Armor of Light

prayer

Almighty God,

give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light,
now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;
that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

What is the Divine Darkness?

by Dionysius the Areopagite

Supernal Triad, Deity above all essence, knowledge and goodness; Guide of Christians to Divine Wisdom; direct our path to the ultimate summit of your mystical knowledge, most incomprehensible, most luminous and most exalted, where the pure, absolute and immutable mysteries of theology are veiled in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their Darkness, and surcharging our blinded intellects with the utterly impalpable and invisible fairness of glories surpassing all beauty.

Let this be my prayer; but do, dear Timothy, in the diligent exercise of mystical contemplation, leave behind the senses and the operations of the intellect, and all things sensible and intellectual, and all things in the world of being and nonbeing, that you may arise by unknowing towards the union, as far as is attainable, with it that transcends all being and all knowledge.(1) For by the unceasing and absolute renunciation of yourself and of all things you may be borne on high, through pure and entire self-abnegation, into the superessential Radiance of the Divine Darkness.(2)

Trinity Icon

Trinity by Andrei Rublev

But these things are not to be disclosed to the uninitiated, by whom I mean those attached to the objects of human thought, and who believe there is no superessential Reality beyond, and who imagine that by their own understanding they know it that has made Darkness Its secret place. And if the principles of the divine Mysteries are beyond the understanding of these, what is to be said of others still more incapable thereof, who describe the transcendental First Cause of all by characteristics drawn from the lowest order of beings, while they deny that it is in any way above the images which they fashion after various designs; whereas they should affirm that, while it possesses all the positive attributes of the universe (being the Universal Cause) yet, in a more strict sense, it does not possess them, since it transcends them all; wherefore there is no contradiction between the affirmations and the negations, inasmuch as it infinitely precedes all conceptions of deprivation, being beyond all positive and negative distinctions.

Thus the blessed Bartholomew asserts that the divine science is both vast and minute, and that the Gospel is great and broad, yet concise and short; signifying by this, that the beneficent Cause of all is most eloquent, yet utters few words, or rather is altogether silent, as having neither (human) speech nor (human) understanding, because it is super-essentially exalted above created things, and reveals itself in Its naked Truth to those alone who pass beyond all that is pure or impure, and ascend above the topmost altitudes of holy things, and who, leaving behind them all divine light and sound and heavenly utterances, plunge into the Darkness where truly dwells, as the Oracles declare, that ONE who is beyond all.

It was not without reason that the blessed Moses was commanded first to purify himself and them to separate himself from those who had not undergone purifcation; and after the entire purification heard many trumpets and saw many lights streaming forth with pure and manifold rays; and that he was thereafter separated from the multitude, with the elect priests, and pressed forward to the summit of the divine ascent. Nevertheless, he did not attain to the Presence of God itself; he saw not it (for it cannot be looked upon) but the Place where it dwells. And this I take to signify that the divinest and highest things seen by the eyes or contemplated by the mind are but the symbolical expressions of those that are immediately beneath it that is above all. Through these, Its incomprehensible Presence is manifested upon those heights of Its Holy Places; that then It breaks forth, even from that which is seen and that which sees, and plunges the mystic into the Darkness of Unknowing, whence all perfection of understanding is excluded, and he is enwrapped in that which is altogether intangible, wholly absorbed in it that is beyond all, and in none else (whether himself or another); and through the inactivity of all his reasoning powers is united by his highest faculty to it that is wholly unknowable; thus by knowing nothing he knows That which is beyond his knowledge.

My Problem with My Protestantism

The biggest issue I have is foundational.redbrick

This issue popped up several years ago now and I still haven’t found a satisfactory solution to the problem. Over the last 6 or 7 years I spent plenty of coin on books dealing with the sola scriptura and canon to no avail. The problem, simply stated, how did the church function before canon was determined and wide spread? Practically speaking it was the Apostles and their successors.

The authority of preaching the word of God was in their hands and this continued until the Reformation. Every time I visit a traditional church I’m confronted with these facts.

I will post more another time.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

John Jewel, Preparing our Hearts

IMG_20180325_093621_187

Holy Trinity, Anglican

Preparing for the Sacraments:

It remaineth, that we consider how we ought to prepare our hearts :  and with what faith and reverence we should resort to these holy mysteries.  We may not come, as we use to do to our usual meats.  For here, in a mystery and Sacrament of bread, is set before us the body of Christ our Saviour ;  and his blood in the Sacrament of Wine.  We see one thing, we must conceive another thing.  Therefore we must in such manner be affected, as if we were present to behold his death upon the cross, and the shedding of his blood for our sins.

