Monday, November 24, 2008

Our Fifth Columns

"This Protestant fifth column is still with us. Declarations are constantly being made that the Church of England comprehends many points of view and that all of them have an equal right to exist within its borders. We are told that extreme "Evangelical" Churches are as much "Church of England" as "Anglo-Catholic" ones, perhaps even more so. But this is simply not true. This is proved by the one authoritiative document which the Church of England has issued -- the Book of Common Prayer. Doctrines which are contrary to it are disloyal. Churches which do not obey its directions represent disloyal and rebellious elements."
J. C. L. Dart, The Old Religion

But it is equally true that churches, priests and bishops who imitate the Church of Rome either in doctrine or ceremonial are equally disloyal. I am in the process of reading The Very Rev'd Vernon Staley's Studies in Ceremonial and he made it very clear that most of what those who call themselves Anglo-Catholics are not only being disloyal to the basic Anglican position, but to that of the whole Western Church before the Council of Trent. Look to see some of his work on this blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

St Martin of Tours, Bishop & Wonderworker

The following material about St Martin is tattled from Celtic Saints. It is or should be important to Anglicans in that the Church which St Augustine used in Canterbury was that of St Martin just as the Church which St Ninian built in Whithorn was also dedicated to St Martin.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --
Born in Sabaria in Upper Pannonia (Hungary), c. 316; died November 8,

Most mortals only have to deal with a collective devil (or so they
think)--the devil of communities and families, the occult force which
appeals to the lowest parts of our nature, the dark god of the city at
night. To have a personal devil seems to be a "privilege" reserved for
saints. The greatness of a saint is measured by the greatness of the
temptation he has to overcome because the life of the saint stands out
in contrast with the work of the devil.

Martin was the son of a pagan army officer who moved with his family to
his father's new post in Pavia, Italy. Martin had placed himself in the
catechumenate at the age of 10 against his parents' will. He took
lessons at the local church and, by the time he was 12, his love of God
was so ardent that he wanted to retire to become a hermit. At 15, as the
son of an army veteran, he was compelled to join the army against his
will. Although Martin had not formally become a Christian, he had lived
more the life of a monk than a soldier for several years.

While stationed at Amiens in France in 337, a semi-naked beggar
approached him in bitterly cold weather. Martin's name became immortal
at that moment, for he sliced his military cloak in two and gave half of
it to the starving man. That night in a dream he saw Jesus wrapped in
the half of the cloak that he had given away. Jesus said to him,
"Martin, yet a catechumen, has covered me with this garment." Following
this dream, he "flew to be baptized," according to his biographer.

When he was about 20, barbarians invaded Gaul. He was presented to
Julian Caesar with his companions to receive a donative, but Martin
refused it saying, "I have served you as a soldier; let me now serve
Christ. Give the bounty to these others who are going to fight, but I am
a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight."

Irritated by this stance, Julian accused him of cowardice. Martin
replied that he was willing to go into battle unarmed and stand between
the opposing parties in the name of Christ. He was thrown into prison,
but that night the barbarians demanded and obtained an armistice. Martin
sought and received his discharge c. 339.

Thereafter he lived for some time in Italy and Dalmatia before he went
to Poitiers, and Bishop Saint Hilary took him as a disciple. Martin
sought him out knowing that in serving this holy man he would be serving
God. Hilary recognised Martin's extraordinary merit and would have
ordained Martin a deacon, but he could not overcome Martin's humility.

To keep Martin in his diocese, Hilary assigned him the duties of
exorcism--so it was in that official capacity that Martin first made the
acquaintance of the devil. It was still only the general devil, for he
did not yet have his own private one. Martin, however, learned how to
ward off evil spells and parry thrusts from the devil's horns, a lesson
that would always be useful.

Martin had a dream that called him home, and he returned to Pannonia,
converting his mother and others, including a group of bandits who would
have killed him, during the visit. Shortly thereafter the devil appeared
to him in human form and told him that no matter where he went or what
he did, the devil would oppose him.

