Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary as Anglican Dogma

Paolo de Matteis' Annunciation, 1712

I have been asked what the references were for the perpetual virginity of Our Lady being Anglican dogma. To begin with, the Act of Supremacy of 1559, affirms the First four General Councils, and gives authority to prosecute for heresy those who deny their dogmatic decrees.

Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that such person or persons to whom your highness, your heirs, or successors, shall hereafter by letters patents under the great seal of England give authority to have or execute any jurisdiction, power, or authority spiritual, or to visit, reform, order, or correct any errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, or enormities by virtue of this act, shall not in any wise have authority or power to order, determine, or adjudge any matter or cause to be heresy but only such as heretofore have been determined, ordered, or adjudged to be heresy by the authority of the canonical Scriptures, or by the first four general councils or any of them, or any other general council wherein the same was declared heresy by the express and plain words of the said canonical Scriptures, or such as hereafter shall be ordered, judged, or determined to be heresy by the high court of parliament of this realm, with the assent of the clergy in their convocation — anything in this act contained to the contrary notwithstanding...

This Act of 1559 is part of the Anglican formularies, as part of the legislation underlying the English Book of Common Prayer, and thus, insofar as it refers to doctrine, binding on all Anglicans. This fact was, for example, explicitly accepted by the Episcopal Church in the Preface to the first book of Common Prayer: "...this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any esential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship..." (Preface to The Book of Common Prayer...according to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, 1789). This Preface has been printed with our Prayer Book ever since.

The Council of Chalcedon (451) is the fourth of the general councils cited in the 1559 Act of Supremacy. Among its dogmatic enactments was the setting forth of the Tome of Leo as one of its dogmatic statements. In the Tome of Leo (line 80), the following passage occurs "...missus ad beatam Mariam semper virginem angelus ait..." The line "semper virginem" (accusative of "semper virgo") means always- or ever-virgin.

Thus this dogmatic statement of an early general council affirming the perpetual virginity of our Lady, accepted by the Oriental and eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran and Reformed Churches, is also explicitly given as a dogma by the Anglican Churches. And thus it is an essential part of the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church, to which I swore before God with a solemn oath to conform.

I must say, by the way, that I was taught, and perceive, that this dogma in no way impugns the goodness of the body or of human sexuality, but rather was a necessary corrolary to an understanding of our Lady as the most sacred of human persons, being being the Mother of God the Son.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sermon for Pentecost, 2017

O God, who on this day didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen. 

Today is the Feast of Pentecost.  Pentecost is one of the seven Principal Feasts of our Book of Common Prayer.  It is also known as Whitsunday.  This is from the Old English Hwita Sunnandæg, or White Sunday, a term that likely refers to the white robes of the newly baptized, as Pentecost is one of the feasts of the year on which it is preferred to do baptisms.

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the traditional Ember Days, on which we pray for the ministry.  The prayers for these three days are found in the Collects among the those for Various Occasions (no.  15, on pp.  205–206). 

Since we are no longer in Eastertide, this Friday is a day of Special Devotion, to observed by acts of discipline and self-denial. 

We commemorate the lesser feasts of three saints in the Prayer Book this week.  Tomorrow, Monday June 5, is the feast of St.  Boniface, an Englishman and the apostle of Germany.  Friday, June 9, is the feast of St.  Columba, abbot of Iona in Scotland.  And Saturday, June 11, is the feast of St.  Ephrem of Edessa in Syria, a deacon, writer of hymns, and theologian. 

Next Sunday, June 11, is Trinity Sunday, one of our seven Principal Feasts, like Pentecost.  It is also the feast of our St.  Barnabas, the patron of this church, but he will only be commemorated, as Trinity Sunday takes precedence.

In my sermon two weeks ago, I noted four tests, given to us in Holy Scripture, by which we may discern whether something is from the Spirit of God, or from some other, ungodly, spirit.  The first test is whether it is an act of love, love of God, and love of our neighbor.  For God is love, as the first letter of John says, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God, and knows God.  He who does not love, does not know God; for God is love." So if we see that someone is genuinely motivated by what is good for others, not by a desire to condemn or control, not by a desire to be right, not by self-righteousness, then it is more likely that that person is motivated by the Spirit of God.  On the other hand, if someone is motivated by these things, and not by love, then we know that they are being moved by some other spirit.

The second question is whether the spirit in question leads us to follow God's commandments: which commandments are set forth in Holy Scripture, and apprehended by reason, in particular the principles of natural justice.  As our Lord says (John 14:15–17), "If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth..." We see here that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of obedience to God.  So, when we are discerning spirits, if the spirit in question leads us to love God and keep his commandments, then we may be more sure that it is the Spirit of God.  But if people claim, and indeed we hear people claiming, that they are inspired by the Holy Spirit to disregard God's commandments, or to "move beyond" them, then we may be certain that it is not the Holy Spirit.

The third test, as the passage above says, is whether the spirit under discernment is a "Spirit of truth".  This includes being a spirit of reason, for, as the philosophers say, reason is what allows us to discern truth, and the relation between truths.  Part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to inspire our minds so that we may use our reason to discern what is true, better understand it, and put particular truths in proper relation to each other and to the whole of truth.  The Holy Spirit being a Spirit of Truth means we can know that a lying spirit, one that uses falsehood, for instance as propaganda, even in a presumably good end, is not the Spirit of God.  Likewise, an irrational spirit, one that demands blind obedience, or that discourages us from using our intellect, or that says that we should just go with our feelings or emotions in spite of our reason, such an irrational spirit is not the Spirit of God.

The fourth test is whether or not a spirit is catholic The word catholic come from the Greek καθ' ὅλον /kat holon/, or "according to the whole." Why is this a test? Our Lord says to us, "The Spirit will lead you into all truth." (John 16:13).  The "you" here is plural, collective.  It refers to us in the Church as whole.  The Spirit will lead us Christians, together, as the whole Church, to discern the truth.  In this sense, the Spirit is a Spirit of unity, not of division, in that He leads us to be one in the truth. 

