Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Place for Corpus Christi in the Anglican Church.

Anglican Corpus Christ, Time Square, New York City.
Since the Reformation, and particularly since the genesis of Cranmer's Thirty-Nine Articles, the feast of Corpus et Sanguine Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, has had an awkward position in the Anglican Church.  Article XXV 'Of the Sacrament' says "The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or carried about, but that we should duly use them" -a strict rejection of the Corpus Christi Liturgy. I agree that the Sacrament should not be 'carried about' and 'gazed upon' only to be left unused. The Blessed Sacrament and its feast day should not be directly associated with the doctrinal abuses of medieval popes and prelates. The original purpose for Corpus Christi was to be a celebration of the Christ's sacrifice and the Church's eternal communication with that sacrifice. If the Church's duty is to bring all the people it can into an understanding communion with Christ then Corpus Christi, following the Easter and Pentecost seasons should be celebrated as the Church's offering to the world the Eucharist. If the Church's duty is to bring all the people it can into an understanding communion with Christ then Corpus Christ, following the Easter and Pentecost seasons should be celebrated as the Church's offering to the world the Eucharist.

The Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted only in 1246 for the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Among the reasons for its establishment were growing popular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament (many urban areas had dozens of lay-societies or 'confraternities' dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament -Liege had over forty) and thus the desire of many to have a festival allocated for it, and conflicts over the nature of the sacrament. At the time the feast was established, Pope Urban IV asked St. Thomas Aquinas to write the liturgy for the feast and to explain the nature of the sacrament. (It is from St. Thomas Aquinas that we get the hymns 'O Salutaris Hostia' (O Saving Victim), 'Pangue Lingua' (Sing my Tongue), Tantum Ergo, and several others.) Corpus Christi remains the Church's holiday to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. A celebration of the Sacrament was meant to reflect a celebration of the our salvation by Christ's flesh and blood given up on the cross. As I said in a previous post, on Anglican Eucharistic Theology, I think that the early Christian belief of the nature of the Sacrament, that it is the body of Christ both in essence and efficacy to those who believe it is just that, complies in high and low-church. The Anglican Church does in fact, through its worship in the Book of Common Prayer, make plain its belief in Christ's presence in the Eucharist -this is furthur investigated in Bruce Ford's essay "How the Episcopal Church Teaches the Catholic Faith." Whatever a parish believes about the nature of the Blessed Sacrament, however, the feast is appropriate in both high and low-Church traditions because it is the Church's thanksgiving for its continuing communion with Christ and its worship -and the Eucharist remains the principal liturgy of the Anglican Church whatever its orientation. This is the traditional reason for the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ, but I believe that with today's position of Christianity there is yet another reason.

Another case for keeping the feast of Corpus Christi is its proximity to the Pentecost and the liturgy's inclusion of an outdoor procession. It is very rare to find societies that are wholly Christian today -much less Christians of the orthodox faith. Corpus Christi can be celebrated then both as the Church's celebration of the Eucharist and 'Pentecost in action' by bringing the Eucharist out of the church and into the world to proclaim the risen Christ. As part of the Church's duty is to bring people into it, Corpus Christi as a sharing of Christ via the Eucharist is appropriate in the season after Pentecost when the Church celebrated its foundation and the beginning of its spread all over the world. The Corpus Christ Liturgy does not have to be an outdoor procession in the traditional sense, it can be any way of bringing the Eucharist to the masses. A procession of the sacrament or even celebrating the Eucharist outdoors in a public area would cover both aspects of the feast: a thanksgiving for the institution of the Eucharist and the revelation of the risen Christ to the world.

O God, Who under this wondrous Sacrament hast left us a memorial of Thy Passion, grant us, we beseech Thee, so to reverence the mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, that in ourselves we may ever sensibly have fruition of the redemption which Thou has wrought. Who with thine only Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Collect for Corpus Christi from the Sarum Missal.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Veneration of the Cross and the Liturgy of the Easter Sepulchre: Triduum Liturgies in Medieval England.

All Saints, Hawton, Easter Sepulcher. 
The Liturgy of Good Friday is an ancient one. As I mentioned in a post on St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the liturgy of the Veneration of the Cross has its origins in the rites created and performed at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in the 4th century -when Cyril was Bishop there. In Jerusalem, the actual planks from the true cross were kept in Constantine's basilica and in a rite recorded by a 4th century Spanish nun, Egeria, displayed for veneration by pilgrims.

"Then a chair is placed for the bishop in Golgotha behind the Cross, which is now standing; the bishop duly takes his seat in the chair, and a table covered with a linen cloth is placed before him; the deacons stand round the table, and a silver-gilt casket is brought in which is the holy wood of the Cross. The casket is opened and (the wood) is taken out, and both the wood of the Cross and the title are placed upon the table. Now, when it has been put upon the table, the bishop, as he sits, holds the extremities of the sacred wood firmly in his hands, while the deacons who stand around guard it. It is guarded thus because the custom is that the people, both faithful and catechumens, come one by one and, bowing down at the table, kiss the sacred wood and pass through. And because, I know not when, some one is said to have bitten off and stolen a portion of the sacred wood, it is thus guarded by the deacons who stand around, lest any one approaching should venture to do so again."

The liturgy made its way into several regional rites including the Sarum and Durham rites in England, where it became part of the larger and more genuinely English 'Liturgy of the Easter Sepulcher.' In English Cathedrals and parish churches, the Easter Sepulchre served as the Easter Garden or Altar of Repose, which are more common today. The rite for the Easter Sepulchre, however, stretched through each day of Triduum. This way, all parts of the Triduum liturgies focused on the Resurrection. After all, we don't venerate the cross because by it Christ was killed, but because "by the Cross, joy hath come into the whole world."  We venerate the cross for Christ's resurrection, as the instrument which brought about our Salvation. This is part of the rite for the veneration in the Sarum Missal.

Priest: Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the savior of the world. O Come let us adore.
Choir: We adore Thy Cross, Or Lord, and we praise and glorify Thy holy Resurrection, for by the Cross, joy hath come into the world. 

     After the Veneration of the Cross, or Creeping to the Cross as it was called in England, the crucifix was taken in procession with the reserved sacrament from Maundy Thursday to a stone structure on the north side of the chancel that bore resemblance to either the sedelia or a wall-tomb. Both the crucifix and the sacrament were then placed in a carved wooden or gilded box similar to a reliquary which rested like a chest or feretory on the stone slab (like an altar) of the sepulchre much like a saint's reliquary rests on the stone of a table-shrine (like the shrine of St. Frideswide pictured in the blog cover). The sepulchres often feature the soldiers sleeping round the tomb, the women visiting and the angels. Some even have a special compartment for the Sacrament which resembles the carved tomb. 
St. Peter's East Harling. The chest sat like a reliquary on the slab. 
The author of the "Rites of Durham" recorded the performance of the Liturgy of the Easter Sepulchre at Durham Cathedral which, because of the local importance of St. Cuthbert, interestingly included an image of Christ with St. Cuthbert.