In Illyricum his vocal opposition to the Arians led to his being
publicly scourged and exiled by Auxentius, the Arian bishop. Returning
to Italy, Martin found that Hilary had been exiled. He retreated to a
place near the walls of Milan, where he entered the monastic life.
Auxentius, when he seized the see of Milan, caught up with Martin and
drove him from the diocese. Martin then joined company with a virtuous
priest. The duo retired to the deserted island of Gallinaria in the gulf
of Genoa where he lived as a recluse until 360, when the banished Saint
Hilary was allowed to return to Poitiers.

It was true for Martin as for most saints that the more Martin grew in
holiness, the more his private devil became differentiated from the
collective devil. More and more the devil clung on to his soul, forcing
him to be ceaselessly on his guard. It was like the scientific principle
of communicating vessels: as Martin rose like mercury towards
saintliness, the devil hastened to fill the empty space behind him.

One day while he was still living in seclusion on the island, Martin ate
a poisonous plant that almost killed him. The chronicles call this plant
'hellebore' which is doubtless a mistake, since hellebore is no more
fatal than it is a cure for madness, and, according to herbalists,
contains nothing worse than a drastic purgative.

Perhaps the plant wasn't there by chance? There is a variety of
hellebore called 'Christmas rose' that is a mandrake. Nevertheless, when
Martin felt the poison at work, he began to pray--which proves that he
realised that there was nothing natural about his sickness--and God
cured him.

Martin's devil was capable of transforming himself into many different
shapes. He was particularly fond of taking the form of the gods and
goddesses of mythology, appearing sometimes as Jupiter, sometimes as
Mercury. But though Martin was always alarmed by Mercury, he dismissed
Jupiter as 'a stupid animal' and 'a fool.'

The devil also liked to disguise himself in the form of women. One day
he appeared as Venus, the next as Minerva, always exuding a strong smell
of sulphur and always being put to flight by the sign of the cross.

After learning that Hilary was returning to Poitiers, Martin travelled
to Rome to meet him en route and accompany him back to his see. As
Martin wished to live as a solitary, Hilary gave him some land, now
called Liguge, where he was joined by other hermits--and thus the first
monastic community in Gaul was founded. It was a famous monastery until
1607, and was revived in 1852 by the Solesmes Benedictines. He lived
there for 10 years, preaching and reputedly performing miracles in the
area, including raising a catechumen and a hanged slave back to life.

Soon matters with the devil began to get worse. One day while the saint
was at prayer in his cell the devil came in without knocking, holding in
his hand a horn covered with blood. "I've just killed one of your
people," he told the saint, and in fact the monastery's carrier had just
been gored by a bull. Thereupon Martin resolved to fight the surrounding
devils by destroying all the pagan temples in the district. He was soon
given the gift of perceiving devils, and this enabled him to keep out of
the way of his own devil.

Around 371, Tours chose him as its third bishop. He was unwilling to
take the office; the people tricked him into visiting a sick person in
the city and then took him to the church. His poor appearance did not
impress the bishops who had come to assist at the election, but the
people overruled their objections and Martin was consecrated on July 3,

He lived in a cell by the church but soon retreated from the city and
its distractions to a place that would become an abbey at Marmoutier,
which became another great monastic centre. It was a desert, with a
steep cliff on one side and a river on the other. Before long, eighty
monks had joined him. The hermit monks engaged in no art or business.
The older ones were engaged solely in prayer, while the younger ones
were deputed to write. Many bishops were chosen out of this monastery
because every city wanted a pastor who had been bred under the
discipline of Saint Martin.

Here Martin lived privately as a monk, while publicly he devoted himself
with burning zeal to the discharge of his episcopal duties. Every year
he visited each of his parishes in rural regions, travelling by foot, by
donkey, or by boat. He was an innovator in that he worked to convert
rural regions, to which he introduced an incipient parochial system.
Previously, Christians had been confined primarily to urban areas.

