Tuesday, January 29, 2008

With respect to respect.

I'm missing preparing sermons. I'm on Sabbatical, and truth be told, it will be sometime before I'm preaching in church again. Preparing a sermon is important for me as I find another way of getting close to God. So, here's one yet unpreached.

Sermon based on St Mark xi.27-xii.12

Which is the most respectable profession?

Indeed, do we have respectable professions anymore?

A stomach complaint.

A trip to a large Victorian house,
spending half-an-hour sitting
in a bleak waiting room with ancient posters
extolling "Digging for victory"
or "Keep Mum, she's not so dumb."

A nod from the receptionist.

An invitation into a large wood-panelled room
smelling vaguely of carbolic soap.

In the chair behind the desk sits the doctor
- a formidable gentleman dressed in
three piece suit,
fob watch,
half-moon spectacles.

"What seems to be the problem?"

A lolly-stick down the throat and an "aahh" later,
you are sent out with a piece of paper
bearing indecipherable hieroglyphics which
would tax the most ardent of Egyptologists
to the chemist,
who obviously has a skill for translation
far surpassing
the most ardent of Egyptologists!

There is no quibble with the diagnosis.

There is no "can I have a second opinion?"

There is no threat of a lawsuit because the
medicine tastes like bluebottles in meths.

A doctor used to have respect.

Gone also are the unquestionable judgements
of the teacher clad in mortarboard and gown.

Gone is the pious parish parson
whose life has now been turned upside down
by the demands of petulant parishioners
for this that and the other.

Why has respect for these folk evaporated?


"More disrespect!

Won't they ever understand?"

Kesil helps Rachab back to his feet,
trying to wipe the blood from his nose
and see just how badly his friend is hurt.

"They just keep coming," says Rachab
dazed and distressed by the whole experience,
"there was nothing I could do to stop them.
They won't listen to me!"

"There's no reasoning with such people, Rachab,"
says Kesil sitting his badly beaten friend
on a convenient rock
while binding
a large cut on his arm with a strip of cloth
torn from his robe.

"They work to a different agenda.

They just do not see the truth of the matter.

If they would just let us do what we have to do,
the vineyard would be so much better
for everyone.

They have no respect for our authority."

"I don't know why.

It's not as if we're being unreasonable.

We’re just doing our job.

We’re good at our job, aren’t we?

Indeed, this is how the master wants it to be.

You saw the letter,
you read his words didn't you?"

Rachab nods,
"Most of it is as clear as day,
though some bits are a bit vague on the details,
but we managed to work it out.

It said that we had
the master’s full authority in the matter.

We’re in the right, so don’t doubt it, Kesil.

However, that's seven servants who have
been shown the door in unpleasant ways.

Don’t worry my friend,
they’ll get what’s coming to them
for their disrespect.”

“Indeed,” says Kesil, “only next time,
don’t try and throw them out
of the vineyard single-handedly.

Wait for the rest of us to get there
so that we can give them the hiding that they deserve.

When will they understand that
we know what’s best for the vineyard?

We run the show and
we do not need anyone else to
tell us how to raise our good crop
or interfere with it in anyway.

The master is abroad and he has left us in charge.
That’s what the letter says…
our way or the highway.”

“Oh, look. Here comes another one!

Isn't that the master's son?”


Does this help us understand
why professions which once had respect do so no longer?

Where was their authority
and where is it now?

There are those who demand respect,
and those who deserve respect.

And in this situation, the Lord Himself says
"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's,
and unto God that which is God's."

Give respect to those who demand it,
but at the end of the game all the pieces
go back in the box
and what do they have left?

Give respect to God,
and that will be eternally

Where is God's authority in our society?

Is it evident in your parish?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Romancing the Catholics?

What is the difference between an Anglican Papalist and a Romaniser?

Fr. Brooke Lunn explains that a Romanizer is "a person esp. an Anglican, who favours or adopts the practices of the Roman Catholic church... Thus Anglican Papalism is not to be confused with Romanizers. The former belongs in the realm of ideas, the latter in the real of phenomena. The phenomena of Romanizers are relatively easy to perceive. The idea of Anglican Papalism requires much more application in order to begin to comprehend it."

