30 November 2009

Saint Andrew the Apostle

Propers for Saint Andrew the Apostle
November 30

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay; Grant unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy Word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle

Romans x. 9.

IF thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things ! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

The Gospel

St. Matthew iv. 18.

JESUS, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father. and followed him.

19 November 2009

Theological Defense of Plagiarism

In his former treatise Dr. Griffiths dropped a bombshell on me near the end of the essay. Did I just understand that he advocates plagiarism? Since reading that volume I have shared those notions with many of my colleagues--professional, clergy, and laity. Not one of them escaped the tendency to drop their jaw to the ground! For how could a Priest suggest such anti-nomianism?

Thankfully, Dr. Griffiths has published the refined and expanded version of his thinking on this. If you are not a fan of Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, or John Henry Newman then this is probably not the book for you. You will find their fingerprints within, for sure.

Now I have just realized that I missed reading another one of Dr. Griffiths' books. Oh, the stuff of reading.

10 November 2009


As you probably know, the Vatican announced last month that it was preparing a document in response to Anglicans wanting into the Roman Catholic Church. That document, called Anglicanorum Cœtibus, was released yesterday. This has also been called the Apostolic Constitution for an Anglican Personal Ordinariate. Yes, you may need a dictionary.

I offer some initial thoughts, not simply on the document and its prospects, but on the responses from several Anglican commentators. Several men have quickly commented that certain points of Cœtibus, being "crucial to me [them]," do little to improve upon what is already in place with the Pastoral Provision, aka the Personal Prelature. Some further point out that this new structure is not an "ecumenical advance."

First, this offer from Benedict XVI is not up for me to scrutinize on an individual level. There will be no revision to the arrangement except from within. It is fruitless to point out key statements that don't satisfy our aggravation that Rome still does not recognize us for what we claim to be. I think that many misapprehensions were due to the misguided hopes that Benedict would create a Uniate Anglican Church with an Anglican Rite liturgy. He has done neither. Those who accept the offer will become Roman Catholics allowed to retain much, definitely not all, of their Anglican heritage within the structure of the Roman Rite. It is different than the Personal Prelature, but I'll leave that do another post to describe.

Second, this offer is not directed, in the case of nearly every detractor, at those who never longed to be Catholic. In other words, this offer is a response to those that HAVE wanted [including numerous appeals to the Holy Father] to be Catholic but chose not to convert for several reasons. The offer is surprisingly wide enough to include some detractors, but is primarily directed at those that have made appeals to Rome for a structure rather than converting individually. Here is a short list of their reasons for not converting yet. Please tell me if there are other substantial reasons for them not converting [albeit desiring so], and whether the new offer doesn't appease them.

If I convert as an individual from my Anglican Church to a Roman parish I will...
  • lose many dear friends because they may not join me
  • lose my Priest who has been my confessor and director
  • lose my congregation because they might not follow me (in the case of Priests)
  • leave my congregation to someone else that could damage their souls (in the case of Priests)
  • lose the right to practice as a Priest (in the case of Priests)*
  • lose the numinous power of Anglican liturgical patrimony
  • lose my wonderful building (still true in many cases)
For those who never longed for unity with the See of Rome there really isn't much sense in responding. You did not plead with Rome for a quiet pool to be carved beside the restless waters. That image of the Shepherd is what I believe the Pontiff has done.

*Some will be allowed to be ordained as Catholic Priests

01 November 2009

All Saints' Day

Propers for All Saints' Day

November 1

The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle

Revelation vii. 2.

AND I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

The Gospel

St. Matthew v. 1.

JESUS seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for their's is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

28 October 2009

Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

Propers for Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

October 28

The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle

Ephesians ii. 19.

NOW therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The Gospel

St. John xv. 17.

THESE things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep your's also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

18 October 2009

Spirituality for everyone

"What was admirable about their [i.e., the Anglican Caroline Divines] work, and what had such a measure of success that it has endured even until our days…is a Divine Office which is not a devotion of specialists but a truly public Office of the whole Christian people. This Office has some defects…but, in spite of these defects, we must admit frankly that the Offices of Morning Prayer and Evensong…are not only one of the most impressive, but also one of the purest forms of Christian common prayer to be found anywhere in the world." (Bouyer L. Liturgical Piety. University of Notre Dame Press, © 1955. 44, 47 )

Saint Luke the Evangelist

Propers for Saint Luke the Evangelist

October 18

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who didst inspire thy servant Saint Luke the Physician, to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son; Manifest in thy Church the like power and love, to the healing of our bodies and our souls; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle

2 Timothy iv. 5.

WATCH thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

The Gospel

St. Luke x. 1.

THE Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.

17 October 2009

05 October 2009

"In the Footsteps of Tikhon and Grafton" — Nashotah House to Host Anglican-Orthodox Ecumenical Conference with St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary

This upcoming conference has not had much press coverage. Strangely since the inaugural convention of the ACNA in June I have heard very, very little about it. Any news about, or from, the conference will be a delight to this blogger.

29 September 2009

Saint Michael and all Angels

Propers for Saint Michael and all Angels

September 29

The Collect

O EVERLASTING God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant that, as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so, by thy appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle

Revelation xii. 7.

THERE was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

The Gospel

St. Matthew xviii. 1.

AT the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell-fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

21 September 2009

Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Propers for Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
September 21

The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist; Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires, and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle
2 Corinthians iv. 1.

THEREFORE seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel
St. Matthew ix. 9.

AND as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

27 August 2009


Instead of a blog entry watch my first ever video. I hope you can pick out the two real people...if you cannot just ask...or read some religion news from this week!


26 August 2009

The Mystery of Faith – Sacrament and Icon

[Guest article...not my writing]
[compare to the earlier post on pornography]

The Mystery of Faith – Sacrament and Icon: "

Recent questions have been raised about the difference between icons and sacraments in the Orthodox Church. It is an easy place for confusion to occur – particularly when seen from the outside.

Iconostasis_in_MoscowThe Church in the West, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, developed a carefully-worded and defined understanding of sacrament during the Middle Ages. This definition depended on matters such as the authority of its institution, the intention of its performance, and the use of proper material (such as bread, wine, oil, etc.). Typical of Western Scholasticism, the definition took on something of a legal cast. During the debates of the Reformation, both the nature of the sacraments as well as their number became a topic for disagreement. Classically, Rome said their were seven sacraments. The majority of reformers argued that only Eucharist and Baptism were sacraments and offered varying accounts as to what actually constituted a sacrament. Underneath this Western understanding of sacrament (and not intentionally related) was a growing world-view which would eventually become secularism. Sacraments increasingly became defined as unique and special moments within the otherwise secular world where the presence and authority of God were made available to mankind.

