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Archive for March, 2011

From Catholicity and Covenant:

After the Romans had gone back to their own land, the Irish and the Picts, who knew they were not to return, immediately came back themselves and, becoming bolder than ever, captured the whole of the northern and farthest portion of the island as far as the wall, driving out the natives … The enemy pursued and there followed a massacre more bloodthirsty than ever before.  The wretched Britons were torn in pieces by their enemies like lambs by wild beasts (Ecclesiastical History of the English People, 1.12).

Thus Bede describes the experience of Britons at the end of Empire.  This was the world of Patrick.  The opening words of his Confession tell of how the end of Empire found dramatic expression in his life:

I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age … I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people.

The events in which Patrick was caught up would shook Christian communities across the known world.  In far off Bethlehem, Jerome would weep at the news of the fall of Rome and ask in his commentary on Ezekiel:

Who could have believed that Rome, founded on triumphs over the world, could fall to ruin; and that she, the mother of nations, should also be their grave?

Following this sacking of Rome itself, Augustine would also write his De Civitate Dei, answering those “who now complain of this Christian era, and hold Christ responsible for the disasters which their city endured”.

And yet, as the Empire crumbled and at the remotest outpost of the known world, Patrick in his Letter to Coroticus tells of a growing church:

the flock of the Lord, which in Ireland was indeed growing splendidly with the greatest care; and the sons and daughters of kings were monks and virgins of Christ – I cannot count their number.

His Confessions similarly tell the story of how the church could grow in a time of instability and discord, even at the ends of the earth:

I am greatly God’s debtor, because he granted me so much grace, that through me many people would be reborn in God, and soon a after confirmed, and that clergy would be ordained everywhere for them, the masses lately come to belief, whom the Lord drew from the ends of the earth, just as he once promised through his prophets.

In a time of economic crisis, of the fall of great powers, of a culture of de-Christianisation, the Church in postmodern societies can look to Patrick – to be encouraged that the grace of the Triune God, not the culture of the cities of this world, is the founding hope of our life as ekklesia and koinonia.

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I am going to begin collecting great Anglican works of music on this site as well.  Feel free to leave suggestions if you have them.  I kick things off with If Ye Love Me by Thomas Tallis:

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A wonderful Anglican spiritual travelogue by “Misses Larsen”: Thoughts On The Way

From Her First Post:

“We still have that ancient need to take the road, to seek out the sacred.” (- The Road To Canterbury).

Our Canterbury Trail has been a journey that has profoundly changed my spiritual DNA and altered my worldview. Through the process, a few of our close friends have taken the journey in separate towns across the US together all at the same time. When I was in Atlanta with my husband at the end of November, Life’s God-father and our dear friend, Jason, suggested that I start a blog telling my journey. My perspective is no more unique than any others and I don’t claim that anything profound will be shared on this blog. But, here marks the beginning of my thoughts walking this Canterbury Trail as a wife to a seminarian and potential scholar (and Lord-willing, one day a priest), and how God is revealing himself more clearly through his Church.

To God be the glory…

 

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The Archer of the Forest with some great thoughts on Lent:

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the time in the Christian year when we remember the brokenness in our lives and in our world. We walk through the proverbial desert time of fasting and penance, and prepared to be witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

The big question on the lips of many Christians at this time of the year is often, “So, what are you giving up for Lent?” Lent is often marked as a season by the somewhat curious habit of many Christians to “give something up.” People give up all sorts of various things ranging from eating chocolates to playing video games. I personally tried giving up coffee once, and I was grumpy for weeks. My point is that sometimes I wonder whether many people really understand the Lenten custom of “giving something up” or just use it for an occasion to brag.

What most people are really doing when they “give up something for Lent” is attempting to engage in a spiritual discipline and not a fast. Just giving something up is not really a fast in itself. Giving up something can be good for you; it can teach you the virtues of trusting that God will see you through your trials of missing whatever you are foregoing. Giving up something can even teach you that by God’s grace you can live without the material thing(s) with which you are addicted.

A fast is something a bit different, however. While a spiritual discipline is giving up something and seeing what you learn about yourself from that exercise, a fast is actively seeking God while you are giving up something. If I am fasting, then the time I would otherwise be using to eat that particular food or waste time on Facebook is actively devoted to searching for God in some tangible way like taking time to pray or read the bible or engage in some good work.

The Church over the centuries has built up the season of Lent (and originally Advent as well) to help us examine our selves, our souls, and bodies, to help re-center ourselves in Christ. Lent is a time when we intentionally look at where we are in our walk with God. Are there things done or left undone to which we need to attend, or are there things that have distanced us from God?

I urge you, therefore, to chose a spiritual discipline or a fast to do this Lenten season if you have not already chosen to do so. It is never too late to start. Even if you have already decided on a course of action, do not do it in vain. Allow God’s grace to lead you through that discipline or fast. Actively seek God while you are abstaining or taking up a new discipline in whatever form it might be. We do this not for the sake of performing a duty because we have to or to boast of our self-sacrifice, but so that we together might invite God into some small space in our lives so that Christ can invite us into the work of God’s dream.

