Friday, September 07, 2007

what i'm up to... and a new blog

You may have noticed, if you are gracious enough to be a regular reader of this blog, that I have not been writing much lately. This is due largely to the fact that I have just been made a rector (thank you; thank you), and have anyway been busy with parochial work.

It is also due to the fact that I have been working on a new blog project. This one is a collaborative effort of catholic-minded "communion conservatives". The new blog is much better than Whitehall. I encourage you to visit it here: Covenant Communion.

Does this mean that Whitehall is going away? That is not my intention. I am certainly not going to delete it any time soon. But I would encourage you to visit Covenant-Communion, and tell your friends to visit it too. It is a large collaborative effort and, it seems to me, has much potential.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

the consecrations in kenya

They are going on right now I think (???).  You can watch it on Standfirm.

Monday, August 27, 2007

the prayer book office and the office of the dead

Here is something else to print, cut out, and paste into your BCP. You can make your Daily Office into an Office of the Dead by doing the following things. This can be used to pray for departed souls (e.g. immediately after they die, on the anniversaries of their deaths, regularly once a month for all your dead loved ones and acquaintances, etc.).

For priests: the Office of the Dead, when it was said, was said IN ADDITION to the Office of the Day. The complete Office of the Dead was: First Vespers, Mattins and Lauds, plus Mass of the Dead (requiem). Below are Matins and Evensong of the Dead, conforming to the outline of the Prayer Book Office. You might consider offering a Requiem Mass at your parish once a month, on the first unencumbered day, and also on that day the Office of the Dead. At one time clergy also said this office on Mondays during Advent and Lent.

This Office, more or less in this form (except, of course, Latin) is very ancient. This is evidenced not only by ancient references to it, but also by certain accretions present in the regular Daily Office, but missing from the Office of the Dead (such as confessions, absolutions, opening versicles, blessings, etc.). The Office pretty much in this form dates probably to around the 7th or 8th century, though it has antecedents going back to the second century, and perhaps even to the first.

The Confession, Absolution, and opening versicles are not said in the Office of the Dead, nor is "alleluia".

Instead of "Glory be to the Father...", there is said at the end of Psalms and Canticles:

Rest eternal * grant unto them, O Lord.
And let light perpetual * shine upon them.


Antiphon for the Invitatory [i.e. "O come, let us sing..."]:

King to whom all things live: * O come let us worship him.

[Antiphons are said before the Psalm, and again after it -- i.e. after saying "Rest eternal * grant..." at the end of each Psalm.]

Psalms with Antiphons as follows:

1st Psalm (Ps. 5): Make thy way plan, * O Lord, before my face.
2nd Psalm (Ps. 6): Turn thee, * O Lord, and deliver my soul: for in death no man remembereth thee.
3rd Psalm (Ps. 7): Lest he devour my soul * like a lion, and tear it in pieces, while there is none to help.

1st Lesson: Wisdom 4.7-end

1st Canticle: The Song of Hezekiah (Isa. 38.10-20) as follows:

Antiphon: From the gate of hell * deliver my soul, O Lord.

1 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: * I am deprived of the residue of my years:
2 I said I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: * I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world:
3 Mine age is departed, * and is now removed from me as a shepherd's tent:
4 I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: * from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.
5 I reckoned till morning, that as a lion so will he break all my bones: * from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.
6 Like a crane or a swallow so did I chatter: * I did mourn as a dove.
7 Mine eyes fail with looking upward: * O LORD I am oppressed; undertake for me.
8 What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me and himself hath done it: * I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul.
9 O LORD by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: * so wilt thou recover me and make me to live.
10 Behold for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: * for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.
11 For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: * they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
12 The living, the living, he shall praise thee as I do this day: * the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
13 The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments * all the days of our life in the house of the LORD.

Rest eternal * grant unto them, O Lord. And let light perpetual * shine upon them.

Antiphon: From the gate of hell * deliver my soul, O Lord.

2nd Lesson: 1 Cor. 15.35-end

Then is said:

V. I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me.
R. Blessed are the dead which die in the lord.

Antiphon to Benedictus [i.e. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel"]: I am * the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.

The Apostles' Creed is not said.

Then is said kneeling:

Our Father, [and the rest silently until:]
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But delier us from evil.

The following Psalm is not said on the day of death or burial (but is said otherwise):

Psalm 130, concluding with "Rest eternal..."

Then is said:

V. From the gate of hell,
R. Deliver HIS SOUL, O Lord.
V. May HE rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

The most appropriate Collect, from among those following, is said:

1 Collect
Day of Burial
Absolve, we beseech thee, O Lord, the soul of thy servant (handmaid) N., that being dead unto the world HE may live unto thee: and whatsoever HE hath done amiss in his earthly life through the frailty of the flesh, do thou in the pitifulness of thy great goodness pardon and purge away. Through...

2 On the 3rd, 7th and 30th Days After Burial
We beseech thee, O Lord, that the soul of thy servant (handmaid) N., whose body three (seven, thirty) days since we did commit unto the ground, may be made partaker of the fellowship of thine elect; and that thou wouldest pour upon HIM the continual dew of thy mercy. Through...

3 On the Anniversary
O God, to whom alone belongeth the forgiveness of sins: grant, we pray thee, to the souls of thy servants (and handmaidens), the anniversary of whose burial we now commemorate, to find a place of refreshing, and the blessedness of thy rest, and to enjoy the glory of everlasting light. Through.

4 For a Bishop or Priest
O God, who didst cause thy servant, N. for whom we pray, to enjoy the office of bishop (priest) after the order of thine Apostles: grant unto him, we beseech thee; finally to rejoice in the company of those thy Saints in heaven whose ministry he did sometime share on earth. Through.

5 For Man Departed
Incline thine ear, O Lord, unto the prayers wherewith we humbly entreat thy mercy: that the soul of thy servant N., which thou hast bidden to depart this life, may by thee be set in the abode of peace and light, and made partaker of the eternal fellowship of thine elect. Through.

6 For a Woman Departed
We beseech thee, O Lord, of thy loving kindness to have mercy on the soul of thine handmaiden N. : that being purged from all defilements of our mortal nature, she may be restored to the portion of everlasting felicity. Through.

