Christ the King

Today we finish our liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the Universal King. So, what is it that we are celebrating today? To gain an understanding of Christ’s kingship we need to consider the Old Testament and see the its beginnings. We discover, that originally, there was to be no king and Samuel the prophet was against the request for one (read 1 Samuel 8). Samuel thought the appeal for one was an act of rebellion, as the God of Israel was their true king, who governed his flock through the Covenant with the guidance of the prophets. The rebellion was to reject this kind of leadership and become like the nations around them and have a king who would also lead them into battle.

To the Prophet Samuel’s surprise, after he had vigorously opposed the monarchy, God agrees to the people’s demands. The first choice was Saul, which was not a great success. It was in the second choice of David that God gives a new form to kingship. Yet, great as David was, he had some serious dark deeds to his record. He was a great sinner, yet he was also a serious penitent. David became a sort of benchmark of what a Messiah/Christ/King should be. In the sense, God writes clear and straight through the crooked lines of David’s sins (and our mistakes and failings as well). Israel had a king, but only in the understanding that the true and eternal king is always God. Indeed, the coronation service for the kings was a kind of adoption by God of the prince as His Anointed King/Messiah.

Now in Jesus, the son of a carpenter, we see the two ideas coming together. We do indeed have a royal descendant of David (a royal family that had hit hard times and reduced to insignificance), yet through his appalling death and victorious resurrection, he is manifested as God in our humanity. The word for this is ‘consubstantial’ – sharing the same substance as us. So, Christ is at one with his Father and at the same time one with us. That is a kind of bridge. The Latin word for a priest is a bridge maker (pontifex in the Latin)”. Our bridge, Jesus Christ, is our King, Lord, Eternal High Priest, Mediator and Saviour – and that is a great job description.

The Benefits of the Traditional Worship and Language of the Mass.

As a priest, that has for decades used the modern form of the Mass, I wish to state what are the benefits of the traditional form we use at Morningside

  1. A clearer statement that the Mass is the sacred gift and work of Christ, and of Him being our Lord, Eternal High Priest, and Mediator.
  2. The traditional form of the Mass provides, for many, a secure bridge between corporate worship and provides space for personal adoration, prayer and contemplation.
  3. The prayers of the traditional Mass give a clear and eloquent communication of the doctrines of the Christian faith.
  4. The traditional form of the Mass unmistakeably focuses on the worship of God as the priority, and not on the activities of the local community. The worship of Mass makes the community – not the other round.
  5. The long-established form of the Mass is a continuity and a living connection to the Christian liturgy from its earliest days.
  6. The celebration of the traditional Mass requires and assumes an environment of beauty and adornment, that is an icon and vision of the truth of the worship of the Heavenly Jerusalem, it is to be a source of our joy. The Mass is the connection to our true homeland.
  7. Last of all, the traditional mass and its language is a link to the culture of the Church – its music and architecture, which also forms a living connection to our English-Australian language and culture.

*For The Mutterings on The Warden’s Wands see the Page dedicated to this: The Why? About the Wardens’ Wands

Life with the Living God

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Pastor of the Lutheran Church and also a vehement critic of Hitler and Nazism – and that would eventually cause his arrest and death. From prison, he wrote that a Christian must live today as if there were no God. Each person must assume responsibility for the course of their life. Regardless of how radical and brave Bonhoeffer was, the Christian tradition of spirituality suggests the exact opposite of what he proposes – we should act as if God really exists and Christ is true, even if at times he seems absent. In fact, for those whose faith is dim or weak this is the advice that is given and it is called an Act of Faith. One of the great spiritual giants, Saint Teresa of Avila, had decades of not feeling any sense of the presence of God, and yet she lived her life to the reality of revealed truth. She continued to hold onto the revelation Christ given to the whole Church, for she realised that that our personal feelings could betray us. Just because ‘I’ feel Christ is absent does not mean he is. Of course, the thing that Teresa understood is that Christ himself entered into that dark place of nothingness, “My God my God, why have you abandoned me” – which oddly is a prayer addressed to God who had gone missing!

So each of us, regardless of how the world affects us or events and circumstances and our health get us down, we should strive as being subjects to the love that awaits us, and in the knowledge that this love, loves even us. Again, we may not feel it, but we van live in that certainty of truth known and experienced by millions. So in this process we are shaping our hearts and soul. We entrust ourselves to this difficult yet inescapable ‘if there were a God’, in which we will become ever more aware that this statement “if” is the only reality for here and now and into eternity. We will know profoundly and lastingly why Christianity is still necessary today as the genuine good news by which we are redeemed. For God is certainly by our side and with us – even if from time to time we do not feel it or doubt it.

