Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prayers for Expectant Mothers and Unborn Children

This week, we remember the anniversary of the broad US judicial legalization of abortion and think of the millions of murders that have resulted. Let us pray for expectant mothers, children in the womb, their families and other victims and potential victims. Let us also pray for societies and nations under divine judgment for abortion and other immoral policies.

For some  prayers on this theme, see the Anglican Priests for Life

For another prayer, see

Friday, January 18, 2013

Second Sunday after Epiphany

The 1928 American Book of Common Prayer departs from the English BCP tradition on this Sunday. It inserts a Gospel on the Baptism of our Lord (St. Mark 1:1-11). This Gospel refers to an original  theme of Epiphany when the observance first arose in the Eastern Churches. Christ's Baptism is a basic manifestation of His nature and mission.

For more on this Sunday, see the following post

Christian Unity

The octave from January 18 through January 25 is often called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Certainly, one would hope to see greater unity among orthodox Christian believers. In a world increasingly populated by non-believers and secularists (many of whom are nominal Christians), greater spiritual unity among true believers would strengthen the Christian witness.

For more on this topic, see my post from two years ago-

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Sunday after Epiphany

In the English Prayer Book tradition, the Gospel for Epiphany I has been the continuation of St. Luke's infancy account (2:41-52).  In a sense, this is a traditional Anglican celebration of the Holy Family. So as we re-read the story of the twelve-year old Jesus at the temple, let us reflect on the implications of the Incarnation for family life. Family is a sacred part of the created order, but furthermore, it is blessed in a special way because the Son of God incarnate accepted growth in a human family. Although He was about His heavenly Father's business, He and Mary and Joseph sanctified the normal roles of family life. In our age when family life faces so many challenges in society, may we keep this holy family in mind and strive to apply its holy and loving example to our own situations.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Archbishop William Laud- 10 January

On some Anglican calendars, 10 January is marked for the commemoration of Archbishop William Laud who was beheaded by the Puritan Parliament on 10 January 1645. In reading about his life, one notes the similarity of the historical accounts and the diversity of evaluations. Most writers agree that he was a talented man in many ways, and that he rose in the church through a combination of ability and royal favor. Among his greatest accomplishments were efforts at improving university education. He also supported a Scottish liturgy which was to influence later Scottish, American and other prayer books.

During his time, the polarization was such that neither Puritans nor Roman Catholics quite knew what to make of his views. Despite Puritan accusations that Laud was papist, his theology was clearly Anglican. His opinions in A relation of the conference between William Laud, late lord archbishop of Canterbury and Mr. Fisher the Jesuit show him as "reformed catholic." Certainly, Laud was "high church" in his emphasis upon the episcopacy and on the grace offered in Baptism and the Eucharist. On the other hand, he rejected many  Roman Catholic claims from the Middle Ages and Trent. He was also fairly tolerant of moderate reformers on the continent. Thus, if one looks at his views carefully, it seems that Archbishop Laud was a dedicated proponent of the via media of the English Church. He looked to the ancient catholic faith as received through the English Church while rejecting the extremes of the Roman Church and various Protestant groups.

Most accounts agree that Laud died well. In his own mind, he probably saw himself as a martyr; certainly part of the opposition to him was Puritan rejection of his theology of the Church. Yet, at least part of the Puritan opposition to him was based as much on politics, policies and personality as on his doctrine per se. In other words, there was a degree of religious martyrdom, but politics and personality were also contributing factors.

In conclusion, Laud was neither a typical Protestant nor a closet papist. He was an unfortunate Churchman caught up in tumultuous times and suffering from certain character flaws. He had great talents which he might have used more diplomatically to advance Anglicanism. He was not an ideal martyr, but to his credit, he did remain loyal to his theological principles and face his fate with courage. Those who value the liturgy and Anglican sacramental thought that he influenced should be thankful for his contribution to the Anglican heritage.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Epiphany- 6 January

The Feast of Epiphany on 6 January is the third oldest Christian observance after Good Friday-Easter and Pentecost.  The word means "manifestation," and the feast and its season remind us of the various ways that God manifested Himself in Jesus Christ. In the Eastern Churches, where the feast originated in the third century, the emphasis has remained on the manifestation at Christ's Baptism. Since the fourth century in the Western Churches (including the Anglican tradition), the emphasis has been on the manifestation of the Christ Child to the Magi or Wise Men, but the Baptism theme has also survived during the season (see Epiphany II in the 1928 BCP).

Although Christmastide is drawing to a close, let us continue to focus on the manifestation of the incarnate Word in Christ. The light of God has shone in Jesus the Christ, and we still seek that light. We also seek to let His light shine in our lives.