No longer Anglican

Over the last few weeks, I think I have come to point where I can say that I am no longer Anglican.  I am no longer a part of Anglicanism.  The organization and the politics and the infighting have left me behind.

And no, I’m haven’t laid down my Orders or asked to be defrocked from where I serve.

I am still a part of the Church.  I am still worshiping with a Prayer Book and Liturgy found in the Book of Common Prayer.  My patrimony or heritage comes from the British Isles throughout their whole history, but I am not going to be defined by an -ism.

A good friend and priest said,

‘Why can’t we just see the Anglican patrimony/prayer book as part of the Church?’

I agree.  Why can’t we just begin to see ourselves as part of something greater than our own man-made walls of exclusion from each other.

Let me preface this with saying that I am no canon lawyer, or Bishop, or anybody with any authority.  I know there are tremendous obstacles that are in place that would prevent unification of the Church but we are making in roads in several ways including the acceptance of our primary Sacrament, baptism, among various groups and fellowships and denominations and communions.

I long for the day that I can kneel to receive Christ’s Body and Blood with members of Christ’s Church who are separated on each side of me, to become fully one with the One who creates and sustains and loves with my self-exiled brethren on each side.  For isn’t that what excommunication in these large situations really is– a self-imposed exile from your brother.

For me, if you have been placed into Christ’s Church, then come and feast and lets work out our problems as prodigals and older brothers around the table of our Father celebrate for what was lost is now found.

Advertisements

The Prodigal and me

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father,I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him andkissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

This Sunday, we speak of reconciliation, prodigals, older brothers, a father’s love, and the best being slaughtered.  For many of us we view ourselves as the prodigal son, and ‘those others’ as the older brother.  For some of us, who are self aware, we are the older brother, jealous of the attention and love shown to the son who told his father he was dead in his eyes.  What we should find, though, is that we are both– we are both the prodigal returning home and the older brother who worked hard and is jealous of the lasciviousness of love shown to our no-good dirty brother.
As Pope Francis said, “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…And you have to start from the ground up.”

How do we heal the wounds?  First, we have to bring them in and offer them grace, grace, and more grace.  We should not expect those that are hurting to follow our rules immediately, without building a relationship with them.  Just like toddlers who are learning to walk will fall down a lot, we have to be patient, offer a hand, and ‘kiss the boo boos’ for those entering our doors hurt by the Church.

Second, we have a tremendous gift of Grace from God in the Sacraments.  Baptism and confession are healing points of Grace to the most weary of sinners (and in regards to confession, saints).  Then we offer them daily meals of bread and wine found in Christ’s Body and Blood and teach them the prayers and rhythms of the people of God found in our Daily Office.  We offer them branches of reconciliation through radical hospitality and opens tables of food & wine.  We invite them into our lives as the people of God and hear Jesus say to them (and to us):  “Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I know I need this, I know that you need this, and I know that the world needs this– Church, quit trying to appeal to the Ceasars and Emperors of this world and reach out your front door to the needy, broken, hurting, and wounded within your communities.

LEX: Orandi, Credendi, Vivendi

The law of prayer is the law of belief which is the law of life.

Essentially, how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live. The law of prayer or worship is the law of life.

As an Anglican, our whole life should be shaped by Scripture and the Holy Spirit through our common regula of the Book of Common Prayer.  It used to be said that if you want to know what an Anglican believes, go to a service and listen to their prayers.  Nowadays, however, that may  not be the case with Episcopal Bishops crossing their fingers during the creed and the ‘plain meaning’ of words being twisted to form something completely contradictory.  Our prayer book was written, in my opinion, as a reformed Catholic book.  It’s little “r” reformed because it took what was considered essential liturgically and ritually for a proper service and that’s what was made mandatory and big “C” Catholic because it was based not on some continental Reformational document, but on the ancient liturgical rites of both Sarum in England and the East.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it’s lack of devotional material and the downplaying of both the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and the role of the Communion of the Saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, make it less than perfect.  However, I think it takes the idea of unity within the Faith seriously in bringing those who would otherwise kill each other into the same fold.  But how does this book, that so many ignore, actually shape our faith?

