Sunday, December 30, 2007

Do You Discern the Lord's Body?


By Father H.N. Thompson

Do you discern the Lord's Body? In other words, do you believe in the Real Objective Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacra­ment?

There have been and there still are Christians who do not believe in this necessary truth. Some of the Chris­tians at Corinth in St. Paul's time did not. I do not mean that they denied it in words, although they may even have done that, since some of them said that there was no resur­rection. But if they did not deny it in words, they denied it in their actions by coming to the Holy Sacrament in a state of sin.

This is what St. Paul says of such a person: he "eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body" (I Cor. xi. 29, R. V.). St. Paul does not mean by "discerning" seeing, because no one can see the Lord's Body in the Holy Sacrament with his outward eyes.

He means that any one who comes to Holy Communion in unrepented sin does not distinguish the Lord's Body from common food. He treats It with no more reverence than he would ordinary food. He ignores It, or disbelieves in It. And by so doing — by his irreverent eating and drink­ing — he draws down a judgment on himself.

Notice how naturally the Apostle speaks of "the Lord's Body." No one could speak so who did not believe in the Real Objective Presence. If it were not a Sacrament at all, but only bread and wine taken to remind us that our Lord died on Calvary, how could any one be "guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord," no matter how unworthy he came? But if the Holy Sacrament is (as it is) the Body and Blood of Christ given to us under the form of bread and wine, then a man who comes to it without repentance and faith and charity may be said to "crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame."

There is another passage in the same Epistle which has to do with this subject. In I Cor. x. 16, St. Paul asks: "The Cup of Blessing which we bless, is it not the com­munion of the Blood of Christ? The Bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ?" "The communion," that is to say, the partaking. The Apostle lays stress on the consecration, because it is that which makes the Sacrament. Thus, he does not say "the Cup which we drink," or "the Bread which we eat," but "the Cup which we bless" "the Bread which we break." The Apostle appeals to a well-known truth. He asks a question—but he is sure what the answer must be.
Then there is our Lord's wonderful discourse in the 6th chapter of St. John. He had just before fed the multi­tudes by blessing a few loaves and fishes, and thus multi­plying them. The people followed Him, and our Lord told them that He had some better Bread to give them. This was "the true Bread from Heaven" (verse 32). Then He said, "I am the Bread of Life" (verse 35). Later on He said again, "The Bread that I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (verse 51). But at this the Jews murmured. They said, "How can this Man give His Flesh to eat?" (verse 52). The Lord did not explain how. The time had not come for it. There would be an explanation given later, but in the meantime they must be content to take it on His Word.

The disciples waited, and just about a year after the answer came. In an upper room in Jerusalem the Lord again solemnly took bread into His hands. The Apostles looked on in awe and wonder, remembering, perhaps, the miracle which followed when He did this once before.

Then He blessed the bread and said, "Take, eat, this is My Body." He blessed a cup of wine and said, "This is My Blood. Do this in remembrance of Me." And now the difficulty was solved. Now they knew how they could eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. It was by joining in the holy rite which He had just instituted and commanded them to continue.

So, then the Real Objective Presence of our Lord in the Holy Sacrament is a doctrine which the Church teaches and the Bible proves. The Church has believed it from the beginning. The holy Church throughout all the world believes it still. We are taught that when the priest con­secrates the bread and wine, they become in some wonder­ful way the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord is present, not only in His Divinity, but in His Humanity also. The Lord is not present everywhere as man. He is present as man, visibly and naturally, at the right hand of God in Heaven, and also invisibly and super-naturally in the Holy Sacrament. Our Lord's presence is what is called Objective. That is, it does not depend upon our faith or our feelings. It depends upon the consecration by the priest. We may even disbelieve it; but that does not alter the fact. A great theologian, Dr. J. B. Mozley, says that in the early Church "the Lord's Body and Blood was regarded as a reality external to the mind even as the bread and wine was." The doctrine of the early Church is our doctrine today.

All who receive the Holy Sacrament receive the Body and Blood of Christ. But only those who approach worthily receive the benefits of the Sacrament. The wicked are in no wise partakers of Christ, i. e., they do not receive so as to benefit by it.

Now let us consider some of the objections which are made to this doctrine. It is said that our Lord was speak­ing figuratively. That He said "This is My Body" in the same sense that He said "I am the Door." But we must notice, first of all, that the cases are not parallel. Our Lord did not take a door into His hands and say, "This is My Body." If He had, of course, we should believe Him..

And, moreover, whenever our Lord used figurative language, as He did sometimes, there was always some­thing said to show that it was figurative. When He said, "I am the Door," He spoke of men entering it through Him (St. John x. 9).

Besides, the Jews were used to figurative language much more than we are, yet they felt that "eating His Flesh" was not meant figuratively, and so they turned away from Him. Now, would our Lord have permitted so many disciples to go away from Him under a misapprehension, especially when it might have been corrected so easily?

Our Lord had only to say, "Stop; you are making a mistake. When I say that you must eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, I only mean that you must believe in Me and imitate Me. I do not mean what you think I mean."

This would have been so easy. It occurs to our minds at once. And are we to believe that the Lord did not see how the case stood, or that He did not care or did not know how to meet it? No; the Jews did not go away be­cause they did not understand what was intended, but because they understood and would not believe.

Again, some people say, "I believe in a Spiritual Pres­ence, not a Real Presence." Well, but why not in both? There is no opposition between the words. Our own spirits are real, are they not? "God is a Spirit"; is He not real? What meaning do such people put on the word "spiritual"? Do they think it means imaginary? Our Lord's Body after He rose from the dead was a spiritual body, but it was none the less real and objective. So with His Body in the Eucharist.
A presence of Christ merely in the faithful receiver is no presence in the Sacrament at all. It does not in the least explain the words, "This is My Body." Christ is present in the faithful soul in this sense at all times, and not merely at Holy Communion. Then, some people have said, "Our Lord's discourse in St. John vi. cannot refer to the Holy Communion because it had not been instituted then." But to say this is to forget that our Lord is able to look into the future, and that "He Himself knew what He would do." Besides, in the very next chapter (vii. 39) we read these words: "But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

Now, if our Lord could speak of the Holy Ghost before He was sent down on the Church, He could speak of the Holy Sacrament before it was instituted. But the Prayer-Book decides the matter for us by quoting verse 56 in the Prayer of Humble Access, and also appoints this chapter to be read at Morning Prayer on Maundy Thursday, in com­memoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Then some say, "The doctrine of the Real Presence contradicts our senses. I only see bread and wine, and therefore there cannot be anything else." Well, in that case every Sacrament must "contradict your senses" because you cannot see the "inward spiritual grace" of it. And you must not believe that you have any soul because you cannot see it. And, of course, you must hold that the earth stands still, and the sun goes round, because your senses tell you so.

The Holy Communion is not a miracle to convert unbe­lievers, but a means of grace for the faithful Christian. We believe in the Real Presence because the Church teaches it to us, and because it is the plain meaning of our Lord's words.

The Church requires us to kneel when we receive the Holy Communion. But kneeling is the posture of wor­ship. The Puritans objected to it on this very ground. On their own principles they were right in objecting. If Holy Communion is only bread and wine received in remem­brance of Christ, it is unmeaning to kneel. The Church, however, directs us to kneel. And, therefore, by this action in every Church the doctrine of the Real Presence of our Lord in this Eucharist and the adoration of Him there present, is preached by the people at the altar, even where the clergyman may not, unhappily, preach it from the pulpit.

It is, no doubt, an "astounding doctrine," as people say. But so is the Incarnation of our Lord. Are you quite sure that you believe in the Incarnation? Every one who does not believe in the Real Presence should ask him­self this question very seriously. The wonderfulness of it is no difficulty to a Christian. As he believes that the Lord at His first miracle made water into wine, so he believes on the Lord's own Word that in the Holy Communion the same Lord makes bread and wine into His Body and Blood. He rests his faith on the Word of Him Who is the Truth.

The Great Catholic Creeds

Dear N.,

There are relatively few good resource books on the origin and content of the Creeds, but I highly recommend The Early Christian Creeds by JND Kelly, which is still in print. Confessedly, it is a very technical book but it provides a wealth of information on the theology, history and use of the Creeds. The three Great Catholic Creeds are:

1. The Apostles' Creed: lost in the mists of Apostolic antiquity, this Creed, which is traditionally divided into 12 articles for the Twelve Apostles (each Apostle supposedly contributing one line to the Symbol of Faith), is in fact divided into three clauses for the Blessed Trinity, one for the Father, another for the Son, and a third for the Holy Ghost. It is the ancient Creed of the Latin Church, the Old Roman Symbol circa AD 150, used at the administration of Holy Baptism, each clause being recited by the priest and candidate at each of the three immersions into the Name of the Trinity in the sacramental action of Baptism. The Apostles' Creed is still used at Baptism in the Anglican Church and in a truncated form in the Roman Rite. We also still use it in the Divine Office, at both Mattins and Evensong. The Orthodox Church no longer uses this most ancient of all Creeds.

2. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: the principal Creed of the Eastern Churches, used both at Baptism and the celebration of the Eucharist, this Creed, shared by all orthodox Catholic Christians, is actually the product of two Ecumenical Councils, Nicea I (AD 325) and Constantinople I (AD 381). Called 'C' in technical study, this Creed builds upon the original Creed of Nicea and serves as the eminent orthodox anti-Arian Creed of the fourth century, establishing the full deity and consubstantiality of the Son with the Father by using the term
homoousios, 'of one substance' with the Father. It also proclaims the full deity and divinity of the Holy Ghost. All Apostolic Churches use this Creed at the celebration of the Mass. Like the Apostles' Creed, it is Trinitarian in structure, with three clauses for each Person of the Blessed Trinity.

