"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Sermon for All Souls

This is the sermon that I will preach on the eve of All Souls, Monday night, Nov. 1. The readings are Wis 3:1-9; 1 Thes 4:13-18; and John 5:24-27:

Its about the year 50 A.D. The apostle Paul has just received a disturbing letter from one of his favorite congregations, the church at Thessalonica. That church, it seems, was in crisis and the faith of its fledgling Christians was in jeopardy. You see, Christians were dying. I don’t mean that they were being martyred for the faith or dying in particularly horrible ways. But dying they were.
Now this wouldn’t surprise you and me. We have all known faithful Christians who have died. That is why we are here tonight for the feast of All Souls, after all. But in 50 A.D. the Thessalonian church did not expect their Christian family and friends to be dying. What they were expecting—and eagerly—was the return of our Lord Jesus Christ on clouds of glory with his holy angels. They expected the Second Coming to happen any day. But something was wrong. Christ had not yet returned and Christians were dying in the meantime. “How could this happen? What did it mean? Will our dead friends miss out on the coming Kingdom?” they asked their beloved apostle.
Our reading from 1 Thes tonight gives Paul’s answer. He encouraged our ancient forebears in the Faith that they may not grieve “as others do who have no hope.” “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” the apostle says, “even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” This is “the word of the Lord.” “We who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.” On that glorious day, Paul says, “the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.” It doesn’t matter how long the Lord tarries to return. The faithful departed will not miss out on the fruits of resurrection life. “Comfort one another with these words,” Paul writes. More than 1950 years later we are still doing so.
Paul can confidently answer the Thessalonians’ anguished plea because he knows the Master he serves is the Master of life and death. We have just heard the Lord Jesus himself make this clear: “As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.” Christ has life in himself, and he offers it to us. Trust in his word is the foundation of eternal life. “Truly, truly,” Christ tells us, “he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” The old categories of life and death become meaningless in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His voice—his word—is the source of new and unending life in Him. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Did you catch that? The hour is coming in the future, and now is at present, when the voice of Jesus Christ makes the dead live! The once impenetrable barrier between life and death has been shattered by the coming of the Son of Man. Time as we normally experience it—past, present, and future-- falls away before the gift of eternal life. “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,” and “their hope is full of immortality.”
We are gathered here tonight to offer the Holy Eucharist to the greater glory of God, with special intention for the souls of all the faithful departed. For more than 1000 years Christians have set aside a special day of the liturgical year to commemorate all those members of their communities who have left this earthly life behind. This Eucharist for All Souls, and the great feast of All Saints next Sunday with which it is paired, remind us powerfully that the unity of Christ’s Church truly transcends space and time. Every Sunday at Mass we profess that we believe in “the communion of saints.” Tonight and next Sunday will make that invisible communion manifest in a special way. Tonight we are reminded that every Christian who ever drew breath is as much a part of the Church today as the day he or she was baptized. Those who have died are very much still members of Christ’s Body. Because of God’s gift of eternal life they will never be parted from our fellowship. That is what it means to share in the communion of saints. Death and the grave cannot impede our care for a brother or sister in Christ, so we gather here tonight to lift the faithful departed up in prayer. And should it please the Lord Jesus to delay his coming again in glory until after you and I have also passed from this earthly life, future generations of Christians will lift us up before the throne of glory in Masses like this one until the consummation of the age. “Comfort one another with these words.”
Tonight we shall pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who are dear to us—for family, friends, neighbors, colleagues--and for many more whose names we probably won’t even recognize. Tonight we shall pray that God will bring his great work in the lives of the faithful departed to its magnificent conclusion. During their earthly lives they (like us) had begun to be conformed by the Holy Spirit to the image of Christ. Many of them, no doubt, had gone far down the path to holiness during their lifetimes. Others among the redeemed may have made only baby steps toward sanctification before they were called home. Our prayer tonight—the Universal Church’s prayer tonight--is that all these faithful brothers and sisters may stand before God with unveiled faces, loving and serving him in the fullness of resurrection life, being fully conformed to the Image of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. May whatever was broken or lacking in this life through the mercy of God be made whole and full in the next. May their hearts and minds be fitted to behold the beatific vision of the glory of God. And may we also come to share with them in His Heavenly Kingdom.
In a few moments we shall approach our Lord’s altar and offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice of himself will be re-presented for our benefit and that of all his holy Church. And I mean all of Christ’s Church, in this world and the next. The communion of saints is never more tangible than it is in the Mass. In words that stretch back into Christian antiquity, the celebrant will exhort us to lift up our hearts and together we shall lift them to the Lord. In this sacramental action our hearts will be raised up to the heavenly throne, into the presence of the living God. Here at this altar tonight—and at thousands of other altars around the world--the barrier between heaven and earth becomes permeable. Our hearts will join the heavenly host in giving thanks and praise to Almighty God and Christ will become really present in the Blessed Sacrament. This is where heaven and earth meet. We shall sing the Sanctus with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” We will rejoice in our fellowship with the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, blessed Vincent our patron, and all the great luminaries of the Faith who have entered into joy. But it is not just the great exemplars of our Faith with whom we share our worship tonight. We share this foretaste of the heavenly banquet with all those who have died in the communion of Christ’s Church, as well as those whose faith is known to God alone. When we, the Church Militant on earth, kneel in wonder before the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, the Church Expectant in paradise and Triumphant in glory joins with us in adoration. The hour is indeed coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God—“This is my Body … this is my Blood, given for you”—they and we will hear … and live!
I would like to close this reflection with a prayer of St. Therese of Lisieux. This prayer captures something of our hope tonight for the faithful departed, our sure and certain hope that they be enraptured in the love of God for all eternity, with every impurity refined away and every deficiency made whole from his abundance. It is the same hope that impels us forward in our own walk with Christ. As many of you know, Therese of Lisieux was a young Carmelite sister who composed one of the great spiritual autobiographies of modern times, “The Story of a Soul,” which was written shortly before her own death from tuberculosis in 1897. Therese composed this prayer a few weeks before she passed away at the age of twenty-four. Her body was wracked with pain, but her spirit seems already to be soaring with the hosts of heaven. Let us join with Therese in prayer:
"O eternal Word, my Saviour, You are the Eagle I love and the One who fascinates me. You swept down to this land of exile and suffered and died so that You could bear away every soul and plunge them into the heart of the Blessed Trinity, that inextinguishable furnace of love. You re-entered the splendours of heaven, yet stayed in our vale of tears hidden under the appearance of a white Host so that You can feed me with Your own substance. O Jesus, do not be angry if I tell that Your love is a mad love ... and how can You expect my heart, when confronted with the folly, not to soar up to You? How can there be any limit to my trust?" Amen.

Statement from African Anglican leadership

The following two paragraphs from today's statement by the African leaders of Anglicanism who are presently gathered in Lagos are relevant for today's situation in North America:

"8. The conference reiterates our Biblical position on the ongoing controversy on human sexuality: God created us male and female and we cannot sacrifice truth for any revisionist agenda, which leans on a faulty understanding of Christian unity. We note with approval that the Windsor Report calls for a moratorium on the ordination, election and consecration to the Episcopate who is living in a same gender union and the blessing of same-sex unions. We are committed to the united future life of the Anglican Communion, one that is rooted in truth and love and faithfulness to the gospel of Christ, according to the Scriptures.
9. We are grateful for the presence of representatives of the NETWORK ofAnglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes at this historic gathering. We salute their boldness, courage and faithful witness and acknowledge them as our partners in mission in the United States of America. We grieve with those who are alienated within their own Province because of their stand for the historic faith and order of the Church. We pledge them the full weight and support of our ministries. We pray God's favour on the NETWORK as we look forward to many new and creative partnerships for the Gospel in the coming years."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

St. Francis and the San Damiano Cross

"Changed now perfectly in heart and soon to be changed in body too, Francis was walking one day near the church of St. Damian, which had nearly fallen to ruin and was abandoned by everyone. Led by the Spirit, he went in and fell down before the crucifix in devout and humble supplication; and smitten by unusual visitations, he found himself other than he had been when he entered. While he was thus affected, something unheard of before happened to him: the painted image of Christ crucified moved its lips and spoke. Calling him by name it said: "Francis, go, repair my house, which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin." Trembling, Francis was not a little amazed and became almost deranged by these words. He prepared himself to obey and gave himself completely to the fulfillment of this command. But since he felt that the change he had undergone was beyond expression, it is becoming that we should be silent about what he could not express. From then on compassion for the crucified was rooted in his holy soul, and, as it can be piously supposed, the stigmata of the venerable passion were deeply imprinted in his heart, though not as yet upon his flesh." para. 10, "Life of Saint Francis" by Thomas Celano, ca. 1229.

(Image is The San Damiano Cross, 11th or 12th Century, Italian) Posted by Hello

"Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee"

"Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and of Thy wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee, man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that Thou "resistest the proud, " - yet man, this part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee. Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee. Lord, teach me to know and understand which of these should be first, to call on Thee, or to praise Thee; and likewise to know Thee, or to call upon Thee.
Oh! how shall I find rest in Thee? Who will send Thee into my heart to inebriate it, that I may forget my woes, and embrace Thee my only good? What art Thou to me? Have compassion on me, that I may speak. What am I to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and unless I give it Thee art angry, and threatenest me with great sorrows? Is it, then, a light sorrow not to love Thee? Alas! alas! tell me of Thy compassion, O Lord my God, what Thou art to me. "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." So speak that I may hear. Behold, Lord, the ears of my heart are before Thee; open Thou them, and "say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." When I hear, may I run and lay hold on Thee. Hide not Thy face from me. Let me die, lest I die, if only I may see Thy face." St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, 1,1.5
(Image is St. Augustine. c. 1465. Panel of the Sant'Agostino Altarpiece, by Piero della Francesca.) Posted by Hello

Friday, October 29, 2004

"The Holy Blissful Martyr"

On Monday I turn forty. It is an appropriate time for reflection, I suppose. And being the kind of person that I am, and doing what I am now doing, I have been doing a great deal of thinking about my spiritual journey. As some readers may know, I am an adult convert to Christianity. I had a conversion experience while studying in England in 1989 and received Holy Baptism on June 3, 1990. A week later I made a pilgrimage to Canterbury. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. St Thomas Beckett has been a particularly strong exemplar for me ever since. Would that I had his courage to stand up for the Faith no matter what the cost!
(Image of St. Thomas Beckett, 13th cent. stained glass, Trinity Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral)Posted by Hello

Texas Sunset

This was the view tonight from my backyard. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Posted by Hello

Bishop Duncan speaks to the African leadership

The Rt Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh and moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, is presently in Lagos to attend the first general conference of the Anglican leaders of Africa. At Archbishop Akinola's invitation he addressed those leaders today:

