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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I hold in my hands my iphone. Perhaps you have one too. The Apple industry of computers and phones has changed our world out of all recognition. What does this small gadget have in common with the book in my right hand- which is a Bible? There is a direct connection; they are both things that have changed the world. The legendary tale is told of Steve Jobs saying to John Sculley who was at Pepsi Cola and, as you may know, Jobs wanted Sculley to join his firm: "Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Sayings rarely get better than that!
Apple and Microsoft combined have done exactly that – but William Tyndale, whom we celebrate today, eclipses both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
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O loving God, by whose grace thy servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send thy blessing upon all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look unto him and be saved; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
A bishop's crozier, or pastoral staff, discovered in a cupboard in New Zealand is being returned to Maori by the Anglican Church.
The carved crozier was presented to the then Anglican Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Averill, in 1914 by four northern Maori tribes.
It marked 100 years since Samuel Marsden and other Anglican missionaries set up a permanent European settlement with Maori in the Bay of Islands and it is now being returned 200 years later.
Read it all.
In one of Ross’s most effective chapters, she argues that low-church evangelical liturgy has taken many of its cues from the Gospel of John, while more high-church traditions have tended to look toward the synoptics. She cites John’s emphasis on personal faith, de-emphasis of high offices, and prioritization of Christology as ways in which this particular gospel has deeply influenced low-church liturgical practices. Ross’s goal here, she tells us, is not to establish which reading or which liturgical practice ought to be favored. She seeks instead to highlight that the breadth of scripture suggests that a breadth of interpretations can be welcomed and affirmed by the Christian church. Ross writes, “Nonsacramental Christianity is one faithful way of embodying the shared confession of faith. My hope is that the discipline of liturgical studies is wide enough to embrace ‘both-and’ without mandating ‘either-or.’”
Yet for all the book’s strengths, it is one thing to demonstrate that a system of thought or group of practices are coherent; it is quite another to demonstrate that they are good. While any fair-minded high-church reader of Ross’s work should be able to finish this book with a greater understanding of evangelical liturgical practices, I am not sure that he will come away from this book feeling more sympathetic to low-church evangelicalism. It is possible, in fact, that greater theological clarity might bring about greater discomfort, as some high-church readers may see their worst fears being confirmed in these elucidating pages, particularly by phrases like “nonsacramental Christianity.” Furthermore, those already suspicious of the excesses of Finney and Whitefield are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise by Ross’s discussion of their role in the formation of evangelical liturgical practices.
Still, it is better to have an informed conversation than an uninformed one.
Read it all
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full of what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine.--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 12 ("Faith"; emphasis mine) [Hat tip:JH]
James Houston knew C.S. Lewis well during their time at Oxford, and here he comments on the great impact of Lewis on Christian spiritual formation.
Listen to it all, conducted by Bruce Hindmarsh.
Check it out.
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.--C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), pp. 138-139
O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
On a Sunday morning this past October, some 1,500 preachers and ministers across the country joined in a nationwide protest they called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. They spoke defiantly from their pulpits about political campaigns and pending legislation. They even endorsed politicians, knowingly violating laws meant to prevent such mixing of church and state. Organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, this group of evangelicals targeted the Johnson Amendment, which forbids tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates and getting involved in campaigns. By violating these rules in an act of civil disobedience, they hoped to trigger a court case to get the amendment overturned. The issue, as they see it, is too much involvement by the government in religious life. The government should not tell Christians how to run their businesses, how to teach their children, or—as the Pulpit Freedom Sunday protesters asserted—how to write their sermons.
These sermons of protest were part of a broader political mobilization among religious institutions in the United States in recent years. The number of “Nones”—those professing no religious affiliation—is on the rise, and a small but vocal group of atheists are challenging Christian displays in public spaces. And the Christian Right appears to be losing the battle on gay rights. In response, many of the leading conservative religious organizations are mobilizing politically while also shifting their strategy. Their new aim is to mark off a part of life that can remain Christian, to protect Christians as a minority that can stand apart from the demands of a national culture they see as being dominated by secularism. The Hobby Lobby case was only the most prominent example of this trend.
On the other hand, a broad swath of American Christians sees things entirely differently. Although they receive far less attention, members of the religious left do not feel besieged by their country. Instead, they are pushing law and politics in the very directions the religious right is resisting. The United Church of Christ filed suit in April 2014 to overturn the prohibition on gay marriage in North Carolina. In the same state, many ministers are participating in the “Moral Monday” campaigns, a movement that is saturated in religious language. And Jim Wallis and Cornel West were arrested last month for protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. Although the left differs with the right on cultural policy, both groups see political mobilization as being at the heart of religious thought and practice.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian United Church of Christ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to respect and love our fellow Christians with whom we disagree, that our common life may be enriched and thy gracious will be done, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Holy God, our greatest treasure, who didst bless Hugh and Robert, Bishops of Lincoln, with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of thy Word to rich and poor alike: Grant that all who minister in thy Name may serve with diligence, discipline and humility, fearing nothing but the loss of thee and drawing all to thee through Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the communion of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy God, who didst so inspire Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a great awakening among those who heard them: Inspire us, we pray, by thy Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share thy Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Christmas day in 1753 fell on the Tuesday which was but two days after the ordination to the Priesthood just mentioned. The newly ordained priest on the morning of that day, was sent with a note of introduction from the Chaplain of the Bishop of London to the Incumbent of one of the Churches in that city, apparently with the view of assigning to him some duty for the day. The Incumbent gave him but a surly reception, sternly demanding upon his entrance to the vestry-room, who he was, and what he wanted; in silent reply to which demands he presented his note; the comment upon which was, "Hah! Well, if the Bishop has sent you, I suppose I must take you. Give him a surplice, and show him into the desk" (to the Sexton), "and do you, Sir, find your places, and wait there till I come." A younger clergyman, of more amiable appearance, meanwhile seemed much amused at this splenetic reception. Coming back into the Vestry after the service, the Doctor turning fiercely upon the neophyte, exclaimed, "What is the reason, Sir, that you did not read the Litany?" "Because, Sir, it is not a Litany day." "And don't you know that if the Ordinary chooses to have it read on Festival days, it is your duty to read it?" "That may be, Sir, but it is the Ordinary's business to let me know that." The old man's face was black with passion, but before he had time to explode, the younger clergyman came to the rescue, saying: "Doctor, you won't get much out of this young man; you had better turn him over to me, for I see you don't want him: come, Mr. Seabury, will you go with me to--Church and preach for me!" "I never preached a sermon in my life." "Well, of all things I should like to hear a virgin preacher! " So the young men took themselves off, and after dinner the virgin sermon was preached; though concerning its subject, and the place where it was broached, tradition is silent: as it also is in respect to any further official acts of the preacher during the remainder of his stay in England.