So, if someone has an insight into some aspect of the truth, say with regard to the Scripture; if he or she presents it charitably, with love, to his fellow Christians; if that person is willing to listen and work together to discern the truth, then it is a good sign that that person is being motivated by the Spirit.  But, if someone claims to have a monopoly on the truth, that it is peculiar to himself and his followers, is someone is more interested in being right than being charitable, then the spirit in question is not the Spirit of God, and, while the particular truths in question may have some validity despite this, we should be very careful before accepting them.  Likewise, if a Christian or group of Christians is unwilling to work charitably with others who sincerely desire to follow Christ, then we know that such a person or group is not motivated by the Spirit of God.

So, taking these four tests, we can look at ourselves and try to discern what the Spirit is calling us to do.  These past two weeks, and especially since the feast of the Ascension, we have been asking for God to renew the gift of His Spirit in us, and in this congregation.  We know that if we ask God Father something in penitence and faith, seeking to do His will, He will hear our prayer.  We cannot however, predict how or when He will act upon it, but we may be sure that He will.  In today's Epistle reading, St. Paul tells us, however, of the kinds of things we might expect as gifts of the Spirit.  These are "utterance of wisdom", "knowledge", "faith", "gifts of healing", "miracles", "prophesy", "discernment of spirits", "tongues", "the interpretation of tongues".  I don't think he meant this list to be exhaustive.  Some of these gifts, like faith, the Spirit will give to us all, although perhaps in different measure according to our need and capacity.  Others of these gifts, like miracles, the Spirit apparently gives to some, but not to all. 

Now, the thing of which we must be aware is that some of these gifts can be counterfeited by the enemy.  All of these are real gifts, but, for instance, the Enemy can counterfeit miracles to make something look like the work of God.  Our enemy can counterfeit the gifts of tongues, or of prophesy, so that it looks like something from God, but is not.  And in every movement of renewal in Church history, take for example, the Oxford Movement, of which this congregation is an heir, or the Charismatic movement, or the Social Gospel movement, all of which have things in them which seem inspired and which led people closer to Christ, what starts out as a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit, can, in some places and with some people, through our pride and sin, be taken over by the enemy, and become a counterfeit.  How do we know this is happening? We ask for the gift of spiritual discernment, and using the tests provided by Scripture, exercise that discernment. 

One sure way we ourselves can avoid being led astray is to ask for the greatest gift of the Spirit.  And that gift St. Paul reveals to us in the next chapter following that from today's reading, in Chapter 13.   Here St. Paul says that the greatest gift is love, or charity, that love which puts God first, and which sincerely desires the best for all of God's creatures.  Without that all the other gifts are worthless, he says.  With that, everything else has value.  So as we pray for the Spirit today, let us pray for charity, the love of God living in us, let us pray for that above all, and for the true renewal which comes from being filled with the love of God.

For What are We Praying on the Ember Days?

Today is Ember Wednesday, on which we pray for the ministry of the Church. The Tradition of the Church, from the earliest times, is that the terms "minister" and "ministry" are liturgical in meaning (that is, referring to those who "minister" the common prayer and worship for the Christian community), and, as these orders developed as an extension of the apostolic ministry, referring to the ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacona, as well as to those, such as lectors or clerks, who assist them. John Collins, in his important work Diakonia: Re-interpreting the Ancient Sources, has been very helpful in clarifying this point for us.  This meaning is also that found in the Anglican formularies, especially the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. When the Tradition and the Formularies are agreed there can be no doubt as to what is the definitive meaning for Anglicans. The Ember Days in Pentecost- or Whitsun-Week, and the ordination which traditionally occurred on Saturday, are thus especially appropriate, given the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for which we pray at this time.

The Catechism of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer added the laity as an order of ministry, thus using ministry in a different sense from that found in the Tradition, but nonetheless a useful one. However, in the rubrics of the services, the 1979 Book retains the Traditional usage of "Minister". The Ember days are primarily thus to pray for the ordained ministry, and thus that which is their chief responsibility, the right worship of God. Secondarily, for those of us who use the 1979 Book, we also pray for all Christians in their work of witness to the Gospel.

So we pray this week for those who are to be be ordained, for those who have been ordained, for the right worship of God, and for the witness of all Christians.


Ant. And He gave some, apostles; † and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

V. Endue thy ministers with righteousness;
R. And make thy chosen people joyful.

Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed various orders in thy Church: Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all who are called to any office and ministry for thy people; and so fill them with the truth of thy doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name and for the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Does it Mean for me to Honor my Father and Mother

I have been meditating a lot lately on the Fifth Commandment: "Honor thy father and mother." I was taught that rabbinical scholars held this commandment as part of our duty to God. This was because the teachings of the law of God were handed down by parents to their children. This process is called tradition.

Now, everything we have is tradition. All that we have has been given to us, in the hope that we will cultivate it and pass it on — that is what living is about. To refuse to do this is a form of murder, ensuring that the life of those who went before does not continue in us, and of suicide, ensuring that our life does not continue by giving life to others. A culture that is opposed to tradition is destructive of this continuing life: it is and will grow ever more to be a culture of death.

As a presbyter, an elder of the Church, a father of the faith, it is my duty to pass on the most important of traditions, those having to do with the ultimate meaning and purpose of human life. This means passing on the commandments of God, just like those first addressed in Exodus: and the first commandment is to love God, first, and also my neighbor as God has loved me.  This tradition includes, in first place, the Bible, but also how the Bible has been lived out in the life of the Church, the Liturgy or Common Prayer, the writing of our spiritual elders, and the religious and cultural custom of the Christians people, and especially those in my particular Anglican tradition.  The Tradition is embodied in our culture, our religious culture especially. Of course, there is much more to it than that human culture and endeavor, because God is at work in us in all this, in particular God the Holy Spirit in us.

