Month: June 2017

C.S. Lewis and the Liturgy

C.S. Lewis and the Liturgy

“The advantage of a fixed form of service is that we know what is coming. Ex tempore public prayer has this difficulty; we don’t know whether we can mentally join in it until we’ve heard it – it might be phony or heretical. We are therefore called upon to carry critical and devotional activity at the same moment: two things hardly compatible. In a fixed form we ought to have ‘gone through the motions’ before in our private prayers; the rigid forms really set our devotions free. I also find the more rigid it is, the easier it is to keep one’s thoughts from straying. Also, it prevents getting too completely eaten up by whatever happens to be the preoccupation of the moment (i.e., war, an election, or what not). The permanent shape of Christianity shows through. I don’t see how the ex tempore method can help becoming provincial, and I think it has a great tendency to direct attention to the minister rather that to God.”                                                                       (Source: C.S. Lewis, Letters, 1 April 1952)

The Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross

The cross is the most basic, central, and ancient sign of the work of salvation by Jesus Christ. Therefore, from the earliest days of Christianity the sign of the cross has been used as a symbol marking someone or something as belonging to Christ. It was once used among persecuted Christians to identify themselves to each other. Now it is a public announcement declaring Christ’s ownership of us and our allegiance to Him.

The sign of the cross is made for the first time on a person when he or she is baptized by the minster on his or her forehead. This symbolic gesture is to remind the person that the only way to God is through the cross; that is, faith in the finished work of Christ for payment of sin.

Since the reciting of the Creeds (Apostles’ and Nicene) are a rehearsing of our baptismal commitments, the sign of the cross is made at the end of the creed in the same way it the same way it was first received at baptism as part of the covenant renewal process. It is also appropriate to sign oneself at the absolution of sins as a gesture of receiving the forgiveness offered by Christ to all those who truly repent and at the final blessing as a sign of receiving this blessing. We also make the sign of the cross on the forehead, the lips, and the center of the chest at the introduction of the Gospel Lesson during the Eucharist as a prayer that the Gospel with be in our minds, on our lips, and in hearts.

 

 

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

This week it may appear on the surface that the Church calendar is a bit disjointed. One week after celebrating the Pentecostal feast commemorating the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church the calendar jumps to a feast that celebrates the Doctrine of the blessed Holy Trinity. Over the first half of the Church year, we have been focusing upon and recapitulating the historical events in the life of Jesus Christ (His incarnation and birth, His earthly ministry, His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, His passion and sacrificial death, His victorious resurrection, His glorious ascension and His sending of the Holy Spirit). Now it seems that we abruptly change themes by focusing upon a theological, biblical truth.

However, it really is quite appropriate for us to focus our attention upon the Triune Godhead the Sunday after the Holy Ghost has come upon the Church. You see, now the fullness of God has been revealed to us with the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity has, of course, always existed, but after God the Father (the First Person of the Trinity) sent God the Son (the Second Person of the Trinity) into the world to redeem the world, and God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit (the Third Person of the Trinity) to indwell and empower His Church; the Church came to understand in a deeper way the God they were called to worship and serve.

As Rev. Dr. Peter Toon puts it, “In the great work of divine [progressive] revelation and redemption, salvation and sanctification, the Holy Trinity is wholly involved, as the Father sends the Son into the world where he assumed human nature by the presence of the Holy Ghost, and where the Holy Ghost acts in the Name of the Son.” Therefore, since the Holy Trinity has been involved with every aspect of the historical, redemptive acts and events that we have been reliving through the various church seasons; it was very wise for the Church to appoint this Sunday as Trinity Sunday – a day on which we focus our devotion and meditation upon the Triune God. (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, Three Persons One God, a Trinity in Unity and a unity in Trinity).

In the older lectionaries, the remainder of the Church year bore the name of the Holy Trinity because of what Jesus said in our Gospel lesson from last week. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Now that the Holy Spirit has come upon the Church, God the Father through the redeeming work of God the Son and by the power and strength given to us by the Holy Spirit will mature us in the Christian faith.

Consequently, the Season of Pentecost/Trinity into which we are about to enter is a season for our spiritual growth. This is represented by the liturgical color of green. Pentecost Season is a time when we are to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth that God the Father and God the Son want to teach us through the written Word (Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle, and Gospel readings) and the Sacraments.

 

The Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed (Quicumque Vult) is a statement of Christian Trinitarian doctrine and Christology which has been used in Western Christianity since the sixth century A.D. Its Latin name comes from the opening words Quicumque vult, “Whosoever wishes.” It is the first creed to explicitly state equality of the persons of Trinity.

The first half of the creed confesses the Trinity (one God in three persons). With didactic repetition it ascribes divine majesty and characteristics to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, each individually. At the same time it clearly states that, although all three are individually divine, they are not three gods but one God. Furthermore, although one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from each other. For the Father is neither made nor begotten; the Son is not made but is begotten from the Father; the Holy Spirit is neither made nor begotten but proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Didactic as its content appears to contemporary readers, its opening sets out the essential principle that the catholic faith does not consist in the first place in assent to propositions, but ‘that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity and Unity’. All else flows from that orientation.

Its teaching about Jesus Christ is more detailed than in the Nicene Creed, and reflects the teaching of the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) and the definition of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). The Athanasian Creed boldly uses the key Nicene term homoousios (‘one substance’, ‘one in Being’) not only with respect to the

relation of the Son to the Father according to his divine nature, but that the Son is homoousios with his mother Mary, according to his human nature.

The Creed’s wording thus excludes not only Sabellianism (the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and the Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God himself) and Arianism (the heresy that taught that Jesus was not one with the Father, and that he was not fully divine in nature), but also the Christological heresies of Nestorianism (the heresy that taught that Christ exists as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as two natures [True God and True Man] of one divine person) and Eutychianism (the heresy that taught that the human nature of Christ was overcome by the divine, or that Christ had a human nature but it was unlike the rest of humanity). A need for a clear confession against Arianism arose in western Europe when the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, who had Arian beliefs, invaded at the beginning of the fifth century (excerpt taken from Wikipedia). Today, Trinity Sunday, we will say the Anthansian Creed in place of the Nicene Creed.

 

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