7 For Brethren, Kinsfolk and Benefactors
The second Collect under 9 below.

8 For Father and Mother
O God, who didst command thy people, saying, Honour thy father and thy mother: of thy loving kindness have mercy on the soul(s) of my father [and my mother], and forgive [them] all [their] sins; and I humble pray thee that thou wouldest grant unto me to behold [their] face(s) in the glory of everlasting felicity. Through.

For a Father only, or for a Mother only, the Collect is said as above with the changes necessary to make it read properly.

9 In the Office of the Dead through the Year
O God, who didst cause thy servants, for whom we pray, to enjoy the dignity of the priesthood, and some to be bishops after the order of thine Apostles: grant unto them, we beseech thee, finally to rejoice in the company of those thy Saints in heaven whose ministry they did sometime share on earth. Through.


O God, who desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that all mankind should be saved: we beseech thee mercifully to grant that the brethren, kinsfolk and benefactors of our congregation who have passed out of this world, may by the intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all thy Saints come to enjoy with them everlasting blessedness.


O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all thy faithful people: grant unto the souls of thy servants and handmains the remission of all their sins: that as they have ever desired thy merciful pardon, so by the supplications of their brethren they may receive the same. Who livest.

10 For those who rest in a Cemetery
O God, in whose mercy do reset the souls of thy faithful people: mercifully grant to thy servants and handmaids, and to all that here and in all places do rest with Christ, the remission of all their sins; that, being delivered from every bond of iniquity, they may rejoice with thee in everlasting bliss. Through.

11 For many persons Departed
O God, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive: have compassion on the souls of thy servants and handmaids and grant unto them the remission of all their sins; that, being delivered from the bonds of this our mortal nature, they may be found worthy to pass into everlasting life. Through.

12 Another Collect for Many Persons Departed
Grant, O Lord, we pray thee, to the souls of thy servants and handmaidens thy perpetual mercy: that as they have hoped and trusted in thee, so this their hope and faith may be profitable unto them to life everlasting. Through.

V. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let light perpetual shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.


Psalms with Antiphons as follows:

1st Psalm (Ps. 116): I will walk * before the lord in the land of the living.
2nd Psalm (Ps. 120): Woe is me, O Lord, * that I am constrained to dwell with Mesech.
3rd Psalm (Ps. 121): The Lord shall preserve thee * from all evil: yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
4th Psalm (Ps. 130): If what is done amiss * thou wilt be extreme to mark, O Lord: O Lord, who may abide it?
5th Psalm (Ps. 138): Despise not, * O Lord, the works of thine own hands.

1st Lesson: Job 19.21-27

V. I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me.
R. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.

Antiphon to Magnificat: All * that the Father hath given me shall come to me: and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.

2nd Lesson: 1 Thess. 4.13-end

Nun Dimittis is said without antiphon.

The Apostles Creed is not said.

Then is said kneeling:

Our Father, [and the rest silently until]
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.

The following is Psalm is not said on the day of death or burial (but is said otherwise).

Psalm 146 [concluding with "Rest eternal..."]

V. From the gate of hell,
R. Deliver HIS SOUL, O Lord.
V. May HE rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Collect and conclusion as at Mattins.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

obligation to say the daily office

The following is from "The Obligation of the Clergy to Recite the Divine Office" by Thomas J. Williams, originally published in American Church Quarterly in 1930. It can be found here at Project Canterbury.

We are now faced with the contention of those who admit that the Prayer-Book Offices are of obligation for Priests and Deacons of the Church in England, by force of explicit enactment; but who claim that the failure of the American Church, in 1790, to repeat the requirement of the English Prayer-Book in explicit terms, abrogates for the clergy of the American Church the specific obligation of reciting Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, leaving us free to choose the form or rite we shall use in fulfilling our obligation as Catholic Priests to say the Divine Office. This contention is based on the argument from silence--an argument that can cut like a two edged sword, and has been known to cut both ways. It is freely granted that the revisers of 1790 did not explicitly reenact or refer directly to the requirement of the English Prayer-Book that the clergy shall recite the Divine Office each day. But the designation of the offices in the American Prayer-Book, since its first ratification in 1790, as "The Order of Daily Morning Prayer" and "The Order of Daily Evening Prayer," is to be interpreted in the light of the statement of the Preface to the American Prayer-Book, that "this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship." The requirement of daily recitation by the clergy of the Divine Office is certainly an essential point of discipline and worship, inasmuch as all clerks in Holy Orders, of whatever Communion of the Holy Catholic Church, are obligated to such recitation. No one will deny that the clergy of the Roman Communion are under strict obligation to use the offices of the Roman, or other authorized, Breviary--and none other. It should be equally clear that all Priests and Deacons of the American Church are under obligation to say the Divine Office, as set forth in the Order of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer; and have no right to substitute for these authorized offices the Roman Breviary or the Orthodox Horologion.

It has been the practice of an almost unbroken line of Anglican clergy, from the Reformation to the present, to supplement the Prayer-Book Office by reciting the little hours of the old office. Such practice does not admit of question or challenge, for this has always been a matter of private devotion. Entirely different is the practice of substituting the entire Breviary for the Prayer-Book Office. Whatever an individual priest, or a community of priests, may find helpful as a matter of individual or community devotion, this can in no wise affect the obligation resting on every Priest and Deacon of the Anglican Rite, as such, to recite the Divine Office according to the authorized form set forth by authority--The Order of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

three questions

1) Do you think (a) Episcopal and (b) Anglican clergy are under an obligation to say the Daily Office?

2) What is the origin of putting a little cross after the name of priests and before the name of bishops?

3) What is the origin of the clerical collar?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

4x more psychics than priests in europe

I tend to think of European godlessness as being part of a protracted Enlightenment: I imagine the Continent populated by innumerable Voltaires and Rousseaus. But this op-ed in the International Herald Tribune (stumbled on via Google's news leder) puts a different spin on things. Apparently interest in the occult, the paranormal, and diviniation is thriving in France and elsewhere. Some disturbing excerpts:

EU Commission research indicates that 52 percent of Europeans believe astrology has a scientific basis compared to a more skeptical United States and Britain, at about 31 percent each.

