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!
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.
It is interesting where one’s wanderings in the Steppes of Cyberia can take one! From following links on Holy Tradition and the priesthood, I found myself struck by a passage which speaks to one of the great issues – and traditional / orthodox Christians would assert, evils – of our time: abortion. This, even though abortion is not mentioned in this context.
In her essay, “What is Holy Tradition?” in her blog, Just Genesis, anthropologist, scholar, and former Episcopal priest (one uses that word with caution, and she herself has rejected it, when applied to women) Alice Lindsey writes (this is long, but please bear with me – it’s important to set the context),
“The whole fabric of Holy Tradition is one with the Pleromic Blood of Jesus Christ. No where is this more evident than in the institution of the priesthood which is essentially the Messiah Priesthood. The Messianic Priesthood is unlike any other religious institution. It at once makes distinctions in its binary character and brings unity through its power to redeem and cleanse. It makes distinction between God and humanity and it makes distinction between male and female. The distinction in both cases addresses the primeval universal anxiety toward blood, an anxiety which many cultural anthropologists have observed.
“Underlying the priesthood is the belief that humans must give an accounting to God, especially for the shedding of blood. The priesthood is intrinsically linked to blood. The priest is the functionary who addresses the guilt and dread that accompany the shedding of blood.
“There are two types of blood anxiety: blood shed by killing and blood related to menstruation and birthing. To archaic peoples both types were regarded as powerful and potentially dangerous, requiring priestly ministry to deal with bloodguilt through animal sacrifice and to deal with blood contamination through purification rites.
“Not a single female in the Bible served in a priestly role. We can argue a case for women deacons, but the deacon is not intrinsically linked to blood. Despite the efforts of many to create an egalitarian reality, we find no basis in Tradition or Scripture upon which to argue for women priests. The Bible does not say that women can be priests because the binary distinctions that frame the biblical worldview make “woman priest” ontologically impossible.
“The Scriptures do not forbid women priests because the very idea of women sacrificing animals in the Temple was beyond imagination. It would have been regarded as an affront to the Divine order.
“It was a bloody business when a priest sacrificed a lamb, so much so that the carcasses were burned outside the walls. It was a bloody business giving birth to children, so much so that the birthing hut was set outside the community. In the ancient… worldview from which Holy Tradition emerges, the two bloods were ordained for different purposes and could never share the same space. C.S. Lewis presents the grotesqueness of women priests in his depiction of the savage slaying of Aslan by the White Witch.If you wonder why the image is so troubling, consider that woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it“ [emphasis added].
“If you wonder why the image is so troubling, consider that woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it.”
That is it in a nutshell, I think. Why is abortion so abhorrent to many of us? Why is it so troubling, even to people who support it, that they have to build defenses around their belief that it’s really okay, after all – defenses like “reproductive rights,” and “my body, my choice” – or conversely, “I had to do it, I had no choice”?
To those outside the pro-abortion movement, those have a hollow, desperate sound: abortion is the antithesis of reproduction; I have already discussed how there is more than just the woman’s body to consider; and there are always choices. They sound like justifications, rationalizations, after the fact – and they are.
Woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it.
This is why abortion is not only wrong, or sad, or “a shame,” but – on a visceral, and even metaphysical, level – abhorrent and evil: because it goes against the very nature and purpose of womanhood as such. Woman alone can conceive a child, bear it in her womb as it develops, and bring it forth to life.
Men cannot do this thing; only women can. Therefore childbirth (and I know individual women have other marvelous abilities, and I also know that some women for a variety of reasons simply cannot have children; but we are talking on an ontological level, here – the level of beingness) is of the essence of woman, in a way it is not and cannot be of men, obviously, or even of humanity as a whole.
Woman was made to bring forth life.
Those women who elect to have an abortion (elective abortions being defined as those that are not medically necessary to save the life of the mother, the latter of which is a very small percentage of all abortions, on the order of 1% or less) – whatever struggles and psycho-emotional agony they may have gone through to reach that point, and I do not wish to minimize the very real struggles of many women, who may feel themselves pressured toward abortion by circumstance, by society, or by their “significant other” – are in a very real sense rejecting the most defining characteristic of womanhood itself, the ability to bear a child and give birth to him or her.