I have no authority to make any of this up, I have only the authority to understand, apply, and pass it on.  Nor do those in authority over me in the Church have any authority to do or make me do otherwise, for they are bound to the Tradition as I am.

Now I do this in the understanding that much of what I have to pass on is a mystery.  It is not an ideology whose meaning is fixed so that once we accept it there is no further need for thought or inquiry.  The meaning of authentic tradition is not always evident, indeed its full meaning never is.  It must be lived in, by generation after generation to be understood, and it is never exhaustive.

This Tradition is not a dead thing, though, for as this happens, the Tradition lives and grows in us, not according to our own whim, but according to its own logic. That is why it is my duty focus on that Tradition, and on what it demands, especially as set forth in my ordination oath, and to do all I can to avoid the distractions that would divert me from it, even, especially, when those distractions are promoted by those with power in the churches and in secular culture.  I was taught by my teachers, (and here Abp. Michael Ramsey comes particularly to mind), and it has been confirmed repeatedly by my own experience, that far from being stultifying or a dead end, that this faithful living out of the Tradition provides the answers that we need to the difficult problems of the day, creative and frequently surprising answers.

But, the point is, it is my job to preserve, to understand, and to pass it on, not to betray my calling and my oaths by destroying that Tradition and our culture, under the suicidal delusion that I could build a new world according to the passing fashions of the day.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Proper Celebration of Memorial Day (1979 BCP)

Los Angeles National Cemetery
A bronze soldier standing at parade rest is perched atop a boulder to honor Civil War soldiers, erected in 1942

Memorial Day is the Day set aside by these United States to commemorate those who have died in wartime service.  By law (36 U.S. Code § 116 - Memorial Day) the President is requested to issue a proclamation.  The day is set aside, not just for remembrance, but also as a day of "prayer for permanent peace."  The proclamation sets 11 a.m. (local time) as a time when we should prayer together, and 3 p.m. as a "National Moment of Remembrance".   We are also asked to fly the flag of the United States (at half-mast where appropriate) and to decorate the graves of the war dead.

Liturgically, how should we treat Memorial Day?

If one is using the 1979 BCP, I would propose the following:

At Morning and Evening Prayer the office is of the liturgical day (Monday after the Seventh Sunday of Easter).  One can read the following two prayers during the intercessions at Morning and Evening Prayer:

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country.  Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through
Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.  (BCP p. 488)

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.  (BCP p. 815)

At the Mass, I would celebrate a requiem, with the propers For the Departed, with the following options:

[INTROIT. Requiem aeternam
Ant. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. Ps. 65. Thou, O Lord, art praise in Sion, and unto thee shall the vow be performed in Jerusalem: thou that hearest the prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. Then at once is repeated: REST eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them.]

The first collect above (as allowed by the rubric on p. 202 of the BCP)

Isaiah 25:6–9

Ps. 103:13–22

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Gradual and Tract.
R. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. V. Ps. 112. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance: he will not be afraid of any evil tidings.

V. Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from all the chains of their sins.
V. That by the succour of thy grace they may be found worthy to escape the avenging judgement.
V. And enjoy the bliss of everlasting life.

The Sequence Dies Irae (Hymn 468 in the Hymnal 1940) might be added here.

 John 11:21-27

OFFERTORY. O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell, and from the bottomless pit: deliver them from the Lion's mouth, that hell swallow them not up, that they fall not into darkness: but let Michael the standard-bearer bring them into the holy light: Which thou didst promise of old unto Abraham, and his seed. V. We offer thee, O Lord, this sacrifice of prayer and praise: do thou receive it for the souls whose memory we this day recall: make them, O Lord, to pass from death unto life. Which thou didst promise of old unto Abraham and his seed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord; who rose victorious from the dead, and doth comfort us with the blessed hope of everlasting life; for to thy faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body doth lie in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens...

COMMUNION. Let light eternal shine upon hem, O Lord: With thy Saints for evermore: for thou art gracious. V. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. With thy Saints for evermore: for thou art gracious.

Post Communion Prayer
Almighty God, we thank thee that in thy great love thou hast fed us with the spiritual food and drink of the Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, and hast given unto us a foretaste of thy heavenly banquet. Grant that this Sacrament
may be unto us a comfort in affliction, and a pledge of our inheritance in that kingdom where there is no death, neither sorrow nor crying, but the fullness of joy with all thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

One could visit the cemetery in the afternoon, and lay decorations on the grave and say appropriate prayers at 3 p.m.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kneeling, Altar Rails, and Making a Good Communion

Holy Communion
Administered by a Priest and Deacon in the 17th Century.
Anglican practice is that the altar (a.k.a. "Holy Table", the same word used in the Byzantine Rite) is enclosed by communion rails.  This was mandated in the early 17th century as a guard against Puritan abuse of the Blessed Sacrament. In the Anglican tradition, Communion is to be received kneeling (unless one is prevented from doing so by bodily infirmity).*  

The communicant, in order to receive the sacrament, must have repented of the sins of which he or she is aware, and to have confessed them to God. The absolution given by the priest at the General Confession in Morning and Evening Prayer and in the mass is deemed sufficient, unless the person has committed notorious public sin. Confession to a priest is to be resorted to when one is in need of counsel, or when one otherwise wishes to do so, and is highly recommended.  Whenever the penitent perceives that she or he has committed mortal sin (a sin of grave matter, committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent) then for "the removal of all scruple and doubt, the assurance of parson, and the strengthening of your faith"** the penitent should seek out a priest for confession, counsel, and absolution.  When one has committed notorious public sin, then confession and repentance to the curate***  and reconciliation is necessary before admittance to Holy Communion.  

In addition to repentance and confession, the Anglican formularies require that one have faith that one is receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament, as it is through such faith that Christ is received. While there are many possible ways of looking at the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a bare memorialism, that is thinking of the Eucharist as only our remembering of Christ without any actual reception of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, is not within the bounds of Anglican theology and dogma.  Those who are unrepentant of their sins or who do not have faith that they are receiving Christ in Holy Communion do themselves great spiritual harm: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (I Cor. 11:29).  