The main French professional clairvoyance organization, INAD (Institut National des Arts Divinatoire) says some 100,000 men and women are practicing clairvoyants in France today. This is about four times the number of Roman Catholic priests. INAD estimates that about €3.2 billion are spent annually on their advice.

You can read the rest of it here.

I suppose this is hardly surprising. Having declared God to be unscientific, science is discovering itself to be unscientific, meaning unable to provide a ground of being explanation for the world. Why wouldn't people tend to drift back towards something--even if it's anything--that would give some semblance of purpose and meaning to their lives.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

saint augustine on 'works'

Wouldest thou then have 'good days' and 'life,' and wouldest thou not 'refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile'?  Alert to the reward, slow to the work!  And to whom if he does not work is the reward rendered?  I would that in thy house thou wouldest render the reward even to him that does work!  For to him that works not, I am sure thou dost not render it.  And why?  Because thou owest nothing to him that does not work!  And God hath a reward proposed.  What reward?  'Life and good days,' which life we shall desire, and unto which days we all strive to come.  The promised reward He will give us.  What reward?  'Life and good days.'  And what are 'good days'?  Life without end, rest without labour.

Great is the reward He hath set before us:  in so great a reward as is set before us, let us see what He hath commanded us.  For enkindled by the reward of so great a promise, and by the love of the reward, let us make ready at once our strength, our sides, our arms, to do His bidding....  So then in proper order, first 'depart from evil,' and 'do good;' first 'gird up thy loins,' and then 'light the lamp.'  And when thou hast done this, wait in assured hope for 'life and good days.'  'Seek peace, and ensue it;' and then with a good face wilt thou say unto the Lord, 'I have done what Thou hast bidden, render me what Thou hast promised.'

(From Sermon LVIII in the Philip Schaff series)

Monday, August 06, 2007

there is no plain sense of scripture

The notion that there is "a plain sense" of Scripture, and correlatively that Scripture alone should govern our life in Communion, is mistaken.  It is belied by the existence of many thousands of Protestant denominations, all of which have their origin in disagreements over what Scripture says.

Rather, as Paul told Timothy, the Church is the pillar and foundation of the Truth.  The Lord gave the Apostles magisterial (magister = teacher) and juridical authority, which they passed on to their successors, and which they passed on to their successors -- a process that will continue until the Lord returns in glory.  It is the bishops of the Church, as successors of the Apostles, who have authority to interpret Scripture and promulgate doctrine (docere = to teach).

We may, of course, interpret it too, but only within the parameters of their interpretation.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

some thoughts on current anglican events

Last week there was, in Ft. Worth, a meeting of the Anglican Communion Network. There was, and continues to be, a lot of buzz around it.

One of the things that was manifest at the meeting is division in the orthodox camp -- between those wanting out now, and those calling for more patience.

What do I think? I think more patience is necessary. That doesn't mean I hold out much hope for ECUSA. ECUSA's probably lost, and lost for good. I think ECUSA is rapidly being vindicated as just another liberal protestant sect, doomed to go the way of all liberal protestant bodies: declining attendance, growing irrelevance. Ironically this is a byproduct of seeking above all else to be relevant and to increase attendance by being friendly and open to anyone and anything. Barring a miracle, I believe ECUSA is doomed. It is very rich and it will be around for yet a long time. It will become high church, syncretic Unitarianism, and it will continue its sprint to the margins of coherence. Society will regard ECUSA as society regards a demented old lady: tolerated and indulged for the sake of who she once was and because she is high-born, but an irritating embarrassment to all who remain long in her company.

So, why call for more patience from the orthodox who remain in ECUSA? Chiefly: because none of us have the authority to do what needs to be done: to create a Province of the Anglican Communion in North America that is juridically separate from ECUSA. The orthodox bishops who remain in ECUSA can't do it because they are subject to the jurisdiction of ECUSA which doesn't allow such things. This has to be done by the Primates and by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Because to be in the Anglican Communion means to be in communion with the See of Canterbury, and with the other Churches that are in communion with it.

And this takes time. And taking time is frustrating. But what do you expect? The Anglican Communion spans the globe. There are 80 million Christians in it. It moves slowly. But a process has been set in motion that will, God willing, lead to the creation of a North American Province, outside the juridical structure of ECUSA, incontrovertibly in communion with the See of Canterbury and the other Churches of the Anglican Communion. It is outlined in the Windsor Report and the Dar es Salaam Communique and Archbishop Williams' document The Challenge and Hope of Being and Anglican Today.

I understand the frustration of waiting for the Instruments of Communion to grind away while the faithful in ECUSA face inhibitions and lawsuits and various kinds of disenfranchisement. But frankly, as Christians we're called to bear witness to the truth, and we should expect that this will entail suffering. Moreover, I don't understand the the conservatives who thwart the judgment of the Instruments of Communion in their zeal for truth and purity NOW when the very basis for their critique of ECUSA is that it has thwarted the judgment of the Instruments of Communion out of love for the zeitgeist. What's the difference? If to be Anglican means to accept the doctrine and devotion of Anglicanism (and what else could it mean?), then the question becomes: who may authoritatively enunciate Anglican doctrine and set the parameters of Anglican devotion? Is it not the Instruments of Communion, and particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, and the Lambeth Conference, since they are bishops and therefore in a special way the heirs of the Apostles?

Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.... For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore (Psalm 133)...

Unity is very important. SEEKING and PRESERVING unity is very important -- because it is the fruit of the Lord's commission of bearing witness to the truth. If we lose our unity, then we have ceased to drink from the fountainhead of truth. Clearly this is so for ECUSA: it bears witness to a lie, and the fruit of disunity within and without is slowly blossoming. It will take awhile for the juridical reality to catch up with the pneumatic reality; that's just the way of things in this vale of tears. But we should stick to the plan and continue to call ECUSA to stick to the plan too. I doubt they will, but ceasing to call because an authoritative judgment has not come on our time frame is disobedient and a refusal to hope. It won't go on forever, but it will go on for a season. We will know considerably more after September 30. And I imagine the shape of a definitive resolution to this mess will become clear at the Lambeth Conference.