Sepulcher with soldiers, Lincoln Cathedral. 
"Within the Abbye Church of Durham uppon good friday theire was marvelous solemne service, in the which service time after the passion was sung two of the eldest monkes did take a goodly large crucifix all of gold of the picture of our saviour Christ nailed uppon the crosse lyinge uppon a velvett cushion, havinge St Cuthberts armes uppon it all imbroydered with gold bringinge that betwixt them uppon the said cushion to the lowest stepps in the quire, and there betwixt them did hold the said picture of our saviour sittinge of every side on ther knees of that , and then one of the said monkes did rise and went a prettye way from it sittinge downe uppon his knees with his shoes put of[f] verye reverently did creepe away uppon his knees unto the said crosse and most reverently did kisse it, and after him the other monkes did so likewise , and then they did sitt them downe on eyther side of the said crosse and holdinge it betwixt them, and after that the prior came forth of his stall, and did sitt him downe of his knees with his shooes of[f] and in like sort did creepe also unto the said crosse and all the monkes after him one after an nother, in the same order, and, in the meane time all the whole quire singinge an Himne, the service beinge ended the two monkes did carrye it to the sepulchre with great reverence, which sepulchre was sett upp in the morninge on the north side of the quire nigh to the high altar before the service time and there did lay it within the said sepulchre, with great devotion with another picture of our saviour Christ, in whose breast they did enclose with great reverence the most holy and blessed sacrament of the altar senceinge and prayinge unto it uppon theire knees a great space settinge two taper lighted before it, which tapers did burne unto Easter day in the morninge that it was taken forth."

The precise liturgy, though different than the one at Durham, is also found in the Sarum Missal. At Salisbury, after Communion from the reserved Sacrament, the celebrant and a deacon removed their vestments and their shoes and approached the Sepulchre, placing the wooded crucifix (often described as a cross or image of the Christ on the cross) and the pyx with the Sacrament inside the chest in the Easter Sepulchre.
The priest began:

P. I am counted as one of them that go down into the pit: I have been even as a man that hath no strenght, free among the dead.
V. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of Darkness and in the Deep. There have I been. 

The Sepulcher door was then shut and the service ended with no dismissal as it is still done.

The Liturgy of the Easter Sepulchre continued on Easter Day as the first part of the ceremonies. At Sarum the procession went first to the Sepulchre and "after censing it with great veneration" removed the pyx and the cross and after proclaiming "Christ being raised" began the great Alleluia and took the Sacrament to the high altar for adoration.

The 'Rites of Durham' also contains a record of this ceremony:

Coity, Glamorgan, Wales. The chest
with symbols of the passion. 
"There was in the abbye church of duresme [Durham] verye solemne service uppon easter day betweene 3 and 4 of the clocke in the morninge in honour of the resurrection where 2 of the oldest monkes of the quire came to the sepulchre, being sett upp upon good friday after the passion all covered with redd velvett and embrodered with gold, and then did sence it either monke with a paire of silver sencors sittinge on theire knees before the sepulchre, then they both risinge came to the sepulchre, out of the which with great reverence they tooke a marvelous beautiful Image of our saviour representinge the resurrection with a crosse in his hand in the breast wheof was enclosed in bright Christall the holy sacrament of the altar, throughe the which christall the blessed host was conspicuous, to the behoulders, then after the elevation of the said picture carryed by the said 2 monkes uppon a faire velvett cushion all embrodered singinge the anthem of christus resurgens they brought to the high altar settinge that on the midst therof whereon it stood the two monkes kneelinge on theire knees before the altar, and senceing it all the time that the rest of the whole quire was in singinge the foresaid anthem of Xpus resrugens, the which anthem being ended the 2 monkes tooke up the cushines and the picture from the altar supportinge it betwixt them, proceeding in procession from the high altar to the south quire dore where there was 4 antient gentlemen belonginge to the prior appointed to attend theire cominge holdinge upp a most rich cannopye of purple velvett tached round about with redd silke, and gold fringe, and at everye corner did stand one of theise ancient gentlemen to beare it over the said Image, with the holy sacrament carried by two monkes round about the church the whole quire waitinge uppon it with goodly torches and great store of other lights, all singinge rejoyceinge and praising god most devoutly till they came to the high altar againe, wheron they did place the said Image there to remaine untill the assencion day."
St. Andrew Heckington sepulcher with the 
soldiers, women and angels.

The Veneration of the Cross and the Liturgy of the Easter Sepulcher, though rarely used, both bear relevance to the Triduum experience for the Church today. These are not merely medieval filler, added to lengthen the ceremonies or embellish the celebration, but are a liturgical reenactment of the death and Resurrection of Christ, the foundations of our Christian faith. Just as these acts in the life of Christ complete the foundation of our faith, their reenactment remains the core of our Triduum liturgies. These rites allow each of us to engage in the acts of crucifixion and Resurrection that happened two thousand years ago. Physically and emotionally we experience the sadness and rejection of sin and death leading to the cross and the unmatchable joy in the resurrection, Christ's victory over death on the cross, and in the comfort that Christ, God made human, has lived, died, lived again and stayed with us so that we two may really live.

Collect (From the Episcopal Church, BCP, Easter):
O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Liturgy of Palm Sunday, Palm Branches as Symbols of Victory and the 'Calvaries' of Brittany.

Palm Sunday as represented by Giotto in the Arena Chapel, Padua.
The celebration of Palm Sunday as we know it dates back to 4th century Jerusalem and remains party of the liturgy in almost all Christian Churches around the world. It is an odd Sunday to celebrate: a Sunday, as one Episcopal Priest lately put it "a Sunday filled with confusing emotions because we have this ominous feeling of what is coming." Christ knew what would happen to him when he came to Jerusalem; it was part of his Sacrifice. Jesus' self -Sacrifice did not start when Judas betrayed him to the priests, but when he rode into Jerusalem on the Donkey.
     Christians in Jerusalem before the Edict of Milan (A.D. 315) would not have been able to worship to openly but once Christians were free to worship, a Palm Sunday procession into the gates of Jerusalem, just as Good Friday and Easter were celebrated at Constantine's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, probably started very soon after. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop there from 349 to 386, is thought to be the writer of these liturgies which also include a foot-washing for Maundy Thursday and the Veneration of the Cross -where a piece of the True Cross was actually venerated.Because of the thousands of pilgrims who were now coming to Jerusalem we are lucky to have a picture of the Holy Week Liturgy there in the 4th century. The account by the Spanish nun, Egeria, on her pilgrimage tells of Cyril's celebration which started on the Mount of Olives and proceeds to the Gates while the people shout "Hosanna in the Highest!"