In effect, by her decision and action, the woman who chooses abortion – although it is the abortionist who actually does the deed – is choosing (by Lindsey’s categories, above) to function in the role of priest… but of a priest of Moloch, the biblical Phoenician deity who demanded child-sacrifice.
This is not only an individual act of violence and cruelty against the most innocent and defenseless among us, but – on a metaphysical level – it is an inversion of, and offense against, the cosmic order itself, and thereby an offense against the God who created that order (and who also taught us, “thou shalt not kill,” and “love thy neighbor as thyself”).
No wonder it is greeted with unease, at best, and often (and rightly) abhorrence, by many – frequently including the woman herself!
When a woman, whose natural role (inter alia, but also preeminently, since she alone can do this) is to bring forth life, chooses instead to kill it, not only is her own world turned upside down, but so, metaphysically, is the cosmic order itself. Is it any wonder, then, that a culture and society which not only accepts, but is expected to “affirm” and even “celebrate” such actions (638,169 in 2015, and nearly 45.7 million between 1970 and 2015, per the CDC), also seems topsy-turvy?
On a metaphysical level, as well as a socio-cultural one, it is!
Now, this does not come as any surprise to me! I have long believed that science and religion, properly understood, are not and cannot be in opposition to one another – except in the sense defined by British physicist Sir William Bragg:
“From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”
— Sir William Bragg, in Sir Kerr Grant, The Life and Work of Sir William Bragg (1952), 43.
Indeed, it seems to be physicists who, among scientists, are most prone to adopt a theistic worldview. It may be that those whose life’s work leads them to ponder the secrets of the cosmos itself are more inclined to discover that one of those secrets is the secret of design. And design, of course, requires a Designer…
Unless, of course, one is so dead-set against the notion that one comes off sounding strident and silly in one’s opposition, as (for example) Richard Dawkins does, to anyone who is not among his defenders… but I digress!
Michio Kaku, who as the linked post notes, “has made a name for himself as a world-leading theoretical physicist unafraid to speak his mind,” has dropped a bit of a bombshell:
“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” Kaku said, as quoted by the Geophilosophical Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies. “To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance…
“The final resolution could be that God is a mathematician,” says Kaku. “The mind of God, we believe, is cosmic music. The music of strings resonating through 11-dimensional hyperspace.”
I must say, I like that image!
When I consider thy heavens, even the work of thy fingers; the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
O Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world!
Percy (Percival) Dearmer (1867-1936) was an English priest and liturgist who was and is best known as the author of The Parson’s Handbook, a liturgical manual for clergy of the Church of England. His appointments included:
• Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill, 1901-1915
• Professor of Ecclesiastical Art, King’s College, London, 1919-1936
• Canon of Westminster Abbey, 1931-1936
Although on the Anglo-Catholic side of the Anglican liturgical spectrum, he was decidedly not an ultramontanist (Romanist), favoring, rather, ritual forms drawn from the pre-Reformation “English Use.” Wikipedia notes that he also had a strong influence on the music of the church and, with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Martin Shaw, is credited with the revival and spread of traditional and medieval English musical forms.
As the title of “The Parson’s Handbook” indicates, he had a strong concern for the parochial; that is, the ordinary, day-to-day spiritual and religious life of ordinary Christians, and found (as many have, both before and after him) the classical Prayer Book pattern – the core of Anglican tradition – to be an excellent model and aid for growth in holiness.
[As I prepare to post this, it occurs to me that I may have posted it, or parts of it, earlier; but if so, no matter! If I have, it’s been a while, and this is the sort of thing that one needs to revisit from time to time, if one is even the least bit serious about what Martin Thornton called “Christian Proficiency.” I hope some may find it helpful!]
To most modern minds, freedom is a very detached concept; it is an abstraction of sorts, a free-floating power unmoored from any limits or defining standards.
“Freedom today is often viewed as personal and self-referential, with little consideration as to how one’s ‘freedom’ might affect that of someone else. A healthy sense of the common good suffers mightily in a world of deeply conflicting personal freedoms.”
Cogent thoughts on freedom, limitation, and the folly of trying to create (or maintain) culture without cultus.
