Archive for March, 2010
Posted in Anglicanism, Sacraments, Spirituality, Theology, tagged Anglicanism, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Edward Pusey, Eucharist, Evelyn Underhill, Lancelot Andrewes, Theology, Tradition on March 29, 2010| Leave a Comment »
Once again, from The Byzantine Anglo-Catholic:
Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) Response to Cardinal Bellarmine
Christ said “this is my body.” He did not say “this is my body in this way”. We are in agreement with you as to the end; the whole controversy is as to the method. As to the “This”, we hold with firm faith that it is. As to the “this is in this way”, (namely by the Transubstantiation of the bread into the body), as to the method whereby it happens that it is, by means of In or With or Under or By transition there is no word expressed [in Scripture]. And because there is no word, we rightly make it not of faith; we place it perhaps among the theories of the school, but not among the articles of the faith…We believe no less than you that the presence is real. Concerning the method of the presence, we define nothing rashly, and I add, we do not anxiously inquire, any more than how the blood of Christ washes us in Baptism, any more than how the human and divine natures are united in one Person in the Incarnation of Christ.
Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) The Holy Eucharist a Comfort to the Penitent
…while I believe the consecrated elements to become, by virtue of his consecratory words, truly and really, yet spiritually and in an ineffable way, His Body and Blood, I learnt also to withhold my thoughts as to the mode of this great Mystery, but as a Mystery to adore it. With the Fathers, then, and our own great Divines…I could not but speak of the consecrated elements as being what, since He has so called them, I believe them to become His Body and Blood…
M. R. Carpenter-Garnier (The Divine Guest)
The principal underlying the Incarnation is that spirit is expressed through matter, the inward through the outward, the invisible through the visible. So God became man. So Christ entered into human life, and lived and loved as a man…It is in line with this that, when he gives to his people this divine gift, this gift of himself, he should use the same method. As once at Bethlehem he hid the divine glory through uniting with it the weakness of our nature, so now that self-same life he hides under simple material forms. It is, then, to God Incarnate that we come in Holy communion.
Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) Worship
In the Christian sacrifice, the Logos enters the time-series and is self-given under fugitive species to the creature, that by feeding on Reality the creature may be transformed: receiving by infusion the gift of charity to strengthen, purify, and at last supernaturalize his own imperfect love, and thus bring a little nearer that transfiguration of the world in Christ which is the creative goal of Christian worship.
Rowan Williams (1950- ) Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel
The Eucharist demonstrates that material reality can become charged with Jesus’ life, and so proclaimed hope for the whole world of matter. The material, habitually used as a means of exclusion, of violence, can become a means of communication. Matter as hoarded or dominated or exploited speaks of the distortion and ultimate severance of relationship, and as such can only be a sign of death…The matter of the Eucharist, carrying the presence of the risen Jesus, can only be a sign of life, of triumph over the death of exclusion and isolation…If the Eucharist is a sign of the ultimate Lordship of Jesus, his “freedom” to unite to himself the whole material order as a symbol of grace, it speaks of creation itself, and the place of Jesus in creation.
Marilyn McCord Adams (1943- ) Christ and Horrors
God’ unitive aims in creation lead not only to the evolution of the material into the personal, but also to Incarnation, to God’s expressing divine love for material creation by becoming a human being. But God loves material creation by loving us. The Inner Teacher is omnipresent and ever helpful but difficult for personal animals to recognize or pay attention to. As animals we focus easily on what is sense-perceptible, on what we can see and touch and handle, on what is concrete and locatable in space and time. To grow up and flourish as human beings, we need embodied persons to care for us, to be role models of how to be embodied persons, of how to personify matter in wholesome ways. In the Incarnation, God enters into personal intimacy with material creation, not just through His Divine nature and across the metaphysical size-gap, but through His human nature. Jesus relates to Peter, James and John, to the women suffering from hemorrhage and spinal curvature, to blind men and lepers, embodied person to embodied person…Christ’s earthly career climaxing in His passion, death, and resurrection…does not bring an end to our need or the benefit to us as human beings of contacting God, embodied person to embodied person–of seeing, touching and handling God in a determinate place and time. Our need for concrete interaction is all the more urgent given that our being embodied persons in a material world such as this exposes us to horrors. To suppose that God–even God Incarnate–is aloof from horrors while we continue to be exposed to them is alienating. If we are vulnerable to God and to the world, but God is now impassible in all His natures, then God is no longer meeting us on our own level as He once did.
Wouldn’t, why wouldn’t, a God Who loved material creation, and who loves us as a way of loving material creation, want–in Luther’s language–to continue the Incarnation by becoming really present for us in the very sacrament that rivets our attention on horrors by showing forth the Lord’s death?