He goes on to mention, "Anglican Papalists recognise both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England as rightfully claiming descent from the undivided Church in England before the sixteenth century schism." (emphasis mine)

I don't pretend to be learned enough to understand all the fine theological wranglings of the 16th Century - to be honest I don't have all that much time. I believe strongly that there are some very strong orthodox threads which connect pre-Reformation and post-Reformation Anglicanism. However, that doesn't justify the split that occurred, nor keeping the split going. As I say, Anglican Papalism shouldn't exist; we are merely a means to an end.

Below I post the Tridentine Creed. Tridentine Anglican Papalism sees this as the document containing the essentials that need to be discussed and debated over before doctrinal agreements are made. Modern Anglican Papalism would take the key text to be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It's a text that I intend to study at length and I hope in the future to post one or two of my musings on the teachings therein.

The Tridentine Creed.

How far can you go with this?

Ego N. firma fide credo et profiteor omnia et singula, quae continentur in Symbolo, quo Sancta Romana ecclesia utitur, videlicet:

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas. Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

Apostolicas et ecclesiasticas traditiones reliquasque eiusdem ecclesiae observationes et consitutiones firmissime admitto et amplector.

Item sacram Scripturam iuxta sensum eum, quem tenuit et tenet sancta mater Ecclesia, cuius et iudicare de vero sensu et interpretatione sacrarum Scripturarum, admitto, nec eam umquam nisi iuxta unanimem consensum Patrum accipiam et interpretabor.

Profiteor quoque septem esse vere et proprie Sacramenta novae legis, a Iesu Christo Domino nostro instituta, atque ad salutem humani generis, licet non omnia singulis, necessaria: scilicet Baptismum, Confirmationem, Eucharistiam, Poenitentiam, Extremam Unctionem, Ordinem et Matrimonium, illaque gratiam conferre, et ex his Baptismum, Confirmationem et Ordinem sine sacrilegio reiterari non posse.

Receptos quoque et approbatos ecclesiae catholicae ritus in supradictorum omnium Sacramentorum solemni administratione recipio et admitto.

Omnia et singula, quae de peccato originali et de iustificatione in sacrosancta Tridentina Synodo definita et declarata fuerunt, amplector et recipio.

Profiteor pariter, in Missa oferri Deo verum, proprium et propitiatorium sacrificium pro vivis et defunctis, atque in sanctissimo Eucharistiae Sacramento esse vere, realiter et substantialiter Corpus et Sanguinem, una cum anima et divinitate Domini nostri Iesu Christi, fierique conversionem totius substantiae panis in Corpus at totius substantiae vini in Sanguinem, quam conversionem Ecclesia catholica transsubstantiationem appellat. Fateor etiam sub altera tantum specie totum atque integrum Christum verumque Sacramentum sumi.

Constanter teneo, purgatorium esse, animasque ibi detentas fidelium suffragiis iuvari. Similiter et Sanctos, una cum Christo regnantes, venerandos atque invocandos esse, eosque orationes Deo pro nobis offerre, atque eorum reliquias esse venerandas.

Firmissime assero, imagines Christi ac Deiparae semper Virginis, necnon aliorum Sanctorum habendas et retiendas esse, atque eis debitum honorem et venerationem impertiendum.

Indulgentiarum etiam potestatem a Christo in Ecclesia relictam fuisse, illarumque usu christiano populo maxime salutarem esse affirmo.

Sanctam catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam romanam omnium ecclesiarum matrem et magistram agnosco, Romanoque Pontifici, beati Petri, Apostolorum principis, successori, ac Iesu Christi Vicario, veram obedientiam spondeo ac iuro.

Cetera item omnia a sacris canonibus et oecumenicis Conciliis, ac praecipue a sacrosancta Tridentina Synodo, et ab oecumenico Concilio Vaticano tradita, definita et declarata, praesertim de Romani Pontificis primatu et infallibili magesterio indubitanter recipio ac profiteor; simulaque contraria omnia, atque haereses quascumque ab Ecclesia damnatas et reiectas et anathematizatas ego pariter damno, reicio, et anathematizo.

