Friday, December 24, 2010

A Blessed Christ-Mass!


May the Lord Jesus grant all of you, my dear friends, a truly blessed, happy and holy Nativity of the Saviour! Merry Christmas! And remember, let us put MASS back in Christ-Mass!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Masses at Saint Barnabas Dunwoody


The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve, Friday 24th December
Sung Mass, 7pm
Sung Mass with incense (Missa Cantata), 11pm

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day, Saturday 25th December
Sung Mass, 10am

Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr, Sunday 26th December
Low Mass, 9am
Sung Mass, 11am

Please join us if you are in the metropolitan Atlanta area!

God bless you and Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anniversary of Priestly Ordination

























On Saturday 21st December 1996, I was, by the mercy and grace of God, ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by the Most Reverend John Thayer Cahoon Junior at Saint Paul's Anglican Catholic Church in Lexington, Virginia. Of your Christian charity, pray for me and my priestly ministry, and pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop John, who entered life eternal in 2001.

To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belonging to one; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men to bring pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to teach and to pardon; console and bless always. My God, what a life! And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Once in Royal David's City


My eldest son, Chandler Aidan Baskwill Jones, offering the first verse of Once in Royal David's City at the beginning of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday 19th December 2010 at Saint Barnabas Church. This was his liturgical music debut!

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Real Meaning of Christmas










Christmas by John Betjeman
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Tradition inspires young ‘Bishop Chad’ at Dunwoody’s St. Barnabas

By Joe Earle
joeearle @ reporternewspapers . net

Bishop Chandler “Chad” Jones is rector of St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody.

He’s widely known simply as “Bishop Chad,” but don’t let the informality confuse you.

It’s not a sign of his youth, even though at age 39, he is the youngest Anglican bishop in the country.

No, Bishop Chandler “Chad” Jones is quick to say he’s a traditionalist. Tradition is what attracted him to the Anglican church in the first place.

“I consider myself a younger embodiment of that which has gone before,” he said recently during an interview in his office at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody. “An embodiment, and a living out, of tradition. I consider myself a person of tradition.”

Jones started out, however, not as an Anglican traditionalist, but as a Southern Baptist. He grew up in the small town of Elkin, N.C., in a Baptist family. He switched to the Episcopal Church as a teenager. He said he “read my way into it” after he discovered works by authors such as C.S. Lewis in the public library. He’s still a reader — a copy of “Wolf Hall,” a historical novel about 16th centuryEngland, sat on his desk recently.

While in college, Jones joined the Anglican church, which had split from the Episcopal church. He found the splinter group’s approach more in keeping with the traditions he admired.

The Anglicans split from the larger Episcopal church in the in the 1970s because they believed the American version of the denomination had become too liberal and strayed too far from its original teachings, members say. The Anglicans don’t recognize women priests, and the sign outside St. Barnabas states that the congregation adheres to the 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer.

St. Barnabas organized in 1979, said Marguerite Harvey, one of its founders. There were only 13 members in the congregation then, she said. Now there are about 450.

The congregation originally met in member’s homes, gathering in their living rooms, she said. As it grew, the congregation called in a priest. It found it needed larger spaces for services, moving to a bank’s community meeting room, then to a hotel conference room and then to the meeting space in a DeKalb County women’s club.

In the early 1990s, the congregation purchased a former Presbyterian church building in Dunwoody. The building, at 4795 New Peachtree Road, happened to be next to St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. “We moved in next door,” Jones said.

Despite the tangled history of their denominations, the two churches have gotten along well, Jones and Harvey said. They cooperate on ministries, such as the food pantry, Harvey said. “We have coexisted very peaceably,” Harvey said.

Jones moved to St. Barnabas from Florida in 2007 and became the church’s rector, or chief priest, in 2009. “We liked everything about him,” Harvey said. “He was young, he was active and full of spirit.”

She calls Jones “a wonderful scholar” and says he knows his subjects and speaks well. “He know his Bible up and down because he was raised a Southern Baptist,” she said.

Jones is the third bishop to serve at St. Barnabas. The other two were already bishops when they arrived at the church, Harvey said. One, Robert Harvey, became her husband, she said.

Jones formally was elevated Sept. 18 to bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States of the Anglican Province of America. He is now one of four active Anglican bishops in the country. As a bishop, he continues to minister to the congregation, but also serves as an adviser to other priests.

So, what did he do when he was consecrated a bishop? “I went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House with the [other] bishop and my family,” he said. “And the next day, I went to work. I didn’t go to Disney World, I went to Daytona Beach.”

Thursday, December 02, 2010

From the Dunwoody, Georgia Crier


Jones consecrated a bishop
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 4:28 PM EST

Rev. Chandler H. (“Chad”) Jones, rector of St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody, was consecrated as a Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, of the Anglican Province of America. The consecration took place in a ceremony at St. Alban’s Cathedral in Oveido, Fla., and was attended by an estimated 300 persons, in addition to 31 clergy. “I feel profoundly humbled and honored to have been elected to lead the faithful,” said Jones. “As bishop I pray for divine guidance as I shepherd Christ’s flock.” Jones, a noted preacher, teacher and scholar, will continue to serve as Rector of St. Barnabas, where he is assisted by Father Paul Rivard. The bishop, who is 39 years old, is the youngest bishop in the American Anglican Province. He is pictured at the consecration service, surrounded by his family, wife Megan, and Owain, Mailli and Aidan.

Saint George's Anglican Church, Baghdad

Inside St. George's - Baghdad from FRRME on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Support the Christians of Iraq

Please pray for the persecuted Christians of Iraq and indeed please urge your Congressmen to pass the proposed resolution noted below: in particular, Anglicans, who sponsored the Mission of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Assyrian Church of the East at the beginning of the twentieth century, should stand in solidarity with our bothers and sisters of the Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean Christian traditions in Iraq, as they face at this very moment what is possibly the worst persecution in their venerable 2,000 year history.

The United States Conference of [Roman] Catholic Bishops urged Congress on Nov. 29 to pass a resolution condemning religious violence in Iraq, and insisting on better protection for Christians and other minority faiths.