What can you do? You can bear witness to the truth -- proclaim the gospel -- whether you are a layman, a deacon, priest, or bishop. You can proclaim the gospel and suffer for it. Be the lone voice at Diocesan Conventions. Be the lone voice in your parish. Be disenfranchised. Suffer. "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials.... Without having seen him, you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls... Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you..." (1 Peter 1.6, passim).

And pray, pray, pray. Pray for the blinded souls in ECUSA. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for the Instruments of Communion and those with authority to ACT, that they would be given wisdom and courage to do so. They have said that they will, and they've even given us some indication of benchmarks and time frames. September 30. Lambeth '08. Wait, proclaim the truth, suffer, don't presume to have authority you don't have, and don't despair of a godly outcome because the process is not unfolding according to your will. Let the Lord guide it, and when the dust settles, and you have been purified by suffering, then take stock of our situation.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

my favorite day at the parish

My favorite day at the parish, I believe, is Wednesday. Wednesday evening the schedule looks like this, beginning at 6:00: Evening Prayer (followed by Salve Regina), Low Mass, Angelus, and finally the Rosary. We usually have a decent group turn up for it. I think the big draw is the Rosary. Last night we prayed the Glorious Mysteries, and indeed they are glorious. Its a refreshing way to spend an evening.

Monday, July 30, 2007

the moral compass

step right up and spin the wheel. See how the Episcopalians measure up.

I recommend exploring the website. Some interesting stuff here about the presence of religion in the virtual world.

bp. duncan expresses despair at network meeting

"God, in His wisdom, has not used us to reform The Episcopal Church, to bring it back to its historic role and identity as a reliable and mainstream way to be a Christian. Instead The Episcopal Church has embraced de-formation – stunning innovation in Faith and Order – rather than reformation," Duncan stated.

Read it all.

the vatican goes high-tech

VIENNA, Austria - Organizers of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Austria next month are offering the faithful a foretaste: daily cell phone text messages with quotes from the pontiff.

The Archdiocese of Vienna said the service, which began Sunday and will continue through the pope's Sept. 7-9 visit, will provide free excerpts of his sermons, blessings and writings.

Read it all from Yahoo News.

church of what's happening now

Here's a list of the resolutions that passed at the recent Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) national Convention. There are several that mention abortion: the DoC have been pro-choice since the very moment of Roe vs. Wade. Note the resolution against overweight clergy (perhaps they'd save even more money on the church health insurance plan if they cracked down on smoking clergy, and elderly clergy, and clergy with really fast sports cars), the affirmative action resolution for racial representation among clergy (does proportional representation make St. Paul's list of qualifications in I Timothy?), the resolution restoring our connection with our food through participation in local farming initiatives, resolutions against torture, for universal children's health insurance, against big tobacco, supporting all immigration, and of course the obligitory anti-Iraq-war resolution.

Several things worry me about this list:
1. Most of these resolutions are toothless, in that they don't contain provisions about funding or delegations of responsibility to make sure this stuff gets done. A DoC pastor friend of mine who was there described them as 'feel good resolutions'. The Episcopal Church is very good about following up its resolutions with concrete action - however, I'm not sure if that makes me more or less worried about our own convention's actions.

2. Most of these resolutions are chock full of statistics and policy suggestions and the latest findings of science and culture, but they're thin on bible and theology; granted, in the DoC, most of that spadework has already been done and can be assumed; but I worry that church conventions are now expected to be more activist than reflective, more political than theological. TEC definitely suffered from the same malady in the Summer of 06. This whole grab for political relevance smacks of temptation to me. When Jesus had a chance to comment on the hot issues of His day, He said, "Render unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasar's, and unto God the things that are God's." and "My kingdom is not of this world." It was a sidestep, an attempt to refocus our minds on God rather than on today's issues. Church conventions ought to keep that example in mind. And after all, oughtn't there to be at least ONE place in our world where we set aside the divisive concerns of our temporal world and live together as citizens of an heavenly city?

faith and order anniversary

... church historian and Lutheran pastor Dr. Martin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, summarized the many ecumenical accomplishments of the Faith and Order movement in the last 50 years. He cited advances such as mergers of denominational variations into united churches; the development of various state, national and world councils of churches; the number of full-communion agreements; and theological breakthroughs such as the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.

At the same time, Marty counseled against minimizing the difficulties the movement still faces. These difficulties are not so much in the area of faith, he observed, which operates in the area of mystery, depth and amplitude but is hard to define. Rather, the "sticking points" have to do with sexual issues and authority issues, he said. These still remain communion-dividing issues within and among the churches and keep Christians from sharing the common Eucharist.

Read the whole thing here. Faith and Order has always been the theological side of the modern ecumenical movement. Dr. Marty contends the thorniest theological disagreements have been either solved or made moot, issues such as baptism, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and liturgical differences. Only ecclesiological and social issues remain. What do you Whitehallians think? Has Faith and Order brought us substantive change, or are its accomplishments, such as the influential Lima statement from 1982, merely an illusion, with real differences hiding behind vague language? What is the best measure of success in the ecumenical effort -- agreed statements and signed concordats, or common work and worship, or something else?

ingmar bergman has died

Read about it here. I appreciate Bergman. His films resonate. I worry that he never saw the light, though I think Fr Kimel has disagreed with me on this point.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

a word of hope from saint augustine

The city which has given us birth according to the flesh still abides, God be thanked. O that it may receive a spiritual birth, and together with us pass over unto eternity! If the city which has given us birth according to the flesh abide not, yet that which has given us birth according to the Spirit abides for ever."The Lord does build up Jerusalem." Has He by sleeping brought His building to ruin, or by not keeping it, let the enemy into it? "Except the Lord keep the city, he that keeps it wakes but in vain." And what "city"? "He that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." What is Israel, but the seed of Abraham? What the seed of Abraham, but Christ? "And to your seed," he says, "which is Christ." And to us what says he? "But you are Christ's, therefore Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise." "In your seed," says He, "shall all nations be blessed." The holy city, the faithful city, the city on earth a sojourner, has its foundation in heaven. O faithful one, do not corrupt your hope, do not lose your charity,"gird up your loins," light, and hold out your lamps before you; "wait for the Lord, when He will return from the wedding." Why are you alarmed, because the kingdoms of the earth are perishing? Therefore has a heavenly kingdom been promised you, that you might not perish with the kingdoms of the earth. For it was foretold, foretold distinctly, that they should perish. For we cannot deny that it was foretold. Your Lord for whom you are waiting, has told you,"Nation shall rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." The kingdoms of the earth have their changes; He will come of whom it is said, "and of His kingdom there shall be no end."

