Friar John's Ruminations

Being the thoughts of an Episcopalian Layman. In Search of and service to "Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order."

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We may have Spoken To Soon.

It seems we spoke to soon about good ol' Benedict XVI.
Now, I am not one of those who thinks that he is evil. Rather I think he's playing the radical traditionalists (Rad Trads) in the Roman communion like a fiddle.What he doesn't say is far more telling than what he dose. He has this tendency to give to the rad trads with one hand and take with the other. For example:

"You all want the Tridentine Mass? Fine, but you can only use it under these rules, and it is now defined as NOT the normative Mass."

"No women clergy!" But no reason other than Papal authority in the statement. No mention of the "fitness" of women or anything like that. The question has been freed up for future Popes.

He has also, finally, thrown a lasso around that bucking bronco that is the American RC's tendency to act as if the Mass ala a Peter Paul and Mary concert will pack the kids in. If nothing else, we may have seen the end of Polyester Butterfly chausables. If for no other reason, he may have earned canonization.

With that said, Damian Thompson, the editor in chief of the catholic herald, has this to say:

The Catholic Church will expand its provision of "Anglican Use" parishes in the United States in order to allow whole communities of traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman fold, a senior Catholic archbishop has announced.

The Most Rev John J Myers, Archbishop of Newark and Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, told a conference of ex-Anglicans on Friday that "we are working on expanding the mandate of the Pastoral Provision [of Catholic parishes using Anglican-inspired services] to include those clergy and faithful of 'continuing Anglican communities'.

"We are striving to increase awareness of our apostolate to Anglican Christians who desire to be reconciled with the Holy See. We have experienced the wonder of several Episcopal bishops entering into full communion with the Catholic Church and we continue to receive requests from priests and laity about the Pastoral Provision."

You can read the rest of his thoughts on his blog here.

This makes me wounder exactly what the old boy is playing at? I still have a hard time with the idea he takes Anglo-Catholics all that seriously, in particular those who come over. If you read the rest of Mr. Thompsons Blog you'll see what I mean about a distrust and distaste for these guys in the Roman World.

Things are going to be interesting.

Anyway, happy Our Lady of Mt Carmel day. Don't watch the EWTN Mass on the repeat tonight if you'd like to hear a good sermon on the feast though.

Pope rides to Rowan's rescue

Exclusive: Vatican shuns defectors and backs calls for Anglican unity

By James Macintyre, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Pope is leading an unprecedented drive by the Roman Catholic Church to prevent the fragmentation of the worldwide Anglican Communion ahead of the once-a-decade gathering of its 800 bishops, which begins today, The Independent has learnt.

In his first public comments on the Lambeth Conference, Pope Benedict XVI has warned Anglican leaders that they must find a "mature" and faithful way of avoiding "schism". On top of this the Pope has:

* Sent three cardinals to the conference in Canterbury, including one of his top aides from the Vatican, to act as personal intermediaries between the two churches;

* Let it be known that he does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church;

* Given behind-the-scenes support to the Archbishop of Canterbury's attempts to hold together the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican Church, including at face-to-face meetings in Rome.

Read the rest here

One can imagine that this will not be well received in some quarters. I also think that this is in no small part because he's already facing complaints about married Clergy in the Latin Rite. I also think that what ever plans he really has for the future of the Roman Church would only be complicated by a pack of priests who have a proven track record of not wanting to go along with a program if it doesn't match what they want exactly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cardinal Newman to be reinterred in preparation for sainthood

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Vatican has ordered that the body of Cardinal Newman, the Church of England’s most renowned convert to Roman Catholicism, be exhumed and reinterred in a marble sarcophagus, where it can be more easily venerated by the faithful.

The Causes of Saints wants the remains of John Henry Newman, who died in 1890, to be moved from a secluded cemetery and placed in the Birmingham Oratory, part of the English Oratory movement that he founded.

The declaration, expected in December, could coincide with the announcement of a new deal for English traditionalists who want to “go over” to Rome with their congregations in protest at moves to consecrate women bishops in the Church of England.

The Cardinal, already a Venerable, is expected to take the next step up the ladder to sainthood this year when Pope Benedict XVI declares him “Blessed”. He would be the ideal saint for converts to Rome. He was the founder of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement revival in the 19th century and advocated a “via media” for the Church of England. But eventually he could no longer walk it himself and was received by Rome in 1845, and created a cardinal eventually.

read the rest at the Times.