Bishop Bob Duncan's Greeting to the CAPA Meeting
Your Grace and my Lords, Guests, Spouses, Brothers and Sisters.
I greet you in the precious Name of Jesus Christ, My Lord and Saviour (and yours). I am here because I met Jesus in my teen years and gave myself to Him at University.
I greet you as a brother who knows what you know: “that there is no other foundations that anyone can lay, except that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Cor 3:11)
I greet you as a fellow apostle: “who seeks only to know Christ Jesus – and him crucified – with ourselves as your servant for Jesus’ sake.”
I greet you as Bishop of Pittsburgh: That great missionary diocese, home to the greatest concentration of missionary organizations in the United States, home to Trinity School (of which some of you are graduates); from them and from my clergy and people I bring you greeting.
I also greet you as Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network – and it is chiefly because of this office that I am here. I must acknowledge the kindness and support of His grace, the Chairman of CAPA, the Archbishop of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Jasper Akinola, in his generous invitation which brings me to this First African Anglican Bishops’ Conference.
The Anglican Communion Network represents 10 dioceses, 1000 parishes, and 1200 clergy across the Unites States – orthodox and faithful Anglicans all.
We also stand with orthodox allies of the Anglican Diaspora in the States. I want to say to you that – with the three young men of Daniel, Chapter 3 – “We will not bow down.” “We know that our God can save us. But if not, be it known to you (O king) that we will not bow down….”
I know it is hard for you in Africa to understand that a Primate would not speak for all his people. I tell you clearly that the Primate in the United States and the Primate in Canada do not speak for all their people. There are tens of thousands for whom I speak, who are at one with you in Africa, for whom our North American Primates do not speak.
I come not only to greet you, but also to thank you:
To thank you for myself, and for the tens of thousands I lead.
I come to thank you for your steadfastness, for your courage, for your perseverance, for your suffering.
I come to thank you for your right hand of fellowship.
I come also to ask for forgiveness:
For the trouble we in the West – especially in the US – have caused you.
I come to ask your forgiveness for the distraction from your work that we have been. You have faced wars, refugees, soaring debt, poverty, famine, disease, HIV-AIDS – and we have distracted you from your gospel ministry.
I have come to ask your forgiveness for our complicity – the complicity of the orthodox – in the West’s unfaithfulness. For too long we were far too silent, made too many compromises.
Forgive us too, for our “ease in Zion”, while the poor have suffered, while justice has gone undone – forgive us we ask you and ask the Lord.
I have also come to ask your forgiveness for the evils of our culture, now a global culture – exported to you daily electronically.
Forgive us, for our part in it all.
I have come to work and to weep and to rejoice with you.
Of St Paul in the 12th Chapter of 1st Corinthians (v. 26) says that “when one weeps all should weep, and when one is honoured all should rejoice.”
I am here – and those who have come with me either physically or by greeting and intercession – to listen to you and to Africa’s concerns. (This Conference is not about North America. Thank God it is about Africa – at last, Africa comes of age). I have come to worship and to listen and to learn. I - and our Network – have come to seek to be your partner in the gospel (as you have already been ours).
Above all, I have come to thank God in this historic moment. To thank Him that the day of this 1st African Anglican Bishop Conference has finally come.
To thank God that Africa has finally come of age – and with that coming of age – there is a new and better future ahead for Anglicanism, as well.
To God be the glory that African Anglicanism has come of age and that an extraordinary new day is dawning for all.
God bless you all in your work this week.
–The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan is Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

An Antidote for All Doctrinal and Liturgical Folly

"We must make oblation to God, and in all things be found pleasing to God the Creator, in sound teaching, in sincere faith, in firm hope, in ardent love, as we offer the firstfruits of the creatures that are his. The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator when it makes its offering to him from his creation, with thanksgiving. We offer him what is his, and so we proclaim communion and unity and profess our belief in the resurrection of flesh and spirit. Just as bread from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, made up of two elements, one earthly and one heavenly, so also our bodies, in receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, for they have the hope of resurrection." Irenaeus of Lyons, "Against Heresies" 4.18.2, ca. 180 A.D.
The image above is a Byzantine chalice, ca. 1000 A.D. Posted by Hello

St. Therese of Lisieux, a reflection for All Souls Day

"Now I wish for only one thing--to love Jesus even unto folly! Love alone attracts me. I no longer wish for either suffering or death and yet both are precious to me. For a long time I've hailed them as messengers of joy. I've already known suffering and I've thought I was approaching the eternal shore. From my earliest days I have believed that the Little Flower would be plucked in the springtime of her life. But today my only guide is self-abandonment. I have no other compass. I no longer know how to ask passionately for anything except that the will of God shall be perfectly accomplished in my soul. I can repeat these words of our Father, St. John of the Cross:'I drank deep within the hidden cellar of my Beloved and, when I came forth again, I remembered nothing of the flock I used to look after. My soul is content to serve Him with all its strength. I've finished all other work except that of love. In that is all my delight.' Or rather: 'Love has so worked within me that it has transformed my soul into itself.' O Mother, how sweet is the way of love! Of course one may stumble and be guilty of small faults, but love, able to draw good from everything, will very quickly destroy all that displeases Jesus and will fill one's heart with a deep and humble peace."
from "The Story of a Soul," St. Therese's autobiography, ch. 8.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Note the hair loss and bulging eyes. Eadwine clearly is working on a dissertation proposal! (Eadwine of Canterbury (self-portrait?) in the Canterbury Psalter, c. 1150) Posted by Hello

First Sermon

Well, friends, it is scheduled now. My first sermon to the full congregation at St. Vincent's Cathedral will be on the eve of All Soul's, Monday evening Nov. 1 at 7:30PM. It is our Mass for the Departed. I am now licensed as a "lay preacher" in the diocese of Fort Worth as part of my internship at the cathedral, but up to now my preaching here has been at the school's daily chapel. That has been incredibly rewarding, and I think I have made something of a connection with the children on several occasions. But this first "grown up" sermon really kicks it up a notch. Your prayers would be much appreciated. And your presence at the Mass, if you are in the DFW area, would be a delight to my heart.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Eucharist, a reflection of Dom Gregory Dix

The following reflection comes from a book by a Benedictine Monk of the Church of England, Dom Gregory Dix. The book is called The Shape of the Liturgy. It was published in London by Dacre Press, Adam and Charles Black. This is from the 1964 printing, pages 744-5. I am indebted to Fr Richard Cantrell of St. Vincent's Cathedral for this text. (Thanks, Father!)


Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.
To those who know a little of Christian history probably the most moving of all the reflections it brings is not the thought of the great events and the well–remembered saints, but of those innumerable millions of entirely obscure faithful men and women, every one with his or her own individual hopes and fears and joys and sorrows and loves—and sins and temptations and prayers—once every whit as vivid and alive as mine are now. They have left no slightest trace in this world, not even a name, but have passed to God utterly forgotten by men. Yet each of them once believed and prayed as I believe and pray, and found it hard and grew slack and sinned and repented and fell again. Each of them worshipped at the Eucharist, and found their thoughts wandering and tried again, and felt heavy and unresponsive and yet knew—just as really and pathetically as I do these things. There is a little ill–spelled ill–carved rustic epitaph of the fourth century from Asia Minor:—‘Here sleeps the blessed Chione, who has found Jerusalem for she prayed much’. Not another word is known of Chione, some peasant woman who lived in that vanished world of Christian Anatolia. But how lovely if all that should survive after sixteen centuries were that one had prayed much, so that the neighbours who saw all one’s life were sure one must have found Jerusalem! What did the Sunday Eucharist in her village church every week for a life–time mean to the blessed Chione—and to the millions like her then, and every year since? The sheer stupendous quantity of the love of God which this ever repeated action has drawn from the obscure Christian multitudes through the centuries is in itself an overwhelming thought. (All that going with one to the altar every morning!)
It is because it became embedded deep down in the life of the Christian peoples, colouring all the via vitae of the ordinary man and woman, marking its personal turning-points, marriage, sickness, death and the rest, running through it year by year with the feasts and fasts and the rhythm of the Sundays, that the eucharistic action became inextricably woven into the public history of the Western world. The thought of it is inseparable from its great turning-points also. Pope Leo doing this in the morning before he went out to daunt Attila, on the day that saw the continuity of Europe saved; and another Leo doing this three and a half centuries later when he crowned Charlemagne Roman Emperor, on the day that saw that continuity fulfilled. Or again Alfred wandering defeated by the Danes staying his soul on this, while mediaeval England struggled to be born; and Charles I also, on that morning of his execution when mediaeval England came to its final end. Such things strike the mind with their suggestions of a certain timelessness about the eucharistic action and an independence of its setting, in keeping with the stability in an ever–changing world of the forms of the liturgy themselves. At Constantinople
they ‘do this’ yet with the identical words and gestures that they used while the silver trumpets of the Basileus still called across the Bosphorus, in what seems to us now the strange fairy-tale land of the Byzantine empire. In this twentieth century Charles de Foucauld in his hermitage in the Sahara ‘did this’ with the same rite as Cuthbert twelve centuries before in his hermitage on Lindisfarne in the Northern seas. This very morning I did this with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed. Yet ‘this’ can still take hold of a man’s life and work with it.