Anglicans are bidden to "prepare themselves carefully"** before receiving Holy Communion.  This includes not only examining one's conscience, and some prayer time for preparation, but Anglican tradition is to fast prior to receiving the sacrament. The traditional fast was from all food and drink from midnight, but, depending on one's health, this may be modified. (My standard rule is for three hours from all solid food before receiving Communion, and for one hour before all liquids.) 

Prior to the Reformation Anglicans received Communion in one kind only, the host, and on the tongue (not however the most ancient practice, see below).  The original post-Reformation practice was to take the Sacrament of the Body of Christ from the communion plate offered by the priest, it being leavened bread and cut up into cubes by a knife, and to put it directly in one's mouth, being careful to guard against the loss of crumbs.  Aprons (esp. for ladies) or houselling cloths (white cloths attached to the altar rail and held underneath the communicant's mouth while receiving) were employed to catch any crumbs that might fall.  Later Anglican practice advocated by the Tractarians and eventually universally adopted, followed the counsel of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Mystical Catecheses:  The communicant is to come up to the Communion Rail, kneel down, and receive the Host on the right hand, supported by the left hand as by a "throne," and receive by lifting the palm of the hand to their mouths, and then checking, (as St. Cyril insists), that no crumb remain: "be careful that no particles fall, for what you lose would be to you as if you had lost some of your members. Tell me, if anybody had given you gold dust, would you not hold fast to it with all care, and watch lest some of it fall and be lost to you? Must you not then be even more careful with what is more precious than gold and diamonds, so that no particles are lost?"† 

Many Anglicans (especially Anglo-Catholics) also receive on the tongue, both out of reverence, and also to avoid profanation of the sacrament from dropping it.  This is also a perfectly acceptable practice.  (When administering communion in either fashion, I make sure that the paten is kept close to catch anything that falls.)  

The chalice is usually received by bringing the chalice to the mouth by gently grasping to the base while the minister holds the chalice at the knob, and tilting the cup so as to get a sip.

Following the universal tradition of the Church, and following the Anglican formularies, and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the proper matter for the Eucharist as ordained by Christ are wheat bread and (fermented) grape wine. One receives both Christ's Body and Blood by receiving either, but it is usual Anglican practice to receive both, and the priest must do so, and, the Anglican practice, mandated by the rubric of the 1979 BCP, is to make both species available separately.‡  If one is unable to receive either the species of the bread or the wine, one may thus receive only one, and the smallest amount of either is sufficient to receive both our Lord's Body and Blood.  If one is incapable of consuming any amount of either, then one makes what is called a "spiritual communion"  telling our Lord that one is unable to receive the sacrament, and asking for the spiritual benefits thereof, which one may be sure sure to receive under the same conditions as actual reception of the sacrament.  

The rubric requires that the Priest and other Ministers reverently consume what is left over after communion, unless some is to be reserved (for the Communion of the sick or shut-in) in a hanging pyx or tabernacle.  To do otherwise is a grave sin of sacrilege.  The only condition under which the Sacrament may be otherwise disposed of is if, for some reason, it may be polluted or poisoned and rendered undrinkable or uneatable.  Then it should be so dissolved in water as to be effectively no longer bread or wine, and poured on holy ground — down the piscinum, a special sink which drains on holy ground, is the usual practice; if there is no piscinum, then the water may be poured on the church yard.

In these times we are subject to many abuses. Disposing of the sacrament in some other way than that outlined above, attempting to consecrate something other than wheat bread or fermented wine, or attempted consecration by a person not validly ordained to the presbyterate to do so, are grave sins of blasphemy ("taking God's name in vain" by purporting to do in His name that which He has not commanded) and sacrilege (misuse or attempted misuse of sacred things). The faithful, being mindful of the damage done to their souls and the souls of others by such abuses, should absent themselves from services where such take place, and would be justified in making a formal complaint to the bishop.

An excellent summary of eucharistic doctrine employing the Anglican methodology of theology is to be found in E.L. Mascall's Corpus Christi: Essays on the Church and the Eucharist (1953), which I commend for your reading. 

*All previous prayer books, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (one of the Anglican formularies) mandate communion kneeling. However the present Book of the Episcopal Church has no rubric as to the position of the communicant.  The usual rule, when something is not referred to in new legislation, is to refer to previous legislation.  However, in many places, the practice of standing for communion has been so long in force that it has acquired the force of custom in canon law.  However, it must be said, in a Western context, that is it less reverent; it leads far more often to occasions of sacrilege (as I have seen many many times); and it is not the Anglican tradition.

**The Exhortation, BCP 1979, p. 316–317

***In the Anglican formularies, the term "curate" refers to the rector, vicar, priest-in-charge, or other priest with pastoral responsibility for a parish, mission, chaplaincy, or house of religion.  The Anglican formularies are the essential post-Reformation texts for doctrine discipline and worship, accepted of necessity by all Anglicans.  They are the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, together with the necessary canonical legislation which it assumes, especially the canons of 1608–1609, (which have greater force for us in this country, having never been replaced in the U.S., our canons being an addition thereto), the Articles of Religion, and the Ordinal, both included in the BCP 1662.  Their understanding and interpretation is dependent upon and subject first to the authority of Holy Scripture, and then to catholic tradition (catholicity being an article of the creed and an essential mark for the Church) in particular the writings of the Church Fathers.  

†h/t Fr. Hunwicke

‡"Opportunity is always to be given to every communicant to receive the consecrated Bread and Wine separately.  But the Sacrament may be received in both kinds simultaneously, in a manner approved by the bishop." The practice of intinction, whereby the host is dipped in the wine by a Minister, and then placed on the communicant's tongue (much less preferably, for the communicant to do this himself), is the usual way of doing this.  If proper teaching is given on the nature of the Sacrament, as given above, communicants should find this unnecessary.  However, if this is the custom of some of his people, and authorized by the bishop, then the priest should respect it, as long as it is done carefully and reverently.