In the year following, 1754, having received his appointment as a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, he set sail for his native land, and soon after began the regular exercise of his ministry at New Brunswick, in the Province of New Jersey. One of his relatives, writing about this time to another, observed: "Mr. Samuel Seabury has returned to America again; an excellent physician, a learned divine, an accomplished gentleman and a pious Christian;" a record which indicates the reputation which he had in the small circle within which he was then known, and which it was anticipated that his future life would verify.
Not much is known in regard to his work during the short time of his charge at New Brunswick, but the period is interesting, both on account of the evidence of his doctrinal principles afforded by his sermons, and also on account of the evidence of the extension of his influence and reputation in a somewhat wider sphere, afforded by contemporaneous events with which he was associated.
Among his manuscripts are several of the sermons which he preached at New Brunswick....
Read it all.
Eternal God, who didst bless thy servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America; Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by thy holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In closing, permit me to highlight three areas of Simeon’s ministry which have greatly challenged me in my reflections and which, if we were to follow them, would have the potential to rejuvenate our ministry.
1 Giving priority to an effective devotional lifestyle, with a commitment to spending ‘quality’ time in Bible study and prayer.
2 A commitment to living a holy life, recognizing the need of the renewing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
3 That, along with Simeon, our understanding of the purpose of our preaching would be: ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’ (John 12:21).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Christology Pastoral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
The agency of Satan in the affairs of man cannot be doubted by any one who really believes the representations given us in this inspired volume. His great employment from the very first has been to seduce men to sin.
----Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae MCCLXXVI
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
He grew downward in humiliation before God, and he grew upward in his adoration of Christ.
Handley Moule captures the essence of Simeon's secret of longevity in this sentence: "'Before honor is humility,' and he had been 'growing downwards' year by year under the stern discipline of difficulty met in the right way, the way of close and adoring communion with God" (Moule, 64). Those two things were the heartbeat of Simeon's inner life: growing downward in humility and growing upward in adoring communion with God.
But the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.
I have continually had such a sense of my sinfulness as would sink me into utter despair, if I had not an assured view of the sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save me to the uttermost. And at the same time I had such a sense of my acceptance through Christ as would overset my little bark, if I had not ballast at the bottom sufficient to sink a vessel of no ordinary size. (Moule 134f.)He never lost sight of the need for the heavy ballast of his own humiliation. After he had been a Christian forty years he wrote,
With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. I have never thought that the circumstance of God's having forgiven me was any reason why I should forgive myself; on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me (Ezekiel 16:63). . . . There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: and I have always thought that they should be viewed together; just as Aaron confessed all the sins of all Israel whilst he put them on the head of the scapegoat. The disease did not keep him from applying to the remedy, nor did the remedy keep him from feeling the disease. By this I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Saviour continually. (Carus, 518f.)Please do read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Pastoral Theology
When Simeon moved to put benches in the aisles, the church wardens threw them out. He battled with discouragement and at one point wrote out his resignation.
"When I was an object of much contempt and derision in the university," he later wrote, "I strolled forth one day, buffeted and afflicted, with my little Testament in my hand … The first text which caught my eye was this: 'They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross.'"
Slowly the pews began to open up and fill, not primarily with townspeople but with students. Then Simeon did what was unthinkable at the time: he introduced an evening service. He invited students to his home on Sundays and Friday evening for "conversation parties" to teach them how to preach. By the time he died, it is estimated that one-third of all the Anglican ministers in the country had sat under his teaching at one time or another.
Read it all.
He stood for many years alone—he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned—his doctrines were misrepresented—his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized—disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.--as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Lord God of hosts, who didst clothe thy servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and didst set him as a bishop in thy Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O Lord our God, grant that thy Church, following the teaching of thy servant Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from thy divine Being; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
John Wesley, like him or love him, could not be accused of neglecting the biblical idiom. His sermons glow, or sometimes sag, with Scripture's peculiar phrasings. He famously called himself homo unius libri, "a man of one book." You got it — he means the Bible. Yet, as Randy Maddox notes, Wesley owned over 1,000 books, ranging from Christian history to medicine, politics, poetry, and beyond. The elegant harmony Wesley (like Hamann) saw between the thousands of books and the One Book is already inscribed in his bold self-moniker — do not let the humor pass you by — Wesley announces that he is homo unius libri in Latin. He is an Oxford Bible Moth, to be sure.
In Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture (Green and Watson, ed.s.), Maddox observes how John Wesley himself read the Bible, with an eye to hinting at how we might follow Wesley's lead.
Wesley's practices which Maddox unpacks in his chapter are:
1. Reading the One Book comparatively in its many different versions
2. Reading comparatively the many books in the One Book
3. Reading comparatively in light of God's central purpose — our salvation
4. Reading the One Book in conference with the Holy Spirit
5. Reading the One Book in conference with other readers
6. Reading the One Book in conference with Christian tradition
7. Reading the One Book in conference with the Book of Nature
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Theology: Scripture
An unusual email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop.
The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.
