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!

Defining Anglicanism – by ACC Archbishop Mark David Haverland

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Source: Defining Anglicanism | Anglican Catholic Liturgy and Theology

What I would describe as an absolute tour de force by The Right Reverend Mark David Haverland, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church (a Continuing Anglican jurisdiction with which the UECNA is in communion). He writes, inter alia,

“Anglicanism is not a distinctive and finished system, but an approach, a method, and a temper. Anglicanism is not doctrines that distinguish it from those of other Churches, because Anglicans assert that what they believe is plainly founded in the Scriptures believed by those other Churches and in the first millennium of those Churches. That same faith of the first millennium is or should be decisive in all Churches for interpreting the Scriptural deposit.

“That which distinguishes Anglicans in doctrinal terms, then, is a kind of restraint concerning doctrinal commitment flowing from an unwillingness to innovate or even to receive older teachings that go far beyond Scripture and the consensus of the Churches. It is precisely this self-limitation which makes possible an openness to the great Churches of the East and the West. We assert and press nothing as essential, so far as we can see, that they do not themselves affirm, only questioning their differences from each other which seem to have no strong foundation in the Fathers or in the consensus of the first millennium.”

If that doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what does. He also seems to take a bow to what I describe – approvingly, I might add! – as cultural Anglicanism, an approach which is characterized by defining “Anglican”

“rather non-theologically by emphasizing its cultural or civilizational characteristics, products, and influences. I have myself used this approach on occasions. On this view… Anglicanism is Anglican chant, Vaughan Williams hymns, the King’s College service of Lessons and Carols, and the English musical and choral tradition; the sermons of John Donne and Lancelot Andrewes; the poems of George Herbert, John Keble, W.H. Auden, and T.S. Eliot; the Barsetshire novels and Swift’s satires and Robertson Davies’s Salterton trilogy and the writings of C.S. Lewis; the sons and daughters of Anglican rectories; the prose of Hooker’s Laws and the Authorized Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer; a deeply felt but undemonstrative and unsentimental piety; Wren churches and English country parishes; the moral seriousness that outlawed the slave trade and stopped suttee and beat the Nazis; Evensong of a summer’s afternoon; the Queen’s Christmas address with its consistent, gentle emphasis on our Saviour’s birth.

“This approach might look at first like the ‘kitchen sink’, as it accumulates the stuff of centuries in an apparent gatherum omnium.  In fact, however, there is a good deal of definition and coherence to the list.  There’s no modernism or neo-Pentecostalism in it, for one thing.  For another thing, while a Roman Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox Christian might think some important things are missing from it, there’s little or nothing positively in it that he would find objectionable.”

Let me be clear: I love this tradition, deeply and passionately. It is a good bit of what brought me into Anglicanism in the first place, and I would hate to lose it. But – and this is the point I think Archbishop Haverland was getting at – this approach is, by itself, merely (or mainly) cultural, and, I must reluctantly admit, a bit hazy and nostalgic: unless stiffened and given spiritual and theological substance by the first and more rigorous set of criteria Archbishop Haverland delineates above.

There is, in my view, nothing wrong with cultural Anglicanism, if it flows out of and serves as a very fitting and proper cultural expression of theological Anglicanism. If it does not, if it’s expected to stand on its own without the theological and doctrinal substance of the Holy Scriptures, the Patristic Creeds and Councils, and the overall witness of the ancient and undivided Church of the first millennium of the Christian era, it can be a bit of a house built upon sand.

There are plenty of people out there, in the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, and elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, who love these things, too; but who also embrace all manner of theological and moral innovation and relativism. Glorious choral music, fine poetry and literature, and pastoral country scenes (as per the picture with which I opened this post), while highly admirable in themselves, are not sufficient.

At any rate: click through the link to Archbishop Haverland’s essay, and “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” it. Spiritual nourishment to start your Lenten observance! And may God indeed bless you with a holy Lent.

 

Shrove Tuesday – its meaning

 

 

While we’re eating our pancakes or doughnuts, let’s not forget that the real reason for Shrove Tuesday is to prepare for a holy celebration of Lent: it’s not only about pancakes, but about penitence for one’s sins! The doughnuts or pancakes were made in order to use up the fat and eggs from which folks would be abstaining during the Lenten Fast (this is also the origin of “Fat Tuesday,” or “Mardi Gras”).

As the images above point out, “shrove” is the past tense of the archaic English verb “to shrive,” meaning to be absolved of and receive pardon from one’s sins through confession and penitence, again in preparation for a holy Lent – the time of penitence and self-examination leading up to Good Friday and Easter, the commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Or, as the Prayer Book exhortation puts it,

“… if there be any of you, who by this means [prayerful self-examination, and repentance before God on one’s own] cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word” – another Anglican source refers to “a discrete and understanding priest” – “and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.”

