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Solemnities of Eastertide and Ordinary Time

whitsuntide2016

Slideshow of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Blessed Mary and Confirmation of Nina Dorenbos

The Rt Rev. James W. Montgomery, Ninth Bishop of Chicago (ret.), principal celebrant.
16 August 2015.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary, 8 Dec

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16 August — the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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“The Real Differences”

FatherFraserFather Fraser’s newly penned data sheet has been added to the Catholic Anglican FAQ page. It examines what he calls the “real differences” between Saint Paul’s, Riverside and typical suburban parishes. It begins:

We have talked since the early 1980’s about the differences between St Paul’s and conventional suburban Episcopal parishes.  We have explored their ramifications and tried to find effective, succinct, and accessible ways of describing these differences that could be generally understood. We have used terms such as:

“religious community” (rather than program-driven parish) paradigm, which means programs focused on formation for worship and ministry (rather than driven by whatever would seem to attract new members/pledgers)

“Benedictine spirituality” (rather than a vague “bridge church” least common denominator spirituality) which includes stability of community life with long-term relationships (rather than “revolving door” parish membership) and God-centered conversatio morum [“conversion of life”] (rather than individual-centered “give the lady what she wants”)

“authentic historic Anglicanism” (rather than insubstantial, directionless “diversity and inclusivity”)

“countercultural” (rather than American WASP popular culture)

Read the whole piece here.

Eastertide Mystagogy 1: “I believe in . . .”.

Given by Father Thomas Fraser, rector, on 12 April 2015, the 2nd Sunday of Easter.

“What does ‘Regula’ Mean?”

The short essay, “What does Regula mean?” has been added to the Catholic Anglican FAQ page. It begins:

In a most useful definition, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer defines prayer as “responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words” (p. 856). That definition in fact clarifies a great deal. First and foremost, it reminds us that God acts first. Despite our inclination to think otherwise, we ourselves do not initiate. Rather we respond: God’s actions—His presence, His grace—always comes before. He always invites our prayer.

I do not think I am the only person who, when hearing that definition, asks, “Is that how my prayer works?” The answer would have to be, yes: it does mean my prayer, your prayer, and any person’s prayer. But it also means “our” prayer, and in fact it means that before it means mine or yours.

So, then, how do “we” pray? In other words, how is it that we as a whole—whether all Catholic Christians or, by analogy, us at Saint Paul’s, Riverside—respond to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words? Indeed, the answer may not be self-evident, or seem particularly worth consideration. Thinking of particular people in our parish, we even might be tempted to conclude, “well, ‘we’ do not pray in any particular way!” List out how we all pray as individuals, according to our gifts and personalities; and then there is your answer to how “we” pray—a piety list. There is truth in that. Yet to just end there would not account for important aspects of our relationship with God, which is prayer in its broadest sense of the term.

Read the rest here.

On the balance of thinking and feeling

From our Catholic FAQ page of resources, a new addition called “On the balance of thinking and feeling at St Paul’s“:

Someone said to me that “the problem with St Paul’s Parish is that everything is ‘head centered’ rather than being ‘heart centered.’” However I find the liturgy here – especially during the Triduum [Holy (Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday] – emotionally very moving.

That person could have meant one of several things.

(1) One might have been that because teachers now make up the largest single professional group among St Paul’s parishioners, a significant proportion of the people at St Paul’s have an interest in “the life of the mind, and that is very evident here,” as one newer parishioner said recently, quite appreciatively. That does not mean, however,
that St Paul’s is merely an intellectual center with “being cerebral” the focus of life here. The stated mission of St Paul’s is to be a religious community in the Benedictine Catholic tradition, centered in the life of prayer and the Eucharist, whose purpose is the full development and support of each person’s God-given ministry. While St Paul’s does try to provide opportunities for serious theological exploration by those interested in “the life of the mind,” it is always – and will continue to be – equally ready to provide for the religious and spiritual development of any interest group for whom there is an adequate “critical mass” to make this possible. The purpose, though, of all programs at St Paul’s: enabling parishioners’ active involvement in ministry to others in the Name of Jesus Christ.

For more, download the PDF.

Mary and True Discipleship

By Father Fraser on XVII Pentecost, 15 September 2013 (Year C).
Ex 32.1, 1-7 | 1 Tim 1.12-17 | Luke 15.1-10

On the Continuity between God and Creation

By Father Fraser on III Pentecost, 9 June 2013 (Year C).
1 Kings 17:17-24 | Galatians 1:11-24 | Luke 7:11-17

Pentecost: God’s Words and Sacraments

By Father Fraser on the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 19, 2013 (Year C).

 

On the Imposition of Ashes

By Father Fraser on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013 (Year C).
Joel 2:1-2,12-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

 

Beyond the misconceptions about Epiphany

By Father Fraser on Sunday, January 6, 2013 (Year C).

