Friday, January 27, 2006

Western Liturgical Churches Rediscover Paedocommunion

A collection of Western, liturgical Protestant churches is rediscovering the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Orthodox Church's ancient practice of paedocommunion.

Paedocommunion is the practice of giving the Lord's Supper to baptized children, even apart from a coming-of-age ritual such as confirmation or profession of faith.

Paedocommunion was the universal practice of the Church until the late medieval period (c. 1200). It is attested at least as far back as Cyprian (c. 250), and is witnessed throughout the centuries following (e.g. in Augustine, Leo the Great, etc.). [For a "Catena of Quotations" from the Early Church, click here.]

Also of interest is the website's History of Paedocommunion by Tommy Lee. "Numerous citations of original sources in the Early Church illustrate paedocommunion's venerable history." Interestingly, most of the churches listed are Reformed denominations, accepting paedocommunion based on covenantal theology.

The Ancient Background: In ancient Christian practice, the bishop acted as the ordinary celebrant at the local church, assisted by a large team of priests, deacons, subdeacons, lectors, and others in minor orders. When a child was born to one of his parishoners, the bishop would administer the "initiation sacraments" of baptism, chrismation (confirmation), and first communion all at once -- at the earliest possible date. The child was considered a full communicant of the Church from that day forward, receiving the Eucharist at every Sunday/festal/weekday Mass (or "Divine Liturgy").

As diocesan territories enlarged and bishops became administrators rather than parish rectors, East and West took different paths on the administration of these sacraments. In the East, the bishop deferred these prerogatives to the parish priest. In the West, the bishop allowed the priest to baptize but reserved chrismation/confirmation to himself. Diocesan territories expanded yet further, so confirmation was delayed until the children were on the cusp of adulthood.

In modern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic (the dreaded "Uniate") practice, children still receive baptism/chrismation/first communion at once administered by a priest. The liturgical churches of the West practice infant baptism (by the priest); confirmation comes around age 13 (from the bishop); and first communion comes around age seven as an apparent compromise between the two: the child is not yet confirmed but has reached an "age of reason" sufficient to "understand" the Real Presence.

Why It Matters. The advantages of the ancient practice of paedocommunion are manifold, manifest, and compelling. First, the benefits of pedigree and logical progression commend it. Paedocommunion was the normative practice of East and West, surviving in parts of the West centuries after the Great Schism. The current Western practice is an historical anachronism that has a child commune before he/she has become a full member of the Church through chrismation. More importantly, it deprives children of years of sacramental grace -- in Byzantine terminology, participation in the energies of the Trinity. Logistically, this also means parents refuse communion to children while they are interested, then try to revive a waning desire for the Body and Blood of Christ years later.

One would not postpone feeding children until they "understand" the digestive system or "choose" to eat of their own volition. To deprive children of spiritual nutrition is no less a form of neglect than physical starvation; it is metaphysical malnutrition to which no good parent would subject his child. To insist no one should commune unless he "understands" the "great mystery and wonderful sacrament" is wrongheaded: no one ever truly understands the sacraments, and to demand understanding precede the sacraments necessarily leads to Anabaptism. On the other hand, to understand this important aspect of parenthood leads one toward embracing the fullness of the Truth.

Thankfully, Reformed and other liturgical Protestant parents are beginning to understand the mortal jeopardy into which they place their own souls by delaying their children's baptism, and the grace they deprive their children by withholding the grace conferred by the Sacrament. May they come to learn the great honor due to the Body and Blood of Christ, truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar, and the rich benefits it confers: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which begins, aids, and strengthens each soul on his road to theosis.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Female Archbishop of Canterbury?

It had to happen eventually: sources within the Church of England state a female Archbishop of Canterbury is definitely "a possibility":

The Church of England raised the prospect of its first female Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday [Jan. 16] in proposals aimed at smoothing the path towards women bishops. The proposals by a working party of the House of Bishops said all episcopal posts should be open to women if, as is expected, the historic reform is introduced by the General Synod in about seven years...The new report, by a group headed by the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, said barring women from Canterbury could fall foul of the Sex Discrimination Act.