"Procession with Palms on the Mount of Olives. Accordingly at the seventh hour all the peoplego up to the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, and the bishop with them, to the church, where hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said, and lessons in like manner. And when the ninth hour approaches they go up with hymns to the Imbomon, that is, to the place whence the Lord ascended into heaven, and there they sit down, for all the people are always bidden to sit when the bishop is present; the deacons alone always stand. Hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said, interspersed with lections and prayers. And as the eleventh hour approaches, the passage from the Gospel is read, where the children, carrying branches and palms, met the Lord, saying; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, and the bishop immediately rises, and all the people with him, and they all go on foot from the top of the Mount of Olives, all the people going before him with hymns and antiphons, answering one to another: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. And all the children in the neighbourhood, even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives,2 and thus the bishop is escorted in the same manner as the Lord was of old. For all, even those of rank, both matrons and men, accompany the bishop all the way on foot in this manner, making theseresponses, from the top of the mount to the city, and thence through the whole city to the Anastasis, going very slowly lest the poeple should be wearied; and thus they arrive at the Anastasis at a late hour. And on arriving, although it is late, lucernare takes place, with prayer at the Cross; after which the people are dismissed."

The Palm Sunday Procession seems to have spread quickly as pilgrims who had visited Jerusalem returned home to institute these liturgies in their own Holy-Week rites. The Palm Sunday Procession was incorporated into the Mozarabic Rite of Spain in the 5th century, around the time that Egeria visited the Holy Land, and into the Gallican Rite by the 7th century. And by the 8th century, Palm-Sunday seems to have been a common practice among the Franks in Northern Italy, where it was recorded to be an integral part of the liturgy in the famous Abbey of Bobbio. The well-known hymn: "All Glory, Laud and Honor," was actually a chant written by the 9th century bishop, Theodulf of Orleans:

Great Lenten Veil at Millstatt Abbey
Austria, concealing the high altar. 
Because St. Aldhelm, the 8th century bishop of Sherborne (now Salisbury), used it in his own Celtic-Saxon rite, Palm Sunday was part of the Sarum Rite long before it was used in Rome which happened in about the 12th century. At Salisbury Cathedral, home of the Sarum Rite, the Palm Sunday Procession was the most elaborate of all the processions of the Church year. Across Europe, Jesus was often represented by a wooden carving of he and the donkey which could be pulled through the crowd on wheels. In Salisbury, a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament was also carried in the procession. Also at Salisbury, the Great Lenten Veil was erected between the high altar and the quire to deny the congregation a view of the Elevation of the Host, the climax of the Medieval Liturgy. During the reading of the Passion, the Veil, representing the curtain in the temple, was torn in two. Veils were probably abolished with rood screens in the Council of Trent, but a few survive in Austria and Southern Germany.

The Calvaries of Medieval Brittany and the Palm Sunday Liturgy
Calvary with a Pulpit at Pleubian.
In Celtic Christianity, the sign of the Cross, as in Eastern Churches, held a great deal of importance in liturgy and in art. The meticulously carved crosses of the great Irish and Scottish monasteries as well as the high crosses of Wales, Cornwall and northern England still show, as some of the chief survivors of Celtic Christian architecture. In Brittany, the Celtic obsession with Calvary and the sign of the cross developed into the erection of elaborate 'Calvaries,' great 15th-16th century stone sculpted scenes of Crucifixion -like all the parts of the Stations of the Cross put together in a Passion-tide version of the well-known nativity scene. On Palm Sunday, the Calvary was visited during the procession like a station, decorated in flowers and garlands along with gravestones. Not quite Calvaries, but more simple Churchyard crosses, also visited on Palm Sunday, can be found in many villages in Britain especially in Wales and Cornwall, where where was a lot of traffic with Brittany through the 8th century. A 13th century bishop of Lincoln at one point ordered that such crosses be erected at all parish churches for the very purpose of the Palm Sunday procession. In Brittany, elaborate calvaries can still be found in many towns.

Calvary at St. Jean, Trolimon, Brittany. 
Calvary at Plugas, Brittany. 
As Symbols of Victory
In Britain and Brittany, the graves of the dead were also visited on Palm Sunday and, like the crosses and Calvaries, decorated in Yew branches and flowers (as a replacement for palms). This was symbolic of the hope which Christians hold for the Resurrection of the Dead at Jesus's second coming, -the palms stood for their 'victory' over death just like Christ's victorious entry into Jerusalem was his ride to conquer death. Since very early times, martyrs have also been represented with palm branches as a symbol of their victory. These saints are said to have received the 'Palm of Martyrdom.'
A procession of virgin martyrs with palms at Ravenna.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, March 20.

St. Cuthbert with the head of St. Oswald in 15th century glass at York Minster. 
     St. Cuthbert is certainly one of Britain's, if not of all Anglicanism's, greatest bishops. The humility, love and compassion that he shared with his community, along with the many centuries of devotion paid to him after his death mark him both as one of the most loving and most loved leaders of English Christianity. Love is a reflexive act; the compassion, and trust shown to him by the Northern community is equally important to the care that he held for the people of his bishopric in the 7th century. The memory he left for his followers has survived right down to our generation and continues to act as a rock for the Church in Britain. His cult has survived war and peace; the Viking invasions beginning in 793, the danish invasions of the 10th century, the Norman Invasion, and it has even survived the impious destruction of the Reformation. His bones still lie at Durham, 1326 years later, where he is visited daily by pilgrims.
St. Cuthbert from the Vita by Bede.

Cuthbert was born in 634, near Melrose. He was a shepherd until he saw a vision as a boy. It is one of the early chapters in the Vita Sancti Cuthberti by the Venerable Bede, the primary source for the life of St. Cuthbert, that is dedicated to this vision called Quomondo cum pastoribus positius animam Sancti Aidiani Episcopi ad coelum ab angelis ferri aspexerit (literally, how while he was posted with the shepherds, he witnessed the soul of the Holy Bishop Aidan being carried to heaven by angels). This is what prompted him to enter into the monastery of Melrose at an early age. Cuthbert did well as a monk in the eyes of the abbot, Boisil. He came to accept the Roman customs after the Synod of Whitby and was made prior of Melrose. When his new abbot, Eata, went to Lindisfarne, Cuthbert followed and became prior of Lindisfarne where he pursued missionary work in Northumbria and southern Scotland. As prior, and later as bishop, he was confronted with near schism in the aftermath of the Synod of Whitby (663-4). The Synod had decided to adopt the Roman Rite in place of the Celtic Rite, which it had been using since St. Aidan brought Christianity to Northumbria in 631. Cuthbert, in accordance with his monastic vows of obedience  required that the abbey use only the new rite because it was what the Church had decided in council. Cuthbert was not a supporter of the Roman or Celtic right....he was a supporter only of the Church. In 676 he decided to take monastic life a step further and live as a hermit on the Farne islands of the Northumbrian coast. there he remained for 9 years, living on a simple diet of onions and fish. He built himself an oratory and practiced the Celtic rite of saying the psalms in the cold sea water. It is recorded that when he came out from the water, the otters dried his feet and the birds brought him fish out of their own admiration. And while on the island he would bless those who came to seek his comfort.
St. Cuthbert in my own book of hours. 

