Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saint Barnabas in September 2012

On 1st August 2012, our parish rejoiced to welcome officially our new Curate, the Reverend Father Matthew Estes Harlow, and his wife Sarah and children Katrina and Lily, who come to us from Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Matthews, North Carolina. We are delighted to introduce Father Matt and his family to our Saint Barnabas family! In a short time, they have already become beloved and integral members of our parish; we are truly blessed to have them with us. Their move to Saint Barnabas has been a true gift from the Lord and a sign of God’s loving providence for us all.

Father Matt brings a wealth of experience and talent to his new ministry in our midst. A graduate of the University of Phoenix with an information technology degree and of Reformed Theological Seminary with the Master of Arts in Religion degree, he was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons in September 2011 and to the Sacred Priesthood in May 2012. Father Matt is a United States Air Force veteran, having served our country as a computer technician during his military career. His successful secular career in computer technology involved expertise in computer repair, network consulting and systems administration, tasks all requiring remarkable proficiency and skill.

As a teenager, Father Matt and his family ministered for four years as missionaries to the Agarabi people of Papua New Guinea, during which time his father, a Methodist pastor, professor and theologian, was engaged in the translation of the Bible for the indigenous population. Father Matt was also a high school athlete, having enjoyed football, baseball and track. For many years now, he has been occupied in virtually every aspect of Christian ministry: acolyte master, youth group director, office administrator, outreach minister, adult Sunday School teacher, Bible study teacher, Confirmation Class and youth catechism instructor and worship coordinator. Father Matt is also a creative and well-read theologian. His graduate level thesis examines Anglican Eucharistic doctrine and the works of Doctor Edward Pusey, the great nineteenth century English priest and scholar. I am absolutely thrilled to have Father Matt as our new Curate, and I know you will be as well! If you have not yet had an opportunity to speak with him, we hope you soon will. He has dedicated his life to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ and His one Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Sarah is now the new art teacher at Mount Pisgah Christian School in Alpharetta; she has many years of professional educational experience. Katrina is a student at Mount Pisgah and Lily is in pre-kindergarten. Let us give them a very warm Saint Barnabas welcome!

A most important notice for the month of September: please join us for the Annual Parish Meeting of Saint Barnabas Church on Sunday 30th September! The Holy Communion, the one Liturgy for the day, will be celebrated at 10am and will be immediately followed by the Annual Meeting, during which reports on the parish will be given, and the business of the congregation (including the adoption of the proposed annual budget) conducted. A splendid luncheon will be served to the parish following the meeting. Please be certain to join us for this important occasion. In addition to parish reports at the Annual Meeting, we shall elect three Vestry members (3 year terms) and two Diocesan Synod (2013 only) delegates. Nomination forms may be found in the narthex and must be submitted to the Rector by Saturday 1st September.
Let us continue instant in prayer for our parish and for her vocation, ministry and mission as we gather as Christ’s Ecclesia, His ‘called-out ones,’ in our Annual Meeting.
God bless you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The XXXIX Articles of Religion and Catholicity

Another well-written essay by Father Victor E. Novak, which is similar to two essays of my own composition from years past... 1. and 2. ...

There is a great deal of debate among self-professed orthodox Anglicans today regarding the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, as to whether they are Catholic or Calvinist. This debate has been caused by a growing number of Anglicans who are self- described as Reformed or Calvinist in theology. 

When Metropolitan Jonah spoke at the inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009, and said that the ACNA had to reject Calvinism, I was surprised. I left the Episcopal Church in the late 1970's, and have been in the ministry all of my adult life, but I had never even met an Anglican that called himself a Calvinist. Naive? Sheltered? I don't think so. In addition to serving in the parochial ministry, I served for years as the editor of a national Anglican publication and as a provincial Ecumenical Officer. I have known large numbers of Anglican clergy and laity, including many continuing Anglican bishops and primates in both North American and abroad, yet I had known no open Calvinists. None. Former Reformed clergy and laity who had come to the door of Anglicanism after studying John Calvin and then took the next step, yes. Five Point Calvinist "Anglicans," no.

Where has this resurgent Calvinism come from, and why has it arisen so suddenly? The continuing Anglican movement which came into being in the wake of the Minneapolis General Convention of 1976, and the great St. Louis Church Congress of 1977, though divided into several jurisdictions was essentially united in Catholic Faith and Order. Likewise, the Reformed Episcopal Church, which had experienced a Catholic Revival of its own, had fully recovered classical Anglicanism; and more than a decade ago had entered into a process of growing together with the Anglican Province of America (APA), with the goal of visible unity. The Reformed Episcopal Church later became the driving force in the formation of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA).

The resurgence of Calvinism in Anglicanism is something altogether new, rather than an organic development. The sudden rise in Reformed (Calvinist and even Zwinglian) theology is due to the large influx into Anglicanism of refugees from the Episcopal Church (TEC) that began in earnest in the year 2000, coupled with a revival of interest in Calvinism among evangelicals who were searching for a theological system to embrace. 

Unlike the exodus in the 1970s, these former Episcopalians had little understanding of Anglican theology, liturgics, history or spirituality, and most had little or no living memory of orthodox Anglicanism as it existed before the apostasy of the Episcopal Church in 1976. Sometimes called Anglican "re-asserters," these evangelical-minded Anglicans have been formed by pop-evangelicalism, the church-growth movement, the charismatic movement, the contemporary Christian music industry, and the revival of interest in Calvinist theology among young evangelicals; and are seeking to redefine Anglicanism, and to reinvent the Anglican Church and Communion according to their own ideas.

