"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.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children,” from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Many Christians would probably be surprised to learn that the “Christmas story” we all know by heart—the Virgin Mother and her Son, the manger and swaddling clothes, the angels and shepherds—is a composite of information from just two books of the New Testament: the Gospels according to SS Matthew and Luke. St. Mark and St. John say nothing at all about the birth of Jesus, and our brief reading from Galatians today is the Apostle Paul’s only mention of our Savior’s birth. But while this morning’s reading from the prologue of the Gospel according to St. John does not mention the birth of Christ expressly, it is, in fact, centered on our Lord’s Nativity. For here we learn that the divine “Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; [and] we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

In this verse we find one of the most marvelous, and scandalous, doctrines of our faith. Adherents of other religions may believe in a creator “God,” and some teach that “the gods” can disguise themselves as people or animals and visit the earth from time to time. But the doctrine of the Incarnation is unique to Christianity. Only the faith of Christ teaches that the Divine Architect, “without [whom] was not anything made that was made,” actually became one of His own creatures. Only Christians believe that the hand of the One who wills the continued existence of every atom, who spins the galaxies in their courses, that omnipotent hand once held tight to His Mother’s finger in a stable at Bethlehem.

St. John’s claim that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” was an amazing one for a first-century Jew to make. After all, in the Old Testament God is awesomely, incomprehensibly separate from His creation, dwelling in unapproachable light. For any faithful Jew the chasm between Creator and creature was immense and unbridgeable. God’s perfect holiness was simply too much for the things of this fallen world to endure. Isaiah, for example, worried that just laying eyes upon the Living God might be fatal for a sinful human being like himself. The four-letter Hebrew name of God is considered so holy that pious Jews dare not have it on their lips. God is quite literally unspeakably Holy.

Yet here we are, as Christians, fearlessly speaking the name of God Incarnate, the Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ. In fact, tomorrow is a special celebration in our Prayer Book of the most Holy Name of our Savior. This feast commemorates the day when, eight days after the boy’s birth as commanded in the Old Testament law, our Lord’s parents presented him for circumcision and He was formally given His name, Yeshua—“The LORD saves,” which may be rendered in English as either Joshua or Jesus. “Jesus” was the name both the Blessed Virgin Mary and her betrothed, St. Joseph, had received by divine revelation nine months earlier. Their child would be named Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins.”

Yeshua is, of course, a noble name in the history of Israel. The first man to bear the name “Joshua” was a trusted aide of Moses and a mighty warrior who led Israel into the Promised Land and won a home for God’s people by the edge of the sword. But our Lord’s parents already knew that the baby boy they enrolled as a son of Israel by circumcision that day would be far greater than His Old Testament namesake. Mary’s Son would bear not only the name Jesus, but Immanuel—“God with us,” and He would be called “the Son of the Most High.” Eight centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah predicted this little boy would “be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These were weighty names and titles, indeed, for such a tiny baby. Little wonder that Mary “treasured up these things in her heart,” too amazed to even speak.

Yet for all the exalted titles Christ bears, none is more meaningful than the Holy Name of Jesus itself. In this sacred name we see the whole of salvation history summarized, “The LORD saves.” From the day Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, God has been the One who saves. The hand of the Lord was at work in the ark of Noah and the ram sacrificed in Isaac’s place, in the parting of the Red Sea and the fall of the walls of Jericho, and in countless acts of deliverance throughout the history of Israel. But as the Blessed Virgin presented her first-born son back to His heavenly Father with the awesome name “Jesus,” history reached its turning point. The saving acts of God reached their climax in the Word made flesh. Through this Jesus the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the dead will the live again. And at the appointed time this Jesus, who was in the beginning with God, will make atonement for our sins by His own precious Blood and put death to flight by the power of His resurrection. By Jesus God does save in very truth.