Monday, May 15, 2017

When under Spiritual Attack

When under attack, especially with depression or anxiety, I find this prayer very very helpful:

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

What is the Essential Work of an Anglican Priest?

Anglican Priests and Clergy engaged in the most important of their essential works,
done according to the Book of Common Prayer
What is the work of an Anglican Priest?  The Rev. Dr. Eric Mascall describes it very well in Corpus Christi and his other works.  And he does so in a manner that bases itself entirely on the post-Reformation Anglican formularies, the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the articles and the canons, and thus one that should thus be acceptable to all kinds of Anglicans.

​Fr. Mascall describes the essential work of a priest as "prayer, study, and pastoral work", in that order of importance. Let us first look at prayer.  In the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in the USA, ordinands commit themselves to "persevere in prayer, both in public and in private."  The other prayer books have similar demands of ordinands.  The public prayer of the Church is her "Common Prayer" or liturgy.  The Common Prayer chiefly consists of the daily offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and the mass, a.k.a., Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist.  As the American BCP says, "The Holy Eucharist, the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord's Day and other major feasts, and Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, as set forth in this Book, are the regular services appointed for public worship in this Church." (American BCP, 1979, p. 13).  It also notes that "The leader of worship in a Christian assembly is normally a bishop or priest."  The 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, one of the Anglican formularies, says similarly, appointing the Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, the Litany, and the Holy Communion on Sundays and major feasts.  It also includes this rubric:
And all Priests and Deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause. 
And the Curate that ministereth in every Parish-church or Chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the Parish-church or Chapel where he ministereth, and shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God's Word, and to pray with him.
So, for Anglican clergy, there is an obligation to celebrate the daily office, publicly in the church if possible and required if one is a curate (possessed if a cure), the mass, and the other rites and ceremonies of the Church.  Part of the liturgical duty of the priest also includes preaching, and preparing people for and teaching them how reverently to celebrate the Common Prayer.  The obligation to pray also includes the discipline of private prayer, including, according to the tradition meditation (meditatio) issuing in comtemplation (contemplatio).

The second duty of the priest is study: Study is of Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Fathers and the Saints (including the texts of the liturgical tradition), theology generally, and of other ancillary disciplines, starting with philosophy and languages, but not excluding history, literature, and the other secular sciences, that would tend to make the priest a better minister of Christ.

These two things, prayer and study, in that order, are put first, because they form the basis of the contemplative life, and the contemplative life is both of prime value in itself, but also forms the only basis for pastoral work.

Pastoral work is dedicated to the cure of souls, in helping the life of God in Christ to flourish and grow in them. It is not to be confused with secular political action, or secular social work, which, though they may be good in themselves, and may be the proper work of some of the laity, are not the proper work of a priest.

Administration and fundraising and marketing are things Fr. Mascall cites as NOT being the proper work of the priest. At best these are ancillary, and if at all possible to be delegated to lay persons — at worst Fr. Mascall describes them as "diabolical" distractions.  In the English Book of Common Prayer, part of the Anglican formularies (and thus a doctrinal standard for all Anglicans) the following is said to the ordinand much as lieth in you, ye will apply yourselves wholly to this one thing, and draw all your cares and studies this way; and that ye will continually pray to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost; that, by daily reading and weighing the Scriptures, ye may wax riper and stronger in your Ministry; (from "Concerning the Services of the Church")
This is the work of the Anglican priest, and if our churches are failing, then might it not be that we have failed to put first things first.

Friday, May 12, 2017

How Can We Tell if our Beliefs are Good or Bad?

How can we judge the quality of our beliefs? Is a change in belief, a conversion, good or bad? For those who believe in God, how shall we be judged?
Stefan Lochner's Last Judgement, ca. 1435
There are, I think, a few simple tests that will do the trick.

Do my beliefs make me more charitable, more loving of my neighbor, more ready and willing to do what is good for her or him? This is true of that especially annoying difficult neighbor who is on the wrong side of the political fence from me, or not of the same class, race, or background. Or do my beliefs cause me to be more hurtful or judgemental of others. Do they make me more selfish? Do they make me heedless of others and what is good for them? Do they lead me to being hurtful of others, deceiving myself that it is for their own good?

Do my beliefs make me more proud, or more humble? Do they make me realize that how very small I am in the universe, my dependency on others, and on the ultimate source of my being, or do they make me proud and self-righteous, convinced of my own superiority (and thus leading me to be uncharitable)?

Do my beliefs lead me to the truth, or do they lead me to disregard the truth? Or do I misuse the truth, using it as a weapon to hurt others? Am I, because I am convinced of the correctness of my own beliefs, willing to warp the truth in defense of my beliefs? Am I more interested in being right than in being truthful? Am I willing to admit it when I am shown to be wrong?

I see many, including many old friends, for whom a religious conversion, as opposed to making them more loving, more humble, and more truthful, tends rather to accentuate the vices and bad inclinations that they already have — it makes them worse. Sometimes I think this has not so much to do with the new beliefs they embrace (although these have consequences) as for the reasons they have done so. So it causes me to ask myself, is my faith helping me and others, or is it hurting? And the supreme test is charity, un-self-interested love, for, certainly from a Christian perspective, "without charity all our doings are nothing worth". It is our love that makes the ultimate difference.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 9th, First day of Summer, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Today, May 9th, the 7th day before the Ides of May is the first day of Summer in the old English reckoning, as well as the feast of St Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian

May 9, Commemoration of Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople, 389

Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are his; I thank thee, O thou God of my Fathers, who hast given us wisdom and might, in that thou hast revealed the deep and secret things

V. With my lips have I been telling of all the judgements of thy mouth.
R. I have had as great delight in the way of thy testimonies as in all manner of riches.

O Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Gregory of Nazianzus special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant, we beseech thee, that by this teaching we may know thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

An Anglo-Saxon calendar for May, marking the beginning of Summer on May 9th.