Classical Anglicans have always affirmed that the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are Anglican answers to Reformation era controversies with both Geneva and an unreformed Roman Church; and that they are meant to uphold the Faith of the undivided Catholic Church. Contemporary Calvinist Anglicans however see the Articles more as a Protestant Confession, and assert that they express Calvinist or Reformed theology. Both views cannot be true. So which is correct?

Were the Articles of Religion intended to teach the Faith of the primitive Catholic Church as witnessed to by the Church Fathers, or were they intended to serve as a Calvinist Confession? Let's look at the facts.

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as we now have them were edited and adopted during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, some fifteen years after the deaths of Cranmer and Ridley. A lot had happened in those fifteen years. The Anglican Church had returned to Roman obedience after the death of King Edward VI, and five years later, with the death of Queen Mary, the English Reformation began again under Queen Elizabeth I. The new queen would have liked to have ignored the 1552 Prayer Book which had never been authorized by Convocation and returned to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, but could not do so for political reasons. However, in 1559, a new edition of the Book of Common Prayer was issued with the black rubric removed, the words of administration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion from the 1549 Prayer Book restored, and a new ornaments rubric added. The Church then began working on the Thirty-nine Articles. It is to these Articles and to the Elizabethan era that we must now turn our attention.

"In the year 1571 the Articles were... committed to the editorship of Bishop John Jewell. They were then put forth in their present form, both in Latin and English; and received, not only the sanction of Convocation, but also of Parliament" (An Exposition of The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, Historical and Doctrinal, Edward Harold Browne, D.D., Lord Bishop of Winchester, 1865, p. 15).

What was Bishop Jewell's understanding of the goal of the English Reformation? Was it 16th century Calvinism or primitive Catholicism? Jewell writes, "We have returned to the Apostles and the old Catholic Fathers. We have planted no new religion, but only preserved the old that was undoubtedly founded and used by the Apostles of Christ and other holy Fathers of the Primitive Church" (Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae).

The Thirty-nine Articles were issued during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. What was her understanding of the goal of the English Reformation? Was it 16th century Calvinism or primitive Catholicism? In 1563, she said, "We and our people - thanks be to God - follow no novel and strange religions, but that very religion which was ordained by Christ, sanctioned by the primitive and Catholic Church and approved by the consentient mind and voice of the most early Fathers."

Now we will turn to the Articles themselves. Do they teach Calvinism or Catholicism?

Article IX, "Of Original or Birth-Sin," says, "man is very far gone from original righteousness," not entirely corrupt and totally depraved as Calvinism teaches. This Article contradicts the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity and upholds that Orthodox view of Original or Ancestral Sin as a wound.

Article XVI, "Of Sin after Baptism," says that a man who has received the Holy Ghost and fallen into sin may rise again: "After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives." This article contradicts the Calvinist teaching on Irresistible Grace and the Perseverance of the Saints. Calvinism would say that should we fall into sin after we have received the Holy Ghost we "will arise again," rather than "may arise again;" and denies that Christians "may depart from grace given." In fact, "In 1572 the Puritans addressed certain admonitions to Parliament complaining of the inadequacy of the Articles and their dangerous speaking about falling from grace" (A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., 1935, p. 21).

Article XVII, "Of Predestination and Election," does not say a word about the Calvinist doctrine of double predestination, and ends by saying: "Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally [meaning universally] set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God." God's promises are general, or universal, not particular and limited to the elect. Anglicanism does not believe that God predestines some men to salvation and others to eternal damnation.

What is the Anglican understanding of Predestination and Election? Anglican theologian Vernon Staley explains it this way: "Predestination does not mean that some souls are fore-ordained to eternal life, and others to eternal death, for there is no purpose of God to bring any man to eternal death. God 'will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.'

"There is a purpose in everything, both in the order of nature and in that of grace. In the order of grace, Predestination corresponds to some extent with Providence in the order of nature. An acorn is naturally predestined to produce an oak, but it may fail to realize that purpose: all acorns do not produce oaks. If it does fail it misses its predestined end. So the soul is predestined to a life of grace and obedience here, leading to a life of glory hereafter; but it may fail, and miss the mark. If the laws which determine the germination and growth of an acorn are observed, the oak will be produced from it. In a like manner if the soul obeys God, and corresponds [cooperates] with his grace, it will come to eternal life. God who calls and elects, also bids us 'to make our calling and election sure'... Everyone is called to, and is capable of salvation, but God alone knows who will 'make their calling and election sure'" (The Catholic Religion, A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Anglican Communion; Vernon Staley, 1893, pp. 317-319).

Calvinists are monergists while Anglicans, like all Catholic Christians, are synergists. Calvinism teaches that grace ravishes the soul and is irresistible, while Anglicanism teaches that grace woos the soul and that man must cooperate freely with God's grace. God always acts first through prevenient grace, but man must cooperate with that grace. We are predestined, yet free.