In 685 Cuthbert was appointed the Bishop of Hexham, (which he swapped for Lindisfarne) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus. He left the Farne with King Ecgfrith and Bishop Trumwine and returned to his missionary work in the bishopric. During his short episcopate, he traveled through his diocese on foot, ministering to the rural and urban poor alike and performing miracles for their relief. Her returned to his hermitage 687 where he died two months later with the words "Always keep Peace and Divine Charity amongst yourselves," stressing the importance of a united Church. He lived first to extol and praise God and to worship him by living like him and to extend the good news of Christ's love to all people in his flock so that we might be comforted and learn to comfort others.
Monks use torches to tell of Cuthbert's death.

     The Saint left an impression on Northern England that never wore away. In 875, the community on Lindisfarne, where the Saint was first buried, was forced to move after a Viking attack. In an account of the event, the bishop at the time, Eardulf, required that he the monks leave the island before the attack. They took the precious relics of St. Cuthbert and of Lindisfarne's many other saints west, away from the sea while some of the monks stayed and died trying to save the Church at Lindisfarne from the Vikings. The community traveled all over the north of England for 7 years, collecting treasures donated to the shrine by neighboring kings, including the stole pictured below, and even attempting to go to Ireland -but were prevented by a storm which is believed to have been caused by the Saint. In 882, the community settled at Chester-le-Street, where they remained until the Danish incursions and in 995 relocated to Durham. By the time William the Conqueror came to England, Cuthbert was so important that he knew he would have to demonstrate his loyalty to their saint which he did during the Harrying of the North, when he visited Durham. Cuthbert's last miracle, so some claim, was shrouding the city of Durham in fog while the Luftwaffe passed overhead during the Second World War.
Durham Cathedral on its hilltop bend in the river Wear. 

     The cult of St. Cuthbert that continued to grow in England was never overtaken by another saint in the North, and perhaps only in all of England by St. Thomas Becket. In fact,Thomas death in 1170, caused the next few decades, under the leadership of the Norman bishop, Huge de Puiset, to be dedicated to a renaissance in art, architecture and liturgy for the promotion of his cult. The City of Durham and the people of the Durham diocese  became the city and people of St. Cuthbert. Their dedication was so strong to him as their protector and Christian example that they were called the people of the saint, or in Old-English the Haliwerfolc. The Bishops of Durham were given princely status as the successors of St. Cuthbert, and their lands became an autonomous 'Palatine' state within the Kingdom of England sometime referred to as the "Patrimony of St. Cuthbert." St. Cuthbert fostered a Christian community during his life by his example but established a Christian community on his memory that has lasted for centuries.
Feast of St. Cuthbert in the Codlingham Breviary.

     The monastic and the daily life of the community of the Cathedral was so focused on St. Cuthbert that the liturgy offered in Durham also came to revolve around its patron. All the offices and masses for the feast and translation feast of St. Cuthbert (September 4) were specially written to include the themes of Cuthbert's life and the example imprinted on the community. The antiphons, versicles, sequences and of course collects all recalled miracles from the history of St. Cuthbert. A Lenten Vespers antiphon follows -commemorating Cuthbert as an apostle to the English of Christ:

Oriens sol iustitiae dignatus est illustrare
Per ministros lucis suare cunctos fines orbis terrae
Ipsi laus qui dedi Anglis lucernam suae salutis
Cuthbertum bonum doctorem ac pro huis untercessorem

The rising sun of Justice deigned to illuminate
through the ministers of his light all the boundaries of the earth
Praise to Him who gave the English the lamp of His salvation,
Cuthbert the good Doctor, and praise Him for his intercession

And the antiphon for Matins recalls an early miracle where Cuthbert calls back the monk's rafts to land by prayer:

Dum iactantur puppes salo: sanctus orans heret solo
Mox ventorum vis mutate: naves vertit ad litora.

When the ship was cast about in the sea, the praying saint remained alone.
At once the force of the winds changes and the ship turned to the coast.

Several other miracles are recalled including his vision of St. Aidan's soul rising to heaven and Cuthbert's prophecy of his own death.

Cuthbert's stole.
The cult took a blow at the Reformation when the Calvinist wife of the new dean of the cathedral ordered many of relics associated with Cuthbert, but not the relics of the saint himself, to be destroyed along with the stained glass windows that depicted his miracles and the shrines built in other parts of the church where the saint had previously rested. But Calvinism has never defined Anglican Christianity, only invaded it, and the cult of St. Cuthbert at Durham, with the presence of his tomb, never really disappeared and has been greatly revived since the episcopate of Bishop Cosin in the 17th century.

Today Cuthbert remains the most venerated saint in the north of England, if not in its entirety. There is an endless stream of pilgrims to the sites associated with him including Melrose Abbey, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, his chapel on the inner Farne Island and, most of all, to his tomb-shrine at Durham Cathedral. St. Cuthbert has regained a spot as an example and the 'lamp to salvation' in the devotion of Anglicans around the world. It remains, however, more important that the leaders of the Church look to people like St. Cuthbert in the times of Schisms and a shrinking Church. St. Cuthbert himself confronted these problems, dealt with them and strengthened the Church of Northumbria. The same can be done today in his example. The Church must remember that its purpose is to spread the words of Christ's love around the world as one Church, with one faith under one head; Christ. This is why schism remains one of the most urgent of the Church's -including Anglican, Orthodox and Roman- problems. Discord in the Church prevents it from its duty. Cuthbert recognized this and forgot his personal opinions on the Roman versus Celtic rite issues for the sake of the Church. By being righteous, the Church is neglecting its duty; its duty to Christ and its duty to his people. Hopefully people, priests and most importantly bishops will look to Cuthbert and those like him as examples of where the Church needs to return. When we invoke the names of saints in our prayers, this is what we are doing.
St. Cuthbert's Isle, Lindisfarne. The cross stands on the site of his first hermitage.

Collect (from the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Holy Island):
We thank you Father for the life of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne: his reverence for all living creatures, his observance of a dedicated life under rule, his missionary zeal, his kindness to all who came  to him for comfort-and all for love of you. So in our pilgrimage of life strengthen us to walk with care in these ways that he observed through the study of prayer and personal example, that we may bring peace and integrity to your world in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, March 18.

