Friday, October 28, 2011

The Day We Know Our Future

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a day, a single day, on which we would know the future? A day on which everything about our destiny would be revealed to us with crystal clarity? A day when all the uncertainties, perplexities and fears of life were cast away, as the gloom of darkness vanishes in the light of the bright sun, when all of our doubts and anxieties were answered and recede to the background? Could we be given a day when everything that is confusing and troublesome to us is dispelled and replaced with certitude and joy? For the orthodox Christian, there is precisely such a day, and it is coming very soon.


That Day is 1st November, All Saints’ Day! On that day, as we gather as the Mystical Body of Christ at the Altar of the Lord to experience once more and recapture our family mystery, the Communion of Saints, God unveils for us our past, our present and our future: the barrier of time evaporates and we are joined with angels and archangels and the whole holy company of heaven as we sing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ and ‘Hosanna in the Highest.’ Our great great-grandparents and our great great-grandchildren kneel with us at the Altar rail, and we receive the Lord of time and eternity in the Sacrament of His love, linked in Him, through Him and for Him to believers of every age, generation, clime and epoch in the indestructible bond of love which is the Church. The Communion of Saints is not mythology, but mystery, not man’s dreams and fantasies, but reality, the true reality, higher and greater than any we have ever known on this mortal coil.


As we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, we commemorate and acknowledge our own future destiny in Jesus Christ – what we are, the Saints in glory once were; what they are, we shall become. In the Saints, we see what it is to be fully human, fully alive to God and to each other, fully united to God and to one another in the communion of the Holy Trinity. There is only one Body of Christ, Head and living members together, totus Christus, the complete Christ, and that Body includes us and them, inseparable, indivisible. The Saints pray for and with us, and we pray for and with them – all under One Head. The Lord Jesus has destroyed death by His own Passion, Resurrection and Glorification, and thus death can never sever our union with those who have gone before us sealed with the sign of faith. All members of Christ are alive in the Son of God and Son of Man, Who is the Resurrection and the Life.


On All Saints’ Day, the veil of time and place is pulled back: we see them, and ourselves, as we are meant to be, made holy by the Holy Spirit, cleansed and purged of sin, purified and made whole, restored and conformed to the Image and Likeness of Christ, perfectly united to God our Father, through His Son, in the Holy Ghost. The love of the Trinity, which is the communion that enfolds the Saints, makes us sharers of God’s very life. God invites us to live within the embrace of His eternal love, and we are made Trinitarian by grace. That is our future… and our present. Heaven, the Communion of Saints, the divine fellowship of the Trinity’s all-encompassing love is ‘realised eschatology’: it not only far off in the future for us – it is now, to be lived and enjoyed at this very moment. ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (I Saint John 3.1-3).


The Holy Trinity, pervading all men from first to last, from head to foot, binds them all together. The Saints in each generation, joined to those who have gone before, and filled like them with light, become a golden chain, in which each saint is a separate link, united to the next by faith, works, and love. So in the One God they form a single chain which cannot be broken’ (Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Apophthegmata).


This mystery of divine love expressed to us in and through the Saints impels our mission to other people, especially to those in need and necessity: ‘For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (II Corinthians 5.14-17).


The measure by which we extend the love of Christ to others proves the measure to which we have absorbed and embodied the love of Christ in the communion of His Saints. The communio sanctorum is not static, but dynamic, love in action – Christ reaches out through us to those around us. ‘And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Saint Matthew 25.40). We are the prolongation of Christ in the world, and our service to Christ in our neighbour is the mark of our profession.


Please join us as we celebrate the Family Feast of the Body of Christ on Tuesday 1st November at Noon and 7pm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ecce, quam bonum!

Let us continue to pray for the full, visible and sacramental unity of the
continuing Anglican expression of Christ's Holy Catholic Church.
Together at the recent Provincial Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church are (right to left):
Presiding Bishop Walter Grundorf (Anglican Province of America), Presiding Bishop Brian Marsh (Anglican Church in America), Archbishop Mark Haverland (Anglican Catholic Church), and Archbishop Peter Robinson (United Episcopal Church in North America).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Union of Scranton

A traditional, orthodox and canonical Old Catholic movement with which Continuing Anglicans should become involved, based as it is on 'the Catholic faith, worship, and essential structure of the Undivided Church of the first millennium...' From 1931 in England and from 1946 in the United States, orthodox Anglican Churches have historically enjoyed full communicatio in sacris with the orthodox Old Catholic movement. May that union of faith, hope and charity soon be renewed, and may the Traditional Anglican and orthodox Old Catholic Churches once again be 'sister Churches' in the fullest sense of the phrase.

Please see here, here, here, here and here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Bible in Worship

The presence of Our Lord in the written Word, the Holy Scriptures, is real, but different, not only in degree but kind, from His Presence in the Holy Communion, for the presence of the Lord under the form of bread and wine is an objective and mystical Real Presence of His True Body and Blood, a Presence which is unique in salvation history and unlike any other presences of Christ in His Church. There is an analogy between Christ in the Scriptures and Christ in the Holy Sacrament. To be sure, Our Lord is alive and active in the reading of His Word written, and He communicates, conveys His Word to us in Scripture as the one true Word, the Logos, Himself the living Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. One could even say that His operation in the proclamation of the Scriptures has a sacramental quality, which sanctifies us as we hear the Word proclaimed. But Christ's operation in the reading of the Word is on a different level from that found in the Holy Communion, for under the Eucharistic elements Our Lord is present to us, not merely by grace and virtue, but in His very Body and Blood, His human nature and His divine nature, in a way we cannot explain and yet which is Real. We use a corollary to explain why the Church treats the Scriptures with intentional reverence and respect. The Church is herself the great Sacrament of Christ, and she applies the sacramental principle in every aspect of her worship, including the use and reading of the Bible: our outward and visible signs demonstrate the inward and spiritual realities experienced and received in our worship.

The use of physical gestures in honouring the Holy Scriptures goes back before us to the Old Covenant, when the Bible was enthroned in the synagogue in a special place, was handled only with the greatest care, and its reading accompanied by prayer and acts of reverence, a sign of the community's love for and devotion to the Scriptures. We Christians of the Apostolic Tradition have 'baptised' and inherited those ancient Jewish signs and gestures, like so many others, and use them in our liturgical worship. The prime example for orthodox Christians would be the Gospel procession, wherein the Service Book containing the Holy Gospels is processed on special occasions into the midst of the congregation and is surrounded by the Cross and candles, which are used in the procession and the reading of the Gospel to honour the Word and presence of Jesus in His Scriptures. In some churches, incense is used for precisely the same reason, offered to God in honour of His Word. On rare solemnity, the Scriptures are sung, not only to add a level of intensity or clarity to the reading, but to express the sanctity and heavenly origin of the Word of God proclaimed. These are customs which we traditional Anglicans have inherited from the earliest Church and share with other Churches, East and West, which also derive from the Apostolic age.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holy Communion in Both Kinds

We should note with concern an ongoing change in the Eucharistic praxis of the Roman Communion which is reverting it to a practice which has long been held by Anglicans, Old Catholics, Orthodox and other Apostolic Christians to be a liturgical abuse: please see here and here.

As orthodox catholics holding to the perspicuous teaching of Holy Scripture and primitive Tradition, we Anglicans reject the medieval Roman ecclesiastical precedent of withholding the Chalice from the laity: that action is not an alternative for us. Anglicans, following the very institution and very words of Our Lord, always administer Communio sub utraque specie, under the form of the Chalice. Here we agree with the ancient Eastern Churches which invariably administer the Holy Mysteries in both forms. Article XXX strictly prohibits us from following the lead of the Latin Rite in this matter.

XXX. OF BOTH KINDS

THE Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.

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