Article XXVIII, "Of the Lord's Supper," clearly teaches the Catholic doctrine of the objective "Real Presence" of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion: "the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ." This article also teaches that the Body and Blood of Christ is received orally: "The Body of Christ is given [by the priest], taken [by the communicant], and eaten, in the Lord's Supper..." 

Once again, Bishop John Jewell, editor of the Articles, can be of help to us in understanding Article XXVIII. Regarding the Sacrament of Holy Communion, he said: Christe's Body and Bloude in deede and verily is gieven unto us... We are Boones of his Boones and Fleash of his Fleash" (Works of John Jewell, Vol. lii, p. 52). Likewise, the great Richard Hooker taught, "Thy Word was made Flesh that he might give us his life; we share his life by eating his flesh and blood, and so our bodies are prepared for their resurrection" (cited in Richard Hooker: A Study of his Theology, L. S. Thornton, 1924, p. 58). Two generations after the adoption of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion in 1571, Blessed William Laud, the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, could say in his Conference with Fisher the Jesuit, "And for the Church of England, nothing is more plain, than that it believes and teaches the true and real presence of Christ in the Eucharist" (Vol. 2, pp. 328-329). 

Article XXIX, "Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper," is often used by Calvinists, and now by Zwinglians I suppose, to argue against the objective Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The Article says, "The wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teach (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are partakers of Christ..." Are the Calvinists and Zwinglians right about this Article, or does this Article teach the Catholic Faith?

A key to understanding Article XXIX, is found in the words, "as Saint Augustine saith." St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) was a Catholic bishop and one of the greatest theologians that Christendom has ever produced. He taught the objective Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion clearly and simply. He said, "I am mindful of my promise. For I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord's Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, and what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend his Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins" (Sermons, St. Augustine).

E.J. Bicknell explains Article XXIX, in his classic commentary on the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion: "The wicked and the faithful alike receive the elements that have been brought into union with the Body and Blood of Christ. Neither the wicked nor faithful carnally and visibly press with their teeth more than the bread and wine. But only the faithful receive the Body and Blood of Christ, since only they possess that faith which is the indispensable means of receiving them. This article does not in any way deny the 'real presence,' it only rules out any carnal view of it. To give an illustration: when our Lord was on earth He possessed healing power quite independently of the faith of men: but only those who possessed faith could get into touch with it. Many touched His garments, but only the woman who had faith was healed (Mk. 5:30 ff). The healing power was there: the touch of faith did not create it, but faith as it were, opened the channel to appropriate the blessing. So in the Eucharist, Christ in all His saving power is present. The wicked are only capable of receiving the visible and material signs of His presence. But those who approach with faith can receive the inward grace and become partakers of Christ by feeding on His Body and Blood" (A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, D.D., 1935, p. 502).

Article XXIX, is not Calvinist or Zwinglian, but Catholic; and the Roman Catholic Church agrees with what the Article teaches. "The sacramental body and blood of the Saviour are present as an offering to the believer awaiting his welcome. When this offering is met by faith, a life-giving encounter results" (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, ARCIC, Three Agreed Statements, 1977, p. 11).

Bicknell writes, "But the clearest evidence that the Articles are not Calvinistic is the repeated attempts made by the Puritans to alter or supplement them" (ibid, p. 21). As already mentioned, the year after the Articles were adopted in 1571, the Puritans complained to Parliament that the Articles were inadequate as well as dangerous. In 1595, a committee meeting at Lambeth under Archbishop Whitgift of Canterbury compiled what has become known as the Lambeth Articles, which were thoroughly Calvinist in doctrine. These proposed Articles were opposed by Queen Elizabeth I, never accepted by the Church, and have found their rightful place in the dustbin of history. Again at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, the Puritans unsuccessfully tried to amend the Thirty-nine Articles. Finally, in 1643, when the Puritans had managed to overthrow the the King in the Great Rebellion, they had their way. After martyring the Archbishop of Canterbury and King Charles I, they rejected the historic Episcopate, banned the Book of Common Prayer, and replaced the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion with the Westminster Confession. Even after the Restoration of the Monarchy, the Puritans continued to raise objections to the Thirty-nine Articles without success, until they were finally ejected from the Church of England during the reign of King Charles II.

If the Articles are Calvinist, then why such strong and consistent opposition for so long? If Anglicanism is really "Calvinist," then why have Calvinists opposed not only the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, but its Liturgy and Episcopal Church Order as well? And, if Anglicanism is really Calvinist, then why did the Puritans completely replace the Articles, Prayer book and Episcopal Order of the Church as soon as they had the opportunity after the Great Rebellion and the crime of regicide? The answer is that the Articles of Religion were written to guide the Church of England through the controversies of the Reformation and back to the Faith and practice of the primitive Church; and that the Anglican Church is not a Protestant denomination but a branch of the Catholic Church, unhappily divided from the wider Church by accidents of history. 

How should the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion be interpreted? The Church gives us an authoritative answer to this question. In 1571, the same year that the Articles were adopted by Convocation, Canon 5, "On Preachers," was also adopted. Canon 5 says, "But especially shall they see to it that they teach nothing in the way of a sermon which they would have religiously held and believed by the people save what is agreeable to the teaching of the Old and New Testament and what the Catholic Fathers and ancient bishops and doctors have collected from this selfsame doctrine." This canon is clearly grounded in the Commonitorium of St. Vincent of Lerins.