First, the power of the Crown gave the UK Calvinist bishops and soon, bishopesses.

Oh, and it appears ECUSA is about to appoint another Druid as chief administrator. How long before Anglicanism's remaining Christians find the escape hatch?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Abuna Yesehaq Update

Late Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq, who took in a number of Western Rite parishes before his death late last year, may have a street named in his honor in Kingston, Jamaica. The island's Attorney General, A.J. Nicholson, has asked Kingston Mayor Desmond McKenzie to rename Maxfield Park "Bete Salem," in honor of the late missionary archbishop. Nicholson is a former Rastafarian baptized by Abuna Yesehaq. Abuna was buried in Kingston last Thursday, January 19.


Anti-Orthodox Persecution in Eritrea

Third Patriarch of Eritrea, Abune Antonios.

Eritrea has long been a hotbed of intense anti-Christian persecution; apparently slavery existed within living memory. Last August, the "former" Communist government appointed a layman, Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros, as "chief administrator" of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Since then, the patriarch has lingered under a quasi-house arrest. On January 13, this layman "deposed" the patriarch (!) and confiscated his car, forcing the 78-year-old to walk to church (which he's not allowed to attend, anyway).

Under Oriental Orthodox canon law, a patriarchal appointment is for life, barring gross immorality or disqualifying handicap. Thus far, it appears the faithful are ignoring the Marxist/lay decree. Read Abune Antonios' response.

Abune Antonios is the third patriarch of Eritrea since its establishment in 1998.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Well, That Was Quick

It's official: The "Book of Daniel" has gone the way of all flesh. Hat tip to Midwest Conservative Journal, which also had this to say:

I said it before and I'll say it again: if you want to create a drama about Episcopalians, use real ones. Create a real Episcopal parish, one torn apart by Gene Robinson or whatever other controversy you want to create, and have the rector try to keep things together, all the while wondering whether he really supports what ECUSA has done or not.

Now that would be real drama: social and religious left-wingers forcing their views on the "little people" and expecting them to keep their mouths shut and their wallets open. That might hit the network execs too close to home. Of course, I had ideas about a potential show, as well.

The Left has already begun carping about the chilling effect created by supposed Religious Right intimidation. The Religious Right was not responsible for getting this show cancelled; the American mainstream was. The average viewer is not interested in enlisting in Falwell's brigades, but he/she does not want to see clergy -- let alone the Almighty -- defamed for sport. This is the latest in a long string of free market rebukes demonstrating the secular, religio-phobic Left is still unable to brainwash the American people, even with the services of all three networks, the prestige press, and all the Turner networks combined. In their propaganda war against American values, even a reimagined Jesus could not be their savior.

Good riddance.

Bad News for the Modern Man

(Hat tip:

Monday, January 23, 2006

A "Conversation" with Frederica Mathewes-Green

I am pleased to link this post by North Carolina Antiochian blogger Huw Raphael -- not so much because I'm mentioned, but because he actually managed to have something approaching a discussion with Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green on her convert, ultra-Byzantized version of "The Only Valid Orthodoxy™." (Great phrase.) The Western Rite and her view of the atonement (oh-so mystical) are focuses of discussion. "Mama Fred" has often become overwrought in her attempts to differentiate the poetic and superior Byzantine East from the unlearned and barbaric West. Read Huw's attempt to engage her on the diversity of our holy faith, then read his readers' comments below. Well done, Huw!

I am especially humbled Huw linked and recommended an article I wrote in the February 2004 edition of The Lion (although the version published was actually a rough draft, rather than the final version). It is one of my favorite articles, and I am pleased someone appreciated my poor efforts.