The Holy Name of Jesus is a name of limitless power. The demons of Hell are right to quake at the very mention of Christ’s name. The darkness has nowhere to hide from the Light that entered the world at Bethlehem. When confronted by the Truth incarnate—God’s saving power made flesh--the vaunted strength of “the father of lies” proves feeble. And the day is coming, dear brothers and sisters, when our Lord will make a footstool of Death, our final enemy, and the spiritual forces of wickedness that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God will join every other being in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, bending knee in submission to the One whose name is above all names, Jesus the Christ. Holy is His name.

Beyond doubt, the name of Jesus is endowed with immense divine power. But to those who earnestly repent of their sins and turn to God in faithfulness the Savior’s Holy Name is a source of joy, not fear, for His divine name is also a human name. The Lord of all creation stooped down to take on our flesh and bone, our joys and sorrows, our frailty and our mortality. And He took a Name like our names: Jesus, son of Mary, of the household of David. You and I may know Him—we know Him—by this Name.

“No one has ever seen God,” St. John reminds us, “the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” Because of the Incarnation you and I may know God intimately—“on a first name basis,” so to speak. You and I may see God face-to-face and live, because He truly is one of us. He has a face like ours. And as our brother Christ calls each one of us by name. When Mary Magdalene was distraught beyond words at the disappearance of her Lord’s body on Easter morning, the risen Jesus soothed her aching heart and filled her with joy with just one word—her name, “Mary.” When Saul of Tarsus was struck down on his way to persecute the Church in Damascus, the risen Savior touched him to quick by calling his name: “Saul, Saul. Why are you persecuting me?” Again and again in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition we find it, our Lord calling His saints by name to an intimate relationship with Him. And so they are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life: Mary Magdalene, servant and sister of Jesus; Paul the Apostle, servant and brother of Jesus. If you have renounced Satan and the sinful desires that draw you from the love of God, if you have turned to Christ in faith, receiving the healing waters of Holy Baptism and partaking of the Living Bread that came down from Heaven, your name is written there, too, alongside millions of other servants of His eternal Kingdom—the family of Jesus, those who truly know Him by name, those made children of God by the will of God.

Let us pray that in the course of the Year of Our Lord 2007 we may all come to know more fully the Holy One who became flesh and dwelt among us, the One who bears a name at once both human and divine, and serve Him even more faithfully than we do today. Blessed be His Holy Name forever.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Nativity of Our Lord


Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

This sermon was intended to be preached by me this morning at St. Laurence, Southlake. Unfortunately, overnight I came down with a "24 hour bug" that has been making the rounds here and could not go to church this morning. I thought I would post it as a "reflection," in case any reader of this blog cared to read it. (I am,incidentally, on the road to recovery and think I may make it to midnight Mass tonight.)

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” from the Gospel according to St. Luke, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

You cannot help but marvel at the Blessed Virgin Mary’s humility in our Gospel lesson this morning, can you? After all, as we encounter our Lady this morning she is the most favored creature in all of history. She has been chosen by God to share her very human nature with the King of the Universe. It boggles the mind. The highest of angels cannot boast of a more intimate communion with their Creator than Mary experienced as she walked through the hill country of Judea on her way to visit her cousin. Mary has a unique fellowship with God, and she has been changed by it. In fact, the Virgin so radiates the holiness of her unborn Child that the infant John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb just because Mary is nearby. St. Elizabeth expresses wonder that she has been deemed worthy of a visit from the “mother of [her] Lord,” and prophesies in the power of the Spirit that Mary truly is “blessed among women.”

But the Blessed Virgin responds to her cousin’s awestruck greeting by turning the attention away from herself and toward “God her Savior,” who “has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” and “done great things” for her. Even when Mary acknowledges in her song that “all generations” will call her blessed, she takes no credit for herself. “Pay no attention to me,” she seems to say, “Look to the One who ‘exalts those of low degree,’ the Savior God of Israel.” Any blessedness Mary possesses is strictly His gracious gift—a gift that she will soon pass along to the entire human race in a stable at Bethlehem.

