Saint Mary the Virgin | For All the Saints

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In the person of the Virgin Mary, the Church has seen an image of itself, the representative of the community of the faithful, a model of what each Christian ought to be.

Source: Saint Mary the Virgin | For All the Saints

I have been rather remiss in posting saints’ day recently, for which I offer my humble apologies. Here is a rather important one, for many Christians, although it does not appear in either the 1662 or 1928 Book of Common Prayer: the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin.

While those coming from a more Protestant / Reformed tradition tend to look with suspicion at the Virgin Mary, or at least de-emphasize her and her role, in reaction to the extremely (one could argue, excessively) high pinnacle on which she is set by the Roman Catholic Church, the fact remains that she is the Theotokos (“God-bearer,” as the Eastern Orthodox tradition calls her), and that without her humble response, “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy will,” the Incarnation could not have happened – or at least, not the way it did!

It is appropriate, then, that we recognize, celebrate, and even venerate the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, even as we are cautious to avoid placing her on the level with God. As this essay points out,

“In the person of the Virgin Mary, the Church has seen an image of itself, the representative of the community of the faithful, a model of what each Christian ought to be: prayerful, humble, joyfully submissive to the will and word of God, devoted to her Son and loyal to him even when she did not understand him.”

Amen, and amen.

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The Oxford Movement Begins | Ritual Notes

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Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is…

Source: The Oxford Movement Begins — Ritual Notes

“Most Anglo-Catholics know that 185 years ago today, John Keble ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford to deliver the sermon at the opening of the Assize Court. If the date is not remembered, the result certainly is. John Henry Newman wrote that this sermon, easily forgotten during any other time, was the beginning of the Oxford Movement.”

The UEC, parent jurisdiction of the Oratory of St. Bede the Venerable and St. John’s Church, Westminster, is not located on the Anglo-Catholic wing of traditional Anglicanism, but rather considers itself Reformed Catholic, being devoted to the classic formularies of the Anglican tradition, and sometimes tends to look askance at the Oxford Movement (which admittedly, in its later manifestations, became rather ultramontane). Yet this essay makes some excellent points, noting that John Keble’s Assize Sermon of 1833,

“entitled National Apostasy, is unexpectedly good. Once you get through the dense beginning and understand the building argument, it not only speaks clearly to the times in 1833 but it has a remarkable resonance in 2018.

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“In a nutshell, this is Keble’s argument:

“Like Samuel’s Israel, we prefer the lure to live in prosperity and so-called freedom like other non-Christian nations. Nations, and by-extension individuals, find justification for throwing off the yoke of Christ and the demands of discipleship. We look to threats outside and threats within to abandon godly principles (sound familiar?). We then blame government or religion for our ills and never ourselves. We rationalize and excuse every decision and act. We become so tolerant that we believe nothing and we persecute those who believe in the name of inclusion (oh my goodness!). This rebellion moves from individuals to public officials. The officials begin to attack Christ by attacking His Church, beginning with apostolic authority – bishops. This attack will come in the name of popularity and expediency…

“Keble calls the Church to follow the example of Samuel through constant intercession, which then gives grounding and strength to protest. Christians should continue to glorify God in their daily lives and routines and should not be so consumed with the concerns of the day that they neglect ordinary duties, especially prayer and devotion. This is an important point he makes. While we may not live to see wrongs righted, we are on the right and, ultimately, victorious side.

“Every one of his points deserves further reflection and exposition, but is this not the climate of 2018?”

I would certainly say that there are plenty of similarities and parallels! The article goes on to point out – cogently, I think – that

“The Catholic Revival in the Church of England had nothing to do with gin, lace, and backbiting, as is often caricatured. Yes, elaborate ritual and church building followed in the next generation, but this was a logical development of the belief that the Church is not the same as the Post Office. [Or, as I sometimes put it in defending the use of traditional language in worship, “The liturgy – the worship of God – is not Uncle Joe’s barbecue.”] The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives and not the same as chicken tetrazzini at the weekly Rotary Club. The development of ritual and devotion was the servant, the handmaid, to the truths Keble turned our minds to 185 years ago.”

May they never be forgotten!

 


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Celebrating Imbolc, also known as St. Brigid’s Day | IrishCentral.com

Imbolc, known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring. The above image is of a stained glass window showing Saint Brigid (photo by Wolfgang Sauber).

Source: Celebrating Imbolc, also known as St. Brigid’s Day | IrishCentral.com

Some Irish customs and traditions surrounding the Feast of St. Brigid – also celebrated by some as the ancient Celtic feast of Imbolc.

“St. Brigid is the patron saint of babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children whose mothers are mistreated by the children’s fathers, Clan Douglas, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travelers, and watermen. Here’s a busy saint!”

No joke…!

Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c. 525 | For All the Saints

 

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Brigid is commemorated in the Calendars of the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Church in Wales, and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Souce: Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c. 525 | For All the Saints

Good morning, all! A grey and chilly – though not frigid, at 39° – start to the month of February. Wishing my Christian friends a happy, holy, and blessed Feast of St. Brigid! One of the most popular and widespread and Celtic saints, one of two patron saints of Ireland (with St. Patrick), and the original patroness of what is now St. Bede’s, her roots may well extend back in time to well before the coming of Christianity. May we all have a blessed day!