The Catecheses of St. Cyril. The Procatecheses is the prologue. 
     Cyril was born in Jerusalem around 315 and became a bishop in 349, so he was not among the 318 at Nicaea but was bishop during the high tide of the Arian heresy. As bishop of the diocese of Jerusalem which was growing in importance because of the steady stream of pilgrims, he was a direct challenge to the Metropolitan Bishop of Caesearea, Acacius, who was an Arian. Cyril strictly opposed Arianism and taught the faith as established at Nicaea which he also upheld in the First Council of Constantinople in 381. He was forced into exile several times by Acacius and later Arian Emperors but always returned to Jerusalem before he died in 386.
     He is remembered for his scholarship in liturgy, his charity and as one of the greatest theologians of the 4th century as a definer and defender of the faith. Sometime during his episcopate he wrote the Catecheses, eighteen lectures on the Christian faith to be preached to the catechumens, those waiting for baptism, and the five Mystagogical Catecheses, on the sacraments, for the newly baptized. For these works, Cyril earned his place among the early Church Fathers, and remains a source for those looking for definitions and explanations in Christianity as his works have survived and are widely known.
     As the Emperor Constantine had only made the world safe for Christians in 315, Christian laypeople were coming from their cities with their bishops now freely able to visit the tombs of martyrs being erected and more significantly to travel to Jerusalem itself. Cyril provided for probably increasing numbers of pilgrims the Holy Week liturgies that are still used everywhere today, including the procession with palms on Palm Sunday.
     The Episcopal Church cites the journal of a 4th century Spanish nun called Egeria, who came in contact with St. Cyril while in Jerusalem. Here is her account for the festivities on Palm Sunday:

 "Accordingly at the seventh hour all the people go up to the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, and the bishop with them, to the church, where hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said, and lessons in like manner. And when the ninth hour approaches they go up with hymns to the Imbomon, that is, to the place whence the Lord ascended into heaven, and there they sit down, for all the people are always bidden to sit when the bishop is present; the deacons alone always stand. Hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said, interspersed with lections and prayers. And as the eleventh hour approaches, the passage from the Gospel is read, where the children, carrying branches and palms, met the Lord, saying; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, and the bishop immediately rises, and all the people with him, and they all go on foot from the top of the Mount of Olives, all the people going before him with hymns and antiphons, answering one to another: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. And all the children in the neighborhood  even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives,2 and thus the bishop is escorted in the same manner as the Lord was of old. For all, even those of rank, both matrons and men, accompany the bishop all the way on foot in this manner, making these responses, from the top of the mount to the city, and thence through the whole city to the Anastasis, going very slowly lest the poeple should be wearied; and thus they arrive at the Anastasis at a late hour. And on arriving, although it is late, lucernare takes place, with prayer at the Cross; after which the people are dismissed."

The Good Friday Veneration of the Cross is also recorded. In Jerusalem, this was celebrated of course in the part of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (which Egeria refers to as "the Basilica") which stands right over Golgotha:

"Then a chair is placed for the bishop in Golgotha behind the Cross, which is now standing; the bishop duly takes his seat in the chair, and a table covered with a linen cloth is placed before him; the deacons stand round the table, and a silver-gilt casket is brought in which is the holy wood of the Cross. The casket is opened and (the wood) is taken out, and both the wood of the Cross and the title are placed upon the table. Now, when it has been put upon the table, the bishop, as he sits, holds the extremities of the sacred wood firmly in his hands, while the deacons who stand around guard it. It is guarded thus because the custom is that the people, both faithful and catechumens, come one by one and, bowing down at the table, kiss the sacred wood and pass through. And because, I know not when, some one is said to have bitten off and stolen a portion of the sacred wood, it is thus guarded by the deacons who stand around, lest any one approaching should venture to do so again. And as all the people pass by one by one, all bowing themselves, they touch the Cross and the title, first with their foreheads and then with their eyes; then they kiss the Cross and pass through, but none lays his hand upon it to touch it. "

Golgotha today.
Collect (From the Episcopal Church):
Strengthen, O Lord, the bishops of your Church in their special calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, so that they, like your servant Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct your people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland, March 17

St. Patrick at Croagh Patrick, where he had an oratory. 
     Patrick is perhaps the most famous saint after St. Francis of Assisi and the Blessed Virgin Mary. And because the Church he founded is the Church of Ireland, he is very important in both the Roman and Anglican Churches.
     Patrick was born on the Northwest coast of Britain in 390 to a noble family. His father was a Roman official and a deacon while his mother was probably a native Briton. The story is too well known: at 16 Patrick was captured by Irish raiders (at the time, the Irish were called the 'Soctians' by the Romans, which means pirates) and brought to Ireland to work as a slave-shepherd. He later paid for his freedom with a gold coin he found and escaped back to Briton. But his time as a shepherd in Ireland was far from over. He became a priest and then a bishop, perhaps in Gaul. In 432 he had a dream telling him to return to Ireland to reestablish the Church (there had been one mission before him by Bishop Palladius who was sent by the Pope but failed in Ireland and pursued missionary work in Scotland).
     Patrick landed at what is now called Downpatrick, where he began his mission. He quickly spread Christianity by appealing first to the Irish kings and then to the tribes. He built upon the ruin of the old religion and so many of Ireland's holy wells and hills now associated with Patrick and other saints were once pagan sanctuaries. To each king he assigned what became archbishops and to each tribe a bishop. Patrick did not establish monasteries, these were brought later by St. Cairnach, who was trained in Whithorn by St. Ninian, but colleges of bishops which provided for select centers of Christianity that served as 'bases' for the evangelization of the whole country.
Patrick established his principal seat at Armagh, where his successors, the Archbishops of Armagh, remain the 'Primate of All Ireland.' He died in 461 and is buried outside the Church of  Ireland Cathedral at Downpatrick. His work was a catalyst of a golden age of Christianity enshrined by the Celtic peoples of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. He began a process, but did not Christianize Ireland entirely, and his disciples and successors, also among Ireland's greatest saints, are due, therefore, much veneration also.

There are many saintly bishops like St. Patrick but we must reserve him some credit because of the singularity with which he fulfilled his mission. It is not recorded that Patrick took very many companions with him, so Ireland's conversion is almost wholly due to Patrick's work. Patrick confessed that he hated the Irish, and with good reason since they enslaved him, but here we see how Patrick followed Christ's commandment: "Love thine enemies" and brought the thing that he loved most to the people he hated.
Downpatrick Cathedral.
     St. Patrick relevance in the Church is not overdone, though perhaps a different part of his life and work needs to be emphasized for its benefit. The Church is desperately in need of people, priests and most importantly bishops like St. Patrick. I am afraid to say that many of  the Church's leaders are unimaginative and though the Church was many times smaller in Patrick's Day, its community was many times more healthy than it is today. The Church needs bishops who are willing to dedicate their lives to establishing more bishoprics, priests and religious communities. Missionary areas are no longer on the edges of the world. We have been off of our guard and now each diocese around the world is a shell, including thousands of people who do not know Christ. We must invoke the example of St. Patrick and his successors for the future of our Church.