Two representatives of the conference, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany in New York, wrote to the sponsors of House Resolution 1725, in their respective positions as the national chairmen for migration and social justice. They commended the seven sponsors of House Resolution 1725, and called for the act's immediate passage.

Rep. Chris Smith (R – N.J.), a [Roman] Catholic and an outspoken advocate for international religious freedom, introduced the resolution along with six co-sponsors from both the Republican and Democratic parties. The proposal follows a wave of attacks targeting Iraqi Christians this fall, the worst of which left over 50 worshipers dead at Baghdad's Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation on Oct. 31.

Several Iraqi Christians now living in the U.S.--including a board member of the international charity Iraqi Christians In Need, and a former seminary professor of two priests killed at Our Lady of Salvation– have told CNA that the government is not doing enough to stop an epidemic of violence that has forced more than half of the country's Christians to flee.

Although Rep. Smith voted in favor of the American invasion of Iraq –which Pope John Paul II warned would destabilize the region and lead to sectarian violence– he has also demonstrated a willingness to speak out against cases of abuse or negligence by the ruling Iraqi government. Last year, he co-sponsored a resolution condemning Iraqi security forces' attacks on a group of Iranian refugees.

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Hubbard praised Rep. Smith's introduction of HR 1725, as a means to “focus attention on the situation of the vulnerable religious communities in Iraq.” They particularly appreciated its call for a “comprehensive plan” to prevent religious persecution, and to increase the representation of Christians and other minority groups in Iraq's government.

The bishops described the attack at Our Lady of Salvation, along with other assaults intended to drive Iraqi Christians from their homes and businesses, as “horrific reminders of the appalling lack of security that has condemned many in Iraq to live in fear.” The resolution expresses concern for Iraqi refugees, urging that barriers to their resettlement or return be lifted.

“We sincerely hope that H. Res. 1725 will be adopted quickly by the House of Representatives as we believe it will help improve security for all Iraqis, especially Christians and other vulnerable minorities,” the bishops wrote, noting that the resolution's proposals would help the troubled country achieve peace and address its refugee crisis.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Saints and Canonisation


Q: Do Anglican Churches canonise Saints or have the ability to do so? Do Anglicans recognise the Saints canonised in other catholic Churches?

A: The Anglican and English Missal traditions do recognise as a matter of course the canonisation of Saints by both the Western and Eastern Churches after the period of the Reformation, a number of post-Reformation feast days being included in the Missals. The Missals are an officially authorised worship resource in the APA by virtue of Canon Law, so as a result, the canonisation and veneration of such identified Saints is part of our theological and canonical praxis. It is entirely within the competence of any Catholic and Orthodox jurisdiction to canonise Saints, as we see in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Churches of the East canonise Saints according to the careful decision and specific proclamation of particular Holy Synods, the Synods of Bishops in any given jurisdiction. After a number of years of research, study and prayer concerning an individual considered worthy of canonisation, a particular Orthodox jurisdiction has the ability and juridical right to proclaim an individual a Saint, and this happens with some frequency. It is the general custom of Anglican Churches to recognise these Saints, and those also canonised by the Roman Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The 'Branch Theory' allows us to recognise all those holy men and women who have been canonised in other parts of the Holy Catholic Church.

Theoretically, there is nothing in canonical or doctrinal precedent to prevent the Provincial Synod of the APA, or of any other orthodox Anglican Province, from canonising a new Saint, 'canonisation' meaning the commemoration of the recognised worthy at the Altar with a special feast day in the liturgical calendar and special liturgical propers for the celebration of the Mass and Offices, but to my knowledge, no Anglican body has sought so to canonise formally any Saint unique to Anglicanism since 1661, when Saint Charles was officially canonised by the English Church: 26th April 2011 marks the 350th Anniversary of the official Canonisation of Saint Charles Stuart I, King and Martyr, by the Church of England. The closest the Anglican Communion has come since that time to liturgical official canonisation has been the inclusion of various Anglican 'Worthies' in local, regional and national liturgical calendars and Prayer Books. Our Missals, for example, contain feast days for Blessed William Laud, Blessed John Keble, Blessed Edward Pusey, Blessed John Mason Neale, etc., an act tantamount to canonisation without the formal process of a Synod or Convocation authorising it. Lesser Feasts and Fasts, in the orthodox 1963 edition of the American Church, also 'canonised' a large number of Saints from the Undivided Church and the Anglican Communion by giving them proper feast days and Eucharistic propers.

Our practice, as demonstrated in the Missals, is essentially that of the ancient Church, which Church always canonised Saints on a local basis by popular acclamation - the consensus of the local Church; a local Diocese would recognise in one of her own members a person of heroic sanctity and virtue, and would thus begin the practice of invocation of the person in prayer, with the veneration of the place of burial, relics, and sites associated with the person in question: over the course of time, such local veneration, often resulting in miracles, would flower into a more formalised devotion and the most official recognition possible, the holy one then being commemorated in the Liturgy, and the place of his burial and his mortal remains becoming a shrine and place of prayer and pilgrimage. A local Church would simply be compelled to recognise a Saint through popular devotion and 'make it so.' In the Undivided Church, there was no formal or 'bureaucratic' process of canonisation; veneration of an individual was the result of the Saint's life of Christian holiness, witness and example, and the fruit of Christian devotion and the movement of the Holy Spirit in the consensus fidelium of the People of God. So we Anglicans have basically followed the same path, and have slowly and incrementally incorporated particular Saints or Worthies of our own branch of the Catholic Church into our own liturgical calendar as acclamation and recognition have warranted, sometimes with Synodical and juridical action and sometimes without.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On the Sea of Galilee

Bethlehem

Egypt


The Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church


This prayer serves as the ‘Mass intention’ of the Eucharistic Liturgy: it incorporates and expresses the petitions of the Body of Christ, the Church, for which the Eucharist is offered to the Father through Jesus Christ, whose perfect and eternal sacrifice is to be sacramentally re-presented in the Canon, by the power of the Holy Ghost - all in the Church as the royal priestly people of God, who offers to God the Sacrifice of her Head and herself in union with that Head of the Body. We beseech the Father in the Prayer of the Church to accept the oblations of bread and wine, and our own lives, which will be hallowed and transformed in the Prayer of Consecration: bread and wine will be consecrated into Christ’s Body and Blood, and our lives will be changed to bear the New Life in Christ. The oblations, set before the Father in preparation for their consecration into the Blessed Sacrament, are offered to God in sacrificial praise, along with the petitions and prayers of the faithful, and alms to be given to assist all those who need them. In this prayer, a supreme prayer of intercession and petition is offered to God for the needs of His Church by the Church as ‘a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people’ (I Saint Peter 2.9).

