Tag Archives: Anglican ethos

Guest homily: “On Rebuilding the House of God”

Offered to the Saint Benet Biscop Chapter of Oblates, Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville MN, by the Rt Rev. Michael G. Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota, September 16, 2017

“Cyrus the king issued a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be rebuilt, … Also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God … be restored and brought back to the temple which is in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:3,5).”

Way to go, King Cyrus! What a great idea he had to rebuild the house of God. Or rather, what an incredible plan God had to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and what a great idea it was to use King Cyrus in its implementation. If only we could be so blessed as to be chosen to be used in God’s plan to rebuild the house of God.

The Venerable Bede, commenting on this sixth chapter of Ezra, wrote: “All the writers of sacred Scripture, promise good things for the builders of the holy church if they do not tire from adversities and cease from their holy labor. For divine help will be present, by which the Lord’s house that has been begun may be brought to completion in the heart of their listeners by their believing and living well.” It sounds like Bede had internalized wisdom from the Rule of Benedict.

A little over a week ago, in my Facebook feed, there appeared a post which stated: “Bishop Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter recommends reading this fine lecture by Prof. Tracey Rowland on ecumenism today and its future.” And so I read the lecture, and, Bishop Lopes, you were right, it was worth the read.

Professor Rowland is an Australian and she writes about what she calls “receptive ecumenism” and “re-weaving the tapestry ecumenism” and how she sees both types in the Ordinariate. What caught my attention, however, was when she notes that many Christians find themselves divided across rather than along, confessional lines because of very different answers to fundamental theological questions within a particular community.

For example, “a Catholic who believes that scripture is normative for one’s faith and practice is closer to a Sydney Anglican in matters of belief and practice than he is to a fellow Catholic who says that what is written in the Gospels needs to be re-contextualized with reference to contemporary social theory.” If you know anything about Sydney Anglicans, that is a remarkable statement, and a sign that the house of God is truly being rebuilt.

But I’m sure the very same could be said about those of us here present, whether we identify as Roman Catholic or Anglican. There is probably less theological difference between us than between us and fellow members of our respective communions. Part of our mission as members of the St. Benet Biscop chapter of St. John’s Abbey Oblates is to foster ecumenical dialogue and prayer between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Is it possible that the Lord might just use us in some way to rebuild the house of God?

Whether, from a Roman Catholic perspective, we value the temple’s “gold vessels” of the Anglican patrimony, or from our Anglican view of cherishing the restored “silver vessels” of the English school of catholic spirituality, we share much in common. And now we share our holy father, Benedict.

Jesus reminds us again this evening that the one who hears his word and believes in the One who sent him, has eternal life. We, my sisters and brothers, are on a journey from death to life (John 5:24). As St. Benedict writes in the Prologue of his Rule: “As we progress in the way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.” May it be so for us, and may the Lord use us to rebuild the house of God. Amen.


[In the photo, L to R front row: Bishop Steven Lopes; Fr. Jack Augustine Barker, Obl.S.B.; Bishop Michael Aidan Smith, Obl.S.B.; Fr. Matthew Cuthbert Dallman, Obl.S.B. Back row, L to R: Fr. Bill Thorfinn Brenna, Obl.S.B.; Br. John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.; Mr. Stephen Aethelwold Hilgendorf, Obl.S.B. For more information, go here.]

On Anglican Ethos, part 2 : an audio lecture

What it is about Anglican patrimony that gives it distinctiveness? What about it has made the Anglican Church unique, while still a strong, if troubled, member of the Catholic family of churches? The answer for many is, what makes Anglicanism unique is called the “Anglican ethos.” Anglican ethos is a term that refers to how the feel and senseor “culture”—of Anglican life emerges from our tradition of liturgy, parish life, sacraments and monastic tradition.

Father Thomas Fraser, rector at Saint Paul’s, Riverside (near Chicago) for 40 years, provides the second half of his lecture that addresses those questions in an accessible and authoritative presentation that is 53 minutes long.

In this time of confusion about Anglicanism in England, the United States, and elsewhere, it can be difficult to see what makes us, in a healthy sense, “us.” In addition to the outline begun in Part 1, where he stressed the importance of The Book of Common Prayer as the Anglican Regula, in Part 2 Father Fraser outlines the five basic characteristics of Anglican uniqueness. The characterics are 1. Catholic theology, 2. an Evangelical spirit (that is, the Evangelical Counsels), 3. a Patristic foundation, 4. a Search After Truth and Quality of Life, and 5. Intellectual Openness and Individual Freedom.

Listen to Part 1 of “Anglican Ethos” here.

See also:

What does ‘Regula’ Mean?
What is ‘English Spirituality’?

 

 

On Anglican Ethos, part 1 : an audio lecture

What it is about Anglican patrimony that gives it distinctiveness? What is it about it has made the Anglican Church unique, while still a strong, if troubled, member of the Catholic family of churches?

Father Thomas Fraser, the now retired rector of Saint Paul’s, Riverside (near Chicago) after 42 years, provides a lecture that addresses those questions in an accessible and authoritative presentation that is 52 minutes long. In this time of confusion about Anglicanism in England, the United States, and elsewhere, it can be difficult to see what makes us, in a healthy sense, “us.” Father Fraser provides a historical overview of what is called “the Anglican ethos,” as well as what it means for us, today.

“Anglican ethos” is a term that refers to how the feel and senseor “culture”—of Anglican life emerges from our tradition of liturgy, parish life, sacraments and monastic tradition. The Book of Common Prayer is absolutely crucial to this ethos, this “less tangible patrimony.” To understand it correctly, the Prayer Book must seen not as a collection of worship services, but rather as a Regula—or pattern, framework of corporate life that orders the threefold prayer life of Office-Mass-Devotion. This is the heart of what gives Anglicanism its ethos, its distinctive characteristics and quality. As Father Fraser says, “Regula is what forms our life. . . . No other western Church has as its liturgy its Regula.

In the course of his lecture, which is taken from a recent Adult Theology Class (a five-semester course taught for 35 years at St Paul’s, Riverside and mandatory for full membership in the parish), Father Fraser also describes how it was Martin Thornton who gave language and vocabulary to what older generations of Anglicans understood to be the Anglican ethos. It was well understood, he says, often implicitly. But not until Martin Thornton came along, particularly with his classic English Spirituality, was the general sense of our identity explicitly demonstrated to be consonant with, and a continuation of, Benedictinism. Father Fraser also describes how Anglicanism, seen broadly with the Book of Common Prayer as its foundation, is Catholic in its doctrine, practice and imagination.

Enjoy this lecture, study it, and share and discuss in your home parish. Listen to Part 2 here.