Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Power of Perseverence

St. Augustine of Hippo, Ora pro nobis.

Fix your gaze on Him Who leads you and do not look back to the place from which He brought you. He Who leads you goes ahead of you; the place from which He brought you lies behind you. Love your Leader for fear He may condemn you for looking backward. -- St. Augustine of Hippo.

Women Bishops: Abp. Rowan Betrays CoE Trads

The ordination of women bishops is not just an American problem; the Church of England is about to follow suit.

A group of more than 100 traditionalist clergy who were all ordained after the Synod voted to admit women to the priesthood 13 years ago said they had been promised at the time a "permanent and equal" place in the Church.

In a statement, the clergy said that if the Synod now failed to provide them with "all that is necessary" for them to remain in the Church when women became bishops, it would represent a "betrayal of trust."
Betrayal proceeded as scheduled that afternoon, when the General Synod at York ruled the ordination of women to the episcopate "theologically justified" by a vote of 288-119. The Telegraph wrote (before the vote):
If this motion is passed, as expected, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will urge the Synod on Monday to set up a legislative drafting group.

The group would be asked to prepare a draft measure to allow the consecration of women and, more importantly, to propose a range of possible compromises to assuage traditionalists.

Observers said it was difficult to see what this group could come up with that had not already been proposed, and rejected, by the bishops.
...Including a plea to allow these men to appeal to a male bishop for alternate episcopal oversight.

It's hard to know where they would look, anyway. The BBC notes, "Fourteen of the world's 38 Anglican Churches have already decided to allow women bishops."

After seeing Dr. Rowan deceive nearly a gross of his own clergymen, do you still think this is the man who is going to save ECUSA from a similar fate?

(Hat tip: TitusOneNine)

Protestantism vs. The Anglican Missal

Western Rite Orthodox are occasionally told by some indefatigable detractors that our Liturgy of St. Tikhon is a "Protestant Rite." In that vein, I stumbled upon an essay discussing what actual Protestants think about missals generally. World-famous Anglo-Protestant writer J.I. Packer denounces the somewhat akin Anglican Missal, stating it contains:

rites incidental to the celebration of the Mass, such as making “holy” water and prayers for the dead.

...since Anglo–Catholicism insists upon having the Holy Communion (Mass or Holy Eucharist, as they call it) every Lord’s Day, gullible congregations were tricked into accepting this substitute for the Prayer Book without complaint. They were not even aware they had been robbed, given paste for the gem of our Protestant Anglican heritage.

It is sufficient to say that it has never been an approved service book of the Anglican Communion, and itself bears little relation to the Book of Common Prayer.

He calls the contention that the 1928 BCP is identical to the Anglican Missal "a bold sham."

We have seen similar indications that High Church catholics are unwelcome in Anglicanism -- from GenCon06 and Kate Schori, to be sure; but also from Dr. Peter Toon, those in the Continuum, and its affiliates.

Such Romaphobic criticisms are truer yet for the Liturgy of St. Tikhon as published in The Orthodox Missal, which contains invocation of the saints (direct), a stronger epiclesis, specific affirmation of the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, commemorations of Orthodox hierarchs and saints, etc.

With that said, those who grew up worshipping with the 1928 BCP typically don't recoil in horror upon assisting at the Liturgy of St. Tikhon in the Western Rite for the first time; quite often, they feel they have discovered a richer treasury of worship. And our Byzantine visitors tell us they often feel they have "truly prayed" in Western Rite services. In addition to ecclesiastical approval, the Western Rite's liturgies are self-authenticating, which (to bring matters full circle) is why they were approved in the first place.

The real thrust of Packer's article is that the Anglican Missal (and TOM) is incompatible with Protestantism, especially the Low Church party. We'll take him at his word on that.