Let us set before our eyes that dreadful tragedy, and the causes and effects of his death :  that so our hearts may be the rather moved to yield that allegiance, obedience, and reverence, which is due.  We were the children of wrath, the enemies of God, shut up under sin, and the heirs of everlasting damnation.  In this case “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have life everlasting.”  And as Saint Paul saith :  “God sent his own Son in the similitude of sinful flesh, and by sin condemned sin in the flesh.”  There was no other thing in heaven or earth, which would be taken for our ransom.  Therefore was the Son of God brought before the Judge, and arraigned as a thief, and condemned, and scourged, and put to death :  his side was opened with a spear, and the blood flowed out :  and he said, It is finished :  that is to say, the price for man is now paid.  Thus, “being in the form of God, he thought it no robbery to be equal with God :  but he made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made like unto men, and was found in shape as a man.  He humbled himself, and became obedient unto the death, even the death of the Cross.”  He gave his body to be crucified, and his blood to be shed for our sakes.  There was no other sacrifice left for sin :  woe worth the sin of man, that was the cause of the death of Christ.

John Jewel

John Jewel

Rom. 8. Philip. 2.

What were the effects of his death ?  What followed ?  “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Iesus should every knee bow :  and that every tongue should confess that Iesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  God spake out of the heavens, and said :  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  He crowned him with glory and honour :  he hath not only advanced Christ, but us also together with him :  “And made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus :  He hath made us like to the Image of his Son.”  Thus hath he made us an acceptable people, and hath renewed the face of the earth :  see that now he saith not, as he did to Adam, Thou art earth, and shalt return to earth  :  but he saith, Thou art heaven :  an immortal and undefiled inheritance that fadeth not away is reserved in heaven for thee.  This is the effect, and value of the death of Christ.

Phil. 2.Ephes. 2.

All these things are laid before us in the holy table, if we have eyes to see and behold them.  There may we see the crucifying of his body, and the shedding of his blood, as it were in a glass.  Therefore Christ saith, Do this in remembrance of me :  in remembrance of my benefit wrought for you :  in remembrance of your salvation purchased by me.  S. Paul saith :  “As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till he come.

1 Cor. 11.

In this Supper lieth a hidden mystery.  There is the horror of sin, there is the death of our Lord for our sin represented, how he was wounded for our sins, and tormented for our iniquities, and led as a lamb to the slaughter.  There may we see the shame of the Cross :  the darkness over the world :  the earth to quake :  the stones to cleave asunder :  the graves to open, and the dead to rise.  These things may we see in the Supper :  this is the meaning of these holy mysteries.

Therefore let every one examine himself, and search and weigh his own heart, whether he be the child of God, and a member of the body of Christ :  and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup.  The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a holy food, the seal of our faith, the assurance of God’s promises, and a covenant between God and man.  He that doth unworthily thrust himself to this table, eateth and drinketh his own damnation.  When a sick man, of a weak and feeble stomach, sitteth down to eat with them that are whole, whatsoever he eateth or drinketh, it doth increase his sickness.  To them that perish, the word of God is a savour of death unto death.  “Whoso disagreeth from Christ, neither eateth his bread, nor drinketh his blood,” as saith S. Augustine.

If any of us come to the Sacrament of the body of Christ, and yet make ourselves the members of the Devil, we tread Christ under our feet, we regard not his body crucified, nor his blood shed for us ;  we regard not the price of our salvation, we are guilty of his death, we betray the innocent blood, we are fallen from grace, and Christ hath died in vain for us.

Let us remember Christ was forsaken, scorned, buffeted, crucified, and left upon the Cross :  he was “a worm, and no man,” a reproach among men.  Nature itself yearned, and yielded at the sight hereof.  The whole land grew dark, the earth did quake, the Sun lost his light, the powers of heaven were moved, the rocks were cloven, the veil of the Temple rent, the thief repented, and said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom : ” the Centurion glorified God, and said, “Of a surety this man was just.

Where is the power of Christ’s death now ?  Where is the force and power of his word ?  By these means he speaketh to thee, and calleth, saying ;  Behold, O man, thus have I sought thee :  these things I suffer for thy sake, that thou shouldest eat my flesh, and drink my blood, and be made one with me :  that thou mightest come into me, and I into thee.  I have made thee a member of my body, “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”  Thou that wallowest in thy sins, thou Sodom and Gomorrah, thou child of destruction, which hast rejoiced in my shame, and art not moved with the pains which I have suffered, what might I do for thy sake, to save thee, that I have not done? What might I suffer, and have not endured it? O be a partner of my death, that thou mayest have part in my resurrection.

