"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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fort Worth Clergy Retreat

For the last three days I have been away, dear Reader, at the clergy retreat of the diocese of Fort Worth. This was a silent retreat at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat Center on Lake Dallas, and it provided valuable time away from the hustle and bustle of school and parish life. There was plenty of time for prayer and study. And, I'll admit, I caught up on some much needed sleep as well.

Almost all of the clergy of the diocese were there. We participated in Morning Prayer, Eucharist, Evensong, and Compline each day. And there were a series of meditations on the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary given by the Rev. Ralph T. Walker, Master of the Society of the Holy Cross in the province of the Americas and rector of St. Michael and All Angels Church in Denver. I found much a great value in these meditations, especially in their focus on how our following Christ amounts to "coming with Him." Lunch and dinner-time readings from Scott Hahn's fascinating book, Hail Holy Queen, supplemented the talks well.

I regret that one aspect of the talks did hamper my full appreciation of them. In several of the meditations I couldn't help but notice a rather negative attitude toward the beliefs of Protestants--an attitude that extended to evangelicals as well as liberal Protestants. Of course, it makes sense that a leader of the SSC speaking to a group that had a large number of SSC members in it would have a strongly Catholic flavor to his remarks. But as an Anglican of the "middling sort" who honors our Reformation heritage as well as that bequeathed to us by our ancient and medieval Christian forebears, I personally would have been better able to appreciate Fr. Walker's otherwise wonderful meditations if they had not taken quite such a dismissive tone toward our traditionalist Protestant friends. I feel an irenic approach with respect to our differences is even more important these days as we are busily forging a new North American Anglican province that will bind together traditionalist Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic Anglicans.

Please don't get me wrong. The talks by Fr. Walker had much of great value in them. I can easily see why so many people have found his spiritual counsel valuable, and I am grateful for the chance to have heard him speak over the last three days. And the retreat as a whole was very profitable for me and for other participants with whom I have talked.

The retreat was deeply Anglo-Catholic in its tone, of course, and that was wonderful. My personal reading, though, meant my "reformed" side also benefited from the retreat. In addition to a detailed study of Ephesians over the last few days, I also read much of Martin Luther's On the Bondage of the Will and Alister McGrath's Christianity's Dangerous Idea, a study of Protestantism and it's history.

Now, rested and spiritually refreshed, I am ready for school in the morning!


Anonymous Bill+ said...

Yes, it was strange to hear time and time again the word "Protestants" meaning nothing more than "heretics" and it was odd to hear that the Protestants knew nothing whatsoever about incorporation in Christ. One wonders if the speaker ever in fact read any of the magisterial reformers. But I suppose when the building up and knocking down of straw men is the goal, precision in language or thought is not particularly important.

Nonetheless, I was deeply blessed by some reading during the retreat.

(St. Andrew's)

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Bill+ said...

One other thing, the speaker outrageously suggested that Protestants have a crass view of Christian life as "mimicking" Jesus while Roman Catholics have a deeply mystical notion of union or incorporation in Christ. What nonsense.

Could Calvin have been any clearer on the point?

"Moreover, lest by his cavils he deceive the unwary, I acknowledge that we are devoid of this incomparable gift until Christ become ours. Therefore, to that union of the head and members, the residence of Christ in our hearts, in fine, the mystical union, we assign the highest rank, Christ when he becomes ours making us partners with him in the gifts with which he was endued. Hence we do not view him as at a distance and without us, but as we have put him on, and been ingrafted into his body, he deigns to make us one with himself, and, therefore, we glory in having a fellowship of righteousness with him."

Our speaker made two fundamental errors. One, he misrepresented Protestantism grossly. Perhaps he didn't know any better. In that case his misrepresentation was inadvertent. But secondly, he spoke with dripping contempt toward Protestants well aware that some in the room are convinced and self-professing Protestants. That's simply bad manners. If you're intent on insulting someone at a retreat, you should at least invite questions and objections.

(St. Andrew's)

7:28 PM  

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