(Ironically, Packer's anti-Orthodox article is housed at the website of a Protestant church body calling itself the "Anglican Orthodox Church." Another reason to thoroughly investigate obscure groups calling themselves Orthodox.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Octave of Sts. Peter and Paul

Today is the octave of Sts. Peter and Paul, chief of the Apostles. The Breviary's hymns for today are beautiful.
Let heav'n with acclamations ring,
And earth with joy responsive sing:
The Apostles' deeds and high estate
This festal-tide we celebrate.
And also
The eternal gifts of Christ, the King,
The Apostles' glory, let us sing!
Let all with hearts of gladness raise,
Due hymns of thankfulness and praise

The eternal gifts of Christ, the King,
The Apostles' glory, let us sing!
Let all with hearts of gladness raise,
Due hymns of thankfulness and praise...
In them the Father's glory shone,
In them the Spirit's will was done,
The Son Himself exults in them;
Joy fills the new Jerusalem.
The Collect of the Octave:

O God, Whose right hand upheld blessed Peter from sinking when he walked upon the waves, and delivered his fellow-Apostle Paul from the depth of the sea, when three times he suffered shipwreck: graciously hear us, and grant that, through their intercessions we may obtain eternal glory, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Western Rite Missionaries

Sts. Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe with St. Benedict.

I nearly missed it, but here's a most important post: Today is the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. They are commonly remembered as "The Apostles to the Slavs" and associated with the Byzantine liturgy -- indeed, an OCA priest friend insists the Jesuits opposed their missionary work.* However, these famous missionaries celebrated both Eastern and Western Rite liturgies. When they set out on their great missionary journey, they found opposition from German missionaries. Invited to Rome by Pope Nicholas I (pope at the time of the Photian Schism), Nicholas died before they arrived, but his successor heard their case. Ultimately, he placed their Western Rite liturgical books upon his altar and blessed their missionary work -- which was, in modern nomenclature, "bi-ritualistic." Indeed, according to Fr. Edward Hughes, the only parishes these great saints personally founded to survive were Western Rite parishes in Dalmatia. (Of course, subsequent waves of Byzantine missionaries built upon their work to popularize the Byzantine Rite in Eastern Europe, Deo gratias!)
These missionary saints are everlasting witnesses that 1) the Orthodox Church was never strictly Byzantine Rite, even in Eastern Europe, nor was it meant to be; and 2) the Church's most enlightened sons appreciate the full breadth of Her liturgical heritage, Eastern and Western.
Almighty everlasting God, Who by Thy blessed bishops and confessors Cyril and
Methodius didst vouchsafe to call teh Slavic peoples to the knowledge of Thy
Name: grant that we who glory in their festival may be joined unto their
fellowship. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and
the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius, orate pro nobis!
* - Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, to counter the spread of Protestantism, several centuries after Sts. Cyril and Methodius's translation.

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Fr. Matthew the Poor, RIP

Fr. Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)

My apologies if this is old news to my readers, but it came as news to me: Fr. Matta El-Meskeen ("Matthew the Poor") has passed away. The monk, who was widely credited with reviving modern Coptic monasticism, died June 8 at St. Macarius the Great Monastery in Scetis (Wadi El-Natrun), Egypt. He was 87.

Born Yousef Iskandar in Cairo in 1919, the future monk labored for years as a successful pharmacist, becoming a monk at the age of 28. Ordained to the priesthood against his will two years later, he was a magnet for generations of Coptic church faithful and for a time served as the confessor of Pope Shenouda III. The two, however, have since had fallings out, putatively over theology, though they differed sharply on administrative matters, as well. Fr. Matthew revived the faith of his fellow Copts just as he refurbished deteriorating monasteries in the Egyptian desert.

Though opposed (and deposed, then reinstated) by his patriarchs more than once in the last several decades, his fame spread even to the United States. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press published (at least) two of his books: The Communion of Love and Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way (which received an English translation 50 years after its initial publication). In the latter volume, Fr. Matta wrote of times of spiritual langouor, when all comfort or evidence of the soul's Divine-personal "relationship sleeps."
This relationship remains hidden from the soul. It is vain to try to convince a soul of its existence, that the soul might rely on this or reassure itself of its presence. For in this tribulation, the soul is called to stand alone.

The soul remains within the sphere of God’s dominion. Although unaware, it is still making progress and on the right path. It is still led by an invisible hand and carried by an unfelt power. The tangible proof for all this is the extreme, constant grief of the soul over its fall from its former activity, zeal, and prominent effort into its present state...

