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(Traditional Anglican Communion)
The Apostolic Faith in the Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, Reformed and Catholic Tradition
What is an Anglican Christian?Anglican Christians are part of the catholic or universal church of Christ which has common origins with the world wide Anglican family of churches. They are often referred to simply as Anglicans, or as Anglo-Catholic, Anglican Catholic, English Catholic, or Catholic Anglican. Anglican Christians are often considered orthodox, or being of the one true church and evangelical, where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is professed and Holy Scripture is the primary authority for the faithful. The Church continues the work of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Apostles and Saints for all eternity. That work is carried on in small parishes, urban slums and modern suburbs throughout the world. The modern Anglican Church is also a reformed catholic church, where the events and ideas of the great reformation of the 16th century in the Western Christian Church had significant influences on the church. There are several Communions of Anglican Churches in the world today. A communion is an association of churches with common roots whose theology and liturgical practices are in harmony with each other. The largest of these is the Anglican Communion, whose churches are in communion with England’s Archbishop of Canterbury. The more conservative and traditional association of Anglican Churches is known as the Traditional Anglican Communion and like the larger Anglican Communion, has churches throughout the world. There are also a number of related smaller communions whose common roots are shared with the Anglican Church. There are over an estimated 80 million Anglicans who adhere to Anglican Christian belief and practice, the third largest Christian body in the world.
Roots of Anglican Christianity
Although many believe that Anglican Christianity came from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, it actually had its beginnings in the earliest days of the Christian Church. As the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ spread the Gospel throughout the known world, it is believed that Joseph of Arimathea first brought Christianity to the indigenous Celtic tribes of Ireland, Scotland and Britain. While his visit may be in dispute, the early Christian Church took hold in locations from Egypt to Britain in the first century and grew in the lands that would someday be called the British Isles.
The Romans invaded Britain in A.D. 47 and eventually brought their own brand of civilization to the native Celts. Roman language and culture took a strong hold in Britain and eventually the future Emperor of Rome, Constantine, was crowned as head of the Northwest providences of the Empire in A.D. 306 in York. During his time in Britain, he no doubt had been exposed to the existing Christian Church in that part of the civilized world. Later he looked to take over as Emperor of the entire Roman Empire and in A.D. 312, after seeing a vision of the cross, conquered Rome and consolidated his power over all of Roman civilization. It was Constantine who allowed Christianity to become the recognized religion of the Roman Empire.
When the Anglo-Saxons invaded from the European continent in A.D. 367, the Romans, Celtics and native Saxons were driven back and Christianity struggled in the face of the culture of the invading barbarians. Christianity became widespread throughout most of the Roman Empire and the various churches in the Western and Eastern parts of the Empire grew and flourished. In Britain, peaceful co-existence, to the extent it was possible, came to the land and Christianity there also became more organized and widespread.
In A.D. 596, the Bishop of Rome, St. Gregory I, sent a Benedictine monk, St. Augustine, to see to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon tribes now inhabiting the territories at the end of the Roman Empire. Upon his arrival in Britain however, St. Augustine, later to become the Bishop of Canterbury, found clergy, and well organized churches and monasteries that had been established by the early Celtic Church. St. Augustine began to experience tension between the Celts and the Roman missionaries who worked under him as the Celtic Christians had had their own bishops and liturgy for some time, and the papal missionaries wanted to "Romanize" the Celts, as well as the Anglo-Saxon heathen. While St. Augustine succeeded in the conversion of the people of Kent, his successors and the disciples of St. Aidan continued the missionary work of converting the remaining Anglo-Saxons and integrating the Celtic Church into the rest of the Western Christian Church. The conformance of the Celtic Church to the Church of the Holy Roman Empire finally took place in A.D. 664 at the Synod of Whitby. The inherent conflicts however between the established church and the church sanctioned by Rome were to set the stage for centuries of conflict between England and Rome.
This conflict came to a head at the beginning of the 13th century. By this time, the Eastern Churches of Christendom had already separated from the Western Churches in 1015. By 1200, the papacy had consolidated its power and had become a well-established monarchy by this time. Rome had also begun to require allegiance, including financial tribute, from each of the nations in Western Christendom. The Plantagenet rulers of England, however, refused to pay, so Pope Innocent III placed an interdict on England and forbade all sacramental rites, from Baptism to the Last Rites, to be performed in England until it paid. This lasted for five years before England finally conceded. Despite this, however, Medieval England flourished and was very devout and very catholic. It was referred to as "Mary's dowry" because of the great devotion of the English people to the Blessed Virgin. The most popular Marianshrine in all England at the time was that of Our Lady of Walsingham.
The Tudor Reformation
Several hundred years later, when Henry VIII drew the Church of England under his temporal control, he ended a struggle between England and Rome that had been mounting for some time. Though Henry broke ties with Rome for very personal reasons, he upheld the catholic faith to his deathbed. In fact, he was so adamantly against Protestantism that he wrote a strong tract against Martin Luther. This earned him the title Defensor fidei, or Defender of the Faith, from the pope. English monarchs continue to bear the title to this day. Unfortunately, the new power enjoyed by the monarchy following the War of the Roses, had corrupted Henry to such an extent that he became a vicious tyrant in his later years. The absence of a legitimate male heir to the throne also put some pressure on him. When he sought an annulment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, he unwittingly left everything up to his trusted advisor the Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey chose to bring Henry's case to Rome rather than just settle on a quite annulment given by the Primate of All England, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This, as most know, ended in disaster and the first breach with Rome.
By the time Henry’s son, Edward VI, ascended the throne while still a young boy, the Reformation had already taken hold in England. Many Protestant reformers had strong influence on the boy king and changed many things, mainly abolishing what were believed to be superstitious and non-scriptural, “Romish" practices. These "reforms" were carried out to such an extent that the new Church of England seemed to owe more to the reformers of Northern Europe than the historic catholicism of the early church. But while the nobles were becoming increasingly Protestant, the common folk were still very catholic, holding onto both traditional Anglican and Latin rites of the Church.