The Communion of Saints

Most of us are familiar with the Apostles Creed that is used during Eastertide, at Baptisms, and also Morning and Evening Prayer on Sundays. The longest clause is about our Lord from his conception to the Resurrection and the expected return at the end of time. By contrast, the in the third clause about the Holy Spirit and the Church is very brief: ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting’. However, these statements are actually all one as they are a development about the activity of the Holy Spirit within the Church. As our Lord has taught us, the Holy Spirit is the one who abides with the People of God and leads into all truth about our Saviour. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that we make effective today the words of Christ in Baptism, the Mass and the forgiveness of sins. However, the phrase about the Communion of Saints was not in the first edition of the Apostles Creed and it read, ‘I believe …of the Holy Ones’, which was actually a reference to the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist. It is mentioned because the Church throughout the world is made one by this feast of unity. The Church is not defined by its administrative structures – its office holders and synods – but by its worship of God, gathered by Christ and with the Holy Spirit. This is the concept that was developed into the Communion of Saints. For it is by the assembly around the altar that the community is created and made holy. This community is not just here and now but embraces all the faithful who have ever lived – and this community extends beyond the boundary of death – the very reason we commemorate them – ‘so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another’ (Romans 11. 36ff). So what about those we call the Holy Ones today? Well, they are still members of the same community we belong to, but their witness to us is that the promises and gifts of Christ are effective to change human beings into his Image and Likeness, ‘So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:7), ‘And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5.17). All of this indicates we are on a journey to the fullness of life, which we can see is true in the lives of all the Saints.

Praying for Faithful Departed

All Soul’s Day is close, the mutterings are about praying for the dead.

When we come to church for the Mass or Rosary we pray for the departed as a normal part of worship. However, that was not always the case. The reason goes back to the Reformation when the Church of England rejected praying for the dead, but the reasons were sound and reasonable, as the practice had become corrupt. The Church of the 14th & 16th Century starting to charge for the prayers to raise money. Pope Julius II (1503 to 1513), raised huge amounts of money to build St Peter’s in Rome by selling indulgences. For your donation, you obtained a certificate that pardoned the sins of your departed family. It raised money, but it was selling God’s free grace, which is outrageous. Luther protested this practice, hence the term, protestant was launched. The ban on praying for the dead and funerals became grim affairs that gave no comfort to those who mourned. Our first Prayer Books had a reasonable funeral service, but it was not widely used, and after the time of Oliver Cromwell, hardly at all. This was a case of throwing baby out with the bath water. Along with this was a teaching that salvation and damnation had already been decided by God – so need for prayer!

As usual, banning something causes problems and it caused personal problems for those who had no avenue to express grief and love by prayer. So, other avenues are also sought and by the end of the 17th Century it was common to consult occult means of contacting the dead and the rise of spiritualism in the 19th Century.

The Crimean War (1853-56), with 21,000 casualties started to change things as the Church had no means to deal with a nationwide grief. This was when crucifixes came back into the churches; the image of the God who died our death. In 1873 the Guild of All Souls was founded. Their goals were, to change barbaric funerals! They promoted proper and dignified funerals, to educate and promote the Church’s teaching regarding the departed, and intercessory prayer for them and the dying. The Guild was successful, as their goals have now become a normal part of Anglican parish life.

The understanding of these tasks was based on the life and teaching of Christ. We see this is in our Lord’s compassion to the Widow of Nain and his teaching at the raising of Lazarus. Our understanding of Christ is that all life is in his hands, yet it is through our prayerful cooperation with his will, and our desire for healing, wholeness and forgiveness for others, especially the departed, that accomplishes it.

The Shape & Order of the Mass III

This is the third and last muttering about this subject. The object was to explain how the Mass has developed over the Christian centuries and how that effects our worship today, and our new worship book. Nothing of the prayers is being omitted but reordered into a more logical sequence. From the beginning of the Mass up to Creed remains the same. If you note in both columns Offertory you can see the reorderng, which now conforms more to the Early Church, the Anglican 1549 Prayer Book, and the changes in modern worship since 1970 in the Anglican Roman Catholic traditions.

English Missal 1958 Divine Worship Missal 2015
Creed Creed
Offertory Intercessions
Intercessions Confession and Absolution
Confession and Absolution Comfortable words
Prayer of Humble Access Offertory
Intercessions
From hereon the mass remains the same in both Missals until
Lord’s Prayer Lord’s Prayer
Breaking of the Bread Breaking of the Bread
Agnus Dei – Lamb of God Agnus Dei – Lamb of God
Invitation to Communion Prayer of Humble Access
Invitation to Communion

Apart from a return to the Church’s original order of the mass, it is also the order adopted for the reforms of modern worship since 1970. Anglicans who do not know our style and language or worship, will at least understand the order of Mass and be able to participate with us.