The various Protestant movements sped quickly towards a secularized world-view such that in most Protestant Churches today, the sacraments have all but disappeared as interventions of God and have become “ordinances” or simple acts of obedience to Christ. Even in those places where some lingering sense of “sacrament” remains – what remains is unclear.

The place of these same sacraments has a very differing history within the Eastern Church. Among the Orthodox, those actions which the West defined as sacraments, were more commonly referred to as mysteries. This name (from the Greek word translated variously as secret or unknowable) seems particularly to have come into usage from the fact that these mysteries were not part of the public life of the Church in its earliest years, but part of its hidden, inner life. Thus to this day in St. John Chrysostom’s Liturgy, at the end of the liturgy of the word, the Deacon exclaims, “Let all catechumens depart!” etc. The liturgy of the faithful (the blessing of the bread and wine and the communion of the Church) begins with the exlamation, “Let us the faithful, again and again in peace pray unto the Lord!” Catechumens (unbaptized) were required to leave the service. Only the faithful (the Baptized) were allowed to be present for the Mystery.

In early practice, the mystery of the Holy Eucharist was only observed by those who had been Baptized and Chrismated. Baptism itself was also not observed by non-initiates in the mysteries. But these “mysteries” were not taught as speculations about the nature and character of a sacrament. The clear teaching and consensus of the early fathers was that in the Eucharist, the bread and wine, truly becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. No particular effort was made to ask how such a thing was so (indeed, I have often wondered if it is not somehow “impious” to ask such a question). By the same token Holy Baptism was understood to be a union with the death and resurrection of Christ, a Baptism into the Body of Christ, the remission of sins, the cleansing from all unrighteousness, etc. Its treatment was similar to that of the Holy Eucharist. The reality of Baptism and what it accomplished were simply part of the teaching of the Church: the how was not a particularly interesting question.

One short aside: nowhere do we find in the early fathers a teaching of a merely “symbolic” or “memorial” treatment of the holy mysteries. Indeed, mere symbolism would have to await the development of nominalist philosophy before the idea could have been expressed – the idea had no place within the canon of ancient thought.

The relation between sacrament and icon first arose as a question during the debates of the 8th century in the East that eventually resulted in the 7th Ecumenical Council. Those who opposed the making and veneration of icons (which was already a settled practice of the Church) put forward the argument that the “Holy Eucharist was the only true icon” and only the Eucharist could be venerated (some iconoclasts also held the Holy Cross to be a venerable icon). The response of the Orthodox (those who venerated icons) was that the Holy Eucharist was not an icon (image) but the actual and true Body of Christ. Thus a distinction was articulated. Icons are representations – though they are not themselves that-which-is-represented. And icon of Christ is not Christ-Himself (certainly not in the manner in which the Church holds the Eucharist to be the Body and Blood of Christ).

St. Theodore the Studite is the father most associated with the language that spoke definitively about the representation found in icons. In this case the how of representation seemed important. The Christological and Trinitarian language of Person (or hypostasis) and Essence (ousia) were a commonplace within the Church’s theological language and understanding – having become settled in meaning during the 4th through the 6th centuries. St. Theodore said of icons that they were representations of the person of Christ (or a saint) but not of His essence. Indeed, by definition, an essence cannot have a representation. There is no such thing as the picture of man, only of a man. Thus an icon of Christ affirmed that He had become a man, and not simply man in some generalized form. Christ truly took upon Himself human nature (ousia) – but that nature must be encountered in the person of Christ. St. Theodore’s teaching on the holy icons was thus an affirmation of the earlier councils of the Church and affirmed the veneration of icons as an expression of the fullness of the Orthodox teaching.

An icon “makes present that to which it refers” is also a statement of the 7th Council. But the presence encountered in an icon is a “representation of the person” (hypostatic representation in the language of St. Theodore) and not the same as the reality itself of the Holy Eucharist.

To move away from the language of the councils – it is possible to say that in the Mysteries of the Church – we participate in the Divine Life itself (in Eucharist, Baptism, etc.). In conversations with the West, the Orthodox Church sometimes affirmed seven mysteries as did the Roman Church. Sometimes there were more mysteries affirmed (monastic tonsure was a common addition). The primary affirmation of the Orthodox was that they certainly did not have anything less than Rome. Some have said that there is no limit to the number of Mysteries – this might be so – but is not a matter of dogma. Rather, it is accurate to say that the Church understands that God has united Himself to us and us to Himself and does so particularly in the Holy Mysteries of the Church (not to say that He does not do so in any other manner).

Additionally it is true that the world has an iconic character to its existence. Things not only are what they are – but they also point beyond themselves. The secularized view of the world sees things as simply things – relations existing only as mental constructs. Such a colorless view of the world has become one of the hallmarks of modern thought – and – I believe – a powerful element within the sadness of contemporary man.

The Church taught in the 7th Council that “icons do with color what Scripture does with words,” thus likening Scripture and icon rather than Scripture and sacrament. We encounter Christ iconically in Scripture – His presence is made known to us. Truth is given to us – but as representation and encounter. This is a very different way to think about Scripture – certainly not the same as the propositional truth of many Reform thinkers. Propositional truth works well and instinctively within a secularized world of just things. Truth becomes an idea rather than an encounter.

We can and do know Truth – but propositions are truth in a diminished form. The words about icons, for instance, are true (so I believe). But the words about icons are not the same thing as standing before an icon with wonder and veneration and encountering Christ personally. The Scriptures, read rightly, are an encounter with the living Lord. But frequently that encounter has no words that can express it.

At Vespers, the Church traditionally sings Psalm 104(3): “How manifold are Thy works, O Lord: in wisdom hast Thou made them all!” This veneration of the works of God (for such is the meaning of veneration in its Orthodox sense) is a recognition of what, and Who, we encounter in the works of God. Icons are called “windows to heaven.” One of their chiefest purposes in the modern Church is to teach modern man that windows exist. We do not live as a thing among things – but as fearful and wonderful creations in the midst of a manifold creation itself made in wisdom.

Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory – these are the words of angels who see what we refuse to see and what the icon of creation constantly reveals to us – if we but had eyes to see.

There is a traditional distinction between icon and sacrament (or mystery) – but both hold in common the good news of the Gospel of God’s love. Both open heaven and earth to us as encounter and participation (though in manners that differ). Learning to live in such a world (and with such a God) can be a difficult journey for modern man. We are, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “men without chests,” we have lost the knowledge of the heart. Icon and Sacrament are a restoration of that knowledge – salvation for chestless men.