But while the soul of the Virgin magnified the God of her Fathers, within her body the plan of salvation history ordained by God at the dawn of creation was coming to fruition. From the very moment when Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden and the human race was cut off from the Tree of Life, the Advent of Mary’s blessed Son had been foretold. Even as the first Eve hung her head in shame before her Creator in Eden, the Lord had warned that ancient Serpent, the Devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; you shall bruise his heel and he shall crush your head.” The whole created order would groan under the weight of humanity’s Fall as it awaited the promised seed of a new and faithful Eve, the divine Son of Man who would crush the power of sin and death by the strength of His arm even as He endured the venom of Hades on behalf of His kindred.

God’s promise of redemption had been renewed again and again over the centuries. The Holy Spirit prompted many great prophets to remind Israel of their coming Deliverer, though few had ears to heed the message. The prophet Micah, for example, had foreseen the days “when she who is in labor has brought forth” in Bethlehem of Judah and the “one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” … “shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD.” We can only imagine what Micah’s original audience made of those mysterious words, but as our Lady chanted her praises to God she knew what they meant.

Mary knew that God’s “mercy is upon those who fear Him in every generation.” She knew that the old world--the world where mighty powers of darkness were perched upon pretended thrones, where the proud and the rich were great in their own imaginations and the poor and the hungry were despised—Mary knew that world was coming to an end. For the Virgin Mother knew the holy Child she carried within her was nothing less than the Son of God, who would save His people from their sins, and whose righteous kingdom would have no end.

The reason for the Virgin’s great hymn of praise is, of course, this great thing God has done for her, and all His people, in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus. But, ironically, St. Mary never directly mentions the expected birth of her Son in her prayer. It was only natural, therefore, that Christian monks a few centuries later would want to make the connection between the Magnificat and the birth of the infant Christ more explicit in the days just before Christmas. These early monks created the so-called “O Antiphons,” as series of short lines of music sung in the monk’s daily prayers along with the Magnificat in the eight days before the feast of the Nativity.

Each of these ancient antiphons focuses one of seven Scriptural titles for the Messiah: Emmanuel (or “God-with-Us”), Wisdom, Lord, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring (or “Dawn”) from on high, and King of the Nations. If those Messianic titles sound especially familiar, it is because we sing them in the beloved Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” That hymn is a paraphrase of the O Antiphons. Hence it is perfectly paired this morning with the Blessed Virgin’s Magnificat, a marvelous way to bring Advent to a close.

Our Lady’s praises in today’s Gospel lesson focus on the divine justice and righteousness that is just about to explode into world with coming birth of her Son. Her focus is on what God is doing right then and there. The O Antiphons, on the other hand, put this event in the board context of salvation history. Some of Christ’s titles in the Antiphons reach back before the dawn of time—Dayspring and Wisdom. These are titles in the Old Testament for the pre-existent Son, the Word of God, the divine agent of creation “without whom nothing was made that was made.” Other titles in the Antiphons place the saving work of God in Christ in Israel’s historical context. For Jesus Christ is the Root of Jesse and the Key of David, the One who will sit on upon the throne of His father David for ever and drive all pretenders to divine Sovereignty from the field. These Israelite titles remind us that our Redeemer is not a myth. Salvation does not happen “once upon a time” in a fairy tale. The salvation Christ wrought has been worked out in time and space just as you and I experience them. God’s coming to us in Christ is REAL and concrete.

The Antiphons’ final two titles of Christ remind us of the enduring and limitless character of our salvation—Emmanuel, God-with-Us, and Rex Gentium, the King of the Nations. God’s presence with us in Christ was not a passing thing. He remains with us “even to the End of the Age” in the abiding presence of the Spirit of Christ, the Comforter, God the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed at our baptism. He still speaks with us today in the words of Holy Scripture. And above all, God still gives Himself for us and to us the Blessed Sacrament of the most precious Body and Blood of Christ.