Collect: (From the Episcopal Church)
Almighty God, who in your providence chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Tomb of St. Patrick at Downpatrick Church of Ireland Cathedral. The (Anglican) Church of Ireland is the Church directly descended from the Church established by St. Patrick. This is why it has all of the old churches and Cathedrals of Ireland. It is a catholic Church, though no longer under the pope. It is, literally, The Church of Ireland. 
"St. Patrick's Breastplate." There is some debate over whether Patrick wrote it but it still remains important to his memory and message.

Christ be with me, 

Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort
and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of
friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,

salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Anglican Eucharistic Theology: Essentially Compliant with both High and Low-Church Traditions.

     A topic much discussed and argued over, this is more of a reflection on my struggle to find what the Eucharist is to me as a devoted, orthodox Anglican -I am glad if it helps others who are also looking for an explanation. I am not a theologian, trying to define Eucharistic theology, but a layman, trying to uncover it for my own beliefs. I must say that before I begin writing on this much debated subject that I am personally drawn to the Orthodox way of looking at the Eucharist as the 'Holy Mysteries' this solves a lot of problems the worst of which being that we quarrel over the Eucharist, a gift from Christ, at all. 
     What I have read over the past days and months has allowed me to view the celebration of the Eucharist in Christian worship as both a sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ and as a memorial. I will argue that there is discrepancy between the medieval, Roman Catholic term transubstantiation and the proud and unchristian followers of the destructive reformation in Switzerland and Germany, but that there should be no discrepancy between the high and low church visions of the Eucharist within the Anglican Church.
     First,  I will establish the Anglican Church's position within Christianity. The Anglican Church is different in many ways from other Protestants -it should not really be labeled as such. These included its organization, its initial intentions for reform and what little doctrine it does have. It's reformation, as Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth, expressed it, was more like the African or Oriental Orthodox Church, which split from the rest of the Church in its refusal to recognize the Council of Chalcedon in 451 in its attempt to become more like the primitive Church. This is why Anglicanism retains episcopacy, its succession from the apostles, and the Eucharist as its main worship unlike other protestant churches which protest even the primitive Church -and thus almost all of historical Christianity, by rejecting the Eucharist as main worship and by rejecting episcopacy. Anglicanism's attempt to stick to the Christianity of the early Church is reflected in its use of the creeds as its main, if not only universal source of doctrine outside the Bible and Book of Common Prayer.
     So the Anglican Church is one of the four ancient Christian Churches, the other three being the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. But what of it's worship?
     By the 14th and 15th centuries, the belief of the Church was of transubstantiation in the Eucharist -the chemical change of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ. But this was a misinterpretation of the use of the word transubstantiation by the so famous theologian and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. It seems that the understanding of the word 'substance' in transubstantiation came to mean something other than that which was written by church doctors. Tyndale puts it this way:

"As concernyng the transsubstanciatyon I thinke that such a speche was among the olde doctours though they that came after vnderstode them amysse."
-From the OED definition of the word 'transubstantiation,'

     Anglicans wanted to restore the meaning and worship in the Eucharist back to its stance in the early middle ages, to clear out the 'superstition,' a favorite of   English reformers, from the worship of Christ. They were not like the iconoclasts in Switzerland who tore up and trampled upon the Blessed Sacrament- never among the English- but they did not want people to view the sacrament as a literal piece of Christ's flesh that, then, could heal and restore anyone or thing from a saint to an unrepentant sinner to livestock. Today we cannot see the Eucharist in these ways either. We cannot say that the bread and wine are chemically changed into Christ's Flesh. It all goes back to the misinterpretation of the word transubstantiation. 'Trans' of course mean 'change,' but substance is where things get confused. In Latin, it literally means below the surface, inwardly. In medieval literature, the word substantially is used to describe the togetherness of the Holy Trinity:

"He herd angels steuen And sei╚Łe Fader and Sone and Holi Gost In on substaunce, in on acost." 
-From the OED.

Just as the Trinity is not of one material but Three Persons of once substance or essence, the Blessed Sacrament is the Body of Christ in essence. This is how Cranmer, the first reformation Archbishop of Canterbury, explained the Blessed Sacrament:

"The true Body of Christ is present to those who truly receive him. Inwardly we eat Christ's body; outwardly we eat the Sacrament. Yet the Body of Christ is in the Sacrament both by substance and by efficacy."

This is the definition of the Church Fathers of the early Church so this is why Cranmer insists that this be the definition of the Eucharist for the continuing Anglican Church. Cranmer clearly states that Christ is present in the Eucharist. But he is trying to say that at the same time that the Eucharist is substantially, or in essence, the body of Christ but is not chemically flesh. It is also the body of Christ in efficacy -or potency, the consecrated Eucharist is no longer 'just bread;' it is the body of Christ in essence. But he is also saying that Christ is present only to those who truly accept him, the sacrament is no use to a person who does not have faith.
      Similarly, John Donne, the beloved 17th century poet and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, took the view of the Blessed Sacrament based on the writings of the Church Fathers and of Cranmer and supported it drawing directly from the Gospel of John. He explains this in his poem Divine Poems: on the Sacrament:

"He was the Word, that spake it:
He took the bread and brake it;
And what that Word did make it,
I do believe and take it."

     If more 'Low Church' Anglicans prefer doctrine based solely on scripture then John Donne gives us a direct explanation based on scripture in support of Cranmer's and the Church Fathers' version of Transubstantiation.
     On this note, Anglican Eucharistic doctrine is clearly defined by the first of the Anglican Church's great theologians (Cranmer) while it is also scripturally supported. Doctrine on the nature of the Eucharist should not be disputed between the Anglican High and Low Church traditions. The consecrated bread and wine is in essence the Body and Blood just as the Trinity is in essence one being. The superstition of the later middle ages is cut out with the fact that there is no chemical change in the Eucharist, only an essential one. High church Anglicans may say that the 'Mass is a Sacrifice,' while low church Anglicans may say that it is only a 'memorial.' My answer to this is, based on Cranmer's definition of the Eucharist, that the Mass is both a sacrifice and a memorial. It is a sacrifice in the way that it is a meal which we have all gathered at and that this is the Body of Christ sacrificed for those who believe in him. But it is not a repeat of the Crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice, it is a memorial of the Crucifixion. Christ has already died, risen and ascended to heaven so the sacrifice of the Eucharist recalls his Body and Blood in a memorial of these things.
     High and low church Anglican definitions of the Eucharist can be one. The Mass is a sacrifice -the Body and Blood of Christ is recalled by the priest essentially in the sacrament of bread and wine, and a memorial -Jesus Christ has already sacrificed himself on the cross and risen from the dead. This definition is in accordance with the holy tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church from primitive times and with the theology of the Anglican reformers, namely with the explanation of St. Thomas Cranmer.