It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. On his death in 1881, his extensive collection of books was bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary England / UK
O Lord our God, who dost call whom thou willest and send them whither thou choosest: We thank thee for sending thy servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve thee, the living God; and we entreat thee to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of thy service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Working with his Rugby contemporary R. H. Tawney, the seminal Labour thinker, and William Beveridge, the architect of the welfare reforms which sought to banish the five giants of want, idleness, squalor, ignorance and disease, Temple’s book Christianity and Social Order, published in 1942, provided a challenging theological gloss to this vision: “. . . there is no hope of establishing a more Christian social order except through the labour and sacrifice of those in whom the Spirit of Christ is active, and that the first necessity for progress is more and better Christians taking full responsibility as citizens for the political, social and economic system under which they and their fellows live.”
After Temple’s death at the age of 63 after being Archbishop of Canterbury for only 30 months, Bishop Barry of Southwell asked angrily in The Spectator: “Is the Church so rich in prophets that it can afford to squander the gifts of God?” A contrasting view, expressed by Hensley Henson, was that he died just in time “for he had passed away while the streams of opinion in Church and State, of which he became the outstanding symbol and exponent, were at flood, and escaped the experience of their inevitable ebb”.
Although a much different world than that of 60 years ago, the weight of Temple’s greatness is still felt. Once described as “a man so broad, to some he seem’d to be Not one, but all Mankind in Effigy”, his wide informed vision checks our growing narrowness and self-obsession, his realism our Utopian perfectionism, his generosity of heart a worthy riposte to the mood of cynicism and anger epitomising the age and his statesmanship a powerful reminder of what it is to serve as the national church.
O God of light and love, who illumined thy Church through the witness of thy servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
When Cardinals Donald Wuerl of the Washington Archdiocese and Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stopped by for a visit to the ordinariate community of St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, the cardinals and priests halted in the church on the way out to sing together the hymn Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy.
In a quiet way, it was a remarkable, unplanned scene: Fathers Mark Lewis and Richard Kramer, who had begun their ministries as Episcopal priests, singing a hymn to the Virgin Mary with two cardinals of the Catholic Church, Msgr. James Watkins, pastor of Immaculate Conception, and several priests from Rome, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of then-Pope Benedict XVI’s Anglicanorum Coetibus.
Issued Nov. 4, 2009, Anglicanorum Coetibus is an apostolic constitution that provided for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The document allows former Episcopalians and Anglicans to bring elements of their patrimony, including their distinctive liturgy, into the Catholic Church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI Pope Francis * Theology
But I am besides my purpose when I fall to bewail the cold affection which we bear towards that whereby we should be saved, my purpose being only to set down what the ground of salvation is. The doctrine of the Gospel proposeth salvation as the end, and doth it not teach the way of attaining thereunto? Yes, the damsel possessed with a spirit of divination spake the truth: "These men are the servants of the most high God who show unto us the way of salvation" [Acts 16:17] -- "a new and living way which Christ hath prepared for us through the veil, that is, his flesh," [Heb 10:20] salvation purchased by the death of Christ.
--Learned Discourse on Justification (my emphasis)
O God of truth and peace, who didst raise up thy servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
There was a young man of divinity
who could not believe in the Trinity
But he won his degree
And episcopal see
By fixing his eyes upon finity.
--Sheldon Vanauken, Under the Mercy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985), p. 106 [emphasis his]
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
"..the Christian life is a team sport..." A timely reminder.
Listen to it all.
[As in Martin Luther's time]..today the world seems similarly fearful. We have terror attacks that are incredibly visceral and personal: soldiers being gunned down, humanitarians and journalists being beheaded before a watching world, police officers being attacked by a hatchet. Mass shootings occur at schools and other public gathering places. Terror seems to reign around the world as children are kidnapped and women are raped as instruments of war. Ebola has now infected over 10,000 people and killed about half of that number; globalization means that it is a threat not only to one region of the world but to all regions of an interconnected world. The world is changing fast and people of faith are increasingly wondering if they will be irrelevant in a postmodern era. The world is a fearful place–particularly for those who live outside the privileged borders of wealthy Western democracies.
But is the world really a scarier place than it was in Martin Luther’s day? Frightening things are par for the course in a broken world. As we face up to the fear of violence, death, disease, and even irrelevance and as we face our own personal dark nights of the soul, we can turn to the robust hope that sustained the Reformers. A great musical treasure of the Reformation still speaks to us today. The treasure of which I speak is Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” This hymn was written sometime between 1527-1529, but most likely in October of 1527, as the plague was approaching Wittenberg. It can give us hope in the fear we face today, whether the nebulous kind or the kind that comes from actual, real-world threats.
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Historically, schisms have been rather public, bloody things. This was clearly the case when the church split between East and West. Even though some hope of reconciliation was on the table at various points, excommunications had been traded, Crusades had happened, and everybody knew the two or three theological disputes that needed settling. Roughly the same thing could be said of the split between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Following a number of bloody wars, mutual persecutions, and martyrdoms, the results were different communions, confessional documents, and other marks of separation.
In their recent book Deep Church Rising: The Third Schism and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy, Andrew Walker and Robin Parry argue that, unbeknownst to many, the Western church is in the midst of a third great schism. Unlike the last two, though, the split hasn't resulted in a clear line between new denominations and old ones, but runs right through the various churches of the West. On one side stand those who affirm a broadly supernaturalist Christian orthodoxy embodied in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. And on the other, you find those who can at best recite the creeds with their fingers crossed. Having embraced the various presuppositions of Enlightenment and postmodern thinking, they are skeptical of supernatural claims and often doubt the very idea of objective truth.
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This is a more accurate understanding of the Reformation understanding of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition (and, indeed, explains why Lutherans can consider the Lutheran Symbols authoritative). We cannot simply reject the history of the Church. True, where Tradition is appealed to as a source of new dogma, we are right to resist it. But when Tradition codifies and clearly re-presents the teachings of Scripture, it is to be accepted as a norming influence on our individual reading of Scripture.