3. The Athanasian Creed: named in honour of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria and intending to encapsulate and summarise his theology, this Creed is actually a product of fifth century patristic contemplation and liturgical worship and has no direct relationship to the Church Father whose name it bears. It is much closer to the Western theology of Saint Augustine than to that of the Greek Alexandrian tradition represented by the saintly Pope of Alexandria. The Church of England still authorises its use at Morning Prayer 13 times in the Christian Year. The Roman Communion still possesses this Creed but rarely uses it in any form of public liturgy. The Eastern Churches officially recognise it but do not use it liturgically. Unlike the two previous Creeds, the Athanasian does not possess a Trinitarian structure, three clauses with each assigned to one of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. Rather, it is divided into two sections: the first is a long excursus on the meaning of the substantial or essential unity of the Godhead shared equally by the Hypostases of the Trinity, and the second is an expanded form of the clause on God the Son found in the Apostles' Creed with a deeper explanation of the metaphysics of the Incarnation. Most famously, it condemns to hell-fire those who fail to keep the 'Catholic Faith' whole and entire.

On the Blessed Sacrament

Dear N.,

Thank you for your wonderful query on the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Although Anglicans formally reject the imposition of the Aristotelian metaphysical categories of accident and substance required by the doctrine of transubstantiation, we do affirm to the Real Objective Presence to be a Holy Mystery - truer and more real than our own reality, but beyond the capacity of human beings to understand or explain it. Anglicans assertively believe that in the Prayer of Consecration, by virtue of the very Words of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the priest, through his sacramental authority, causes the bread and wine to be converted and transformed into the living Body and Blood of Christ, the total Person of Our Lord, God and Man. Our Lord remains under the form of bread and wine in the Holy Mysteries, and under every particle of the Blessed Sacrament, so long as the outward signs of consecrated bread and wine exist. The Real Presence is supernatural, metaphysical, objective, abiding and mystical, utterly mysterious and inscrutable. As Anglicans, we do not venture to define the indefinable or to dogmatise this Mystery of mysteries, and hence we refuse to invoke the categorisation demanded by transubstantiation, a man-made theory imposed on a miracle. And yet Our Lord is there - in the Elements - not merely in a sign, symbol or figure, but in His humanity and divinity, Body and Blood, to nourish His people with His own self, His own Person, His own life.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Happy and Holy Christ-Mass!

Congratulations and blessings to Brandon Holder Jones, my identical twin brother, who, by the Imposition of Hands and the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, received the Sacred Order of Deacons on the Ember Saturday in Advent, 22 December 2007, at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ordaining prelate was His Excellency, the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. Please pray for Brandon as he begins his new ministry. It so happens that the date of his Diaconal Ordination coincides with the anniversary of my First Holy Mass, offered on the Fourth Sunday in Advent 1996.

Let us pray fervently for a deeper co-operation and understanding between the Catholic Church of the Anglican Rite and the Catholic Church of Rome. Ut unum sint.

And to who all who read this simple weblog: may Our Lord Jesus Christ, the true God born of the immaculate Virgin, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless and keep you and all you love during this most wonderful time of the year.

A blessed and holy Christ-Mass to you all!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advice to a New Penitent: Sacramental Confession

It is always one of the greatest privileges and blessings of the Sacred Priesthood to assist a faithful Anglican who is new to the Sacrament of Penance in the preparation for one's first reception of the grace of that most wonderful Sacrament. The act itself is very simple, direct and easy.

The process of receiving the Sacrament of Penance is very straightforward. To quite Saint John Chrysostom:

1. 'Contrition in the heart'. We should, in quiet and without distraction, pray over our sins and recall what are our particular sins, using the Commandments as the standard against which we must judge ourselves. We should allot as much time as we need to do this in the 'prayer closet' of our souls. Having formed an understanding of our sins using such a method, we should then from the heart repent of our sins and ask for the merciful and loving forgiveness of Our Saviour. We should sorrow from our hearts for having offended God's love. This is contrition, genuine sorrow for and hatred of our sins and genuine repentance with a desire to amend our lives according to God's will and commandments. From a desire of love for God we should seek His forgiveness and mercy, for He is our loving and merciful Father, who through Jesus Christ frees us from the power and destructiveness of our own personal sins. Contrition is the state of soul we should bring to Confession and only takes places in our hearts and souls after making a good self-examination. No fasting or other devotional practices are required before coming to Sacramental Confession, although certainly a one-hour fast beforehand with special prayers is always beneficial to the soul! Pray to the Holy Ghost to illuminate your heart, mind, soul and conscience to show you your true self and the true nature and horror of your sins. Ask the Holy Ghost to penetrate deep inside the soul to show you even those sins that you are not aware of committing, and to show you those areas of your life, of which you may not even be consciously aware, that need restoration and healing. Penance is not about judgement or condemnation, as some mistakenly think, but is all about forgiveness, healing, freedom and a new life in the mercy of God.

2. 'Confession with the lips'. We then move to the actual Sacrament of Penance. The Confession is not made to the priest, but to God Himself in the presence of the one ordained and commissioned by Christ to forgive sins in His Name, the sacramental representative of Christ, the priest. The rite itself is very simple. I shall have a booklet for you with the entire rite laid out in its entirety and I shall be happy to give you as much time as you need to look over the rite before we begin. The penitent comes to the Altar, the great symbol of Christ, and kneels at the Altar rail. The priest is seated within the sanctuary at the rail to greet the penitent. In the Anglican Rite, Confessions are usually heard at the sanctuary before the Altar of Christ, which perfectly symbolises the One to Whom the confession is made and from Whom the grace of Absolution is received. The penitent begins the service with a request for a blessing, and the priest blesses the penitent. The penitent then confesses his sins verbally using a brief prayer found in the rite of Confession: he articulates in the hearing of the priest (auricular - 'in the ear') all those particular sins he wishes to confess and then concludes by asking the priest for advice, counsel and Absolution. The priest then offers words of advice and counsel as he thinks necessary, and asks the penitent to perform a penance, which is usually a prayer or other devotional act meant to signify the penitent's contrition and desire for forgiveness, a token of love for God and a gesture and demonstration of one's willingness to life a new better amended life. After the penitent accepts the penance, the priest gives Absolution, the sacramental forgiveness of sins in which Christ Himself loosens the penitent from sin and infuses him with the grace of the Holy Spirit. After the Absolution a final prayer and blessing are said by the priest and the penitent is free to leave or remain in church to offer his penance. Absolution is the sacramental guarantee that our sins are forgiven - sacramental grace washes the soul in the Precious Blood of Christ and ensures by a covenantal promise of Christ that all the sins one has ever committed are forgiven once and for all. The penitent leaves the Confession free from all sin, mortal and venial, and is empowered with new profound supernatural grace to live a life of holiness pleasing to God. The grace of Absolution exposes and heals the deepest recesses of the soul, pouring the balm of divine love on all the wounds of human nature, and not only forgives sins but actually increases grace and sanctity for a more intimate union with God. For this reason, the Church Fathers call Penance a 'second baptism', 'the second plank after shipwreck' that restores all baptismal grace and gives the penitent a new life and communion with God. It is Christ Who is the only priest and celebrant of the Sacrament, and He absolves the penitent with own Absolution of divine reconciliation and love, won the Cross of Calvary. It is He Who forgives and restores to the life of grace.

3. 'Amendment in the life'. After receiving the supernal unparalleled gift of Absolution, we should seek to live lives of more intense holiness and love for God. We should resolve never to commit sin again, especially those besetting sins which we so easily lapse into. We should seek to live a better and holier life. We should develop a consistent and regular rule of life, of regular daily prayer and discipline, and we should have frequent recourse both to Sacramental Confession and spiritual direction. We should more eagerly frequent all of the Sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist, with greater devotion, preparation and zeal. If Absolution is the healing medicine that cures the disease of sin in the soul, spiritual direction and frequent Confession are the preventative medicines which keep our souls healthy and in a state of grace.

The aforementioned are considerations of the personal and particular nature of sins and their forgiveness: additionally, we should also consider the corporate and ecclesial nature of sins and their impact upon ourselves and upon the whole Body of Christ, the Church. The Sacrament of Penance restores us to fellowship with God after serious sin, and also restores us to full communion with the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are once again living members through repentance and Absolution. Sin has not only personal consequences, but also a communal and relational significance as well. When we separate ourselves from God through sin we concomitantly sever our communion with the Church as well. In Penance, we account, not only for our sins committed against God, but our sins, which by their very character violate our communion with the Church, committed against the Body of which we are each a integral and living part. 'And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular' (I Corinthians 12.26-27).

The priest is the instrument of our reconciliation with the Church, or restoration of fellowship, because he is not only in persona Christi capitis, in the person of Christ the Head of the Church, he is also in persona ecclesiae, in the person of the Church, the Man of the Church, the Church's ordained and official representative - his sacramental acts are not done in his own name and person, but in the name of the Catholic Church with the Church's authority and commission. Thus the Sacrament of Confession serves to reconcile us with the visible and sacramental communion which is Jesus Christ's Body, the prolongation and extension in time and space of His own Life. Holy Mother Church draws us back to her bosom and restores us to all her graces and Sacraments through the ecclesiastical musterion of Penance. Confession is the double cure for sin, sin against our Redeemer and sin against His Bride and Body...

A Reading List for Anglicans: 'Favourite Fifty'

A few books randomly selected for the interested reader...

The Catholic Religion by Vernon Staley
The Christian Faith by CB Moss
An Introduction to the 39 Articles of the Church of England by EJ Bicknell
Anglicanism edited by More and Cross
The Apostolic Ministry edited by KE Kirk
The King’s Highway by George D Carleton
A History of the Church in England by JRH Moorman
The Shape of the Liturgy by Dom Gregory Dix
Eucharist by Louis Bouyer
The Early Liturgy by Joseph Jungmann
The Elements of the Spiritual Life by FP Harton
Theological Outlines by Francis J Hall
Dogmatic Theology (in 10 volumes) by Francis J Hall
The Gospel and the Catholic Church by Michael Ramsey
Faith and Practice by Frank E Wilson
Ye Are The Body by Bonnell Spencer, OHC
The Vision Glorious by Geoffrey Rowell
The Faith of the Early Fathers (in 3 volumes) edited by William A Jurgens
Merrily on High by Colin Stephenson
The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary by Massey H Shepherd
The Christian Priest Today by Michael Ramsey
Ministerial Priesthood by RC Moberly
Liturgy and Worship edited by WK Lowther Clarke and Charles Harris
Corpus Christi by EL Mascall
Christ, the Christian, and the Church by EL Mascall
Anglicanism by Stephen Neill
Answer Me This by CB Moss
Doctrines of the Creed by Oliver C Quick
Christian Proficiency by Martin Thornton
English Spirituality by Marin Thornton
A History of the American Episcopal Church by William Wilson Manross
The Early Church by Henry Chadwick
The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan
Early Christian Doctrines by JND Kelly
Early Christian Creeds by JND Kelly
Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice by Mark Haverland
The First Seven Ecumenical Councils by Leo Donald Davis
The Study of Liturgy edited by C Jones, G Wainwright, and E Yarnold
The Anglican Spiritual Tradition by JRH Moorman
The Reformation by Owen Chadwick
The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy

Women's 'Ordination' and the Church of Nigeria - CANA

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America intends to continue the purported ordination of women to the Diaconate, a move approved by the Church of Nigeria, and now also intends to introduce the purported ordination of women to the Priesthood...