25 August 2009

From the “Return of Scipio” blog: the entire text of “Future Present”

[Guest column...not my article]

From the “Return of Scipio” blog: the entire text of “Future Present”: "

To my dismay, the blog The Return of Scipio seems to have disappeared, and I cannot seem to find an email address with which to contact that blogger. So…to ensure his post “Future Present” continues to be available, I am posting its entire text. (I know it is cached by Google, but I plead ignorance of how long it will stay there.) If “Scipio” contacts me and wants this post taken down I will certainly do as he asks. But here is the text of what I think is an outstanding piece of writing, raising questions I think everyone in the West should consider.

An archeologist, while rummaging among the ruins of our fallen civilization, met a ghost from the long dead race of Americans. The wraith boasted much about what we had been as a people.

“We died in the hundreds of thousands to end slavery here and around the world.

We invented Jazz.

We wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg address.

We went to the moon to see how far we could hit a golf ball.

We lifted a telescope into orbit that could see to the edge of the universe.

When people snuck into the country against our laws, we made parking lots and food stands off to the side of the road so they wouldn’t get hurt, and we let them use our hospitals for free, and we made their children citizens.

We didn’t care what God you worshipped as long as we could worship ours.

We let the People arm themselves at will. Just to make sure.

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

We had a revolution so successful it was still going strong two and a quarter centuries later.

We had so many heroes, even at the end, that we felt free to hate them and burn them in effigy.

We electrified the guitar.

We invented a music so compelling that it rocked the world.”

The archeologist asked, “If you accomplished all of this, then why did your nation collapse?” The ghost answered, “Because we went insane.”

“Please explain.”

The ghost took a breath and said, “We traded beauty for ugliness, truth for lies, liberty for comfort, love for indifference, responsibility for frivolity, duty for entertainment, history for sound bites, and children for pleasure. We had gold, but we tossed it aside and replaced it with cleverly designed dross. We turned men into women and women into men and marveled at our new creative power. We stopped looking up to Heaven and began to keep our gaze firmly fixed on the ground. We abandoned the old God for a host of hip, cool and slick new ones.”


“Those new gods turned on us. At first they granted us our every wish. They laughed with us. They danced with us. We all ate, drank and made all sorts of merry. All of us exulted in our power. And then…” Here the ghost stopped for a moment. His mouth was half open as if trying to speak. His body shuddered as it remembered an ancient terror. “But there were some among us who felt something was wrong, dreadfully wrong.”

“How so?”

“They warned us, you know. They begged us to cease our national madness and return to the days of our forefathers. At first they were just annoying, and we laughed at them. But they became louder and more insistent, and so we asked our new gods to rid us of the pests. And they did. Our gods simply required that we all get special marks on our bodies, but the pests refused to get them. But soon they began to disappear. Terrifying stories emerged about their fate, but we closed our ears and our eyes. Soon the few that remained ran off to the hills. Sometimes we would hear about them, but mostly they vanished from our memory. We were glad that they were gone, and we all laughed together and rolled with the good times. But…”


“We began to change. Where we had once looked into the mirror and seen men, now we saw animals, beasts in fact. Some of us even seemed to walk on all fours and make animal sounds. We prayed to our gods, and they answered that all was well, that we were becoming as they were, that we were becoming as gods. And then things began to break down.”

“What things?”

“Everything. Our machines, our laws, our finances, our systems of government and trade—they all seemed to rust away and no one any longer understood how they had functioned. There arose among us those who claimed to be able to fix things. They promised they could return us to the good times. We marveled at their speech, their handsomeness, their resumes, their attire. They seemed to be especially blessed by our gods. But something was odd about them.”


“They never smiled. Ever. We thought it was because of their deep concern for us. We believed these men and placed them over us. But things became worse, much worse. Our new rulers demanded more of our treasure and we gave it. Our new rulers demanded more of our children and we surrendered them. Our new rulers demanded that we live only in certain areas, join only certain groups, think only certain things and say only certain words. They said that all of this was necessary for the good of us all. Soon the way we had been just faded away. It seemed that we had always had these men over us, that we had always given them what they demanded. We began to see pictures of these men everywhere, even in our homes, even in our empty churches. More and more of us started to walk on all fours and make the sounds of animals. Those that did looked content.”

“And what about you?” laughed the archeologist as he shook his head. “Did you go on all fours?”

“No. I remained standing until the end.”

“The end?”

“It happened suddenly. There was that knock on my door, a bunch of uniformed men, some yelling. I called upon my wife and children, but they were on all fours braying like donkeys. I began to scream. My best friend across the hall opened his door to see what was happening, but then he went on all fours and started to low. I ran and the men chased me. I made it into the street. Everyone I passed was on all fours. Some were barking and some were cackling. Some were yelping like hyenas. I prayed to the gods that they might save me. But they laughed, and it was an odd sound, like the laughter of demons. There was pain like shafts of heat passing through me, a rush of warm liquid, and then all was darkness. And now I am here walking among these ruins and talking to you.”

The archeologist thought for a bit, and then leaned into the ghost and asked him in a lowered voice, almost a whisper, “So what about those old stories of Heaven and Hell? Are they true?”

“Yes. They are true.”

The man’s eyes grew wide. “Then where did you go when you died?”

“I was shown both of them. In Hell there were still all those images of our rulers. And everyone there was on all fours and making animal sounds. In Heaven I saw men walking and speaking. And there was music. I had forgotten what music sounded like. And there were none of those images.”

“Then why did you not stay?”

“I was told to come here and warn you.”

“Warn me? About what?”

But the ghost was silent. He smiled and seemed to be slowly backing away from the archeologist. At last he just faded away.

The man stood for a moment, shuddered and then walked away from the ruins. On the way home he saw the same things he had always seen, but now for the first time in memory they shocked him—streets covered with images of the rulers, lines upon lines of people on all fours making the sounds of animals, rust everywhere. He stared at the mark on his hand, and tried to rub it off. But it would not come off, it would never come off.

And all around him was heard the laughter of demons.

Like I said, I would hate to see this disappear into the void of erased cyberspace!

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24 August 2009

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
August 24.
The Collect

O ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word; Grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

20 August 2009

Saint of the Day

[Feed from another site]
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (August 20, 2009): "Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today--'golfer of the century,' 'composer of the century,' 'right tackle of the century'--that the line no longer has any punch. But the 'man of the twelfth century,' without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these--and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days."