Finally, let us remember the words of Micah: “when she who is in labor has brought forth, then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.” With His birth all Christ’s kindred--all the banished sons and daughters of that first Eve—are meant to come home to God. Christ is King, not only of Israel, but of ALL the Nations. Everyone on the face of the earth needs to know that God their Savior was born in the flesh for them. Everyone needs to know that He died on the cross for them, and that He conquered death and rose again from the grave to win them eternal life. And every human soul needs to know that He will return and be their Judge. For those who repent of their sin and believe the Good News, turning to Christ in love and faithfulness, this is a message of unspeakable joy. For in truth, all of us are meant to have the kind of intimate communion with God our Savior that the Blessed Virgin Mary knew--and knows now. In surrendering herself completely to the divine will Mary gave God a body. And when we likewise yield ourselves up to His will God Incarnate makes us a part of that same glorious Body by offering Himself for us and to us completely.

As you and I gaze upon the Babe of Bethlehem laying the manger tonight, let us remember that, like Mary, we too are bone of Christ’s bone and flesh of His flesh. You and I have a share in Mary’s exquisite fellowship with God through her Son and we, too, have been changed, “for the almighty has done great things for [us], and holy is His name.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rev. David Roseberry's Essay on Leaving the Episcopal Church

Stand Firm has published a very fine essay by the Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano, on that congregation's decision to leave the Episcopal church (even though their diocese is a Network diocese). I found it well worth the ten minutes it took me to read it, and await his next essay on what the future may hold for his parish and North American Anglicanism. One highlight (emphasis added):

Frankly, I had hoped I could have stayed within the Episcopal Church. The battle for the soul of ECUSA is also a major battle in the culture. Anyone with children knows how terribly worrisome and treacherous it is to raise children in a culture with so much sexual brokenness. If the Windsor Report had not been rejected (which it was) and the MDG not been embraced whole hog (which they were) I would still be an Episcopal priest. I would have stayed for Round 4 or 5 or whatever the next General Convention would have been. It is (was) a battle worth engaging. But what the PB-elect showed me [at GC 2006], and what I should have realized beforehand, is this: The sexually permissive agenda of ECUSA is not an isolated aberration of teaching or practice. It is the outworking of a whole package of Biblically hostile, intellectually sloppy and historically arrogant thinking that has taken over the Episcopal Church. The new PB sounded like a Gnostic - a la the Da Vinci Code - because her theology, perspectives and priorities are not rooted in the old revelation but in the "new thing" that we keep hearing about.

Too Strange Not To Be True

This story has nothing to do with the usual topics covered on this blog, but when I saw Holy Whapping's link to this BBC story I just had to pass it along. Read the amazing story here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Small Step, with an Attempted Giant Leap Approaching

In a small bit of personal news, the vestry of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford (my home parish) endorsed my application for ordination to the diaconate last night. I am most grateful to them and to the clergy and people of St. Vincent's and St. Laurence, Southlake, for the help and support I have received in my discernment process and preparation for possible ordained ministry. And I am deeply grateful to God for the opportunity to move ahead to the next step in that process.

That next step, however, is certainly a Doozy! I now must sit for our diocesan canonical ordination examinations on January 4th and 5th. In the diocese of Fort Worth we do not use the national General Ordination Exam (used by the rest of the Episcopal church). Instead, we have our own diocesan Board of Examining Chaplains and our own set of oral and written examinations (which also includes preparing for and saying a full "dry mass," complete with sermon) for which all candidates must sit before ordination to the "transitional diaconate." Your prayers would be most appreciated, both for myself and the two other men who will be taking the exams with me. Thanks much, my friends.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Crackup of Virginia Diocese Continues

The total number of parishes leaving the diocese of Virginia has now reached EIGHT. Read the story here.