From Confessions of a Carioca:
Coming at the tradition of historic Christianity as I did (from free-church evangelicalism) and when I did (in my early twenties, nearly four decades ago), it is interesting (providential?) that the parish in which I first worshiped regularly as an Anglican was a “Morning Prayer” parish. That was already a dying breed in the Episcopal Church even then, and now it is virtually extinct. We seem to have thoroughly recovered and embraced the ancient norm that the Eucharist is the principal act of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, and this is, in my view, an overwhelmingly positive development. Yet, on a number of levels, I am glad I had the experience of All Saints-by-the-Sea in Santa Barbara in the early 1970s. It is where I first heard “O Lord, open thou our lips.” It is where I encountered the canticles (I remember especially Benedictus es, Domine sung to Anglican Chant in a manner that has been aptly called “Anglican thump”). It is where I first encountered Cranmer’s majestic liturgical draftsmanship, drinking so deeply as it did of the Benedictine spirit that underlies the Anglican ethos.
In time (and elsewhere), I learned that the purpose of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer is revealed most clearly when they form the foundation of a person’s (or, ideally, a community’s) daily prayer life. That foundation was eventually laid solidly in my own heart and mind and soul, and by the time I matriculated in a seminary that had monastic origins, it wasn’t that big a transition for me, just an intensification of something I was already accustomed to. More than 20 years after leaving Nashotah House, I still miss Michael the Bell calling the community to prayer.
I was blessed, upon graduation, to become a curate in a parish (St Luke’s, Baton Rouge) where Morning and Evening Prayer were read publicly, at stated times, seven days a week, thus extending the regimen to which I had grown accustomed in seminary. In the three congregations where I subsequently assumed the reins of pastoral care (in 1991, 1994, and 2007), I established this same practice. Much of the time I have been alone. Most of the time I have had one other person with me (usually another staff member, but still…), and occasionally a decent handful of co-worshipers. Unfortunately, my experience in this regard is quite atypical. Hardly any churches (of whatever stripe) recite the offices on a daily basis, a significant impoverishment to our common life, I would say.
As I mentioned upstream a few posts, I’m in the middle of reading a novel about a community of English Benedictine nuns that takes place around 1960. That narrative, to the extent that it wants to be authentic, cannot help but make frequent references to the daily liturgical life of the community, which spent several hours out of every 24 in the chapel, with some of them devoting even more hours to rehearsing for the chapel services. These comments, put by the author in the mouth of the novice mistress, particularly arrested my attention:
“This is our craft,” [Dame Agnes] said, using the word in its highest sense. “The craft of a contemplative religious, and as a good workman, an artist, loves his craft, we must delight in ours.”
I would not suggest that the majority of Christians, who, unlike these cloistered nuns, are “in the world,” can hone the same craft to the same degree of subtle and sophisticated beauty. But I am too formed in the same craft, albeit at a more plebian level, to easily let go of the notion that it is something worth doing more and doing better. For nearly the last two years, I have had a sort of apprentice in practicing this craft. As you might imagine, I have over the years acquired some opinions about “best practices” in praying the Daily Office from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and it has been a challenging and rewarding exercise for me to regularly be made to articulate why these practices are indeed “best.” I may not be a “contemplative religious,” but the daily office is part of my craft too, and it’s a craft in which I continue to delight.
Frankly, I cannot imagine trying to be a priest without these daily spiritual anchors. The practice consumes several hours a week when you add it all up, which is time that one could argue could be spent more “usefully.” But not really. There is no value I could ever place on the grooves that have been worn in my soul by more than thirty years of praying all 150 Psalms, the canticles and collects, the Old Testament narratives and prophecies, the gospel pericopes, and the passages from the epistles, Acts, and Revelation. The Daily Office is certainly not in itself a sufficient rule of prayer. But it is, I am persuaded, for most Christians who hang their hats in liturgical churches, a necessary foundation.
…and from Northern Plains Anglicans:
My parishioners sometimes compliment me on my awareness of Bible content, or at least for “having a good memory.”
But the fact is, I am not a “Bible memorizer” as much as I am a reader of The Daily Offices from the Book of Common Prayer. I’m in the Scriptures daily so that the Holy Spirit can remind me of the Word at the right time.
The Anglican Reformers of the 1500s wrote,
THERE was never any thing by the wit of man so well devised, or so surely established… as (emong other thinges) it may plainly appere by the common prayers in the Churche, commonlye called divine service: the firste originall and grounde whereof, if a manne woulde searche out by the auncient fathers, he shall finde that the same was not ordeyned, but of a good purpose, and for a great advauncement of godlines: For they so ordred the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greatest parte thereof) should be read over once in the yeare, intendyng thereby, that the Cleargie, and specially suche as were Ministers of the congregacion, should (by often readyng and meditacion of Gods worde) be stirred up to godlines themselfes, and be more able also to exhorte other by wholsome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the trueth. And further, that the people (by daily hearyng of holy scripture read in the Churche) should continuallye profite more and more in the knowledge of God, and bee the more inflamed with the love of his true religion.