“Obviously, the word cultus is at the heart of the word culture. In Latin, a cultus is something for which we care or about which we are concerned; it is something of worth, something considered valuable. It describes the most central, fundamental values of a group. In later Latin, cultus came to describe the worth or value we attribute to God, who is our truest goal.
“Remove the cultus from culture and you get the breakdown we are seeing today. While pluralism and diversity have value, they must exist within a framework that is shared and agreed upon. Otherwise pluralism and diversity are unmoored and become like ships crashing about in a stormy bay.
“In order for a culture to exist, there must be a shared cultus, a shared focus on what is good, true, beautiful, and sacred. Our modern experiment shows the failure of trying to have a culture without this.”
There are just a few excerpts; the entire article is well worth reading. Here is a bit more, a quote from (Roman Catholic) Bishop Robert Barron:
“The setting aside of God can take place both explicitly (as in the musings of the atheists) or implicitly (as in so much of the secular world where “practical” atheism holds sway). In either case the result is a shutting down of the natural human drive toward the transcendent and, even more dangerously, the elevation of self-determining freedom to a position of unchallenged primacy…
“On the typically modern reading, truth is construed as an enemy to freedom—which explains precisely why we find such a hostility to truth in the contemporary culture. Indeed, anyone who claims to have the truth—especially in regard to moral matters—is automatically accused of arrogance and intolerance.
“Society will be restored to balance and sanity, (Pope) Benedict (XVI) argued, only when the natural link between freedom and truth — especially the Truth which is God — is reestablished. … Behind all our arguments about particular moral and political issues is a fundamental argument about the centrality of God” [Vibrant Paradoxes, pp. 217-218].
Indeed. At root, much of the trouble we are facing today, as a society, can be traced to the Enlightenment project of topping God as the center and pinnacle of our musings, striving, and contemplation, and the Good, the True, and the Beautiful – the pursuit of which lead us to God, as their Source and culmination – as the desirable goals of a human life well-lived – and replacing both Him and them with the deification of unaided human reason (*), and later, emotion and self-gratification.
Lacking that solid anchor and reference point, is it any wonder that we have become “like ships crashing about in a stormy bay”?
* Human reason is indeed one of the most precious gifts of our benevolent Creator, an extremely valuable human faculty. But because we are finite, limited, mortal human beings, our human reason is also finite, limited, and mortal. It is not intended, nor is it possible, to function alone, unaided by what the Anglican tradition names as Scripture and Tradition.
That is to say, the revelation of God as revealed in Scripture, Nature, and Antiquity: the latter referring to the theological and philosophical insights of those who have come before, especially those which are clearly part of the Great Tradition of Christianity, into which certain of the great Classical philosophers – such as Plato and Aristotle – have been incorporated, because they have foreshadowed it, because their thought illuminates, explicates, or complements parts of it, or all of the above).
To function and flourish properly, human reason also requires the water and fertilizer of not only Divine revelation (as shown through the Scriptures), but prayer – both personal and extemporaneous, and liturgical, through what the Anglican tradition calls “Common Prayer” – and the sacraments. As this essay points out,
“Freedom can only exist in a healthy and productive way when it is in reference to the truth — and truth is rooted in God and what He has revealed in creation, Sacred Scripture, and Tradition. This is the cultus necessary for every culture. True and healthy freedom is the capacity to obey God. Anything that departs from this necessary framework is a deformed freedom, on its way to chaos and slavery.”
To be effective, therefore, and to be whole persons, in a right relationship to God and to one another – to be truly free, in other words, both personally and in the context of our social organization – we need not just reason, but sanctified reason. Even at that, we sometimes (often) fall short! Without it, we are indeed “ships crashing about in a stormy bay,” with little or no hope of reaching a safe harbor.
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“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”
— Luke 24:5b, Matthew 28:6
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast. Not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness: but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. – 1 Cor. v. 7.
Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more : death hath no more dominion over him.For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin: but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Rom. vi. 9.
Christ is risen from the dead : and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death : by man came also the resurrection of the dead.For as in Adam all die: even so in Christ shall all be made alive. – 1 Cor. xv. 20.