This prayer is the first stage in the Eucharist introducing Christ’s own Act of intercession, presented to the Father through His Body in the sacred liturgy, the leitourgia, ‘people-work’ or ‘the work of the people.’ It sublimely summarises all the intentions for which the Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered, as it petitions God for the ‘whole’ or ‘healthy’ state of the Holy Church - that the Church may be secured in unity, holiness and fidelity to Scripture and Tradition, and empowered to present to God fragrant offerings of self-sacrifice, righteousness and love. Into this prayer, Christ’s priestly people enter their own immediate needs, intentions, petitions, and concerns, individual and personal requests of God. Here, intimate sacrifices and desires are lifted to the Throne of Grace, as the Church inserts the personal and individual intercessions of her particular members, and the needs and intercessions of local churches, into the One Great Intercession of Christ, our High Priest, Mediator and Advocate, which will be made-present, pleaded sacramentally, in the Canon. The Eucharist, beginning here, reproduces the mystery described in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 9), as Christ makes present on earth His Eternal Offering.

The Prayer for the Church originates in the ancient Jewish prayers of supplication in the synagogue. The ancient Christian Eucharist named it the ‘Intercession, or Prayer of the Faithful,’ to be recited as either the preface or conclusion of the offertory, in which the holy gifts were prepared by the deacon at the altar. Eventually, this collection of intercessory prayers made its way into the Eucharistic Canon or Prayer of Consecration: in the Eastern Rite, it is located right after the epiklesis, the prayer for the Holy Ghost to consecrate the gifts into Christ’s Body and Blood, and in the traditional Latin Rite it is located after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). In the original 1549 English Prayer Book, Archbishop Cranmer placed his newly-composed intercession prayer (our ‘Prayer for the Church’) between the Sanctus and the opening section of the Canon proper (‘All glory be to thee...’), basically in the same location as the old Latin Rite prayer. Bishop Cranmer reconstructed and redesigned the Prayer for the Church, weaving new elements into it and reordering older ones, fashioning a new prayer, based on Scripture, holding fast to the most ancient of prayers and concepts.

In the 1552 English BCP, it was moved to its present position, immediately following the offertory. This change was based on the discovery of the original, primitive arrangement for this prayer as found in the Liturgy of St Justin Martyr (circa AD 150). Bishop Cranmer adjusted his prayer structure accordingly. The 1789 American Prayer Book followed the English 1552 usage, and so have we received it in our 1928 American BCP.

Our prayer follows the order of petitions also found in the Divine Office, the Bidding Prayer and the Litany. Its order is very straightforward. Notice the emphasis on ‘the Word,’ or Holy Scripture, characteristic of the perspective of the English Reformation, which reasserted the centrality and importance of the Bible as the ultimate standard of Church doctrine and morality. The people as well as the clergy are admonished throughout this prayer to teach, hear, receive and believe the content of Holy Writ:

1. Offering of Oblations, Alms and Prayers, with Intercession for the Universal Church: I Timothy 2.1 is quoted as the guiding principle in its opening paragraph.

2. Prayer for Christian Rulers: A prayer only for Christian rulers, and thus a prayer for the Church Catholic and her members, not necessarily intended for secular rulers outside the Flock.

3. Prayer for Bishops and other Ministers: an intercession for those in Holy Orders.

4. Prayer for the People of God in the local parish, and those present at the Eucharist.

5. Prayer for all who suffer or who are in adversity: an intercession for all in need.

6. Prayer for the Dead: an intercession for the Christian departed that they ‘grow’ in the love and service of God in paradise, and that we may follow the examples of the Saints.

7. A Final Doxology: the earthly intercession is united to Jesus’s heavenly High Priesthood.

A note on Prayer for the Dead:

The 1928 American BCP restores the primitive, ancient and venerable practice of praying for the departed, making intercession for the Church Expectant or Church in Paradise. The renewal of such prayer is a recovery of the truth of the Communion of Saints, of the One Family in Heaven and Earth (Ephesians 3.15) in which all who are alive in Christ, quick and dead, are united in one Body, one fellowship of shared life, love, grace and prayer, indestructible even in the face of death - for all who live in Christ are alive to God, both those on earth and those have passed through the veil of death. This One Communion of Saints, of ‘holy ones’ in Christ, possesses in common the One Life of Christ, the One Holy Ghost Who enlivens all, being the Life-Giver, and One heavenly Father - the total reality of the Trinity’s eternal life. The whole Body of Christ is joined and linked together in prayer and intercession, in union with Christ our Head and Priest, so that all generations of the new redeemed humanity, the Church, are essentially one and undivided. All are one in Christ.

This means, practically speaking, that within the Communion of Saints, the Church on earth liturgically intercedes for those who have entered into the Age to Come, as that vast majority of Christians now enjoying the larger life can and does intercede for us still striving in this mortal life. The Communion of Saints exists as a mutual exchange of love and prayer between the saints in paradise and militant Christians still struggling on earth. The Church, from the Apostolic age, has always offered the Eucharist on behalf of the departed, knowing that such prayer, in a way mysterious and unknown to us, benefits the dead. The Holy Sacrifice is pleaded for them, that they may rest in peace, and experience a foretaste of the Heaven we all hope to share - we pray that the Holy Dead may receive a state of light, refreshment and peace in the nearer presence of God.