The Chalice story

OK, by popular demand, I will tell you why this image is important to me. During Mass on Easter day 2003 I had what can only be described as a "vision." While kneeling in prayer after receiving the Blessed Sacrament I was suddenly aware of an image before my eyes. With my eyes open it seemed a bit washed out, but when I closed them I could clearly see a shining silver chalice sitting on a simple table, which was covered with a white cloth. The table was sitting in the middle of a grassy meadow on a sunny day. Then suddenly a lush green vine began to crawl out of the mouth of the chalice. The vine began to grow at a spectacular rate, quickly spilling over the edges of the table on all sides. In seconds the vine was beginning to fill the meadow. As it reached the edges of the meadow the image then faded away, the vine's astonishing growth--which was almost frightening--giving way to a warm stillness inside me as the image faded. I opened my eyes and again saw Christians kneeling around me in prayer. The power of the gospel of our Lord has never been more clear to me than it was that day. So there you have it. This early fifth century mosaic seems to capture some of that spirit. If you think I am crazy, do please be kind about it!The mosaic above dates from around 400A.D., and originally came from Syria. It is now here in Ft. Worth's Kimball Museum of Art. Posted by Hello

Making posts without signing on to Blogger

You don't need to sign up for Blogger to make a comment here now. Just click on "annoymous" on the first comment window that pops up. Then type your response in the new window that will come up. If you want to, you can tell me who you are in the body of your message. But if you want to remain incognito, that is fine too!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Marian theology

This image, "Immaculate Conception" by Velazquez, is a powerful one for me.

I have in recent months become much interested in questions about the Virgin Mary's place in the faith of the Church. I have no problem honoring St Mary more highly than any other saint described in Holy Scripture on account of her "fiat" in response to the archangel's message that she would bear the Savior. Likewise, I have no problem with the council of Ephesus' confirmation of her title as "Theotokos," God-bearer--it is, after all, a Christological affirmation in essence. I am even comfortable with asking the Blessed Virgin to pray for me. It seems a reasonable inference from the existence of the "communion of saints" that we can ask the saints who have already left this earthly life to pray for us, just as we can ask those who are still here with us to do so. Thus I can pray a "Hail Mary" without serious theological qualms. (Though I sometimes get the feeling that this prayer might be based upon the questionable idea that the Lord Jesus will listen to his Mother when he wouldn't listen to me if I petitioned him directly.)
But there is much in the Marian teaching of the Roman Catholic church that I am puzzled by. Both the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption make me uncomfortable, due to their very weak (or non-existent) Scriptural foundations and lack of early attestation. I am also a bit troubled by the very exalted nature of some eastern liturgical hymns to Mary, which seem to encroach upon the divine perogative at times IMHO. Still, I am eager to learn and arrive at better-informed opinions on these questions. I would very much appreciate reading recommendations from any reader of this blog for well-informed and well-reasoned treatments of Mariology, especially those from a "high church" Anglican perspective. Thanks much in advance. Posted by Hello

Friday, October 22, 2004

My graduation from Brite Divinity School, 1997, with my parents Posted by Hello

My church

Anyone who would like to learn more about my home church, St Vincent's Cathedral Church, where I am presently serving as an intern, can find our web page at http://www.stvc.org/

You can also learn about the diocese of Fort Worth, a stauchly orthodox, mostly Anglo-Catholic bastion, at http://www.fwepiscopal.org/


Welcome to my new blog! This is my first attempt at blogging, and I am not sure that I have enough to say to merit having one. But time will tell.

A little about myself. I am a Texan, an alumnus of Rice University and the University of Houston Law Center, and a licensed Anglican lay preacher in the diocese of Fort Worth. I hold a Master of Theological Studies degree from Texas Christian University and am presently a doctoral student in the department of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago. I passed my exams last spring and have returned to my hometown in order to write my dissertation. While I work on that project I am working as a ministry intern at St Vincent's Cathedral Church, where I also teach religion to middle schoolers. In the midst of all this I am also attempting to discern whether or not I have a call to ordained ministry in this Anglican diocese.

Stay tuned for more substantive posts in the future!

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