Philipp Melanchthon explains the Lutheran position well: “Let the highest authority be that of the Word which was divinely taught,” he explains. “Thereafter that church which agrees with that Word is to be considered authoritative.” And again: “Let us hear the church when it teaches and admonishes,” he writes, “but one must not believe because of the authority of the church. For the church does not lay down articles of faith; it only teaches and admonishes. We must believe on account of the Word of God when, admonished by the church, we understand that this meaning is truly and without sophistry taught in the Word of God.”
Christianity Today’s report suggests that some Protestants have forgotten this right relationship between Scripture and Tradition. We are right to trust in Scripture alone; but it is foolhardy to read Scripture by ourselves.
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O God, whose justice continually challenges thy Church to live according to its calling: Grant us who now remember the work of John Wyclif contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on thy Church, and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body; through the same Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Precious in thy sight, O Lord, is the death of thy saints, whose faithful witness, by thy providence, hath its great reward: We give thee thanks for thy martyrs James Hannington and his companions, who purchased with their blood a road unto Uganda for the proclamation of the Gospel; and we pray that with them we also may obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”--just quoted by Bishop Ken Clarke at the South Carolina Clergy Conference
Bishop Ken Short AO, former missionary, military chaplain, Dean of Sydney and Bishop of Wollongong, Parramatta and the Defence Forces, has died at the age of 87.
Bishop Short suffered a massive stroke last week and died on Sunday, 19th October.
Archbishop Glenn Davies, who visited him in hospital at the weekend, described Bishop Short as 'a faithful pastor, a gracious leader, and an elder statesman of the Sydney Diocese’.
“He had international experience and was greatly respected around the world. He had a significant impact in all the ministries in which he was involved, whether in parish, chaplaincy, missionary service or diocesan leadership ” Dr Davies said.
Read it all and the funeral service from St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney may be watched below:
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The Scriptures will be despised, and everywhere they will sing the songs of the adversary. Fornications, and adulteries, and perjuries will fill the land; sorceries, and incantations, and divinations will follow after these with all force and zeal.
And, on the whole, from among those who profess to be Christians will rise up then false prophets, false apostles, impostors, mischief-makers, evil-doers, liars against each other, adulterers, fornicators, robbers, grasping, perjured, mendacious, hating each other.
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Three things immediately strike a visitor to the tiny cathedral city of Vic in Catalonia: the smell of pigs that hangs in the air, the lovely arcaded square surfaced with raked sand, and the fog that envelopes the place for 100 days a year. The last may bring out the richness of the first.
Fog was used by the writer Miquel Llor (1894-1966) as a metaphor for the closed, hypocritical society that he portrayed in his novel Laura a la ciutat dels sants – Laura in the City of Saints. I don’t recommend it, except as an indicator of the way things seemed to middle-aged intellectuals in 1931, the year that the Republic was declared in Spain.
Vic was known as the City of the Saints because it produced saints at times that other Spanish towns did not. To acquire a new saint it is necessary first to supply holy men and women as candidates, but then to have people determined to persevere with the slow process of canonisation.
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The death of Stephen Sykes at the end of September — after many years of debilitating illness borne with great courage — has deprived the Anglican family of an unusually resourceful and penetrating theologian, who had a massive influence on a generation of younger theologians learning their trade in the 1960s and ’70s. When I went to Stephen for supervision in my student days, I found a teacher of exceptional commitment and integrity — and a very demanding one, who would relentlessly question clichés, inspirational vagueness, and attempts to be too clever. At a time when British theology departments were rather dominated by a combination of sceptical biblical scholarship and extremely cautious philosophy of religion, it was bracing and encouraging to find someone who believed so strongly in the actual study of doctrine as a serious intellectual exercise. The volume of essays on Christology (Christ, Faith and History) that Stephen edited with John Clayton in 1972 was and remains a significant moment in the revival of British systematic theology.
Part of the impetus for this came from Stephen’s unusual level of acquaintance with continental European theology, and he played a unique role in opening up conversations between continent (especially Germany) and island in areas other than New Testament scholarship. As so often, he saw his role as that of a bridge-builder and catalyst: much of his most important early work was in getting groups of theologians together to collaborate in fresh areas. I had the privilege of working with him and others on a book about Karl Barth in the late ’70s, when Barth was still shamefully little studied in the U.K. But he also produced significant work under his own name alone: a lucid little book on Schleiermacher, studies on atonement and ecclesiology, and of course some really groundbreaking work on Anglican identity. He was never happy with the rather lazy idea that there was no real theological distinctiveness about being Anglican — though he was also very suspicious of what he considered the Anglo-Catholic kidnapping of Anglican identity by means of an unhistorically narrow theology of the episcopate.
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Enjoy watching and listening to it all--KSH.
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The isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides is said to be the last place in Britain where the fourth commandment - Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy - is still strictly observed. But how has modern life changed attitudes to the Lord's Day on this island of 20,000 people?
They used to talk of the Scottish Sabbath, then it was the Highland Sabbath and now it is just the Lewis Sabbath, as the number of places keeping Sunday free for God has dwindled.
The Reverend Alasdair Smith, who is now in his 80s, and his wife Chrissie remember the days when people would be "horrified" by someone riding a bicycle on the Sabbath - even if they were cycling to church.
Chrissie says: "I went to Sunday school and enjoyed it because you could walk to the school with your friends and if it was a nice day you ambled back. Because that was the only time you got to go for a walk - to church or Sunday school - not for pleasure.
"But Sunday was special," she adds.
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Grant, we beseech thee, O God, that after the example of thy servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, thy Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.
Packer came from a lower middle-class background and a nominal Anglican family that went to St Catharine’s Church in Gloucester but never talked about the things of God or even prayed at meals. As a teenager Packer had read a couple of the new books coming out by C. S. Lewis (fellow and tutor in English literature at Oxford’s Magdalen College), including The Screwtape Letters (1942) and the three BBC talks turned pamphlets that would later become Mere Christianity (1942-44). During chess matches with a high school classmate—the son of a Unitarian minister—he had defended Christianity.
Packer thought of himself as a Christian. But the events of that evening would convince him otherwise.