The Primates meeting in February promises to be most interesting indeed.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Here are the Numbers out of Virginia

In the next few weeks six more parishes in Virginia are going to vote on the question of whether or not to leave the Episcopal Church, following the lead taken today by Truro and the Falls Church. By some reckonings that may be 17% of the membership of the diocese taking leave before the end of the year. Bishop Lee has threatened to sue not only the parishes, but their vestry members personally, for the move. May God provide for these courageous Christians who are acting out of conscience and soften the hearts of liberal bishops who may be tempted to intimidate others like them into silence and passivity in the face of grave theological error.

Here are the numbers from the two large parishes that have just bolted, from the Press Release of Truro and the Falls Churches in Virginia:

Of the 1,348 eligible voting members casting ballots at The Falls Church this past week, 1,228, or 90 percent, voted in favor of the first question, or “resolution,” on the ballot about whether to sever ties. On the second and final resolution, 1,279 of 1,350 eligible members, or 94 percent, voted in favor of retaining the church’s real and personal property.

Of the 1,095 eligible voting members casting ballots at Truro Church, 1,010, or 92 percent voted in favor of severing ties. On the second resolution, 1,034 of 1,095 eligible members, or 94 percent, voted in favor of retaining Truro’s real and personal property. Both churches used essentially identical ballots.

Historic Virginia Parishes Vote 90% Plus to Bolt from the National Episcopal Church

From the Associated Press:

Two of the largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly Sunday to break from The Episcopal Church and join fellow Anglican conservatives forming a rival U.S. denomination.

Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.

The archbishop hopes to create a U.S. alliance of disaffected parishes called the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Truro rector Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria earlier this year to lead Akinola's American outreach.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is saddened by any split from the church and will consult her advisers on how the denomination should respond, said Bob Williams, the national Episcopal spokesman.

Ninety percent of Falls Church parishioners and 92 percent of Truro members who cast ballots in the last week supported cutting ties with The Episcopal Church, parish leaders said Sunday.

Six other Virginia parishes are voting this month whether to leave.

The Truro and Falls Church break is likely to spark a lengthy, expensive legal fight over the historic properties, which are worth millions of dollars.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Saint Paul's Resting Place Discovered

From Zenit:

A Key Find Lays Doubts to Rest

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, DEC. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- 2006 has been a year of discoveries for Rome. New frescos, new archaeological finds and statues returned after years of foreign residence have made this year a hit parade of novelties.

But this week the Holy See topped the charts as it announced the unearthing of the tomb (a sarcophagus) of St. Paul. Vatican archaeologist Giorgio Filippi actually found the tomb three years ago, but further research established that "there is no doubt, the sarcophagus found under the pavement of the Basilica of St. Paul's is really that of the Apostle," as Filippi announced in a press conference Monday.

Unlike St. Peter, whose traditional presence in Rome was supported by a paucity of factual evidence until the excavations under St. Peter's Basilica from 1939 to 1950, St. Paul's sojourn in Rome is well documented in the Acts of the Apostles. St. Paul was probably sent to Rome as a prisoner somewhere around A.D. 58 to 60 and spent several years among the early Christian community of Rome.

Eusebius of Caesarea tells us, "Paul was beheaded by him [Nero]," while tradition elaborates that the saint was martyred outside the city at a site now known as Tre Fontane, or the Three Fountains. This picturesque name is derived from the legend that when Paul was beheaded, his head bounced three times on the ground -- miraculously creating three fountains. A church has graced the spot since the fifth century and today it is a monastery.

St. Paul's body was taken a little closer to the city, along the Via Ostiense, or the main road toward the sea, and buried alongside this major thoroughfare. Eusebius also cites the third-century ecclesiastic Gaius who claimed that he "can show you the trophies of the Apostles. If you will go to the Vatican or along the Via Ostiensis you will find the trophies of the founders of this church."

These "trophies" were simple, makeshift affairs meant to remain hidden from the eyes of Imperial persecutors. Only under Constantine were the apostles given due architectural homage. Great basilicas were erected over the simple tombs and the early graves were enclosed in the foundations of these churches.