Let us die with Christ ;  let us be crucified unto the world.  Let us be holy Eagles, and soar above.  Let us go up into the great parlour, and receive of our Lord the cup of the new Testament.  There let us behold the body that was crucified for us, and the blood which was shed for us.  There let us say, This is the ransom of the world :  this was once offered, and hath made perfect for ever all them that believe :  this entered once into the holy place, and obtained everlasting redemption for us :  this standeth always in the presence of God, and maketh intercession for us :  this is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world : ” by this body I am now no more earth and ashes :  by this, I am now not a bondman, but made free.  This body hath broken the gates of hell, and hath opened heaven.  In this are all the treasures of God’s mercy :  by this the prince of darkness is cast forth :  in this body shall he come again to judge the quick and the dead.

Let no unclean or filthy person, no adulterer, no usurer, no cruel extortioner, or devourer of God’s people, offer himself to the receiving of this Sacrament.  If any be such a one, I require him by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and by the Judge of the quick and the dead, that he come not to the Lord’s table :  that he betray not the Son of God.  “It were better he had never been born, and that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he thrown into the sea.” Let us not deceive ourselves :  God will not be mocked.  He receiveth damnation, that receiveth unworthily.

Let us fall down before our Lord, and give thanks unto him :  Let us say, “What shall I give unto the Lord, for all that he hath given unto me ?  I will take the Cup of Salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”  Let us say, O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the world.  Let us say, Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his holy name.  Let us purpose and promise amendment of our life :  let us go out with Peter, and weep :  let us fall at Christ’s feet with Mary Magdalene, and with our tears wash his feet :  let us say with David, I have sinned to the Lord :  let us say with the prodigal Son, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against thee, I am no more worthy to be called thy Son :  let us say, Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.  Thou art my God.  I am thy servant.  O save me for thy mercy’s sake.  Let us offer up our bodies, a living, pure, holy, and acceptable sacrifice to God.  So shall we be partakers of the death of Christ, and of his resurrection.

Sarum Rite

As you folks probably know I love the Book of Common Prayer! It’s an amazing aid to worship but did you know that before the Reformation the common liturgy used was called the Sarum Rite?

“The Use of Sarum, also known as the Sarum Rite or Use of Salisbury, is a variant (“use”) of the Roman Rite widely used for the ordering of Christian public worship, including the Mass and the Divine Office. It was established by Saint Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, and Richard Poore in the 11th century and was originally the local form used in the Cathedral and Diocese of Salisbury, England.

It later became prevalent throughout southern England and came to be used throughout most of England, Wales, Ireland, and (later) Scotland, until it was suppressed in 1559 under Queen Elizabeth I. Although abandoned after the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation, it was a notable influence on the pattern of Anglican liturgy represented in the Book of Common Prayer. Occasional interest in and attempts at restoration of the liturgy by Anglicans and Catholics have not, however, produced a general revival.” – Wiki

Maundy Thursday

This past Thursday my wife and I attended a Maundy Thursday Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Immaculate and really enjoyed the service. The architecture of the Basilica was absolutely stunning.

 

In the Gospel of John 13:1-17 we find the example of Christ washing the feet of His disciples. This example was lived out in front of the altar during the Mass.

“Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that heJesus_washing_Peters_feet1.jpg should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done, (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him,) Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God; He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all. For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean. Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. Amen, amen I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.”

The Mass with Procession of the Sacrament was powerful and moving. As the incense washed over us we sang “Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium,” a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274).

st. thomas.jpg

Tell, tongue, the mystery
of the glorious Body
and of the precious Blood,
which, for the price of the world,
the fruit of a noble Womb,
the King of the Nations poured forth.

Given to us, born for us,
from the untouched Virgin,
and dwelt in the world
after the seed of the Word had been scattered.
His inhabiting ended the delays
with wonderful order.

On the night of the Last Supper,
reclining with His brethren,
once the Law had been fully observed
with the prescribed foods,
as food to the crowd of Twelve
He gives Himself with His hands.

The Word as Flesh makes true bread
into flesh by a word
and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.
And if sense is deficient
to strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone suffices.

Therefore, the great Sacrament
let us reverence, prostrate:
and let the old Covenant
give way to a new rite.
Let faith stand forth as substitute
for defect of the senses.

To the Begetter and the Begotten
be praise and jubilation,
greeting, honour, strength also
and blessing.
To the One who proceeds from Both
be equal praise.
Amen, Alleluia.

By now it’s safe to say I am no longer a Baptist…no longer Reformed. What am I? I am a Christian who is searching, seeking and finding Christ where He may be found and that is in the liturgy of the word, in Holy Communion, where Christ literally is.

Our Lord said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.” John 6

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!

jm