Matthew Dallman, a friend and liturgical scholar, is focusing his academic portfolio on the works and life of Fr. Martin Thornton.  Thornton states that the Anglican regula is divided into three parts:  Mass, Office, and Devotion.  One without the other would make an incomplete Christian.  For me, there is where I see truly the Anglican ‘Three Streams’ theology– it allows for a common service of communion (catholic), a focus on Scripture and prayer in the Office (evangelical/reformed), and the ability to have personal devotions that are less structured if so chosen (charismatic).  These three parts, when used together, creates worship experience that is formational and participatory, rather than a service that is just ‘watched.’

I believe this was a major outworking of the Oxford Movement that quickly got lost in the ritualist movement and why I think going back to the ‘roots’ of our movement is key for those of us who are carrying on their mantle.  As Anglicans, we need to learn to shape our life– including how we view time– by the Prayer Book.  We need to regain our memory of our Saints and ‘Blesseds’, we need to participate either corporately or individually in the Daily Offices, we need receive Jesus at least weekly into our bodies through Holy Eucharist or the Mass, and we need to learn spiritual practices that bring us into a closer relationship with Him.  As Anglicans, and especially for those of us within the context of the ACNA, we need to act and worship like Anglicans.  With the upcoming finalized Texts for Common Prayer, we need to grasp and run with these rites (or older rites like the 1662 BCP, 1928 American BCP, or the 1962 Canadian BCP) and begin to use them to shape ourselves and our congregations.  That is true catholicity.  The Anglican Church, in all its messed up glory, is a fellowship or tradition within the greater Catholic church and we need to realize what that means for us and the responsibility that is on our shoulders to keep the Faith.  It also means we need to lay down our own opinions and look to the example of the patristic church (as Lancelot Andrewes said:  ‘One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period—the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith’)  and give up innovations that are truly not catholic or ‘part of the whole.’

 

So pick up a Prayer Book (or go online here or here and print one out) and learn to say the offices.  There is a great resource here and here for you to pray along with and if you are ever near Atlanta, drop me a line and we can join up for morning or evening prayer at my parish.  If you are a Priest, Deacon, or lay leader within your parish, start a time of Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer sometime during the week to complement your weekly Sunday service.  If you are not using a Prayer Book for your Sunday worship, pick one up and try it out.  But most importantly, begin to let the words of your prayer shape your beliefs (and vice versa) so it works out into a life lived fully for Christ and His Church.

 

Failing Lent

I remember my first experience with Lent– when in middle school, my then girlfriend showed up to school with a black cross on her forehead and the immediate question of — why did she have her makeup smudged on her forehead like that?  It made no sense to me.  And then her talking about giving up sweets for 40 days, well, I had no clue what that was about! d373b99e61d7fa12dda9dfc3dec3a1db-d45wnfg10277338_10205705791421416_2279388778769638175_nGrowing up in the non-denominational world, fasting was common, but we didn’t follow some type of calendar of when we should do it.  It normally began to occur whenever some televangelist or traveling prophet came to town and quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 —

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins, and heal their land.”

and told us that God had told him if we fasted then “revival” would come in ___ days/weeks/months.  Of course, we would all do it, fail it, and then blame ourselves for God not moving.

There was also the Daniel Fast which was a mix of a health diet and fast based off of Daniel’s diet in, well, the Book of Daniel.  That was a fad big time in my youth group days and you would add some type of daily devotional in there with it.  I remember one time attempting a Fast of 20 days to ‘get myself right with God’ and after 10 days, breaking down and eating some Captain D’s (for some reason, the Captain called during fasts), and feeling completely distraught.

I had failed.

In the last few years of learning to become a catholic Christian, I have learned that part of this journey is failing, and failing well.  You see, I don’t know anybody who has kept a perfect Lent in staying away from what they gave up.  Lent is more than not drinking Diet Coke, or giving up sweets, or even following the strict Orthodox fasting guidelines.