The Thirty-nine Articles are not, and were never intended to be, a Confession of Faith like the Continental Protestant Confessions. The Anglican Church is a creedal Church, not a confessional denomination. As Bishop John Pearson (1612-1686) said, the book of Articles "is not, nor is pretended to be, a complete body of divinity, or a comprehension and explication of all Christian doctrines necessary to be taught: but an enumeration of some truths, which upon and since the Reformation have been denied by some persons: who upon denial are thought unfit to have any cure of souls in this Church or realm; because they might by their opinions either infect their flock with error or else disturb the Church with schism or the realm with sedition" (cited in Bicknell, p. 22).

Bicknell writes, "The significance of our Articles may be learnt by a comparison between them and Creeds. Both alike are theological statements of belief. Both alike have been employed as tests. Both are attempts to preserve the truth in all its fullness. But while Creeds are a necessity, [to quote Robert Moberly] 'in a world where all expression of spirit is through body,' Articles are a consequence 'not of the Church's existence but of the Church's failure.' 'The Church, without a Creed, would not in human life on earth, however ideally perfect, have been a Church at all. But if the Church on earth had been ideally perfect, or anything even remotely like it, there would never have been any 39 Articles. The one is a necessary feature of spiritual reality. The other is an unfortunate consequence of spiritual failure'" (ibid, Bicknell, p. 23).

"Creeds have behind them the authority of the universal and undivided Church. Articles have behind them at most the authority of particular national Churches. ... Hence Creeds have a permanent value, Articles only a temporary value. We do not condemn, say, the Churches of the East, because they do not possess the 39 Articles. We should condemn a Church that rejected the Apostles' or Nicene Creed. We may reasonably doubt if the Churches of the mission-field need become acquainted with the 39 Articles. But they certainly are bound to receive the Creeds. It is possible even to look forward to a day when the Church of England may exchange or discard our present Articles, though that day [in 1935] is not yet in sight. That would not involve any breach of continuity or catholicity. But to reject the Creeds would be to part company with the life of the Universal Church" (ibid, Bicknell, p. 24).

Anglicanism is Catholic, not Calvinist; and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are an attempt to explain the Catholic Faith in light of the controversies of the Reformation era. Many of these controversies are forgotten or hard to understand today, which makes understanding the intent of the Articles sometimes difficult. Others have been resolved, which makes continued debate unnecessary. The Creeds are crystal clear however: "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith" (Athanasian Creed).

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Brasil and la Romanità

The Anglican Province of America possesses the episcopal line of the Brazilian Church.

A curious news article for the interested...

A little historical note:

Mariano Cardinal Rampolla, in Rome on 26th October 1890 consecrated
Joaquin Arcoverde de Albuquerque-Cavalcanti, who on 4th June 1911 consecrated
Sebastian Leme de Silveira Cintra, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, assisted by Alberto Jose Concalves and Benedito Paolo Alvez de Souza, who on 8th December 1924 consecrated
Carlos Duarte Costa, who withdrew from the Roman Communion in 1945 to organise the Brazilian Catholic and Apostolic Church and who on 3rd May 1948 consecrated
Luis Fernando Castillo-Mendez, who, with Bishop Costa, on 23rd January 1949 consecrated
Estevan Meyer Corradi-Scarella as Bishop for Mexico, who on 20th October 1973, after ordaining sub conditione Harold Lawrence Trott to the Sacred Orders of Deacon and Priest according to the Pontificale Romanum, consecrated sub conditione the same Harold Lawrence Trott to the Sacred Order of Bishops according to the Pontificale Romanum, who on 26th March 1976 consecrated
Walter Howard Grundorf as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Eastern United States of the American Episcopal Church according to the Anglican rite.

In June 1945, Monsignor Carlos Duarte Costa (1888-1961), formerly Bishop of Botucatu, Sao Paolo, and titular Bishop of Maura, Brazil, was excommunicated by Pope Pius XII for his opposition to the Vatican’s apparent involvement with the fascist regime in his country. This in turn led to the formation at Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, of an independent jurisdiction called the Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileira. Subsequently, Bishop Castillo-Mendez, himself consecrated by Bishop Costa, raised Bishop Corradi to the Episcopate. Eventually, Bishop Corradi based his ministry in Panama. Bishop Costa introduced a vernacular Portuguese liturgy into his Church and abolished both compulsory clerical celibacy and the necessity of auricular Confession. The ICAB website is 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Inner Meanings of Word and Sacrament

By Father Arthur H. Couratin, 1951, sometime Principal of Saint Stephen's House, Oxford...

It is very difficult for an Anglican to explain to a non-Anglican the Anglican situation in connection with the Eucharist. The Church of England, so far as the present writer understands the matter, has never claimed to bear witness to any particular aspect of the Gospel, nor does it stand by any particular confession. It possesses a liturgy and a set of Articles; but the Articles are only Articles of Agreement, and the liturgy was only imposed to secure peace and quietness. It claims rather to teach the Apostolic Faith, and to minister the sacraments of the Gospel and other traditional rites of the Church, by means of a ministry inherited from the Apostles, to the people of England. It denies that either it or any other Chnrch is or can be infallible. If it were to make any claim for itself, it would declare that it endeavoured to present undifferentiated Christianity, and had always tried to avoid the systems of Rome on the one hand and of Geneva on the other, on the ground that systematisation is normally effected only at the expense of part of the truth. No such thing as an Anglicanism, comparable to Lutheranism or Calvinism, is therefore desirable or even possible; and any attempt to establish as Anglicanism anyone of the theological traditions within the Church of England has always been strenuously resisted. Insofar as a Court of Appeal in matters of doctrine is required, it is generally thought to be found in the Scriptures as interpreted by the Catholic Fathers and right reason; and the various theological traditions in the Church of England stress the various ingredients differently, as might be expected. To the outsider such a position seems intolerable; but to the born Anglican it seems preferable to any of the present alternatives. 