From Bishop Martyn Minns:

Another arena where we have both opportunities and challenges has to do with the question of women’s ordination. From the inception of CANA we have made it very clear that we are committed to the full participation of women in the life and leadership of the church. We recognize that among biblically faithful members of the Anglican Communion there are differing theological positions as to whether women should serve in ordained ministry. There are, as have been described, TWO INTEGRITIES: those who believe that women should NOT be ordained at all and those who do believe that women can serve in ordained ministry– although within the latter group there are differing understandings as to whether this includes priesthood and extends to congregational oversight and serving as bishops.

Ordination is not only a response to God’s call on an individual but it is also an action of the church. At this time the Church of Nigeria, to which we owe canonical obedience, has no provision for the ordination of women although there has been acceptance of women in the order of deacons. At their most recent gathering the Church of Nigeria’s General Synod tabled discussion about ordination of women to a future date. Archbishop Peter Akinola has stated that while he supports this action he recognizes that there needs to be freedom for CANA to take a different direction because of its North American context. In light of this commitment to embrace both integrities we have received applications from congregations and female clergy with the expectation that women clergy will be licensed to continue their ministry. In anticipation of this Council I appointed a task force under the leadership of Archdeacon Adedokun Adewunmi and the Rev’d Bill Haley to prepare recommendations as to next steps.

The members of the task force included advocates of widely differing perspectives. They are working on a number of possible ways in which we can move forward as a united community while recognizing both integrities. I have asked that they be available to discuss their deliberations with members of this Council. They acknowledge that while they have not yet come to one mind as to a recommended direction they have made enormous progress in the time that they have worked together. In light of this I propose the following:

• We will keep our promise to honor both integrities within CANA and fulfill our commitment to the full participation of women, in the life and leadership of the church. We will seek to 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.

• We will continue to accept applications from qualified congregations and female clergy with the expectation that women clergy will be licensed to continue their ministry within CANA. We will request permission of the Church of Nigeria to ordain appropriately qualified women candidates to the diaconate within CANA as soon as possible.

• We will continue to look to a task force to continue work on this issue. We will expect them to develop a unified recommendation regarding ways in which we maintain our commitment to both integrities and at the same time provide the necessary theological framework pastoral procedures and canonical provision for the ordination of qualified women to the presbyterate within CANA. (!) I am fully aware that this is a topic of concern for many clergy and congregations throughout CANA and one that produces intense reactions. It is therefore my prayer that we will take these next steps looking for the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and guard our common life and witness.

Emphasis and italics added.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Does The Anglican Church Teach Confession?


A Reply By Twenty Five Of Her Bishops And Doctors

ABOUT forty years ago the Rev. E. B. Pusey, one of the profoundest scholars of his day, made a study of Reformation and post-Reformation Anglican authorities to prove their position on the above question. The following statements are taken from Dr. Pusey's preface to Gaume's "Manual for Confessors."

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and Reformer: "Let him that is a sinner go to one of them [priests of the church], let him acknowledge and confess his sin, and pray him that, according to God's command­ment, he will give him Absolution."

Bishop Ridley, Bishop of London and Reformer, says of Confession to a priest: "I ever thought it might do much good to Christ's congregation."

Bishop Latimer, Bishop of Worcester and Reformer: "To speak of right and true Confession, I would to God it were kept in England; for it is a good thing."

Thomas Becon, an early Reformer of Puritan ten­dencies, says: "Why auricular Confession should be con­demned and exiled from the bounds of Christendom, I see no cause; but that it should be approved, retained, main­tained, and used, I find causes many, yea, and these right urgent and necessary."

William Turner, Dean of Wells Cathedral, a puritanizing Reformer, says: "We do not utterly forsake auric­ular or ear Confession." "Let the Bishops," he adds, "ap­point learned men to hear Confessions, and not blockheads, and then the people shall come to the priests by heaps and swarms."

Bishop Cosin, of Durham, in his "Collection of Private Devotions," lays down as one of the Precepts of the Church to communicate at stated times, and adds: "For better preparation thereunto, as occasion is, to disburthen and quiet our consciences of those sins that may grieve us, or scruples that may trouble us, to a learned and discreet priest, and from him to receive advice and the benefit of Abso­lution."

Bishop Overall (one of the Compilers of the Prayer-Book and authors of the Church Catechism), says of mortal sin: "We require Confession of it to a priest, who may give him, upon his true contrition and repentance the bene­fit of Absolution." Also in his Visitation Articles in 1619 he required his clergy to warn anyone with a troubled conscience to "open his grief" that "he may receive the benefit of Absolution."

The same requirement was made by Cosin in 1627: by Bishop Andrewes of Winchester in 1629: by Bishop Montague of Norwich in 1638: by Bishop Lindsell of Peterborough in 1633; by Bishop Dee of Peterborough in 1636: by Bishop Duppa of Chichester in 1638: by Bishop Juxon of London in 1640: by Bishop Wrenn of Norwich in 1662: by Bishop Fuller of Lincoln in 1668: by Bishop Gunning of Ely in 1679: and by Archdeacons Kent, and Pory, in 1631 and 1662.

Bishop Andrewes, of Winchester: In his MS. Notes on the Prayer-Book Exhortation, he says: "It is most ex­pedient that this be read to induce the people that they be­think themselves of the sovereign benefit of Absolution by this penitent Confession."

Bishop Sparrow of Norwich: "He that would be sure of pardon, let him seek out a priest and make his humble Confession to him."

Bishop Montague of Norwich: "Private Confession unto a priest is a very ancient practice in the Church, of excellent use and practice, being discreetly handled. We refuse it to none, if men require it, if need be to have it. We urge it and persuade it in extremes. We require it in case of perplexity."

Archbishop Ussher on being accused of being op­posed to Confession, treated the charge as a calumny, and quoted the Prayer-Book, "whereby," he said, "it appeareth that the exhortation of the people to confess their sins unto their ghostly fathers maketh no such wall of separation betwixt the ancient doctors and us."

Bishop Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Conner and Down:"Confession to a priest . . . is of so great use and benefit to all that are heavy laden with their sins, that they who carelessly and causelessly neglect it, are neither lovers of the peace of consciences, nor are careful for the advan­tage of their souls."

Dr. Crakanthorp was one of the strongest and most famous of Anglican controversialists. He says: "As to auricular Confession being abrogated among us, thou [his Roman opponent] dealest artfully and deceitfully. Private Confession, whereby any disburdens to the bosom, or, if thou willest, the ear of the priest . . , our Church both teaches and approves."

Bishop Berkeley, after whom the Berkeley Divinity School is named, in 1741 says of Confession: "It may be had in our Communion by any who please to have it; and, I admit it, may be very usefully practiced."

To Dr. Pusey's list we may add the name of Dr. Winnington Ingram, the present Bishop of London (1920), well known and beloved in America. While inveighing against the ideal of compulsory Penance, as do we all, he says: "Those who say that auricular Confession is not allowed in the Church of England, say so simply in the teeth of the direct statement of the Prayer-Book." (Church Times, March 24th, 1911.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cardinal Kasper: Liberal Canterbury Ally?

From the Catholic Herald in the United Kingdom:

'One of the Vatican’s most senior cardinals has dismissed the idea that a breakaway group of Anglicans might be received into the Catholic Church en masse – despite Benedict XVI’s personal support for such a move. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told The Catholic Herald: “It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome." Cardinal Kasper, as president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is likely to be cautious about any arrangement that might upset the official leaders of the other Christian churches – notably the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The cardinal said on Monday: “We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together.” When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC’s request, the cardinal replied: “It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome and I am not sure there are so many as you are speaking about.”'

It appears the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity continues to frustrate the efforts of orthodox Anglo-Catholics who seek full communion with the Papal See because of the intimate ties that liberal curial office aggressively maintains with the See of Canterbury. Leaving aside the possibly-exaggerated membership claims and serious canonical problems posed by the Traditional Anglican Communion, this disappointing episode only serves to prove once again what I have been saying for years: Rome, through its official infrastructure, is talking to the wrong people, and has clearly committed itself to an apparent irreformable ecumenical relationship with an increasingly heretical Anglican Communion establishment based at Lambeth Palace. Can the Roman Communion ever deal squarely with Catholic Anglicans, even with those who simply want a meaningful dialogue rather than organic union?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Archaeologism or Liturgical Modernism

Comments on liturgy made by some priests today reflect their origin and the generation to which they belong and in which they were liturgically and theologically trained. Such clergymen may be called 'survivors' of that most tumultuous period of the 1960's and 1970's in which centuries of organic liturgical development were overturned in an instant and new liturgical forms and practices were introduced (it would appear) for the sake of novelty, 'doing a new thing.' But the phenomenon is not that simple - the irony is that in the effort to reclaim what is supposed to be an ‘ancient and authentic Christianity,’ wholly novel forms of worship were promulgated in place of Tradition. The new is instead called the old, really old. Many celebrants today are a product of their time, a time in which Cardinal Annibale Bugnini of the Roman Communion, a modernist to the hilt, sought to eradicate in the Latin Rite the theological and liturgical heritage received through centuries of natural organic development. The trial liturgies of the Roman Communion, which gave birth to the Novus Ordo Missae of 1970, bled into the Episcopal Church beginning in the 1950's and eventually led to the first American experimental laboratory test in 1967 called The Liturgy of the Lord's Supper . If I were a betting man, I would wager that many of the most influential 'liturgically-hip' priests today were in seminary or graduate school at the very moment or just after the new-fangled liturgies were introduced, and they most likely embraced them with a youthful enthusiasm. At a minimum, it is safe to assert that a majority of priests have since been trained by priests who themselves imbibed the 'Spirit of Vatican II' at the time. Times they are a-changin': Generation X priests, Anglican and Roman alike, and their protégés, the millennials, have a very different more traditional perspective, but that is a topic for another reflection.