It cannot be assumed that a man will constantly see or feel the light or warmth of God. Yet both are constant and active, both in the light of this life as well as in its darkness, its coldness as well as its warmth, its happiness as well as its grief. The way of the spirit is not to be measured exclusively by periods of light, warmth, joy, or fruitful activity. Periods of impasse, of darkness engulfing the soul, of grief which oppresses the heart, periods of coldness paralyzing all spiritual emotion are inseparable parts of the narrow spiritual way. Such conditions seem adverse, painful, and deadly. What matters is how we face them. This is what determines our worthiness to proceed further, completing the blessed struggle until we receive our crowns.
His words continue to comfort thousands around the world. May he rest in peace.

(You can view a video of the funeral here. Click here to read his articles in English, or here to purchase his English language books.)


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day Mass and Devotions

George Washington at prayer.
At the risk of being accused of provincialism, the Americanist heresy, or (gasp) patriotism, here are the propers for the Votive Mass of Independence Day. I note: this is not the official Western Rite observance or text; just something I'm adding for those so motivated. Here are the rubrics from the Anglican Missal:

On July 4th is said the Mass WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF SS. PETER AND PAUL, unless some other Feast occur, except in the United States where by Ecclesiastical Authority is ordered the Votive Mas given below, which is suitable also for other patriotic observances. On July 4th it is a privileged Votive, the other of the Votive without Commem. of the Feast or other Occurrence unless it be of a Sunday, of a provileged Octave, or of a II Class Double. But where both Masses are not said, the Votive aloen is said, without any Commem. unless it be of one of the aforesaid Occurrences. All is said as in the Votive Mass IN ANY NECESSITY, Salus populi, with the Gloria in excelsis and the Creed, except:

O ETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Deuteronomy x. 17.
THE Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judg-ment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.

The Gospel. St. Matthew v. 43.
JESUS said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Those would be propers from the 1928 BCP.

Memory fails: did our father among the saints, St. Tikhon, authorized (or composed?) a Byzantine Rite service for Independence Day? I know he did so for Thanksgiving Day.

You may also enjoy praying these prayers from George Washington's Prayer Journal. (Imagine when the presidency was occupied by men capable of composing such prayers.)


Monday, July 03, 2006

The Present ECUSA Dissenters: What Say You?

Our friend Fr. Michael had this to say:
There's a whole world of difference between the 1976-78 Continuers and the present crop of bishops who are upset. The 1976ers really knew the Faith and knew that (in western catholic terms) the orders of the Anglicans had been irrevocably compromised by the "ordination" of the first deaconettes. Simply by remaining in communion with those who carried out such "ordinations" the others who refused to do them, nevertheless participated in the nullification of their own ordinations.
Conversely, I know many who chose to stay in ECUSA to "fight" for their denomination. They claimed they would not "abandon" the church and let the liberals "win." As the last three decades showed the irreligious making steady gains, they went from dreams of vanquishing the heretics and atheists in their leadership to proudly standing as hold-outs. They would take irrational pride in saying, "They can't force their ways on me."

The issue of remaining in communion with those who ordain women is contentious. By no means did all who oppose female ordination leave ECUSA in the '70s. Many felt as long as it did not affect their (diocese/state/parish), they would be safe. (The beginnings of the hold-out mentality.)

The implications of remaining in communion with those who did not share their faith usually did not register. It certainly should have -- and should for all who would remain today in whatever branch of the Anglican Communion. Ultimately, they're all in communion with Bishopess Jefferts Schori and Vicky Gene. By remaining in communion (whether full or "associate"), they give their assent and manifest their belief that, in the end, they all share the same faith. That reality, too, must sink in.

Are those just now ready to leave ECUSA liberals not quite as far Left as Schori/Robinson/Griswold/Spong; or are they traditionalists who have just been mugged by reality? I suspect there are both, and there are still many who find comfort in the orthodoxy of the Eastern Church -- and more appreciative yet of the fact that Her Western Rite allows them to preserve the best of Western liturgy and hymnody with which they've become familiar. However, not everyone leaving ECUSA is by any means a catholic Christian; as always, the preaching of the Word will divide this lot, as it does joint-from-marrow.