Since the "reforms" were only partially in practice, a synod of bishops met to discuss what other changes should be implemented. In A.D. 1549, The Booke of the Common Prayer was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. This book was essentially a translation and simplification of the Sarum Missal. It was designed to be used not only by the clergy, but by the laity. Previously, England had its own Latin rite for the Mass, known as the Sarum Rite, which had been used for centuries since the time of Roman occupation. This rite was somewhat similar to one of the rites of the Oriental or Eastern Orthodox Church and had many interesting and unique peculiarities such certain color vestments and other items used during the Mass. The Book of Common Prayer drew heavily from the Sarum Rite but put the rite into the common language of the day.
Archbishop Cranmer, however, saw this only as a partial reform and began working on the next revised edition of The Book of Common Prayer in order to integrate additional Lutheran and Calvinistic reforms. In A.D. 1570, the Roman Catholic Church standardized its liturgy, and forced all of its bishops to conform to this new rite at the Council of Trent, which had been convened to address abuses in the church and denounce the heresies of the continental "reformers". This standardized Roman liturgy became known as the Tridentine Rite.
Under Henry VIII, monasteries had been abolished, but bishops, priests & deacons remained. They were put under the guidance of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The Mass, however, remained in Latin and catholic doctrine remained unchanged. Under Edward, the Reformation was widely implemented and the liturgy changed. When Mary I became queen after Edward, she brought back much of what was changed under Edward, and restored ties with Rome and persecuted many of the Protestants in the Church. Eventually, when Elizabeth I came to the thrown after her sister Mary's death, she was faced with a predicament. Many called for reform and others called for a return to historic practice and tradition. Realizing that this could turn into a major conflict, Elizabeth chose a middle ground and "Reformed catholicism" came into being. The Book of Common Prayer would come back into use, but continental Protestant theology, the theology of people like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli would be of less critical application. In addition, there would be a toleration of sundry views so long as one remained loyal to the Church of England and the Supreme Governour of the Church of England, the Monarch, Queen Elizabeth. The English accepted the compromise. This became known as the Elizabethan Settlement.
What this meant was that the seven sacraments (two major and five minor sacraments), three creeds, and basic catholic doctrine would stay, but "Romish embellishments" would be thwarted. The Book of Common Prayer was revised in a much more traditional and catholic direction. The pope even offered to approve this new Anglican rite, if Elizabeth would reestablish ties with Rome. The queen, however, had no desire for papal domination and rejected his offer. An excommunication followed suit and it was stated by Roman Catholics that the Tudors had no intention of keeping catholicism, let alone the doctrine of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament. On that particular issue, Queen Elizabeth I, who held some traditional and catholic views, was very specific. In speaking to those reformers in the Church of England who would deny the Real Presence she said, 'Twas God the Word that spake it, He took the Bread and Brake it, And what his Word doth make it, That I believe and take it.
The Puritan Uprising
This middle ground, or via media, between Catholicism and Protestantism lasted until the English Civil War, when the Puritans gained control. The Puritans wanted to "purify" the Church of England from what they believed to be too many Romanist views. They accepted the teachings of the continental reformers, primarily John Calvin. A sizable number of the English people were subscribing to reformist views and there were in fact many Puritans in both Parliament and the military. They eventually became strong enough to challenge the monarchy and execute the king, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The reign of the Puritans was characterized by harsh and strict rule, and much iconoclasm. They abolished all catholic practices, smashed altars, torched cathedrals, desecrated shrines, and beheaded King Charles I. This barbarism lasted only a few decades before the English grew tired of the horror of the Puritan yoke and ousted them. Many Puritans escaped to America to practice their theology in the New World. The monarchy and church were restored in A.D. 1660 and The Book of Common Prayer revised and put back to use in 1662. The via media was reinstituted.
The Evangelical & Catholic Revivals
This middle ground continued, but eventually stagnated. The Stuarts had fostered an environment that allowed intellectuals to thrive in the church. The Stuart monarchs varied in temperament, but viewed the church as something great. They had high ideals for the Church of England. When Queen Anne died, without a successor, George of Hanover was asked to take the throne. With his Lutheran background, he was less inclined toward the catholicity of the English Church. The approaches of the previous Stuart monarchs were revisited and the integrity of the episcopacy and church hierarchy faltered. This trickled down to the parochial clergy as well. Protestant sentiments became quite ubiquitous in England, but they seemed to lack a religious fervor. A need for reform became evident by the middle of the 18th century. Two movements in the late 18th century and early 19th century once again changed the face of Anglicanism. The first was the Evangelical Revival started by two Anglican priests, who were brothers, by the names of John & Charles Wesley. While Charles is known mainly for his hymnody, John was known more for his ideas about religion. He stressed personal holiness, scriptural study, a steadfast & methodical approach to the Prayer Book, and an emphasis on preaching. He also stressed more frequent reception of the Eucharist. Unfortunately, the Wesleys' followers eventually split from the Church and formed the Methodist Church which chose not to continue the catholicity of the Church of England.
The second movement is commonly called the Catholic Revival, or the Oxford movement. A group of Oxonians (students and faculty of Oxford University) began to write tracts on what was wrong with the Church of England. The primary author of these tracts was the great John Henry Newman. One of the things that these Oxonians saw was a decline in reverence and morality. As a solution, they began to explore medieval catholicism. The Oxford Movement was very focused on catholic theology, while the ensuing Anglo-Catholic Movement of later years was very much focused on catholic practices. The Tridentine Mass, which was the standardized Latin Mass for all Roman Christendom at the Council of Trent, was translated into English. This became known as The English Missal. Those Anglo-Catholics who use this or The Anglican Missal (an American variation) are known as "missal catholics," while those who use The Book of Common Prayer, with some additions to the prayers and ceremony, are known as "prayer-book catholics." Monastic communities of monks and nuns were formed; the rosary became popular; confessions became more regular; High Mass, with full ceremonial practices was not uncommon. Anglican priests began to wear "Roman" garments, not only in the church, but on the street. Essentially, the Catholic Reformers wanted to bring medieval catholic practice back to the church. Some of the reformers eventually left for the Roman Catholic Communion, such as John Henry Newman. Those who stayed, such as John Keble and Edward Bouverie Pusey, did much to change the face of Anglicanism. This new "Anglo-Catholicism" spread dramatically. By the 1920s, one in every four Anglicans was an Anglo-Catholic. As the Church of England spread to the colonies, so did the Catholic Revival. Today, almost half of the Anglican Communion is "Anglo-Catholic" although most Anglo-Catholics live in the Third World.