The traditional Anglican standard for this sort of private confession to / with a priest is that “all may, some should, none must.” That seems, to me, a good approach.

Wishing everyone a holy, as well as a happy, Shrove Tuesday!

 

It’s Time to Boycott the Worship Industry | Jonathan Aigner

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It’s time for us to boycott an industry that cares very much what the whole church thinks. We’re their only hope of staying afloat.

It’s time to boycott the worship industry.

Source: It’s Time to Boycott the Worship Industry | Jonathan Aigner

Jonathan Aigner often has good things to say, and this is no exception. As he accurately notes,

“It’s time to stop mimicking pop culture. It’s time for us to learn how to sing and make music again, instead of allowing others to do it for us. It’s time to rediscover the proper place of music in corporate worship. It’s time to end the Hillsongization, dethrone our jesusy American Idols, and once again foster creative beauty and artistry, especially in our children. It’s time to make worship about the work of the people once again, not just a good show and an hour of vegging out.”

Amen. Follow the link for five excellent reasons why the worship industry is leading Christians down the wrong path, and why boycotting it is not only a good idea, but may be essential for the faith – or at least, for the faith of Christians who have been caught up in it.

A Teaching & Proclamation on Abortion | Anglican Province of America

Image result for Anglican Joint SynodsThe Bishops of the Anglican Joint Synods Churches released the following statement on the matter of abortion.

Source: A Teaching & Proclamation on Abortion | Anglican Province of America

The Bishops of the Anglican Joint Synods – often known as the “G4” or “Group of Four” Continuing Anglican Churches – has released an official statement on the subject of abortion, here linked from the website of the Anglican Province of America, one of the G4 jurisdictions.

It notes, inter alia, that

“In Virginia, where [legislation similar to that passed by New York] has been proposed [though thankfully not passed], the current governor has made statements that appear to endorse the notion that babies who survive late-term abortions could be left to die.

“Such sentiments reveal how far removed the pro-abortion movement is from the values expressed in a document penned by another governor of Virginia, one which asserts that all humans are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ and ‘that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’

“A society founded on these principles cannot support legalized abortion. If the right to life is unalienable, it belongs to the individual alone, and cannot unjustly be taken away. Moreover, the right to life possesses a logical priority in that all other rights flow from the individual’s status as a living being.

“Curtailing the right to life undermines the principles of natural law and threatens the very fabric of our democracy.”

Amen.

Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy

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Altar rails are contributing to the restoration of the sacred and the recovery of reverence within the Holy Mass.

Source: Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy

“(The altar rail) is still a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united… But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”

Although coming from a Roman Catholic perspective, this is also applicable to the Anglican tradition. The same trends noted here for the Roman observance – that following Vatican II,

“there were many in the Church who aggressively sought to remove that which was considered traditional and sacred. Gone were the high altars, beautiful Catholic statuary, and of course, altar rails.

“A liturgically misguided attempt at egalitarianism ruled the post-conciliar landscape, one which challenged the very distinction between sanctuary and nave. Overtones of anticlericalism were pervasive, as was a new type of… worship, one intentionally structured for ecumenical purposes.

“By their very presence altar rails hindered the march toward the profane desired by many. With such liturgical innovations as… Communion in the hand, altar rails were an affront to the moderns. In the new, democratic, liturgy kneeling had simply become outdated and uncouth”

– have also been seen, since the Liturgical Movement of the 1960s and 70s, as a major influence within the Episcopal Church, and indeed in most other churches within the Anglican Communion. There has been concern to make the liturgy more “accessible,” and as a result, it has become less sacred. Continue reading “Altar Rails and Reverence | liturgy guy”

Roman Catholic bishops issue responses to Pope’s joint declaration with Grand Imam

 

 

 

A number of leading Catholic bishops are beginning to respond to the highly controversial joint declaration, the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” which Pope Francis signed with Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar Mosque, during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Feb. 4.

As a current article on LifeSite News points out, the document has incited considerable controversy among Christians for asserting that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom” – a statement many believe contravenes the Catholic Faith. About the furthest I would be willing to go is that the pluralism and diversity of religions are tolerated by God in His mercy… which is saying quite a different thing.

Now, as I say, a number of bishops are beginning to issue letters of response (and, dare one say it – as a non-Roman Catholic, I do so dare – correction and fraternal reproof) to this document. One of these is Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, in Kazakhstan, who has become a notable proponent of Catholic (and more generally, Christian) orthodoxy in these troubled times. Continue reading “Roman Catholic bishops issue responses to Pope’s joint declaration with Grand Imam”