Well, the homophobia and need to gaudy display by Rome as it pens it's doors to their soon to be converts overcomes poor J.H. Newman's wish to buried in the same grave with Ambrose St James.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Assize day

175 years ago today the Rev. John Keble preached a sermon to Assize Court while it was sitting in Oxford.
This was not an extraordinary event. The Church of England is the Establish Church of the Kingdom and the preacher was one of the most renown Churchmen of his era. He was only the second person in the History of Oxford to achieve a "Double First" and was the Professor of Poetry.

What was exceptional was the content of the sermon. He, against all precedent since the 17th century, preached a sermon with content.

The first two paragraphs of the Sermon follows:

On public occasions, such as the present, the minds of Christians naturally revert to that portion of Holy Scripture, which exhibits to us the will of the Sovereign of the world in more immediate relation to the civil and national conduct of mankind. We naturally turn to the Old Testament, when public duties, public errors, and public dangers, are in question. And what in such cases is natural and obvious, is sure to be more or less right and reasonable. Unquestionably it is mistaken theology, which would debar Christian nations and statesmen from the instruction afforded by the Jewish Scriptures, under a notion, that the circumstances of that people were altogether peculiar and unique, and therefore irrelevant to every other case. True, there is hazard of misapplication, as there is whenever men teach by example. There is peculiar hazard, from the sacredness and delicacy of the subject; since dealing with things supernatural and miraculous as if they were ordinary human precedents, would be not only unwise, but profane. But these hazards are more than counterbalanced by the absolute certainty, peculiar to this history, that what is there commended was right, and what is there blamed, wrong. And they would be effectually obviated, if men would be careful to keep in view this caution:—suggested everywhere, if I mistake not, by the manner in which the Old Testament is quoted in the New:—that, as regards reward and punishment, God dealt formerly with the Jewish people in a manner analogous to that in which He deals now, not so much with Christian nations, as with the souls of individual Christians.

Let us only make due allowances for this cardinal point of difference, and we need not surely hesitate to avail ourselves, as the time may require, of those national warnings, which fill the records of the elder Church: the less so, as the discrepancy lies rather in what is revealed of God's providence, than in what is required in the way of human duty. Rewards and punishments may be dispensed, visibly at least, with a less even hand; but what tempers, and what conduct, god will ultimately reward and punish,—this is a point which cannot be changed: for it depends not on our circumstances, but on His essential, unvarying Attributes.

I have ventured on these few general observations, because the impatience with which the world endures any remonstrance on religious grounds, is apt to show itself most daringly, when the Law and the Prophets are appealed to. Without any scruple or ceremony, men give us to understand that they regard the whole as obsolete: thus taking the very opposite ground to that which was preferred by the same class of persons two hundred years ago; but, it may be feared, with much the same purpose and result. Then, the Old Testament was quoted at random for every excess of fanatical pride and cruelty : now, its authority goes for nothing, however clear and striking the analogies may be, which appear to warrant us in referring to it. The two extremes, as usual, meet ; and in this very remarkable point : that they both avail themselves of the supernatural parts of the Jewish revelation to turn away attention from that, which they, of course, most dread and dislike in it: its authoritative confirmation of the plain dictates of conscience in matters of civil wisdom and duty.

The entire text is here.

This is generally seen as the beginning of the Oxford Movement. It would trigger the Tracts for the Times under the editorship of John H. Newman and caused a stir that lasts to this day. The Movement was defined by it's belief in the catholic heritage of the Church of England and her daughter churches, it's adherence to the Church Fathers and a distrust of evangelicals and "enthusiasts" alike. They were dedicated to expanding the missionary impulse of the Church and to reenergize the moribund Establishment. The current shape of the Book of Common Prayer for the Episcopal Church relates to the work of the Movement, as do the Prayer Books of most of the Anglican communion.

In light of the anniversary and the upcoming Lambeth Conference (another piece of the legacy of the Movement), many are spending an hour in prayer for the continuance of the Movement and the health of the Anglican Communion.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Hidden History of Women's Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West

Hat tip to Mark Harris over at PRELUDIUM

I want this book!
I also suggest that anyone interested in the topic do so as well. A few of my readers might want to send it to colleges of theirs.

The Blurb on the book follows:

"The Roman Catholic leadership still refuses to ordain women officially or even to recognize that women are capable of ordination. But is the widely held assumption that women have always been excluded from such roles historically accurate?