Anglicanism came to the United States with the colonies. After the Revolution, however, the American Church did not want the name Anglican, which is Latin for "English", in its title so it chose the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. "Protestant" which generally came to mean "opposed to Roman Papal rule" and "Episcopal" meaning "having bishops." They were Protestant Episcopal as opposed to Roman Episcopal, as in the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Revival came to America as well, and flourished in the Northeast and the West. Churches such as St. Mary the Virgin ( New York), St. Mark's (Philadelphia), Church of the Advent (Boston), St. Paul’s Church (Portland), Church of the Advent of Christ the King (San Francisco), and St. Mary of the Angels ( Los Angeles) came into being and attracted people by the hundreds.
These and other Anglo-Catholic parish churches are known for their opulence. They have been left with lavish furnishings and sizable endowments. The reason for this being that the Protestant Episcopal Church, as a prominent church in America, has always had significant resources at its disposal. Many of the nation’s early leaders were members of the church.
After the Second Vatican Council a liberal movement emerged. As the saying goes, "when Rome has a cold the rest of us get pneumonia." The changes brought about by VC II spilled over into the Anglican Communion as well. This movement had reshaped the face of the Episcopal Church so that it began to resemble neither Anglicanism nor catholicism, and sometimes, not even Christianity, according to some.
In the 1970’s, the Protestant Episcopal Church in America was renamed the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) and after much discussion, adopted a new Book of Common Prayer, approved the ordination of women and relegated several key documents of the Church from doctrinal to historical. These actions began to introduce similar reforms in other parts of the Anglican Communion.
These changes brought about the so-called "ordination" of women priests, a new "Book of Common Prayer" which had little resemblance to previous editions, the use of new language which neutralizes the gender of God and directly contradicts Christ's teaching of God as "Our Father", dramatic changes in music some of which was not considered to be liturgical, radical changes in the liturgy, lack of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, a simplifying of the beautiful ceremonial and musical tradition of the church, a neutral theology which stresses neither the sacrifice of the agonizing death of Christ on the cross, nor his glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and a decrease in the prayer life of the church.
This movement reached its pinnacle when the Episcopal Church in the United States ordained an openly gay cleric as the Bishop of New Hampshire, which most in the church feel is contrary to scripture. Some in this group advocate catering to the people as opposed to worshiping God and have taken changes furthest in the American Episcopal Church. Those who oppose them have been vehemently opposed to the changes and have left the church. While it is still possible to find traditional worship and religion in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, the doctrine of the church has been significantly altered. These changes, particularly in liturgy have not only been taking place in the Anglican Church. For Roman Catholics, many new changes have been implemented on almost every level. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Roman Catholic churches have also found traditional worship has changed or been eliminated. Some separatist groups have emerged like the Society of St. Pius X, whose priests still say the Latin Mass.
The Traditional Anglican Church
The actions by the American Episcopal Church and other Churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion, brought about the formation of new traditional church movements that desired to remain true to scripture based theology, historic practice and long standing worship. In America, the roots of this traditional, or sometimes called continuing, church movements lie in the changes made in the Episcopal Church which had existed for nearly two hundred years as a solid institution. During that time it had only experienced one major schism. In the 1870s, a group of Low Church Episcopalians broke away and formed the Reformed Episcopal Church. The group still exists and has experienced some growth over the past ten years. Although their numbers are small, perhaps 10-12 thousand, they have made common cause with the continuing church of late, forming particularly strong ties to other continuing church movements.
In order to address some of the issues raised by this movement, a compromise was brought about by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral which developed a four-point program synthesizing high, low and broad church positions. The Quadrilateral is a valid statement of the Anglican Ethos and is accepted today as a summary statement of Anglicanism. Most continuing churches still subscribe to it.
After a period of harmony, the Christian Church, including Anglicanism, went through a time of turmoil in the 1960s. The church began to abandon many important aspects of its churchmanship. Changes instituted by Vatican II as well as the desire of many in the church to “modernize” began to impact every traditional Western denomination.
In the American Episcopal Church, major shifts were instituted during the term of Presiding Bishop, John E. Hines. The Prayer Book revision, the move toward the ordination of women and the support of radical organizations (some of which proposed violent activity against the country). Still, the church remained strong and its assets were significant. Church membership reached its peak in 1976, the year women’s' ordination was regularized by general convention. Since that time however, the church experienced a long, steady, even precipitate, decline.
The governing church that we are part of today may be effectively dated from 1976, during which time The Congress of St. Louis was held in September of that year. Conservative Anglicans and Episcopalians gathered and drafted a document called "The Affirmation of St. Louis" and organized a group called the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). According to those who were there St. Louis was a very spirit-filled event. Instituted by the laity, it brought together thousands of Anglicans who were feeling increasingly isolated by the Episcopal Church. After this initial meeting, progress in the development of the church remained slow, however a number of continuing church movements begun prior to and after St. Louis grew. These included the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), the American Episcopal Church (AEC) and the Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC).
Early on, the question of unity among traditional and conservative Anglicans was raised. Many felt that the lack of unity among the traditional jurisdictions was harming the cause of orthodoxy. A major attempt at unity was affected in 1991 at Deerfied Beach, Florida. The American Episcopal Church and a large part of the Anglican Catholic Church joined to form the Anglican Church in America (ACA). Archbishop Louis Falk and the late Bishop Bruce Chamberlain were prime movers behind the merger.
