Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flying the Anglican eucharistic airliner on an even trim

Excellent letter on the eucharistic ministry of the Anglican church by Richard Chartres, Bishop of London. His aim is mostly at some silly clerics in his diocese who, ignoring swimming the Tiber and camping beside it (the Ordinariate), nevertheless want to use the latest Roman rite, including its declaration of being in communion with the Pope which is, let's face it, somewhat economical with the truth if you will neither a swimmer nor a camper be. Anyway along the way there is a special mention for us evangelicals, so he clearly wants London flying along eucharistically like an airliner in even trim, both wings in balance with the fuselage. But the whole letter is cool, so read it here. (H/T Thinking Anglicans). I may come back to other parts of its excellency.

Here is a word to evangelicals:

"Our liturgy is one which arises from the command of Jesus Christ, “Do this in remembrance of me” not in order to build a temple made with hands but to build his body which the gospel writers say has replaced the physical temple.

It follows from all this that obeying his command is an integral part of Christian discipleship. In this context there are a number of aspects of our own church life which deserve urgent consideration at the present time.

In some parts of our church it can appear that the service of Holy Communion is an appendix to services of the Word and not accorded the central significance which the express command of Jesus would seem to warrant. The reformers of our own church, Cranmer and Ridley [as Bishop of London] desired more frequent communion than was the practice in the late mediaeval Western church. Calvin also commends weekly eucharistic practice in his Institutes [IV: xvii. 46], “At least once in every week the table of the Lord ought to have been spread before each congregation of Christians.”Despite the teaching of the early Reformers their intention was overtaken later in the 16th century by a near exclusive focus in some parts of the church on the ministry of the Word."
Here is the word to Romanophiles:

"Our part of the Church is not alone in having spent a great deal of effort on liturgical reform. At Advent, our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church will be required to use new liturgical texts. We can always learn from the example of other members of the Christian community and indeed our own liturgy has been reformed by reference to the testimony and practices of the Church of the first centuries.

In former times before the liturgies of our Church had fully recovered these early forms, some of our priests adopted the Roman rite as a sign of fidelity to the ancient common tradition and an expression of our unity in Christ. At best their intention was to contribute to the recovery of a tradition which is both Catholic and Reformed, while pointing the way to the liturgical convergence we now enjoy, not least through the work of the international English Language Liturgical Consultation. They also recognised the proper place in the liturgy of prayer for leaders in the world wide church in addition to our own Archbishop. This is especially true of the Pope, who is undeniably the Patriarch of the West and as head of the Roman Catholic Church is charged with awesome pastoral and missionary responsibilities.

Much has been achieved and the debates of previous generations have influenced the Church’s liturgical practice and contributed to a convergence of eucharistic doctrine and rites. So it is with some dismay that I have learned of the intentions of some clergy in the Diocese to follow instructions which have been addressed to the Roman Catholic Church and to adopt the new Roman eucharistic rites at Advent.

The Pope has recently issued an invitation to Anglicans to move into full communion with the See of Rome in the Ordinariate where it is possible to enjoy the “Anglican patrimony” as full members of the Roman Catholic Church. Three priests in the Diocese have taken this step. They have followed their consciences.

For those who remain there can be no logic in the claim to be offering the Eucharist in communion with the Roman Church which the adoption of the new rites would imply. In these rites there is not only a prayer for the Pope but the expression of a communion with him; a communion Pope Benedict XVI would certainly repudiate.

At the same time rather than building on the hard won convergence of liturgical texts, the new Roman rite varies considerably from its predecessor and thus from Common Worship as well. The rationale for the changes is that the revised texts represent a more faithful translation of the Latin originals and are a return to more traditional language.

Priests and parishes which do adopt the new rites – with their marked divergences from the ELLC texts and in the altered circumstances created by the Pope’s invitation to Anglicans to join the Ordinariate – are making a clear statement of their disassociation not only from the Church of England but from the Roman Communion as well. This is a pastoral unkindness to the laity and a serious canonical matter. The clergy involved have sworn oaths of canonical obedience as well as making their Declaration of Assent. I urge them not to create further disunity by adopting the new rites.

There will be no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs but at the same time there will be no opportunity to claim that the Bishop’s directions have been unclear."
Loving that last sentence, especially the words I have italicised.


Father Ron Smith said...

Bishop Richard Chartres, a well-known Anglo-Catholic, is here exercising his faculty as a bishop in the Church of God - advising on liturgy and the importance of the Eucharist as the primary form of worship in the Anglican Church.

His note of caution to the ultra-montanists (slavish followers of the Roman Catholic Church in liturgical matters) is especially appropriate at this time, when Rome, in its effort to tighten up the juridical influence of the papal magisterium, is enjoining on its Faithful yet another juridical requirement for 'orthodoxy' - in this case, allegiance to liturgical conformity.

At least, in our Anglican Churches we are given some latitude on how we conduct our liturgies, with no
acknowledgement of magisterial jurisdiction (except that of Jesus Christ).

You should not be too surprised, Peter at the bishop's accommodation to his Evangelical congregations. In the Anglican Church, we are still (if we perform our liturgy faithfully) "One Bread, One Body. for we all partake of the One Bread" - Jesus Christ!

Of course, we have to believe He is really and truly present in the dominical Sacrament.