(From Sermon 55, on Luke 11)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

another picture from the st. michael's conference

father peter toon on what's most likely to happen

Sadly, I have to say I agree that this seems the most likely scenario:

As things stand in July 2007, the scenario, in my view, that is most likely to happen in the USA is not that there will be the old PECUSA (as a Unitarian Liturgical Church) doing its own thing on its own, and a new "orthodox" Province in the USA, part of a 38 member Global Anglican Communion, proclaiming orthodoxy alongside the degraded old PECUSA. A more likely scenario will be that the old PECUSA continues with a few (by comparison with the liberal majority) conservative dioceses; that several African Provinces have dioceses or networks in the USA (overlapping each other and sometimes competing one with another), that there are all kinds of associations and links of parishes with other overseas bishops; that the number of small jurisdictions of continuing Anglicans of one kind or another continues and increases, even as a few of them unite with one another; and that an increasing number of Anglicans in frustration either cease to be church goers (as happened in a massive way in the 1970s with the introduction of the new liturgies and women priests) or go to Rome or Orthodox or various forms of Protestantism-especially interdenominational churches. To create a new Province in the USA will be exceptionally difficult for it will need in the USA powerful (but rarely experienced) centripetal forces and from overseas all kinds of diplomatic, theological and constitutional help and advice. And the wrath of the old PECUSA will work to make it not happen!

From here. If this is indeed the way things ago, as seems to me most likely, I think Anglicanism will have been vindicated as just another protestant denomination and perhaps it will be time to disband and join other families. A depressing thought. In the meantime, buckle down where you are, and proclaim the Gospel.

Friday, July 20, 2007

catholicity -- part one: the primitive unity

The following was first published in 1947. It is from:


A Study in the Conflict of Christian Traditions in the West

being a Report presented to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury

E.S. Abbott
H.J. Carpenter
V.A. Demant
Gregory Dix
T.S. Eliot
A.M. Farrer
F.W. Green
A.G. Herbert
R.C. Mortimer
A.M. Ramsey
A. Reeves
C.H. Smyth
The Bishop of Southampton
L.S. Thornton

Part I, Section 1

It is inevitable that in trying to understand the problems which arise from our divisions we should look back to the primitive unity created by our Lord, and ask what sort of unity this was. It consisted no only in unity of organization or in the promise of a world-wide universality, nor yet in the bond of charity: it consisted rather in a whole via vitae which included belief, worship and morals. It is often remembered that in the seventeenth chapter of St. John our Lord prayed for the unity of His disciples: it is sometimes forgotten, however, in our modern discussions that this prayer for their unity was linked with His prayer for their sanctification in the truth: 'Sanctify them in Thy truth; Thy word is truth'. The unity of Christians, coming as it does from the unity of the Father and the Son, is interwoven with their sanctification in the truth which our Lord delivers.

The unity, in all its aspects, has sprung directly out of the entrance of God into human history in the eschatological event of Redemption. This event includes the age-long preparation of Israel for the Messiah. It has its centre in His birth, life, death and resurrection. It includes no less the church which is His Body, and the Spirit who through this Body brings tinto the world the powers of the age to come. It is vital in our believe that the Church is a part of the eschatological event, and a Divine fact. For the essence of the Church is our Lord, who is both the summing-up of the old Israel, and the head of the new Israel. Thus the members of the church do not constitute the unity themselves: rather they are brought into a unity which is there already. In the words of Archbishop Frederick Temple:

'Men speak as if Christians came first and the Church after: as if the origin of the Church was in the wills of the individuals who composed it. But, on the contrary, throughout the teaching of the Apostles, we see it is the Church that comes first, and the members of it afterwards.... In the New testament... the Kingdom of Heave is already in existence, and men are invited into it. The Church takes its origin, not in the will of man, but in the will of the Lord Jesus Christ.... Everywhere men are called int: they do not come in and make the Church by coming. They are called into that which already exists: they are recognized as members when they are within; but their membership depends on their admission, and not upon their constituting themselves into a body in the sight of the Lord'.

(from the Sermon: Catholicity and Individualism, preached at the consecration of Truro Cathedral.)

To be continued.... Comments so far?

iran arrests 14 squirrels on charges of espionage

You can tell that Iran is feeling a little beleaguered these days when there are reports that Tehran may be under attack from rodents!

That is what the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported this week, that police had, ahem, "arrested" 14 squirrels on charges of espionage.

The rodents were found near the Iranian border, allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices, according to IRNA.

When asked to confirm the story, Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, the national police chief, said, "I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information." He declined to give any more details

IRNA said that the squirrels were discovered by foreign intelligence services – but were captured by police officers several weeks ago.

Read it all here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

from j.m. neale's translation of the sarum diurnal

At Matins bound, at Prime reviled, condemned to death at Tierce;
Nailed to the Cross at Sexts; at Nones his blessed side they pierce;
They take him down at Vesper-tide, in grave at Compline lay;
Who henceforth bids his Church observe these seven hours alway.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

convenient truth

A new Anglo-Papist blogger, Jeffrey at Omnibus Sanctis. Check out his sage commentary on the motu proprio.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

mystical exegesis of psalm 45

That's what I've been reading.  Take for example verse 9 / 10:  "Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women:  upon thy right hand did stand the queen in a vesture of gold, wrought about with divers colours."

Richard of St. Victor writes:  "O most sweet light of the purified mind, O wisdom of all the sciences, which are, as it were, honourable women to the Queen, that queen who always standeth on the right hand of God in a vesture of gold.  Sometimes as a herald before a king, sometimes as a sound before the articulate word, sometimes as righteousness before the face of God, sometimes as the law in the presence of the Judge, so are these her handmaids to her, the Queen.  But thou, O Queen, art thyself the immaculate law, the faithful testimony of the Lord, the lucid precept, the right judgment, the holy fear of God, the sweet meditation, herald and interpreter of the entire God."

