnestly requested Rome to complete the ARCIC process with them. This put Rome on the spot. Cardinal Kasper referred to the dilemma at the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

He asked: "Should we, and how can we, appropriately and honestly engage in conversations also with those who share Catholic perspectives on the points currently in dispute, and who disagree with some developments within the Anglican Communion or particular Anglican provinces?" Not an easy question to answer.

What would the Anglican Church do if 400,000 Methodists asked to come into the Church of England while being allowed to keep their distinctive traditions? My guess is that it would be churlish to refuse, and they would be warmly welcomed, despite the possible risks. Rome has drawn from the precedents of history, and this favourable response is neither a novelty nor a surprise.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Calling a spade

Bishop John Broadhurst, Bishop of the Fulham jurisdiction in the Diocese of London and Chairman of Forward in Faith, has released a preliminary response to the text of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. He has a knack for telling it like it is, especially when the obvious is so hard to discern.

". . . I have been horrified that the Church of England while trying to accommodate us has consistently said we cannot have the jurisdiction and independent life that most of us feel we need to continue on our Christian pilgrimage. What Rome has done is offer exactly what the Church of England has refused. Indeed it has offered the requests of Consecrated Women? with the completion of its ecumenical hopes. We all need now to ask the question 'is this what we want?' For some of us I suspect our bluff is called! . . ."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

O Divine Redeemer

In my sermon for All Souls' Day, I made reference to the song "O Divine Redeemer" by Charles Gounod. You can play the song (above), sung so beautifully by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. You will want to turn up the volume for this one.

As James Welch reports: Gounod's compositions include over a dozen operas (the most famous being Faust), 17 Mass settings, a host of sacred and secular choral works, six oratorios (the most famous being La RĂ©demption), two symphonies, chamber music, solo piano and organ pieces, and even teaching methods for piano and French horn. His most recognizable instrumental piece is Funeral March of a Marionette, written in London in 1872 for piano and later orchestrated in 1879. This colorful piece was much later adopted as the theme music for the Alfred Hitchcock television show.

Gounod composed both the words (in French) and music to "O Divine Redeemer" in April 1893, six months before his death, so it is one of his last compositions. Some consider it to be one of his last expressions of faith. The song was written originally for mezzo-soprano with orchestral accompaniment. The original title of the song is Repentir, meaning "Repentance," and is subtitled Scene sous forme de priere, (literally, "Scene in the form of a prayer").

The standard English translation, which is a little watered down from the imagery in the original French, goes like this:

Ah! turn me not away, receive me, tho' unworthy!
Hear Thou my cry, behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from Thy throne, haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid,
Thy pity show in my deep anguish!
Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,
Tho' righteous Thine anger, O Lord!
Shield me in danger, O Regard me! On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.

O Divine Redeemer! O Divine Redeemer!
I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not my sins!
Forgive me, O divine Redeemer!
Night gathers round my soul; fearful I cry to Thee;
Come to mine aid, O Lord! Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
Hear my cry, Save me, Lord, in Thy mercy;
Hear my cry! Come and save me, O Lord!
O, divine Redeemer! I pray Thee, grant me pardon,
And remember not, O Lord, my sins!
Save, in the day of retribution, from Death shield Thou me, O my God!
O, divine Redeemer, have mercy! Help me, my Savior!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord

St Matthew's Episcopal Church in Comanche, TX is all prepared for the Requiem Mass of All Souls' Day.