Monday, 28 July 2008

Some private thoughts

Perhaps, readers, you would indulge a little metaphysical wandering across the landscape of this Anglican author's mind. Here are but a few thoughts that have flitted across that little stage in the last day or so. I pray they may not be of too much harm in posting here for your review.

© Jennifer Garcia (Reverie)

Item 1: Bishopesses

Some known to me celebrate the fact that 18 of the 24 women 'bishops' in the Anglican Communion are in attendance at Lambeth, which led me to respond thusly:

"To be frank, it’s difficult to celebrate the ‘advancement’ of women in this context, when it is the cause of disunity within even our own Communion, is an innovation to Catholic faith and order, and, as such, a further barrier toward the full reconciliation of all Christian peoples to Christ and each other."

The recent actions of the CofE's General Synod are certainly disheartening, even to me across the waters in America. However, it's for different reasons, I think, than for those who are/will be more nearly affected.

Two things stand out, in particular. First, any sense that Anglo-Catholics in England are in a better place than here has been utterly shattered. Perhaps it was always an illusion of sorts, but I think not. By numbers and by policy, the English situation for Anglo-Catholics on the ground has been quite different from that in America. (More could be said on that, but I'm attempting to be spare in my comments here.) Secondly, that it took this long for the real crisis in orders that we've been living through here to become apparent throughout the communion. That rather than learning from our failings, England seems to be heading down a similarly dangerous path of enforced inclusion, and consequently, of the endangerment of her sacraments, much as ours have been for some time.

On the other hand, I do recognize it as a position of integrity (irony intended) for those in favor of the innovation to ensure that all accept it. Such a change in the order of the Church should necessarily receive full consent, which is precisely why none of it is to be endured until such time as the Church (East and West) is ready to move forward, should it ever be so inclined. Instead of martyring themselves to the cause, the innovators place themselves above the unity and witness of the Church, and by their actions cause those who maintain this Church has no faculty for such change to be martyred for it instead. What perversion!

All right, that's quite enough of that, I think. On to my second flit...

Item 2: An experimental life

My uncle forwarded me an article from Christianity Today about a group of evangelical congregationalists who took up a 30-day Leviticus challenge. Here again, my response:

After reading through the article, I am struck by the apparent, pervasive need by many to find projects or new ways to include historic ritual, particularly as an experiment.

Really, though, our life is no experiment. While the participants clearly seemed to have gained benefits from trying this out, putting it on for a while. Now that they're done, are they really changed?

It would seem much better, especially in light of historical Christian practice, to adopt a strict rule of life, based on traditional understandings of the place of prayer, service, and almsgiving in the Christian life. Having that rule, much like the Levitical rule, be the guide to one's life, creates a dynamic where it is equally apparent when we have failed to meet that mark. The Christian's rule, however, should be dynamic, worked out with a spiritual advisor to be challenging but realistic, according to one's circumstances, and updated with the changes in life. When one piece of it is easily attained, perhaps something more is added, or a deeper richness is found in some way. And the reverse can also be true. This consistency and stability, along with that of the Church and its sacraments (which, obviously, I would recommend availing oneself of without fail), provide the context to experience what these experimenters did, but on an ongoing basis. We all, in our quiet ways, should be finding where, when, and how, God's grace abounds in our failings, but even more that Christ's deep love, has no limit, no place or thing or action or inaction past which it cannot reach.

The person who commented that "the modern-day, post-Jesus equivalent" of the Levitical "sacrificial section" was Confession, got it part right. Confession only makes sense when it is placed side by side with the other sacraments. Baptism initiates us into the life of Christ. Communion nurtures us and makes us partakers in Christ's one, perfect and all sufficient sacrifice. Confession (or, more properly, Reconciliation) is the place where absolution is given penitents for their particular sins, freely confessed with a contrite heart and spirit, for the grievances we have committed against God, our fellow man, and ourselves.

You see, it's all of one piece, really. Or I think so anyway. ;) When one discards the wisdom of the ages without examining it, or understanding its place in Catholic faith and order, you're not far at all from the place where I see a lot of people. Yearning for something they don't know, and going from experiment to experiment. Living the Christian walk isn't something one can do successfully on a trial basis, flitting from one thing to the next. Rather, it is built on the solid rock of Christ, in steady discipleship, seeking always to live into and up to the fullness of life in Him to which we have been called, while we were yet sinners.

While you, dear reader, may not need much convincing of this, there are many who do. They deserve our prayers.

That's more than enough for today, I think, given my low profile here, lest my betters on this site choose to move it down the page too quickly.

© Daniel Tibi
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