Posts Tagged ‘Bishop Anthony Burton’

Daily Offices Part I with Bishop Anthony Burton

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From Bishop Tony Burton’s Blog:

The Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse, one of the most influential Canadian theologians of his generation, died Jan. 15 in his rural childhood home on Crouse Road, Crousetown, Nova Scotia, where his family had lived for more than 200 years. He was 80.

He had left the house 70 years before to attend King’s Collegiate School in Windsor, Nova Scotia, where he would later be judged the most brilliant student in its 263-year history. Academic distinction followed, with degrees from King’s, Tübingen, Toronto, and Harvard; and teaching posts at the universities of Harvard, Toronto, Bishop’s (Lennoxville), and Dalhousie. He taught for 32 years at King’s College.

A world authority on Augustine and Dante, he was in great demand internationally as a lecturer. For many years he served as the first non-Roman Catholic visiting professor at the Augustinianum of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. With James Doull he established a school of thought concerning the theological tradition of the ancient and medieval worlds that now has an international following.

Many of his students discovered in themselves a vocation to holy orders. His sermons continue to be a touchstone for preachers around the world. For all that, it was neither his academic career nor his tireless voluntary service to the Church that set him apart from his generation. A master without a masterpiece, it was his personality that affected so deeply those who knew him.

He was a quiet, somewhat shy man with a deep, smoky voice, a wide range of interests, a great depth of knowledge, and a twinkling,mischievous wit. He rescued

the last tracker organ in Nova Scotia, installed it in his tiny rural church and started a baroque concert series that has attracted musicians to summer concerts for 47 years. About the same time he started a university choir that continues to flourish.

Later he would help found an annual theological conference, an academic journal, and a publishing house, all of which survive him. He gave popular talks on theology as it was embodied in the church architecture of Europe which he loved to explore, camera in hand. In his idyllic garden he cultivated 129 varieties of roses, and a vast collection of herbs and rare plants from which he would produce for his friends salads of 30 or more ingredients.

His roommate at Harvard was Tom Lehrer, who wrote “The Vatican Rag” and set the Periodic Table of Elements to song. Crouse shared this sense of fun. With encouragement (and his friends encouraged him often) he would oblige with a comic ditty or incorrect old anthem like the “Maple Leaf Forever.”

He had a great gift for friendship. To children he was comfortable as an old sweater, to those who sought him out for spiritual counsel he was the kindliest of fathers, to his students he was a velvet hand in a velvet glove — invariably merciful on those whose essays came to him late.

The whole was greater than the sum in this man of many parts. It was the interrelation of those parts that inspired people to want to be around him. While uncommonly rooted in one place, his primary community was neither Crousetown, nor the Canadian Church, nor the Anglican Communion but the Church throughout time. One had a sense that as he celebrated the Eucharist the entire spiritual world opened up before him. Paradoxically it was exactly this relation to the Church catholic that rooted him to his particular community, denomination and theological tradition.

He was not the kind of Anglo-Catholic who would set aside the insights of the Reformation, but saw them as necessary moments under the providence of God for Christian theology. He understood that piety, liturgy, and philosophydepend on each other.

Philosophy would be abstract without liturgy: liturgy put before the mind of the worshiper authorized images to be employed by the Holy Spirit in the soul.

His home was famous for its hospitality, wonderful food, wine and conversation. But most of the time it was effectively a hermitage, without telephone, internet, television or radio: carved over the mantelpiece were the Latin words St. Bernard chose for his monasteries: “The solitary place shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the lily … and a highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness” (Isa. 35:1-9).

A contemplative, Crouse understood that material things conceal in their depths a sign of their divine origin. His contemplative life was the hidden wellspring in him to which so many were instinctively drawn. His old colleague Wayne Hankey, to whom I owe some of these observations, wrote on his passing: “No student of his ever ceases to hear him and so to walk in the presence of the Logos.”

In a dissolving civilization he was an unmovable force for stability, prophetic in his determination to refocus the Church he loved on things heavenly and eternal.

When he preached at my consecration, he spoke of Gregory the Great:

“In the midst of the unsteady flow of time,” said Gregory, “the man of God knows how to keep steady the steps of his mind” (Moralia in Job, xxxi, 28, 55). But just how is that possible? I think the Venerable Bede penetrated the secret of it, when he reported how Gregory, “amid the incessant battering of worldly cares,” strove to be “fastened, as by the cable of an anchor, to the peaceful shore of prayer” (Historia ecclesiastica, II, I).

Happily an increasing quantity of Robert Crouse’s writing is appearing online to inform and bless generations to come, and I hope that much that is unpublished will now be gathered and receive the public attention it deserves.

This article appears in the Feb. 14, 2011 edition of the Living Church magazine.

You may find the writings of the Rev. Dr. Robert Crouse here: The Recollected Pastor


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I would like to bring to your attention something that just came to my attention… that is the blog of Bishop Anthony Burton, rector of Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, TX:


Bishop Burton, according to COTI’s website (www.incarnation.org),

At the time of his election as Bishop of Saskatchewan in 1993, Bishop Anthony Burton was the youngest bishop in the world-wide Anglican Communion, and the youngest Canadian bishop that century. In his fifteen years as Bishop of that diocese, he served in a wide variety of offices, among them Chair of the Council of the North (representing a third of Canada’s dioceses and 85% of its geography), Co-Chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue and as the Episcopal Visitor to the South American Missionary Society. He was also patron or officer of a variety of institutions, societies and organizations.