The ACA dates its origin from this merger and since then, has grown and formed other alliances with churches of similar practice and belief throughout the world. This new international church has come together to form the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) which has become the largest of the traditional and continuing church bodies. Under the previous leadership of Archbishop Falk and now Primate and worldwide Archbishop, the Most Reverend John Hepworth, it has grown in worldwide stature. It is a measure of God's grace that it has become an extraordinary witness to what can be done by God's people. God goes where He is wanted.
The story of the Anglican Continuum is dramatic, often messy, but also filled with courageous, faithful people who wished to serve God. The Holy Spirit assisted them in creating a church which supports Biblical morality and orthodox faith. The Traditional Anglican Communion remains true to the original theology of Anglicanism and Anglo-Catholicism through its members worldwide. Many faithful Christians in the Church have realigned themselves with this new communion, rejecting liberal movements and “secularization” of the Church.
The Church Today
Today, in the Traditional Anglican Communion, we differentiate between various liturgical practices in the church but remain centered on our core theology. There are Evangelicals who embrace scripture while remaining comfortable with church tradition. These are generally referred to as Low Churchmen or Protestant Anglicans because they prefer simpler liturgical practices. There are Anglo-Catholics, or High Churchmen, similar in practice to traditional Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. Somewhere in the middle are the Broad Churchmen or Latitudinarians. While these names originally designated theological differences, today they have now come to refer, generally, to liturgical ones. Due to the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council, and the extent that they have been carried out in the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S., Lutheran Church in America, the Methodist Church and a number of other denominations, practice and belief is sometimes indistinguishable. However, along with liturgical and historic practice, the abandonment of scripture and sound theology has also taken place.
In today's world, Traditional Anglican and Anglo-Catholic churches provide an outlet for Christians who want to have formal and traditional worship, as well as sound theology and prayerful dedication, in their religion. At a Traditional Anglican Church you will find solid evangelical preaching, historic and traditional worship and pronounced religious practice. Services and Masses will be in the historic English of worship and may include the music of Mozart, Haydn or Brahms being sung. You may find quiet simple low Mass, a familiar service from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer or High Mass on Sunday, with all the incense, bells and chanting that go along with it. You will find Bible study and devotional services regularly, as well as the rosary and other such devotions as the norm. You may find Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Evensong and will find people involved in the Society of Mary, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, the Guild of All Souls & the Sodality of the Living Rosary.
Most significantly however, you will find a church of Christianity through whose theology, practice and tradition is focused on the great commission as given us by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt: 28:18-20.)
Traditional Anglican Christianity is a means by which many of us practice our faith “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23). We gather in the Church that was founded at the beginning of Christianity and grew with the great Christian Churches of the West and the East. Here is a church that has held onto its core traditions and practice, alive in the Holy Spirit, and structured in its succession. Here is a Church for all Christians; Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Reformed and Evangelical. Here is a Church true to Jesus Christ.
(Based on an original text by Mr. Michael J. Ernst, with contributions from the Rt. Rev. Dr. Brian Marsh, Very Rev. Lester York, Rev. Dr. Alan Koller, Rev. Dr. John Corcoran , Rev. Dale Dickerson, , Rev. Dean Steward and edited by the Rev. Mr. Jeffrey Monroe.)
As established by the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the Anglican Church in the United States of America, in Convention, on the twelfth day of September, in the Year of our Lord, 1801.
I. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in the unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.
III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell.
As Christ died for us, and was buried; so also it is to be believed, that he went down into Hell.
IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ.
Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man's nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.
V. Of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books
- The First Book of Samuel,
- The Second Book of Samuel,
- The First Book of Kings,
- The Second Book of Kings,
- The First Book of Chronicles,
- The Second Book of Chronicles,
- The First Book of Esdras,
- The Second Book of Esdras,
- The Book of Esther,
- The Book of Job,
- The Psalms,
- The Proverbs,
- Ecclesiastes or Preacher,
- Cantica, or Songs of Solomon,
- Four Prophets the greater,
- Twelve Prophets the less.
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:
- The Third Book of Esdras,
- The Fourth Book of Esdras,
- The Book of Tobias,
- The Book of Judith,
- The rest of the Book of Esther,
- The Book of Wisdom,
- Jesus the Son of Sirach,
- Baruch the Prophet,
- The Song of the Three Children,
- The Story of Susanna,
- Of Bel and the Dragon,
- The Prayer of Manasses,
- The First Book of Maccabees,
- The Second Book of Maccabees.
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.
VII. Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.
VIII. Of the Creeds.
The Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
IX. Of Original or Birth Sin.
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek, *fro/nhma sarko/s*, (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh), is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.
X. Of Free Will.
The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely expressed in the Homily of Justification.
XII. Of Good Works.
Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
XIII. Of Works before Justification.
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of the Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.
Voluntary Works besides, over and above, God's Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they not only render unto God as much as they are bound to, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.
XV. Of Christ alone without Sin.
Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit. He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world; and sin (as Saint John saith) was not in him. But all we the rest, although baptized, and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
XVI. Of Sin after Baptism.
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
XVII. Of Predestination and Election
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only- begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wrethchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.
[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]
XXII. Of Purgatory.
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord's vineyard.
XXIV. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the people understandeth.
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church, to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people.
XXV. Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments are not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
XVII. Of Baptism
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
XVIII. Of the Lord's Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
XXX. Of both Kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made in that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a Judge that hath the authority thereunto.
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that the Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
XXXV. Of the Homilies.
The Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies
- Of the right Use of the Church.
- Against Peril of Idolatry.
- Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
- Of good Works: first of Fasting.
- Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
- Against Excess of Apparel.
- Of Prayer.
- Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
- That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
- Of the reverend Estimation of God's Word.
- Of Alms-doing.
- Of the Nativity of Christ.
- Of the Passion of Christ.
- Of the Resurrection of Christ.
- Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
- Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
- For the Rogation-days
- Of the State of Matrimony.