His biographer and friend, Sulpicius Severus--reported that he extended
his apostolate from Touraine to Chartres, Paris, Autun, Sens, and
Vienne. Although he is said to have ruthlessly destroyed pagan temples,
his reputed miracles did much to aid his progress: he cured Saint
Paulinus of Nola of an eye disease, healed lepers, and raised a dead man
to life. Martin experienced visions and revelations and was gifted with
the ability to prophesy. As an exorcist, Martin did not threaten the
demons, rather he would prostrate himself on the ground and subdue them
by prayer.

He was one of the greatest pioneers of Western monasticism based on the
models of Eastern monasteries in the Holy Land and Egypt and Syria, and
in this manner he came to have an effect upon the type of monasticism
which was established in Ireland, Scotland and Wales This was before
Benedict--who had a particular veneration for him.

During this time, Priscillian, the leader of a Gnostic-Manichean sect,
was attacked by Ithacius, the bishop of Ossanova, who accused him of
sorcery and urged the emperor to put him to death.

Martin, together with Pope Saint Siricius and Saint Ambrose, stood
against the capital punishment of Priscillian and other heterodox
Spaniards by the civil authorities including Ithacius and Emperor
Maximus. He believed that the state should not intervene in an
ecclesiastical matter. Martin pleaded with Maximus not to execute the
heretics but to simply allow them to be excommunicated.

Ithacius then accused Martin of heresy. Maximus told Martin that he
would execute no one, but after Martin left him in Trier, Maximus was
prevailed upon to remand the case of the sect to the Prefect Evodius.
The sect was found guilty and the members were beheaded, marking this as
the first judicial death sentence for heresy. Both Maximus and Itacius
were censured by Pope Siricius for their roles in the affair.

Martin encountered a good deal of opposition in his later years, one of
his chief critics being the firebrand Saint Brice, who succeeded him as
bishop. But his awe-inspiring spiritual power was too much for the
'unspeakably bloody ferocity' of Count Avitian, who refrained from
intended barbarities in Tours.

He became ill at rural Candes in Touraine. As he lay dying, stretched
out on his bed of ashes, ready to draw his last painful breath, while
the bells were already tolling to mark his passing, he asked his
disciples, "Leave me, my brothers, so that I may fix my eyes on heaven
rather than on earth and set my soul on the path which leads to the

But the devil was waiting at the bedside of his old enemy. He knew only
too well the subtle workings of the death agony. He knew just where to
put his hand at that last moment when the soul, white-hot with the heat
and effort to tear itself away from the body, has become as soft and
malleable as molten glass; and the devil was waiting to seize the soul
at that moment and carry it off to the fires of hell. He was much too
busy to talk, and besides he had long ago used up his stock of wiles.
And so, heavy, black, and watchful, he worked in silence on the body of
the dying man.

Then Saint Martin, rousing himself from his death throes, confronted the
monster with these words: "What are you doing here, savage beast? You'll
find nothing in me that belongs to you, accursed one, for I shall soon
be in the bosom of Abraham!"

And having exorcised the demon from his body, Martin turned his face to
the wall and gave up his soul to God. Such, since the beginnings of the
world, have been the relations between the saints and the devil.

Martin is buried at Tours. His successor Saint Brice built a chapel over
his grave, and it was later replaced with a basilica. He was one of the
most popular saints of the Middle Ages, and his shrine was and still is
a great site of pilgrimage where many miracles are wrought.

As an evangelizer of rural Gaul and the father of monasticism in France,
Saint Martin of Tours was a figure of great importance. His fame spread
from Ireland to Africa and east. In England, Saint Martin's Summer is a
spell of fine weather that sometimes occurs around the time of the
feast. Many churches in England were dedicated in his honour, including
Saint Martin's at Canterbury and Saint Martin-in-the- Fields in London.

Although the saint longed to be a hermit, the church forced him to lead
the life of a loving, energetic Bishop of Tours (Attwater, Benedictines,
Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopaedia, Husenbeth, Monceaux, Severus, Walsh,
Watkin, White).