But I still think that the best way to see the Eucharist is to see it as a Holy Mystery and not to let ourselves become mixed up in the politics that we have created over the gift that is still Holy whatever we decide.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Liturgical Tropes: Medieval Filler or Helpful Interpretations?

Ecce Homo: 'Behold the Man.' Sarum gradual chant.
I've been looking at the definitions and use of tropes and sequences particularly in the Sarum Mass. In this Post, I will discuss the function and history of sequences and tropes and how the latter could be , in a modified form, useful in our own, modern liturgies.
     Both sequences and tropes were 'discontinued' in the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church and completely abolished in the Roman Church's Council of Trent, save the Victimae Pascale of Easter, the Veni Sancte Spiritus of Pentecost, the Lauda Sion Salvatorem and the Dies Irae of the Requiem. The Sarum Rite and other ancient rites contained many more sequences than these, one for most of the numerous feasts of the medieval liturgical calendar. 
     Sequences are very similar to hymns, but were sung just before the chanted Gospel Alleluia which had grown so long as to permit each of the clergy to kiss the Gospel book. Sequences are typically joyful and always hymns of praise and awe -fitting with the last syllable of the Alleluia which had evolved into a joyful melisma. 
     Tropes were insertions of text and/or pieces of chant to lengthen or interpret the text being sung. For example, at Salisbury, home of the Sarum Rite, tropes containing just adding the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron of the cathedral, were inserted into the Gloria in important feasts to embellish the liturgy. Here is an excerpt from the Sarum Gloria where the tropes (italicized) act similarly to clauses.

Sarum Gloria:
"For thou art only holy, sanctifying Mary;
Thou only art the Lord, ruling Mary;
Thou only, crowning Mary, Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit...."

The Sarum Kyries also use tropes.Instead of addressing just "Lord" and "Christ," a petition for the Holy Spirit is added to emphasized the doctrine of the Trinity. Additionally, tropes are added into each petition to embellish the Kyrie. The well-known "Orbis Factor is one of the Sarum Kyries, though this one addresses the Holy Spirit only at the very end, and is mainly made up of tropes. 

Orbis Factor:
Orbis factor rex aeterne, eleison
Pietatis fons immense, eleison

Noxas omnes nostras pelle, eleison
Christe qui lux es mundi dator vitae, eleison
Arte laesos daemonis intuere, eleison
Conservans te credentes confirmansque, eleison
Patrem tuum teque flamen utrorumque, eleison
Deum scimus unum atque trinum esse, eleison
Clemens nobis adsis paraclite ut vivamus in te, eleison.

Maker of the world, King eternal, have mercy upon us.
O immense source of pity, have mercy upon us.
Drive off all our evils, have mercy upon us.
Christ who art the light of the world and giver of life, have mercy upon us.
Consider the wounds produced by the devil's art, have mercy upon us.
Keeping and confirming thy believers, have mercy upon us.
Thou and thy Father, an equal light, have mercy upon us.
We know that God is one and three, have mercy upon us.
Thou, merciful unto us, art present with the Holy Spirit that we might live in thee, have mercy upon us.

Compare this with the origional, untroped, much simpler, three-fold
Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy.
...and now you can see just how much the tropes add.
below in the Orbis Factor, troped Kyrie as chanted from the Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany. 

Additionally, The Catholic Encyclopedia uses an French Sanctus as an example of troping:

Sanctus: ex quo sunt omnia                 Holy: from whom all are all things
Sanctus: per quem sunt omnia             Holy: through whom all are things
Sanctus: in quo sunt omnia, Dominus...Holy: In whom are all things, Lord...

Tropes could have a function in modern Liturgy.
Sarum Gloria: "Sanctifying Mary"
     Tropes could be found in many chanted texts to expand on the praise of God or of his saints or to explain Theology. While tropes were often added to the liturgy just as an extra filler in the liturgical stew, I see tropes as an opportunity to clarify and explain parts of our complex liturgies to the laity. Reviving tropes in prayers which are well known, perhaps too well known, could be particularly useful for the explanation of meaning which is otherwise overlooked because of the commonness of that prayer. 
     I am specifically referring to the Lord's Prayer. While reading former Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright's "The Lord and his Prayer," which thoroughly explores the meaning and implications of each line of the Pater Noster, I thought, before I knew about troping, that it would be useful to add short clauses into the chanted prayer which concisely explain the meaning or add petition to the line. In reading about tropes, I found a precedent for this idea. While I don't know if the Pater Noster was ever troped, although the chant from the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos includes an Amen sung by the choir after each verse, the deep meanings of each line of so important a prayer should be relayed to the faithful during the service -and tropes are a perfect opportunity. The Lord's Prayer is, as Wright mentions, one of those prayers we recite without really reflecting on its meaning, and each verse is stacked with, as Wright explains, important implications for the mission of Christianity. Wright's "The Lord and his Praye" is an excellent book that all Christians should I will not spoil it. 
     By adding a short trope to the end of each verse in the Our Father, the meaning of each line would be concisecly explained and the general importance of the prayer emphasized. After the  Our Fath, other parts of the mass, which many of us may participate in without much thought, such as the creeds ould also be troped not for the sake of embellishing the mass or restoring medieval customs, but for explaining the complex and important meanings behind the words in our liturgies. 

-Some more on the function and history of Tropes from "Oxford Bibliographies." 
"Liturgical poetry, in the form of additional lyrics inserted into all the chants of the medieval Mass, flourished in the 9th through the 12th centuries. In a medieval Latin culture marked by intense interest in hermeneutics, even the Gregorian chants became a field open to extensive use of glosses and added verses performed together with the chant. The authors provided interpretations of the base texts in metaphors, images, or tropes, with the result that the grammatical term “trope” (Greek tropos, in Latin conversio or versus) came to be the name of the genre. Sung between the segments of a chant, the tropes could comment on and meditate over the preceding words of the chant, but they could also prepare for the performance of the words that followed. By means of these insertions, the chantor or compilator could vary the performance of a chant in endless ways while still maintaining the authorized form of the liturgical base chant. Extensive repertories were collected in manuscripts all over Europe. At first written on loose leaves or in the margins, they came to be inscribed into graduals and missals, and then gathered in individual manuscripts labeled “troparium” or “troparium-prosarium.” Because these manuscripts are the earliest witnesses of Western musical notation, or “neumes,” they have attracted many musical scholars as well. The oldest tropes must have been created well before the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, because they are found in similar form both in East Frankish and West Frankish regions and in Lotharingia. In the following centuries, the repertories came to be divided into more or less separate regional traditions."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saint Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 19 January.

St. Wulfstan of Worcester (watercolor of stained glass by myself)
Saint Wulfstan was a Saxon bishop of Worcester in the late 11th century who recognized the unimportance of the secular ruler in the context of his duties: to be spiritual shepherd  and whole comforter of the people entrusted to him as bishop. Wulfstan witnessed an ugly transition in the history of England: the transition from Saxon rule to the rough, oppressive Norman rule begun by William the Conqueror in 1066.