The various eucharistic traditions in the Church of England depend inevitably upon its history during the four hundred years of its separation from the rest of Western Christendom, Catholic and Protestant. Inevitably, then, they must be looked at historically. 

The Church of England was never satisfied with a Zwinglian doctrine of the Presence and a nuda commemoratio view of the Sacrifice. Within a generation of Cranmer's death, teachers like Jewel and Hooker were reasserting some notion of Consecration, and their successors a generation later were playing with a fuller doctrine of Sacrifice. When, therefore, the Revisers were producing the present edition of the liturgy in 1661, a number of changes were made or proposed which mark a heightening of eucharistic doctrine. In the matter of the Presence, Cranmer's prayer for the communicants before reception is labelled the Prayer of Consecration; the elements must now be reverently disposed of and not treated as common food, and if more bread or wine is needed for communion, a second consecration is demanded. But the attempt to introduce a higher doctrine of Sacrifice failed. The phrases proposed, however-  'by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, now represented unto thee, and through faith in his blood, who maketh intercession for us at thy right hand' - show the lines on which the Revisers of the seventeenth century were thinking. It was the reading of the Fathers which led to this reinterpretation of the Anglican eucharistic tradition. But, as Professor Ratcliff writes, 'for all their patristic interest the Anglican divines of the seventeenth century never abandoned a reformed position with regard to the effects of consecration. Their eucharistic doctrine was mostly Calvinist'. Their sacrificial doctrine was correspondingly limited. They regarded the representation of the Lord's death effected through the Eucharist as symbolical in the modern sense of the word; and they restricted any objective offering in the Eucharist to the Church's material gifts of bread and wine. 

With the Tractarian Revival of the nineteenth century a further development took place in the Anglican eucharistic thinking. Again, the appeal was made to the Fathers of the Church, and on their authority those who came under the influence of the Tractarians claimed to teach still higher doctrines of Presence and Sacrifice. The notion of Consecration, reintroduced by theologians like Jewel and finally expressed in the rubrics of the Prayer Book of 1661, was now expanded under cover of these rubrics into a doctrine of an Objective Real Presence, which barely stopped short of Conversion; and this was expressed in a ceremonial which departed wholly from the reformed tradition. The seventeenth-century notion of Representative Sacrifice was similarly expanded into a doctrine of Real Sacrifice, which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Council of Trent. But since Cranmer had specially designed the Anglican liturgy to exclude any doctrine of eucharistic Sacrifice in the traditional sense of that term, and since the seventeenth-century Revisers had failed in their attempt to readjust the liturgy to their doctrine of Representative Sacrifice, it proved impossible for the Tractarians and their Anglo-Catholic successors to express a still higher sacrificial doctrine through that 1661 English liturgy. Many therefore have taken the law into their own hands and attempted to turn the Prayer of Consecration into a sacrificial prayer, by attaching to it the Prayer of Oblation on the lines of the rejected proposal of 1661.

Such action received a certain justification from the statements on Anglican eucharistic doctrine made to the Pope by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1897, and repeated to the Patriarchs of Eastern Christendom by the Lambeth Conference in 1930, which form the nearest approach to an official exposition of modern Anglican teaching on the subject. 

It was here maintained that we do not believe the Eucharist to be a nude commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross; but that in the PrayeBook liturgy, besides offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and the sacrifice of ourselves, our souls and bodies, we also offer a material oblation of bread and wine, and Sacrificium Crucis Patri proponimus et repraesentamus. A minimising interpretation of this phrase seems to require at least a doctrine of Representative Sacrifice; a maximising interpretation seems to allow of a doctrine of Real Sacrifice

Taking into consideration the history of the Church of England, one is not surprised to find three main traditions of eucharistic teaching. 

(1) The first stands by the sixteenth-century Reformers and teaches a Presence of Christ in the ordinance as a whole, but denies any particular Presence in connection with the act of Consecration or the act of Communion, and any Sacrifice other than the self-oblation of the communicants.

(2) The second stands by the seventeenth-century Revisers and teaches a Real Presence of Christ in the act of Communion, but denies any objcctive doctrine of Consecration and therefore any possibility of the worship of Christ in the consecrated Sacrament. In the matter of Sacrifice this second tradition is a little less eager to follow the lead of the seventeenth-century theologians; and there is little emphasis upon the material oblation of the elements or upon the Representative Sacrifice among the followers of this tradition. 

(3) The third stands by the nineteenth-century Revivalists and teaches an Objective Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament and a Real Sacrifice propitiatory for the living and the dead. 

Since the Church of England makes her appeal to the Scriptures as interpreted by the Fathers and right reason, it may be that the Anglican contribution to modern eucharistic thinking is to withdraw from the post-mediaeval disputes of the Catholic and Protestant theologians, to refuse to be conditioned by her own post-mediaeval formularies, and to make some attempt to understand what the patristic theologians really thought about the Eucharist. This is the method suggested by such teachers as Professor Ratcliff, Dom Gregory Dix and Fr. Hebert; and it is the method which will be followed in the remainder of this paper. 

A convenient starting-point will be found in the versicle which immediately precedes the eucharistic Preface in the Prayer Book Communion Service - 'Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God (= our Lord God). The eucharistic action is primarily a thanksgiving; it is a thanksgiving offered to the God of the Bible (Lord=Kyrios=Adonai= Jehovah); and He is declared to be our God, because as members of the Church we are His peculiar people, the new Israel of God. 

This eucharistic thanksgiving is the Anamnesis, the Memorial, of the Lord Christ. It is not merely a memorial of His death, or of His death and resurrection; it is a memorial of all that He has done and suffered for us. That is why the eucharistic thanksgiving must thank God for the creation of the world and of men through the Son-Word; for the Incarnation of the same Son-Word by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary; for the overthrow of the powers of evil and the deliverance of men by His passion and resurrection; and for His acquiring of the People of God for His own possession, as the true worshippers of His Father. 

But the People of God must not come before the Lord empty-handed. God, of course, does not stand in need of anything from us; and indeed we can only give Him of His own. But to come before Him empty-handed would be to show ourselves unthankful. Besides, the People of God is a royal priesthood, and a priest must have somewhat to offer. We therefore offer not only our praises and thanksgivings, but also bread and wine, as an expression of our thankfulness, in fact as a thankoffering

This thankoffering is not something which we have thought out for ourselves, nor something to which we have been led by the Spirit of God in the life of the Church. It is something which Jesus Christ, the night before He suffered, commanded us to offer. When He took bread and wine and gave thanks and said 'This is my Body', 'This is my Blood', He was teaching the new oblation of the New Covenant. The sacrifices of the Old Covenant have been rejected by God; and only the pure offering, which is offered in every place among the Gentiles, is now accepted. For it alone is offered by the People of the New Covenant; and they alone have been constituted the Priests of the most High God

What is the purpose of this dominically appointed thank-offering? It is to enable the People of God to gain admittance to the heavenly worship. It is the new and living way into the heavenly places, where we have a High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us. It is through the veil which is His Flesh, and it is consecrated in His Blood. By means of it we come boldly to the throne of grace, primarily, no doubt, to give thanks and to worship, but also to obtain mercy and to find grace in time of need. So we fulfil the end for which we were made at the creation, the end to which we have been restored by the redemption. For we enter into heaven itself, we stand before the face of God with angels and archangels, and we minister to Him by offering with them the sacrifice of praise and confessing to the adorable Name of Jehovah Sabaoth

We are now in a position to appreciate the other versicle which precedes the eucharistic Preface, 'Lift up your hearts'. Originally peculiar to the Eucharist, it proclaims the fact that the scene of eucharistic worship is laid in heaven. Christians have an altar; but that altar is in the heavens; and it is thither that our prayers and oblations are directed. For our Great High Priest has passed into the heavens, and is at once the Priest and Sacrifice of the Heavenly Altar. But He is also the High Priest of our offerings, the Angel of the New Covenant, by whose hands our oblations are carried up to the Altar on high. As He offers our sacrifice, so we are enabled to offer His; and the Passion is the Lord's Sacrifice which we offer in the heavenly places, where it abides for ever in the glory of the divine acceptance. 

The Holy Thing which we receive when we partake of the Sacrifice is the glorified humanity of Jesus. Our earthly bread and wine becomes His heavenly Body and Blood, so that there is in the consecrated gifts an earthly thing and a heavenly. This consecration is effected when the Holy People constitute the thankoffering by uttering as the Lord's Anamnesis the thanksgiving over the gifts. He said: 'Do this as my Anamnesis'. Therefore the Church offers the gifts with thanksgiving. He said: 'This is my Body', 'This is my Blood'. Therefore the Church believes that the gifts so offered become what He has promised. If a moment of consecration is looked for, it is naturally found in the recitation of the institution narrative. For this at once rehearses the divine command and the divine promise before God, and identifies the Church's Eucharist with the Lord's. But we are here in a different and perhaps more spacious world as compared with the disputes of the Reformation period over Presence and Sacrifice. For we and our gifts are taken out of this present age into the heavenlies; and so we taste of the powers of the world to come

How, then, is the eucharistic action accomplished by the People of God? Everyone must make the Eucharist to God in his own order. The laity must produce their individual gifts or sacrifices of bread and wine, as the outward sign of their own self oblation. The deacons must carry the gifts of the people up to the altar. The bishop and presbyters must then offer the gifts, by uttering the thanksgiving which constitutes them as the thankoffering, the new oblation of the New Covenant. The presbyters and deacons must then take the gifts and distribute them to the whole People of God, whether they are present in church or not. For all are members of the royal priesthood, and all must therefore partake of the Covenant Sacrifice. There is no question here of a priest offering sacrifice instead of the people or instead of Christ. It is rather that Christ, embodied in people, deacon, presbyter and bishop alike, performs the various actions of the eucharistic rite

This is the way in which the Catholic Fathers and the Ancient Bishops, Cyprian and Tertullian, Hippolytus and Irenaeus and Justin, Ignatius and Clement, and the authors of Apocalypse and Hebrews, thought about the Eucharist and carried it out. Perhaps the Church of England can best serve Christendom by setting her own eucharistic house in order in accordance with the standard to which she professes to appeal. 