More here
Old English Summer

Monday, May 8, 2017

Is God our Mother?

Is God our mother? This question comes up every year about Dame Julian of Norwich, who uses, quite appropriately, motherly language to speak about our Lord.

As Bp. Stanley Atkins pointed out to us, some 30 years ago, in our course in English Spirituality, this does not mean that we refer to God as our mother. God as God, not having "body, parts, or passions" does not have biological sex either. However, as the creator and not a creature he is masculine in relation to us, his living creatures, because he acts on his creation from outside to cause it to bring forth life, as* a father begets children by the mother.

In the Incarnation God shows a father's love for us in adopting us as his children when we are united in Baptism to his Son (the incarnate Word of God). God the incarnate Son is the bridegroom of the Church, by which he begets new children. And, while as God, he remains masculine in relation to us, God the Father shows us a mother's love in giving us the mother of his son (the highest of all creatures) to be our mother.

*to be technical, as="analagous to the way in which"

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Temptations of the Age

It just struck me just now (as I was tempted to worry about money) that the moral of the Hobbit is that the desire to accrue and maintain wealth is corrupting to the soul, just as the moral of The Lord of the Rings is that the desire to acquire and maintain power over others is corrupting to the soul. This is true even if this desire has a good end in view, such as one's welfare and the welfare of one's family, or the desire to "redistribute"and "empower" those who have been the victims of present or historical oppression. Indeed, such desire always presents itself as a good thing, especially to those who have been, perceived they have been, or are afraid of being either poor or oppressed. Thus these two stories are very important for understanding our times and our political divides, characterized by greed and the desire for power.

Further, each presents itself as a way of avoiding our inevitable death, the chief temptation for mortal creatures. Yet, by corrupting and killing the soul, they destroy our enjoyment of this life, another important theme in Tolkien's works.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter, 2017

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter, 2017
Fr. Michael LaRue at St. Barnabas', Houston

The 35th verse of the 24th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke:
"And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread."
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
We are now beginning the third week of Easter-tide, the second after Easter week itself. We celebrate one major feast this week, that of the Apostles Philip and James the Less on Monday, May 1st. The Cathedral has mass at 12:05, but if you cannot get to mass, I encourage you as always, to read the Liturgy of the Word from the Prayer Book. According to the Book of Common prayer we also commemorate St. Athanasius, the great defender of the divinity of our Lord on Tuesday May 2, and St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, on Thursday, May 3. As this coming Friday is a Friday in Easter season, the Prayer Book requires no abstinence or other act of discipline or self-denial.
The first thing that always puzzles people about today's Gospel is why the disciples did not recognize our Lord. Some, those who do not believe in the Resurrection of the body, have taken this to mean that he was not physically there. Yet, we know that the physicality of our Lord's Resurrection body is elsewhere affirmed in Scripture, and indeed in this very passage, where he performs the action of breaking bread. I think that key to understanding why they did not recognize him is the question of faith that recurs throughout the passage.
The passage first says, when Jesus joins the disciples "their eyes were kept from recognizing him" (Luke 24:16), or as the Authorized Version puts it, "their eyes were holden that they should not know him." What kept their eyes from seeing him? The thing that helps me understand this best is something that happened to me when I was working outside Scranton in a rural area. I was in the habit of taking a walk every day, and one day, when I turned the corner of the trail, I saw a large animal, whom I must have startled, moving away from me at some speed. My first thought was "that's the biggest dog I've ever seen." It took me about a minute to realize that it was not a dog, but a bear! At that point I was very glad that I had come no closer.
Now, I knew there were bears around there, but still my mental frame of reference did not include the possibility, yet, that I might actually run into one. So my brain interpreted the animal as a dog. For, do you see, part of knowing is a kind of faith, a belief that the thing known is in the realm of possibility. If we do not believe that something is possible, then it is hard for us to know it. And indeed, our Lord, later on in this passage, upbraids the disciples for their lack of faith. Let take a hypothetical case, given, I believe by Abp. Michael Ramsey. If Pontius Pilate had been driving by in his chariot, would he have recognized our Lord walking with his disciples? He would have seen a man walking with them, but he would not have recognized the man whom he had condemned a few days before, as he knew that man to be dead.
The disciples make their lack of faith clear when they are discussing our Lord. They said "He was a prophet" (v. 19), and "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" (v. 21). With our Lord's death, they had given up any idea that he was the Messiah, the Christ, for they had failed to understand who the Messiah was. This lack of faith should not surprise us, indeed we ought to be very familiar with it. Like many in our own day, including, I fear many who call themselves Christians but do not believe in the Resurrection, the disciples wanted and expected a Messiah who would bring about a worldly political solution to their problems. For him to die meant a failure of this mission. Their mental frame of reference, their belief in what was possible, did not include him rising from the dead.
So our Lord has change their frame of reference. He points out to them their folly. He points out the necessity for the Messiah to suffer before entering into glory (v. 26). And "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the Scriptures" (v. 27).
However, as with people in our own day, argument is not enough. It is not argument that convinces the disciples, not something that our Lord says, but something that he does. When they sit down to supper, just as he did the night before his passion, our Lord "took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them" (v. 30). It was then that they could see, that the whole course of our Lord's action became clear, include his sacrifice on the cross, effectively symbolized in the breaking of the bread.
We are like those disciples. Sometimes our own preconceived notions, and our lack of faith, prevent us from seeing who he is. Like them let us have recourse to the Scriptures, for in them we encounter our Lord. And, like them, faith comes not just by hearing the Scriptures, but also by the encounter with our Lord in the breaking of the bread. In fact, this whole passage is a model for the mass, where we hear the Scriptures, and then encounter Christ in the Breaking of the Bread. And like the disciples, when we prayerfully participate in the mass, our eyes are opened and our faith is strengthened.
And after their encounter with our Lord, the disciples went and told others. They went out and shared what they had experienced in their encounter with the living Christ. So likewise, when we have studied the Bible, when we have received the Bread that is his Body, and drunk the wine that is his blood, when we not only have met the risen Lord, but have the risen Lord living in us, let us go, and tell how our hearts burn with love for him.
For, just as God predestined the messiah for glory, so he has predestined all of us, and all those whom we meet for glory. And those who do not yet know him, meet Christ, not in the Eucharist, as we do, but in us. It is the love of God shown forth in our lives, Christ living in us, whereby they meet him. So let us live lives worthy of him, and not let our own sin, our own folly, our own lack of faith stand in the way of that encounter. Then truly we can have the joy of leading others to Christ, and of entering into glory together.