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From Father Robert Hart, part of the Anglican Continuum:

On Easter morning we will sing St Paul’s words, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Today we begin with the first part of that antithesis, with words which echo Genesis 3, “Remember, O man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” It is too bad that the advocates of politically correct language have dropped the key word of that solemn formula, “O man.” As each man woman and child is marked with ashes, we are reminded of a jarring fact. Each of us is a member of the human race and is therefore “in Adam.” The address “O man” is directed simultaneously to the individual and to the entire human family. To delete it obscures that truth.

The formula is adapted from even more solemn words in Genesis 3, from that painful conversation which God held in turn with the serpent, with Eve, and with Adam just before they were banished from the garden. After He had dealt with the Serpent and with Eve, God said to Adam:

Cursed is the ground because of you,

In pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken.

for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

However you choose to read the mournful tale of Genesis 3 (as myth, or as poetry, or as a parable which echoes a terrible moment in clock-time history), we have in those words a powerful description of the human condition. Doomed to death after a lifetime of drudgery in a world where the very ground itself is cursed. This terrible predicament did not just happen at the caprice of a cruel god. No, this is the result of Adam’s sin.

On Ash Wednesday we make not one but two trips to the Altar rail. The first trip reminds us again of what St Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die.” We are all, by virtue of our humanity, under that curse which sent our first parents out of the garden into a world of thorns and thistles. But the second journey to the Altar rail, when we receive the Body and Blood of our Saviour, reminds us that “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The first trip recalls the terrible moment when, in Milton’s words at the end of Paradise Lost, “They, hand in hand, with wand’ring steps and slow, Through Eden took their solitary way.” But in the second journey, we are permitted to run breathlessly like the disciples to the empty tomb of Jesus of that first Easter morning.

The ashes on for foreheads remind us that we are truly “in Adam.” The Body and Blood which we will receive remind us that we are “in Christ.”

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Revelation and Christian Hope: Political Implications of the Revelation to John from Duke Divinity School on Vimeo.

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A great post by Haligweorc on doxology:

The Morning Offices of the Western Church are, to me, our clearest documents of purpose. Mat(t)ins begins thus: Open thou our lips, O Lord/And our mouth shall proclaim thy praise. Then the Venite itself issues a call to praise God as the One who holds all creation in being and the One who guides his people as a flock. The festal Te Deum offers us a doxological perspective of the created order, showing us our place as beings most fully alive when oriented with the rest of creation in its uncorrupt state towards and in praise of God. Finally the ultimate Lauds psalms (from which the Office earns its appellation) echo and expand the Te Deum.

There are two reasons that we praise. The first is because we are creatures offering the praise due our Creator. As made beings, we owe our existence to the One who made us and who should be praised for it. The second is thanks to our Baptism: in our Baptism we are consciously and intentionally joined to and made aware of our membership within the Body of Christ. We become conscious participants within the life of God. Within these our boundaries our praises take on a deeper and greater valence—we participate in the internal dialogue of the Trinity. Expressed most perfectly in the Eucharist, we as the divided members of the Body of Christ come together as part of the eschatological Body of Christ who offers his own self and praises to God the Father in and through the Holy Spirit.

Now—creation continues without our praise; the dialogue of the Trinity continues without us. However, we as individuals and as a community most clearly express our nature when we are oriented in praise towards God.

Paul calls us to “pray without ceasing.” To pray without ceasing is to be in constant awareness and embodiment of life in contact with God. It is to live the praise of God in all of our actions, proclaiming through daily virtues the victory of God in Christ and the triumph of love and light over darkness, hatred, and all the forces that seek to corrupt the works of God. It is for us to recall our right mind—for the Body of Christ to be directed by the Mind of Christ. (That there would be my own type B inclinations coming up to the surface…)

While this is our goal, we fall short of its embodiment. While Anglican spirituality as laid out by Martin Thornton in English Spirituality gives us the central tools to direct us in this way—formal periodic liturgies in combination with habitual prayer of recollection—as individuals in the world we will fail to reach our aspirations while on this side of the veil. Thanks be to God, however, that we are not alone in this task. I think not only of the Te Deum but of its paraphrase in the hymn “Holy God we praise thy name” where, in Walworth’s words, “And from morn to set of sun/Through the Church the song goes on.”

We are members of the Body of Christ. And one of the ways that this is expressed locally is that we are members of a liturgical community. In our corporate nature, the living organism in which we subsist can more completely embody prayer without ceasing than any of its constituent members apart from the whole. We are just starting up public daily Evening Prayer at our parish. Some days it’s just two of us. Other days it’s five or six (when M and I and the girls can be there; G insists on doing one of the Scripture readings; H’s task—since she’s still learning to read—is to start the Lord’s Prayer). As our priest said when announcing the effort at church, we’re doing corporately and publicly what the rest of us should be doing individually at home. When it may just be the two of us—or even one solitary person—standing in the choir of the cold sanctuary, we are indicating our community’s commitment to a corporate liturgical life and the hope and promise of a life turned towards God. It doesn’t mean that we’re succeeding, that we’re meeting Paul’s challenge of praying without ceasing. What it does means is that we are making a public proclamation that the effort is worth doing, that we recognize that a life of praise is one of the central aspects of the Christian life.

Read it all here.

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