- Of Repentance.
- Against Idleness.
- Against Rebellion.
[This Article is received in this Church, so far as it declares the Book of Homilies to be an explication of Christian doctrine, and instructive in piety and morals. But all references to the constitution and laws of England are considered as inapplicable to the circumstances of this Church; which also suspends the order for the reading of said Homilies in churches, until a revision of them may be conveniently made, for the clearing of them, as well from obsolete words and phrases, as from the local references.]
XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
The Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, as set forth by the General Convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said Form, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.
XXXVIII. Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common.
The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man's Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle, so we judge, that Christian Religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet's teaching in justice, judgment, and truth.
This is the Supreme Service of the Church and from the earliest times has been the chief Service of the day, certainly the chief Sunday Service. (Acts 2:46–47; 20:7.) That it is intended by our Church to be the chief Service, on Sundays and Holy Days, if not every day, is evidenced by the fact that this is the only regular Service in the Prayer Book in which provision is made for a Sermon and an Offering.
And fitting indeed it is that this should be the Chief Service of the Christian Church, from the beginning until now. This Sacrament was instituted by our Blessed Lord Himself on the last night of His life – the same night in which He was betrayed . He was eating the last Passover Supper with the twelve Apostles and he said to them, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer" ( St. Luke 22:15). This Scripture seems to indicate that it was our Lord’ s purpose to emphasize the connection between that Passover and His Passion. Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, under their God-given leader Moses, was the type of man’s Redemption from the bondage of sin and death, through a Saviour’s Sacrifice. It was at this Paschal Supper that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted His own Memorial Supper, and He thus marked the two as type and antitype. Whatever else the Sacrament o! f the Lord’s Supper may be, it is certainly the commemoration of our Redemption. It is the perpetual observance of a scene witnessed once in Jerusalem; it is the perpetual commemoration of an event which lies at the foundation of the Christian Religion. It is the perpetual carrying out of a command given by the living voice of the Christ-Man who declared Himself about to die for the sins of humanity, "to give his life a ransom for many" (St. Matt. 20:28; St. Mark 10:45).
In the headlines at the beginning of this Service, the words "The Order for the Administration of" refer to the Service as printed in the Prayer Book. The primitive name for this Service was The Liturgy, a term derived from the Greek word Leitourgia, which in classic Greek signified any public ceremonial. In the Greek Septuagint Version of the Old Testament its use was restricted to the public Service of the Sanctuary (Num. 4:12, 26) and in the Christian Era it passed on to the Worship of the Christian Church, which at first consisted chiefly of the Holy Communion. This was the most sacred if not the first of all Christian Services, and naturally became the most distinctive Service of the Church. In it the public worship of Christians took a fixed traditional form. The word Liturgy soon came to be associated with the Communion Service and it is still so used, though sometimes it is loosely used of the Prayer Book as a whole.
The words "Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion" in the title of the Services are different names for the Sacrament itself. The earliest name given this Sacrament is "The Breaking of Bread" (Acts 2:42, 46 and 20:7). A title much used in the Primitive Church was "The Eucharist" or "The Holy Eucharist," the word Holy being reverently prefixed as it is in the name The Holy Bible. This name is from a Greek word Eucharistia, meaning the giving of thanks, and is used by St. Paul of the eucharistic prayer to which the people respond "Amen" in 1 Cor. 14:16, and again in 1 Tim. 2:1, but it had not as yet a technical or exclusive significance. It occurs often as a title in the writings of St. Ignatius, and after that constantly. The ancient name Holy Eucharist is still used frequently. Though it does not appear expressly in our Prayer Book (except once in a rubric on page 574), it is represented there in paraphrase by the, words "the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" i! n the Oblation (p. 80–81); also in the great Eucharistic Thanksgiving that follows the "Comfortable Words" (p. 76). The Proper Prefaces coming between the Sursum Corda and the Ter Sanctus (see first rubric, p. 77) are in a sense a part of this burst of praise, being thanksgivings for, as well as commemorations of, each advancing stage in the unfolding Life of Our Incarnate Lord – "the Manifestation of Godhead in Humanity."
2. DIVISIONS OF THE SERVICE.
The Service divides naturally into three parts: (a) The Ante-Communion, to the end of the prayer "for the whole state of Christ’s Church"; (b) The Communion Service Proper, to the end of the Administration; (c) The Post Communion.
A. THE ANTE-COMMUNION SERVICE.
This part of the Service follows the line of the threefold preparation (required in the Catechism) of Repentance, Faith, and Love – of Repentance, judging ourselves by the standard of the Ten Commandments read in our hearing, with our penitential responses of prayer for forgiveness and grace to amend; of Faith, by the Special Lessons from God’s Word (the Epistle and Gospel) and our answer to them in the Creed; of Love, by the charitable contributions at the Offertory, and the Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 221.]
This general and full rounded preparation, fine as it is for congregational use, does not in any sense do away with the need for special individual preparation, especially if conscience stricken by wrong-doing or by malice and hatred in our hearts. If we believe Christ to be really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and we are to come into real communion and fellowship with Him there, we must in some very definite way get out of our lives and minds and hearts anything and everything that would stand between us and Him either now or at the Day of Judgment, and get into our minds and hearts and lives what would please Him and draw Him close to us in that communion and fellowship we heartily desire.
1. THE LORD’S PRAYER.
This prayer, as always, opens the Service; but it and the Collect following were originally used in the private preparation of the Priest. Of this there is still a trace in the all too common practice of its recital by the Priest alone.
2. THE COLLECT.
This Collect is an exceedingly beautiful one. It seems to stand us up before God spiritually naked, with hearts open, desires known, and no secrets hid; and, thus open before God, we pray Him to cleanse us from all that may defile, and to fill us with all that will purify and ennoble, not outwardly and superficially, but in the secret recesses of our minds and hearts, from which all conduct springs. It would be difficult to put deeper meaning in so few words.