What Bugnini and his ilk did in the Roman Church led, through modern liturgical revision, to the wholesale abandonment of Common Prayer in the Anglican Communion and the jettisoning of traditional worship forms in the protestant bodies. The vision was one contemporary liturgy for one pan-protestant and pan-ecumenical church which could potentially unite Romanist and Anglican with Methodist and Presbyterian. The Consultation on Church Union (COCU) was the ecumenical body which embodied and inculcated in organisation what was expressed in liturgy with the Novus Ordo and the new Anglican liturgies.

This revolution, a deliberate rebellion against Tradition, has always been promoted under the guise of ad fontes, 'returning to ancient and patristic sources,' 'going back to the original liturgies of the pre-Nicene period.' All these folks seem to hold that Constantine corrupted and perverted the original supposedly-pristine Eucharistic liturgies ostensibly used before AD 325. It's funny how they hold views in common with militant protestantism. A significant number of priests today appear to maintain an ideology known as 'archaeologism' or archaism or antiquarianism, which, in the name of early Christianity, can be said selectively to by-pass 2,000 years of collective Christian life and experience and worship guided by the Holy Ghost in the corporate communion of the Body of Christ, Holy Tradition, and seeks to restore a perceived purism that certainly exists on paper in academic journals and in the books of archaeologist scholars but is far harder to verify objectively in the historical record. Although Rome officially condemns this view of history, in practice it succumbed to it at the Second Vatican Council and in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy, which does precisely what the 1979 ECUSA rite does: both displace time-tested ancient liturgical forms for test-tube liturgies which are in turn based on speculative reconstructions of liturgies which are asserted to have existed and have been used 1700 years ago. The problem with this rather attractive notion that we can efficiently circumvent the intervening millennium and a half of development and evolution and resurrect an extinguished yet purer way of worship is that the earliest Christian matrix is not quite so easy to ascertain or dissect as some might think (or have been led to think).

Grave difficulties and questions arise when begin to peel back the layers of Christian antiquity. We have no irrefutable knowledge of the actual living use of many liturgies at the time conjectured for their use, and we cannot prove conclusively that many of them were ever used by unquestioningly orthodox Christian communities in their Eucharistic assemblies. Some of these 'original' liturgies were in fact heretical and employed by groups now condemned as heretical, such as Arians. I feel confident that conscientious scholars will admit the problems involved here. In the name of 'recovering' the original Christian liturgies, liturgical modernism, to oversimplify the term, has purposely sought to uproot any continuity or organic connexion with the liturgies of the past ages, which intrinsically bind us to the Communion of Saints through their hallowed use lost in the mist of centuries. Genuine worship unites us moderns to the Holy Catholic Church of history, of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, of every age, generation and clime. Only Tradition does this. A radical rupture with the sanctified past has been imposed on the Churches in the name of authenticity.

These new liturgies are a novum, a novelty created de novo, as a new thing, many with no real clear historically-discernible precedents. We can lay at the feet of Dom Gregory Dix and his Shape of the Liturgy the blame for a surprising amount of this - he was the first popular exponent and architect of what would become liturgical modernism. His works are fascinating and at times extremely helpful, but they are certainly fallible and contain many historical errors and guesses.

I say all of this merely to express my opinion that many priests today were formed as Christians and as priests in the most chaotic and complex time in Christianity since the Reformation, and their attitudes to the traditional Mass reflect their training and their background. I suspect their antipathy to the classical BCP in Anglicanism or the extraordinary Latin Rite in Romanism is a result of culture - they have reaped the whirlwind. Critique of Archbishop Cranmer's Anglican Rite is certainly fair (for example, the Gloria in Excelsis does historically belong up front at the beginning of the Mass as in the 1549 English BCP but was moved by Cranmer in the 1552 BCP to serve as a climactic thanksgiving after Holy Communion – an untraditional but brilliant liturgical shift meant to emphasise the centrality of receiving Holy Communion in the Mass rather than focussing on the Consecration) but one surely protests too much when one states, for instance, that the 1979 rite is somehow more historically accurate or more well-ordered theologically than the Anglican Mass we inherited from the ancient Roman and Sarum Rites through the redaction and editorship of Thomas Cranmer, a liturgical and literary genius. The 1979 rite is an alternative service book with a totally twentieth century provenance - and it is not 'common prayer' in any meaningful sense. Modern liturgical revision has, for world Anglicanism at least, shattered the reality of Common Prayer.

We should be mindful of the fact that the whole Anglican world is in a state of irreversible meltdown and many of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion still use the Cranmerian liturgy: the 1662 English Book is the official liturgy of organisations to which a lot of liturgical modernists now belong. It is possible that we may see more and more 1662 liturgy in the USA as foreign prelates bring it with them in their missionary efforts. Maybe Common Prayer will re-emerge someday. In the interim, it will be necessary in future for all Anglicans charitably to tolerate differences of style, liturgy, rite and worship, including, yes, Tradition.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Is Mary the Mother of God? or The Truth about the Incarnation


by Father S. C. Hughson OHC

Is the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God? She most certainly is. Now, there may be some who, reading this Tract, will shrink from so categorical an answer. But let us look at the grounds for it. You are not a Unitarian, are you? If you are not, then, of course, you believe that Jesus Christ is God. Well, we are told in the Gospels that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. There is but one conclusion possible. If Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, then she must, indeed, be the Mother of God. "But," you say, "of course, I believe that Jesus is God, and that St. Mary is His Mother. But this title is a new one to me, and seems to me peculiarly blasphemous. I should like to know what authority you have for its use, and what it means."
Well, now, that is a fair question, and we must try to answer it.

To keep the matter clear of misunderstanding, we must always remember two things:

(1) That the title Mother of God refers only to our Lord's human Conception and Birth. It does not refer to His Eternal Generation from the Father. It does not mean the same thing as if we said, "The Mother of the Godhead," which would indeed be blasphemous. Her Motherhood was human, carrying with it no higher prerogative than can belong to human Motherhood. We say God was born of Mary, not in the sense that His Divine Nature and Person received a beginning of existence from her, but in the sense that her Child was verily God the Eternal Son.

(2) We must remember also that the title Mother of God was not primarily used to honor the Mother. It was an ancient expression upon which a heretical attack was made, and it was insisted upon because it was the one best suited to set forth in terms that were incapable of being misunderstood, the truth of the Deity of her Son. The chief emphasis is laid on the word God, not on the word Mother.

"But how did we get hold of such a title? What is its history?"

One moment, and I will tell you. About A. D. 430 there was a Bishop of Constantinople named Nestorius. He invented a new heresy. He said that the Child Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary was not divine, but was just an ordinary human child. He taught, however, that God entered into Him, and acted through Him, while He remained a separate human person.
Nestorius preached a sermon on the subject, in which he said: "Whoever shall say that the Virgin Mary is the Bearer of God, let him be accursed." (See Jeremy Taylor, Works, X, 312.)
Mind you, he was not preaching about the Blessed Virgin, but about her Son. What he meant to do was to pronounce an anathema against those who said that the Baby born of Mary was God.
Of course, the true Christian belief was that Jesus was always God. God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, "came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."He was made man, but not for a moment did He cease to be God. He gave up nothing that He possessed of His Nature and attributes as God, but taking human nature (though not a human personality), He became both God and Man, and will so remain for all eternity—one Divine Person in these two Natures.

Ever and always, from the first moment of His con­ception in Mary's womb, as a Baby, as a Boy, as a Man, Jesus was "Very God of Very God, of one Substance with the Father." This had always been the Church's belief, but Nestorius said, "No; and accursed be any man who says it."
Of course, this blasphemy roused great indignation everywhere. A Council of the Church was called to meet in the city of Ephesus in June, 431. A great throng of Bishops came from all over the world to witness against this heretical doctrine. They took up this expression, Mother of God, and found that it, or expressions with practically the same meaning, had been used by the pastors of the Church cer­tainly as far back as the time of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who, as an old man, was martyred only ten years after the death of St. John.

This Council condemned Nestorius, and expressly de­clared that the Blessed Mother was Theotokos, which is the Greek word for Mother of God, or, more literally, She who gave birth to God. Twenty years later another Council met at Chalcedon and repeated the declaration that Mary was the Mother of God. Now, there is an important thing to be noted just here. Our Church has always held both of these Councils to be among the true Councils of the Universal Church, to which she especially appealed at the Reformation. And she has ever required that their decrees concerning Christian belief be accepted. To deny the truth of this title, therefore, is to reject the teaching of the Anglican Church.

But there is a question you might here wish to ask. Have the best theologians of our Church accepted the words, Mother of God, as a proper translation of the Greek word Theotokos? Well, let us see. Did you ever hear of Bishop Pearson? If not, go and ask your clergyman who he was. He will tell you that he was a great English Bishop, who wrote a book on the Apostles' Creed, which stands superior to any other work on the subject. He will probably show you the book in his library.

"By the general consent of the Church," writes this great Bishop, "the Virgin was plainly named the Mother of God"; and this was, he declares, "because He which was so born of her was God."
Dear old Jeremy Taylor! How our grandmothers loved his two beautiful books, "Holy Living" and "Holy Dying"! We should be better men and women if we loved them, too. Surely he will not lead us astray. "Though the Blessed Virgin Mary," he says, "be not in Scripture called Theotokos, the Mother of God [you see it does not occur to him that there can be any other translation], yet that she was the Mother of Jesus, and that Jesus Christ is God, and yet but one Person, that we can prove from Scrip­ture, and that is sufficient for the appellative." (Works, IX, 637.)