On this cool autumn evening, he made his way west across Oxford, past Pembroke College, and into St Aldate’s Church, where the Christian Union occasionally held services. The lights in the building were dimmed so that the light emanating from the building would be no brighter than moonlight—a recent relaxation of England’s “blackout” regulations to avoid air-raid attacks in World War II.
He entered the doors of the church a dead man walking and was to leave later that night as a resurrected man, knowing himself to belong to Christ.
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God understands the problems cities face–that “the dying groan in the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out” (Job 24:12). And “by the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov. 11:11). “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity!” (Hab. 2:12). And the Lord sees and knows when promiscuous women standing “by the highest [most conspicuous] places of the city,” seek to lure foolish men to their destruction (Prov. 9:13-18).
Mentioned over seven hundred times in Scripture, the earthly city of Jerusalem, was given by God to His people Israel, as the seat of her kings and the centre of her worship. As such, its welfare is of special concern to Him. Jesus wept over the city, knowing the unbelief of the people, and of the judgment to come upon them (Matt. 23:37-39). It is still a troubled place, and we ought to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6).
But, like Abraham of old, the saints today should be looking forward to dwelling in the city “whose builder and maker is God,” where the Lord is preparing a wonderful place for us to live with Him forever (Jn. 14:2-3). It is called, “[the heavenly] Mount Zion…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 13:22), and “the holy city, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2).
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When he left England for India in 1793, the odds were stacked against him. Apart from a few years in a village school, he had no formal education. He was shy, introverted, and insular. He had no financial resources. And, even though he was an ordained pastor, the Baptist bigwigs who led his denomination in London had no confidence in the cobbler-pastor and refused to support his plans.
But Carey would not be deterred. Through his study of the Bible, he had become convinced that he and his fellow Christians were obliged to carry the message of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard it. Carey was a Calvinist but not a hyper-Calvinist. He believed that God wanted all people to hear the message of Christ and that he had ordained “the use of means” to carry out that purpose. Against others who argued that the missionary mandate had been fulfilled long ago in the apostolic age, Carey said that the Great Commission had no statute of limitations.
And so, on June 13, 1793, William Carey, his wife Dorothy, and their four children—including a nursing infant—sailed from Dover on a Danish ship headed for India. Carey never saw his homeland again. He would spend the rest of his life in India as a pastor, teacher, evangelist, linguist, agriculturalist, journalist, botanist, social activist, and correspondent with some of the world’s leading political and religious figures. His fame seemed not to have corrupted his soul. When he died in his seventy-third year, he requested that a couplet from one of his favorite hymns by Isaac Watts be inscribed in the stone slab that would mark his grave. Though the words have faded with time, their traces can still be seen today: “A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.”
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Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.
The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words—a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model—finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension—weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.
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I wish to conclude by quoting a statement of his about heresies in his Letter to the Trallians.
[Heretics] mingle Jesus Christ with their teachings just to gain your confidence under false pretenses. It is as if they were giving a deadly poison mixed with honey and wine, with the result that the unsuspecting victim gladly accepts it and drinks down death with fatal pleasure.
And so it remains today. The inventors of just about every false religion and heresy, even if mad and blind, still realize that the person of Jesus Christ is important and attractive. Even in their delusions, they are compelled to answer his question, “Who do you say that I am?” So they include in their falsehoods what I call a “token Jesus.” They give lip service to Jesus to add attractiveness and legitimacy to their false religion. But it is not the real Jesus Christ, but a supposed Jesu
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Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Here is a thesis: that the dynamic “x-factor,” the key to the upsurge of Anglican mission in the modern era, and its common feature still today, may be found in the lineage of Wesleyanism. Wesley’s ministry had a shape that has been repeated and reappropriated over and over again. In mission, we are all Methodists now, at least in our root assumptions and many of our strategies. To understand what I mean, we need to consider the particular pattern of Methodist mission and ministry. It was focused on inwardness, conversion, the heart, and yet it was lived out in small groups, “class meetings,” in which the converted held each other to account. In those groups members could confess their failings, be exhorted and encouraged by their peers, and pray for one another. The leaders and the impetus were lay.
The gospel has to be presented to all so as to be received freely in faith. It sounds simple, but with Wesley this reality came to the fore anew. Thus he felt impelled to go to those who had not heard. Shockingly for this time, he went to the openings of mines to preach to the miners at dawn. The sermons were in fact long, dry, and learned, and yet their effect was electric. His earnestness and willingness to go out to people were paramount.
Soon there were numerous converts, and as a result services were held in the open air, where they would sing. Methodism was in large measure a musical movement. Many of the hymns by the Wesley brothers were for devotions preparatory to Holy Communion, or as the congregation waited while the long lines went up for the sacrament. The movement was at once deeply evangelical and eucharistic. And it had spinoffs: lives of the converted changed, drinking was curtailed, family life improved, trades were learned, and money was saved. Social change and conversion were intertwined.
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Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst move Teresa of Avila to manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, who in thy providence didst call Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and didst send him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the holy Scriptures into languages of that land: Lead us, we pray thee, to commit our lives and talents to thee, in the confidence that when thou givest thy servants any work to do, thou dost also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
When we began our quest for the 100 best Christian books, we knew that the material we were contemplating had already been through several refining fires. It had been worked on by its author, judged worthy to be published, and, over time, had impressed enough readers to be noticed — and, mostly, to be kept in print.
IT IS sometimes easy to forget it, given the variable quality of the books that come into the Church Times office for review, but works that get into print can be categorised, by and large, as quite good. Many that we review are not only good: some are very good. But “best”?
Best is, of course, a value judgement. We have kept it for this project because it is so obviously subjective. “Best” does not just cover a book’s intrinsic worth: it also prompts a consideration of what a book can achieve. Throughout our debate, we found ourselves balancing a title’s historical position with its place in our memories. A different set of judges on a different day — perhaps even the same set of judges — would certainly have come up with a different list.
But, perhaps, not that different.
Read it all and see what you make of their list.