Historical criticism is so boring.

the new religion (ecusa) and the sanctity of life

The following is an insightful comment from Dave on Stand Firm's latest on the recent furor over the Rev'd Elizabeth Kaeton's grotesque fantasies:

What this whole episode has driven home to me on a visceral level is that we’re not in a debate over abstractions. We’re in a struggle where ideas have immediate and direct consequences for the soul. Our Worthy Opponents’ demand for absolute autonomy and freedom to pursue desires and to define themselves by those desires leads to a deep revulsion at the institution that most attenuates desire and freedom in the name of something higher: the family.

This is NOT just a case of one side rallying around a banner, or “cheering for the laundry.” It shows in distinct terms the practical consequences of ideas, in this case the effect of liberal “Christianity” on one’s feeling and sensitivity towards families and the intrinsic good of children. There is, of course, a connection between Kaeton’s lifestyle, her willingness to threaten Anne Kennedy, and her belief in the absolute good of abortion.

I read this essay a couple of years ago and I think I was just as repulsed by it as I was by her cruel “dream” about Anne’s children. In it she recounts the yearly ritual of a woman who has been haunted and eaten away with guilt over an abortion she had 30 years ago. But rather than pastorally guide this poor soul into the freedom of repentance and the path of healing that only Christ can provide, she affirms this woman’s actions, and constructs a grotesque new ritual (dare I say “liturgy") in which the child is memorialized and grieved over, while at the same time the action that took the child’s life is also affirmed as “sacred.” Even in the face of 30 years of grief and guilt as the result of an abortion, Kaeton couldn’t bring herself to question the absolute and intrinsic good—indeed the “sacredness” of a woman’s “right to choose.”

As if it needed saying: a basic spiritual insensitivity to life is present in both episodes, and are not just a case of one unhinged lesbian priest’s unguarded tirade. In both cases, the root moral cause is a demand for absolute freedom without qualification, and the abstract idea that animates this demand is the rejection of the propositional moral authority of Christianity proper.

Both cases demonstrate once again what’s at stake in the current debates: not just ideas, but whether or not we can build a Church and a community that cultivates a feeling for the sacredness of life, instead of a pseudo-Church that memorializes atrocities and cultivates a fixation on death.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I hate posting on stuff like this because its so unedifying.  But I feel some kind of deontological compulsion.

The Rev'd Elizabeth Kaeton is an ECUSA Priest in the diocese of Newark.  She is the president of their standing committee.  She is a partnered lesbian.  She has a blog.  She's an outspoken advocate of the New Religion that is the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  She is apparently a deeply troubled person.

Father Matt Kennedy is the mind behind Stand Firm.  Yesterday Ms. Kaeton mused very publicly (on her blog) about Father Kennedy's wife, the Rev'd Anne Kennedy.  Ms. Kaeton has decided that Mrs. Kennedy is a domestic slave, and that one day she will doubtless murder her own children, and then lay "their lifeless little bodies in a perfect row on their perfectly made beds in their perfect suburban home", and that the Kennedy children will thereby become martyrs of the feminist cause, unmasking the oppressiveness of the patriarchy at the root of traditional (=hateful) Christianity.  Thus Ms. Kaeton's thoughts seem to run.

Read it all here if you like.  Its shockingly gross, but also shockingly honest.

I think Ms. Kaeton probably has a diseased mind.  I'd guess that she's suffered in life, probably at the hands of men.  That's just a guess.  But people usually don't think such horrid thoughts, nor give voice to them, out of the blue, nor even calculatedly, nor certainly out of humility, nor ever out of love.  But while Ms. Kaeton's own baggage may explain why she'd think such thoughts and record them in a very public venue, it doesn't excuse her behavior.  I hope she asks God and the Kennedy's for forgiveness, and I hope she can find the courage and humility to look for the help she needs to deal with the stuff in her consciousness that this vileness bubbled out of.  

May God bless Father Matt and Anne Kennedy and their children, and Elizabeth Kaeton and her partner and their families.

confessions of an episcopal fundamentalist

I highly recommend the Rev. Kenneth D. Aldrich's article in the July edition of The Living Church. It's available on-line here. He does a great job of stating, in terms recognizable to liberal Episcopalians, the basics of straight-up traditionalist Christianity. He could have done more with the history and character of the movement, for which I recommend you read this website. It has a great list of legitimate and scholarly fundamentalist websites at the bottom.

I wrote a letter to the Editor of TLC about this article, which I hope they publish. While researching for that letter, I came across this website from the PCA Historical Center, an Archive & Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church. It had the full text of the Doctrinal Deliverance of 1910, one of the seminal statements of American Fundamentalism, which is still a good guide to the movement's theological and cultural underpinnings. According to this document, widely influential in American fundamentlism, the five "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are these:

1. The inerrant inspiration of Holy Scripture (as I read it, this statement is compatible with the belief that the bible is inerrant in all matters of faith and morals but not necessarily so in matters historical and scientific);

2. the Virgin Birth of Christ;

3. the doctrine of a substitutionary atonement;

4. the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead;

5. the reality of the miracles reported in the Gospels.

If you believe these five things, welcome to the ranks of the Fundamentalists. The label is yours for the taking, and I suggest you do. Most of the baggage we associate with fundamentalists and their churches is not theological but comes from bad personal experiences or economic classism - wealthy East-Coast liberal churchmen sneering at the crass and unsophisticated theologies of lower-class midwesterners. The irony is that many so-called or self-styled fundamentalist churches do not themselves know thier roots or what they stand for, or their very important place in the history of this country and of the Church in America.

I note, also, since Fr. WB has started us in the sad irony department, that according to the PCA Historical Center, the 1910 Doctrinal Deliverance came as a result of some irregular ordinations (sound familiar?) of clergy who refused to affirm the virgin birth and were charged with heresy (sound familiar?), and that the charges were dismissed (sound familiar?), and that some years after this excellent stand on their part, the PCUSA General Assembly repealed the Deliverance, claiming that as a General Assembly it had no authority to say what was essential to believe and what was not (sound familiar? try getting General Convention to affirm any fundamentals! or our new Presiding Bishop, for that matter.).