Hanc veram catholicam fidem, extra quam nemo salvus esse potest, quam in praesenti sponte profiteor et veraciter teneo, eamdem integram, et inviolatam usque ad extremum vitae spiritum, constantissime, Deo adiuvante, retinere et confiteri, atque a meis subditis, vel illis, quorum cura ad me in munere meo spectabit, teneri, doceri et praedicari, quantum in me erit, curaturum, ego idem N. spondeo, voveo ac iuro. Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei Evangelia.

I, N, with a firm faith believe and profess each and everything which is contained in the Creed which the Holy Roman Church maketh use of. To wit:

I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I most steadfastly admit and embrace Apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observances and constitutions of the Church.

I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, to whom it belongeth to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I also profess that there are truly and properly Seven Sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for every one; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be reiterated without sacrilege.

I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honored and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.

I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the Mother of God, ever virgin, and also of other Saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due honor and veneration is to be given them.

I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church as the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent, and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching. I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church hath condemned, rejected, and anathematized.

This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, inviolate and with firm constancy until the last breath of life, I do so profess and swear to maintain with the help of God. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and professed by all those over whom I have charge. I N. do so pledge, promise, and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The mark of Anglican-Papalism

It's the Anglican Papalists' week of the year! Yes, this is where we made our mark on the Liturgical Kalendar. Hooray for Frs. Coutourier, Jones and Wattson!

As an Anglo-Papalist, I do feel that the past year has proved very taxing, after all a) there aren't many of us left, b) our theology could stand some tidying up and c) we do not seem to be particularly well thought of either by Rome or by Anglo-Catholics who would rather we got off the fence and actually chose our jurisdiction. Personally, I'm not even sure the fence exists.

Against Anglo-Papalists, the main comment runs along the lines of:

"If you believe that the Roman Catholic Church possess the fullness, then according to their teaching you are in a state of mortal sin by delaying your Tiberian plunge yet another minute."

It's a good point, however to my unlearned mind, sin of any kind requires repentance - a turning back of the soul to the right path. One confesses and repents and is absolved. I have argued that Anglican Papalism is less a Community and more of a Movement in both its literal and communal terms. Thus the repentance that Anglican Papalism offers is that of the active striving to move the Anglican Church closer to Rome. Our absolution may not be immediate, but surely it will come when the Barque of St Peter is finally lashed to the dinghy of the C of E (what's left of it) and the chipper little coracles of the Continuum.

Fr. Spencer Jones argues that it was the objective of the Oxford Movement, especially its leaders - Froude, Keble, Pusey and Newman - to show that the Anglican Church needs reunion with the Holy See. I am also of the opinion that, although she may not say it, the Holy See needs the Anglicans, especially at the moment where the Pope is avowedly traditional and the bishops of America and the U.K avowedly liberal. They need a bit of English tolerant conservatism to help them put their house in order! ;-)

However, all disunity is a sin. I feel that most in my parish in which I seem to be the sole element of disunity because of my stand against the dumbing-down of the Mass. Nonetheless, whatever barriers have been thrown up, or whatever barriers the truth appears to throw up, the only way we can move forward is not by an opening of the mind, but of the heart because it is within the heart that the ways of making the barriers vanish (if they ever existed) can be found. Academic Theology will only provide ammunition to tell our opponents how wrong they are. Conviction will only occur in the heart.

I do believe that the Holy See possesses the fullness of Truth. However, the fullness of Truth is infinite in extent, and no man can fully know the Truth if he can know anything at all apart from shadows. The point is that the Holy See is bigger than she knows herself to be. The only being that truly knows itself is God, as St Thomas Aquinas said. Thus there is more to the Church than she can understand. It's as we gather these filaments and fibres that Rome and England get pulled together. Arguing theologically is fine, but if we are in addition seeking that Truth in our hearts as well, then we can find it together, as long at it is the Truth and not a truth that we want to find because it suits us.

If we seek the Truth then we will come up against contradictions and controversies. As a professional mathematician, like my colleagues, friends and betters, I spent the majority of my time stuck on a problem - no movement, no thoughts, no ideas, yet I often knew that the solution existed. Anglican Papalism is a contradiction in some ways, but that is only a testament to the fact that human beings have come to their limits of their understanding of what the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is. I know that the solution exists because its existence is testified in the Holy Scriptures; finding it is a job for all of us together.