In addition,

Bishop Burton studied at the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, and Oxford University. He was ordained in the Diocese of Nova Scotia, where he served in two parishes on Cape Breton Island, at which time he married Anna Erickson, a native of California. They moved in 1991 to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he served as Dean and Rector of St. Alban’s Cathedral…

On September 1, 2008, he began a new ministry as Rector of the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, which, with 3,500 members, is one of the largest Episcopal Churches in the United States.

I have a clergy and lay friend who work on his staff in Dallas and when I asked them to describe Bishop Burton they responded, “Saintly,” and “Holy” respectively.  Another friend of mine, while speaking of “Bishop Tony” almost began weeping as she told me that “he makes Christianity real for me.”  There are a number of anecdotes that I have heard in the past two years that attest to the learnedness and holiness of the good bishop, and I regularly listen to his sermons (here: www.incarnation.org/recordings/sermons) to quicken my own spiritual life.  That’s right!….an Episcopal priest with sermons worth listening to and relistening to.  And while I’m on the subject, he also has a number of good articles available here.

If you have never heard of Bishop Burton, do yourself, your friends, and your parish a favor by familiarizing yourself with his writings, sermons, and blogs.  He is, perhaps, a living Anglican saint.  Also, if you happen to pass through Dallas on a Sunday evening as I did a few months ago … do whatever you have to do and go to Church of the Incarnation’s Solemn Choral Evensong & Holy Communion service at 5:30 p.m.  I wept through nearly the entire thing.

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Some thoughts about the daily office by Bishop Anthony Burton:

Prayer is a participation in the priestly ministry of Christ and is not a consequence of some external rule but springs from the very nature of our vocation as Christians. It is not the preserve of the clergy but is a vocation common to clergy and laity alike.  This is a Biblical teaching which the Reformers understood well: it underlies Cranmer’s insistence that the daily work of prayer be taken out of the monastery and placed in the parish church.

Its daily character also underscores this high view of the priesthood of all believers. Time itself is ordered, sanctified and offered through Christ to the Father.  Hooker had this to say:

“Now as nature bringeth forth time with motion, so we by motion have learned how to divide time, and by the smaller parts of time both to measure the greater and to know how long all things else endure.” (Laws, V, lxix.2)The whole Prayer Book is designed to enable the laity to fulfil their priestly vocation of prayer: the responses are to be returned by the people and not by the choir only; the prayers are generally short and contain one thought; they are in a language that all can understand; the laity are exhorted to receive their communion; the rubrics demand audibility and visible ceremonial…

and this:

The offices of the Prayer Book proceed from the belief that baptism issues in a vocation to pray in two ways. As a member of the Church, the body of Christ, we are to pray the prayers of the whole Church, publicly if possible, otherwise privately.

We are not members of the Body only at “The Gathering of the Community”. As an individual Christians, we should also have a domestic prayer life, which pertains to the particular needs and circumstances of our life as individuals and, if we have one, as part of a family. No amount of extemporary petition, barked from the back of the Church on Sundays can substitute for this. The distinction between public and private is a problem for the modern world generally. The Prayer Book tradition can help us recover the distinction.

The Prayer Book as a system of spiritual discipline is invaluable in helping us to grow to maturity in Christ. It continually reminds us that the good of the Kingdom of Heaven lies not in the devices and desires of our own hearts but in living in and by the Word of God. And it helps us to grow in community in the Body of Christ by enabling us to pray and adore in the Gospel in common.

Charles Simeon wrote that “The finest sight short of heaven would be a whole congregation using the prayers of the liturgy in the true spirit of them.” The recovery of that spirit has never been needed more than today, and yet if conferences like these are any indication, we have reason to hope that the golden age of Anglican spirituality lies not in the past but in, God willing, His the future.

Read it all here.

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The Anglican Communion Institute has released Anglicanism: A Gift in Christ, a two-set DVD series designed for adult education purposes. The set is composed of a series of talks given by renowned Anglican scholars and pastors. With Sunday morning or weeknight parish education sessions in mind, each lecture covers a key facet of Anglican faith and life: Bishop N.T. Wright on the New Testament, Dr. Jo Bailey Wells on the Old Testament, Dr. Edith Humphrey on Anglican hymnody, Dr. George Sumner on parish renewal, Dr. Ephraim Radner on mission, Dr. Philip Turner on Christian ethics, Bishop Anthony Burton on the prayer book, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of Nigeria on the church in the Muslim world, and former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey on the Anglican Communion, among others.

The entire series is full of such insights, and much more could be gleaned from its many lectures. It all comes back around, in the end, to the classical Anglican vision of a people formed by God though common worship, common prayer, and common reading of the Scriptures, growing together in wisdom, holiness, and love, and sent out into the world to witness to the gospel of Christ. Anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of the Anglican tradition, in order to better reach out in mission to the Church and the world, would do well to study this fine series.

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