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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.

“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.

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.