3. THE DECALOGUE.
Read carefully the rubrics on page 67 and note the mention of kneeling again, though the Priest remains standing while he reads the Commandments. The second rubric gives the meaning of the response after each of the Commandments, while the third and fourth rubrics (p. 67) indicate when and to what extent the Decalogue may be omitted. The purpose of this "Litany of the Decalogue" as a penitential preparation for the Service and the Communion is important.
4. COLLECT, EPISTLE AND GOSPEL for the day.
At this point in the Service are read two portions of Scripture, preceded by an appropriate Collect. Collects, Epistles and Gospels "to be used throughout the Year" are printed on pages 90–269. We need to note three things: first, how precise are the directions for announcing both Epistle and Gospel, to make sure that all is done "decently and in order," and compare the last rubric on page 9; second, that a hymn or Anthem may (not shall) be sung between the Epistle and the Gospel; third, that the doxology "Glory be to Thee, O Lord" shall (not may) be said when the Minister announces the Gospel. After the Gospel may (not shall) be said "Praise be to thee, O Christ".
5. THE CREED.
The Creed in the Communion Office is the Nicene Creed. The rubric immediately preceding it (bottom of page 70) provides that the Apostle’s Creed may be said instead, except on the five great Festivals named in the rubric, when the Nicene Creed shall (not may) be said.
The Apostles’ Creed grew naturally and gradually out of the Baptismal Formula given by our Lord Himself ( St. Matt. 28:19). When converts were made, whether Jew or Gentile, they were taught, as our Lord commanded (St. Matt. 28:20), and in the course of time the fundamental elements of that teaching assumed the convenient and easily remembered form in which it now appears in the Apostles’ Creed.
The Nicene Creed, an expansion or fuller form of the Apostles’ Creed, was formally adopted at the Council of Nicea for the distinct purpose of meeting the Arian heresy and other heresies that grew out of the Arian heresy. It was in part drawn up at that First General Council at Nicea, A.D. 325, hence its name; but it was not a wholly original composition. In the East or Eastern Churches, the Creed had grown gradually and naturally, as it had done in the West, but had grown into a fuller form. The Nicene Creed was based upon the already existing but fuller forms of the Creed as used in the Eastern Churches and produced at the Council, particularly the form known as the Creed of Caesarea; but with the addition of the phrase "being of one substance with the Father," to bring out unequivocally the true Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ, on which the whole controversy turned. So drawn up, it was substantially – though not literally – our present Creed, down t! o the words "I believe in the Holy Ghost."
The latter portion of our Creed was added to meet further heresies which arose in that speculative age. Not till after the council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) did the present form supersede it absolutely. Subsequently, in the Latin version of the Creed, the words "and from the Son," Filioque, were added, and they are what is known as "the Filioque clause." This clause brought forth strong protest, and out of its insertion arose an unhappy division between the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) Churches. With this exception it had been the Creed of the whole Catholic (Universal) Church for more than 1,500 years.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 224a, 224b]
The heresies of the time made this or a similar form of the Creed absolutely necessary for the preservation of the essentials of the Christian Faith, and it has proved its priceless value as a standard of theological and Scriptural truth. It asserts, without endeavoring to explain, the great mystery of the Gospel – the true Manhood and Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ – and subsequently the true Nature and Personality of the Holy Ghost, the two points which this heresy had brought into question.
Rev. John Henry Blunt makes the following comment on this Creed: "The Nicene Creed, from the solemn sanction thus given to it by the great Ecumenical Councils, stands in a position of greater authority than any other; and amid their long-standing divisions is a blessed bond of union between the three great branches of the One Catholic Church – the Eastern (Greek), the Roman, and the Anglican, of all whose Communion Offices it forms a part. It is very seriously to be regretted that the American portion of the Anglican Communion has made its use in the Communion Office optional, giving the Apostles’ Creed as an alternative."* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 170]
6. THE OFFERTORY.
The collection of Alms at the Holy Communion is described by Justin Martyr (A.D. 139) as an invariable part of the Service. Such collection is alluded to by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 16:2. It represents to us the regular duty and privilege of religious almsgiving for the relief of the poor and for the maintenance of the service of God. It is the expression of practical Christianity, and many Christians tithe on the principle that if the Jews could give a tenth for the maintenance of their religion, Christians surely should do as much. It is an interesting record of fact that people who do tithe, prosper even more than when they give less. This record of fact seems to be a literal fulfillment of that Scripture which says: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough t! o receive it" (Malachi 3:10).
The sentences of Scripture to be read during the collection are a fine summary of Scripture teaching on the subject, and should be studied by all. The religious significance of this Offering is indicated by the direction in the rubric that "the Priest . . . shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table."
In the Prayer "for the whole state of Christ’s Church" (p. 74) the words "and oblations" following the word "alms," are variously interpreted. Some understand them to refer to the other devotions of the people, which are called oblations in the old Scotch Liturgy. Others think they refer to the bread and wine just solemnly placed upon the Altar before God. The words may fairly bear either interpretation, and may have been intended to admit both.
7. THE PRAYER FOR THE WHOLE STATE OF CHRIST’S CHURCH.
This prayer shows the breadth and comprehensiveness of the Church as she speaks for herself in her Book of Common Prayer. This Prayer embraces the Church Militant here on earth in its petitions for the Universal Church including "all those who do confess thy holy Name;" also all Christian Rulers as well as all Bishops and other Ministers, and all thy People especially all those who are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. From the Church Militant here on earth, this Prayer goes on and touches also the Church Expectant in Paradise, with a petition "for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear," ‘that God may grant them continual growth in thy (God’s) love and service. It then reaches out toward the Church Triumphant with a petition that we may have grace so to follow the good examples of the Faithful who have gone on before, "that with them we may be partakers of thy ‘heavenly kingdom." The wide reaches of this prayer a! nd the particular quality of each petition in it are worthy of careful study.