May God lead us all into His heavenly kingdom.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Novena for the United States

Unofficial Alert: This is not, to my knowledge, officially approved for use within the Western Rite in either Antioch or ROCOR. I merely pass it along so our beloved readers can sanctify their celebration of the national (not ecclesiastical) holiday. With that said, I note "The Russian Observations Upon the American Prayerbook" declared many of these specific prayers contained nothing "open to objection the dogmatic side." But it's strictly for those interested and completely everything else on my worthless blog, unless otherwise stated. -- BJ.


George Washington's Prayer for the Nation.

ALMIGHTY God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplications, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

[Written at Newburg, June 8, 1783, and sent to the Governors of all the States. Published in the Army Navy Hymnal, 1942]


A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with Thy favour to behold and bless Thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of Thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to Thy will, and walk in Thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

¶ Or this,

O LORD our Governor, whose glory is in all the world; we commend this nation to Thy merciful care, that being guided by Thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. AMEN.
¶ Or this,

ALMIGHTY God, whose kingdom is everlasting and power infinite; Have mercy upon this whole land; and so rule the hearts of Thy servants THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, The Governor of this State, and all others in authority, that they, knowing whose ministers they are, may above all things seek Thy honour and glory; and that we and all the People, duly considering whose authority they bear, may faithfully and obediently honour them, according to Thy blessed Word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. AMEN.


A Prayer for Congress.

MOST gracious God, we humbly beseech Thee, as for the people of these United States in general, so especially for their Senate and Representatives in Congress assembled; that Thou wouldest be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations, to the advancement of Thy glory, the good of Thy Church, the safety, honour, and welfare of Thy people; that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavours, upon the best and surest foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for all generations. these and all other necessaries, for them, for us, and Thy whole Church, be humbly beg in the name and mediation of Jesus Christ, our most blessed Lord and Saviour. AMEN.


For a State Legislature.

O GOD, the fountain of wisdom, whose statutes are good and gracious and whose law is truth; We beseech Thee so to guide and bless the Legislature of this State, that it may ordain for our governance only such things as please Thee, to the glory of Thy Name and the welfare of the people; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. AMEN.


For Courts of Justice.

ALMIGHTY God, who sittest in the throne judging right; We humbly beseech Thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of Thee alone; through him who shall come to be our Judge, Thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN.


For Our Country.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favour and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


For Schools, Colleges, and Universities.

ALMIGHTY God, we beseech Thee, with Thy gracious favour to behold our universities, colleges, and schools, that knowledge may be increased among us, and all good learning flourish and abound. Bless all who teach and all who learn; and grant that in humility of heart they may ever look unto Thee, Who art the fountain of all wisdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


For the Armed Forces.

ALMIGHTY God, we commend to Thy gracious care and keeping the Armed Forces of our country at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with Thy heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations, give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of thine abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

¶ Or this,

O GOD, Whose fatherly care reacheth to the uttermost parts of the earth: we humbly beseech Thee graciously to behold and bless those who serve in the defence of our country; defend them from all dangers of soul and body, and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to thee, may be bound together by thy love in the communion of thy Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of
thy Saints. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
¶ Or this,

For the Air Force.

WE IMPLORE Thy grace and protection, O Lord, for the Air Force of our country: direct the members thereof in all their ways; defend them from all dangers and adversities; and be graciously pleased to take them, and all who are dear to them, under Thy fatherly care and protection. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

¶ Or this,

For the Navy.

O ETERNAL Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea; Vouchsafe to take into Thy almighty and most gracious protection our country's Navy, and all who serve therein. Preserve them from the dangers of the sea, and from the violence of the enemy; that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America, and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our land may in peace and quietness serve Thee our God, to the glory of Thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

¶ Or this,

For the Army.

O LORD God of Hosts, stretch forth, we pray Thee, Thine almighty arm to strengthen and protect the soldiers of our country. Support them in the day of battle, and in the time of peace keep them safe from all evil; endure them with courage and loyalty; and grant that in all things they may serve without reproach; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


For Those who have died in service of our Country.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in Whose hands are the living and the dead; We give Thee thanks for all those Thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them Thy mercy and the light of Thy presence, that the good work which Thou has begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. AMEN.

¶ Or this,

ALMIGHTY God, we remember this day before Thee thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country: and we pray Thee that, having opened to them the gates of larger life, Thou wilt receive them more and more into Thy joyful service; that they may win, with Thee and thy servants everywhere, the eternal victory. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.