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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

APA Bishops on Marriage

See the Link for the Anglican Province of America's statement on Holy Matrimony-

Friday, August 28, 2015

St. Augustine of Hippo- 28 August

The Feast of St. Augustin of Hippo, Church Doctor, is a black-letter day or minor observance on the 1662 calendar, and it is also found on many other Christian calendars. His impact on the Latin or Western Church and on the whole Western intellectual tradition is hard to over-estimate. Even thinkers who have rebelled against his ideas have been influenced by him in many ways. Augustine (354-430) was born in North Africa, and spent most of his life there. He did, however, spend 5 very significant years (383-388) in Rome and Milan. In Milan, the Christian influence of St. Ambrose was added to the life-long witness of Augustine's mother, St. Monica. Augustine finally converted, and after his baptism, Augustine returned to North Africa where he led a monastic life. Soon he was ordained, and in 395 was consecrated bishop. He served faithfully in many ways for the rest of his life, and he died as his beloved city was besieged by the Vandals.

In his pastoral writings and in his refutations of Manicheans, Donatists, and Pelagians, Augustine laid the foundations for later Western theology and philosophy. His City of God developed a Christian philosophy of history, and his Confessions remain a fascinating spiritual autobiography. Medieval theology was heavily indebted to him, and although Thomas Aquinas developed a new theological approach, he was steeped in Augustinian thought. Despite their Pelagian tendencies, even Renaissance humanists drew much from him. Reformers such as Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer were also his followers on a number of issues. In fact, the Augsburg Confession and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion have been called deeply Augustinian, and traditional Books of Common Prayer are filled with structures, prayers, and phrases that reflect the Augustinian heritage of the Western Church.

Finally, I would add a personal appreciation. In my mid-teens, reading St. Augustine's Confessions was a key factor in giving me a thoughtful and deeply rooted Christianity in an environment that promoted two opposing options- emotional revivalism and skeptical scientism. In several periods since then, I have returned to the thought and devotion of this great teacher of the Church. His life and his thought embody the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and especially as we slide into a so-called post-Christian period with new barbarians at the gates, we can and should benefit from the witness of Augustine of Hippo.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Blessed Virgin Mary- 15 August

Commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 is an observance that historically has elicited a variety of reactions among Anglicans and other Christians. In 1950, the Papacy associated the feast with the official Roman Catholic doctrine of the Assumption. According to the official decree of Pope Pius XII,  Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". Although some Anglicans accept the Roman views, most have been hesitant to make a dogmatic statement. Many Anglicans have ignored the day altogether, some have observed it as a day marking the completion of her earthly life, and some have promoted the Eastern Orthodox view of her Falling Asleep.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer includes the Annunciation and Purification as feasts associated directly with our Lord and biblical passages. It also lists as black-letter days or minor observances the Marian observances of the Conception, Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, and the Birth of Mary. However, it does not include August 15, probably because of late medieval excesses. Several calendar revisions or supplements since 1662 do have some commemoration of the Virgin on August 15.

This day seems to be a case where the Anglican middle way and tolerance of diverse opinions is wise. Christians should always remember the blessed Virgin Mary with honor and gratitude. We should seek to emulate her submission to the divine plan and grace of redemption. This attitude is especially appropriate as we think of her departure from earthly life. We are also free to have our personal opinions and devotional practices on many topics, but we should not be dogmatic where Scripture is silent and Tradition is varied.