Our Solitary Boast

For all the faithful in Christ as we celebrate the Dormition of the Mother of God in August…

Why Christians honour our Lord's Mother
Honour to whom honour is due

By Father Colin Stephenson
Edited by Bishop CH Jones

God has so ordered his creation that where there is a child there must be a mother. When he took flesh there are many ways in which this miracle might have been accomplished. In fact, he entered this world as his creatures do. Having been conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a woman, and maturing for nine months, he was born in a stable at Bethlehem.

When we wish to give a visible demonstration of this mystery of the Incarnation, or the fleshtaking of God, it is by the figure of a woman with a child in her arms. And when we confess our belief that the Child of Bethlehem was 'God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God', we do not have to be great theologians to realise that the woman from whom he took flesh, as we have taken flesh from our mothers, must occupy a very special place in the story of man's redemption. In fact, devotion to the Mother of our Lord is as old as Christianity itself, for what she was physically, the mother of the Body of Christ, she remains spiritually, the mother of that Body of Christ of which all we baptised are members. Thus there are two aspects under which Christians have honoured Mary - one as the simple Jewish maiden, 'the handmaid of the Lord', who was close to Jesus during his earthly life, the other as 'the woman in heaven' exalted as the mother of Christ the King, having a tender love and care for all those who belong to him. She loves us because he loves us; we belong to her because we belong to him.

The place of Mary in the Christian Church has been the subject of bitter controversy and, like all things which have been the subject of controversy, it has got out of focus and has become exaggerated by both sides, until the simple biblical and historical facts have become distorted. The Church of England has suffered in this way, but respect and honour for Christ's Mother have always been implicit in her faith and in her formularies, and during the past hundred years much has been done to rectify the suspicion and neglect to which the Blessed Virgin had been subject as a result of unorthodox teaching. It was the notion that to honour Mary and to ask for her prayers was to detract from the One Mediator, which was, and is, the basis of protestant objection to the veneration of our Lady; but it would seem an odd way of honouring our Lord to be indifferent, or even hostile, to the mother who bore and nurtured him.

It is sometimes suggested that the honour due to Mary is an 'extra', which was added to Christianity in the middle ages, but the fact is that from the very beginning Christians had a devotion to the Mother of Jesus, and some of the earliest Christian paintings in the catacombs show a figure of our Lady with small, orante figures asking for her prayers. The ways in which this devotion has been expressed have differed from age to age and from country to country, but those in the main stream of historic Christianity have passed on the profound love and veneration for Mary which arises from her unique position as Mother of God, and have given honour where honour is due.

What the Bible says

In a mystical reading of the Old Testament there are many types which are fulfilled in Mary. This approach to the Scriptures, which is sometimes called typology by theologians, sees in the recorded persons and events of the Old Testament symbols which point us forward to their fulfilment in the New Testament. Perhaps the most obvious example is the way in which the themes of sacrifice, which appear in such variety throughout the Old Testament, are all fulfilled in our Lord's death upon the cross. In the same way, if we read with the eye of faith, we shall see our Lady foreshadowed in the unfolding of the Old Covenant. She is the new Eve, the Mother of All Living, whose obedience is in direct contrast to the disobedience of the first Eve.

She is the burning bush, burned but not consumed, for her virginity was not altered by her maternity. She is the Ark of the Covenant, the dwelling place of God. She is Esther, the queen who intercedes for her people. These are but a few of the Old Testament types of the Blessed Virgin, but there are many passages and texts which have been used to point to her, such as the well-known 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son' (Isaiah 7.14). When we come to the New Testament it has often been objected that there is little said explicitly about our Lady, and that some of the words addressed to her by our Lord seem cold and rather forbidding. A careful study of the Gospels shows that this is not so. The word 'woman' sounds rather rude and brusque in English, but the word translated in this way is not so in the original, and one could hardly in any case believe that our Lord was the sort of boor who would be rude to his mother in public.

Once we have read the stories of Christ's birth in Saint Luke's Gospel, we realise that our Lady herself must have been the main source of the information, and we can imagine that having revealed her relationship to Christ she then, of her own choice, steps aside and leaves us to ponder these things in our hearts, as she has done before us. Even if our Lord does sometimes seem to be correcting her, this was something he always did to those he loved, and his tone of voice and the expression of his face must have blotted out any idea of coldness. When on the cross he commends her to the beloved disciple, it has always been considered that Saint John represents the Church to whom is said, 'Behold your Mother'. It is the transition of our Lady of Nazareth to our Lady of the Apostles, and so of the catholic Church. Saint Paul for one moment dwells on the identification of our Lady with the Church when he associates Christ's human Sonship with the divine Sonship which it guarantees to us (Galatians 4.4). Saint John in his Revelation portrays the same mystery when he tells of the woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Revelation 12.1). She whom we honour at the manger as Mother of God is she whom we honour as Mother of the Church. The heart of the Gospel is that 'the Word was made flesh', and we can never forget for one moment that he was not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Mary.