Friday, July 06, 2007

from the sad ironies department

You may remember the ECUSA Priest / Moslem, Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, who was the talk of the town a couple of weeks ago.  Well, she's been inhibited by her ECUSA Bishop, Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island.  That means she's forbidden from functioning as an ECUSA priest for the time being.

Dr. Redding stated that "The church is going to have to divorce me if it comes to that.  I'm not going to go willingly."  That seems like a typically contemporary Episcopalian response.  "I refuse to accept that my actions have consequences!  I must be allowed to do whatever I want!  My actions must be affirmed, no matter what!"

The final irony is that while Dr. Redding is forbidden to teach, preach, or function at any ECUSA parish or institution, she has accepted an invitation to teach at the Roman Catholic Seattle University.  What strange days these are.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

another picture from the st. michael's conference

"And the Light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

I can't emphasize enough how awesome an experience it was.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

michael glatze is courageous

This is moving. I don't want to say that all, or even most, gay people can stop being gay by some kind of decision or therapy, because I don't know what its like to be them. But for the same reason, I don't want to say that some gay people CAN'T change. There are lots of well meaning people on both sides of the theological debate who take one stance or the other for rhetorical purposes. They ought not to do so. A better approach is to listen to people's stories with empathy, and expect that they will do their best to obey Christ.

Michael Glatze's story is this:

(Hat tip: SF.)

After becoming editor of Young Gay America magazine at age 22, Glatze received numerous awards and recognition, including the National Role Model Award from the major homosexual-rights organization Equality Forum. Media gravitated toward him, leading to appearances on PBS television and MSNBC and quotes in a cover story in Time magazine called "The Battle Over Gay Teens."

He produced, with the help of PBS affiliates and Equality Forum, the first major documentary film to address homosexual teen suicide, "Jim In Bold," which toured the world and received numerous "best in festival" awards. Young Gay America's photo exhibit, telling the story of young people across North America, toured Europe, Canada and parts of the U.S.

In 2004, Glatze moved from San Francisco to Halifax in eastern Canada where his partner, Young Gay America magazine's publisher, had family. The magazine, he said, sought to provide a "virtuous counterpart" to the other newsstand media aimed at homosexual youth.

But Glatze contends "the truth was, YGA was as damaging as anything else out there, just not overtly pornographic, so more 'respected.'"

In 2005, Glatze was featured in a panel with Judy Shepard, mother of slain homosexual Matthew Shepard, at the prestigious JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

"It was after viewing my words on a videotape of that 'performance,'" he writes, "that I began to seriously doubt what I was doing with my life and influence."

"Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God," he says. "I'd developed a growing relationship with God, thanks to a debilitating bout with intestinal cramps caused by the upset stomach-inducing behaviors I'd been engaged in."

Toward the end of his time with Young Gay America, Glatze said, colleagues began to notice he was going through some kind of religious experience.

Just before leaving, not fully realizing what he was doing, he wrote on his office computer his thoughts, ending with the declaration: "Homosexuality is death, and I choose life."

Monday, July 02, 2007

where have i been?

Last week I was at the Saint Michael's Conference.  It was incredible.  Frankly, it was wonderful to get away from Episcopal nonsense and news of the same, and do something totally positive and constructive.  All week I was awash in teenagers (61 of them), birettas, daily Solemn High Mass, daily Solemn Evensong, and unadulterated catholicism.  I taught a class called "Christ and the Cosmos" which I meant to be a simplified theology of creation.  My only regret was that I didn't have more time.

One night we had Benediction.  The kids loved it.  The Masses were basically English Missal masses -- a.k.a. Rite I with all the proper ceremonial poured into the cracks in the Prayer Book rubrics (the six salutations, Orate Fratres, Ecce Agnus Dei, Postcommunion, Last Gospel, etc.).  One of ours priests himself made several sets of vestments -- chasubles, dalmatics, tunicles, copes -- for the Conference.  They were all absolutely beautiful.

We heard about 50 confessions from the kids during the course of the week, most of them first confessions.  During the last two nights of the conference, we had Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after Compline, and stationed priests around the chapel to hear confessions in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  It was beautiful.

The kids, by and large, seemed to love pretty much everything.  By the end they were weeping and swearing loyalty to new friends, wishing aloud that the conference lasted another week.

The picture above is from Benediction, Wednesday night.  The sight of 61 teenagers all kneeling perfectly devoutly, adoring Jesus, was incredibly encouraging.

Friday, June 29, 2007

tec executive council fudges again

ok, so you've heard that that Executive Council has put 4 of the most conservative, Network dioceses on notice that they must renounce changes in their constitutions that distance them from certain decisions of General Convention. Here's the original June 14 write-up from ENS.

The Executive Council bases this decision on Article 5, section one of the Consitution, according to ENS. But here's the Constitution - read the section in question -- it applies specifically to new dioceses, not necessarily (as I read it) to existing dioceses or existing constitutions. The Constitution has in fact no provision about judging or altering existing diocesan constitutions if the diocese does something 815 doesn't like. This kind of provision is lacking for a very good reason - the framers of our Constitution, many of them the same people who framed the US Constitution, recognized that such a provision would amount to tyranny; indeed, it would be the very tyranny they had just fought a war of independence to escape. The analysis by Bp. Iker is correct: this is simply an opinion of the Executive Council, another attempt by the tolerant leaders of TEC to use exisiting canons as clubs to enforce acceptance of their heterodox policies. They're more interested in power and enforcing their agenda than in being traditionally Anglican or even being simply the Executive Council. It's a free-for-all power grab up there.

Bp. Iker brings up two other excellent points: 1, that the Executive Council has never been granted the authority of judicial review or the authority to change any diocese's constitution by fiat; and 2, that resolutions adopted by both the Council AND EVEN General Convention are non-binding to start with. Add to this the fact that they're misinterpreting the canon itself, and the conclusion is clear: "this resolution is nothing more than an opinion expressed by those individuals who issued the statement. It is itself “null and void" – unenforceable and of no effect. This action is another example of the heavy-handed tactics being used by those who do not have the right to interfere in the internal constitutional process of the dioceses."