Thanks, Peter, for bringing this important message to our notice.

Fr. J said...

I do very much appreciate what the good bishop is trying to do here, but it is a bit like trying to close the barn door after the horses have already left. The problem of liturgical disunity in the C of E goes back a century now, with evangelicals ignoring the BCP in favor of mega-church style worship and anglo-catholics ignoring the BCP in favor of one or another of the Roman options. The problem long predates Bishop Chartres, and he has very little power in the current system to stop it. Even here, in this wonderfully clear letter, the most he can do is to put parishes on notice that he is not pleased. But there is no threat of an actual penalty for disobedience. Yet, as the bishop points out, to stray from the common prayer is to stray from Anglicanism and to become something else, in the case of the Romanizers something that is incoherent within its own framework.

Bryden Black said...

Nice one Peter; it emphasises yet again that Anglican ordained ministry is a ministry of word-and-sacrament, as per Article 19.

It of course tilts at our colleagues across the Ditch too in its understated way ... even as it tries (vainly?) to herd CoE cats ...

Loved the PDF version of this! If only our local church emails had such a banner heading! Especially the motto!!

Rosemary Behan said...

Last week I covered for a Bibles in schools teacher who was absent. The subject was ‘community’ and it was the third week of the lesson. There were many choices given in the book, but I decided to take the lesson on the Ten Commandments, where God gives us four laws to help us worship Him, and six laws to help us BE a community together. The children when asked remembered none of those six laws, in fact they’d never heard of the Ten Commandments. So I asked them to put themselves in the place of a ‘ruler’ and make suggestions as to what those six laws that will help us live as a community, might be. Hands went up and suggestions were made. “Be safe.” “Don’t get too close to the fire.” “Care for the environment.” All good things right? But not a single “Do not.” Nothing that might lead to “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Nothing that would lead to those children ‘being suffered to come unto Him.” Nothing that would indicate that anyone cared enough for those children to watch over them and see/know if they told a lie or stole something. To judge whether or not they honoured their parents. God is a myth to those children, so is Jesus. “Before the Common Era and the Common Era is the reason why the date is 2011, not the birth and death of Jesus .. because He’s a myth. What a terrible state of affairs, and did I do or say anything that might change matters .. sigh .. I don’t think so.

So why have I mentioned this? Because the subjects of the last few posts has been the defence of Jolyon White, and the Eucharist. I’m sure Jesus cares that 200 thousand children in New Zealand haven’t got enough to eat .. although where that figure comes from I’d like to know. I’m equally sure that He cares a darn sight more that many MORE children have never heard about Him from the church that purports to love Him, and looking at the way the church spends money on resources, are not likely to. Social justice seemingly far more important than the fact that children are in darkness. I would really like to see Jolyon with a deep and passionate care for the souls of children rather than their bellies if he wants to stay in the church.

Sharing the Lord’s Supper is beneficial for Christians. It’s a benefit for the Christian family or community. As Ron said, the people who share it must KNOW and BELIEVE in their Lord Jesus Christ in order to benefit .. but how is that to happen? How are the unchurched people to HEAR about Jesus? How can they come to faith when faith comes by hearing the Word of God. We have in this village a school of 81 children, NONE of whom go to any of the three churches, what is the church doing about that? Never mind what they have to eat, who do they have who cares about their eternal souls? Is the church going to offer them the Lord’s Supper to fill their bellies?

I feel so abjectly guilty before Our Lord.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
What you say makes me doubly thankful that the Lord has placed you in the village in which you now reside.

I 'hear' your concern (which in my interpretation is that this blog could be differently focused, on more urgent missional priorities than the subjects which, well, being honest, take my fancy as I ponder what is going on in Anglican land).

All such comments do feed into my mind ... along with the anonymous snail mail correspondent the other day who says this blog is part of a hate campaign against homosexuals. The sails of the blog need trimming on all sides!!

Father Ron Smith said...

Well, thank goodness they have you there, Rosemary, to bring them up to date. I'm sure if you emphasize the 'Love God and Love your neighbour' tenets of the Commandments, you will encourage the children to look at all the other things they should do.

Kurt said...

Anglo-Papalism has never been a popular trend within the American Episcopal Church; particularly ever since Father Paul Wattson and Sister Lurana White led the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement into corporate reunion with Rome in 1909. Anglo-Papalists can still be found in ones and twos, here and there in TEC, but they in no way have the prominence that they do in the CofE.

Fifty or sixty years ago, some High Church parishes used the People’s Missal. Today, I know of none that do. Over the past half century I have noticed that extreme ceremonial in many prominent High Church parishes has lessened, while there has been ceremonial enrichment (at least the occasional use of incense, the chasuble or cope, processional crosses, etc.) in many Broad and Low parishes.

While Low Church parishes in TEC are common enough, few could be termed Evangelical in the British or Australian sense of the term. Every Low Church parish that I know has at least one early Sunday celebration of the Holy Eucharist; many have celebrations on First and Third Sundays at 11 am as well. I have never witnessed a regular celebration of the Holy Mysteries in an Episcopal Low Church parish where the priest did not at least wear cassock, surplice and colored stole.

Kurt Hill
Preparing to eat Thanksgiving turkey
In Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

Kurt: Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Agape, Fr.Ron