Again, Archbishop Bramhall never dreamed of questioning this title. "The union of the two Natures, divine and human, in Christ," he says, "is a fundamental truth. That the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God, that Christ hath both a human and divine will, are evident consequences of this truth." (Works, II, 90.)

George Bull, the great Bishop of St. David's, was one of the most powerful champions the Anglican Church has had since the Reformation. Like another St. George, he was invincible against the dragons of Protestant error on the one side and Roman error on the other. He preached a sermon on "The Lowliness and the Ex­altation of the Blessed Virgin," defending the title Mother of God as one that is needful for the right expression of the fact of our Lord's Deity, and demonstrates that the origin of the title is to be found in the New Testament itself.
He wrote two hundred years ago, and his English is a little crabbed, but I am going to quote him at length, for no writer of our Church shows us so fully the history and rea­sonableness of the term.

"The Fathers of the third General Council at Ephesus," he says, "approved the title Theotokos, the Mother of God, given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. . . . They them­selves, in their synodical epistle, say that the holy Fathers before them doubted not to call the Blessed Virgin Theotokon, Deiparam, the Mother of God. Indeed, a whole age before that Council we find Eusebius giving that title to the Sacred Virgin. And Socrates, a most credible witness in this matter, assures us that Origen [A. D. 253] long before Eusebius largely explained and asserted that title as applied to the Blessed Virgin. And, to go yet higher, we have Irenaeus [A. D. 187], who was a scholar to a scholar of the Apostles, magnifying the Virgin on this account, that she did portare Deum, bore God within her. If she did portare Deum, she did parere Deum; if she bore God, she brought him forth, too, and so was Theotokos, the Mother of God, that is, of Him that was God. Nay, the blessed martyr and disciple of the Apostles, Ignatius [A. D. 110], in his epistle to the Ephesians feared not to say, "Our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived of Mary."

He then declares that in this matter we do not need to seek after human authorities, because it is recorded in St. Luke's Gospel that "the inspired Elizabeth, in her divine rap­ture, plainly gives the Blessed Virgin the same title—'and whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me.' " (St. Luke 1: 43.) For, he continues, "the Mother of our Lord is, doubtless, of the same import with Theotokos, the Mother of God." "Now, the necessary consequence of this dignity of the Blessed Virgin's is," continues Bishop Bull, "that she re­mained forever a virgin, as the Catholic Church hath always held and maintained. For it cannot, with decency, be imagined that the most holy vessel which was once thus consecrated to be a receptacle of the Deity should after­wards be desecrated and profaned by human use." (Bull, Works, I, 97, sqq.)

Time would fail us to summon all the Anglican wit­nesses for this title, but we must see what the theologians of our own time have to say. There is an excellent book on the Incarnation of our Lord by the Rev. H. V. S. Eck, published in the "Oxford Library of Practical Theology." He quotes Dr. Wm. Bright, the great theologian and poet (he wrote our beautiful Communion hymn, "And now, O Father, mindful of the Love"), as approving the words Mother of God, being careful to give them, of course, the proper explanation. Mr. Eck himself says, "If Mary was not the Mother of God, then that holy Thing that was born of her was not God." This book is published under the editorship of Canon Newbolt, of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and Dr. Darwell Stone, of Pusey House, Oxford. These two eminent scholars passed upon the theology of it, and even if Mr. Eck's own name and reputation were not sufficient, their names are a guarantee that it contains nothing but sound doctrine.

So, grounded upon both reason and authority, the con­clusion is inevitable. Jesus is God. If Jesus was born of Mary, God was born of Mary. If Jesus died on the Cross, God died on the Cross; for though the Deity, as such, could not die, yet He who in His Human Nature endured the Cross was verily God the Eternal Son.

This is repeatedly declared in the New Testament. St. Paul says it was the Blood of God that redeemed the Church. (Acts 20:28.) And, again, that it was the Lord of Glory who was crucified. (I Cor. 2:8.) And St. John says it was the Blood of God the Son which cleanseth us from all sin. (I St. John 1 : 7.) But we must not lose sight of what we said at the first. Unspeakable honor as the title Mother of God is to the Holy Virgin, whom, next to our Lord, we venerate above all human beings, yet primarily it was intended not to praise her, but to show the Deity of Her Son. And this title is of peculiar and incalculable value in our own day. Many men are willing to honor our Lord in their own way, but they will not say Jesus is God. They believe that He was a wonderful and holy man; they believe that God dwelt in Him as in no one else; they will even say, in a vague, hesitating way, that He wrought as God. But they are afraid to say with the Catholic Church that it was God who dwelt in Mary's womb, and who lay in the manger; that God worked in the carpenter shop, and was weary and went to sleep in a boat; that God died on the Cross; that God lay in the grave, and, rising from the dead, ascended into heaven, taking with Him that Human Body, that complete Man-Nature, from which He will never for all eternity be separated. They are afraid to say these things because in their hearts they do not believe that Jesus is God.

When we say that the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God, we make such shilly-shallying about the Deity of Christ impossible. The great Council of Ephesus made this title the test of the true believer. He who, with Nestorius, refuses to use it is shrinking from a simple, emphatic declaration of the Deity of Jesus, which is the one indispen­sable and essential belief without which the Christian religion would cease to exist. So we glory in the bold declaration that Mary is the Mother of God. In saying this we pronounce her Child to have been from the first moment of His Conception in her womb, and henceforth for all eternity, the Incarnate Jehovah.


The Blessed Mary is to be honored only in her divine Son. Every thought of her should be associated with Him. The very titles of love and honor we bestow on her should declare also His glory and majesty.

What better name, then, could we give her than Mother of God? He who uses this title crowns her with the loftiest honor that can be conceived; and at the same time with every mention of the Mother, by the use of a term that is incapable of being misunderstood, he declares the divine dignity of the Son, bearing witness before men that Jesus is God. So, like the holy Fathers of old, let us not fear to use the term Mother of God freely. Our thought often takes form from our speech. If men in their mention of Blessed Mary habitually spoke of the Mother of God, their hearts would not easily turn away from the truth of the Deity of her Son.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What Do You Mean by "The Church"?


THE Church is God's Kingdom on earth. It was set up by our Lord Himself. It is a visible society. Its members are persons who have been baptized and who profess the true faith. It is governed by true and lawful pastors. It was God who made the Church, not man. The Church is not a voluntary association. Christians do not choose whether they will belong to the Church or no. If they are Christians, they do belong to it, they are Church­men, members of God's Kingdom on earth. Just as men who are Englishmen are subjects of King George. They may refuse to obey the King's law. They may oppose themselves to those who are put in authority. In that case they are rebels. They are still subjects of the King and members of the Kingdom, only they are unworthy subjects. They have not made a new kingdom by their rebellion. Some men think that they can be Christians without being members of the Church. They think that they can first become Christians, and then decide whether they will associate themselves with the Church or with some other religious body, or make a new religious body of their own. This is because they do not realize that God has set up His Kingdom in the world. They think it is left to them to pick and choose, whereas God has settled that beforehand. It is not the case that there were Christians first and the Church afterward. If that were so, Christians would have made the Church. Whereas our Lord said, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." In the New Testament we read that the Kingdom of Heaven was set up, and then men were invited into it. They were called into something which already existed. Their being members of it depended upon their having been admitted to it. They did not con­stitute themselves the Church. In other words, the Church takes its origin not in the will of men, but in the will of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church is a visible society, that is to say, we can know and recognize the persons who belong to it. It is called a "Body" in the New Testament. "There is One Body and One Spirit." Now, the very idea of a Body is that it can be seen. This is true when we speak of the human body. It is equally true when we speak of a relig­ious body or a scientific body or a political body or a mili­tary body. In these cases it means a group of persons who are known to be joined together for some particular object.

It is plain that in the New Testament the local Churches were visible. It was easy to know who belonged to the Church of Ephesus or the Church of Corinth or the Church of Antioch. But if the local Churches were visible, how could the Universal Church be invisible? It is an extraordinary thing that people should tell us that the Church is an invisible body, consisting only of the good, unknown to man, known only to God, concealed among the four hundred or so registered sects, without any organ­ization or rule of faith or officers or discipline or govern­ment. Yet this is the doctrine of most Protestants who are fond of saying that they go by their Bibles. Where, then, does the Bible speak of an invisible Church? No­where at all. It is an instance of how the Word of God is made of none effect by Protestant tradition. For this notion of an invisible Church is no older than the Reforma­tion. Fifteen hundred years of Christianity had gone by before it was thought of. When the outward unity of the Church had been broken by divisions, the question was asked, How can we say that the Church is one? Then this theory was invented to justify the divisions. It was said, "The Church isn't really divided, because it is invisible and consists of none but the good. Only God knows who belongs to the Church and who doesn't." But if St. Paul had thought this he wouldn't have spent so many words warning his people against divisions. Besides, our Lord in His great prayer on Maundy Thursday night, when He prayed again and again that His disciples might be one, went on to give the reason: "That the world might believe." This must mean an outward oneness, for it was to be some­thing which the world could see. The world cannot see an invisible Church. The members of the Church are persons who have been baptized, and who profess the true faith. No one can make himself a Christian, nor can he be made a Christian by any other way than that which was ordered by the Founder of the Christian Religion. Our Lord said: "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Ghost." If a man has been baptized he is a Christian. He may not be a good Christian. He may be a bad one.

There are some people who will not allow that a Chris­tian can be anything but good. If he is not good he is not a Christian, they would say. But this is not what the Bible teaches. From the Bible we learn that in the field of the Church, tares are mixed with the wheat. In the net of the Church there are bad fish as well as good. On the True Vine there are branches which do not bear fruit and which are to be burned at the last. There are Prodigal Sons in God's family, foolish virgins, as well as wise ones. Among the guests at His feast all have not put on the wedding garment.
On the other hand, no one is a Christian who has not been christened. Repentance of sins, faith in God and a moral life do not make a Christian. They make him ready to be admitted into the Church, but these things do not themselves admit him. It is only the extraordinary self-will of the Protestant that makes him think that they do. The founder of the Christian Religion has appointed Baptism as the means of admission into the Church. We are to come to Baptism with repentance and faith. But here the Prot­estant makes a difficulty. "Why must I be baptized?" he asks. "Why are not repentance and faith sufficient without Baptism?" The answer is that we are servants, not masters. Since our Lord has said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," no humble and believing Christian can dare say that believing without baptism is sufficient. Moreover, since we know what the Lord has commanded, there can be no real faith without Baptism. "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" To believe that the Lord told us to do something, and yet that we need not do it, doesn't deserve the name of faith.

