Friday, October 30, 2009

Facing East


It is important to clearly distinguish the place for the liturgy of the Word from the place of properly Eucharistic liturgy. For, the liturgy of the Word is about speaking and responding, and so a face-to-face exchange does make sense. On the other hand, a common turning to the east during the Eucharistic prayer remains essential. Looking at the priest here has no importance. What maters in the Eucharistic liturgy is looking together at the Lord. It is now not a question of dialogue but of common worship, of setting off toward the One who is to come. What corresponds to this reality of what is happening is not the closed circle of dialogue, but a common movement forward, expressed in a common direction of prayer. (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 2000 AD)


One of the casualties in the worship as you please mindset of the reformation has been the most basic understanding of worship has disappeared. In a world where the Pastor/leader gets to make up the worship as he goes, corporate worship has for the most part been reduced to the format of a late night talk show focused on the bible. However, a deep understanding of proper worship according to the traditions of the apostles and the church Fathers can still be found. In the above quote we find a Roman Catholic scholar, and now Pope, distinguishing between orientations, that is, the direction towards which worship is offered. He acknowledges the two classical parts of liturgy: the liturgy of the Word, and the liturgy of the Eucharist. He makes the point that there is closed circle of dialogue during the liturgy of the Word, but a common worship of thanksgiving that goes outside the circle during the liturgy of the Eucharist. He states that the major difference between the two is that there is to be a common movement forward, expressed in a common direction of prayer during the Eucharistic prayer. This understanding reshapes the whole concept of orientation during worship. In fact, it ensures that we who worship are transported to the doorway of eternity in the Eucharistic mystery rather than just remaining in a circle of intellectual dialogue. In other words, facing east together enhances the mystery of the sacrament rather than truncating it to a mere teaching. Facing East during the Eucharistic prayer is like setting a diamond on an appropriate mounting, the two bring out the beauty of the one main point. In short, facing east during the Eucharistic liturgy places our thanksgiving in its proper setting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Global South Responds to the Vatican

A Pastoral Exhortation to the Faithful in the Anglican Communion

1. We, under-shepherds of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ, bring greetings to the faithful in the Anglican Communion. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. For in his great love for us, we are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2: 19-22).

2. The Vatican announcement on Apostolic Constitution (Note of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church) gives us an occasion in making the following pastoral exhortation.

3. We welcome Pope Benedict XVI’s stance on the common biblical teaching on human sexuality, and the commitment to continuing ecumenical dialogue.

4. At the same time we believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion. It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine purposes together in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ. We urge churches in the Communion to actively work together towards a speedy adoption of the Covenant.

5. In God’s gracious purposes the Anglican Communion has moved beyond the historical beginnings and expressions of English Christianity into a worldwide Communion, of which the Church of England is a constitutive part. In view of the global nature of the Communion, matters of faith and order would inevitably have serious ramifications for the continuing well-being and coherence of the Communion as a whole, and not only for Provinces of the British Isles and The Episcopal Church in the USA. We urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to work in close collegial consultation with fellow Primates in the Communion, act decisively on already agreed measures in the Primates’ Meetings, and exercise effective leadership in nourishing the flock under our charge, so that none would be left wandering and bereft of spiritual oversight.

6. As Primates of the Communion and guardians of the catholic and apostolic faith and order, we stand in communion with our fellow bishops, clergy and laity who are steadfast in the biblical teaching against the ordination of openly homosexual clergy, the consecration of such to the episcopate, and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. We also urge them, as fellow Anglicans, to continue to stand firm with us in cherishing the Anglican heritage, in pursuing a common vocation, in expressing our unity and common life, and in maintaining our covenanted life together.

7. In the closing words of the Anglican Covenant: With joy and with firm resolve, we offer ourselves for fruitful service and binding ourselves more closely in the truth and love of Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory for ever. Amen.

“Now may the God of Peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13.20, 21)

25th October 2009

Global South Primates Steering Committee:

Chairman: The Most Revd Peter J. Akinola, Nigeria

Vice-Chairman: The Most Revd Emmanuel Kolini, Rwanda

General Secretary: The Most Revd John Chew, Southeast Asia

Treasurer: The Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East.


The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, Myanmar

Bishop Albert Chama, Dean of Central Africa

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shall We Go To Rome?

QUOTE: The Anglo-Papalist Ordinariate

This news is indeed fascinating and compelling, and will undoubtedly be equally fascinating to watch unfold in the days and weeks ahead. But it must be said that we should very much doubt that many in the orthodox Continuing Anglican movement will avail themselves of this new constitutional structure in the Roman Communion, as our priests and people are generally not inclined or disposed to accept the Papal Claims and Dogmas and have no affinity with Papalism. We should confidently assert that most of our Continuing Churchmen repudiate the I Vatican Council of 1870 and so find no overwhelming attraction to this new offer. Papal Infallibility and Papal Universal Jurisdiction, combined with Rome's rejection of the validity of Anglican Orders and its assertion of the de fide and salvific character of the Marian Dogmas, is altogether a situation most Traditional Anglicans will find simply too difficult to accept. Assuredly, for most Continuing Churchmen, the observance of the creation of the new body will be intriguing, but academic, detached and remote, and likely nothing more. We shall be 'observers and by-standers' during the process to come.

In the meantime, we await with hopeful expectation what yet may come from dialogue with the Orthodox Church in America and what relationship may yet emerge between Eastern Orthodox Christians and us, the original Catholics of the Anglican Rite. (The Reverend Canon Chandler Holder Jones, SSC, October 21, 2009)


Canon Jones’ writings can be found at the blog “Philorthodox,” and his comments above represent the Anglo-Catholic sentiments of a significant number of us. While we are surely pleased to see this move on behalf of the Vatican, at the same time we fail to see how this invitation resolves some of the core issues that have divided us all along. Classical Anglo Catholics came into resurgence with the Oxford movement. Within that movement some were very inclined to Rome’s perspective, while others were much more attuned to England’s faith before the great Schism between east and west. Blazing the path for the Roman leaning Anglicans was Fr. John Newman, and leading the way for first millennium (Orthodox) leaning Anglicans was Keble and Pusey. Since then, Anglo Catholics have come in two flavors Roman and Orthodox.

The point made by canon Jones is that for many Anglo-Catholics, Byzantium is much closer to us in doctrine and conviction than the Vatican, hence, that is the only place where true unity can be found, and going to the Vatican would be a compromise. First millennium minded Anglo-Catholics find serious problems with the Roman doctrines of supererogation, purgatory, and the required celibacy of priests, not to mention the dogmas of Vatican 1 regarding the blessed virgin Mary, Papal infallibility, and the like. These dogmatic disagreements do not exist between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. Surely many will flock to Rome, and since they believe as Rome does they should go, but as for the rest of us, we will wait on Byzantium.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sacrificing Together


Because Christ is perfect love, His love on earth can never become a life of the past. He remains present to all eternity. Then He was alone and bore the sins of men as one whole, alone. But in death, He took us all into His work. Therefore, the gospel is now present with us, and by it we may now enter inside His own sacrifice. (Mtr. Maria of Normandy, 1930 AD)


Understanding the priesthood of Christ does not come easy to us in our day. As whole, we do not know what it is to see a bloody sacrifice with our own eyes; we know almost nothing about making atonement, and even less about bringing a gift of offering to a priest. In short, for most of us the whole offering concept is something out of a historic tale. This lack of connection with a priesthood places many who name Christ at a disconnect with our Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry in time and in eternity.

In the face of this disconnect, Mother Maria reminds us that Christ’s love on earth can never become a life of the past. We can never think of His priestly work as merely something that happened once, like all of the other religious sacrifices that have occurred in time. Jesus priesthood was not merely a priesthood in time and space, it was that, but it was also much more than that. His priesthood, and more particularly, His sacrifice and offering was an everlasting, ongoing, and eternal sacrifice; once offered it never stops operating. It is this once and for all sacrifice that we enter into in the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, mother Maria states, the gospel is now present with us, and by it we may now enter inside His own sacrifice. The greatest difference between this sacrifice and all others is that we are not mere donors or watchers, but rather we are participants in that sacrifice with our high priest in order that his sacrifice might be made manifest though us to ourselves and to the world.

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Pet 2: 5

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Real Body and Real Blood


Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, ye are become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood.. Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? (Catechism, Cyril of Jerusalem, CA 340 AD)


It is an unfortunate reality that many in the Christian world have lost touch with the sacramental nature of our redemption. This alienation began with the protestant reformation’s overreaction to the real presence of Christ in the sacraments. With exception of Luther, all the most influential reformers stammered on this issue. It was Luther alone who bravely stood at the colloquy of Marburg and stated that those who rejected the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist were of another spirit. Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, and even Cramner in his 1552 book of common prayer’s black rubric sided with the protestant anti-historical position. Nevertheless, this issue would not be let go by the Anglicans, it continued to be a point of disagreement, and today the non presence view has finally lost its sway. Today it is almost unanimous amongst all Anglicans that there is a real presence in the Eucharist.

Why have some, and why do some persons still resist this clear teaching of scripture? What good is there to loose by embracing the real presence? I propose that there are three reasons folks resist this doctrine.

First, if one were to embrace the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this then would mean that it is partaking in the Eucharist would be good and desirable for salvation, just as the knowledge of Christ from the word is good and necessary. This would imply that one would no more gather for worship without a sermon than without the Eucharist. In short, it would mean a complete cultural transformation of worship.

Second, if one were to embrace the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this then would mean that the reformation over reacted and the ancient church was right. Humble pie is never tasty.

However, I believe the third is the most powerful reason. If one were to embrace the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this then would mean that our whole view of reality would be challenged. The realm of God would be among us in a way that is tangible; God would be in us as we are in Him. All of this would mean that theology would have to be completely rethought and reassessed, and no one wants to do that. Nevertheless if this is not embraced then those who most affirm the literal meaning of scripture are forced to deny it clear and unambiguous meaning.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Prayer for Grace


We say, “Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth;” not that God should do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who resists God, that He may not do what He wills? But since we are hindered by the devil from obeying with our thought and deed God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us; and that it may be done in us we have need of God’s good will, that is, of His help and protection, since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the grace and mercy of God. And further, the Lord, setting forth the infirmity of the humanity which He bore, says, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” and affording an example to His disciples that they should do not their own will, but God’s, He went on to say, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” And in another place He says, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” Now if the Son was obedient to do His Father’s will, how much more should the servant be obedient to do his Master’s will! As in his epistle John also exhorts and instructs us to do the will of God, saying, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of life, which is not of the Father, but of the lust of the world. And the world shall pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever, even as God also abides for ever.” We who desire to abide for ever should do the will of God, who is everlasting. (Treatise on The Lord’s Prayer, St Cyprian, CA 250 AD)


Many do not realize that the Christian community has a early prayer tradition that is just a rigorous as that of the Mohamedans. In fact, the Mohamedans received it from us, just as we received it from the Jewish tradition. This ancient tradition gathered the faithful for a time of prayer at 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6pm, & 9 pm. We catch a glimpse of this practice in the book of Acts:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. Acts 3:1

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. Acts 10: 9

One of the prayers that was said during these hours of prayer was the “Pater Noster,” also called the Lord’s Prayer. In it we find many of the doctrines that separate Christianity from the pack, one of these is the prayer for grace. In the words of St Cyprian, it is a prayer that pleads with God “that we may be able to do what God wills.” At least six times per day, Christians were taught to implore God for the grace to be delivered form the unholy trinity: the world, the flesh, and which keep us from obeying with our thought and deed God’s will in all things. Perhaps if this prayer tradition were still alive in the church worldwide we would receive more of that grace that we desperately need. One can only imagine every church sounding their bells every three hours in a call for prayer, and Christians stopping in their tracks and pleading with God for grace.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Merit? Who Can Have It?


We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. (APOLOGY #1, Justin Martyr, CA 160 AD)


It is the general consensus of the reformers that man is incapable of possessing any merit before God. Luther writes in his commentary of Psalm 51: verse 2 . . . it is a fictitious expression to speak of a "holy man," just as it is a fictitious expression to speak of God's falling into sin; for by the nature of things, this cannot be. Here we see the most influential of all reformers laying the foundation for the reformation on the doctrine of “the impossibility of any human merit.” However, this view departs from the testimony of the ancient church. As noted above, Justin Martyr wrote “We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions.” These two men cannot be correct, either Luther was correct or Justin was correct. How are we to understand merit, or perhaps the better question is, how did each of these two men understand merit? Both Justin and Luther saw merit as something that a man could present before God either to acquit or convict him. Many here would say lets just find the right verses and sort this out, however, let us remember that each of these men could pull verses to support there positions. Justin could easily quote Roans 2: 5-8:

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Luther might equally pull out Rom 4: 2-3:

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."

It is here that we must carefully understand the differences between the ancient church of the first millennium and the medieval errors that produced Luther’s rebellion. Luther had been indoctrinated in the kind of medieval Catholicism that taught the children of the church that they must posses a merit of their own, and then couple that merit with the atonement of Jesus in order to be found acceptable to God. This is called the doctrine of “condign merit.” And he was right to rebel against such teachings. However, Justin knew nothing of condign merit; instead he understood that in Christ, God now lives in each believer by way of the Spirit of Christ, and that the Spirit’s gift to us is to produce the works of Christ, which are not only merit filled but also ours. At the same time, he also knew that each believer is also capable of resisting the Holy Spirit, and thus able to merit evil judgment. If this were not so there would have been no need for him or the prophets to whom he refers to warn the church about such matters. In summary, the church Fathers saw human merit is nothing less than the works produced by the Spirit in us, and yet because we carry them out they are our works by which our faith will be judged.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Can I Trust Myself?


"Do not trust your mind too much; thinking must be refined by suffering, or it will not stand the test of these cruel times." (Letters from Father Seraphim Rose, CA 1975)


Seraphim Rose was a priest-monk of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in the United States, whose writings have helped spread Orthodox Christianity throughout modern America and the West. His writings have been instrumental in reminding western thinking of the depth of our depravity, particularly when it comes to self-trust. There is a great deal said in the west about the evils of self-trust and self-confidence, but in true western practice we trust our own thinking more than anything else (rationalism). Yet, how often has not our intellect, reasoning, and thinking been our main problem. To this rose says, "do not trust your mind too much.” He is pointing us to a kind of real life experience we can all relate to. How often has your own thinking been the problem? If you are like most, then the answer is often. The solution to this crisis is not to avoid thinking, but to be less impressed with of ourselves, and to learn to mistrust our own thinking as much as we mistrust those who we know are continually wrong. This may be more applicable to us than to even previous generations because as Rose states, “thinking must be refined by suffering.” If this is true then we must be the least trustworthy of all generations. This is not to say that we should desire suffering, for that would go against our very nature, but it is to say that we should trust ourselves only to the degree that suffering has allowed us to become sober.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated- of whom the world was not worthy- wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Heb 11: 32-38