And now (turning and bowing to the crucifix) "We venerate they cross, O Lord, and praise and glory thy Holy Resurrection, for by virtue of the cross, joy has come into the whole world." Amen.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Is Christianity non-violent?

"Peace alone is holy, and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of religion or in the name of God." — Pope Francis

Is it true that violence is incompatible with Christian teaching, or even with religion, as Pope Francis said in Egypt today? Islam believes in the use of violence and force to extend its influence, and to enforce Islamic law and punish those who violate it.  Judaism believes in the use of violence also with respect to the law, and to defend its homeland.

Our Lord himself told his disciples to buy swords for their own defense (Luke 22:36-38).  From this the church has always taught that Christian communities have the right to self-defense, as in the crusades.  She has also always taught that Christian states have the right, and even the duty, to use force in just war, and also to punish, even unto death, malefactors.  This teaching is based on Scripture,  the constant tradition, and natural law, and thus must be reckoned catholic.

On the other hand, there are many times when the lawful use of force is excluded, and the the Christian must accept suffering or death non-violently.  Even when it might be justified, Christians have decided to accept suffering as the better witness, following our Lord's example.  Christianity sets forth in first place that example: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth" (Acts 8:32).  The example of the Christian martyrs, who submitted to death for Christ's sake and followed his example is also clear.

However, a different kind of violence is foreseen for the disciples, who must take forceful action in their own lives to remove themselves from sin. "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt. 11:12).

Given all this, it cannot be said that religion, even true Christian religion, never partakes of violence.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The "Ideal" Monastic Horarium

The eight canonical hours, or services of prayer throughout the day, are underlined.
This schedule varied by the time of year and by the exigencies of each community, and depended on the nature of the rule, esp. whether Benedictine or Augustinian in origin.
5 a.m. NOCTURNS or VIGILS* (5 a.m., or early enough to be done by 6)

6 a.m. LAUDS
followed by private masses or time for meditation

7 a.m. PRIME. followed by the Chapter, then the Chapter mass, attended in particular by the those attached to the community who were not bound to the choir office, e.g. "conversi" (lay brothers not bound to the full office in choir), "servants", and locals before their work day began. Members of the community who were not communicating at the Conventual mass then breakfasted. This was a light meal, sometimes eaten standing


9 a.m. TERCE immediately followed by the
Conventual Mass (in more active communities, the conventual mass might only occur on major feasts without labor).

12 Noon SEXT followed by PRANDIUM (i.e., Dinner, or Lunch, the main meal of the day).

SOMNIUM or nap, 30 min, or an hour, depending on community. Spiritual reading was allowed for those who were not sleepy.
An hour of exercise was here sometimes inserted, especially for those who engaged in sedentary labor. Some of this exercise was required to be done outside.


3 p.m. NONE


6 p.m. VESPERS followed by
CENA or Supper, a light meal

After Supper is sometimes inserted a Spiritual conference, an hour for recreation, or time for reading.



Nocturns or Vigils is now usually called "Matins" of "Mattins", which originally referred to a combined service of Nocturns, Lauds, and sometimes also Prime. This was also celebrated at midnight in some places, and in others on certain great days like Christmas. Where Nocturns was celebrated at Midnight, Lauds was sometimes celebrated at 3 a.m.
The day was generally spent in silence, except for times of recreation or exercise, and for necessary communication during work hours. Monastics lived and worked in a Cloister, an enclosed space from which members of the opposite sex, and seculars generally, were excluded.

Certain principles underlay the structure of the hours: (1) Psalms, prayers, and readings appropriate to the time of day and the liturgical calendar, (2) the praying of the whole psalter throughout the week (usually modified to omit those portions of the weekly psalter occurring on major feasts, which had their proper psalmody), and (3) the reading of most of Scripture throughout the year.  Of these principles, it is the third which was most quickly obscured by changes in the office.

Parishes prior to the prior to Reformation (and continuing in some countries until the disturbances of the French Revolution, with the notable exception of the Jesuits), celebrated Mattins (including Lauds and Prime), Mass, and Vespers publicly, the other canonical hours being usually prayed by the clergy in private.

In the Anglican Church, with the first book of Common Prayer, Nocturns, Lauds, and Prime were combined and abbreviated to form Morning Prayer (Mattin), and Vespers and Compline to form Evening Prayer (Evensong). The obligation for curates and canons to celebrate these publicly in their own churches has been retained (up through and including the 1979 BCP in the U.S., for instance) although it is now quite widely ignored.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stopping Clergy Burnout

On the Sojourners website, Layton Williams has an interesting post on clergy burnout: .

She makes some very good points about the tendency toward workaholism, and the failure of clergy to look after their spiritual life and physical health.  I myself have observed these problems in clergy practically my whole life, and have suffered from them myself.  Part of the problem is that we have adopted the ways of the world, and the expectations of worldly success.  A priest is expected to marry, have 2.4 children, live in a suburban house, advance up the career ladder from small parish to medium-sized parish to large parish, and end up as a cardinal rector, senior bureaucrat, or (real success) bishop.  Then one retires and plays golf or travels around.

Is it surprising that having adopted this pattern of worldly behavior, clergy suffer worldly ills?  Perhaps we need to rethink this.

Why are these choir stalls empty?