The renowned evangelical speaker the Rev Dr John Stott called for Christians to continue to strive for ‘Christ-likeness’ during his final major address before retiring from public ministry.
Speaking at the annual Keswick Convention, the 87-year-old former chaplain to the Queen told the audience that ‘Christ-likeness is the will of God for the people of God’.
He warned his audience that being Christ like in ‘patient endurance’ may become ‘increasingly relevant as persecution increases in many cultures’, and highlighted the importance of the incarnation for Christians.
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Holy God, no one is excluded from thy love; and thy truth transformeth the minds of all who seek thee: As thy servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of thy salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so grant unto us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming thy love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
In what ways did St. Francis revolutionize and transform the Church?
Six—detailed in my book: through a high view of friendship, by embracing the other, through personal poverty, by developing a new spirituality, through gentleness and care for creatures, and by embracing death.
For many of us, a favorite image of St. Francis is that of him delivering a spirited sermon to the birds. Did that really happen, and why did that particular story become so central to his legacy?
Sure, it happened, but it wasn’t cute. Our iconography has made it seem just cute—you know? Instead, as with many of the iconic moments in his life, it happened at a time of personal crisis and uncertainty.
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Hope..is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
--C. H. Spurgeon, 1859
Loving God, Shepherd of thy people, we offer thanks for the ministry of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who left his native land to care for the German and Scandinavian pioneers in North America; and we pray that, following the teaching and example of his life, we may grow into the full stature of Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter Hong raises his voice to the congregation he pastors in Logan Square, a mixed-income neighborhood in Chicago. “Your entire debt is paid in full!” he shouts, as “Amen!” and “All right!” echo back from the pews. As he bounds across the stage, his red-checked shirt untucked over jeans, he exudes enough energy to fill the cavernous, high-ceilinged Seventh-day Adventist church that New Community Covenant rents on Sundays.
The pews are packed full, with a multiethnic, multigenerational gathering that includes more than Hong’s fellow Korean Americans. Hong is 44 but brims with youthfulness as he displays his own brand of impassioned preaching, a firebrand of grace. But then the tone of the service shifts as Hong jumps off the stage and confesses without pretense: He is bone-weary from more than 12 consecutive years of ministry. Congregants return the flow of grace, pouring down the aisles in droves to surround and pray for him.
One of the people who approaches Hong is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Peter Cha, who has mentored countless Asian Americans as an educator, pastor, and former staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
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The Council has also had an enormous impact on Anglicanism, especially on the Anglican understanding of the Church, its liturgy, ministry, mission, and approach to Christian unity. By opening Rome to ecumenical dialogue it made the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) possible. With a few bumps along the road, ARCIC has achieved significant convergence in several areas that previously separated our two traditions: eucharistic theology, ministry and ordination, justification, ecclesiology, and authority. In the spirit of ARCIC, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have come together locally in many practical ways, and their bishops have held conversations in various parts of the world under the aegis of a parallel but more recent body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. A debate about the legacy and significance of Vatican II that may appear at first sight to be a purely internal issue for Roman Catholics is actually vitally important to Anglicans.
So what resources will enable us to understand what Vatican II had to say and what we can learn from it? The texts that the Council produced are available in English, Latin, and many other languages at is.gd/VaticanII. There are several English translations of the documents published in book form, including those by Walter Abbott, SJ (1966) and the generally superior edition by Austin Flannery, OP (1975, with subsequent revisions). The standard, authoritative translation is now that edited by Norman Tanner, SJ, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (Georgetown University Press, 1990), in two volumes with Latin and English facing each other on each page. But most of us are grateful for some guidance in choosing and understanding what to read. Tanner’s Vatican II: The Essential Texts has interesting introductory essays by Benedict XVI and James Carroll, as well as brief prefaces to each document. It is a handy size for carrying around and dipping into, but it contains only six of the sixteen documents produced by the Council.
Much more helpful to someone wanting to get to grips with the riches of Vatican II is the well-named Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II by Richard R. Gaillardetz and Catherine E. Clifford.
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Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:
And scores of his phrases have proved impossible to better in the last five centuries…
“Let there be light”
“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”
Wonderful stuff--make sure to read it all.
Almighty God, who didst plant in the heart of thy servants William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and didst endow them with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us, we pray thee, thy saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
ECKSTROM: Well, the argument is really about, most immediately about communion for divorced Catholics. So under church law right now, if you are divorced and get remarried outside of the church, you can't get communion. And so what they're arguing about is whether or not they should change that rule and allow those divorced Catholics access to communion.
ABERNETHY: Now there's no voting, no decision-making, no change in this synod. But next year there's going to be another synod next October about the family again, and then, Kim—
KIM LAWTON, managing editor: Well, then there could be some change. I mean, nothing's ever guaranteed, especially when you're talking about the Catholic Church, but this is supposed to be the time for just discussing and debating some of these issues. And then decisions would come later, down the road. And on this issue of divorce and remarriage, you know, the church doctrine is that sacramental marriage is forever. It cannot be dissolved. And so therefore they don't recognize divorce, and therefore if you are divorced and you get remarried, in the church's eyes you're living in adultery, and that's why you cannot take communion and other sacraments. And so what the cardinals are arguing about is does it affect the doctrine that marriage is not able to be dissolved if you change how you treat people who are in those situations? And I think some of the conservatives are worried if you start tinkering around with that, what other issues and areas of teaching can be tinkered around with?
ABERNETHY: But there's a lot more that they could be discussing and probably will be discussing.
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When Nyasaland became independent in 1964, Arden became Bishop of Malawi. He worked hard to encourage an indigenous ministry, consecrating the first Malawian suffragan bishop and increasing the number of ordained clergy from 23 to 100. He was keen on training the laity: “If the clergy are the lungs breathing in the fresh air of the Spirit, you laymen and laywomen are the hands and the feet and the mouth of the body of Christ,” he wrote. He was also instrumental in persuading the different Christian churches to establish a health association — it still provides 45 per cent of healthcare in Malawi.