Here's the most comprehensive ENS coverage of this, including the offending passages of the 4 constitutions in question.

dennis canon upheld by appellate court; suit continues

From VOL:

SANTA ANA, Calif. - July 26, 2007 - A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, today reversed the Orange County Superior Court's prior ruling that three former Episcopal churches which disaffiliated from the national denomination in 2004 did not forfeit their property. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law, and instead ruled that hierarchical church denominations can take over local church property by simply passing an internal rule - even if the local church is separately incorporated, bought and maintained the property. . . .

Still at issue is whether the Episcopal Church validly passed an internal rule claiming to hold local church property in trust for itself, and whether that rule applied to the three local churches. St. James, All Saints' and St. David's, as the property owners, never agreed to relinquish their property to the Episcopal Church upon ending their affiliation. St. James, All Saints' and St. David's have maintained all along that they have the right to use and possess the property they have owned and maintained for decades. Legal spokesperson, Eric C. Sohlgren, said, "This decision puts one division of the appellate court in direct conflict with other California court of appeal decisions that for almost thirty years have rejected the idea that a court must automatically defer to a church denomination in church property disputes. Under this ruling, any big church which calls itself hierarchical could try to confiscate the property of a local congregation simply by passing an internal rule. That idea offends basic principles of fairness and property ownership. St. James, All Saints' and St. David's are seriously evaluating an appeal to the California Supreme Court."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

this IS interesting

The Archbishop supports the decision of the Province of Kenya to provide resident Episcopal oversight for the clergy and congregations in the United States who placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Kenya after they had arrived at the conclusion that the Episcopal Church no longer offered them the assurance of continuity with “The faith once delivered to the saints.” The provision of adequate pastoral care and episcopate oversight constitutes a deliberate and intentional effort to provide stability in an environment in which Anglicanism is being severely tested and challenged.

Read it all here.

The support of Archbishop Drexel Gomez, of the West Indies, is a very telling development. He has been largely silent hitherto about the ongoing realignment. He is an Anglo-Catholic. He is a member of the Covenant Design Group (the chairman?), tasked by the Archbishop of Canterbury with presenting to the Communion a working instantiation of Anglican ecclesiology. And he has been a proponent of ACI-style Communion-mindedness (as contrasted with the more vociferously "orthodox" stance of, for example, Archbishop Akinola, et al.). The plot thickeneth.


There was a time when such people were called "Franciscans." Then Christians got lazy. Now non-Christians do it for the sake of.....? Cool? Philanthropy? A sense of moral responsibility? Probably some combination of all of these. Is anyone doing it for the sake of Christ? (I certainly am not.) Ought we to be?

Read it all here. (NY Times.)

Freegans are scavengers of the developed world, living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet, and to distance themselves from what they see as out-of-control consumerism. They forage through supermarket trash and eat the slightly bruised produce or just-expired canned goods that are routinely thrown out, and negotiate gifts of surplus food from sympathetic stores and restaurants.

"i am both christian and muslim."

What absolute twaddle. I can only imagine the depths of self-congratulation that must go into this "radical witness." Will she be disciplined for "abandoning the communion of this Church" by converting to Islam? Of course not. That particular charge is reserved for Anglicans who want to practice Christianity within the Episcopal Church. Read it all here.

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.


Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese's newspaper, hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said.

Some local Muslim leaders are perplexed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

the divine liturgy of saint james

Read the whole Divine Liturgy of St. James here. Experts tell me that this is one of, if not THE, oldest liturgy in use in Christendom. Some say it came from St. James the Just, the brother of the Lord. Most agree that it dates at least to the middle of the third century, and possibly rather earlier, though of course it has evolved in some ways down through the centuries. It was edited down, for example, by St. John Chrysostom. It already takes several hours to celebrate this liturgy. I wonder what it was like BEFORE its several redactions for the sake of brevity. The liturgy is used most widely among the Orthodox at Jerusalem, and is the principle liturgy of several Eastern Churches, including both the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Syrian Catholic Church (in communion with Rome).  Here is an excerpt:

DEACON:  Let none remain of the catechumens, none of the unbaptized, none of those who are unable to join with us in prayer.  Look at one another.  The doors.   All erect; let us again pray to the Lord.

THE PRIEST SAYS THE PRAYER OF INCENSE:  Sovereign Almighty, King of Glory, who knowest all things before their creation, manifest Thyself to us calling upon Thee at this holy hour, and redeem us from the shame of our transgressions; cleanse our mind and our thoughts from impure desires, from worldly deceit, from all influence of the devil; and accept from the hands of us sinners this incense, as Thou didst accept the offering of abel, and Noah, and Aaron, and Samuel, and of all Thy saints, guarding us from everything evil, and preserving us for continually pleasing, and worshipping, and glorifying Thee, the father, and thy only-begotten Son, and thy all-holy spirit, now and always, and forever.

THE READERS BEGIN THE CHERUBIC HYMN:  Let all mortal flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself.  For the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for food to the faithful.  And the bands of angels go before Him with every power and dominion, the many-eyed cherubim, and the six-winged seraphim, covering their faces and crying aloud the hymn, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

THE PRIEST, BRINGING IN THE HOLY GIFTS, SAYS THE PRAYER:  O God, our God, who didst send forth the heavenly bread, the food of the whole world, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be a Saviour, and Redeemer, and Benefactor, blessing and sanctifying us, do Thou Thyself bless this offering, and graciously receive it to Thy altar above the skies.  Remember in Thy goodness and love those who have brought it, and those for whom they have brought it, and preserve us without condemnation in the service of Thy divine mysteries:  for hallowed and glorified is Thy all-honored and great name, Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to all eternity.

PRIEST:  Peace be to all.

DEACON:  Sir, pronounce the blessing.

PRIEST:  Blessed be God, who blesseth and sanctifieth us all at the presentation of the divine and pure mysteries, and giveth rest to the blessed souls among the holy and just, now and always, and to all eternity.