18 August 2009

The pornographer's dream: or, the problem with contemporary worship

[Article from another Blog]
The pornographer's dream: or, the problem with contemporary worship: "There’s been a lot of speculation in recent years about why so many evangelicals are converting to Rome and to Eastern Orthodoxy. I wonder whether the highly experiential focus of contemporary worship might have something to do with it.

The New York singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega has an entertaining song entitled “Pornographer’s Dream” (from her 2007 album, Beauty and Crime). In the song, Vega asks what kind of woman a pornographer would dream about:

Would he still dream of the thigh? of the flesh upon high?
What he saw so much of?
Wouldn’t he dream of the thing that he never
Could quite get the touch of?

It’s out of his hands, over his head
Out of his reach, under this real life
Hidden in veils, covered in silk
He’s dreaming of what might be

Out of his hands, over his head
Out of his reach, under this real life
Hidden in veils,
He’s dreaming of mystery.

It’s a nice idea: the pornographer, from whom nothing is concealed, dreams only of concealment itself. Unlike the rest of us, his fantasies involve not naked flesh, but a body “hidden in veils, covered in silk.” For the pornographer, the only thing forbidden is mystery, so that his fantasises are of clothed women, veiled flesh.

As an analysis of pornography, I think this is completely correct. The real problem with pornography is not that it is too erotic, but that it is not erotic enough. In seeking to reveal everything, to fulfil every fantasy, it destroys the very possibility of fantasy and eroticism. And so the use of pornography ultimately results not in erotic ecstasy or euphoria, but in mere boredom.

Perhaps all this can serve as a parable for the contemporary preference for experiential worship styles. Where every church service becomes the opportunity for a life-changing experience of the divine presence; where every song and sermon and prayer is designed to produce immediate emotional impact; where the whole Christian life is transformed into the pursuit of a “naked” experience of the divine – here, the final outcome can only be a profound and paralysing boredom. And for those subjected to such boredom, the only remaining spiritual desire is for a mysterious God, a God not merely naked and exposed, but clothed in ritual, sacrament, tradition.

Why are so many evangelicals converting to Rome and Constantinople? Perhaps their infinitely deferred quest for a Deus nudus has finally resulted in an unbearable boredom. Perhaps they’re dreaming of a God who is not always promiscuously available to immediate experience, but is instead “hidden in veils, covered in silk” – a more modest, and therefore more sexy God.

For what it’s worth, my own opinion is that we should avoid the pitfalls both of a promiscuous experientialism and of any reaction towards ritualism for its own sake. Instead of trying by our own efforts either to strip God or to clothe him, we should look to the place where God has both veiled and unveiled himself for us: in the event of Jesus Christ.


New Activity

Today I will begin employing some of Google's new technology. I had been sending all my recently read articles to the section at right labeled FIREFLIES IN MY NET. They should all now appear as entries. NOTE: these are not my articles, but those I've read and want to share with my readers. I hope that it's clear when I post my own articles.
We'll see.

06 August 2009


The Transfiguration of Christ
August 6.
The Collect

O GOD, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine only-begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistering; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty, who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

25 July 2009

Saint James

Saint James the Apostle
July 25.
The Collect

GRANT, O merciful God, that, as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

13 July 2009

Caritas in Veritate

We have so wedded the ideals of capitalistic "free market" to our political system of a democratic republic that we cannot understand what the Holy Father asserts in his latest encyclical.
This is how Hunter Baker sounds at the Touchstone blog.
We seem to have made our own affluent lifestyle the irreducible minimum for human existence. Our eye-ball is a millimeter from our belly button. We cannot see how billions exist without Costco and Medicare. Yet, billions do exist without them...and it's not our mission in God's plan to bring the gospel of consumerism and affluence to them.
We also prematurely assume that the pontiff is suggesting form of socialism. Is this true? Are there other options besides the polar opposites of capitalism and socialism?

I have more thought to share in the comments if anyone wants to engage these ideas.

29 June 2009

Saint Peter

Saint Peter the Apostle
June 29.
The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle Saint Peter many excellent gifts, and commandedst him earnestly to feed thy flock; Make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word, and the people obediently to follow the same, that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24 June 2009

Saint John the Baptist

Saint John Baptist
June 24.
The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

11 June 2009

Saint Barnabas

Saint Barnabas the Apostle
June 11.
The Collect

O LORD God Almighty, who didst endue thy holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of the Holy Ghost; Leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them alway to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

08 June 2009


Here is a sample of our choir. I joined after Easter. It had been many years since my last choral performance. I like it--brings back good memories.

03 June 2009

Jesus Prayer & Spirituality

I have been using the Jesus Prayer since reading Anthony M. Coniaris' Confronting and Controlling Thoughts According to the Fathers of the Philokalia.

What is it?
Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner

Coniaris points out that the prayer was developed by monks long ago. It is the key to opening a deeper life of the Spirit. The book remarks how all-encompassing the prayer is...how simple...how concise and accurate.

Why use it?
Well, reading the book will answer it ten times better than I can. Let me just share a story. I have personal reason to read and apply that book to my life. My thoughts can master me...they can lead me to believe false things...they can verge on surreal expectations...they wander and ask me to follow. The book and the Prayer help me to snap back into the hear-&-now. I don't think I'm alone in that battle either...perhaps in a small company of those that admit it openly. I used to think that I simply had wonder-lust. I could spend hours thinking about what life would be like if I had billions of dollars. What would I do with that money? What would life look like? Oprah would be proud of my visionary wanderings. Sadly, vagrant thoughts can take you other places--vulgar places. The problem with these thoughts is how you naturally begin to make decisions to allow those dreams to become reality. Romantically I thought that I had a clever device to stamp out any chance of online wonder-lust. I made my wife's full name my password to the computer. Surely if I had to type her name I could not be tempted to venture places she would disapprove of. [crickets chirping...long silence] WRONG. However there is power at the Name of Jesus. We express this when we reverence His Name during the Divine Liturgy. Coniaris comments, "when sinful thoughts knock...let Jesus get the door!" So I have a new password to all accounts--but don't try to hack me, I'm too clever for that! (wink)
William of Saint Thierry would consider this the very first level of spiritual maturity. First one must master their passions...master their thoughts. William had a three-tiered approach to Chrisitian proficiency. 1-control your physical passions. 2-wash your thoughts in the scripture. 3-unify your heart and mind. William was the Abbot [or master] of an Abbey [monastery] in Saint Thierry and best known for his advice to young monks. He is also classic reading for Western Spirituality mainly because he relied upon the ancient Fathers of the Church so much. That reliance makes him far for Eastern Orthodox in his approach.