With the prayer "for the whole state of Christ’s Church," the Ante-Communion Service, i. e. the Introductory and Preparatory portion of the Liturgy, ends. It was at this point that the Church in former times dismissed with the Latin words Ite, missa est those who were not admissible to the Communion, and it is at this point now that those who wish to leave are given opportunity to do so. From this point on the Service addresses itself directly to those who desire to communicate, and there is a corresponding deepening of fervor in the tone of the Service.
B. THE COMMUNION SERVICE PROPER.
1. THE INVITATION, "Ye who do truly and earnestly . . draw near with faith," with which this part of the Service begins, takes it for granted that those present have made the proper spiritual preparation of repentance, love, and the purpose to lead a new life of obedience to God, "walking from henceforth in his holy ways," as outlined in the last Question and Answer in the Catechism (p. 582). Notice that it does not invite those who are sinless, but sinners who are sorry and repent of their sins, intending to lead a new life, following God’s Commandments, and who are in love and charity with their neighbors. The difference is exactly the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican who went up into the temple to pray ( St. Luke 18:10–14). The Pharisee thanked God that he was quite worthy and fit, enumerating his virtues; while the Publican smote upon his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner." St. Luke tells us which of the two our dear Lord com! mended.
2. THE GENERAL CONFESSION.
Notice that the rubric directs that this be said "by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling."
In this Confession emphasis is put on the various phases of sin. Here greater and more emphatic stress is put on sorrow for sin, the grievousness of its remembrance, and the sense of its intolerable burden, which may be expected to be felt by communicants more intensely than by an ordinary congregation.
3. THE ABSOLUTION.
As in the case of the Confession, this Absolution should be compared with that in Morning Prayer for both their likeness and their unlikeness. They are alike in two important respects: (1) both base all Absolution on the Love of God and His promises in and through our Lord Jesus Christ; (2) both make all real reception of Absolution conditional on real repentance and faith. They are unlike in three particulars: (1) this Absolution, like the most ancient forms, has the tone and quality of a Blessing or Benediction, not simply Declaratory; (2) this is addressed to the congregation as a whole, not to "all who truly repent and unfeignedly believe," presumably on the assumption that all who remain for the Holy Communion meet the required condition of repentance and faith; (3) this brings out with great clearness the various elements of God’s blessing – pardon of the guilt and deliverance from the bondage of sin – the strengthening by His grace of all positive goo! dness – and the consummation of all in the gift of "everlasting life."* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 231.]
4. THE COMFORTABLE WORDS.
The scripture sentences on page 76 are so called because they are comforting words of strengthening and refreshment from the lips of Our Lord Himself and from His great Apostles St. Paul and St. John, to all those who do feel the burden of their sins and mourn over them. More than that, they also confirm the words of Absolution with the words of Christ and His Apostles.
5. THE GREAT EUCHARISTIC THANKSGIVING.
Here, as in Morning Prayer, Confession and Absolution are followed by a burst of Praise and Thanksgiving. The three parts of this Eucharistic Thanksgiving – The Sursum Corda ("Lift up your hearts"), the thanksgiving ("It is very meet, right. . . to give thanks"), and the Ter Sanctus ("Holy, Holy, Holy"), sometimes called the Trisagion, are found in all extant Liturgies of the Churches of both the East and the West.
6. PROPER PREFACES. (See rubric, top of page 77.)
Inserted here on the great Festivals, these Prefaces mark the chief acts of the Manifestation of the Godhead in Humanity – the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost – and then sum up all in the adoration of the Godhead itself in the Holy Trinity.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 232.]
7. THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION.
Dr. Blunt says: "This is the most solemn part of the whole ministration of the Liturgy. Standing before the flock of Christ in the Presence of Almighty God, the Priest stands there as the vicarious earthly representative of the invisible but one true and only Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary: acting in His Name and by His commission and authority (see Article XXVI, p. 608 of the Prayer Book), he brings into remembrance before the Eternal Father the one only and everlasting Sacrifice which was once for all made and finished upon the Cross (Article XXXI, p. 608) but is perpetually pleaded, offered, and presented, by the One Everlasting Priest and Intercessor in Heaven. . . And this He does in two ways. (1) In Heaven, openly, as one may say, and by His own immediate action. (2) On Earth, mystically, but as really, acting mediately by the Earthly Priest as His visible instrument. . . Where two or three are gathered together in His name. (and where so truly are w! e thus gathered as when we meet to celebrate the great Memorial Sacrifice specially appointed by Himself?) there is He in the midst of us ( St. Matt. 18:20) . . . The great and only Sacrifice once made (on the cross) can never be repeated. But it is continually offered, i. e., brought into remembrance and pleaded, before God. They who are called Priests because, and only because they visibly represent to the successive generations of mankind the one immortal but invisible Priest, are through God’s unspeakable mercy privileged to bring it into remembrance before Him; by His order Who said, Do this for a Memorial, a Commemoration of Me."* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 188.]
Look at your Prayer Book and notice that the Prayer of Consecration (p. 80–81) falls naturally into four main parts, indicated by separate paragraphs.
(1) The first part begins with a striking preamble commemorating the one oblation of Christ, once for all offered, through the tender mercy of God, so that its propitiating sacrifice can never be repeated, and expressing with great clearness and completeness the whole doctrine of the Atonement as being a full sacrifice, a perfect oblation and a sufficient satisfaction; next, it recites our Lord’s command to His Church (on which alone the Sacrament depends for its efficacy) to continue a perpetual memory or remembrance of His precious death and sacrifice, pleading that Atoning Sacrifice until His coming again; and lastly, it recites the Institution itself in a form corresponding closely to the records of St. Paul and St. Luke (1 Cor. 11:23–26; St. Luke 22:19, 20) – with rubrical directions to the Priest for the performance of the manual acts, which represent the acts of our Lord Himself at the Institution.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book]
(2) The second division, following the ancient models, proceeds with THE OBLATION, which means an act of giving, with special reference to an offering to God, as of the Eucharistic Elements and the Alms for the support of the clergy, the relief of the poor, and other offerings. The consecration of the elements of Bread and Wine is not complete till after the Priest has said the Invocation.