In many of our older churches and cathedrals we have choir stalls.  Historically that was for the clergy of the place to get their posteriors out of bed and go pray matins, and then pray in common the other offices of the church's liturgical day (for which those laity who could were encouraged to joi
n them).  They are designed, in short, for the common celebration of the mass and the offices of the day.  Nowadays those choir stalls are empty most of the week, except perhaps for an hour or two on Sunday morning.  Of all the signs that something is wrong, that we are not doing common prayer and the rest of a balanced priestly life as we ought, this strikes me as the strongest sign.

I think we need to rethink the idea that all clergy must be married, live suburban lives, move from place to place up the ladder, and then retire.  We need to rethink our rejection of the common life, and the assumption that the daily office is a private devotion that, in a few spare moments, we squeeze in, and then often say the bare required minimum, or less.  We need to rethink the idea that public worship is a show we put on to draw people in the door for one hour out tf the week.  We need to reoccupy the choir stalls.

The solution, I think, is to have a Rule for a balanced spiritual life for priests. One such rule for celibate clergy that I have been researching lately is that of the Canons Regular.  It is arguably the oldest form of religious life.  Prior to the destruction of the religious houses in the 16th century, monasteries of Canons Regular were the most common form of religious life in the Church of England (and in the rest of the West).  The canons regular committed themselves to stability (staying in one place), the common life, the common celebration of the Daily Office and the mass in choir, and to communal property.  On this basis they devoted themselves to pastoral work of various kinds.  What better model for priestly balance than this?

This is one model.  There are others.  However, whatever the model, I think only when we have gotten a handle on questions of stability, common life, and rule of life we we begin to tackle clergy burnout, and the destructive behavior—alcoholism, sexual misbehavior, etc.—that proceeds therefrom.  Only then, when we have a rule that puts God first, will we be able to address our own spiritual emptiness, and that of our people.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Three Disciplines for Lent from Bp. Grafton

In his book, A Catholic Atlas or Digest of Catholic Theology, Bp. Charles Grafton of Fond Du Lac, the leader of the Catholic Movement in the Episcopal Church in his day, commends to us in Lent the mediation on our Lord's victory over his temptations, meditating that

"I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me."

and recommends the three disciplines of
(1) Fasting,
(2) withdrawal from the world,
(3) prayer.

It is the second which struck me as being of particular importance in our time.

(p. 229)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Shrove Tuesday Penitence

Today is Shrove Tuesday.  Shrove is from the verb "shrive" (shrive, shrove, shriven) to forgive or grant absolution (also to hear confession, or to prescribe penance).  So, one way of glossing this might be to say "Forgiveness Tuesday".  This day was traditionally set aside for going to confession before undertaking penance for one's sins during Lent.

There is a custom in the Byzantine Church on the Vespers the Sunday night before Clean Monday (which commences their Lent) of going around the Church and prostrating before everyone individually and asking forgiveness for one’s sins of the last year.  I think this is a most godly custom.

While I cannot physically prostrate myself before each of my friends and contacts on line, nonetheless I can do so in spirit.  This I do, and ask your forgiveness for any way in which I have sinned or offended you in the past year, and (especially since this is an on line post) I should like particularly to do so if I have sinned in anything I have posted on line.

I wish you all an Holy Lent,
Michael LaRue+

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don't beat a dead horse.

"If you realize that you have been unable to correct mistaken ideas in a conversation, you must pass on to another subject." — St. Francis de Sales

Once I realize a person is not amenable to rational discussion, I shut up, and change the subject if possible.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to Lose a Fight

One of the more interesting episodes in military history is the British defeat at the Battle of Castlebar in 1798. Maj. Gen. Hutchinson, with 6000 troops was defeated by the French general, Humbert, with 1000 French and 1000 Irish rebels. The defeat was the result of Hutchinson's rushing into battle, against the advice of Lord Cornwallis (the Viceroy, and the former commander of the British forces at Yorktown), impelled by the urgency of the situation, without taking time to rest, consider the state of his forces and the disposition of the enemy, and make proper plans. It is one of the most shameful defeats in British history, and a lesson in the dangers of letting passion overrule reason.…/races-castlebar.php

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The unlawful deposition of a monarch

The Roman Pontiff has, so far as I can tell, unlawfully, deposed a fellow monarch, the Prince Grand master of the Order of Malta, and engage in an unlawful takeover of this sovereign entity.  This wickedness has left me speechless.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

"Behold the Lamb of God..."

The Mass of St. Gregory the Great, by Adriaen Ysenbrandt (1480–1551)

"However much I may be absorbed or employed in other duties; however much I may succeed in them, yet my labour will be lost time and my success a failure if it does not include the Mass devoutly offered and the Divine office devoutly recited." 
—Mgr John Moyes, the second Canon Administrator of Westminster Cathedral.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Octave of the Epiphany and Baptism of Our Lord

The Baptism of Christ" by Pietro Perugino, 1483. 

Today is the traditionally the octave day of Epiphany, and the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. People commonly ask why Our Lord was baptized, since he was sinless, and, indeed, God. The answer is that it was not to wash away his sins and make him holy, but rather that he might sanctify the water, and make it holy. Thus he began the process of sanctifying the creation, which had been corrupted by Adam's sin, and so water became the means whereby our sins were washed away, and we begin a new life as children of God. 

Today is traditionally also the last day of the Christmas-Epiphany feast.* Tomorrow the liturgy goes back into "ferial," or ordinary, mode.

*The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (like the 1928) celebrates the Octave, but has no provision for celebrating the Baptism today.  The 1979 BCP puts the Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany, but makes no provision for the Octave.  The full restoration of the Octave with the celebration of Our Lord's Baptism is most desirable, for theological reasons especially .

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Latin Communion Service at Oxford

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford
Today, the first day of Hilary term, as at the beginning of every term, The Holy Communion is celebrated, in Latin, in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford.  The service is at 8 a.m., and is attended by members of the University in their gowns.

The Service is here:

And Fr. Hunwicke has an interesting post on this here: