"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

My Photo
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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Fr. Jeffery Moore and Family Depart for Rome

Last Sunday proved to be the final one for Fr. Jeff Moore as our curate at St. Vincent's Cathedral. Yesterday he submitted his Renunciation of Orders to Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth. Jeff has been quietly considering converting to Roman Catholicism for the last year and recently made his final decision to do so. Today he has published a detailed Apologia for his decision on Al Kimel's blog, Pontifications. You may find it worth reading.

May God bless Jeff and his family on this next stage of their pilgrimage of faith. Please keep them in your prayers, especially that the Lord will quickly provide Jeff with new employment.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bishop Steenson of the Rio Grande on the HOB Meeting and the Future

Writing about the presentation of the Special Commission on the Anglican Communion to the House of Bishops' Meeting last week the Rt Rev. Jeffrey Steenson, bishop of the diocese of the Rio Grande, comments:

The commission will propose several resolutions that will make clear the Episcopal Church’s desire to remain a part of the Communion, specifically by declining to authorize same sex blessings and by discouraging the consecration of bishops who are in “same-gender relationships.” It is an interim approach, to be sure, intended to get us to the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in July 2008. It does not adopt the Windsor Report’s “moratorium” language, but it is certainly a step in that direction. There is now evidence that a majority of bishops are beginning to rethink the position staked out by the General Convention 2003 when it approved the election of the Bishop of New Hampshire. ...

In everyone’s mind is the May 6 episcopal election in the Diocese of California, where three candidates have identified themselves as having same-gender partners. If one of these persons is elected, the consent process at General Convention will in effect become an up or down vote on Windsor, and the special commission’s efforts to find a solution to hold things together until Lambeth will be for naught. The Bishop of Exeter, England, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish, brought an extraordinary message to the House of Bishops (no doubt from the Archbishop himself) that must have served as a wake-up call to many: the Anglican Communion will not permit the Episcopal Church have it both ways, blessing the homosexual lifestyle and enjoying the benefits of full communion. “’I suppose one of the major challenges for the Episcopal Church now has to do with whether there are enough of you to stand broadly on the same ground, holding a range of opinions on Lambeth I.10 but firm in carrying forward the Windsor vision of a strengthened and enabling communion life,” he observed.

It appears that this common ground is now emerging. In order for us to get to the Lambeth Conference 2008, the only body which can bring some clarity and resolve to these divisive matters, we in the Episcopal Church must demonstrate restraint. At least amongst the bishops, I sense this is indeed happening, and so I left Kanuga hopeful.

Read the bishop's entire letter here. This letter essentially confirms the views expressed in +Arizona's letter of a few days ago. I note that on Titusonenine the Rev. David Roseberry, a promenient Evangelical priest in the diocese of Dallas, receives the news of this letter positively. Fr. Roseberry says in comment 8 there:

We will see…but I too am more hopeful than I had been before. I may be being fooled, but I sense that the HOB has shifted its momentum…from forward to slight reverse. They may be understanding the true nature and cost of schism with the AC. But this will not end in Columbus. Victory will require more strategy and strength from the conservatives than most want. We all want a quick solution…but it will take years and years of important battles and key victories to pull ECUSA away from an early grave. I trust Bishop Steenson (a friend) and his letter seems perfectly consisitent with the Bishop of AZ. I was also encouraged to read that the HOB ‘gets it’ in admitting a systemic decline. ECUSA prided itself on making of the most inclusive decisions possible in the approval of VGR. Thousands more would join our churches. But thousands have left instead. But still…I think there might be some hope here.