 

Advent as Theology of Continuity

By Father Fraser on Sunday, December 9, 2012 (Year C).

 

On the 1st Sunday in Advent

By Father James Biegler on December 2, 2012 (Year C)

On the Feast of Pentecost

By Father James Biegler on 27 May 2012 (Year B).

On the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord

By Father James Biegler. From the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, 20 May 2012.

Ontological Change

By Father Fraser. From the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 7, 2012.

 

The Body of Christ

The following is the text of Father Fraser’s homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2011.

Like me, many of you can well remember the time before the revolution of the 1960s. In the United States then we all lived in a segregated world: racially to be sure, but also culturally, socio-economically, and especially religiously.

And some of you, living in that segregated world, like me, grew up in the segment of American society that was overwhelming Protestant, so much so that, even if we ourselves were not Protestant, we naturally assumed that this was the way the majority of Christians were everywhere. Although we certainly came by that misperception honestly, it could not have been more wrong.

Even in the pre-1960s world, Protestantism was in fact a small percentage of all Christianity; and now, 50 years later, it is an even smaller percentage. Historically, of course, not only is Protestantism a late development (dating only from the 1500s and emerging only in a relatively small part of Europe) but throughout the past 500 years Protestants have always been a small minority of all Christians.

Protestantism, as you know, is essentially non-sacramental and for the most part non-liturgical. Catholicism, as Anglicanism understands it, is historic Christianity (that is, beginning at Pentecost, not at the 16th century Reformation) whose life is centered in Jesus Christ as He comes to His people in seven Sacraments validly celebrated (including, of course, the valid Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in the Apostolic Succession). And these seven Sacraments are celebrated in the context of historic liturgy that goes back to Our Lord Himself. Anglicanism understands the Catholic Churches to be the Roman Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox, the Anglican, the Old Catholic, and the Oriental Churches.

To those of us who grew up in a pre-1960s Protestant-dominated culture, it may come as a surprise to realize that only a small part of Christianity, for a relatively short period of time, has not believed in the seven Sacraments and in the actual, Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Protestant non-sacramentalism is in fact the anomaly, not the norm.

Christianity as a whole is, and for 2,000 years has been, Catholic. It has always taught that when the Eucharist is celebrated by validly ordained Bishops and Priests, the bread and the wine become – that is, are changed into – the true, living Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the Eucharist is a sacrifice that actually makes present again for us – just as they were for the Disciples – Our Lord’s earthly ministry, passion, saving death, and resurrection. This the historic Christian Church has always taught and believed.

What, however, has differed through the two Christian millennia is not what Christians have believed about the nature and reality of the Eucharist, but what Christians have believed they should do with it. There have been those who believe that the Eucharist is principally a source of inspiration … that is, something that inspires them, as it were, “to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.” There have been those – especially those who suffer with chronic guilt – who believe that the Eucharist is principally a sort of fire insurance for eternity.

But Christianity is neither personal inspiration nor “celestial fire insurance.” The purpose and goal of the Christian Faith is Theosis, that is becoming more and more one in the being and the life of the Holy Trinity: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, finally in the fullness of the presence, the being, and the community of God in Heaven for eternity.

Martin Luther, the most traditional of the Protestant Reformers, taught a relatively high doctrine of the Eucharist. He said that Christ was really present … that Christ was “in, through, around, and with” the bread and wine during the liturgy. However, Luther taught, the bread and wine remain bread and wine and Christ’s eucharistic presence ends at the conclusion of the liturgy. Luther meant well, but he didn’t get it right.

Christianity is about conversion, change … the New Testament Greek word is metanoia. The Eucharist is not about having a temporary presence of Christ with bread and wine. The Eucharist is about change: fundamental, essential, real, substantial, permanent change. The bread and wine are permanently changed into the substance of the actual, living Body and Blood of Christ.

Christianity is about change: fundamental, essential, real, substantial, permanent change in my life and in yours. It is not about adding some ephemeral presence of Jesus around our lives as they are (after all, Jesus is already always present with everyone everywhere whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, animist, or atheist!). The purpose and goal of Christianity is the change – metanoia – of our lives, individually and corporately into the Body of Christ here on earth so that we may have the fullness of Theosis in Heaven for eternity.

The principal means by which the Triune God gives us the grace for this fundamental, essential, real, substantial, permanent change in our lives is the seven Sacraments. And on this great feast of Corpus Christi we celebrate and give thanks to the Triune God both for the gift and vocation He has given us to become the Body of Christ and for the Eucharist, the true and living Body of Christ, by which we can become fully that which by our Baptism we have been made.

Prevenient Grace

By Father Fraser. From the 10:00 am Solemn Mass on Sunday, September 12, 2010.