The sarcophagus found by Giorgio Filippi was made slightly later, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius, the man who outlawed all other religious cults in 395, leaving Christianity the sole religion of the empire. The large marble sarcophagus was covered by a plaque bearing the inscription "Apostle Paul Martyr."

Thanks to the work of Filippi; the archpriest of the basilica, Cardinal Andrea Cordero del Montezemolo; and the engineers of the church, the sarcophagus, hidden behind the plaque under several feet of cement, was brought to light and can now be seen by pilgrims to the basilica.

This discovery restores to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls its central purpose as the place where the faithful go to pray at the resting place of the great apostle. For centuries people came to the tomb, especially during the first Jubilee year when Pope Boniface VIII declared the conditions for the plenary indulgence were to pray at the graves of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Dante, Michelangelo, St. Philip Neri and millions of others never questioned the authenticity of the location until a fire in 1823 devastated the basilica. The dramatic rebuilding and the subsequent enclosing of the sarcophagus in a block of cement made the historical reality of Paul's martyrdom at Tre Fontane and his burial along the Via Ostiense seem dim and doubtful.

The impetus for the excavation came during the Jubilee Year 2000. When millions of pilgrims came to the tomb of St. Peter, and thousands visited the excavation of St. Peter's grave and saw the proof of his presence, they then went to St. Paul's and wondered why no one had searched for the tomb of St. Paul.

The excavations began in 2002 and today the sarcophagus has been found and is on view for the faithful through a glass window laid into the floor. The remaining question is whether, as with the tomb of St. Peter, the remains of the Apostle Paul are still present. Catholics the world over had to wait 35 years from Pope Pius XII's announcement of the discovery of Peter's grave to the declaration that the bones had also been recovered.

Pope Paul VI announced the discovery of St. Peter's remains in 1976, inviting us to "rekindle in our minds the veneration, love, fidelity toward these apostles who constituted the beginnings of the Roman church and left to her the heritage of their word, of their authority and of their blood." Words that remain equally pertinent to this newest discovery.

From this moment forward, pilgrims will be able to see the graves of St. Peter and St. Paul, which Paul VI described as the "human and material as they are of the memory of the apostles." No doubt this is great boon for our scientific world of facts and proofs, but while we rejoice in being able to see and believe, Jesus praises those "who have not seen and believe."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Original vs. Ancestral Sin

There is a very interesting post over at Razilazenje on one of the questions that has frequently divided East and West--"ancestral" vs. "orginal" sin (don't worry, the article is in English). In light of some recent comments on this blog, I thought I would pass it along and see what you thought about it (esp. Ian and CA). How might this illumine the discussion in recent comments here on the Immaculate Conception?

NOTE: Actually, it looks like the linked post is malfunctioning. One needs to scroll all the way down to the end of the side bar in order to find the post on "Ancestral vs. Original Sin." It is well worth doing, however.

Friday, December 08, 2006

St. Mary the Virgin in Ice

This morning when I arrived at St. Vincent's to lead our school's chapel service I discovered that the sprinkler system had inadvertently come on during the night and left a coat of ice all over the small statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our courtyard. My father was visiting with his camera and snapped this picture. It is a lovely image. Of course, this ice coverage happened on the day that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters observe as the feast of the Immaculate Conception. I couldn't help but wonder if this icy scene might mean something, but I can't quite say what that would be. (FYI, my own convictions about the BVM are essentially the same as those taught in Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Immaculate Conception as papally defined in 1854 is not part of my own beliefs.) Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Marvelous Picture of the Patriarch

I just loved this picture of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and wanted to pass it along. Now that is a chalice! May God bless the Patriarch's ministry and hasten the day when all those who confess the holy Name of Jesus will again be one, as He and the Father are one.