The Pope on the Roman Primacy and Eastern Orthodoxy

“Certainly, no one who claims allegiance to Catholic theology can simply declare the doctrine of primacy null and void, especially not if he seeks to understand the objections and evaluates with an open mind the relative weight of what can be determined historically. Nor is it possible, on the other hand, for him to regard as the only possible form and, consequently, as binding on all Christians the form this primacy has taken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The symbolic gestures of Pope Paul VI and, in particular, his kneeling before the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch were an attempt to express precisely this and, by such signs, to point the way out of the historical impasse. Although it is not given us to halt the flight of history, to change the course of centuries, we may say, nevertheless, that what was possible for a thousand years is not impossible for Christians today…. In other words, Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millenium. When the Patriarch Athenagoras, on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millenium. Rome need not ask for more. Reunion could take place in this context if, on the one hand, the East would cesae to oppose as heretical the developments that took place in the West in the second millenium and would accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form she had acquired in the course of that development, while, on the other hand, the West would recognize the Church of the East as orthodox and legiimate in the form she has always had.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology [1982], 198-199).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Is this enough to save ECUSA as a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion?

Kendall Harmon has posted a letter written by the bishop of Arizona about the recent House of Bishops' Meeting. If the representations of that letter accurately reflect the thinking of the HOB's meeting and the Special Commission on the Anglican Communion's recommendations offered to the HOB last week then it is possible that the leaders of ECUSA have found a way to avoid being ejected from the world-wide Anglican Communion. Certainly the Global South's leaders would prefer more than a bare statement of "repentance" and the encouragement of " 'very considerable caution' in electing future bishops whose 'acceptability poses a challenge' to the Communion, until a wider consensus emerges." But it appears to me that this sort of statement is probably enough to bleed off whatever steam there might have been behind the movement to expell ECUSA from the Communion, if GenCon06 follows through with the recommendations as the bishop of Arizona predicts and doesn't confirm another non-celibate homosexual bishop-elect or endorse official "same sex union" blessing ceremonies this summer. Read the bishop of Arizona's letter and more than 100 comments here. My own suspicion is that the "moderate" Bishop Jenkins of Louisiana (a Nashotah House alumnus who voted "no" on +Robinson in '03 but would probably be acceptable to ECUSA's more liberal wing if it meant quieting things down a bit) is the favorite to be elected the next presiding bishop, as well. In short, it is looking more and more like the status quo will obtain for several years to come.

Augustine Triumphs on Oprah's Show

Friends, there is a highly amusing "transcript of an interview" available at a hilarious web site, The Ironic Catholic. In one installment St. Augustine triumphs over Oprah as she attempts to trap him for misrepresentations in his best-selling autobiography.

Oprah: And we're back. St. Augustine, the pear tree in book two. Am I to understand you stole the pears, didn't eat them, and then threw them at pigs for sport?

Augustine: Yes, that's right. It was the most base point of my life.

Oprah: Stealing pears was your most base moment? How can you possibly argue that? For cripes sake, you're sleeping with every other woman in the book in your teenage years. And they were just...pears.

Augustine: It was about motive. I had no need for the pears and no appreciation for the pears. I could have seen them as beautiful objects of God's creation, but I didn't.

Oprah: So pineapples wouldn't have cut it? I always thought they looked strange, like diving into a mutant pine cone.

Augustine: Sure, or a coconut. Brown, ugly, hairy things. I'm a saint and I still don't understand God's intention on that one.


Give it a read here. Hat tip to The Shrine.

Still being held

For those who haven't read the morning's papers yet, Mr. Rahman is still being held. The authorities are conducting a "mental health" evaluation to see if he is fit to stand trial. Many observers think this might be a dodge to let the government release him without angering the conservative Muslim leaders whose support is so important to the survival of their democratic government. But in the meantime Mr. Rahman will stay locked up in a dank prison. And prosecutors insist that, if found competent, he will be tried and executed for converting to Christianity.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thanks Be To God

For the time being the Christian convert who has been in jeopardy for his life is about to be released. From The New York Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said. The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics here who have called for him to be killed.

An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that it had been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime, Rahman would be released. ''The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,'' the official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Of course, the case could still be reinstated if the mullahs have their way. It would well behoove Mr. Rahman to exit the country at his earliest opportunity.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Young Clergy Have All But Disappeared

This report is shocking. I knew that younger clergy were in short supply these days, but I didn't realize just how short that supply has become. Just 4% of ECUSA's clergy today are under 35 years of age! And in the Roman Catholic Church the percentage of young priests is even slightly lower--3%. In fact, no "mainline" American denomination can boast more than 7% of its clergy under age 35. What happened?