In this week of Christian Unity I offer my prayers for all Christians, and pray that they may all come together and live in the Truth of God.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The ins and outs of the Mass

The Church of England, being these days in it's majority, is a faddish church, and one of the biggest fads that has been part of management training and self-help seminars is the Myers-Briggs Type indicator which deals out to everyone four letters that describe their preferences of behaviour:
  • defining the self via externals or internals;
  • making perceptions using intuition or sensation;
  • making judgements using thinking or feeling ;
  • preferring making decisions to making perceptions.

The theory is quite powerful, and does allow the individual to begin a foray into that classical objective of "Know thyself". It is but only one theoretical way, and the big danger for anyone using MBTi is that they get their four letters and are told that this is their personality type with which they were born and is somehow immutable. The temptation is to assume that one cannot change preferences, although an introvert can "learn" to become extravert et c. The implication is that once an ENFP, always an ENFP at heart.

It is one thing to know oneself, and a good thing too, but this is one of the root causes of the malady that is afflicting the Church of England. In the past, people were content with coming to church and saying the Mass as it was constructed by the church. However, it is the result of this "Know Thyself" phenomenon that people are now saying that they "cannot" do Mass in the traditional way because the Mass is geared to introverts and not extraverts or some such like. People object to the traditional Mass because it doesn't fit them.


It's sheer laziness. Rather than work at finding away of relating with the Mass, which is after all an engagement of the human personality with that of the divine, these folk demand that the Church changes its liturgy, its prayers, its expressions to fit all people. And the Church of England, in its desire to upset noone but to facilitate the notion of "meeting the people where they are" change the traditions to suit. It's never engaged with society on this level before, why should it have suddenly done so inthe 20th Century. Philosophies of the self have existed long before Freud, Jung, and MBTi, why suddenly engage with the individual now and thus run the ship off course?

This "priesthood of all believers" oft quoted by liberals to supplant the Catholic notion of priesthood is that the layfolk go out into the world and live Christian lives through which the world might see the Light of Christ. Then, having worked long and hard at this coal-face, they find nourishment from the Mass that has been celebrated in the same way since time immemorial.

"Boring!" say the ENTPs (to stereotype a type(!)), " I want a Mass that suits me, that changes every week, that engages my extraverted ideas." If it suits you, O stereotyped ENTP, then how will the same Mass suit an ISFJ? "Oh, they can have their own Mass." So how is the Mass a sacrament of Unity if you won't attend the same Mass as your INFJ neighbour? "Well, it's the same God that we worship, the Mass is still the same." Well, no it isn't - you are not there, effectively, though not in jurisdiction, you are creating another congregation. The Masses will still be valid in the eyes of both ENTP and ISFJ, but there is still an excommunication this time along the fault-line of personality - more purification, more diluted ethnic cleansing.

No, ENTP and INFJ should go to the same Mass and work hard to engage their selves into the traditional liturgies, and the Church should not have indulged them. Back to the Traditional Mass we should go.

"Why? Isn't that just an expression of your personality? Isn't that your preference, O thou self-righteous INTJ?" My preference is immaterial. My desire to serve God is that which is universal to all Christians. If the Catholic Church instituted and used a Mass largely unchanged for centuries (indeed, totally unchanged in the Orthodox Tradition) then it was adequate for all types of person regardless of who, where and when they are. The Traditional Mass is a lingua franca across Time displaying the Sacrament of Unity across the Ages. No matter who you are or where you are in the world, you could walk into Mass and be assured that it is the same Sacrament.

"But you're using your preference of intuition when you say that."

No, I'm stating a fact voiced by St Vincent of Lerins that the Catholic Faith is quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. (that which is believed everywhere, always and by all). If there is no link with the theology of the past, then there is no Catholic Faith.

Now, O argumentative ENTP, go out into the world and minister to it as the Christian that you are using all your personality as God has given you. Pray to God in your own offices, in your own manner, but when you come to Mass, be prepared to celebrate it with all people in the Traditional way. Engage with it in your own way by all means, but don't force that way upon others. If you are bored, then that's your challenge, not a problem with the Liturgy.

How might I carry on this conversation with another personality type?