Hat tip to Canterbury Tales.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Excellent Address by Archbishop Venables

Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone (a.k.a. most of South America), a godly and stalwart man, sent a video message to the diocese of San Joaquin that has recently been posted on Stand Firm. This talk is downright inspiring! And in case you wanted official confirmation, between 5:30 and 6:30 minutes into his talk the Archbishop announces that the Global South Primates will recommend Alternative Primatial Oversight for the United States under the auspices of the Primates at their Dar es Salaam meeting in February. View the entire address here.

What Did The Pope and the Patriarch Agree On? Dare We Hope That A Great Wound To The Body of Christ May Be Healed Soon?

The Shrine of the Holy Whapping passes along this fascinating tid-bit:

Exclusive interview of Patriarch Bartholomeus with the semi-official daily of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Avvenire:

Thus Rorate Caeli:

Reporter: This morning's speeches and the joint declaration that you have undersigned sounded "lofty" and certainly promising. You have even spoken of the future, regarding the [future] steps?

Patriarch: Regarding this, I can say that I have spoken to His Holiness about something, something we can do. I have made him an offer that I cannot yet talk about, while we wait for an official response in this sense; however, I can say that His Holiness displayed great interest and welcomed the offer favorably. We hope that it can be accomplished, because it truly follows the prospects of that ecumenical progress which, as we have affirmed and even written in the Joint Declaration, we both are determined to pursue.

PB Jefferts Schori Responds to San Joaquin

Response to San Joaquin’s Convention from ENS:

I lament the actions of the Bishop and Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin to repudiate their membership in the Episcopal Church. While it is clear that this process is not yet complete, the fact that the Bishop and Convention have voted to remove the accession clause required by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church would seem to imply that there is no intent to terminate this process before it reaches its full conclusion. Our task as the Episcopal Church is God’s mission of reconciling the world, and actions such as this distract and detract from that mission.

I deeply lament the pain, confusion, and suffering visited on loyal members of the Episcopal Church within the Diocese of San Joaquin, and want them to know of my prayers and the prayers of many, many others.

I continue to consult with others involved in responding to this extracanonical action.

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Only One Parish Opposed San Joaquin Move

David Virtue reports that the following resolution was brought to the floor at the last minute at the San Joaquin diocesan convention today by a diocesan priest. It was approved by a vote of 166-4 (emphasis added by me):

Affiliation in the Anglican Communion. Whereas the 2006 GC of the TEC did not adequately respond to the requests of the Windsor Report, thereby placing the relationship of the TEC to the Anglican Communion in jeopardy; and whereas the primates of the Global South have declared "the time has come to take initial steps to wards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA"; and whereas our worldwide identity as Anglicans in this diocese is contingent on affiliation with a recognized province of the Anglican Communion; therefore be it resolved this 47th convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin direct the bishop, counsel and Standing Committee to assess the means for our affiliation with a recognized ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion, and to bring to the 48th convention of this diocese a detailed plan for the preservation of our relationship with the Anglican Communion. No vote by orders. 166 yeas and 4 nays.

Virtue further reports the following:

A diocesan spokesman said that while armed police were present at the cathedral there were no expected demonstrations from Episcopal Lesbitransgays. They were anticipated, but not realized.

When Bishop John-David Schofield spoke he brought the house down, VOL was told. There was a joyful eruption from the entire diocese. "We were united as never before, and we go into the future united," said a diocesan spokesperson. "Only one parish wants to stay with the Episcopal Church, the rest are with the bishop. It's been a long time coming, but today saw clarity and resolution the like of which we have never seen before."

San Joaquin Passes Constitutional Amendments

Titusonenine has this notice about the vote in the diocese of San Joaquin today. It appears that a "first reading" of a substitute amendment was passed that effectively removes references to the Episcopal Church from the diocesan constitution. (This new wording is less clear cut with respect to a break with TEC than the original proposal, apparently on the grounds that the new wording will make the diocese "more flexible" in responding to the Primates next February.) The amendment would require passage on a second reading at their next convention to become effective. The majorities in favor of the amendment were overwhelming.