Did you know that if it pleases God that I be ordained next year I will still be slightly younger than the average Episcopal ordinand at the age of 42? Lord, have mercy! Even if the Episcopal church by some unforeseen turn of events remains together past this summer's General Convention, what kind of long term future could it possibly have if so many of its clergy are either geriatric or soon to become so? Hat tip to titusonenine.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Afghan Christian May Escape Death Penalty

Abdul Rahman, a Christian man who is presently on trial for his life in Afghanistan for the crime of converting from Islam to another faith, may escape the death penalty. The national Afghan government has been embarrassed by the charges and its American allies are angry.

Although the Afghan constitution now proclaims religious liberty, Rahman has been charged under Sharia, which carries the force of law in the country. As a result, you can be "born" a Christian or a Jew and "freely" practice your religion in Afghanistan, but if you are Muslim it is a death penalty offense to convert to another faith. According to World Net Daily, "While Afghan prosecutors, amid political pressure, apparently are trying to find a face-saving way to drop their case against a convert from Islam by calling him 'mad,' sources close to Abdul Rahman say that despite suffering bouts of depression, he has a strong, genuine faith in Jesus Christ." Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

St. Michael's Youth Conference--Southwest

Calling all Anglo-Catholic youth of the greater Southwestern United States--St. Michael wants you! This is a great opportunity for young people to grow in "the Faith once delivered to the saints" under the guidance of learned and devout orthodox priests and lay people. I hope it will not be missed. Here is how Fr. Lee Nelson describes it:

St. Michael's Conference has been described as Anglo-Catholic Boot Camp for youth. It includes daily Solemn Mass (boys in ties, girls in skirts), the Divine Offices, and rigorous academic classwork. The Michaelites, as they are called, are encouraged to make their confessions and begin a deep life of devotion to Our Lord in the Sacraments and the Church. In short, it is not "church camp." It is thorn in the side of Satan and the Angel's of Hell. Secularism, relativism, and the infectious nihilism of youth culture are attempting to claim our youth. St. Michael's Conference is a way to snatch youth from their grip.

Thanks to the outstanding organizational work of Fr. Christopher Cantrell and Mr. Charles Warnky, both of the diocese of Fort Worth, St. Michael's Southwest will begin on June 4th (the feast of Pentecost) this year. The event will take place at our fine diocesan retreat center near Granbury, Texas, Camp Crucis. Please do check out the St. Michael's web site and consider sending your parish's youth to this superb retreat.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

St. Vincent's Cathedral School Video

There is a 4.5 minute long video about one of my employers, St. Vincent's Cathedral School, available for viewing here. The video features Dean Ryan Reed of the cathedral, and may be of interest to friends of mine who have frequently heard me sing SVCS's praises and now wonder what the place looks like. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Congratulations to Our Newest Deacons

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Today at St. Vincent's Cathedral the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, bishop of Ft. Worth, ordained the Rev. John Jenkins and the Rev. John Jordan to the sacred order of deacons. God willing they will be ordained priests next autumn. May God bless the good deacons in their ministries. Credit to Fr. Matkin for this fine photo of the bishop with the newly ordained at today's post-ordination reception. The other bishop in the photo is the Rt. Rev. William Wantland, the retired bishop of Eau Claire.

Another Positive Sign of Roman/Orthodox Co-operation

Pope Benedict and Patriarch Alexy of Moscow recently exchanged letters that highlight recently improved relations between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. According to Zenit:

The Holy Father said in his letter that "the gestures and words of renewed fraternity between the shepherds of the Lord's flock indicate that an increasingly more intense collaboration in truth and charity contribute to enhance the spirit of communion, which must guide the steps of all baptized" persons. "The contemporary world needs to hear voices," he said, "that point out the path of peace, of respect of all, of condemnation of all violence, of the superior dignity of every person and of his rights."

Patriarch Alexy II requested that Cardinal Etchegaray take a letter to the Holy Father, as well as a pectoral cross, like that worn by bishops, as a gesture of gratitude and esteem. In his message, the patriarch acknowledged that "in our time, in which secularism is developing rapidly, Christianity faces grave challenges that need a common testimony." The patriarch continued: "I am convinced that one of the main tasks for our Churches, which possess a common vision on numerous current problems of the contemporary world, must be today the defense and affirmation of Christian values in society. I hope that this will also contribute to the rapid solution of the problems that exist between the two Churches."

Diocese of Michigan Publicity Campaign

Father WB at Whitehall calls our attention to the billboard at left, "My God is Mother: I'm an Episcopalian." If you go to the web site listed on the billboard, www.edomi.org, you will discover that such ads are part of a membership program sponsored by the ECUSA diocese of Michigan. It seems that for a little more than $5500 you not only may share the joy of telling the Great State of Michigan "what God is" in letters three feet high, but also will receive a host of other materials (but sadly the fee "does not give you the right to change the campaign in any way"). With a membership campaign of this quality, surely the sky's the limit for the diocese of Michigan!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pope Benedict speaks to Greek Orthodox Visitors

Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a group of priests and seminarians from the Theological College of the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Greek Orthodox Church on February 27th. Here are some excerpts from the Pope's remarks as reported by Zenit:

At the beginning of the second millennium, for us Christians of East and West, the forces of evil have also acted in the controversies between us that still endure. In the past 40 years, however, many comforting signs full of hope have allowed us to glimpse a new dawn, that of the day on which we will fully understand that being rooted and founded in the love of Christ actually means finding a practical way to overcome our divisions through personal and community conversion, the practice of listening to each other and common prayer for our unity.

Among the consoling signs on this journey, which is demanding but indispensable, I would like to recall the recent positive development of relations between the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church of Greece. Various forms of collaboration and projects that serve to deepen our understanding of one another and to foster the formation of the youngest generations have followed the memorable meeting on the Areopagus of Athens between my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and All Greece. The exchange of visits, scholarship and cooperation in the editorial field have proven to be an effective means of furthering dialogue and deepening charity, which is the perfection of life and -- as St. Ignatius also said -- together with the principle, faith, will be able to prevail over the discord of this world.

I warmly thank the Apostoliki Diakonia for this visit to Rome and for the initiatives of formation that it is developing with the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration with the Orthodox Churches in the context of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. I am certain that reciprocal charity will be able to foster our creativity and lead us along new paths. We must confront the challenges that threaten faith, cultivate the spiritual humus that has nourished Europe for centuries, reaffirm Christian values, promote peace and encounter, even in the most difficult conditions, and deepen those elements of faith and ecclesial life that can lead us to the goal of full communion in truth and in charity, especially now that the official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole is resuming its journey with renewed vigor.

In Christian life, faith, hope and charity go hand in hand. Our witness in today's world will be truer and more effective if we realize that the way toward unity demands of all of us more living faith, sounder hope and charity which is truly the deepest inspiration that nourishes our reciprocal relations! Hope, however, should be practiced with patience and humility, and with trust in the One who guides us.

Although it may not seem within our immediate reach, the goal of unity among Christ's disciples does not prevent us from living with one another in charity at all levels, from this moment. There is no place or time in which love modeled on the love of our Teacher, Jesus, is superfluous; love cannot fail to be a short cut to full communion.

The entire text may be read on Zenit.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

RC Vocations Video

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has produced a high-quality video, Fishers of Men, to promote vocations to the priesthood and encourage priests in their ministries. The entire film is 18 minutes long, but there is a brief trailer available on-line. Take a look at the trailer here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bishop Iker of Fort Worth Comments

Today the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, bishop of Fort Worth, released a statement about the future of the Anglican Communion Network dioceses. It reads, in part:

If by the vote of a significant majority of the clergy and laity of a Network diocese, the decision is made to terminate its relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, what will be the consequences and what will be the cost? What becomes of those clergy, laity and congregations that do not wish to remain in the diocese? What is the relationship of that diocese with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the Anglican Communion? What becomes of the assets and properties of the diocese? Should they somehow be divided among conflicting entities? What about pensions and insurance and all the rest? The lawyers would have a field day to no end!! And what of those who have already left ECUSA, but want to remain Anglican? How would they be incorporated into the new realities?