Born in 1008, Wulfstan began his career at Worcester as a monk in 1038 and then Prior of the Benedictine Cathedral Priory. When the bishop of Worcester, Ealdred, became Archbishop of York, Wulfstan was appointed the position which he reluctantly accepted like so many other saintly bishops (namely Sts. Cuthbert, Hugh and Peter of Tarentaise). After the conquest, Wulfstan submitted to William I and to his new Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, rather that risk his position (most other Saxon bishops were deposed) and thus his relationship to the people he led with great devotion and efficiency. Wulfstan incorporated the rules of his previous monastic life into his role as bishop, running his diocese, and sometimes others when they were vacant, as if he were following a rule. He designed a system for episcopal visitations (while many of his episcopal colleagues enjoyed their palaces), rebuilt Worcester Cathedral, consecrated numerous churches encouraged to be patronized by local lords, and was notorious for his charity and ministry to the poor and dispossessed. It was towards the end of his career that he cooperated with Lanfranc to end the capture and sale of English slaves at Bristol by Vikings. For his submission to the new regime and his passionate undertaking of the bishopric, he was trusted and valued by the first two Norman kings even though the court claimed he was unfit for his position as he could neither speak French and was "unlearned." Whether the latter was true or not (it probably wasn't as the Saxon Benedictines, like most others, were patrons of learning) his leadership, charity and devotion are ample evidence of his holiness. He died in 1095 while washing the feet of the local poor. He was the last surviving Saxon bishop when he died and was immediately venerated as a saint.

St. Wulfstan reminds us of the tentativeness, weakness and inhumanity of all human governments and regimes. For St. Wulfstan, a Saxon or a Norman king was of little importance though of great consequence, to his duty as shepherd and caretaker his people. Christ is the only perfect, just and eternal government, all others are stained by humanity's innate sin and fleeting. Before Wulfstan passed the government of his country from one ruler to another. He chose not to side with one or the other but with Christ, the real and only King, and continued his duties as laid out under his rules.
     In another sense, bishops and priests of today should look to St. Wulfstan as a model of administration. Wulfstan followed a kind of "episcopal rule" (a phrase I am making up) which allowed him to fully integrate his life with his duties as bishop. Such a rule for today's bishops and priests, whether it was one of evangelism, visitation, or ministry in particular, or each combined, would recast a much holier light on the episcopal office as it is and was once was regarded-the office of today's apostles and heralds of the risen Christ.

Collect: (From the Episcopal Church)
Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son hath led captivity captive and given gifts to thy people: Multiply among us faithful pastors, who, like thy holy bishop Wulfstan, will give courage to those who are oppressed and held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the true freedom of thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

St. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 10 January.

William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury.
     Another martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud is among the most important definers of Anglicanism and Church leaders since the reformation. Laud was born in 1573, the son of a Reading cloth merchant, went to the university of Oxford and was ordained to the priesthood in 1601. His first bishopric was that of St. Davids in Wales in 1621 and later the bishoprics of Bath and Wells,  London and finally Canterbury in 1633. From the beginning of his career, he stood for the high church camp of Anglicanism emphasizing the importance of the free will of man rather than thew double predestination of the Puritans, the Calvinist camp of the English Church. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of the Church's position as the continuation of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church as part of the ancient Apostolic Church and thus the importance of its ceremonies. As the psalmist says, "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." While he first became dean of Gloucester Cathedral, he moved the altar back behind the medieval rood screen and covered it in elaborate hangings and candles: a move which incurred the anger of local Puritans. Puritans remained the chief problem throughout his episcopate as they wanted to purge or "purify" the Anglican Church of all connection to the ancient/pre-reformation apostolic Church including its ceremonies and structure. The abandonment of episcopacy, however, would have left the English Church a sect instead of part of the Body of Christ-the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church",as described in the Nicene Creed, which is descended from the 12 apostles and thus from Christ himself. Laud's effort to save and secure these principals in the Anglican Church would eventually lead him to his death.
     In his visits to the English and Welsh dioceses as Archbishop, Laud noted the extreme poverty of the majority of parish priests, who could "barely clothe or feed themselves." Laud made more enemies, especially in the House of Lords, when he suggested that some of the Church Lands confiscated under Henry VIII be returned for the livings of priests. While Archbishop, Laud increased his political involvement  through his friendship with Charles I, King and Martyr, and though he had no ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Scotland, where episcopacy had been abandoned and replaced with Calvinist Presbyterianism, had great influence on the re-establishment of the Church in that land. The bishops had returned to Scotland under James I soon after his ascension in 1603 but it was Laud who supervised much of the revision of Scotland's liturgy. In 1637 he and the Archbishop of St. Andrews made the Prayer Book of 1637 official. The book was very Anglican and Catholic in its liturgy and was completely rejected by the Scots in the Bishops War-which soon became the Civil War.Though he was a high churchman, however, he was not a Papist. He refused a seat in the College of Cardinals twice saying that first Rome would have to reform itself. Never-the-less, Laud was captured in 1641 and charged with High Treason and other ridiculous charges by the severely Puritan House of Commons and the House of Lords, offended by his proposition about the return of Church lands, and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was formally tried in 1644 and sentenced to death though Charles tried to pardon him. Among the evidence presented against him was that he used incense an unleavened "host" in the celebration of the Holy Communion. He was martyred for the protection of the Church on this day, 10 January, 1645 praying "The Lord receive my soul, and have mercy on me, and bless this kingdom with peace and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood amongst them."

Trial of William Laud before Parliament.

     Today, William Laud's passion reminds us of the importance of the orthodox structure and doctrines of the Anglican Church. The structure of the Church, its apostolic bishops and its sacraments are a direct and historic connection to Christ and should be revered this way.  There is a sort of "Puritan" faction in some Churches of today's Communion which insists on the redundancy of structural or doctrinal commitments and instead reinforces simply Christian principals or ethics. Christianity, however is like an arch: Christ, who is the Church, is the keystone and so without him the arch falls away. The Church and her headers need to recognize and revive in focus that faith which is her heart. Though there are many people who want it to become a merely a secular, social, humanist force rather the force of love which comes directly from Christ and from all those who love him. William Laud stands for the persistence of those who live and breath Christ in faith against forces that want to turn it into an instrument for shifting popular demands. Now, when the Church is again being challenged, bishops and priests and laypeople should be willing to be persecuted like Laud because they recognize and support the importance of the orthodox faith and the Church's connection to its ancestors, saints, apostles and to Christ through episcopacy and the sacraments.

Collect (From the Episcopal Church): 

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like thy servant William Laud, we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Church of St. Katharine Cree in London. Consecrated by Laud in 1631 in an elaborate ceremony which the Puritans later used as "evidence" of his Romish ways during his trial claiming that he had used incense and an unleavened host.