Posted in Sacraments, Theology, Tradition, tagged Anglicanism, Eucharist, patristics, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril, St. Ephraim, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ignatius, St. Irenaeus, St. John Chrysostom, Theology, Tradition on March 25, 2010| Leave a Comment »
Anglicans have long respected and used as normative the writings of the Church Fathers. Here is a small collection of short texts dealing with the Eucharist that I thought were very useful. Use them, not for study, but for spiritual encouragement (to put courage into yourself). Regular participation in the Eucharist is a big part of my own spiritual practice and I go on the assumption that Jesus is somehow really present in the consecrated bread and wine. When we receive the Eucharist we establish a mystical but very real connection with Jesus, and since Jesus is divine, with God himself. The Eucharist is, thus, one of the ways that we meet and find union with God. I will try to follow this up with other posts dealing with Anglican Eucharistic teaching.
Ignatius of Antioch (d. between 110-117)
Each one individually and all of you together are united in one and the same faith in Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Son of God, in obedience to the bishop and the priests, in harmony, breaking one loaf of bread which is the medicine of immortality, an antidote to death that gives eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Irenaeus of Lyons (130-208)
As far as we are concerned, our thinking accords with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in its turn confirms our thinking. We offer to God what is his own, as we proclaim the communion and union of flesh and Spirit. For in the same way that earthly bread, after having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread but Eucharist, made up of two components, one earthly the other heavenly, so our bodies that share in the Eucharist are no longer corruptible, because they have the hope of the resurrection.
Ephraim of Syria (306-373)
Fire and the Spirit are in our baptism. In the bread and the cup also are fire and the Spirit.
Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387)
We pray God to send the Holy Spirit on the gifts laid here, to make the bread the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ. For the Holy Spirit sanctifies and transforms all that he touches.
Gregory of Nyssa (330-395)
What then is this remedy? Nothing other than that glorious body which showed itself stronger than death and has become the source of life for us. Just as a little leaven, according to the Apostle’s words, is mixed with all the dough, so the body that was raised by God to immortality, once it is introduced into our body, wholly changes it and transforms it into his own substance…
The Word of God…once it became incarnate…provided his body with the means of subsistence in the usual suitable ways: he maintained its substance with the help of…bread. Even in normal conditions, when one sees bread, one sees in a sense the human body, since bread absorbed by the body becomes the body itself. So here, the body in which God had become incarnate, since it was fed on bread, was in a sense identical with the bread–the food transforming itself, as we have said, to take on the nature of the body. It was recognized, in fact, that this glorious flesh possessed the property common to all human beings: like them it was maintained with the help of bread. But this body partook of the divine dignity because of the indwelling of the Word. We are therefore entitled to believe that the bread hallowed by the Word of God is transformed to become the body of the Word…
As the bread transformed into that body was thereby raised to divine power, a similar change happens to the bread of the Eucharist. In the former case the grace of the Word hallowed the body that drew its substance from bread, and in a sense was itself bread. Likewise in the Eucharist the bread is hallowed by the Word of God and prayer…It is transformed at once into his body…as expressed in these words: “This is my body”…
That is why, in the economy of grace, he gives himself as seed to all the faithful. His flesh composed of bread and wine is blended with their bodies to enable human beings, thanks to their union with his immortal body, to share in the condition of incorruptibility.
You here it said that every time the sacrifice is offered, the Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension are represented, the forgiveness of sins is offered, and yet do you not receive this bread of life every day? Anyone who is wounded looks for healing. For us it is a wound to be liable to sin. Our healing lies in the adorable heavenly sacrament…
If you receive it every day, every day becomes for you Today.
If Christ is yours today, he rises for you today. Today has come.
John Chrysostom (344-407)
On high, the armies of the angels are giving praise. Here below, in the Church, the human choir takes up after them the same doxology. Above us, angels of fire make the thrice-holy hymn resound magnificently. Here below is raised the echo of their hymn. The festival of heaven’s citizens is united with that of the inhabitants of earth in a single thanksgiving, a single upsurge of happiness, a single chorus of joy.
Just as the head and the body constitute a single human being, so Christ and the Church constitute a single whole…This union is effected through the food that he has given us in his desire to show the love he has for us. For this reason he united himself intimately with us, he blended his body with ours like leaven, so that we should become one single entity, as the body is joined to the head.