What is a spiritual man?
Having read Coniaris' book I realize the true meaning of Proverbs 4:23. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life, KJV. The NIV translation is perhaps misleading here, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. I once thought that this meant to build a fence around your heart and protect it from any outside forces. Think Buckingham Palace guards! The NIV word 'guard' led me to that conclusion. Now I think the picture should involve me turning around to face the heart; keeping an eye on it constantly. Since I am supposed to be mortifying any vestige of the Old Man I must watch my heart as if it were an unfamiliar & sleezy old man at the neighborhood playground. Keep from the KJV should remind us to keep and eye on it. Now the mental image is an armed soldier training his weapon on a captured spy/terrorist.
I got my eye on you, buddy!
A spiritual man is someone that treats his inner life like he wants to treat others--under intense scrutiny and without any mercy! He is also a man that treats others the way he is inclined to treat himself--with pity, understanding, and mercy [since we know that everyone carries this burden of being a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve].

I love this Star Wars quote from Obi Wan Kenobi to his padawan Anakin Skywalker, "Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin, they betray you."

How true.

01 June 2009

Too much T.V., or what?!

On the way back from Houston on Saturday, my 5 year old piped up from a long silence with this question:
"Mommy, do we have credit debt?"
"Do What?" we both said!
"Credit debt...call now for $10,000 $20,000 or $30,000..."
"Where did you hear that?" we quizzed.

Well, it had been a frantic extended weekend. After a full day of work on Thursday we attended a funeral and internment late that afternoon. Then we drove from North Dallas to my in-laws at Fairfield [intending to make the full distance to Freeport...we just could not stay awake]. Friday we finished the trek through Houston [don't ask about my 40 min. detour!] and spent four hours at the beach and a few more in the hotel pool. I vaguely remember eating too. Up early Saturday morning, we had a full day of commencement, banquet, and trip back to Dallas. We were all pretty exhausted.

Needless to say, I don't recommend the itinerary above--but, hey, it's summer. Neither do I recommend letting your little ones fall asleep with the television on. Garbage in...garbage out.

I love posting about his funny remarks!

27 May 2009

Would John Calvin Stay in the Episcopal Church?

This guy says, "yes."

See, the only thing is, well that Geneva issue and all. He points to it in his conclusion. He thinks Calvin would advise you to stay until it kicks you out or it [TEC] rejects the Nicene faith.

Fait accompli.

25 May 2009

The honor of your presence is requested

At the ordination of

The Rev. Deacon Christopher M. Woodall


The Sacred Order of Priests


The Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton

On Saturday, the eleventh day of July

In the year of our Lord, Two thousand nine

At nine O’clock in the morning, at

Church of the Holy Communion, of

The Anglican Church in North America, REC

17405 Muirfield Drive

Dallas, Texas

21 May 2009


This is what happens when a pentecostal asks his kid if they liked the sermon.

disregard their title for the video...I have been given special insight into what it's really about.

11 May 2009

Jesus Prayer

I am finishing a course on Anglican Spirituality. In this course we are brought up to speed on the history of spirituality and shown how our Anglican context applies proficiency at the parish level. As a future minister this is important. But applying it comes only after living it. It has been well said, "the only way to preserve values is to live them."

Also as a future minister, it is important that I am the example to anyone that I attempt to direct spiritually. This has scared me to death ever since the great fish spat me back onto the shore. I left the pursuit of God's call just after my first seminary experience. When I returned I had picked up some major seaweed! Mostly that was evident in my attitude, but as often it was obvious that I had lost my sense of personal piety. The Evangelical machine caused me to question ALL its results. That was not fair of me. To be a holy man is still expected of all ministers. The Evangelical method may be misguided along the way...but they are still on the way.

The best way to explain this failure of piety is to point out one's language. I have come to regard off-color language quite like body-odor. If a man is a bit skunky, he can easily remedy that...so don't question his piety every time he turns up with b-o. Likewise a man's language is easily curtailed if he is too profane. Don't judge by that alone. I began to apply this to myself liberally. Just ask my wife. She began to hear words from my mouth that don't suit a man committed to following Christ. Jesus' words about the filth coming OUT of us being more important than the food that goes IN seemed to slip my mind. In our culture how do you bring this up to someone?

Guidance and Direction
That is what is missing in the Evangelical Church that I left. If I don't have mastery of Sin then I have no business advising others how to overcome damaging thoughts and behavior. "Blind leading the blind" ring a bell? We all need to live by rules...we all need guidance...we all need direction. We don't need people making up their own rules and foisting them legalistically over others. So I have picked back up another weapon in the fight for my soul. That tool, or weapon, is the Jesus Prayer.

Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Anytime I encounter a tempting thought or image, I now say this prayer. No, that does not make it a talisman nor the foot of a rabbit. I puts me right where I need to be in relation to The King of Glory. In a book I'm reading we are advised, "Whenever Sin knocks, let Jesus get the door." He already proved that He can tackle, trample, repel, overcome, and rid Sin...why not let him help me? By the way, doesn't that quote sound like the cheese you could get from the local Christian bookstore self-help section? Why do I like it so much?

When you begin to struggle (that's opposed to simply wallowing in Sin) against temptation, you are quite wise to take the yoke of Christ and let him pull. Just knowing that you are stuck in a dank squalor is proof that you cannot get out alone. You never could do, and you never will. Also since the tempter is crafty, he will leave you be until you are alone. He don't much like crowds. So temptation is sharper when you are isolated. Who better to call upon than He who is Lord of creation...able to join you at any location, in any situation?

But there are other warriors ahead of us, ready to instruct. We call them pastors, or shepherds. They are best suited to dispense the grace of God as well as 'reign in' wayward sheep.

I want to blog more about spiritual direction after my last class session.

04 May 2009

01 May 2009

S.S. Philip & James

Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
May 1.
The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, whom truly to know is everlasting life; Grant us perfectly to know thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life; that, following the steps of thy holy Apostles, Saint Philip and Saint James, we may stedfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

30 April 2009

Fun with Wordle

yes I am doing my homework!

Wordle: Untitled

This site gives your blog a fingerprint.