Lent is about preparation.  

As Christians, those who follow a man who was in all senses of the word was defeated by the world’s strongest empire on a cross and failed in the eyes of his follower, failure and defeat are part of our spiritual journey.

Does that mean you shouldn’t try or work on following what you set out to do? God forbid!

You should, however, understand that his yoke is easy and burden is light and that His Grace is sufficient even in your failures.  Know that the great Saints that have walked in this soil and partaken of the sacraments before have failed and are cheering you on, going to the Father of All Mercies on your behalf!

Be Strong!  Have Courage! And Fail gracefully this Lent.  Strive to live into God’s grace that is in your life that both gives you strength to move forward and picks you up when you fall down!

On Fasting and Abstinence

Some may inquire (and I hope to provide) some guidance on Lenten fasting.  For many years, those of us who didn’t grow up in the fullness of the Church, we would ‘fast’ on Lent meaning we would give up chocolate or TV.  We would most likely fail because these weren’t things that were spiritually edifying us but just done because that’s what you do.  When I began my journey into the Catholic faith, I wanted to know — how does an Anglican fast?

Well, let’s look to the Church for answers, and a modern answer to that question is found in Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book.  The edition I have is from 1964, but it’s guidance can still speak for us today.  To summarize, abstinence is lowering the quality of the food you eat (i.e., meatless Fridays) and Fasting is lowering the amount of food you eat.  The normal days of Fasting & Abstinence are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Some may both fast and abstain on Wednesday and Fridays in Lent.  Fasting, or lowering the amount of food you eat, is normally done through all 40 days of Lent (excluding Sundays). One fast that is mentioned, but not required in the Anglican Church, is the Eucharistic fast.  This fast can be from midnight up until 1 hour before you are to receive Holy Communion.

None of these are required, as per our Canon Law, but they are suggested to us to help lessen our vices and attachments and to attach ourselves further to Christ and His Church.  Another suggestion that I have is to take on a spiritual discipline during Lent.  For Anglicans, if you don’t pray the Daily Office (morning and evening prayer) on a regular basis, I would suggest taking that up during Lent.  You can also make Lent a time of giving and service.

The most important thing to remember is that we are walking with Jesus and preparing our hearts and bodies to be vessels for his worship and service.


Fasting is a Christian duty. In modern times it is customary to distinguish between abstinence (in which the quality of food is lowered, usually by not eating meat) and fasting (in which the quantity of food is reduced as well) although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The discipline “which the Church requires” is widely recognized to be the following:

Rules of Fasting and Abstinence

1. Abstinence from flesh meat on Fridays throughout the year (except those falling on Christmas or Epiphany or between those feasts).

2. Fasting, usually meaning not more than a light breakfast, one full meal, and one half meal, on the forty days of Lent.

3. Fasting with abstinence on Ember Days, on Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, and on Easter Even up to noon, at which time Lent is commonly held to end and Eastertide to begin.

Those who cannot choose their food (soldiers, certain employees, etc.) should eat what is set before them, although they should welcome the opportunity to observe abstinence. (It is understood, however, that in tropical countries, where meat is heard to obtain and therefore not an ordinary part of the diet, abstinence is commuted to some other form of discipline than going without flesh meat.) Illness, old age, extreme youth, and heavy manual work excuse from fasting, but the major Fast Days of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as the American Prayer-Book indicates, are stricter in obligation, though not in observance, than the other Fast Days, and therefore should not be neglected except in cases of serious illness or other necessity of an absolute character.

The desire to imitate the stricter fasts of previous ages, or of saintly ascetics such as the Tractarians, may be a moving of divine love, or sometimes it may be a love of singularity. But since the practice may be unwise, it should never be undertaken without consultation with a competent spiritual guide.

However, certain Vigils, formerly of obligation but no longer listed in the American Prayer-Book, may commendably be observed by fasting and abstinence, in honor of the labors of our Lord and His Saints, as:

Fasts of Devotion

1. Christmas Eve
2. Vigil of Pentecost
3. Vigil of All Saints

Easter Even is a Vigil, but is not listed as a Fast of Devotion because it is normally observed as a Lenten day of fasting with abstinence up to noon, at which time, according to the usual reckoning, Eastertide begins.

