Thursday, April 30, 2009
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you brethren, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you brethren, to pray for me to the Lord our God. (Confetitur, The "Canonical Rule" of Chrodegang of Metz, ca. 743)
The earliest recording we have of this confessional prayer dates back to the 8th century. It is shocking to present day Evangelicals, and often misunderstood by present day Catholics. The Evangelicals ask, “where in the bible do we find a requirement to confess our sins to Mary and the rest?” And the Roman Catholics assume that their prayers to the saints will make everything right with the Lord, and so they bypass addressing Jesus altogether. However, this prayer hails from a time when both Eastern and Western churches were both Orthodox. This means that the theology of the church taught that the dead saints, along with the angels dwelt in a dimension known as the heavens. This dimension is of such a character that it allows the spiritual beings to live in a way that time is all present, and where mater is accessible to the spirits. In other words, they are in our presence and they see us and hear us, here and now. This is the distinction in Greek thought is seen between chronos and kairos, and things visible and invisible. Hence, the church militant pleaded for the prayers of the church triumphant to come along side their own prayers, especially when it regarded the forgiveness of sin.
And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev 5: 8
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
For just as though some musician, having tuned a lyre, and by his art adjusted the high notes to the low, and the intermediate notes to the rest, were to produce a single tune as the result, so also the Wisdom of God (being the Word), handling the universe as a lyre, and adjusting things in the air to things on the earth, and things in the heaven to things in the air, and by combining parts into wholes and moving them by his beck and will produces the universe in its perfect order. (The Function of the Word, Contra Gentes, Athanasius, ca. 298-373 AD.)
The great father of both Eastern and Western churches, Athanasius, describes how it is that the word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, directs the creation, and everything in it to his ends, by comparing this to the work of a master musician who selects the possible sound of his instrument and then plays it in perfect combination of the parts to attain and beautiful score. Most important here is the implication of this truth. Tuning and playing single notes do not make complete sense of the whole piece, they do not reveal its true beauty until the score is fully played. The evangelical Catholic strives to understand that we get to see, hear, and feel is only a piece of the whole composition at best. This is a most valuable comfort when evil seems to be overtaking us.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
When we see the world as an end in itself, everything becomes itself a value and consequently loses all value; because only in God is found the value of everything, and the world is only meaningful when it is the “sacrament” of God’s presence. Things treated merely as things in themselves, destroy themselves because only in God have they any life. The world of nature, cut off from the source of life, is a dying world. (For the Life of The World, Schmemann, ca. 1963)
The struggle with Eve’s forbidden fruit is by no means gone from us. Often we look at the creation and forget that it cannot be of real good to us except it be a sacrament of the God who made it for our good. Evangelical Catholic worship, that is "apostolic liturgical worship," trains the body, mind, and soul to be sacramental and thus to live life in the manner which was once called “the way.”
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Savior comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For those who have need of gladness, he becomes the vine; to those who want to enter in, He stands as a door; for those who have need to offer up their prayers, He stands as a mediating high priest; and, to those who have sins, he becomes a lamb that he may be sacrificed for them. (Cyril of Jerusalem, catechetical lecture #10, ca. 341 AD)
The Catholic Evangelical understands that our whole being is plagued with injuries, yet, not all injuries are present to the same degree. Thus, this kind of believer turns to Jesus who is the great physician, and the only one who can heal the whole cosmos. This believer knows that our Lord accomplishes this healing exactly where the injury is present, and to the degree necessary in this life. O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. Ps 30: 2
Thursday, April 23, 2009
“Man is what he eats.” With that statement the German materialistic philosopher Fuerbach thought he had put an end to all idealistic speculations about human nature. In fact, however, he was expressing, without knowing it, the most religious idea of man. Man must eat in order to live, he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood… this image of the banquet remains throughout the whole bible, the central image of life. (For the Life of the World, Alexander Schmemann, ca. 1963)
The basic imprint of the living God is so marked upon the human psyche that we cannot avoid uttering the most basic truths of God. Even when we desire to suppress His very being, His truth still comes out of us. The plain fact is that Man was made for God, and is only restored to wholeness when he takes God into himself, and makes this God his very flesh and blood. It is in the communion banquet that we feast on the Lord Jesus Christ, God of all creation, into our being.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The church binds us to no theory about the exact composition of Christ’s resurrection body. A body of some kind there had to be, since man cannot perceive the infinite otherwise than in terms of space and time. In any case, those who saw the risen Christ remained persuaded that life was worth living and death a mere triviality. (Creed or Chaos, Dorothy Sayers, ca. 1949)
Victory and defeat have great implications on the human heart. Victory fills the spirit with assurance, joy, creativity, while defeat fills us with fear, insecurity, and depression. Sayers reminds us that the resurrection of Christ’s body is much more than a mere science experiment in the mind of man. Interesting as the scientific study of the resurrection may be, it does nothing to improve the spirit of person. However, the fact that death is been stripped of its power totally changes the human’s understanding of their own timeline. It fills us with the assurance of life and hope of eternity. Consequently, we live life as the victors rather than the defeated.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
“Blessed are you when men hate you.” The Lord desired that we should leap for joy in persecutions, because when they occur, then are given crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are proved, and the heavens opened. He will confess those before His Father who confess Him, and will deny those who deny Him, therefore, be not moved. (The Epistle to Thibaris, Cyprian, ca. 200-258)
The Eastern Church, in which Cyprian is a primary figure, sees the life of the Christian as one of being formed into the shape of the God-man Jesus. The name given to this shaping is “deification,” or being made partakers in the divine. According to Cyprian, a major catalyst in this process is the hatred we experience from others for who we are in Christ. He repeatedly quotes the Lord who frequently addressed the subject, and then reminds us that this very contest between the haters and the hated is the means appointed by God for being drawn into Him. And the victory is attained by joyful trust as we are being destroyed. If Cyprian were around today he might teach a class on smiling as you are destroyed for Christ sake, and find that no one would show up.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The Sacrament does more vehemently print lively the faith, and make it sink down in the heart, than do bare words only- as a man is more sure of what he hears, sees, smells, and tastes than what he hears alone.(A Brief Declaration of the Sacraments, William Tyndale c. 1494 – 1536)
Catholic Evangelicals were forced by the challenges of medieval church’s excess to restore the sacraments to a more original intent. Tyndale argues that the sacraments are designed and intended to fertilize faith in our Messiah. The sacrament succeeds at improving our faith because it exercises all of the senses, never rejecting but hearing, but always exceeding the sense of hearing alone. Therefore, the sacrament of the altar operates much like the second person of the God-head: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it. (1 John 1:1-2). In the sacrament; the incarnation, passion, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, final judgment, and future glory are made manifest in order that we may take it in with all our senses, thus bettering our faith.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Whatever, therefore, has been taken from the body, either during or after death, shall be restored to it, and in conjunction with what has remained in the grave shall rise again, transformed from the oldness of the animal body to the newness of the spiritual body, clothed in incorruption and immortality. (City of God, Augustin ca. 412-426 AD)
Directly in line with all the Fathers, the great doctor of the church, Augustin, centers the cross hairs of the Christian hope on the resurrection rather than on dying and going to heaven. He reminds us that the totality of the Christian person at the time of our death, will be the point from which the Lord will add to our being, and recreate us as new spiritual beings. Here he paints a portrait of Christian persons as they will be found when they reach true maturity; in other words, when we finally grow up.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The resurrection is not only a fact; it is a force, and its theology is so important as to call for special attention. Indeed, the prominence given in the New Testament to its teaching, affords a strong confirmation of the fact itself. The doctrine may be briefly summarized: Evidential, evangelistic, redemptive, spiritual, and eschatological. (Principles of Theology, W. H. Griffith Thomas, 1956 AD)
Thomas not only lists the five theological sub points that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus touches upon, but also makes the argument that while these facts are of prime importance, the reason for their importance is the force with which they affect the hearer. The two atom bombs of scripture are the cross and the resurrection, it is they which bring victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
And so the flesh shall rise again, wholly in every man, in its own identity, in absolute integrity. Wherever it may be, it is safe keeping in God’s presence through that most faithful “mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ,” who shall reconcile both God to man and man to God; the spirit to the flesh and the flesh to the spirit. (The Resurrection of The Flesh, Tertullian, ca. 160 – ca. 220 AD)
The early church Father Tertullian clearly understood that the future resurrection was not subject to anything at all that might happen to a dead body. He holds to this position on the basis that it is not beyond the capacity of Christ to hold both body and spirit in “safe keeping” until the day of the resurrection of all the dead. While the dead do experience a separation of body and spirit, the resurrection that is to come will surely be the time when the two unite again, and then under the mediation of Christ be wholly reconciled to God.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Christ’s resurrection raises our hope, because by seeing Christ our head rise again we hope that we also shall rise again… Christ raises us up first as a victor in order to set free is captive. Second, like a doctor to heal the sick. Third, like a lawyer to acquit a defendant. Fourth, like a brave person who defends the weak. Fifth, as a husband to take pleasure in his spouse. (Thomas Aquinas, Sermon on the Apostle’s Creed, 1273 AD)
Aquinas sets out five ways in which the resurrection fills the redeemed sinner with hope. First, he presents Jesus as the soldier, the one who has shown himself able to defeat evil and death- the victor. Then as the healer of our ailments, next as our legal defender from any accuser, followed by him as our personal body (spirit) guard, and finally as the one who takes pleasure in us. To deliver these gifts to us, Jesus rose from the grave.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead man remains the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be the glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen (St. John Chysostom, c. 347–407 , Treasury of Daily Prayer, P 185)
Christianity has been called the greatest story ever told. The one quality that makes it the best of all stories is most certainly the promise given to us by God that all evil and pain will one day be destroyed, and only good and life will remain. Chrysostom points to the many ways this has been accomplished, first in us, then in demons, and finally to the grave. He then reminds us that the resurrection of our Lord is the unfailing down payment on that promise.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
"Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos." (The Latin Vualgate translation of the Bible, by Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus), c.347-420)
Jerome was a Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church, whose great work was the translation of the Bible into Latin, the edition known as the Vulgate. In this translation of John 13: 34, Jerome uses the phrase, " mandatum novum," for "'a new commandment' I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you." The word "maundy" is a form of the Latin word "mandatum," or commandment. Therefore, Maundy Thursday is literally, "Commandment Thursday," and the command given on this day is "love as Jesus has loved us." It is not surprising then that since Jesus knows that this command cannot be kept of our own strength, on the very same day he chose to give a means to strengthen his people for his assingned mission of love. That means: his own body and blood in the forms of bread and wine as our spiritual food.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
There is a word in Latin called sacerdos, In Greek heirus, in Hebrew cohan: That is, a minister, an officer, a sacrificer, or a priest: Aaron was a priest and sacrificed for the people as a mediator between God and man. In the English language this title should have been something other than “priest.”
In fact, there is another word in Greek, called presbyter, in Latin Senior, in English elder, and is nothing but an officer to teach the younger, and to bring them into the full knowledge and understanding of Christ, and to minister the sacraments which Christ ordained, which is also noting but to teach Christ’s promises. It may well be asked, why the term priest was retained by the reformers to designate ministerial orders. The fact is that in so far as the etymological origin of the word priest is concerned, it is but another form of the word presbyter. (Theology of the English Reformers, P. E. Hughes)
What is apparent in the retention of the term “priest,” is that reforming the church to its original design and intent, is at least as much an art form as it is a science. When do we drop a corrupted practice? When do we correct and re-apply it? When do we take a different approach altogether? Not easy questions, nevertheless, many wrongfully conclude that issues such as terms like “priest” were merely carryovers from the middle ages. This really belittles the integrity and intellect of the reformers. The term priest is in fact a great model for what the reformers of the church struggled to achieve, they tried to restore all practices in the church to their proper and biblical use, while retaining the traditions to the maximum. They strove for Catholic Evangelicalism.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Study therefore to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, so that whatsoever you do may prosper in the flesh, as well as in the spirit; in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit; in the beginning and in the end; with your most admirable Bishop, with the spiritual crown which is the Presbytery, and with the Deacons who are according to God. (Igantius to the Magnesians, 30-107 AD)
Ignatius was a student of the apostle John, and a peer of Polycarp. His writings are about as early as we can go in the writings of the church Fathers. It is even conceivable that John was alive when this letter was written. It is with that piece of background that we look into the early church exhortations and encouragements to its congregants. In typical patristic form he tells the recipient of this letter “be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles.” In our language it means “know your bible, and the theology that is in it.” Then he tells them that the reason that this knowledge is needed is so that they may profit along with the Triune Lord and his Episcopacy. Yes, that’s right; Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons. Right from the first century we find the threefold office of Holy Orders. It could it very well be that the apostle John took part in this ecclesiatical system.
Monday, April 6, 2009
“Just as loving children try to imitate the example of their beloved father, all moral human behavior is the attempt to imitate the Father in heaven, to fulfill his image and likeness in our lives by His grace. This truth binds the non-Christian as well as the Christian. Where we Christians have an advantage, through no deserving of our own, is that we have received God’s grace in Jesus Christ to become redeemed sinners. By our redemption we receive the benefits of Christ’s perfect obedience to His Father: grace to follow in His love, and forgiveness of our sins when we repent of our failure to love as well as we should.” (An Outline Of An Anglican Life- Louis Tarsitano)
Tarsitano insists that Christ is our righteousness, because we have no righteousness of our own. According to God the Father, in Christ we are accounted righteous. If this were not enough of a gift, Christ is pleased to give us give us a love for what he loves. By that love, we begin to do some of the things that he loves, we begin to do right. This good does not originate with us, but amazingly enough, Christ is pleased to produce good through us. Christ our righteousness.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of him who formed us. Let us look, steadfastly upon the blood of Christ… which having been shed for our salvation has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn back to every age that has passed, and learn this from generation to generation.
“The 1st Epistle of Clement”
Clement was actually a co-worker in the gospel ministry with St Paul. In Phi 4: 3 Paul writes: Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
This very Clement reveals to us that right from Christianity’s inception, it was Christ centered, atonement based, and repentance focused. No surprise there at all, yet, to many in our day the next emphasis is a bit strange. Clement tells us that it was also traditionally dependant. He writes “Let us turn back to every age that has passed, and learn this from generation to generation.” In an age when only the newest is valuable, this statement cuts to the heart.
Catholic Evangelicalism is always looking back to ages past, it is always standing on the shoulders of giants as it jumps off into the future.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
This blog is dedicated to exploring the kind of Christianity that consults with the Patriarchs of the Christian faith as well as the Reformers of that very faith who were their spiritual offspring, this group can be rightfully called Catholic Evangelicals. I will be posting literature and analysis on that literaure with the intent to further the understanding of the catholic-evangelical expression of Christianity.