Saint Catherine

April 30.
The Collect for the Day

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Catherine: Grant to us thy humble servants, the same faith and power of Love; that, as we rejoice in her triumph, we may profit by her example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

25 April 2009

Saint Mark

Saint Mark the Evangelist
April 25.
The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of thy Evangelist Saint Mark; Give us grace that, being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of thy holy Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

21 April 2009

Saint Anselm

ANSELM, Archbishop of Canterbury
April 21.
The Collect

O GOD, who hast enlightened thy Church by the teaching of thy servant Anselm: Enrich us evermore, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses who by their life and doctrine will set forth the truth of thy salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

14 April 2009

Saint Justin Martyr

St. Justin Martyr at Rome
April 14.
The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who didst give thy servant Justin boldness to confess the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we likewise may ever be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for his sake; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

11 April 2009

Saint Leo the Great

Bishop of Rome
April 11.
The Collect

ALMIGHTY, everlasting God, whose servant Leo steadfastly confessed thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to be Very God and Very Man: Grant that we may hold fast to this faith, and evermore magnify his holy Name; though the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

10 April 2009

For Those Who Hallow Suffering

Prayer for Good Friday,

For those who hallow suffering:
We thank Thee, O Father, for all who hallow suffering; for those who in their thought for others leave no room for pity for themselves; for those whose faith brings light to the dark places of life; and for those whose patience inspires others to hold on. And grant, O loving Father, to all who are bound in the mysterious fellowship of suffering the sense of comradeship with others and the knowledge of Thy love, and give them Thy peace which passes all understanding; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

04 April 2009

St. Ambrose

Bishop of Milan
April 4.
The Collect

O GOD, who didst give grace to thy servant Ambrose, eloquently to declare thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honour of thy Name: Mercifully grant unto all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

01 April 2009

John Calvin's request for a Reformed Episcopacy

Here is the text of Calvin's request to the English Archbishop for the episcopacy. It really is an interesting read. I have preserved most of the original formatting so you can experience the flow from Strype's Lives.
[The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker: The First Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth By John Strype Published by Clarendon Press, 1821. vol. 20]
This book can be downloaded from Google Books.

He [Matthew Parker] asked,
" What was it occasioned the Romish writers
" to write against the Bishop of Rome? What was it caused
" Luther, Calvin, and other orthodox Clergymen, to re-
" nounce Rome and her Church, but this thing, called the
" Bishop of Rome's tribunal? That several learned men,
" from the time that the Bishop of Rome begun to demand
" tribute, and to set up a tribunal, had written, that that very
" thing had caused those Bishops to forget their Maker,
" and also their Redeemer: and that they, by their demands
" to us, to own Rome and her tribunal, had forgotten their
" duties to God, with their father the Bishop of Rome : for
" that his usurping of a tribunal to make all nations subject
" to his beck, had caused him and his successors ever since
" to forget the living God.

Anno 1560.

"That they, his followers and acknowledgers, partook of
" this sin also, and had occasioned the Bishops of Rome to
" fall into these errors: for they had made it sacrilege to
" dispute of what he did, and heresy to doubt of his power;
" Paganism to disobey him, and blasphemy against the Holy
" Ghost, to act or speak against his decrees. Nay, that which
" is most horrible, they had made it presumption in any man,
" not to go to the devil after him, without any grudging:
" which was so shameful and so sinful a subjection, that Lu-
" cifer himself never demanded the like from his slaves in hell.
" He bade them consider of these things: and that it
" should be the continual prayer of our Reformed Church,
" to convert them all to the truth of God's word, and to
" obedience to their Sovereign Lady Elizabeth their Queen :
" and in so doing, they would glorify Christ, and the eternal
" God in heaven ; who alone was the chief and absolute Ruler
" of princes." And concluding friendly, subscribed himself, Their faithful brother in Christ. This notable letter was dated March the 26th, 1560.

Calvin writes to the Archbishop about the union of protestants M.Park.MS.Hunt.Rom.Fox.

And this is the account of the Popish Clergy's letter to the Archbishop, and his behaviour thereupon. There was another letter this year sent to him from the hands of a great Divine but of another temper, and for another and a better end; namely, from John Calvin, the great French Reformer: importing,

" how he rejoiced in the happiness of England,
" and that God had raised up so gracious a Queen, to be in-
" strumental in propagating the true faith of Jesus Christ,
" by restoring the Gospel, and expelling idolatry, together
" with the Bishop of Rome's usurped power. And then
" made a serious motion of uniting Protestants together,"
[as he had done before in King Edward's reign.]
" He en-
" treated the Archbishop to prevail with her Majesty to
" summon a general assembly of all the Protestant Clergy,
" wheresoever dispersed; and that a set form and method
" i. e. of public service, and government of the Church]
" might be established, not only within her dominions, but
" also among all the Reformed and Evangelic Churches " abroad." "

This was a noble offer, and the Archbishop soon acquaint-ed the Queen's Council with it. And they took it into con-sideration, and desired his Grace to thank Calvin ; and to let him know they liked his proposals, which were fair and desirable : yet, as to the government of the Church, to signify to him, that the Church of England would still retain her episcopacy; but not as from Pope Gregory, who sent over Augustin the monk hither, but from Joseph of Ari-mathea; as appeared by Gildas, printed first anno 1525. in the reign of King Henry VIII.; and so far agreeing to Eleu- therius, sometime Bishop of Rome, who acknowledged Lucius, King of Britain, Christ's Vicar within his own dominions. All this being before Rome usurped over princes: yet also renouncing the Romish manner, way, and ceremonies of episcopacy, which were either contrary to God's glory, or the English monarchy. This was a great work, and created seri-ous thoughts in the Archbishop's mind, for the framing a proper method to set it on foot. But he had considered but a little while of these matters, when news arrived at Court that Calvin was dead.

Calvin for episcopacy
And how Calvin stood affected in the said point of epi-scopacy, and how readily and gladly he and other heads of the Reformed Churches would have received it, is evident enough from his writings and epistles. In his book Of the Necessity of reforming the Church, he hath these words: Talem nobis hierarchiam exhibeant, &c.
"Let them give us
" such an hierarchy, in which Bishops may be so above the
" rest, as they refuse not to be under Christ, and depend
" upon him as their only Head; that they maintain a bro-
" therly society, &c. If there be any that do not behave
" themselves with all reverence and obedience towards them,
" there is no anathema, but I confess them worthy of it."

But especially his opinion of episcopacy is manifest from a letter he and Bullinger, and others, learned men of that sort, wrote anno 1549. to King Edward VI. offering to make him their Defender, and to have Bishops in their Churches for better unity and concord among them : as may be seen in - Archbishop Cranmer's Memorials; and likewise by a writ-ing of Archbishop Abbot, found among the MSS. of Arch-bishop Usher: which, for the remarkableness of it, and the mention of Archbishop Parker's papers, I shall here set down.

