[First Posted over at Covenant]
I am one of those weird people who care about things like relative pronouns. I assume that this might give me assurance of a lifetime membership in the Professional Organization of English Majors, which supports the arts in our country with its sponsorship of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. And I’m going to make myself even more of a oddball by suggesting that relative pronouns might have something to do with our assumptions about the world and about God.
A little explanation is obviously in order.
Praise him, all you angels of his; * praise him, all his host. Young men and maidens, * old and young together. Let us praise the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today’s collect does precisely what a good collect should do: gather up the many far flung references and allusions to angels in the Scriptures: “O Everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order.” This order in all its complexity is only hinted in Scripture but laid out quite nicely (and maybe too neatly) in Homily 34 of one of the greatest of the ancient popes, St Gregory the Great from the last sixth century:
Almighty and everliving God, who art the author of life and lover of souls; receive, we beseech thee, the grief and sorrow our nation commemorates on this day and look down in mercy upon all whom these horrors touched—the departed and the killers, the families and all who suffer and grieve; and grant that we who once were nameless and no people, may never cease to welcome those who are relegated to the dens and caves of the earth, thou who art the God of the wanderer and of adoption; to whom, with thine eternal Son and Holy Spirit, be all glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.
[Originally posted over at Covenant]
“Three Streams” is a phrase that has come to the fore in the last 10 years or so, especially amongst Anglicans in the ACNA and in continuing Anglican churches. The phrase is meant to suggest (a) that there are three historic “streams” within historic Christianity — the Catholic, the Evangelical, and the Charismatic — and (b) that Anglicanism embodies these in a distinct way that can serve the renewal of the Church.
[Crossposted over at Covenant.]
Derek Olsen, a member of the Episcopal Church’s Standing Committee on Music and Liturgy, has given us another fantastic, strategic, and theologically rich piece on the so-called Rite III in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (see pp. 400-05). The 78th General Convention made provision for parishes to go beyond the rubrics of the BCP, or at least read provided a reading of them that allows this option to be used on Sundays or weekday services with the permission of the bishop. Go read it first!
[Originally at Covenant on October 24, 2014]
St. Benedict’s liturgical scheme for the Daily Office had a profound impact on the ever-developing pattern of prayer throughout the Western Church. While the claim that Anglican liturgy is “Benedictine” is historically dubious (since Cranmer’s primary influence was the Sarum rite of the Western office, which in turn reflected Benedictine, Roman, Gallican, and a whole host of other influences), it is true that Cranmer’s vision of a “nation-as-monastery” has a certain Benedictine ring to it. In particular, the combination of Mass, Office, and private devotion — which Martin Thornton has so eloquently described in his classic works English Spirituality (a true gem) and Pastoral Theology (all priests and seminarians who have not read: attend!) — may be integrated into the life of any Christian of any state, as a pattern of life and means of grace.
This wonderful piece by Fr Andrew Petiprin explores in a literary fashion what has been put forth by others like Rod Dreher as the "Benedict Option," referring to the famous conclusion of Alaidair MacIntyre's After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theology.
"C.S. Lewis was Huxley’s contemporary (in fact, they died on the same day), and Lewis was concerned with similar problems. Lewis masterfully demonstrates with the same prophetic genius of Huxley what seems obvious to many of us now — that the modern world has no telos at all. Huxley’s savage is the perfect example of a human living amid the ruined humanity that Lewis foretells in the Abolition of Man — a man forced to make an ultimate decision in a world that eschews ultimate decisions. In Lewis’s conception, all decisions outside of the generic concept he calls “the Tao” (natural law, first principles, the Gospel, etc.), are a choice between competing, inhuman absurdities. He, like Huxley, saw this absurd world speeding into view; and we live in it now." Read the rest of "The Narnia Option," by Fr Andrew Petiripin, over on Covenant.
[Originally posted over at Covenant & one of the top 10 posts from its first year. After this was written, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas elected the Rev'd Dr George Sumner to be its seventh bishop]
One of the oddities of ecclesial life is that priests can’t be members of a parish. When ordained, the new cleric’s “residency” moves from a parish to the diocese; more specifically, the residency moves to the clericus, the body of clergy within a diocese. The same holds for a bishop, who upon ordination leaves the diocesan clericus to join the college of bishops (not simply the Episcopal House of Bishops, mind you, but the college of bishops of the Catholic Church of Christ, however infrequently they actually meet!).
My ecclesial or canonical residency is in the Diocese of Dallas, even though I live in Milwaukee. Dallas is where I was ordained and where I served in parish ministry for eight years. Since I didn’t move to Milwaukee for a parochial job but for doctoral studies, it made sense to remain resident in Dallas (the legal process is that a priest in my situation makes a formal request to the local bishop for a license to function as a priest within his diocese, which Bishop Miller has kindly granted).
All of the clergy of the Diocese of Dallas, along with lay representatives from each parish and mission, will elect the seventh Bishop of Dallas on Saturday, May 16, 2015. This election is critical, since Dallas is one of the largest dioceses associated with Communion Partners, and it contains some of the most vibrant and growing parishes in the Episcopal Church .
What I want to suggest are a few aspects of episcopal ministry that I believe all of us might do well to consider. These are the kinds of priorities that we should hope for and expect in our bishops, which means that we need to provide them the means to undertake them. I present them in the form of seven theses:
A few months ago, I was in a conversation with a friend (a former classmate and now a fellow seminary professor at a different institution). She mentioned at some point that she didn’t believe that angels really exist. “They don’t fit within my metaphysics,” she explained.
I was flummoxed. I couldn’t recall ever hearing anyone say that before. But as I thought about it, I began to understand where the problems might arise. How to we make sense of the salvation or damnation (I assume those are the right words; cf. Mt 25:41) of angels, when it appears that there there was some point at which they made a decision whose effects are everlasting? And even more, what do we make of the seeming fact that they have no further chance to love or reject God? Perhaps their one choice means that they will never have any other desire to have that which they currently do not possess?