Do you wish to honor the body of the Saviour? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside you are leaving it numb with cold and naked. He who said, “This is my body”, and made it so by his word, is the same that said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.
Among other things, Anglican Christianity is:
“The Holy Ghost rides most triumphantly in his own chariot [i.e., Scripture].”
– Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
“The first [proposition] is this: If we believe in God at all, it is absurd and impious to imagine that we can find him out by our own reason, without his being first active in revealing himself to us. Therefore all our discovery of him is his self-manifestation, and all rational theology is revealed theology.”
– Austin Farrer (1904-1968)
Rooted in Tradition
Recognizing that the Holy Spirit’s inspiration is not limited to scripture, Anglican Christianity looks to a broader foundation:
“One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.”
– Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)
However hobbled by human sin, reason is an essential means of understanding what God has revealed to us:
“Faith is not a bird of prey sent by God to peck out the eyes of [humans].”
– Nathaniel Culverwel (1619-1651)
“And this is the second proposition: If God does reveal himself to us, we cannot acknowledge or master what he reveals without the use of reason. Therefore all his self-manifestation is also our discovery of him, and all revealed theology is rational theology.”
– Austen Farrer
Centered in Worship and Prayer
Anglicans do theology “to the sound of church bells, for that is what Christian theology really is all about – worshipping God the Savior through Jesus Christ in the theology of the apostolic age.”
– Michael Ramsey (1904-1988), Anglican Spirit
“Christ said ‘this is my body.’ He did not say ‘this is my body in this way’. We are in agreement with you as to the end; the whole controversy is as to the method. As to the ‘This’, we hold with firm faith that it is. As to the ‘this is in this way’, (namely by the Transubstantiation of the bread into the body), as to the method whereby it happens that it is, by means of In or With or Under or By transition there is no word expressed [in Scripture]. And because there is no word, we rightly make it not of faith; we place it perhaps among the theories of the school, but not among the articles of the faith…We believe no less than you that the presence is real. Concerning the method of the presence, we define nothing rashly, and I add, we do not anxiously inquire, any more than how the blood of Christ washes us in Baptism, any more than how the human and divine natures are united in one Person in the Incarnation of Christ.”
– Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) Response to Cardinal Bellarmine
“The Eucharist demonstrates that material reality can become charged with Jesus’ life, and so proclaimed hope for the whole world of matter….The matter of the Eucharist, carrying the presence of the risen Jesus, can only be a sign of life, of triumph over the death of exclusion and isolation…If the Eucharist is a sign of the ultimate Lordship of Jesus, his ‘freedom’ to unite to himself the whole material order as a symbol of grace, it speaks of creation itself, and the place of Jesus in creation.”
– Rowan Williams (1950- ), Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel
(The last two quotes via The Byzantine Anglo-Catholic)
Catholic and Protestant/Evangelical
“Our special character and, as we believe, our peculiar contribution to the Universal Church, arises from the fact that owing to historic circumstances, we have been enabled to combine in our one fellowship the traditional Faith and Order of the Catholic Church with that immediacy of approach to God through Christ to which the Evangelical Churches especially bear witness, and freedom of intellectual inquiry, whereby the correlation of the Christian revelation and advancing knowledge is constantly effected.”
– William Temple (1881-1944), Encyclical, Lambeth 1930
(via Contemplative Vernacular)
Liberally Catholic and Generously Orthodox
Anglican Christianity seeks to embody a liberal catholicity/generous orthodoxy – Catholic/orthodox in its commitment to the consensus of the first centuries as expressed in the early councils and the creeds. It is, as Charles Gore wrote, “conspicuously orthodox on the great fundamentals of the Trinity and the Incarnation. [Anglicanism] accepts the ecumenical councils as criteria of heresy.” It is liberal/generous in its ability to reexamine how that consensus is applied in concrete historical contexts: “. . . . standing ready with the whole treasury of Christian truth unimpaired to meet the demands which a new age makes upon it with its new developments of character and circumstance.”
Avoids the extremes “represented by a dogmatism that crushes instead of quickening the reason of the individual, making it purely passive and acquiescent, and on the other hand by an unrestrained development of the individual judgment which becomes eccentric and lawless just because it is unrestrained.”
– Charles Gore (1852-1932), Roman Catholic Claims
Passionate, but Patient
Anglican Christianity is characterized by what Rowan Williams calls a “passionate patience” that is reticent to declare too handily exactly how God is to defined or to presume too easily to know what God desires in all instances. Continuing with Williams, “There is in the Anglican identity a strong element of awareness of the tragic, of the dark night and the frustration of theory and order by the strangeness of God’s work.” [ . . . ] “The result is a mixture of poetry, reticence, humility before mystery, local loyalties and painful self-scrutinies.”
– Rowan Williams, Anglican Identities