In the early centuries of Christianity, ordination was the process and the ceremony by which one moved to any new ministry (ordo) in the community. By this definition, women were in fact ordained into several ministries. A radical change in the definition of ordination during the eleventh and twelfth centuries not only removed women from the ordained ministry, but also attempted to eradicate any memory of women's ordination in the past. The debate that accompanied this change has left its mark in the literature of the time. However, the triumph of a new definition of ordination as the bestowal of power, particularly the power to confect the Eucharist, so thoroughly dominated western thought and practice by the thirteenth century that the earlier concept of ordination was almost completely erased. The ordination of women, either in the present or in the past, became unthinkable.

References to the ordination of women exist in papal, episcopal and theological documents of the time, and the rites for these ordinations have survived. Yet, many scholars still hold that women, particularly in the western church, were never "really" ordained. A survey of the literature reveals that most scholars use a definition of ordination that would have been unknown in the early middle ages. Thus, the modern determination that women were never ordained, Macy argues, is a premise based on false terms.

Not a work of advocacy, this important book applies indispensable historical background for the ongoing debate about women's ordination. "
I'm thinking, and if anyone out there is reading this, do respond, what exactly is the nature of "catholicity?"
I mean is it to be Creedal? Or is it more along the lines of the Lambeth Quadrilateral? Or is it something else?

Give me a hint folks! Or am I back to speaking into the void?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Somebody explain to me why the English Anglo-Catholics think Rome is going to welcome them with open arms?
I mean I now understand that they have adopted a magical realism view of Apostolicae curae and can eve side step Ad Tuendam Fidem and wear blinders when it comes to the recent statement from the Vatican about them being the only "true" Church. What gets me is the desperation when you bring it all up and present it as a seamless garment, as it were. The anger and wild eyed denials is beyond me.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dr Rowan Williams stands tall in the Church

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
The Guardian

It was a little after half past ten when the Archbishop of Canterbury shuffled up the steps of the pulpit in York Minster to address the hushed congregation.

After six years in the post, this could well become a defining moment for Dr Rowan Williams - the time when the real Archbishop appeared before his Church.

He has been weighed down by the crises that have engulfed the Anglican communion virtually ever since his arrival at Lambeth - pulled this way and that by the warring factions in the battles over homosexuality and women bishops.

Today, however, he grew in stature as the sermon went on, emerging by the end of it as the leader that the Anglican communion so desperately needs - compassionate yet direct and vulnerable yet firm.

Referring to the story of Joseph being thrown down into a waterless pit and left for dead by his brothers, the archbishop attempted to reach out to all those, in and outside the Church, who feel deserted.

In a sermon charged with emotion and feeling, but delivered with poise and unflinching stoicism, he set out his inclusive, all embracing vision for the Church.

"What would Jesus do is a good question to ask," he said. "Where would Jesus be is just as good.

"Who would Jesus be with? He is going to be with those who feel the waterlessness of their position.

"With those traditionalists feeling the Church is falling away from them.

"He will be with those in a very different part of the landscape who feel that things are closing in, that their position is under threat, that their liberties are being taken away by those anxious and eager to enforce their ideologies in the name of Christ."

There has been much grandstanding and posturing, talk of defection and challenges to the archbishop's leadership, but in a couple of sentences he rose above all of that.

He was reassuring the traditionalists opposed to women bishops that they would not be isolated and offering his support to those who feel threatened by fundamentalism on both sides of the different debates.

But he went further: "He will be with the gay clergy who wonder what their future is in a Church so anxious and tormented about this issue."

It is a shame that extending support to homosexuals in the Church should be a bold move, but it was and the Minster's congregation knew that; particularly considering that conservative Anglicans have just formed a rival church in response to the liberal attitude of the Western churches on the issue.

However, Dr Williams is not going to be cowed anymore into trying to appease everyone. That was what came across from his sermon.

He has done his best to keep everyone within the Anglican fold since he was made Archbishop, but now he is going to say what he thinks. And what he feels.

The Church shouldn't be just about issues, but about people, he seemed to say.

In what many read as a poignant tribute to his best man, a journalist who recently committed suicide, he made this case powerfully.

"He [Jesus] will be with those people in the press gallery who are trying to keep their minds on their business while dealing with any number of complex personal issues, who may be afflicted by private anxieties, grief, and losses that will never be noticed by those who take them for granted as they go about their business."

By the end of his sermon many of the congregation were close to tears. Others were celebrating that the archbishop seemed like a man transformed.

Yesterday, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, rallied to the defence of his friend and colleague, saying that the "ungracious" attacks by conservative Anglicans on Dr Williams had "grieved" him deeply.

He was offering him a hand to climb out of the "waterless pit" that his Anglican "brothers" have put him in.

Today, the Church saw a leader, who seemed freed and who is now standing tall.