Archbishop Parker's account there-of found in his papers by Archbishop Abbot
" Perusing some papers of our predecessor Matthew Par-
" ker, we find that John Calvin, and others of the Protest-
" ant churches of Germany and elsewhere, would have had
" episcopacy, if permitted : but could not upon several ac-
" counts, partly fearing the other princes of the Roman Ca-
" tholic faith would have joined with the Emperor and the
" rest of the Popish Bishops, to have depressed the same ;
" partly being newly reformed, and not settled, they had
" not sufficient wealth to support episcopacy, by reason of
" their daily persecutions. Another, and a main cause was,
" they would not have any Popish hands laid over their Cler-
" gy. And whereas John Calvin had sent a letter in King
" Edward the VIth's reign, to have conferred with the Cler-
" gy of England about some things to this effect, two Bishops,
" viz. Gardiner and Boner, intercepted the same: whereby
" Mr. Calvin's offerture perished. And he received an an-
" swer, as if it had been from the reformed Divines of those
" times; wherein they checked him, and slighted his propo-
" sals: from which time John Calvin and the Church of Eng-
" land were at variance in several points; which otherwise
" through God's mercy had been qualified, if those papers
" of his proposals had been discovered unto the Queen's
" Majesty during John Calvin's life. But being not disco-
" vered until or about the sixth year of her Majesty's
" reign, her Majesty much lamented they were not found
" sooner: which she expressed before her Council at the
" same time, in the presence of her great friends, Sir Henry
" Sidney, and Sir William Cecil."

In an post a few years back I called this one of the great "what-ifs" of history. What is more, it seems to be a damning blow to those still supporting a system of elder-plurality within the Church. Their own great figure, John Calvin, repeatedly requested the better system of episcopacy specifically for the cause of unity--never to receive it on the continent during the reformation.

27 March 2009


I had the chance to hear Alvin Plantinga speak at Criswell College in Dallas yesterday. I would definitely recommend this guy to anyone interested in philosophy. Though his talk was philosophical, we should never divorce that discipline from Theology. His presentation was on Naturalism v. Evolution...the real battle between science and religion.

See the connection? Naturalism is the 'religion' in conflict with evolution, in other words. Though he would not support an evolutionary cosmogony, he explained why its major incompatibility is not with theism, but with naturalism. Naturalism, by the way, is the standard message coming from all the science/learning channels--buyer beware.

Plantinga has captured the theistic world's attention. He is highly regarded and now I know why. He can boil mountains of complicated philosophical data down to my level. I hope to read more of him after graduating. Cogency in presentation proves that you really have command of your material. I wish I had that too!

25 March 2009

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin

The Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary
March 25.

The Collect

WE beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thierry via Thornton

I love this quote from Martin Thornton regarding William of Saint Thierry.

"Here are pinpointed two of the greatest needs in modern Anglican life: the sense of continuity in Christian living, and the sane authority of the Rule of the Church. Holy Communion, the Offices, periods of private prayer, are not isolated attempts to obtain doses of Cassianic grace,1 but links in a continuous chain of life in grace; a continuous response to God's never-ending love in a marriage solemnized at our Baptism. When duty is dull we might remember that washing the dishes can be just as much an act of marital love as an embrace.

As spiritual guide, William would not understand a request for a “rule of life”; to him there is only one, the threefold Benedictine system, and the Book of Common Prayer agrees with him. He would see little more than hypocrisy in a prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before a meeting of a Parochial Church Council whose members were irregular at the altar and neglectful of the Office.2 Our “National Days of Prayer” he would regard as farcical: none of this through emotional feeling against laxity, but because he would see no logic in isolated prayers, no purpose without continuity."3

1“The Semi-Pelagian doctrine taught by John Cassian (d. 440) admits that divine grace (assistance) is necessary to enable a sinner to return unto God and live, yet holds that, from the nature of the human will, man may first spontaneously, of himself, desire and attempt to choose and obey God. They deny the necessity of prevenient but admit the necessity of cooperative grace and conceive regeneration as the product of this cooperative grace.” A.A. Hodge (The Semi-Pelagian Theology of John Cassian).

2This refers to the offices of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer found in your copy of the Book of Common Prayer.

3Martin Thornton, English Spirituality: an Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition. London: S.P.C.K., 1963., pg. 98.

20 March 2009

Saint Cuthbert

Bishop of Lindisfarne

Feast Day March 20.

The Collect for the Day

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Cuthbert: Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in his triumph, we may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

19 March 2009

Saintly reading

I cannot post much on here during Lent. I have too much reading to do for an upcoming class. I'm researching William of Saint Thierry. I also took up some disciplines and fasts. This proves much harder than I imagined.

You can stay up with some interesting reads down at the column entitled Fireflies in my net. If something major surfaces I will too, & will post it here.

May you find peace.

11 March 2009

No comparison

This video compares current All Black rugby star Joe Rokocoko to the 'Michael Jordan' of modern rugby that was Jonah Lomu. They do both score a lot but Lomu craves contact whereas Rokocoko avoids it.

It was widely rumored that the Dallas Cowboys offered Lomu a $6Million contract even though he'd never even played gridiron before. That is how good he was. A mountain of a man with Olympic speed with no preference to running over you or right past you.

The Continuum: Desiring to be teachers of the Law

The Continuum: Desiring to be teachers of the Law

Fr. Robert Hart hits out at the ultra-protestant mindset. I know it's tedious but we must inform ourselves. I commend his words to all that read here.

09 March 2009

St. Ignatius on Discipleship, conclusion


When Protestants examine Ignatius’ writings, it is hoped they can see his zeal for Christ and his Church. He did not separate discipleship from ecclesiastical unity. Perhaps they can be distinguished, but never separated permanently. In fact, Baptism and the Eucharist served as two key events in the process of discipleship that highlighted the new Christian’s commitment to the faith of our Lord. We showed this by Ignatius' repeated refrain of unity in the liturgical aspects of baptism and taking the Holy Eucharist. He did not desire death for personal reward; rather he viewed his death in light of the lives he left behind in the Churches of Asia Minor. He mainly concerned himself with his peoples’ discipleship through unity. His death for Christ was the example he hoped to leave for them. His death was true imitation of his mentors Paul and John, his peer Polycarp, not to mention the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not simply view Christ’s death as an example of Divine love. His view of the atonement goes back to the cross. But it was natural for him to see continuity between the obedient, even willing, sacrifice of Christ and the apostles and other apostolic fathers. Only if the Churches of Ignatius’ bishopric were united would his own death be a bona fide martyrdom. Then indeed would he be a true disciple.1 His death would unite those he left behind for the mission he left to them [clearly imitating the Lord]. Ignatius could not sever the cord between true discipleship and faithfulness to the apostles' teaching on Christ either. As with many things we learn about in the Church, discipleship is not disconnected from the community nor its unity...perhaps it can be distinct but not separated.