Orthodox Abortion Round-Up

An excerpt from Met. PHILIP's letter on "Sacred Gift of Life" Sunday (Antiochian):
Having just celebrated the Nativity of God in the flesh and His baptism by
St. John the Forerunner, we must pause and contemplate the meaning of life from
conception until our earthly death. In reading the Gospel story of the Theotokos
["Mother of God"] visiting Elizabeth and the babe (St. John) leaping in
Elizabeth's womb, we see that even in the womb, life is sacred. During the
Liturgical year, we celebrate the conception of the Theotokos and that of St.
John the Baptist, along with the announcement of our Lord's coming in the flesh
in the great feast of the Annunciation. All these events, together with the
sacred Tradition of our Orthodox Faith, teach us that we are to respect and
protect life from the moment of conception until we have breathed our last
breath. This strong belief in the sanctity and sacredness of life, based on
Scripture and Holy Tradition, obliges us to teach that abortion is the killing
of a human life.

An exerpt from Met. HERMAN's Archpastoral Message on "Sanctity of Life" Sunday (OCA):
Perhaps the greatest gift God has given us is life. When He spoke to Moses
in the burning bush, God revealed that He is the very Source of Life – Life and
Existence Itself. All life is an extension of and a participation in His life.
As such, life must be respected, honored, seen for what it is: a revelation of
the One Who is Life Itself, a gift given to mankind that ultimately leads us to
become “partakers of his divine nature,” as Saint Peter reminds us...

There are those who, right or wrong, have perceived that our nation is
engaged in a “war against Christianity.” While this can be – and is being –
debated, it is clear, however, that we are engaged in a “war against life.” And
it is in this war that there is only one “exit strategy” – the recognition that
all life is indeed a sacred gift from God, that it must be preserved and
protected, and that it must be a priority for those called to be stewards of
God’s creation. Persons of faith have been challenged to speak out, not
“against” abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, inadequate care for the
elderly and needy, but “for” life as a gift from God and a very participation in
His divine nature. Our society’s failure to recognize these truths stands at the
root of its readiness to accept such travesties; it is our calling to proclaim
the truth, to reveal God’s presence and image in “the least of the brethren,”
and to do all we can to ensure that life is protected on every level, at all

The Fathers of the Orthodox Church on Abortion.

Orthodox Christians for Life.

The Romanian Patriarchate's View of Abortion.

Pro-Life Prayers

A Prayer for Human Life

Father, we praise Thee for the work of Thy hands: For human life, made in Thine image; for the gift of Thy Son, Who redeemed our nature; for the power of the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts; for all Thou dost bestow upon us, we praise Thee, we thank Thee, we bless Thy holy Name. Do Thou protect the life which Thou hast given unto Thy servants: support the aged, guide the young, lift up the failing, and heal the sick. To all people grant Thy truth in its fullness. And may those who are yet unborn all see the light of day and live to give Thee glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Another Prayer for Life

God Our Father, the Giver of life, we entrust the United States of America to Thy loving care. Thou art the rock on which this nation was founded. Thou alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Reclaim this land for Thy glory and dwell amongst Thy people.Send Thy Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation's leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind Thy people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing Thy will.Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of our land, may all the leaders, doctors, and mothers of this land reject the culture of death and protect the dignity of the unborn.We ask this through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost doth ever live and reign, one God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer for the Unborn

Heavenly Father, in Thy love for us, protect against the wickedness of the devil, those helpless little ones to whom Thou hast given the gift of life. Touch with pity the hearts of those women pregnant in our world today who are not thinking of motherhood. Help them to see that the child they carry is made in Thy image - as well as theirs - and is made for eternal life. Dispel their fear and selfishness, and give them hearts to love their babies, to give them birth and all the needed care that a mother can give. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, world without end. Amen.

Short Prayers for the Unborn

Heavenly Father, we the living request Thy help for the unborn. Amen.

Holy Mary, pray for us sinners, save unborn infants from abortion. Amen.

Lord, we pray for all mankind to have the grace to understand that each and every life has the right-to-life. Amen.

Byzantine Office of Prayer and Supplication for the Victims of Abortion.

Sanctity of Life Sunday Petitions from the Byzantine liturgy.

Pro-Life Meditations on the Rosary.

Anglican Catholic pro-life prayers.

Priests for Life prayer page.

Additional prayers for life (mostly RCC).

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