Commemoration of Charles I of England, King and Martyr (1649)

Sanctus Carolus Defensor Fidei

Charles I of England and Scotland, King and Martyr: 30 January 1649

(from today’s entry in the late James Kiefer’s excellent series of hagiographies)

At the end, when Charles was Cromwell’s prisoner, he was required to assent to a law abolishing bishops in the Church of England. He had previously given his consent to such an abolition in Scotland, where the Puritans were in the majority, but here he dug in his heels and declared that Bishops were part of the Church as God had established it, and that he could not in conscience assent to Cromwell’s demand. His refusal sealed his doom, and it is for this that he is accounted a martyr, since he could have saved his life by giving in on this question. He was brought to trial before Parliament, found guilty of treason, and beheaded 30 January 1649. On the scaffold, he said (I quote from memory and may not have the exact words):

“No man in England is a better friend to liberty than myself, But I must tell you plainly that the liberty of subjects consists not in having a hand in the government, but in having that government, and those laws, whereby their lives and their goods may be most their own.”

That is to say, one may reasonably ask of a government that it establish justice in the land; so that judges do not take bribes, so that innocent men are not convicted of crimes, while the guilty are convicted and punished, so that honest men need fear neither robbers nor the sheriff. One may further ask that taxes be not excessive, and that punishments be not disproportionate to the crime. Charles would have said,

“Do not ask whether the laws were made by men whom you elected. Ask whether they are reasonable and good laws, upholding justice and the public weal.”

He would have invited comparison of his record in this respect with that of the Long Parliament (which sat for twenty years without an election, and whose members came to think of themselves as rulers for life, accountable to no one) and Cromwell (who eventually dissolved Parliament and ruled as a military dictator, under whose rule the ordinary Englishman had far less liberty than under Charles).

In his struggle with his opponents, Charles considered himself to be contending for two things:

(1) the good of the realm and the liberty and well-being of the people, which he believed would be better served by the monarch ruling according to ancient precedent, maintaining the traditional rights of the people as enshrined in the common law, than by a Parliament that ended up denying that it was either bound by the law or accountable to the people; and

(2) the Church of England, preaching the doctrine of the undivided Church of the first ten centuries, administering sacraments regarded not as mere psychological aids to devotion but as vehicles of the presence and activity of God in his Church, governed by bishops who had been consecrated by bishops who had been consecrated by bishops… back certainly to the second century, and, as many have believed, back to the Twelve Apostles and to the command of Christ himself.

In his Declaration at Newport, in the last year of his life, he said:

“I conceive that Episcopal government is most consonant to the Word of God, and of an apostolical institution, as it appears by the Scripture, to have been practised by the Apostles themselves, and by them committed and derived to particular persons as their substitutes or successors therein and hath ever since to these last times been exercised by Bishops in all the Churches of Christ, and therefore I cannot in conscience consent to abolish the said government.”

In a day when religious toleration was not widespread, King Charles I was noteworthy for his reluctance to engage in religious persecution of any kind, whether against Romanists or Anabaptists.

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/92.html

King Charles I – Anglican Martyr | Anglican History Blog

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30 January: Commemoration of Charles I of England, King and Martyr

Source: King Charles I Anglican Martyr | Anglican History Blog

“A devotional cult was established in Charles’ name and he is considered an Anglican martyr, especially by Anglo-Catholics. It is said that if Charles had been willing to abandon the Church and give up the episcopacy he might have saved his throne and his life. Charles would not give to either demand, and as Gladstone said, ‘it was for the Church that Charles shed his blood on the scaffold.’

“Charles was removed as a saint from the calendar in 1859 but his feast day continues to be observed in the Church of England. The Society of King Charles the Martyr continues devotional activities in his memory…

“Charles is commemorated in churches across England and his last word of ‘REMEMBER’ can be found on statues. A hymn written to St. Charles contains this verse:

“For England’s Church, for England’s realm (Once thine in earthly sway), Lest storms our Ark should overwhelm, Saint Charles of England pray!”

Commemoration of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1645 | For All the Saints

 

Source: William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645 | For All the Saints

Today marks the martyrdom – and thus, by ancient Christian tradition, the “heavenly birthday” – of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (1633 – 1645). While frequently criticized, and not without justification, for his willingness to aggressively pursue and harshly punish “Dissenters,” it is worth noting that his motive was to protect the Anglican expression of Christianity from a school of thought – Puritanism – that was both militantly opposed to that Anglican expression, and furthermore rapidly gaining the ascendancy.

That they would be just as willing to use vicious means against their own opponents (including not only the Laudian party, but Anglicans in general) when they attained power was demonstrated all too clearly during the Interregnum (Long Parliament and Protectorate) following the execution of King Charles I, called by some King Charles the Martyr. Does that justify the Courts of High Commission and Star Chamber? I leave that to my readers to decide. I will only quote from the above-linked essay:

“Honored as a martyr and condemned as an intolerant bigot, he was compassionate in his defense of the rights of the common people against the landowners. He was honest, devout, loyal to the king and to the rights and privileges of the Church of England. He tried to reform and protect the Church in accordance with his convictions – though these attempts at reform were marred by his treatment of those who strenuously disagreed with him theologically and liturgically.”

The essay goes on to quote A.W. Ballard (1945):

“As far as doctrine was concerned Laud carried on the teaching of Cranmer and Hooker. He held that the basis of belief was the Bible, but that the Bible was to be interpreted by the tradition of the early Church, and that all doubtful points were to be subjected, not to heated arguments in the pulpits, but to sober discussion by learned men. His mind, in short, like those of the earlier English reformers, combined the Protestant reliance on the Scriptures with reverence for ancient tradition and with the critical spirit of the Ranascence [Renaissance].”

I shall close with a prayer written by Laud, and found in every Book of Common Prayer published since his time. It is my prayer, as well, and should be that of us all: I invite you – especially you who are of the Anglican observance, but it is equally open to all Christians, for obvious reasons – to use it, regularly!

For the Church.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.


(“Catholic,” in this sense, does not mean Roman Catholic, but in the words of another great Anglican luminary, Lancelot Andewes, “the whole Catholic Church: Eastern, Western, and our own.”)