What tradition says 

The Fathers are the Christian writers of the early centuries who expounded the Scriptures in the light of the Traditions handed down to them, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They all speak of our Lady with the deepest reverence and honour: of her virginity, of her divine maternity, of her place of privilege and her uniqueness. It would be impossible to try and give quotations for they are so many, but to mention such names as Saint Irenaeus, Saint Justin Martyr, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint Ephrem of Syria, Saint Jerome, Saint Ambrose, and Saint Augustine, is to give only a few of those who have expressed and elaborated everything about Mary we have already mentioned. 

As theologians have pondered upon the privileged position of Mary, they have gradually drawn out from the Scriptures and the Fathers certain aspects of this mystery which they think implicit in them. One of these has been her 'all-holiness', and they have considered that because of her vocation to give flesh to God, she was never touched by actual sin. Likewise there has grown up within the Church the Tradition that Mary's body did not corrupt in the grave, but was translated after her death to heaven, having assumed the glorious body which is promised to all those who fall asleep in the Lord, at the Last Judgement. The inference is that Mary, through the finger of God, is one step ahead of the ordinary man or woman.

One cannot claim that these graces are unique, for Holy Scripture tells us that John the Baptist was sanctified from his mother's womb, and Enoch and Elijah were both assumed into heaven. Nor can we really believe that these things are essential to the main tenets of the Catholic Faith, although the Roman Church in recent times has mistakenly made them matters of faith on the same level as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of our Lord. Yet they are ancient and honoured traditions which contain nothing contrary to reason or Holy Scripture, and are in line with the great honour and love of Mary which has been handed down to us from early times. 

What the Anglican Church says

The Council of Ephesus, which met in AD 431, said that Mary might rightly be called 'Mother of God'. The Church of England is committed by the Thirty-Nine Articles to whole-hearted acceptance of the findings of this Council. The puritans had a great animus against our Lord's Mother, and in the spree of iconoclasm which accompanied the puritan domination of England, few images of Mary were allowed to escape destruction. However, the Book of Common Prayer retained her main feasts, such as the Annunciation, the Conception, and the Purification. The calendars of Oxford University and the Law Courts of the Realm retained the Assumption. The Prayer Book collect for Christmas Day speaks of our Lord being born of a 'pure' virgin, and each day at evening prayer her hymn Magnificat is said. It would be impossible to quote here the many expressions of devotion and reverence for Mary in the writings of the Anglican divines, but perhaps it is in hymns that one gets the clearest expression of Anglican devotion to our Lady.

Such well-known hymns as 'Her virgin eyes saw God incarnate born' and 'Shall we not love thee, Mother dear,' representing different generations, express the deep and sober piety which is the true inheritance of Anglicans. In the past hundred years of the catholic Revival, much has been done to repair the indifference of the past, and now there are few Churches which do not have some representation of our Lord's Mother, either in wood, stone, painting, or stained glass. Some of the ancient shrines of Mary have been restored and are again frequented by pilgrims. Perhaps the most remarkable restoration has been the shrine of our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk, England where a complete shrine church has been built, and where Anglicans throng from all over the world.

Ways of honouring Mary 

The classic prayer to our Lady is the 'Hail Mary':

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. 

Although this prayer is addressed to our Lady, it is primarily in honour of our Lord's Incarnation, of which she is the symbol. In this way it is used in the devotion known as 'The Angelus', which is said three times a day - morning, noon, and evening - and in many places a bell is rung to remind the faithful of the prayer time.

The 'Hail Mary' is also used in the Rosary, which is a method of prayer to encourage meditation on the main mysteries of our religion. 

There are many other prayers and devotions for the use of those who wish to foster in their spiritual life a devotion to our Lord's Mother.

It is perhaps hard to put into words the value of this in the devotional life of the Christian, but when one becomes conscious of the family nature othe Church, an easy familiarity with our Lady and the saints will be found to give our prayer life balance which is lacking when this is absent. 

In the same way, we should do well to observe devoutly the feasts in our Lady's honour, and to member that these are like the birthdays of the mother of a human family; and we can show no greater piety towards her than in going to the 'family table' and attending Mass and receiving Holy Comunion. 

There are many other Marian devotions such as visiting her shrines and going on pilgrimages, joining in processions in her honour and lighting candles, and putting flowers around her image in church or in our own home. There are some people who object to these practices and to some of the expressions used about our Lady, which they find offensive or sentimental; but in a family, different members have different ways of expressing themselves, and perhaps if outsiders could hear us talking to our human mothers at moments of affection, they would say the same things.

Devotion to our Lady as the Mother of Christians is essentially a family devotion. Mary herself said 'all generations shall call me blessed', but all generations have done better than this, and they have called her every 'pet' name imaginable. She is our Lady of Good Counsel, the Mystic Rose, the Star of the Sea, our Lady of Walsingham, and of a thousand places where she is particularly honoured. Those who do not understand the family, personal nature of these titles sometimes accuse us of thinking of her as different people when we invoke her by different names. If they did but know, the truth is even more astonishing than they suspect, for each of us has our own 'our Lady', because she is your mother and my mother, and it is to you that Jesus is saying now:

'Behold your Mother'. 

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -