QOTD (with reflections): “We are the religion of the Incarnation…”

“We are the religion of the Incarnation. God became man, the invisible God became visible, he sanctified the material world and elevated these visible, tangible signs to communicate invisible graces and to convey eternal truths.”

— Canon Michael Stein, ICRSS, rector of St. Joseph’s Oratory (Roman Catholic) in Detroit

Amen!

https://anglophilicanglican.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/54278695_10156989555243798_5843947526180306944_o.jpg?w=910&h=681

Photos of the traditional religious procession in Detroit were widely shared on social media

Source: Vintage-style photo of St Joseph’s Day procession goes viral | Catholic Herald

Canon Stein noted, in reference to the St. Joseph’s Procession (pictured above) in particular,

“It only takes a quick glance around the world to see a fatherless society, and to see either a slothful or workaholic society, or a lack of an appropriate understanding of manliness. It’s neither brute nor effeminate, it’s faithful, it’s steadfast, it’s courageous and gentle. And we find all those things in St. Joseph, so I think that’s another part of the power of that picture.”

All very true. But, he goes on to add,

“We are body and soul, all these spiritual truths are meant to be communicated through our senses. We get to see our faith, hear our faith, taste our faith, etc., and that just appeals to us so much,” he said.

“Truth needs to shine in beauty…we’re not angels, we’re not just pure intelligences, we need to see, touch, hear; and that’s something the traditional liturgy has always done. That’s something that a reverent Mass or procession can do, these visible signs that the Church has used throughout her history to excite devotion and promote devotion.”

Again, amen. Amen, and amen!

One of my reasons for concern when we as Anglicans veer too far to the Protestant / Reformed side of the Christian spectrum is the accompanying tendency to get uncomfortably close to a quasi-gnostic devaluation of the physical, the material, the sensory – Creation itself – in favor of the cerebral, the theoretical, the (narrowly-defined) spiritual. “Spirit good, matter bad” is a common view in Christian circles. But, it’s a heretical one! Continue reading “QOTD (with reflections): “We are the religion of the Incarnation…””

Advertisements

Ember Days | For All the Saints

The Ember Days are four groups each of three days in the Church year that have been observed as days of fasting in the Churches of the West.

Source: Ember Days | For All the Saints

Today is Ember Saturday in Lent: the last day of Lenten Embertide, which runs from Wednesday through today (although Thursday is not not considered an Ember Day. But it’s a question worth asking: what are Ember Days, exactly, and what’s their significance? For All the Saints has a typically good and interesting treatment of these days, but here is some additional information on the subject: Continue reading “Ember Days | For All the Saints”

QOTD: What is truly progressive?

Martin Thornton

“It is sometimes more progressive to look back a thousand years than to look forward three weeks.”

— Martin Thornton, English Spirituality

Who is Martin Thornton? Here is a brief introduction (click here for the more substantive one from which this is excerpted) that might be helpful:

“A farmer, Anglican priest and spiritual director who lived primarily in the UK yet also taught in the US (and almost became a professor at Nashotah House), Thornton’s voice in his 13 books remains remarkably sober, pastoral, and witty—yet rigorously theological and erudite.

His purpose was simple: he wanted to equip priests and lay catechists with the appropriate tools to teach prayer—liturgically, biblically, doctrinally, devotionally—that cultivates Anglican parish health within the Catholic Church toward our eventual union with the Holy Trinity at the Second Coming of Christ. His value to us today is that he wrote in prophetic anticipation of the then-nascent reconfiguration of Christian life to post-Christendom. That is, he wrote not to ‘keep the boat afloat’ but rather to ‘pick up after the party.’

“Anglicans have got themselves into quite a predicament, to put it mildly. For Thornton, the recovery of Anglican strength and genius lies not in recreating past glory but rather ressourcement: creative re-application through prayer of what formed us in the first place. It should then come as no surprise that his theological outlook is anchored in the Book of Common Prayer seen as Regula, that is, as a corporate system or Rule of ‘ascetic’ in the tradition of the Rule of Saint Benedict.”

 

Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All Saints

One of the most important bishops of Rome and most influential writers of the Middle Ages, Gregory the First is one of only two popes (the other being Leo the First), to have been given the epithet “the Great.”

Source: Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All Saints

Perhaps best known for being credited with the compilation of the canon of what is now known (after him) as “Gregorian chant” – that is to say, monastic plainchant, for the Holy Eucharist (the Mass) and the Daily Office – as well as reforms to the Roman liturgy; although as this account notes,

“His role in the development of the Roman liturgy and its chant was considerable, though disputed. He certainly modified various minor features and composed a number of prayers which formed the nucleus of the Gregorian Sacramentary, though this work reached its final form after his death. Many prayers in the sacramentary, if not actually written by him, were inspired by his through and phraseology. Since the tenth century his name has been associated with ‘Gregorian’ chant: while the chant bearing his name arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Gallican and Roman chant, he probably played a role in the gradual codification and adaptation of several preexisting forms of plainsong.”

Not only chant is known by his name: Gregory’s influence on the Roman liturgy is such that the traditional Roman Catholic Eucharistic canon is frequently known as the “Gregorian Canon,” and our Western Rite Orthodox brothers and sisters call the form of their liturgy based on it “the Liturgy of St. Gregory.”

His primary significance for Anglicans, however, lies in his role as “Apostle to the English”:

“Apparently convinced that the future of Christianity lay with monasticism and not with the declining Eastern Roman Empire, he hoped to lead a group of missionaries in taking the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons in Britain, after seeing English children or youth on sale as slaves in the Roman market around the year 573. He is said to have remarked on their beauty as being like that of angels, whereupon he was told that they were in fact Angles – causing him to say, Non Angli, sed angeli: “Not Angles, but angels.” But this was not to be his ministry…

Nevertheless, “One of Gregory’s most notable achievements was the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He personally took the lead in the whole process, sending Augustine, prior of his own monastery of Saint Andrew’s on the Caelian Hill, and a number of fellow monks to southeastern Britain, to the Jutish kingdom of Kent, where they achieved within a few years the conversion of the people and of their king, Ethelbert. Gregory continue personally to guide the mission in matters that perplexed Augustine by sending a supporting group of missionaries, along with liturgical vessels, books, and vestments, in 601; and by writing to Ethelbert and his Christian queen, Bertha on various matters.

“The close relationship between Rome and the English Church was continued by Gregory’s successors, and in many ways the Church in England was closer to the papacy than the Church in Gaul was. The first Life of Gregory was written in England, and from the biographies written by the Venerable Bede, Aldhelm, and the anonymous biographer of Whitby come eulogies of Gregory as ‘the apostle of the English,’ ‘our father and apostle in Christ,’ and ‘he from whom we have received the Christian faith, he who will present the English people to the Lord on the Day of Judgment as their teacher and apostle.'”

QOTD: On adoring Christ our Lord

https://www.pictorem.com/collection/900_12284623HighRes.jpg

All those things that orthodox Catholics desire for themselves and their children, namely, a persevering faith, a willingness to make heroic sacrifice, a sense of belonging within the flow of history, a scriptural mindset and an awareness of judgment, all flow from the sense of wonder at the Person of the God-Man. Prior to any great renewal of the Church, the faithful must be taught to stand adoring and incensing in the interior temple.

— an anonymous Roman Catholic student (link to source here)

As I have commented elsewhere, on other issues, what is here said about (Roman) Catholics can also be said about Anglicans, and indeed about Christians in general. We sometimes – and I am certainly guilty of this myself – confuse the outward manifestations with the inward realities.

Those manifestations are not unimportant: we live in “the real world,” the world of physicality and sensory impressions, the world of human emotions, needs, and relationships. We are not living in some sort of sterile, theoretical, pseudo-gnostic world of spirit and imagination, or the world of Platonic Forms. The desires described above are not for material items, but they are certainly for human needs, and are not to be despised.

But if we focus on them too closely, we can lose sight of their Source and Sustainer: the Incarnate Logos (Word) of God, who became Man – Incarnated – in Jesus of Nazareth, who we call the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father; and thus, One Who is in fact God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity.

And Him should we indeed stand incensing (“Welcome as incense-smoke let my prayer rise up before thee [O Lord],” Psalm 141:2) and adoring, in the inward Temple of our hearts, our minds, our spirits. By Him alone can we obtain those other things, worthy though they are, that we desire; for through Him alone all things were made, and have their being (John 1:3, Nicene Creed)

Thanks be to God, for the gift of Himself, in the Person of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Tailored vs. Traditional: Why Not Do Your Own Thing for Lent? | Anglican Pastor

Lent – 40 Days of Renewal

I’m busy planning out my personalized Lent. I need to decide what to give up. I need to decide what to give away. I need to pick books to read and do things that are tailored to my own personal, spiritual needs. Lent arrives soon. Am I ready? There are so many choices to make. Or are there?

Source: Tailored vs. Traditional: Why Not Do Your Own Thing for Lent? – Anglican Pastor

It is Ash Wednesday, and Lent is upon us! For some, it may come as a relief: an opportunity to sort out the clutter in our spiritual lives, and focus on what is really important: the love of God, shown for us in the life, death, and Resurrection of His Son our Lord, Jesus Christ. But for others, it may be a source of angst, as we may know that we’re “supposed” to do something, but may not be quite sure what.

And so we dither and agonize until, suddenly, here it is Lent, and we still don’t know what to do. If you’re in that situation, why not consider simply doing what the Church has always done, joining yourself to that stream of tradition, and letting yourself be bouyed up by it? Here’s how.

Note: the title makes it seem like an argument in favor of a “self-tailored” Lent, but in fact it’s quite the contrary: an invitation to live into the classical Lenten tradition:

If I weren’t tailoring my own personal Lenten experience, and were just following the tradition, I would:

• fast on Ash Wednesday,

• read the Bible with special attention,

• read the Church Fathers (and Mothers),

• give up sweets and alcohol (except on Sundays),

• abstain from meats on Friday (or perhaps give up one meal),

• give away extra money to help the poor,

• volunteer my time to visit and assist the sick, the prisoner, or the outcast.

The tradition is not totally uniform. But this a basic outline of Lenten disciplines for many generations back.

Why should I craft my own personal Lent when this old, shared, practical tradition exists?

In our era of DIY spirituality, that’s a question that is well worth pondering!

There are things I might add or “tweak,” slightly, if I were crafting my own observance, but that’s precisely the point: it can be salutary, and spiritually rewarding, not to craft one’s own observance, but simply to enter, sympathetically and whole-heartedly, into the tradition, and allow oneself to be shaped and formed by it.

If you have not already decided on a Lenten discipline – or even if you have, but would like a slightly different perspective, or perhaps even ideas for next year – read this essay. Our secular society tends to view tradition as stultifying, confining, limiting. But in fact, it can often be quite liberating!

Whatever you choose to do, or whatever observances you choose, I wish you God’s blessing for a holy and nourishing Lent.

Ash Wednesday | Anglican Pastor

Christians have been preparing for the celebration of Easter by walking through a “Holy Lent” since ancient times. This is patterned after Jesus temptation in the wilderness…

Source: Ash Wednesday – Anglican Pastor

If you happen to be wondering what this “Ash Wednesday” thing is all about, anyway, here’s a pretty good place to start. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, and

Lent is a season of repentance, fasting, and self-reflection. Of course, all of this happens with the sure knowledge of God’s love and grace to us through Christ. Lent and Ash Wednesday are in no way about condemnation. They are a time in which human beings, given a pronouncement of forgiveness and absolution through Christ, can be honest with God, with ourselves, and with each other. With the terror of judgment removed, we can speak the truth.”

He goes on to explore the themes and customs of Ash Wednesday, in particular. Well worth a read if you’re new to this observance, or even if you are familiar with it – a fresh take, or perhaps a “refresher course,” is never a bad thing!