The Church is governed by true and lawful pastors. Every Christian is and must be a man under authority. When we are made members of Christ's household, we find ourselves under the authority of the steward whom the Lord has set over that part of His household to give them their portion of meat in due season. Every Christian is in the first place under the authority of the priest of his parish and the bishop of his diocese. Just as a soldier on enlisting finds himself under the command of some particular officer. We are told in the Bible to obey them that have the rule over us. This does not mean the earthly magistrates. It means the authorities of the Church, the spiritual magis­trates, His Majesty King Jesus' Ministers. We do not choose this state of things. It is not our own making. We find ourselves in it. We can refuse obedience, but we cannot get rid of the obligation. We are then disobedient and mutinous, not merely to the Lord's Minister, but to the Lord Himself, Whose authority he bears. For the Lord has said to His ministers: "He that heareth you heareth Me, and he that despiseth you despiseth Me."
It must be remembered that the Church in America is not a religious body complete in itself. It is not a separate "denomination." It is not a "self-going concern." It is a small part of the great whole. It follows that all rules made by the Church for herself, and all statements of doc­trine put out by the Church, are subject to appeal to the much larger body of the Church throughout the world. In matters in which the whole Church has spoken, all Churches are bound. If a local Church should make a law that the Lord's Service should be celebrated without lights or vestments or incense, such a law would bind the con­science of no instructed Churchman. Or if a local Church said that people are not bound to receive Holy Communion fasting, or to be present at the Lord's Service on Sundays and great Festivals, or that the Blessed Sacrament must not be reserved, such a decision would have no force at all. All these matters have been ruled by the Holy Church throughout the whole world. They can only be repealed by the whole Church. Any contrary local custom is not a re­peal, but an abuse and a corruption.

But, it may be asked, what do you mean by true and lawful pastors? A true pastor is one who has received Holy Orders, i. e., who has been ordained by a Bishop. He is one who has received power to do certain things in God's Name, which he could not do before he was ordained. He has been made an overseer by the Holy Ghost to feed the Church of God which our Lord has purchased with His own blood. It is plain that this power must come from above, not from below. Men can appoint one of their num­ber to represent them and to speak in their name. They cannot appoint him to represent God and speak in God's Name. They cannot give him power which they have not themselves. So it follows that the Christian people, the laity, cannot make a minister of God. But Almighty God, the Giver of all good gifts, has of His Divine providence appointed divers orders in His Church. They have been in existence since the time of the Apostles. They have con­tinued to our own times. It is by the laying-on of the Bishop's hands that the power is given to be a minister and an ambassador of Christ. It has been handed on without interruption from the Apostles, who received it from the Lord Himself. This is called the Apostolic Succession.

However, a man may be a true pastor without being a lawful pastor. Every priest who has been properly ordained is a true priest. But he is a lawful priest of only one parish, namely, that to which he has been appointed by the Bishop. In his own parish he has full right to minister. But in another parish he can lawfully minister only by per­mission. It is the same with a Bishop. In his own diocese, he is the one true and lawful Bishop. No one can minister lawfully in that diocese without his permission. But outside his own diocese he has no authority. So we can see that the Church of God is a visible society of divine origin, existing in this world, having been founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. It has its laws and regulations, its circles and bounds, its proper officials who alone have authority to minister. A man is not a member of it because he believes in, or even practices its principles, but can become a member only by joining in the way and under the conditions set forth by our Lord—that is, by Baptism. There are many other religious organizations founded by men. Some of them believe a great deal of the truth, and their members are often holy people. But they are not the true Church of God, but churches founded by men often good but misguided. This divine society I have been describing, and it alone, is "the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth."

The Use of the Rosary


March - 1918

The Use of the Rosary

By Father S. C. Hughson, OHC

PROBABLY no devotion has done so much to familiar­ize the minds and hearts of men with the Mysteries of the Gospel as the Rosary. When we consider its history and the universality of its use, it is difficult to imagine how without it the deep knowledge of the Faith which characterized the masses of the people in the Middle Ages could have been attained. But it has not been the unlettered only who have found it a means of drawing them into a holier walk of life. For many centuries the saying of the Rosary has been the daily practice of great scholars and divines, and many a Saint whose name is a household word among people of all forms of Christian thought, has attained much of his sanctity by pious meditation over his beads. Its very simpleness is what has attracted great souls to its use, and they have found it to be indeed one of the foolish things of the world which God has chosen to con­found the things which are mighty. A Bishop once gave a Rosary to a gentleman of great ability and shrewdness, saying: "Use this for three months and ask me no reason for it. After that you yourself will give me a good reason."

He complied good-humouredly, but before long it became a matter of more than mere polite compliance. "I understand now," he said. "You wanted to pull down my pride, to make me simple and childlike, and to get me into the habit of spiritual reflection. I shall never leave it off."
But a still better way is to regard the Rosary and its use with humility in the beginning. A priest of New Eng­land training wrote some years ago: "I have never used the Rosary regularly, but I have now begun. When I think of all the great teachers and Saints of the Church who have been so much helped by it in their spiritual life, I cannot but feel that it would be a dangerous presumption to imagine that it will not be a help to me."

The most common objection made to the Rosary is that it finds its origin in the Roman Catholic Church, but this arises from a lack of information regarding its history. Almost any encyclopedia will inform the reader that the use of beads in prayer is far older than Christianity itself, and belongs to almost every race which has any highly developed system of religion. They were probably used by our Anglo-Saxon fore­fathers long before they became common in the Church in other parts of Europe, and seem to have been a part of their most primitive religious exercises. So closely was the notion of prayer connected in their minds with some form of the Rosary that it became imbedded in their very language. It will be a surprise to many, no doubt, to know that our common English word bead is derived from the Saxon word bid, to pray, the derivation arising from the fact that our ancestors made common use of perforated pebbles, or beads, upon which to count their prayers. It will be news even to most Catholics to learn that instead of their Rosaries being spoken of as beads because of a resemblance to the common ornament of the name, the ornament takes its name from the Rosary.

The only other serious objection is that made to the use of the Hail Mary, which of course involves the whole of the great truth of the Communion of Saints. But even this objection is giving way before the steady pressure which the Catholic Faith has for a century been exerting on the mind of the English-speaking race.

Even among the most pronounced Protestants is to be seen a deep yearning for a closer communion with their beloved dead. Fantastic, and sometimes strangely beau­tiful, though erroneous, ideas of the other world come out in their teaching, all of which indicates a groping for the Faith of their forefathers, which though lost through cen­turies, has never ceased to appeal to the love of beauty and truth which burns in the bosom of every creature made in the image of God. We have no heart for controversy with such souls. God the Holy Spirit is leading them, and in His own time will guide into all truth those who are earnest in their search. When the true light breaks upon them they will understand these mysteries, and will rejoice to know of the blessedness of her whom the Holy Ghost thrice declared to be blessed among women.
Controversy rarely helps a soul on the way to truth, and should the objection be broached, the best answer will be to say that we use the Hail Mary simply because we are seeking in our meditations on the great mysteries of the Incarnate Life to join in the meditations of the Holy Mother of our Lord, the greatest of the Saints; and are asking her to pray for us that these truths which we see but dimly here might be revealed to us in glorious fulness in His Kingdom.

That this devotion has found a firm place in the Catholic piety of the American Church is proved by the frequent applications which come from all over the country for advice in regard to it.
Some have never used it, and have concluded that it would be wrong to hold out longer against a devotion which has for centuries had so prominent a place in the spiritual life of the faithful.
Others have difficulty with the meditations, and are seeking direction in order to make them more profitable. For the benefit of all these, we shall try to give in this Tract a simple answer to the question, "How should the Rosary be used?"

The ordinary Chaplet of our Lady as in use among Christians consists of fifty small beads, divided into "de­cades," or sets of ten, with a large bead between each set. The former indicate the Hail Marys and the latter the Our Fathers. Each decade is connected with one of the Mysteries of the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother, and as there are fifteen of these, the beads must be said three times over to complete the entire Rosary. Only the members of a few religious communities make the complete devotion, how­ever. Devout persons who use the beads say the five decades, varying the Mysteries according to the day or season.

The Mysteries are in three groups of five each, one for every decade, as follows :

I. The Joyful Mysteries: 1. The Annunciation. 2. The Visitation. 3. The Nativity of our Lord. 4. The Purification. 5. The Finding of our Lord in the Temple.

II. The Sorrowful Mysteries: 1. The Agony in the Garden. 2. The Scourging. 3. The Crowning with Thorns. 4. The Bearing of the Cross. 5. The Crucifixion.

III. The Glorious Mysteries: 1. The Resurrection. 2. The Ascension. 3. The Descent of the Holy Ghost. 4. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. 5. The Crown­ing of the Blessed Virgin in Heaven.

The Joyful Mysteries would naturally be used from the beginning of Advent until the Feast of the Purification, which is generally considered to end the season of devotion to our Lord's Childhood; the Sorrowful Mysteries from Septuagesima when the Church sets out on the way to Calvary, until Easter Eve; and the Glorious Mysteries from Easter until the Octave of Corpus Christi. During the rest of the year they may be varied as pious inclination may suggest.

Attached to the Rosary is a Cross, two large and three-small beads, which are used for the preparatory prayers. The Apostles' Creed is usually said on the Cross, the Our Father on the first large bead, three Hail Marys on the small beads, and the Gloria Patri on the second large one. Then follow the Mysteries in their proper order, each being pre­ceded by an Our Father, and followed by a Gloria. All these prayers and invocations are, however, only what has been called "the body of the Rosary." Its soul, that which gives the devotion a spirit and life peculiar to itself, is the accompanying meditation on the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother. Without this it would be nothing more than the repetition of certain prayers, which, while good in themselves, would never bring home the Mystery to the heart as the serious pondering of each par­ticular truth will do.

The meditations are as a general rule quite informal, and are made while saying the prayers. A simple help is to insert in the Hail Mary after the Holy Name "Jesus," the announcement of the particular Mystery, or of some circumstance connected with it. For example, if one is meditating on the Nativity of our Lord, after the Holy Name might be said: "Who was born of a Virgin for love of me." This could be varied for each Hail Mary, as: "Who was laid in a manger for love of me," "Who "received the worship of the shepherds," etc.

Another method, which has been adopted by many, is to repeat between the Hail Marys a verse of Scripture illus­trative of the Mystery under consideration. Several manuals have been published in our Church giving a suitable text for each of the prayers throughout the entire fifteen Mysteries. Beginners will need to guard themselves in their choice of the subjects for meditation. Those who have a greater devotion to one or another phase of our Lord's Incarnate
Life will, of course, incline to the use of the corresponding group of Mysteries, which is quite proper; but it would be a great mistake to allow a mere natural aptitude for medita­tion on certain of them to lead to the neglect of the others. We should not let the sweet Mysteries of the Holy Childhood hold us back from entering upon those awful solemnities which culminated on Calvary; nor should these again keep us from pressing forward to the contemplation of the glorified Life of our Lord and His Saints, for which all else in His earthly career was but the preparation.

In conclusion, we would say a word about the regularity of its use. We hope that no one will be led by anything we have said to adopt the Rosary unless he has first very earnestly and prayerfully resolved to be regular. One finds occasionally a person who says, "I tried it, but it did me no good"; but further inquiry almost always brings out the fact that the trial was spasmodic, and therefore necessarily unfruitful. If we wish to use the Rosary, let us decide just how often we can say it, and then be very careful to be faithful. It is perhaps best, at first, not to attempt it every day. Twice a week, or on Sundays and festivals, would be a good beginning. Be very regular, letting nothing inter­fere unless charity positively demands that it be omitted.
And above all things else, let us not begin with the idea that we are testing it. The Rosary is not on trial; it was tested and its place as a Christian devotion assigned it many centuries ago by men and women immeasurably holier and wiser than we are. Our thought should be quite the reverse, namely, that we are on trial; that God is giving us a new opportunity to realize the great Mysteries of the Faith with a vividness which perhaps we never knew before, and that to endure the test successfully we have to improve this opportunity with all the powers of intellect, affections, and will.

If we are regular and humble, our case will surely be exceptional if it does not prove a great spiritual blessing.

Prayer for Blessing a Rosary:

Almighty and most merciful God, who, out of the wondrous love wherewith Thou hast loved us, that Thou mightest deliver us from the power of the devil, didst will that Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, should come down upon earth, and at the message of an angel take flesh from the most sacred womb of our Lady, Blessed Mary, and undergo the death of the Cross, and the third day rise gloriously from the dead: We implore Thine abounding mercy that Thou wouldst bless + and sanctify + these Rosaries, dedicated by Thy faithful Church, to the honour and praise of the same Mother of Thy Son, and wouldst so abundantly pour forth upon them the fruit of the Holy Ghost that whosoever shall carry them about their persons, and shall reverently keep them in their houses; and shall devoutly pray unto Thee, contemplating the Divine Mysteries thereupon, may abound in sound and lasting devo­tion, may at all times, and in all places, be delivered from every foe, visible and invisible, in this present world, and may finally at the hour of death, full of all good works, be found worthy to be presented to Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with Thee, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Real Presence in the Eucharist


The Real Presence in the Eucharist

WHAT does the Anglican Church teach on this funda­mentally important subject?

The learning and industry of Dr. Pusey have gathered for us the answer in his great work on "The Real Presence." Let the authorities speak for themselves:

Nicholas Ridley (Bishop of London, Reformer and Martyr 1555) : "I grant the bread to be converted and turned into the Flesh of Christ, but not by transubstantiation, but by sacramental converting or turning. For Christ is present in His mysteries; neither at any time, as Cyprian saith, doth the Divine Majesty abstract Himself from the divine Mysteries."

John Poynet (Bishop of Winchester 1551; exiled for his faith, 1555) : "The Eucharist, as far as appertains to the nature of the Sacrament, is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, is a truly Divine and holy thing."

Thomas Jackson (Dean of Peterborough, 1640) : "When we say that Christ is really present in the Sacra­ment, our meaning is that as God He is present in an extraordinary manner after such a manner as He was present (before His Incarnation) in His Sanctuary, the Ark of His Covenant." (See Exod. 40:34-35)

Lancelot Andrewes (Bishop of Winchester, 1626) : "We believe no less than you [his Roman opponent] that the Presence is real. Of the method of the Presence we define nothing rashly." Again: "Nor do we deny that the elements are changed by the benediction, so the consecrated Bread is not that which nature has formed, but that which the benediction has consecrated, and even changed by con­secration."

John Overall (Bishop of Norwich, 1619. One of the authors of the Church Catechism) : "It is confessed by all divines that upon the words of the consecration the Body and Blood of Christ is really and substantially present." Again: "In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, or the Lord's Supper, the Body and Blood of Christ, and therefore the whole of Christ is verily and indeed present, and is verily partaken by us."

Jeremy Taylor (Bishop of Connor and Down, 1667) : "We do believe that Christ is there really present in the Sacrament; there is the Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful, saith our Church."

John Cosin (Bishop of Durham, 1661) : "Where is the danger, and what doth he fear, as long as all they that believe the Gospel own the true nature and the real and substantial Presence of the Body of Christ in the Sacra­ment?"

Herbert Thorndike (One of the Prayer Book Revisers, 1672) : "They all [i. e., the Fathers of the Church] acknowledge the elements to be changed, trans­lated, and turned into the substance of Christ's Body and Blood, though as in a Sacrament, that is mystically, yet, therefore, by virtue of the consecration, not by virtue]of his faith that receives."

George Bull (Bishop of St. David's, 1710) : "The ancient Fathers generally teach that the Bread and Wine in the Eucharist, by or upon the consecration of them, do become and are made the Body and Blood of Christ."

John Bramhall (Archbishop of Armagh, 1663) says: "A true Real Presence no genuine son of the Church of England did ever deny."

Anthony Sparrow (Bishop of Norwich, 1685, one of the Prayer Book Revisers) says that when the Communicant says "Amen" on receiving the Sacrament, he "professes his faith in the Presence of Christ's Body and Blood in that Sacrament."

Thomas Ken (Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1711) : "I believe Thy Body and Blood to be as really present in the Holy Sacrament as Thy divine power can make it."

William Beveridge (Bishop of St. Asaph, 1708) : "When it comes to our turn to receive it, then we are to lay aside all thoughts of bread and wine, and the minister, and everything else that is, or can be seen, stead­fastly believing it to be, as our Saviour saith, His Body and Blood."

We shall do well to remind ourselves that people's devotions often (do they not always?) mean more than they know how to express in the technical knowledge of theology. There are multitudes of loving-hearted Protes­tants, in various denominations, who, as they approach their Communion, quite lose sight of mere "bread" and "wine," whose inward vision pierces what to them are mere veils, and who are aware only that, in some way which they do not dream of understanding or explaining, they are coming to their Master and their Friend, and that He is coming to them with all His blessed gifts of pardon and of peace. That which their souls long after is made explicit and divinely assured in the Catholic Eucharist. With what joy would they find it there!

The Blessed Sacrament


The Blessed Sacrament

By Frank L. Vernon

WHAT does the word "blessed" mean? It means "filled with bliss." What does "bliss" mean? Bliss means "happiness." That which is filled with happiness gives out happiness, just as the sun gives light. A Blessed Thing gives a blessing.

What is a Sacrament? A Sacrament is "an out­ward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." What is grace? Grace is a gift from God to make us good. The outward and visible sign of the Blessed Sacrament is Bread and Wine. The inward thing is the Body and Blood of Christ. What does the Body and Blood of Christ do for us when we receive It? It strengthens and refreshes our souls.

How does the Body and Blood of Christ strengthen and refresh our souls? The Body and Blood of Christ fills us with grace to make us good; fills us with heavenly benediction or bless­ing or bliss or happiness; and makes us one body with our Lord, that He may dwell in us and we in Him.
The Body and Blood of Christ makes us one in our Lord with all who love Him, and makes us able to love them wherever we are and wherever they are, so that we are never separated from them, whether we or they are in this world or the next.

The Body and Blood of Christ raises us to a state of Communion. Communion means one-with.
The Body and Blood of Christ makes us one with God and one with our friends in God. Now all this is so very wonderful that only God could do it. Ordinary bread and wine could not do it. Only the Body and Blood of our Lord can do it. Only the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord can make us good and happy. To be good and happy is to be blessed. So the Sacra­ment of the Body and Blood of our Lord is called the Blessed Sacrament.

The next question is how do we use the Blessed Sacrament? We use It in three ways:

1. We use the Blessed Sacrament to make us good. We must think of being good first, because if we are good we shall make God happy, and we shall make the people who love us happy. The very first step in being good is to think about the happiness of others before and more than our own happiness. So we must find out if we are doing anything or failing to do anything which spoils the happiness of God and the happiness of the people whom we have no right to make unhappy. Whatever we find out about ourselves which is making God unhappy, or people unhappy, is sin. Sin spoils happiness. It spoils God's happiness, it spoils other peoples' happiness, and it spoils our own happiness. But we do not matter so much—we come last. Our business in life is to make God happy and to make other people happy first. If we do this we shall be happy ourselves. So the first thing we do when we find out what is wrong in us is to confess it to God and firmly mean and faithfully try to do better. Then we are able to be forgiven. Then we are ready to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. When we re­ceive the Body and Blood of our Lord, He gives us grace to make us good, and He fills us with Benediction, which is the power to give happiness to God and to our friends.