The Shape & Order of the Mass II

Last week I wrote about how the shape of the Mass evolved from the time of the Apostles up to AD 600.From that time that shape continued up to around 1540. This was when the liturgy was translated into English.

In 1549, the first Anglican Archbishop Canterbury published the first Book of Common Prayer. He basically translated the Catholic Missal that was in use at that time. It was an achievement to translate the Latin into a beautiful form of English. He also introduced some new features: The Confession, the Prayer of Humble access (We do not presume…), and n expanded form of intercessions. He did these additions because there was no form of confession in the Mass, as everyone was supposed to go to private confession first. People would go to mass, but rarely to take Holy Communion. Cranmer wanted to change that, so a general confession, which we still use, was added. In addition, the Prayer of Humble Access was to encourage the receiving of receiving Holy Communion. The Latin Missal the intercessions had become minimal. Cranmer developed two editions of the Prayer of the Church, and we use the second edition today. Cranmer’s problem was where to put these new elements. His first attempt was to have the Confession and the Prayer of Humble Access just before receiving Communion. However, he shifted it in his next Prayer Book, but this has never worked very well. He was also not sure where to have the intercessions and he placed it where it is today, after receiving the bread and wine and preparing the altar – but this was a mistake, as the Early Church had it after the Sermon and Creed – but he may not have been aware of this.

In the many subsequent editions of the Prayer Book there have been attempts to adjust this. By 1970 there was a consensus of how this should be done. The editions English Missal that we use has been a part of this process in its use of 1549 Prayer Book. Now there is a new edition, called the Divine Worship Missal, which has adopted these new arrangements. I have presented in detail to the Parish Council the history of our Prayer Book and the reasons to adapt this new edition of the Missal, which they have agreed to. All the prayers we now use are still there but in a better order of sequence.

One of the advantages of these changes is that we have a service that is in the same sequence and order of Communion that is used by Anglican parishes that use the modern services. In future, when we have a visitor from another parish, they may not know the traditional prayers and the language we use, but they will understand what is happening because of the same sequence and order that they know. I experienced this confusion on two occasions. First, with newly ordained priests, whom I was teaching how to say Mass. They attended our Thursday Mass first, but as far as they were concerned they could have been on another planet. Most Anglicans under the age of 50 have never heard the Book of Common Prayer, nor is it explained as the theological college!! The other occasion was some visitors from Wynnum. They enjoyed being with us but queried about the order, which confused them. In adopting the Divine Worship Missal we will overcome this problem whilst enriching our own understanding of the mass and lose nothing of our heritage and tradition.

Note on the Dedication of the Month:

October and the Holy Rosary. This may seem like an odd dedication. However, it is linked to an important event in European history; the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Empire of Ottoman Turks had amassed a huge naval fleet at Lepanto off the coast of western Greece. It was to take Rome, with St Peter’s becoming a mosque, after all they did that in Constantinople, and converted the world’s biggest cathedral into a mosque. This fleet was to open a new front in the Turkish takeover of Western Europe. However, the Bishop of Rome managed to put together a fleet of Venetians, Spanish, and six other kingdoms and republics and decisively defeated and sank the Turkish fleet and saved Western Europe. The Bishop of Rome had asked everyone to pray for the victory, which most people did with a rosary. October 7 became known as our Lady of Victories and later, the feast of the Holy Rosary. England and other northern European countries did not join the alliance, yet these countries were equally saved.

The Shape & Order of the Mass 1

This is the first of two mutterings to help introduce some minor adjustments to our order of service. There is no change in traditional liturgical English or in the prayers we use – only in the sequence and order of the service.

St Luke, in the Book of Acts, describes how the Early Church gathered for prayer: first in the Temple for a synagogue service and then at home for the ‘Breaking of Bread’, as the Mass was first called. The two forms of service were shaped like this:

Synagogue Service                                        Christian ‘Breaking of Bread’

  1. Opening Blessing                                1. Greeting of Peace
  2. Psalm of praise                                    2. Psalm of praise
  3. Opening Prayer                                   3. Bread and Wine Prepared
  4. One to three Bible readings.              4. Prayer of Consecration
  5. Sermon                                                5. Lord’s Prayer
  6. Intercessions                                       6. Breaking of the Bread
  7. Psalm of praise                                    7. Communion
  8. Final Blessing                                      8.Final prayer and Blessing

This arrangement continued for about 35 years until the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple. The Jewish leadership that was left blamed the Christians for this disaster and excommunicated them from the Synagogue.

