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 -