Prayer for the dead, incorporated into our Eucharistic Liturgy, is a thankful return to the universal and unbroken Tradition of the Apostolic and Primitive Church, and her liturgical worship, which interceded for her faithful dead in the Eucharist as, now, do we. The first 1549 English BCP included both a commemoration of the Saints, offering God ‘most high praise, and hearty thanks, for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all thy Saints from the beginning of the world...' with a high veneration of Our Lord’s Mother (‘chiefly in the glorious and most blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ our God and Lord’) and an intercession for the faithful departed, who have died with the sign of faith, that they may receive ‘mercy and everlasting peace.’ All reference to the Saints and faithful departed was unhappily expunged from the Prayer Book in its 1552 English edition. Our current prayer is originally based on that of the 1662 English BCP, which restored a commemoration of the departed borrowed from an Injunction Prayer of Queen Elizabeth I written in 1559. But, the 1559/1662 commemoration has no actual petition for the departed, only a grateful remembrance. The 1928 American Prayer Book’s phraseology of intercession for the dead (‘grant them continual growth in thy love and service’) is novel, having no discernible precedent, and is unique to our Liturgy. The 1928 BCP also reintroduced Requiem Mass propers.

The Biblical Texts

‘Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church’ Psalm 122.6, Colossians 1.24
‘Almighty...God, who by thy holy Apostle...’ I Timothy 2.1-2, Philippians 4.6

‘We beseech thee...to accept our alms and oblations, and to receive these our prayers’ II Samuel 16.4, Acts of the Apostles 24.17, Hebrews 13.16, Galatians 6.6, Psalm 20.1-3, Hebrews 6.10, St Matthew 25.40, Psalm 6.9

‘beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal Church with the spirit...’
St Matthew 28.19-20, St John 10.15-16, St John 17.20-21, St John 16.13, Ephesians 4.1-4, St John 13.35

‘And grant that all they that do confess thy holy name may agree...and live...’
Romans 10.9-10, I St John 4.2-3,15, I Corinthians 1.10, Amos 3.3, II Corinthians 13.11, Philippians 2.1-3, Philippians 3.15-16

‘We beseech thee also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian rulers...’ I Samuel 10.24, Psalm 72.1, I Timothy 2.1-2, Proverbs 11.14, Exodus 18.21-22, Deuteronomy 1.17, Romans 13.3-4, I Peter 2.13-14

‘Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and other Ministers...’ Philippians 1.1-2, II Thessalonians 3.1, Ephesians 6.13-19, I Timothy 4.12, Titus 2.7, Psalm 132.9, St Matthew 5.13-16, I Timothy 4.16, II Timothy 2.15, Titus 2.7-8,
Acts of the Apostles 20.28, Acts 7.38, II Timothy 2.7, Jeremiah 3.15, St John 17.17,
St John 6.63, St Matthew 28.19, Acts of the Apostles 8.36-38, Acts 16.31-33,
St Luke 22.8/19, Acts of the Apostles 20.7, I Corinthians 14.26-40

‘And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace...that...they may hear, and receive...’ Psalm 16.1, 119.18-36, Ezekiel 36.27, Acts of the Apostles 10.33, Nehemiah 8.2-5, Revelation 2.11, St James 1.19-21, Deuteronomy 32.46-47, I Thessalonians 2.13

‘...truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.’
II Timothy 3.16-17, St James 1.22, Romans 6.22, St Luke 1.74-75, Galatians 6.9,
Micah 4.5

‘and we humbly beseech thee of thy goodness...to comfort all those who are in trouble...’ Hebrews 13.3, Psalm 145.9, Psalm 94.19, II Corinthians 1.3-4, Psalm 103.13-17, Psalm 90.5-6, Psalm 144.4, III St John 2, Hebrews 4.15, St Matthew 4.23, Hebrews 2.18, Psalm 94.12-13, Psalm 31.7, St Luke 7.11-15, St John 11

‘And we also bless thy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear...Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate.’ Job 1.21, Psalm 145.21, Revelation 14.13, Revelation 7.13-17, Hebrews 11.13, Ecclesiastes 8.12, II Timothy 4.7-8, Hebrews 12.1-2, Hebrews 6.12, Hebrews 13.7-8, Hebrews 11.39-40, St Matthew 8.11, Colossians 1.12, II Timothy 4.18,
I Thessalonians 4.14, I Corinthians 15.22, I Timothy 2.5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land



Your episcopal blogger just returned yesterday afternoon from an astonishing 12-day journey to Israel, Palestine and Egypt, my first visit to the Holy Land: photographs to come with gratitude for everyone's ongoing prayers. God bless you!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weston Garden Dedication







On Sunday, 24th October 2010, the new Weston Garden was dedicated to the glory of Almighty God and blessed by yours truly at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church. This beautiful memorial garden was named in honour and loving appreciation of the Reverend Canon William R. and Valerie Weston. A delightful reception celebrating the many contributions of Father Bill and Val to the Parish was held after the dedication service.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Brian Marsh


A truly pastoral, charitable and Christian statement on the current processes under way in the ACA...

ANGLICAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
Diocese of the Northeast
Rt. Rev. Brian Marsh, Bishop

October 12, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This pastoral letter comes to you after a very busy period of time. Our diocesan synod was indeed a blessing and I want to thank all who participated in that wonderful gathering. Since my last major pastoral letter of June 3, many events have come to pass that require our prayerful discernment. Accordingly, I commend the following to you for your thoughts and prayers. I request that this letter be shared with every parish in the diocese.

OF UNITY AND CONVERSION

Few of us would argue against the principle of Christian unity. The unity of God's people is something that we earnestly pray for and eagerly seek. Indeed, on the Day of Pentecost when the church was born, all were gathered together in one place and "with one accord." It is that quality of being in accord with each other that makes the church a healthy, functioning home for God on earth. That spirit of accord is also one that we should endeavor to create and celebrate in our parishes.

We all wish in our heart of hearts to be of one accord, in unity with each other in a bond of love that replicates the very bond of love between the Father and the Son.
I am very happy to report that most churches in our diocese are indeed of one accord, particularly as it relates to our desire to worship God in the Anglican tradition. While we are far from perfect, we do recognize the necessity of continually aspiring to join with each other in closer bonds of unity. It is clear that God has called us to be together in unity and serve His church faithfully.

Above all, we must remember that unity begins at home. Just as a family should stay together in unity, so should our parishes and diocese remain unified, committed to each other and to our common life and mission. We all know that divorce and separation causes pain and disruption to family life. Similarly, any splits or separations within the Christian family will cause pain and disruption to the lives of God's children. It is vital that we stay together.

What does seem clear to me is this: breaking our diocese and parishes apart for the sake of some imagined unity makes no sense. We must be of "one accord" as we seek a way forward. For that reason, I discourage any parish "votes." Any such votes seem certain to produce winners and losers. Children are often placed in difficult decisions during divorce proceedings when asked to vote whether to go with their Mother or Father. How wrenching such decisions must be for the hearts and souls of vulnerable children. We must never allow this to happen to us. Rather, I ask that all parishes seek to reach consensus about the future direction of their parish. Consensus requires a parish to be of one accord. This is the Godly thing to do. Just as all of God's children are loved by God, we must love each other and seek to prevent hurt and separation. This is certainly a much more challenging task than taking a simple vote. But I do not believe that God asks us to take a simple path; God asks us to take His path. That will mean that we treat all of God's children with love and respect. It will mean treating all parishes with love and respect, creating Christian communities where no one is voted in or out. God, I believe, would have it that way.

Since the Apostolic Constitution was released nearly a year ago, many of us have sought to discern our way forward with regard to its provisions. Should we accept the Vatican’s offer to become Roman Catholics and enter an Ordinariate or should we maintain our present course? Entering an Ordinariate requires that all who do so convert to Roman Catholicism. Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the Catholic archbishop in charge of Ordinariates in this country, has made this very clear; entering an Ordinariate requires that all who do so must convert to the Roman Catholic Church.
Should any individuals be moved to seek entry into the Roman Catholic Church or Ordinariate, there are three basic options: one, you may simply join a Roman Catholic parish; second, you may write your bishop a letter seeking entry as an individual into an Ordinariate; or third, should your parish as a whole wish to join an Ordinariate, you may write to me and make that request. Should your parish be of "one accord" in seeking to join an Ordinariate, that path is clearly open. To date, I have received several letters from parishes that are indeed of one accord in seeking to remain with the ACA and the Diocese of the Northeast. These parishes have decided against entering an Ordinariate. I have not asked for such letters, but the parishes felt moved to send them along. I received one letter from a group that does seek admission to the Ordinariate. That body had reached a complete accord in its desire to accept the Vatican's offer. I asked that they send a letter to me in that regard. Upon receiving the letter, I forwarded it on to Archbishop Falk. He was, until recently, the person who collected all such requests.

As I have traveled around the diocese, I have noted that there are presently few parishes seeking entry into the Ordinariate. There may be one or two. If so, I simply ask that the parish reach full consensus with ALL parishioners before requesting admission. As I mentioned in my June pastoral, those parishes that do not wish to join an Ordinariate need do nothing.

You also should know that, as your bishop, I remain committed to Christian unity, which certainly includes the traditional Anglican Church bodies whose practices and beliefs are consistent with our own. I remain also firmly committed to the Anglican Church in America. But, even more, I remain committed to the people of the diocese I have been called to serve. May we seek always to be of one accord in our lives within God's holy church.
Your Brother in Christ,
+Brian

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On the Inspiration of Holy Scripture


Inspiration means ‘God-breathed,’ in-spiritus, in-Spirited, Spirit-filled.

‘The Holy Scriptures are able to make thee (empower into wisdom) wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration (Theopneustos = God-spirited, God-breathed) of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’ II Timothy 3.15-16

‘Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost'. II Peter 1.20-21

‘I believe the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation in Jesus Christ.’'Are your persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain all Doctrine necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?' (Ordination of Priests in the Anglican Ordinal).

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation (Article of Religion VI).

We Anglican Catholics believe in the full, or plenary, inspiration of Scripture: every word and syllable in Scripture is inspired by God and meant to teach the Church. Interpretation of the Church’s Book is properly done by the whole Catholic Church in all ages, East and West, universally, anciently, consentiently, which reads Scripture according to her own mind. The Undivided Church is the living Voice which gives articulation to the meaning of the Scriptures, through the Creeds and the Holy Tradition. The Church guarantees the authenticity and inspiration of the Canon of Scripture, and for this reason, how particular books may teach or who wrote them are of secondary importance. Canon is canon because the Church is herself guided and inspired so to teach, relegating questions of personal authorship or history to the background. The inspired Biblical Canon rests on the authority of inspired Spirit-possessed Body of Christ, the Church. We are not bound to any particular theory of how Scripture is inspired, as long as we affirm with the Church that the Canonical Old and New Testaments are the Word of God and have been inspired in their totality by the Spirit of God.

Various theories exists as to how Scripture is inspired:

1. Verbal inspiration - God immediately and directly caused the writers to set their texts to paper, being thus oracles, secretaries of the Holy Ghost. This view was held by most of the early Church Fathers. This process is a totally supernatural explanation.

2. Natural inspiration - God worked within the naturally occurring histories of his people, permitting men of particular interests, talent and ability to write what would later be reckoned Holy Scripture. This view may be called ‘historical emergence.’

3. Mixed bag - a) God, in some cases, directly inspired by providing infused knowledge or a direct supernatural vision, and in other instances, God inspired through man's natural talents and abilities. b) God used pre-existing materials, inspiring their collection and edition into biblical books. c) God directed the general course of human history to lend towards a particular creation of Scripture.

In the end, inspiration is a mystery, and various theories are permitted, so long as one affirms genuine inspiration of Scripture by God. God chose certain men and made use of their own faculties and powers to write Scripture. They really wrote the Bible; they were not ‘puppets.’ They wrote exactly what God wanted, as he wanted it. The Bible teaches, therefore, without error, the truth of God we need to possess for our salvation.