From that time, the Church combined these two services as one in their meeting places. So, at this early stage we begin to see the shape and order of the Mass

1 Psalms of praise (Introit)                           7. Greeting of Peace
2.Opening Greeting                                      8. Psalms of Praise
3. Collect                                                        9. Offertory
4. Reading of Scripture                                10. Consecration
5 Sermon                                                       11. Lord’s Prayer
6. Intercessions                                             12. Communion
…………………………….                                    13. Final Prayer and Blessing

Gradually, other items were added as they became available; Glory be to God on High, Gospels, Creed, Agnus Dei, so by the time of Pope Gregory the Great (AD 540-604) and Saint Benedict, we have the final shape and order of the Mass, which continued up to the time of the English Reformation, with some items like the intercessions that were dropped. Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 produced the first Book of Common Prayer, which followed this order, but he shifted some items around and added some extra ones – more of that is for next week. However, from around the late 19th Century scholars came to understand this original order. When the reform and changes of the new prayer books in the Anglican Church began in the 1970s, it became the aim to restore the original shape and order of the Mass. The difficulty is a division in our liturgical tradition, with the Order of the Book of Common Prayer on one hand, and the new services in An Australian Prayer Book and then A Prayer Book for Australia. The problems is, that most Anglicans under fifty years of age have no working knowledge of the Book of Common Prayer and the English Missal. We need to address this problem, but not at the expense of losing our heritage and tradition.

Our Lady of Walsingham

Today, the 24th September, apart from being 15th Sunday after Trinity, is also the Festival of our Lady of Walsingham. My interest in this place is because I have visited the Shrine at Walsingham for three times. When I first went in 1974 I was sceptical, but curious about the place. I got hold of a guidebook and started to visit the various chapel, by the time I got to the third chapel I was kneeling and praying – the whole place was permeated with the prayers of millions who had come before me. It was the same on subsequent visits. I naturally became a Priest Associate of the Holy House of Walsingham, and to my surprise I found out that it was largest association of Anglican priests in the world. On my last visit, I spent a whole week there, soaking in the atmosphere of prayer, rest and renewal through the daily masses, Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary after daily Evening Prayer, offering up requests for prayer from around the world.

Every Thursday there is Prayer for Healing and Wholeness. You can have the Laying on of Hands and then, if you wish, the Sacrament of Anointing at the High Altar for Anointing. In the many side chapels people were making their confession. There were so many that I was asked to hear confessions. I was in the chapel until 10pm! What amazed me was that most were making their first confession and they were unloading failings that had weighed upon the hearts. The sense of presence of our Lady and the atmosphere of prayer moved them to unburden their souls and become free.

The first shrine was established in 1061 but was destroyed by Henry VIII. He was odd, for he had visited the Shrine in prayer and pilgrimage in the same year he destroyed it. All that was left was the parish church. Eighty year ago, a new vicar was appointed; Fr Hope Patten. He restored the devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham in the parish church and later, through generous benefactors built a new shrine on a separate site. Over the years, the Shrine has had a growing impact in the Anglican Church, first in England and then around the Anglican world. Walsingham is now is the most visited religious place in England, as people from around the world make their pilgrimage there. It has also become a source of encouragement for many Anglican churches of the Catholic tradition throughout the world.

And Now the Plebiscite

What I am writing about in this issue are my own opinions and are not some part of an official Church announcement. I have previously muttered about this a few weeks ago, under the title, The Love and Worship of God and the Big Decisions of our Day.

My problem is the way the ‘yes’ party and the government are presenting the issue as a simple choice over the equality of marriage for same sex couples. What is being avoided are the consequences for civil and religious rights. Father Frank Brennan, a Master in Law, has explained the issue clearly in 17 August edition of the Guardian, which can be read online. He is actually in favour of same sex marriage, but he is deeply concerned about the consequences for religious and civil freedoms. He points out that in international law religious freedom is an absolute, first class priority, but in Australia it is a second-class right that can be ignored. Instead of protecting religious rights in constitutional law, we find only special exemptions granted in new legislation. That will now become shakier as exemptions can always be withdrawn.

Our country, and many others, have had a cruel and deplorable history in dealing with homosexuality. Now their civil rights are fully protected and they have a proper standing in law. There have been many pieces of legislation that have put this into practice. However, the marriage equality legislation has a potential to affect the religious and civil rights of others. This has been a fact in countries where marriage equality has now been legislated into law.

The government and all party leaders are not being candid or sincere about pretending that this is a just simply and yes or no choice with no consequences. This is not good enough. Unfortunately, this pretending by politicians that everything will OK and you can trust us, when they know from other countries that this has not been the case. Sincerity is about giving solid assurances, and explaining the appropriate legislation that protect rights before the question is put. I think the wooden spoon needs to go to Christopher Pyne, who said on Friday morning on TV, that the yes and no vote should be like two footy teams barracking for their side. In football, a team must lose of course, but that does not mean that the next day civil society changes and religious and civil rights are endangered.