The Eucharistic Fast

The fast before Communion is not primarily an act of penance, but one of homage to our Lord, in order to receive the Blessed Sacrament as the first food of the day. It is normally a strict fast from both food and drink from midnight. At the Midnight Mass of Christmas it is natural and reverent, though not of obligation, to fast for some hours beforehand. No fast before Communion is required of those in danger of death. (And this is held to justify some relaxation in the case of those on active duty in the armed forces, for whom the fast from midnight may, if necessary, be replaced, according to widespread practice, by one of two to four hours, under the authority of Chaplains or others ministering to those involved.) Liquid food may be allowed to those seriously ill, or to those bed-ridden for over a month, but in such cases, no one should presume to “dispense himself,” for the Priest who dispenses the Sacrament is the guardian of the Church’s requirements, from whom a formal dispensation should ordinarily be sought.

Since the eucharistic fast is not penitential, it is not understood to prohibit smoking. However, common sense and good manners ought to regulate those things which do not fall within the formal regulations of the Church, such as smoking, the use of lipstick, propriety of dress, and personal cleanliness.

There is no law of the Catholic Church as to what hours of the day or night the Eucharist is to be celebrated. The law concerns only the fast before Communion, and thus the hour for celebration must be set according to the ability of the Celebrant and Communicants to fast from midnight previous to reception. Hence there is no justification for celebrating the Eucharist in the afternoon or evening, except those unusual circumstances indicated above, which may, by permission from the proper superior authority, excuse from the normal observance of the fast, namely, imminence of death or danger thereof, or absolute impossibility of normal reception of the Holy Communion.


The Feast of the Soul

I read this article today: Find Joy and Consolation in the Eucharist and was led to tears. After what I felt was a ton of failures in the last few weeks, I needed to be reminded of the great joy that comes from being able to feast on the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself, in the Holy Eucharist.  While we may disagree how Jesus is present, and I prefer to keep it as a mystery, we do know that Jesus is present.  He really meant it when he said– This is my Body…This is my blood.  And thank God that is true!

d373b99e61d7fa12dda9dfc3dec3a1db-d45wnfg

This paragraph comforted me especially:

Holy Communion will also afford you great consolation in all the sorrows and sufferings of this earthly life. No matter how great your need and your trouble may be, no matter if all forsake you, Christ will never fail you. How could you doubt Him who became man and died on the Cross for you and who gave Himself to be your daily food?

During His earthly life, Jesus was ever kind and compassionate. You may hope for everything from Him in Holy Communion, since you take Him into your heart. He will be your best comforter and helper. He invites you to Holy Communion with such gentle tenderness: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

If your heart is often sad, it is because you may be looking for consolation and happiness in creatures, forgetting that lasting peace and comfort come from God. True peace and consolation spring from divine love. Sin is the cause of all unhappiness and misery in this world, since it deprives souls of God’s friendship. St. Augustine wrote, “Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.” You cannot rest in God more surely than through Holy Communion.

 

Saint Brigid & an Update

4eb7522e35eaa4fc5c69437040ff2b61
S. Brigid of Kildaire

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all. I would like Jesus to be present. I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven’s family drinking it through all eternity.  (Prayer of S. Brigid)


After a bit of a month off from blogging, I’m hoping to jump back into things here at The Curate’s Corner.  As you will see below, the last month has been full of great things and huge changes for our family.


Norah-Jane Brigid Marie Watson
Norah-Jane Brigid Marie Watson

On the 16th of December, my fourth child and second daughter, Norah-Jane Brigid Marie, was born to my wife Katie and I.  Having named her before her birth, we were surprised when we were blessed with a little red-headed lass just like her patron, St. Brigid of Kildaire.  I pray that she is blessed with the courage and love of Jesus that St. Brigid showed in ministering to the Irish people.