Arden was particularly concerned about polio; at many confirmation services, polio sufferers would crawl to the front of the church or were carried there. He organised a survey of the area, discovering 500 cases. As a result he convinced a leading government surgeon to help to procure funds for a vaccination programme. Within a few years Malawi was the first developing country to be declared free of polio.
On the theological front, meanwhile, attempts were being made to revise the Book of Common Prayer, and Arden was a key figure in producing a new, 380-page prayer/hymnbook in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi.
He became Archbishop of Central Africa in 1971, and it was a matter of pride that he was the last white Archbishop of Central Africa.
Read it all (requires subscription).
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Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.
The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.
Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.
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Arrest and imprisonment were only a matter of time. Bonhoeffer’s time came in April 1943 and landed him in Berlin’s Tegel prison. Astonishingly, with the German capital under regular Allied bombardment, Bonhoeffer continued even as a prisoner to enjoy a privileged existence. During his confinement in Tegel, according to Marsh, he received “extra portions of food, hot coffee, and cigarettes.” Visitors brought flowers and fresh fruit. An uncle stopped by to break open a bottle of champagne. Most importantly, Bonhoeffer had access to books, pen, and paper. During his confinement, he read and wrote ceaselessly.
All such niceties vanished in the crackdown that followed the failed July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Transferred to the custody of the SS, Bonhoeffer was moved to Buchenwald and then to Flossenbürg, where he was finally executed. Little reliable information about Bonhoeffer’s last days is available, and Marsh does not pretend otherwise. That the end was grim and brutal suffices.
In 1928, on the cusp of his journey of discovery, Bonhoeffer had observed that in modern life “religion plays the part of the parlor.” It had become a place “into which one doesn’t mind withdrawing for a couple of hours, but from which one then immediately returns to one’s business.” In our own day, faith remains in the parlor, the subject of polite and passing attention. The work that matters happens elsewhere. For Christians daring to rethink that proposition, Bonhoeffer’s life serves as an object lesson in what is to be gained—and lost.
Read it all.
St Mary le Strand, which is located in the middle of the Strand, has a long and interesting history. The original medieval church was pulled down in 1549 by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, to make way for Somerset House. The current church was then rebuilt between 1714 and 1724, by the celebrated architect James Gibbs and St Mary le Strand has since been remembered as his Baroque Masterpiece.
The current St Mary le Strand was one of fifty new churches built in London under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, an Act of Parliament in England in 1710, with the purpose of building fifty new churches for the rapidly growing conurbation of London. Despite this ambitious plan, only twelve of these churches were ever built, with St Mary le Strand being the first.
Unlike many London churches, St Mary le Stand managed to escape severe damage during the Second World War, as the inspecting architect would sit in the church's muniment room during the bombings, to push incendiary bombs off the roof.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Read it all and check out the links.
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.
--Found among many places here in Wisdom from Franciscan Italy: The Primacy of Love (John Hunt Publishing, 2011 Obooks version) by David Torkington
Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant unto thy people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of thee delight in thy whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Two recent stories in The Tablet (the British Catholic journal) at least give a hint of how one might think about this problem.
The two stories, both dated September 13, 2014, were put under a heading “The New Monasticism”. Story #1, by Liz Dodd, reports further on a development that I had commented upon in an earlier post: the invitation by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a group from the Community of Chemin Neuf to live in Lambeth Palace (his historic residence). This project is now taking on a clearer shape. Chemin Neuf was founded in France in 1973 by the Jesuit Laurent Fabre. Originating in a Catholic charismatic prayer group in Lyon, it has now morphed into an international movement that does indeed propose a new model of the monastic life. Affiliates of the movement live together around a daily practice of communal prayer. In that respect the new model of monasticism doesn’t differ much from the classical one. In other respects the difference is radical. There are no vows of permanence, individuals stay for shorter or much longer periods. The mix of people includes clergy and laity, men and women, married couples and singles, Catholics and other Christians. While living in a community, individuals work outside at all sorts of jobs. As of September 2015, twenty individuals will move into Lambeth Palace, and stay for one year. The mix will be much like that of the Chemin Neuf model, though the spirituality will be Benedictine (Welby is a lay affiliate of the Anglican version of that order) rather than Jesuit. The Lambeth experiment will be called the Community of St. Anselm. The name emphasizes its English location, but also the unity of Western Christendom before the great schism of the sixteenth century (Anselm was of Italian origin, a Benedictine monk and one of the fathers of Catholic scholasticism. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1033 to 1109).
Story #2, by Riccardo Larini, is about the Community of Bose (a town in Italy), founded in l965 by a Catholic layman, Enzo Bianchi. It is similar to Chemin Neuf in its ecumenical emphasis, though it is closer to the classical model of monasticism in that permanence is assumed. The Community had its origin in the radical student movement of the time and it continues to combine its spirituality with political activism. Its main focus is ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. Bianchi has recently been appointed as an advisor by Pope Francis I. Significantly, Bianchi was a close friend of Roger Schutz, who in 1940 founded the Order of Taize (though it was only called this much later). Schutz was a Swiss Reformed pastor, who during World War II was active in helping Jews escape from Nazi-occupied France to Switzerland. After the war Schutz and a few disciples created a sort of monastery at Taize in the heart of Burgundy. The group developed its own distinctive liturgy, which is congenial to its ecumenical membership—Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox. This too has now become an international order, whose members live and pray together, but disperse into the world in order to work. Taize has become a destination for pilgrims, mostly young people from all over Europe. I was there once, years ago. It is a tranquil place in a hauntingly beautiful landscape.
Read it all.
O God, who by the teaching of thy faithful servant and bishop Remigius didst turn the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of thee, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith; Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The Episcopal Church was one of the pioneer churches of Dell Rapids, the Guild being organized when the town was only eight years old. In 1879, the idea of building an Episcopal Church was brought up, and a meeting was held in the sitting room of the Exchange Hotel to discuss raising funds. In the meantime, a warehouse was purchased for $100 and moved to a lot on Pearl Street (now 4th Street) and made suitable for holding church services. The lot was purchased from Peter Morse, the town’s founder.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?
Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.
The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people – even church people, priests – have said: 'Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”
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Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.
Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group's black flag.
"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years," he said. "All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad."
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This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.
And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own SonNHis now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.
--From a sermon preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Sunday, the Twenty-fifth of December, 1614
Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I posted recently on Friedrich Engels’s On the History of Early Christianity, his 1890s text that actually makes some excellent historical points about the social and political contexts of the early church. On occasion, it’s actually… well, pretty funny.
As a historian, Engels had the enormous virtue of moving outside the library, to understand early Christianity though his own lived experience in the nineteenth century radical Socialist underground. He knew exactly what it was like to operate in a clandestine transnational movement of the lower class. Both were under constant observation by the police, and you never knew exactly who might be a spy or informer. Oddly, given his strongly anti-church opinions, Engels had something like a love for the early Christians, and he imagines talking to them as fellow-sufferers who came from exactly the kind of setting.
Read it all.
The great ideals of the past failed not by being outlived (which must mean over-lived), but by not being lived enough. Mankind has not passed through the Middle Ages. Rather mankind has retreated from the Middle Ages in reaction and rout. The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.
--What's Wrong With The World (CreateSpace Independent Publishing reprint of the 1910 original) p. 23
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
“Much religion is really dangerous and I would say lethal,” he told the blog Philosophy for Life. “We project parts of ourselves – our anger, all kinds of personal psychic material – into the middle distance, deifying it.”
Bishop Chartres – who previously caused controversy by saying that flying to go on holiday was “a symptom of sin” – says religion in the West “has become ideas in the mind”, a development he describes as “a very modern tragedy”.
Read it all and take the time to read the full blog report linked in the article.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
We thank thee, heavenly Father, for the witness of thine apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of thy Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
A tour guide hollers over the clip-clop of his carriage horse passing St. Michael's Church that the iconic white building at the Four Corners of Law is the city's oldest surviving church structure in a place rich with historic structures.
Tourists peer over the carriage rails, then up and up the steeple soaring 186 feet high, perhaps to see the oldest tower clock in North America or in hopes of hearing bells imported from England in 1764.
From Charleston's poorest days to its wartime sagas to these prosperous tourist-ladened years, St. Michael's bells have announced the city's routine life events, not to mention hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and two war-time bombardments.
Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.
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I’m at the Cambridge University college that Charles Darwin attended before heading off on a ship to change the world’s views about the origin of the species, particularly the evolution of humans.
Darwin’s theories have been used and abused for many things in the past century or two — to promote racism and defeat racism, promote competition and encourage cooperation, to treat humans as objects and see them as special, to believe humans are machines and to say they have free choice, to attack religion and advance religion (particularly through a movement sometimes known as ‘theistic evolution”).
A conference at Christ’s College in Cambridge, organized by The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, is actually titled “The uses and abuses of biology.”
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Almighty God, who didst call thy faithful servants John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings didst raise up a people for thine own possession: Pour forth thy Holy Spirit upon thy Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, thy holy Name may be glorified and thy kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and didst give him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in thy Church, we pray, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The general conduct of our Church has been true to her first principles, to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's; to do nothing against the command of God, but to suffer every thing which the Caesar may require. It was thus that the seven Bishops mainly checked James's tyranny, refusing to do, but submitting to suffer, what was unlawful; it was thus that even in the Great Rebellion men cheerfully took the spoiling of their goods; it was thus that in events familiar to us, the members of this place, at different periods, suffered what was un lawful, rather than compromise their principles;--and we cherish their memories.
The two events, for which we keep this day as an annual thanksgiving to God, together, strikingly illustrate these principles. 1. That we may safely leave things to God. 2. That there is great risk, that man, by any impatience of his, will mar the blessing which God designs for His Church.
In the plot, from which this day is named, God had permitted things to come to the uttermost; every preparation was made, every scruple removed; a Roman priest had solemnly given the answer, that, for so great a benefit to the Church, their own people too might be sacrificed; the innocent might be slain, so that the guilty majority escaped not. The secret was entrusted to but few, was guarded by the most solemn oaths and by the participation of the Holy Eucharist, had been kept for a year and a half although all of the Roman Communion in England knew that some great plot was being carried on, and were praying for its success; inferior plots had been forbidden by Rome, lest they should mar this great one; no suspicion had been excited, and there was nothing left to excite suspicion, when God employed means, in man's sight, the [28/29] most unlikely. He awoke, at the last, one lurking feeling of pity for one person in the breast of but one, so that a dark hint was given to that one: and He caused him who gave it, to miscalculate the character of his own brother-in-law, or entrust him with more than he was aware; then He placed fear in that other's breast, so that, through another and distant fear, he shewed the letter which contained this dark hint; then, when the councillors despised the anonymous hint, as an idle tale, He enlightened the mind of the monarch, to discover the dark saying, which to us it seems strange that any beforehand should have unravelled; and when even then the councillors had surveyed the very spot, and discovered nothing, He caused the monarch to persevere, undeterred, until He had brought the whole to light. Yet to see more of this mystery of God's Providence, and how He weaves together the intricate web of human affairs, and places long before the hidden springs of things, we must think also, how He ordered that one of these few conspirators should be intermarried with one of the few Roman peers, and so desired to save him; and by the conspiracy from which God had shielded the monarch's early life, He quickened his sense of the present danger; so that while men were marrying, and giving in marriage, and strengthening themselves by alliances, God was preparing the means whereby this kingdom should be saved against the will of those so employed; and while men were plotting against a sacred life, God was laying up in the monarch's soul the thought, which Himself should hereafter kindle to save it. Verily, "a man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings; own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins." The words of the Psalmist, selected for this day's service, find a striking completion in this history. "God hid him from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity--they encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? they search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep: but God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves."
But it yet more illustrates the teaching, and is an argument of encouragement to our Church, how God in two neighbouring countries permitted similar plots to be accomplished.
Read it all.
Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.
“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.
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