1 Willard M. Swartley, “The Imitatio Christi in the Ignatian letters,” Vigiliae Christianae 27 no. 2 (1973): p. 103.

04 March 2009

Cranmer's bill

In my office hangs a calendar. March commemorates Cranmer's burning with an image of the burn notice. This austere and terse page represents one of the most chilling moments in English history. It is the original bill for the burning of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Matthew Parker's predecessor as Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.
It reads:
"Item chardges layd out and paide for the burning of Cranmer as followeth,"
itemizing kindling, wood faggots and the hire of two executioners. The total, including the cost of upkeep in prison, is ₤63.10s.2d [63 pounds, 10 shillings and 2 pence]. Cranmer was burned alive in Broad Street in Oxford on 20 March 1556.

I hope to post a photo of it on my blog. The whole calendar will become viewable through Stanford library in conjunction with Cambridge. See the links below.

I receive this calendar from a European book vendor called Harrassowitz. They have been sending calendars to their customers for many years highlighting medieval manuscript illuminations. This year the concentration is on the library of Matthew Parker (1504-75). He
was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559-1575, and also an avid book collector. He salvaged many English treasures about to be dispersed at the dissolution of the monasteries. He gave them all to Cambridge's Corpus Christi College in 1574.



01 March 2009

St. Ignatius on Discipleship, part 6

Discipleship as Imitation

Ultimately discipleship is imitating Christ. Ignatius conceives martyrdom as the perfect imitation of Christ.1 This is the central point of the paper. Ignatius saw following Jesus to be ultimately accomplished in the imitation of his own suffering and passion. A case of true imitation can be seen only in the case of Ignatius’ relationship with Christ.2 Examination of the imitation-texts clearly shows that imitation is oriented primarily to suffering, not to the cross specifically but to suffering, as the inevitable consequence of loving like God loves.3 The whole point of the baptism, Eucharist, suffering for God, and Christology is to be an imitator of the one in whom we are baptized, the one whom we partake at the table, who suffered for our sakes and for our salvation, who embraces humanity and redeems it.

Ephesians 1:1. ‘Being imitators of God, taking on new life in the blood of God, you have fully completed the task so well suited to you.’ He speaks of imitating God and fulfilling a task. The question is, ‘what is the task?’ Is it imitation or visitation from the larger context of greeting and helping him? It is clear that the Church’s life comes from the blood of Christ, but what is the imitation? The evidence seems to point to a period of persecution at Ephesus. But one cannot contend certainly that this is Ignatius’ intent, for the ‘task’ referred to here as ‘imitation’ is not necessarily withstanding persecution. But one would also not expect him to refer to this in terms of imitation of God. So we think he begins his first letter with a statement about their obedience in terms of imitation.

Eph 9:2 “Ye, therefore, as well as all your fellow-travelers, are God-bearers, temple-bearers, Christ-bearers, bearers of holiness, adorned in all respects with the commandments of Jesus Christ, in whom also I exult that I have been thought worthy, by means of this Epistle, to converse and rejoice with you, because with respect to your Christian life ye love nothing but God only.”

Ephesians 10:1. ‘Let us be eager to be imitators of the Lord, who was most maltreated, who endured deprivation and who was rejected.’ Here the instruction to imitate Jesus at the point o suffering is sent to the Church as a whole. The fate of the entire Church is to suffer for the faith. He emphasizes the duty of the whole Church to suffer in imitation the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Church imitates Christ, the logical conclusion is that they will be mistreated, deprived and rejected. In the letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius does not connect discipleship with the faithful Christian life. Rather he connects it to martyrdom. Perhaps, as Rathke suggests, martyrdom is the imitation for a single person whereas the Church is the way of the community, through suffering or not.4

Magnesians 4:1. “It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality:” If Docetists believed that Christ appeared only in aspect, then truly they could believe that our expression of his life could remain undercover. We have been called to be the real expressions of a real Person, the man Jesus Christ.

Magnesians 9:1. ‘And this is why we endure: that we might be found disciples of Jesus Christ . . .’ No other passage says it clearer that this one. Endurance is the mark of a disciple. What is there to endure but suffering? Why endure suffering in the first place; because it is an imitation of Christ’s suffering.

Trallians3:1. ‘In like manner, let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:2. ‘For I fear your love, lest it do me wrong, for it is easy for you to do what you want to, but it will be hard for me to attain to God unless you spare me.’ He asks the Romans not to intervene for him because they in doing so will impede his idea of following Christ. If he is disallowed to join in Christ’s suffering, via the Romans contending for his release, then his discipleship is halted.

Philadelphians 7:2. ‘But the Spirit proclaimed these words: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father.’ He gives us here a direct connection between our obedience to others and Christ’s obedience to the Father. Noteworthy is the absence of the instruction to follow the teachings of Christ. We are told to follow Christ. Surely we are to understand that the Lord’s teachings are for the Church, but the point is to follow a person rather than a principle. I propose that following Christ is the same as following his teachings.

Smyrneans12:1. ‘The love of the brethren at Troas salutes you; whence also I write to you by Burrhus, . . . I would that all may imitate him, as being a pattern of a minister of God. Grace will reward him in all things.’ Here he gives us instruction to follow someone besides Christ. The principle of imitation is the same if we follow the bishop, for the bishop is the head of the presbytery just as the Father above the Son.

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 1 Corinthians 4:16. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6; For you, brothers, became imitators of God's Churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those Churches suffered from the Jews 2:14. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12; Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 13:7.

How could one miss the connection Ignatius finds in these scriptures to his explicit idea of imitation? We are to imitate the faith of our leaders, of others who are more spiritual [that is those that serve and lead], the Bishop, and ultimately the Father, through Christ.

1 Johannes Quasten, Patrology, (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1950), 1: p.71.

2 Daniel N. McNamara, “Ignatius of Antioch on his death, discipleship, sacrifice, and imitation,” (Ph.D. diss. McMaster University, 1978) p. 248.

3 Willard M. Swartley, “The Imitatio Christi in the Ignatian letters,” Vigiliae Christianae 27 no. 2 (1973): p. 100.

4 Heinrich Rathke, Ignatius von Antiochien und die Paulusbriefe, (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1967) p. 68-75.