At the same time, it must be asked, "What are the consequences if the diocese votes to stand and witness from within ECUSA, and no separation occurs?" Will congregations and clergy continue to leave us, one by one? Will we be able to “practice what we preach” with any integrity? Will we be seen by the rest of the Communion as part of the problem rather than the hope for the future of an orthodox province of the Anglican Communion in North America?

Let us continue to count the cost and consider all the options. Only then can we prayerfully decide how God would have us proceed. Extraordinary times require that extraordinary care be given to discerning the best way forward before acting. But once the decision is made, we will act decisively and boldly.

Read the entire statement here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

My Plans for the Upcoming Year

Dear friends, I know that many readers of this blog have lifted up my discernment process in their prayers. For that I am truly grateful. Today I have heard back from Bishop Iker, the bishop of Fort Worth, as to plans for my further preparation in the upcoming year.

The plan that the bishop has prescribed takes into account my prior theological and ministerial training. After completing CPE this summer I will remain in the Fort Worth area during the next school year. I will continue my teaching duties at St. Vincent's School while I "read for orders" with a senior priest in our area in preparation for our diocesan canonical exams. I will also undertake an internship next Fall at another parish in our diocese (in order to get a different take on things than I have had at St. Vincent's since June 2004). I will travel up to Nashotah House seminary in Wisconsin for study during the next Epiphany term (January) and the Petertide term of 2007 (summer). These studies at Nashotah House may eventualy become part of an STM degree program.

I think this is an optimal, creative solution to the "problem" of what to do with a postulant who already has eight years of graduate theological education and more than two years of ministry internship under his belt. I am looking forward to these studies very much. Thanks again for all your prayers. God bless.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Site of the Annunciation Attacked in Nazareth

Three Israelis have bombed the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. They were arrested after having barricaded themselves inside the church for some time. Fortunately, there was apparently no major damage done to the church. However, several people were injured in a riot that followed the attack. The attackers' motive is unclear. Read the story here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Spirituality" in Higher Education

Titusonenine has called our attention to an interesting study of college and university faculty. It was conducted by researchers at UCLA, and has found that substantial numbers of instructors in institutions of higher learning in the U.S. consider themselves "spiritual." Unfortunately, only a fairly small minority of these "spiritual" teachers believe that colleges should encourage the spiritual development of their students. (Teachers of humanities are predictably among most prone to support fostering the spiritual devlopment in their students, while natural scientists are least likely to do so.) Of course, these "spiritual" intellectuals may themselves have little or nothing to do with organized religion in their own lives. Do please check out the entire story here.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Unitarians may no longer use Anglican cathedral

From today's The Times of London:

CHESTER CATHEDRAL has denounced the Unitarian Church for heretical views and banned its ministers and members from holding their annual service there.

The service, the high point of the Unitarian Church’s General Assembly, has been held three times at Chester since 2001. It has also taken place at Guildford Cathedral. But Chester Cathedral has rescinded its booking after a “review” of the cathedral statutes and the doctrines of the Church of England and the Unitarian Church.

The decision by the Dean and Chapter, which consists of laity as well as clergy, has caused dismay among Unitarians. One said: “In the entrance to Chester Cathedral there are signs saying ‘welcome’ in 26 languages. A Unitarian could be forgiven for doubting their sincerity.”

Unitarians have been excluded after the Bishop of Chester, the Right Rev Dr Peter Forster, a leading evangelical, received a complaint about the unorthodox beliefs of some Unitarians.
He asked Canon Christopher Burkett, his chaplain and a residentiary canon at the cathedral, to carry out a review. Canon Burkett concluded that the Unitarian service was in breach of the cathedral statutes, which stipulate that worship must be in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England.
Read the whole thing here.

We are used to hearing that some place like Grace Cathedral in San Francisco or St. John the Divine in New York City has hosted a non-Christian worship service, but this is the first time I can recall an Anglican church having the courage to bring such folly to an end. Well done, Bishop Forster.

View My Stats