God is the divine author of Scripture because He inspired the human authors; he acts in, with and through them. He guarantees in His Church that their writings are free from error, communicating His divine truth rightly. Hence we 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' (II Timothy 2.15). The Bible is not a collection of human authorship, it is not the word of man, it does not combine truth and error, but is the very Word of God written. ‘When you received the Word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God’ (I Thessalonians 2.13).

God condescends and speaks to mankind in human words; the Creator accommodates Himself to mankind for our salvation, supremely in the Incarnation of the Word of God, God the Son, the Logos-Word of the Father, Who empties Himself and takes on the form of Man to communicate His Divine Life to us - the principle of the Incarnation was at work in the formation and revelation of Holy Scripture - ‘God was made man so man can be made God’ (Saint Athanasius). God conveys Himself to man through human word and speech.

The One Word of God, the Divine Logos, is the one Word uttered throughout Holy Scripture. God expresses Himself completely and perfectly through His Divine Word, the Person of the Son (Saint John 1.1-14). For this reason, the Church venerates the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, honouring the actual physical text of the Bible with incense and kisses, honouring the Person of Our Lord present in the Bible, as He is present even more intensely and objectively in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

‘One and the same Word extends throughout Scripture, the One and same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, for He was in the beginning "God of God."’(Saint Augustine of Hippo, On the Psalms).

‘All Sacred Scripture is one book, and that one Book is Christ, because all Divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and is fulfilled in Christ’ (Hugh of Saint Victor).

‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ’ (Saint Jerome).

There is four-fold way of interpreting Scripture, a four-fold method, or as the Holy Fathers call them, the Four Senses of Scripture: Scripture possesses both a literal and a spiritual, figurative, symbolic, iconic meaning. Because Scripture is living and active, it is capable of holding all four senses. Sometimes, in any given case, only one or two are applicable, sometimes all are at work. Indeed, because of the multiplicity of various genres and styles of literature in the Bible, only one sense may be useful and helpful and even operative in any given example.

1. Literal and Historical: ‘All senses of Scripture are based on the literal’ (Saint Thomas Aquinas). According to Saint Thomas, the Church must never establish a doctrine solely on an allegorical reading, but it must be based in the literal meaning of the Bible. One must have the basic literal meaning before the others emerge. Meaning is conveyed by the Scripture itself and discovered by exegesis (reading-out) of the meaning. For example, Jerusalem = a city of Israel.

2. Allegorical: Realities and events discussed in Scripture are themselves signs of God’s presence and will. Allegory is the Scripture's significance in Christ. For example, Jerusalem = the Catholic Church.

3. Tropological and Moral: the Scriptures are written for our instruction and learning, and our moral teaching. For example, Jerusalem = God’s holy people, God’s pure chosen flock.

4. Anagogical and Eschatological: (anagoge, leading, uncovering). Events and realities of the Bible are viewed in their eternal significance, their symbolic meaning as pointing to the end of the world and eternity. For example, Jerusalem = the heavenly kingdom.

The medieval couplet sums-up the four senses of Scripture:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.
Lettera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria,
moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.


Jesus Christ is the lens of Scripture, through whose Incarnation and Paschal Mystery we orthodox catholics read the whole of the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament. Scripture is inerrant, without error, infallible, never teaching falsehood, because as the Word of God it communicates God’s saving truth of Faith and Morality, and faithfully transmits the intention of God in teaching faith and morals to us. Although specific texts may differ in the purposes of their inspiration, their inerrancy is guaranteed for whatever purpose, by God Himself.

To discover the meaning of particular texts, one must look to the teaching office of the Church, Holy Tradition, the unbroken Apostolic teaching of the Church. The purpose for inspiration itself will go unfulfilled if one does not look to the Body which has been inspired by the Holy Ghost to give the right interpretation of her own Book. We must read Scripture within the Living Tradition of the whole Catholic Church. The Holy Fathers teach that the Bible is written in Church’s heart, in her interior life, rather than on paper or in documents. Inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit, the Church carries in her Tradition the whole teaching contained in Scripture.

‘The Word of God is not just a mute, written word, but is Incarnate and Living in the Church’ (S. Bernard of Clairvaux).

There is but One Catholic Faith, One Deposit of Divine Revelation, but Two Modes of its transmission, Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. The Catholic Church, especially represented by the Apostolic College, the historic Episcopate, is the guardian, transmitter teacher and interpreter of Holy Scripture. In order to retain their proper meaning, the Holy Scriptures cannot divorced from the context in which they were inspired, to wit, the doctrine, liturgy and discipline of that Church which bears the marks One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. 'Biblical orthodoxy' cannot be realised without or separated from ecclesiastical Tradition. The Church of the living God is the 'pillar and ground of the Truth,'the House of God(I Timothy 3.15).

‘Where there is the Church, there is the Spirit and where the Spirit is, there is the Church. The Church is the place where the Spirit flourishes' (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons).

'But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me' (Saint Augustine).

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Communion of Saints: Our Own Festival Day


At the end of this month arrives All Saints’ Day! The celebration of the Feast of All Saints recapitulates our own redemption in Christ and a joyful contemplation of our own personal and corporate future in the One Who is the Resurrection and the Life. It is the great feast day of the Family of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, that Church of God which is the redeemed human race. What the Saints in glory are, we are promised to be. 1st November reminds us of our present life in the communion of the Holy Spirit and of our anticipated life, to be shared with all of Christ’s beloved, in the age of the world to come, an age transfigured by grace. Blessed be God in His Saints: what the Saints once were, we are now; what they are now, we shall become. All Saints’ Day is the family celebration of the People of God.