2. The Blessed Sacrament is so perfectly Blessed and so perfectly wonderful that It is perfectly worshipful. So we worship the Blessed Sacrament. And so we ought, because the Blessed Sacrament is our Lord. We have the opportunity to do this when the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Tabernacle on the Altar. When the Blessed Sacrament is re­served in the Tabernacle, there is a white light kept burning before It. If you kneel before the Tabernacle and speak to our Lord, and then keep very quiet and wait, our Lord will speak to you. But you must keep quiet and wait. What you say to Him will be your own private secret. What our Lord will say to you will be His private secret. You will not hear His voice with your bodily ears, but your soul will hear. Whenever you feel troubled and do not know what to do, make a visit to our Lord in the Taber­nacle and talk it all over with Him. Then keep very quiet and wait for a little while. Then go away. If yet you do not know, come back, and keep coming until you do know.

3. When you have learned to know the Blessed­ness of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord by receiving His grace and heavenly benediction in Holy Communion, and when you have grown into the habit of going to our Lord in the Tabernacle to talk to Him and to ask Him for His benediction, then you will find a third great happiness in coming to the Church at the times when the Blessed Sacrament is taken out of the Tabernacle and put on the Altar so that you can see It.

Then you will look at the Blessed Sacrament and you will know that It is our Lord. You will remember all that He has done for you in Holy Communion. You will remember the happy visits that you have made to Him in the Tabernacle. You will worship Him. You will love Him. You will thank Him. Then He will give you His heav­enly benediction. There is no benediction like that.
You have heard a clergyman pronounce a bene­diction at the close of a service. But no clergyman's benediction could be as wonderful as our Lord's own special benediction in the Blessed Sacrament. Because this benediction comes straight from our Lord's own Real Presence. It is His very own. This is why the best benediction you could possibly have is the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Invocation of Saints


May - 1916

By Father S.C. Hughson, OHC

"Does the Anglican Church believe in asking the Saints in heaven to pray for us?"
The answer to your question, my friend, depends upon the answer to another question, namely, Was the Anglican Church honest at the Reformation when she appealed re­garding the Faith to the primitive Church?
"Why, of course, she was honest. She was acting in perfectly good faith; but I don't see what that has to do with it."
Well, it is very important that you should see; and if you will give me your attention I will explain what I mean.
When the Church realized the many errors that had crept into her life, she wanted to reform herself. But she found that there were many conflicting opinions. So she very wisely said, "We will go back to the early centuries, and see what we can find there. In those pure and apostolic days when the martyrs were gladly dying for the Faith, and when the great Councils were casting out heresies, the Faith was uncorrupted. We shall be safe in following what the holy Fathers held."
So back to the early Church she went. And she has told us who some of these Fathers were upon whom she placed such reliance. In the Prayer Book she refers to three of them by name, St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine and St. Jerome.

In the writings of the great reformers we also find constant appeal to such authorities as St. Gregory Nazianzus, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and other Fathers of the first centuries.
These were the Saints with whom the Anglican Church took her stand. These were they whose Faith she declared was pure and undefiled. What they believed she believed; their Faith it was that she handed down to her children.
What then did these champions of the Faith believe and practise regarding the Invocation of Saints? Let us see what this was, for here shall we find the teaching of the Anglican Church. If they denounced invoking the Saints, she denounces it. If they upheld it, she upholds it. If we do not agree to this, the only other conclusion is the intolerable one that her appeal to the ancient Church was dishonest.

Let us examine first the judgment of the three great Bishops whom we see quoted in the Prayer Book. First of all St. Chrysostom. What did he think of the Invocation of Saints?
-"Let us flee," says this great Saint and Bishop, "to the intercession of the Saints, and let us beseech them to pray for us." (Homilies on Genesis 44:2.)
St. Augustine in many places shows how the prayers of the Saints have led to many wonderful blessings, and him­self addressing St. Paul and St. Stephen, cried out: "Both of you, pray for us." (Sermon 316:5)
St. Jerome (Epistle 108:33) addressing the holy woman St. Paula, who had been so great an influence in his life, says, "Help with thy prayers the extreme old age of thy devotee. Thy faith and thy works join thee to Christ: being in His presence thou wilt more easily obtain that which thou dost ask."
Such is the evidence of the three great Fathers whom the Prayer Book mentions especially as authorities, to whose Faith the Church appeals.
Furthermore, the Reformers in their writings appealed repeatedly to the authority of the early Fathers. They declared that the doctrine of the primitive Bishops was their doctrine. Now, were these Reformers honest or dis­honest? Did they mean what they said, or were they try­ing to throw dust into the eyes of the people by calling upon the Fathers of the early Church to witness their ortho­doxy without intending to follow them?

So since they appeal to the witness of the Fathers, let us see what that witness is on this important subject of the Saints.
St. Gregory Nazianzus is one to whom the Reform­ers appealed. What says he? In one of his sermons preached shortly after St. Basil had gone to his rest, he addressed that Saint, saying: "Look down upon us from above, and by thy intercessions either stay the thorn in the flesh given by God, our discipline, or persuade us to bear it bravely." (Orat. 43: 82)
St. Ambrose says : "Martyrs are to be sought, for they are God's martyrs, our leaders, the spectators of our life and actions. Let us not be ashamed to employ them as intercessors for our weakness." (De Viduis, 55.
St. Gregory of Nyssa, when the barbarians were over­running the country, destroying churches and making it difficult for the Christians to assemble, invokes St. Theo­dore the Martyr, saying: "Ask for peace, that these as­semblies may not cease, that the frantic and lawless bar­barian may not rage against temples and altars." (De. S. Theod., tom. III, p. 585)
These quotations could be multiplied by the score, and they show precisely what was the teaching of the early Fathers of the Church. These were the men to whom the Reformers appealed, and this is their testimony.
"But is it not a well known fact that the Reformers by their entire course showed themselves to be wholly op­posed to Invocation of Saints?"
Well, you appeal to the Reformers. To the Reform­ers let us go. Perhaps you have seen that old Reformation book, published in 1543, called A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man. This book was drawn up by a committee of two Archbishops, one of whom was Cranmer, six Bishops, and twelve learned theologians, ap­pointed for the purpose, and besides this, it was formally adopted by the Church itself. Still more than this, it has never been repealed or superseded.

This book, the greatest of all the Reformation docu­ments, says: "To pray unto the Saints to be intercessors with us and for us to our Lord in our suits which we make unto Him, and for such things as we can obtain of none but Him, so that we esteem not, or worship not them as givers of those gifts but as intercessors for the same, is lawful and allowed by the Catholic Church."
Here the Church teaches us what we must never forget, namely, that in asking the prayers of the Saints in Heaven we are doing exactly what we do when we ask the prayers of good men and women here on earth. If I can say to you, "Pray for me," then I can say to the Blessed Virgin or to St. Paul, "Pray for me."
"But did the Church follow this principle in her services ?"
She certainly did. The year after this book was pub­lished, the Litany was prepared for public worship, and in it were the words: "St. Mary, Mother of God our Saviour Jesus Christ, pray for us," with the same invocation of angels, and of nine different classes of saints, such as '"apostles," "martyrs," etc.
And these invocations were not removed from the Litany until the influence of the foreign protestants, who had given up the Church entirely, and of Puritanism, came in. But with all this strong anti-Catholic influence, the Church never repealed the declaration she made in the Necessary Doctrine, to the effect that asking the prayers of the Saints was "lawful and allowed by the Catholic Church."
"Well, even if all this is true, I cannot see how the Saints in Heaven can know anything about me and my needs; and how can they possibly know that I am asking their prayers?"
How they can know it, I cannot tell you. Neither do you know how the grass grows, but you believe it, don't you? Do you mean you are going to deny everything that you cannot understand?

We do not know how, but we know the fact that the Saints are what St. Ambrose calls "spectators of our life and actions." The Apostle tells us this in Hebrews xii, 1, where he says we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses while running our race. Many of the best Bible students tell us that this verse is written to encourage us by letting us know that the Saints are watching our strug­gles, knowing our hopes and fears, our trials and tempta­tions.
And surely you are not going to take the position that you alone can be right, and that all who differ from you are wrong. Are you prepared to say: "St. Chrysostom was wrong; St. Augustine was wrong; St. Jerome was wrong; the two Gregories, St. Ambrose, our own Church at the Reformation—all these were wrong. I only am right?"
"But doesn't one of the Thirty-nine Articles say dis­tinctly that Invocation of the Saints is repugnant to the Word of God?"

Now, my friend, you are asking a question that shows that you have not read the Article; or, if you have read it, you have forgotten it. The Article says nothing of the kind. It says this of a special doctrine called "the Romish doc­trine of Invocation of the Saints," not of the true doctrine.
"Oh, but isn't that beating the devil around the bush just a bit? It seems to me that this means plainly that any Invocation of the Saints is repugnant to the Word of God."
Does it? Let us see then how that will work. The same sentence in that same Article says, "The Romish doctrine of Pardons is repugnant to the Word of God." Do you claim that this means plainly that any doctrine of Pardons is repugnant to the Word of God? Do you think that there is no true, Christian doctrine of pardon for sins? Do you not believe in pardon through the Precious Blood? Of course, you do. And yet, if you interpret the Article in this way about Invocation of the Saints you will have to give the same interpretation regarding pardon for sin.

But do not think me unsympathetic. I can understand your feeling. There are very few among us who have not inherited some prejudice regarding such points. But let us try to lay aside prejudice. Perhaps some one of your own departed dear ones is now among the Saints in Heaven. Your saintly mother may be there. Do you think heaven would be heaven to her if she were cut off from all knowl­edge of your interests, your cares and sorrows? Do you think she loves you less now than she did when on earth she prayed day and night for you? Is it really a repugnant thought to you that you might in the spirit speak to her, and ask her to help you by the pure and undisturbed pray­ers that she may now be able to offer in the presence of our dear Lord? I know what answer your heart will give. Then let us not fear to ask the intercessions of the Saints, of the Blessed Mother of our Lord, of the holy men and women of old; yes, even of those righteous ones whom we have known and loved in this life, whose joy it was to pray for us here, and whose fervent, effectual prayers now can have power with God on our behalf.

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -