Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayers




















Let us pray for all those affected by Hurricane Sandy...


O GOD, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.









Holy Land Pilgrimage 2012


In prayer at the Tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kidron Valley, Jerusalem, 
from whence Our Lady was assumed into Heaven according to Tradition.


In prayer before the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church of the Dormition, 
Mount Zion, Jerusalem, said by Tradition to be the site where Our Lady died.


Preachin' on the Sea of Galilee. Behind and beyond on the shoreline 
are the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha and Capernaum...


In front of the Church on the Mount of Beatitudes, 
where Our Blessed Lord gave the Sermon on the Mount.

Recent Photographs



At the High Altar of Saint Barnabas for our Nigerian Festival, Sunday 7th October.







Episcopal Visitation and Confirmations at Saint Alban's Church, Joppa, Maryland, 
with the Reverend Father J. Gordon Anderson, Rector, Sunday 16th September 2012.

Monday, October 29, 2012

'Two Integrities'




With reference to the new October 2012 Task Force on Holy Orders in ACNA...

Two Integrities: Can They Really Co-Exist?
An editorial by the staff of the Anglo-Catholic Standard - April 2009
The Notion of “Two Integrities”: What Is It, and How Does it Apply to ACNA? 

The notion of “two integrities” relating to women’s ordination, which currently exists in the
newly-formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), is not new. It is the same language that The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the larger Anglican Communion have used to talk about the ordination and marriage of practicing homosexuals. In the context of ACNA, the idea behind it is perhaps best expressed by Bishop Martyn Minns, who has stated,

There are...two integrities: those who believe that women should not be ordained at all and those who believe that women can serve in ordained ministry.... We will keep our promise to honor both integrities...and fulfill our commitment to the full participation of women, in the life and leadership of the church. We will do so in such a manner that both those who are unable to support the ordination of women and those who embrace it will know that their position has been honored.

In short, the notion of two integrities relating to women’s ordination is simply that whether one takes the position that it is permitted to ordain women (one integrity), or whether one takes the position that such a practice is not permitted (another integrity), both integrities are to be honored and are to co-exist within the same jurisdiction.

How Does it Apply to ACNA?

Although Bishop Minns defined the “two integrities” prior to the forming of ACNA, the new province is using the same language. It is employing this notion to defend the errors of the ordination of women to holy orders and lay celebration of the Holy Communion. Frankly “two” are not nearly enough to describe the integrities represented in ACNA. Within its numbers are groups such as the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), which includes parishes that, having embraced “believer’s baptism,” refuse to baptize infants. Another integrity is represented by parishes that use no Book of Common Prayer in worship, but rather worship according to the spontaneous direction of a worship leader who may be lay or ordained, male or female. Another integrity teaches that laymen can celebrate the Holy Communion with or without a priest. Another integrity holds that women may be ordained to the priesthood, another asserts that women may be ordained only as deacons, while yet another proclaims that women may not be ordained to holy orders at all.


“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’”



The Notion of Two (or More) Integrities is Linguistically, Ecclesiologically and
Theologically Erroneous.

1. It is Linguistically Erroneous, Resulting in Hypocrisy and Double-Mindedness.

An integrity has the notion of personal stake or identity, commitment, wholeness, accountability—a whole, complete position. Yet the use of the word “integrity” should be approached with caution because it is in itself a neutral word. It signifies only the consistent, heart-felt beliefs and
behaviors of a person or group. It does not mean “correct,” “right,” “orthodox,” or “true” (as will be discussed below when we examine it ecclesiologically and theologically). The opposite of “integrity” is “hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy occurs when one group holding a position and set of values comes into deep, essential conflict with another group holding a different position and set of values within the same system or organization. Yet the different groups agree to ignore their own integrities for the sake of the larger group. This is precisely what is happening within ACNA; it is hypocrisy.

Further, the notion of two integrities is oxymoronic. It is linguistic nonsense; “two integrities” that are diametric opposites are hopelessly irreconcilable. Bishop Minns has stated, “The integrity of differing beliefs and positions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood should be mutually recognized and respected.” Yet in reality the “two integrities” suggests psychosis, or split personality. As Saint James reminds us: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8). In short, it makes no linguistic sense to speak of two integrities co-existing when they are diametrically opposed to one another. It should be noted that the very concept of mutual integrities, all equally true and living, is itself a fallacy of basic logic. Mutual truth claims all contending to be true and yet contradicting each other fall under the judgment of the principle or law of non-contradiction, principium contradictionis. Two beliefs, each claiming to be true and yet opposed to each other, cannot both be correct. One of them, according to the rule of logic, must be wrong. As Plato writes in The Republic, “It is plain that the same thing will not be willing at the same time to do or suffer opposites with respect to the same part and in relation to the same thing.”

Contradictory statements cannot at the same time both be true. Therefore to say that women’s ordination is true for some and not true for others is indeed a nonsense, plainly absurd and illogical. To make such an assertion is to stumble into the trap of that post-modern relativism which so profoundly defines our modern culture, a culture utterly devoid of absolute truth and objective standards of right and wrong. Mutually-exclusive claims all lined-up alongside each other as being equally true is a symptom of the pluralistic and relativistic world in which we live—such a philosophical fallacy or mind-game, however, has no place in the Church of God and can have no legitimacy in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Truth as it is in Jesus is the truth, and there can be no other.

2. It is Ecclesiologically Erroneous, Departing from the Apostolic Church.

The notion of two integrities conveniently, yet ironically, departs from the Church of God as defined by the Apostles, the Church Fathers and the Creeds. It ignores the apostolic and orthodox attributes of the Church. The Church of God is our fundamental integrity. Within her bounds more than one integrity is impossible. The Church is not proclaimed to be “One, Holy, Catholic and Integral Church.” That would only mean that the Church is consistent and whole in her beliefs and behaviors. While this is certainly true, the Church is more—she is also apostolic and orthodox. The word “apostolic” means “from the Apostles.” The word “orthodox” means simply “right worship.” There is a right way to worship the Blessed Trinity, and there is a way that may seem right to men but that is wrong.

As discussed above, in reality there are at least six “integrities” at play. While to some degree internally consistent, they each represent radical departures from orthodox Christianity. One integrity believes that the Church has been mistaken for over 2000 years in not ordaining women. A second believes that the Church has been mistaken in not allowing laymen to celebrate Holy Communion. A third believes that the Church has been in error in baptizing infants. A fourth says that the Church has been mistaken in requiring the worship the Blessed Trinity to be offered according to an orthodox liturgy. A fifth believes that contemporary Christians are less prejudiced than the Apostles. A sixth holds that contemporary Christians are less culturally conditioned than Jesus Christ was (which is why He could not ordain women apostles).

On the other hand, orthodox Christianity believes that the Church got all these issues exactly right at the beginning. This integrity holds that we ought to remain faithful to the apostolic model. It believes that Our Lord revealed the true culture of Holy Mother Church to us for all time. In short, one integrity believes that the Church should be transformed by the prevailing culture, while the other believes that the Church’s mission is to transform the culture and to render it obedient to God Almighty. It is somewhat ironic that Bishop Minns has said regarding TEC’s celebrating same-sex unions, “These specific actions revealed that those in control of the Episcopal Church were ready to separate themselves from the ‘faith once and for all delivered to the saints’ and embrace innovations that were essentially a new religion.” Yet ACNA fails to realize that in its multiple integrities, this is the same error that it commits.

3. It is Theologically Erroneous, Treating These Integrities as Mere Preferences.

To have multiple integrities is theologically erroneous. ACNA, as does TEC with homosexual ordination, treats these two (or more) integrities as preferences, mere choices that ultimately make no difference within a jurisdiction. They are choices similar, for example, to whether or not one should speak or chant the Mass. To ACNA, these choices are not worth fighting—or remaining split—over.

Yet these integrities are not mere preferences. Instead, they deal with the essentials upon which the Church of God relies salvifically—particularly, the validity of the Holy Eucharist. There cannot
be two integrities when only one guarantees that the flock of Christ is feeding upon Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. In such a situation, one integrity—that which the Church has held always to be valid ordination—is righteous, good and faithful. The other—that which is a cultural innovation of no validity—is a sin. Therefore, one cannot “honor both integrities” as Bishop Minns exhorts us to do, when one integrity is a sin.1 The cultural innovation of the ordination of women blatantly defies 1 Corinthians 14:34-40.


This is the essential problem with women’s ordination and lay celebration of the Eucharist. Those who accept two (or more) integrities either do not understand sacramental theology, or they reject it. Valid feeding upon the True Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist is essential to the Church’s salvation. Only the validly ordained priest, in persona Christi, can consecrate the elements of bread and wine. For the Church purportedly to do otherwise is to invite the flock of Christ to the altar rail and then provide them with nothing, while deceiving them into believing that they are feeding upon their salvation. Such is a serious sin. As Christ taught, “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.” (Saint Matthew 18:6).

It is ironic that some of those within ACNA who support women’s ordination claim just the opposite. They assert that women’s ordination is a moral and theological good, that it is a biblical mandate that ACNA must fulfill. Dr. Ann Paton, a priest within Bishop Duncan’s jurisdiction and a member of ACNA, best exemplifies this position. She has recently preached that not only ordination to the priesthood, but also ordination to the episcopate, is the “whole gospel” of Jesus Christ. Admonishing ACNA for its prohibition forbidding the ordaining of women as bishops, she asks her congregation, “What are we going to tell the girls?” when they express a desire to be ordained. She suggests that the gospel of Christ is not “good news” if it excludes women from celebrating the Holy Eucharist. She insists that ACNA, as a jurisdiction, ordain women to all clerical levels. She proclaims that ensuring such ordination is being “bold for the Gospel, the whole Gospel.” One is reminded of the prophet Isaiah’s warning, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah5:20). 

This level of theological blindness is sobering. Dr. Paton bears witness to the inevitable paradigm shift within ACNA, as she, from within this new province, proclaims the “gospel” mandate of ordaining women bishops. Several conservative jurisdictions have joined ACNA while claiming to remain opposed to women’s ordination. They fail to recognize that in aligning themselves with this province, they have de facto approved and accepted the innovation, even if it is not exhibited in their own parishes. By virtue of their action, such jurisdictions have stamped the practice in question a valid alternative preference, not a matter concerning the life and health of the Church, not a matter of righteousness versus sin. They have agreed by virtue of their membership in ACNA that Dr. Paton’s position is viable, at least regarding the ordination of women to the diaconate and to the priesthood. If these jurisdictions had a thorough theological and sacramental grasp on the issue, they would not remain within a province which, at best, openly treats the opposed positions as equally valid.

A Recent Lesson From the Church of England

There is no need to conjecture about the end result of the multiple integrities model. In short, it is catastrophic for the apostolic and orthodox Faith. One only need observe what has developed in the Church of England over the past seventeen years.

When the vote for women priests passed in the General Synod of the Church of England on November 11, 1992, the model of dual integrities, for and against women’s ordination, was effectively born. A process of “reception” for the innovation was declared operative at that time, meaning that the Church must take time over the course of years and decades to deliberate and discern whether or not the innovation was of God. Theoretically, the proposed process of reception meant that it was possible that the Church of England could eventually revisit the decision and declare that women’s ordination is wrong. The very opposite, of course, has now happened.

The Act of Synod 1993 temporarily ensured the survival of a Catholic remnant within the canonical structure of the Church of England through the creation of “flying bishops,” provincial episcopal visitors, bishops under the jurisdiction of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who would minister to parishes that could not accept the innovation. Parishes were given the right to refuse the ministrations of women priests. Bishops would be consecrated who would not ordain women. On paper at least, ordinands would not be discriminated against for holding to the Catholic tradition regarding ordination.

In July 2008, all of this was swept away with breathless ease by the General Synod. Legislation for the consecration of women bishops was approved with no provisions of any kind for those who hold to Apostolic Order. The process of reception, for all practical purposes, has been triumphantly declared complete. The Church of England has pronounced, not surprisingly, that women’s ordination is true, because it is socially and politically just. Anyone who opposes the juggernaut of political correctness and radical feminism and its new sacrament of women’s orders is labeled a sexist, a misogynist and a backward traditionalist. 

Although the final legislation to be authorized by General Synod has not yet been fully shaped, the handwriting is unmistakably on the wall. It appears that very soon no Christians who profess the 2000 year old tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic Church will have any meaningful place in the Church of England. They may be reduced to a small ghetto, an ecclesiola in ecclesiae, a church within the church, to be marginalized and pushed to the very edge of the Establishment. A war waged for decades against Traditional Anglicans by the radical feminist left within the Church of England may have finally resulted in a victory for those who have sought to change the Church into a sphere of social and political engineering. Cultural Christianity has prevailed over orthodox Christianity in a decisive way. Should we fail to learn the lesson of the Church of England, it will be to our everlasting shame and regret. What began as two “integrities” is now only one, the “integrity” of heresy. The dual integrity model collapsed on itself, for it is inevitable that rival truth claims must struggle against each other – and always, one in the end prevails. The two integrities system turned out to be an illusion, and a deception. The overhaul of the entire sacramental structure of the Church of England began with the two integrity proposition. Are we willing to repeat history? Are we willing to gamble the Catholic Faith that comes to us from the Apostles? Are we willing to attempt what has been attempted before with the expectation of a different result? These serious questions are posed to us today. Let us not make the same mistake. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Conclusion

The new Province endorses the ordination of women to the priesthood and diaconate by those who choose so to act, and its formal statements thus far clearly indicate a Protestant theological inclination. The Church of God does not worship at the altar of “unity.” She worships at the altar of Christ. Those entrusted to shepherd Christ’s flock must not present or offer a false Christ, nor may they enter into communion with those who do. No one glories in isolation. But we do not get to unity by chipping away at that which makes us the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is linguistically, ecclesiologically, and theologically impossible—as well as pastorally irresponsible—to wink at sin while proclaiming that a way exists to remain in a jurisdiction that condones sin through its departure from orthodoxy. To say that nothing need change for those who hold to the more orthodox integrity is to fail to acknowledge that, for those who have joined ACNA but do not themselves ordain women, all has already changed. The choices are clear: Will we remain orthodox and true to the faith once delivered to the saints, or will we bow to the whims of culture for the sake of a false “unity"?

Endnotes
1. For further reflection on the sin of contravening the male character of Apostolic Order, refer to the excellent work Consecrated Women? edited by Father Jonathan Baker, Canterbury Press, 2004. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Consecration of Bishop Robert Giffin

The Right Reverend Robert Todd Giffin of the Diocese of Mid-America, Anglican Province of America (APA), was consecrated to the Episcopate at the Church of Saint Andrew the Evangelist on Saturday 6th October. The chief consecrator was the Most Reverend Walter H. Grundorf, Ordinary of the Diocese of the Eastern United States (APA) and Presiding Bishop. The co-consecrators were the Most Reverend Larry L. Shaver, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of Mid-America (APA), the Most Reverend Brian R. Marsh, President of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, and the Right Reverend Chandler Holder Jones, SSC, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States (APA). Bishop Jones served as Gospeler and Bishop Marsh served as Epistoler. APA Provincial Council Member Mr. Richard Watson of St. Paul's Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, served as Litanist and Organist.






All Saints and All Souls




The twin observances of the Feast of All Saints, All Saints’ Day, and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day, are the annual ‘family celebration’ of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church! The Church on earth, the Church Militant, prays for all who have died in the faith, the Church Expectant, asking that they may continually grow in God’s love and service, that they may increase in knowledge and love of God and go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in the heavenly kingdom, that they may have entrance into the land of light and joy in the fellowship of God’s saints, and that to them may be opened the gates of larger life so that they may be received more and more into God’s joyful service and win the eternal victory. No matter how virtuous a man might be, when he departs from this world, the Church accompanies his departure, his exodus, with prayer for him to the Lord.

Simultaneously, when the Church in her collective voice attests to the righteousness of the reposed person, Christians, apart from prayer for him, are taught by the good example of his life and place him as an example to be imitated. When the Church’s common understanding of the sanctity of the reposed person is confirmed by distinctive testimonies, such as martyrdom, bold confession, self-sacrificial service to the Church, the gift of healing, and especially when the Lord confirms the sanctity of the reposed person by miracles after his death when he is remembered in prayer, the Church honours him in a particular way. Our Lord calls His beloved servants ‘friends.’ ‘Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you’ (Saint John 15.14-15).  'To the Saints honour must be paid as friends of Christ, as sons and heirs of God; these are made treasuries and pure habitations of God. Are not those, then, worthy of honour who are the patrons of the whole race and make intercession to God for us? For those who worship God will take pleasure in those things whereby God is worshipped: let us believers honour the Saints, for God is also worshipped in so doing.' (Saint John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith 15). The Church honours Our Lord’s friends, the Saints in the Church Triumphant, the Saints in glory.  He has promised to His Saints the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom: ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’ (Saint John 14.2-3).

When the Church determines that this glorification has happened for a fellow member of the Church, the prayers of the Church for him take on a new character, a way of prayer that emphasises the Church’s communion with him: the prayers then recognise and praise his virtues, attributes, struggles and victories and beg the Lord for grace to follow his example, witness and teaching.  The Book of Common Prayer is saturated with such forms of prayer in honour of the Saints. In the ancient liturgies, the primitive pattern of Christian prayer petitions for the prayers of the Saints, so that the faithful on earth might find with them mercy and moral progress, and receive aid in times of spiritual need and testing.

‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them’ (Revelation 14.13). The Church blesses and honours the sacred memory of the Saints, raising them to the Altars in the liturgical year, in the celebration of their feasts, and in the offering of the Holy Eucharist on their behalf. Our Lord says of them: ‘And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one’ (Saint John 17.22). The Church indeed glorifies God in His Saints, according the account of our Blessed Saviour.

‘He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward’ (Saint Matthew 10.41). The Church in her faith and liturgy receives the righteous man as a righteous man. A brother or sister of the Lord, the Saint is also our brother or sister in the Lord. ‘For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother’ (Saint Matthew 12.50). The Saints are our elder brothers and sisters in the Family of God, the new Israel. They are to us brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the One Body of Christ, and we express our love for them in our communion of prayer for them and with them. The mystery of the Saints dwelling at the Throne of the Lamb of God in Heaven and their intercession there before God for the Church Militant is described in Holy Scripture: ‘And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (Revelation 5.11). ‘And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand’ (Revelation 8.3-4).


Please join us for our annual family celebration! Holy Communion will be celebrated on All Saints’ Day, Thursday 1st November, at Noon and 7pm. Holy Communion will again be celebrated on All Souls’ Day, Friday 2nd November, at Noon and 7pm.
God bless you!

+Chad

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