Here is a portion of Titusonenine's report on the vote:

During the 47th Annual Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin, an amendment to Article II of the diocesan constitution was approved that identifies the diocese specifically as “Anglican”, the term most commonly used through out the world-wide Anglican Communion, whose historical center is the Church of England.

The language of article II, “Anglican Identity” was passed as follows:

Article II
Anglican Identity
The Diocese of San Joaquin is constituted by the Faith, Order, and Practice of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as received by the Anglican Communion. The Diocese shall be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury.

In a vote by orders, 68 of the clergy voted in favor of the amendment, while 16 were opposed. The lay delegates voted 108 in favor, with 12 opposed to the amendment to Article

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Bishop Schofield's Address This Morning

The full address may be found here. Below are some highlights:

Undoubtedly you are aware that this meeting of the Diocese of San Joaquin is historic. You may have heard someone say that the diocese is seeking to secede from The Episcopal Church. If that is what you think, then you are wrong! This convention’s business does not begin something new. On the contrary, we in the Diocese of San Joaquin are meeting to state clearly that we intend to go nowhere nor introduce anything new. Instead, we are defending the doctrine, discipline, and worship as this Church has received them. Why, then, are we amending our Constitution? This amending process is the first step in the removal from our Constitution of any reference to The Episcopal Church because --in our opinion-- they have decided to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

The Primates of the Global South met in Rwanda to address many and varied problems of their own but – out of concern for the Anglican Communion and believers in The Episcopal Church – they turned their attention to us and ended by setting up a Steering Committee of their leaders from around the world, among them: John Chew, Archbishop of Singapore; Drexel Gomez of the West Indies and the Caribbean; Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, South America; and a three Archbishops from Africa, including Peter Akinola of Nigeria as Chairman. These outstanding leaders took it upon themselves to meet with 10 of us dioceses in Virginia last month, and there they asked three things of us:

1) What were we prepared to give up in order to achieve unity among ourselves?

2) A single spokesman to be elected by us to speak for all the orthodox.

3) Submission to their authority and --as a demonstration of that – flexibility to allow them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to prepare a way for us to live in a separate ecclesiastical structure which would eventually provide a way home for many Anglicans who had left The Episcopal Church for conscience sake, and many individuals and parishes that had been isolated in hostile dioceses to be part of the world-wide family of the Anglican Communion.

Working independently of this Virginia meeting three of our Rural Deans: Frs. Dan Martins, Jim Snell, and Richard James came up with a substitute for the originally proposed changes to our diocesan Constitution. I believe this was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for their work perfectly responds to the requests of the Primates that we remain flexible and allow them to provide the necessary leadership for us. Not only do I commend their work to you, I passionately believe what will be introduced to us at this Convention is a way for us to remain faithful to the Word of God, be set free from intimidation, and secure our present position as a faithful diocese of the Anglican Communion.

This initial vote does not separate us from The Episcopal Church but positions us to respond positively to the Primates. It leads the way for other like-minded dioceses to become part of a structure that remains true to all that The Episcopal Church has received in the past and which, tragically, the present institution and its leadership have chosen to walk apart from.

Your vote and the action of this Convention may be seen as historic within Anglicanism but-- ultimately and spiritually– it is only doing what St. Paul did before King Agrippa – remaining obedient to the heavenly vision – that enables us to follow in his footsteps of proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ and recognizing that His words are spirit and truth. By being faithful in these ways we will discover our lives coming into an ever deepening harmony with God’s revelation of Himself and eager – when we find anything that proves to be a wedge between us and Him – to repent.

How grateful I am that we are not alone! We share this vision in common with thousands in this country along with Bishop Robert Duncan, Moderator of the Network, our fellow Network bishops and dioceses, as well as Primates around the world who continually support and encourage us as we seek not only the Lordship of Christ but to remain faithful in the Anglican Communion.

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield

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