The Church exists in three inseparable and organically-united states from now until the End of the world, the Last Day, the Day of Jesus Christ: 1. the Church Militant, alive on earth today, 2. the Church Expectant in the Intermediate State, Paradise or the Bosom of Abraham, and 3. the Church Triumphant in the glory of the Blessed Trinity in Heaven. The celebration of All Saints’ Day is the glorious feast of the whole Catholic Church of God, in glory and on earth, universal across space and time and beyond time. All Saints’ Day breaks through the monotony and banality of this often-dreary era with the splendour and joy of our life in Christ now, and in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Church on earth prays for all who have died in the Faith of Christ, asking the Lord’s blessing and mercy upon them (Book of Common Prayer 74-75, 268, 332-336, 598). The Church accompanies the death of all Christ’s dear children with prayer for them to the Lord. Simultaneously, when the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, bears witness to the holiness of certain reposed Christians, the faithful, in addition to prayer made for them, are taught by the good examples of their lives and thus place these souls before themselves as examples to be emulated and followed.

When the common conviction possessed by the Church of the sanctity and heroically virtuous life of a reposed Christian is confirmed by special testimony, such as spiritual gifts of healing, martyrdom, bold confession of the Faith, self-giving love offered in sacrifice for Christ and the Church, and in particular, miracles occurring after the death of the holy person when he is remembered in prayer, the Church then canonises the person in a unique manner. In such a case, the holy person, recognised by the Church as having once been a member of the Church Militant here in earth and now a member of the Church Triumphant in glory, is commemorated in the Liturgy of the Church: ‘canonisation’ refers to the inclusion of the blessed individual in the liturgical calendar and in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the Divine Offices with special collects and scriptural readings.

From that multitude which no man can number, which rejoices on another shore, in a greater light, God deigns to show the Church on earth a select few to be our spiritual elder brothers, sisters, guides and friends. To be canonised is to be placed in the Canon, the order or rule, of the Church’s liturgical life and observance, the yearly cycle of prayer and praise rendered unto God the Holy Trinity, in recognition of the Saint’s eternal destiny in Christ and communion with the earthly Church. Our Common Prayer Book in the American edition contains twenty such feast days for particular Saints, with provision for additional celebrations of other Saints as mandated by Church authority (BCP 258). A Saint, or holy one (Hagios, in Greek), is thus said to have been ‘raised to the Altars’ of the Church, as we on earth are assured by God that the beloved is in Heaven, the Beatific Vision, the Kingdom of God.

The Church, which is the Communion of Saints and the Family of God, honours and glorifies those who are the friends of God in a wonderfully intense way in Heaven (Saint John 15.14-15). Our Divine Lord receives His saintly friends into the heavenly mansions in fulfilment of His promise: that where I am, there ye may be also (Saint John 14.3). In acknowledgement of this grace given by Him Who is Life and Light to His heavenly companions, the Church in prayer praises the struggles and virtues of those so glorified in Christ and seeks their assistance in intercession and example as we determine to grow in the holiness and love of God and in avoidance of sin and advancement in the moral and spiritual life: O God the King of Saints, we beseech thee that, encouraged by their example, strengthened by their fellowship, and aided by their prayers, we may attain unto everlasting life (1929 Scottish BCP).

‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours’ (Revelation 14.13). In accomplishment of the Scriptures, the Church indeed blesses those who have entered into the beatitude of the Risen Lord. The glory which the Father has given the Son forever is granted as mercy and grace to those who reign with Jesus in the heavenly country; and so the Church, still in pilgrimage on earth, moving toward the Promised Land, rightly honours those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith (Saint John 17.22). The Church in her devotion and liturgy receives righteous men and women as righteous men and women; brothers and sisters of Christ in the glory of the Kingdom remain our brothers and sisters in the Church; our communion of prayer with those who have passed beyond the veil reinforces our love for them, our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in the sacred society of God (Saint Matthew 10.41, 12.50). Our fellowship in Jesus Christ, the Head and Priest of the Body, with the Virgins, Martyrs, Apostles, Confessors and Doctors is never interrupted, and continues for ever with those in the heavenly realm (I Saint John 1.3). The Saints are near to the Throne of God and the Lamb and pray for the Church on earth, praising and extolling the Lord of Hosts (Revelation 5.11).

Our communion with the Saints permanently realises the bond between Christians on earth and the heavenly Church:

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12.22-23).

Or to summarise our faith and life in the Communion of the Saints as expressed in that incomparable 1549 English Liturgy of the Anglican Tradition:

And here we do give unto thee most high praise, and hearty thanks, for the wonderful grace and virtue, declared in all thy saints, from the beginning of the world: And chiefly in the glorious and Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord and God, and in the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs, whose examples, O Lord, and stedfastness in thy faith, and keeping thy holy commandments, grant us to follow. We commend unto thy mercy, O Lord, all other thy servants, which are departed hence from us, with the sign of faith, and now do rest in the sleep of peace: Grant unto them, we beseech thee, thy mercy, and everlasting peace, and that, at the day of the general resurrection, we and all they which be of the mystical body of thy Son, may altogether be set on his right hand, and hear that his most joyful voice: Come unto me, O ye that be blessed of my Father, and possesses the kingdom, which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world.

Happy Feast Day! God bless you!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Our Lady in October

In the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we celebrate in the month of October the honour of the one human being who was closest to the Saviour and Redeemer of Man,
the one human person more intimate with Jesus Christ, the God-Man, than any other in all of history and eternity.

She bore Him in her spotless womb, nursed Him at her breast, tenderly cared for Him as a child, raised Him, taught Him, instructed Him, protected and nurtured Him, watched Him teach, preach, and perform miracles; she suffered the pain of seeing Him betrayed, rejected, executed, and finally she enjoyed the beauty and splendour of His resurrection from the dead - yes, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first and ultimate disciple of Christ, the first believer in the Lord, the first and greatest Christian of all, and now the chiefest Saint in Heaven - the Mother of our Lord, God and Saviour.

Like Jesus Christ, who perfectly fulfilled the Ten Commandments, we in the orthodox Christian Tradition honour in a special way the Virgin Mother of Christ as the Mother of our Lord and our Mother: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’ Jesus perfectly respected and loved His heavenly Father and His earthly Mother - and our unbroken history of prayer and devotion does the same.

