"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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Roman Catholics and Anglicans on the BVM

I have not yet been able to locate the full text of the recent agreed statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Canon Harmon at Titusonenine, on the other hand, has already posted the key passages on his blog (his blog is excellent, btw). Read them here. Just scroll up after you click to read the text above the comments.

My own feeling about the statement is that it is a pretty good start. More than 95% of the text, apparently, is fairly non-controversial stuff. RCs and Anglicans agree that Mary, the Theotokos, plays a key role in salvation history, that she is exemplary for us in her faithfulness, etc. The key questions are the divisive issues of the RC dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. Here the report agrees that these teachings are "consonant" with Scripture, which I take to mean that they are not contradictory to the teachings of the Bible.

But that is not really news. The Bible simply says nothing (or virtually nothing, depending on how you interpret the "full of grace" question) about these teachings. I am willing to say that neither is CONTRARY to Scripture (though St Paul's statement that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" does make me a bit concerned about the IC ). It is clear to me that the BVM was venerated as "all holy" from a very early stage in Church history, so I do not dismiss the IC out of hand, but the way the 19th century bull defined the IC reflects later, medieval developments and not the ancient Church's language. Still, I am fine with the idea that God graced Mary in a special way to be the Mother of our Savior. Therefore I find this quote from the report very interesting:

"It is not so much that Mary lacks something which other human beings ‘have’, namely sin, but that the glorious grace of God filled her life from the beginning. The holiness which is our end in Christ (cf. 1 John 3:2-3) was seen, by unmerited grace, in Mary, who is the prototype of the hope of grace for humankind as a whole. According to the New Testament, being ‘graced’ has the connotation of being freed from sin through Christ’s blood (Ephesians 1:6-7). The Scriptures point to the efficacy of Christ’s atoning sacrifice even for those who preceded him in time (cf. 1 Peter 3:19, John 8:56, 1 Corinthians 10:4). Here again the eschatological perspective illuminates our understanding of Mary’s person and calling. In view of her vocation to be the mother of the Holy One (Luke 1:35), we can affirm together that Christ’s redeeming work reached ‘back’ in Mary to the depths of her being, and to her earliest beginnings. This is not contrary to the teaching of Scripture, and can only be understood in the light of Scripture."

I am more comfortable with the Assumption. The absence of any ancient church community claiming to have the relics of Mary in their possession is pretty good support for the Dormition/Assumption of the BVM. If Elijah and Enoch could "walk with the Lord" in a special way at their departure from this life, then surely the Theotokos could! More later when I can read the full report. Be sure to read the excerpts above. They are important. God bless. Posted by Hello


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