(3) THE INVOCATION. This is an earnest prayer to God the Father to bless and sanctify, with His word and Holy Spirit these His gifts of bread and wine so that to us receiving them according to the institution of His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we may be partakers (1 Cor. 10:16) of His most blessed Body and Blood. Four things should be noted here: (a) the Invocation is of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; (b) the words "creatures of bread and wine" repudiate the theory of Transubstantiation and kindred theories; (c) there is a marked stress on the idea of this Sacrament as a Communion, emphasized by the words "that we receiving . . . may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood"; and (d) at the end of the Invocation the Consecration of the Bread and Wine is complete, and it is not complete till then.
(4) The last division of the Prayer of Consecration beginning "And we earnestly desire," brings out the whole idea of sacrifice, closely connecting the Memorial of the One great Sacrifice, which pleads it before God, with the Eucharistic Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and the Dedicatory Sacrifice of ourselves. Note especially the sentence – "And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee" – and see Hebrews 13:15, 16.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235]
8. THE LORD’S PRAYER is introduced by a sentence read by the officiating Priest which says: "And now, as our Saviour Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say, Our Father," etc. We do this in the spirit of a devoted child’s approach to a loving father – a loving Heavenly Father.
9. THE PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS.
This beautiful prayer (Pr. Bk., p. 82), and The Lord’s Prayer, which it follows, form a fitting and feeling transition from the solemn Prayer of Consecration to the Administration of the Communion. Bishop Barry says it is a Prayer of spiritual preparation, of singular fervour and beauty, and expresses our trust that God is always the same God in that attribute of perpetual mercy, which is of the essence of Him who is love.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235.]
10. THE ADMINISTRATION.
The history of the words of Administration is both interesting and instructive. The First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549) had the first sentence only, "The Body (or Blood) . . . life," which brings out clearly the gift in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; and praying that, according to Our Lord’s promise, it may preserve both body and soul to eternal life. In the Revision of 1552, as a concession to Puritan arguments, these words were omitted and in their place was put the second sentence, "Take and eat . . . thanksgiving;" "Drink . . . thankful," which simply bids us receive the Sacrament in remembrance of His death with thanksgiving. In a subsequent revision the two sentences were combined, and since then have continued as they now appear in our Prayer Book. The two Sentences thus combined serve to bring out, in perfect clearness and harmony, both the reality of God’s gift in the Sacrament and the need of man’s conscious reception of it throug! h faith. God’s part and man’s part are both vital, and we may well be thankful that both are so clearly presented in these Sentences.
The rubric just before the Sentences directs that the officiating Priest shall first receive the Holy Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver same "to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in like manner, and, after that, to the People." And note that it is to be given "into their hands, all devoutly kneeling." Also that "sufficient opportunity shall be given to those present to communicate." The idea of partaking is inherent in the Service itself, and at no time, for any reason, can the officiating Priest make a mere gesture of participation to the people, then turn back to the Altar and conclude the Service before the people do in fact have sufficient opportunity to communicate, without violating the fundamental law of the Church embodied in this rubric.
11. THE RECEPTION.
The officiating Priest is directed by the rubric to deliver the Bread and Wine "into their hands." Here is a helpful comment from Fr. Blunt: "Communicants ought, instead of taking it with their fingers, to receive the consecrated Bread in the palm of the right hand, according to St. Cyril’s direction in his fifth Catechetical Lecture, ‘Making the left hand a throne for the right which is about to receive a king, hollow thy palm, and so receive the Body of Christ, saying thereafter the Amen.’"
Women should take care never to go to the altar rail with gloved hand, nor with veil down over the mouth. Remove gloves, and remove or push up securely the veil before going to the Lord’s Table.
Now a word about the consecrated Wine. Tilt the cup so that the Wine just moistens your lips; one drop is as efficacious as a spoonful, and to take more than a drop or two is irreverent to say the least. Men with a mustache should be careful not to let it dip into the consecrated Wine.
The modern germ theory, and the fear some have of the common cup, has led to the Administration by Intinction in some parishes. That is done usually by dipping the edge of the consecrated Bread into the consecrated Wine, sometimes by the Priest, sometimes by the communicant to whom the Bread has been delivered. It is sufficient here to observe that when the administration is by Intinction some liberties must necessarily be taken with the rubrics as they now stand, and also with the Sentences at delivery of the consecrated Elements.
C. THE POST COMMUNION SERVICE.
This consists of a Thanksgiving Prayer, the Gloria in excelsis, and the Blessing.
1. THE THANKSGIVING PRAYER.
This Prayer was composed in 1549. A prayer of thanksgiving formed a prominent part of the primitive Liturgies, but had dropped out of the medieval services, except in the form of a private prayer of the Celebrant. The compilers of our Prayer Book restored it. It is a thanksgiving dwelling on the Sacrament just received and its meaning to us, with the prayer that since we are "members incorporate" in "the blessed company of faithful people" God will give us grace to "continue in that holy fellowship," and by God’s help and grace to show the fruits of it in the "good works" God expects us "to walk in." How fitting! What a high mark to reach for!
2. THE GLORIA IN EXCELSIS.
This glorious hymn as a climax to the Communion Service has a striking appropriateness and beauty. It is of great antiquity, apparently of Greek origin. Like the Te Deum it is at once a hymn, a creed, and a prayer; and, like the Te Deum it is offered explicitly to the Holy Trinity. The Communion Service comes to its climax and its close on the note of prayer and praise to the Blessed Trinity.
3. THE BLESSING.
Notice the rubric before this: the People kneeling. How often throughout the Prayer Book the emphasis on kneeling occurs! It reflects an attitude toward God that no other posture does.
The Blessing is a quotation of Philippians 4:7, with an added blessing in the Name of the Holy Trinity – to be amongst us as a Power for peace, wisdom and love, and to remain with us to eternal Salvation.
adapted from The Heart of The Prayer Book by Rev. William E. Cox, D.D.