Orthodox Christianity from the beginning of the Faith has honoured and remembered the Virgin Mary as the human Mother of the Incarnate God.

‘Born of the Virgin Mary’ (Apostles Creed)
‘Incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man’ (Nicene Creed)

The Undivided Catholic Church honoured and venerated the Blessed Virgin Mary with special feasts in her memory on 15th August and 8th December; Anglicans do today because we too are members of the Holy Catholic Church and we agree with the ancient Christian Tradition ‘when the Church was one,’ the Faith held by the whole Church, East and West, for the first thousand years of the Christian dispensation.

The Church has a special place in her heart for the Virgin Mary because she is so close to Jesus, the closest human being to Him on earth and in heaven.

No person in the history of salvation has been more misunderstood or more made the subject of confusion than Our Lord’s Mother. No one person has been more controversial, loved, or hated than the Holy Virgin. But she, the humble Handmaid of the Lord, remains a quiet witness to the glory of her Son. Mary, with simplicity and docility, did the will of God without question, believing, trusting and hoping in the Lord: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word.’ She is the Perfect Woman, the supreme Exemplar.

The Holy Catholic Church honours, venerates, reveres the Blessed Virgin, but never worships her - for adoration or worship is due to God alone. The Mother of God is loved and honoured because:

1. she gave birth to God in the Incarnation, and,
2. because she is the ultimate Christian, completely faithful, obedient to God.

All devotion given to the Blessed Mother redounds to the glory of her Divine Son, Jesus Christ. All devotion and honour given to the Virgin Mary glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary - the Incarnate Lord who assumed human nature from her womb. His Body was taken from her body. Mary is honoured by Christians universally in all ages, times and places, because she was chosen by God to be His Mother, she was selected by God to be the agent of the Incarnation.

All devotion and honour offered to Our Lord’s Mother is Christocentric, that is, Christ-centred. Mary points us to her Divine Son, who is Our Lord and God. He is Mary’s Saviour, and ours. In her, God was made Man. Mary was not simply a vessel or a channel through which God became incarnate; she was a true Mother to Him, not only providing a human nature, but offering Him all the love and commitment a Mother gives her Son.

‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’
Jesus is the saving Lord who has redeemed Mary and all men.

‘Whatever He saith unto you, do it.’ The Immaculate Virgin directs us to her Son.

Mary is the touchstone of orthodoxy; she secures the divine truth that God was made Man, God was incarnate, God assumed human nature. Mary is the supreme witness and testimony to the truth of the Incarnation.

She is Theotokos, Mother of God, Birthgiver of God, God-Bearer, as defined by the Third Ecumenical Council of the Undivided Church held at Ephesus (AD 431), which Council proclaimed as dogma the truth that Jesus Christ is One Divine Person Incarnate, with a true human nature.

Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is God
Mary is the Mother of God


Our Lady is not the cause or generator of the Divine Nature, the Deity of Christ, for that would be absurd, but she is the human Mother of the One Divine Person of the Son who assumed human nature in her womb. Her divine maternity, her birthgiving of God, is the essence of our salvation. The truth of Mary as Mother of God teaches and safeguards the dogma, the divinely-revealed truth, of the Incarnation.

The Church venerates the Blessed Virgin as:

1. THE NEW EVE: Mary reverses the disobedience of the first Eve by accepting her vocation to become the Mother of Christ. The Second Eve fulfils what the first Eve failed to do - she lovingly obeys God’s perfect and holy will. ‘I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.’ As Saint Irenaeus of Lyons says of her: 'By her obedience, Mary unlooses the knot tied by the disobedience of Eve.’‘Death by Eve, life by Mary’ says Saint Jerome. Mary is the Woman of Genesis 3.15, the Woman whose Seed will crush the head of the serpent even as He Himself is bruised. The Holy Virgin is the new Mother of all the living (Genesis 3.20). She is the Mother of all who live in Jesus Christ, presented as Mother to the Church, which is represented by the beloved disciple by Our Lord, in Saint John 19: ‘Behold thy Mother.'‘Mary conceived Jesus in her heart by faith before she ever conceived Him bodily in her womb’ (Saint Augustine). Our Lady is the perfectly obedient Christian, the model and pattern of the Christian life.

2. THE MOTHER OF GOD: Overshadowed by the Holy Ghost as the ancient temple was overshadowed by the shekinah cloud of God’s glory, Mary, the Temple of God and the dwelling-place of the Eternal Word, conceives and gives birth to Him Who is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. She gives our human nature to God the Word, who assumes our nature and therefore redeems it.
‘God can only save that which He assumes.’ Saint Gregory of Nazianzus
‘God became man so that man may become God.’ Saint Athanasius

And 3. THE ICON OF THE CHURCH: According to universal tradition, Mary experiences by anticipation what the whole Church, the Body of Christ, will experience on the Last Day. Her life of grace, her death and resurrection have already been consummated, a sign of the eschatological hope of the whole Church. Mary represents at every turn the Church of Jesus Christ. She is the Bride of God, the Virgin Daughter of Sion, the personification of the Church wedded to the Lord, a chaste Virgin Bride. In the holy icons, she is portrayed as the Church, standing upright before the Lord in prayer, intercessor before the Throne of Grace on which her Son reigns, being herself the Throne of God, the Ark of the New Testament, the Bearer of the Eternal Word. ‘Blessed is she who hears the word of God and keeps it.’ Our Lady is the Sign and Promise of the Church's salvation.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Is it I?

An uncanny resemblance? Dom Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez, on right, was consecrated bishop on 6th May 1948 in Caracas, Venezuela, by Dom Carlos Duarte-Costa...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Video of Episcopal Consecration

The splendid video of the recent Episcopal Consecration is now featured on the homepage of the Anglican Province of America website.

An hundred thousand thanks to Mr Gene O'Hara for his brilliant work!

PNCC-G4 Dialogue

The Anglican Joint Synods (G4) - Polish National Catholic Church Dialogue Meeting was held from 28th-30th January 2020 at Saint Barnabas Du...