Saint Martin is most generally portrayed as a young soldier on horseback
dividing his cloak with a beggar, but sometimes he is shown as a bishop
with a beggar at his feet or near him, or in armour, with episcopal
symbols. His emblems are a globe of fire over his head as he says Mass,
or a goose, whose migration often coincides with his feast (Roeder).

Saint Martin is venerated at Tours. He serves as patron of armorers,
beggars, cavalry, coopers, domestic animals, France, geese, girdlers,
glovers, horses and horsemen, infantrymen, millers, innkeepers,
soldiers, tailors, wine growers and wine merchants (because his feast
falls just after the vendange), and wool-weavers (because he divided his
cloak) (Roeder). He is invoked against drunkenness, storms, and ulcers

Webpage of our friend Jean-Michel
Several picture of Tours cathedral, the abbey, icons,
reliquaries and tomb of Saint Martin
(Scroll down the page about one third)
http://www.amdg. be/sankt/ nov11.html

Also the complete Septimus Severius writings on Saint Martin, in French.

"Martin of Tours: The Shaping of Celtic Christianity"
Christopher Donaldson, Canterbury Press, 1997
ISBN 1-85311-157- 0

A rather special icon of Saint Martin: orthodoxe. com/images/ stmartindetours. jpg
Painted in the monastery opf Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai in the 12th
century. It represents three Saints venerated in the Patriarchate of
Jerusalem - Saint Paul, Saint James the brother of the Lord, Saint Stephen
the Protomartyr. And another three Saints of the West - Saint Laurence the
Archdeacon who was born in Spain and martyred in Rome, Saint Martin the
Merciful of Tours and Saint Leonard a hermit of Noblat in the Haute-Vienne
(also known as the Liberator)

Icons of Saint Martin:
http://www.allmerci fulsavior. com/icons/ Icons-Martin. htm##1
http://htmadmin. phpwebhosting. com/images/ a-194.jpg

Lives kindly supplied by:
For All the Saints:
http://www.saintpat ss/ss-index. htm

Saturday, November 8, 2008


With this Sunday, the third before Advent, being two days before the feast of the great St Martin of Tours, we begin St Martin's Lent. Generally the weather is strangely Spring like just before the advent, the coming, of the coldest part of Fall and Winter, and in the medieval period, as St Martin's feast generally came at the beginning of it, it received his name. For American Anglicans it should have another significance. The last revision of the reactionary of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer added propers for the three weeks before Advent Sunday which serve as a restoration of the old extended Advent of the Gallican and Celtic Churches. This allows us to work are way in to the thematic material of Advent before it actually arrives. And they are wonderful lections indeed, a real treat for those who read the daily offices. You will find them on page li and lii of the American Book of Common Prayer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"The Curse of the English Church,

and indeed of the whole Anglican Communion has been the individualism of its members. They have been a law unto themselves; and yet this individualism has seldom had the justification of originality: sometimes it has been Geneva that was copied, and sometimes Rome. The result has been that our Church has failed to make herself recognizable: foreigners know almost nothing about her, have no idea what she is like, would not recognize her when they saw her."

Percy Dearmer, The Present Opportunity

The above quotation from the works of Percy Dearmer may have been written some time ago but is yet particularly appropriate to the situation of the Anglican Continuum and the controversies of the moment. We should all be aware of the struggles with the Church since the Accession of Elizabeth I between those who were willing to obey the Church's rules and those who wished to substitute for them those of Geneva. These latter folk were joined in the late nineteenth century by a new party, growing out of the Church revival generally known as the Oxford Movement which wished to substitute the rules of the Church of Rome for those of historic Anglicanism and Churches of the British Isles. The result was the mass confusion satirized by the saying: "High and crazy, Broad and hazy, Low and lazy" used to characterize the three parties which the Church seemed to contain in an abnormal tension.

But there were not three prayer books or three sets of rules to be followed so which of them represented real obedience to the rules of the Church to be found in the Book of Common Prayer, the Canons and the Thirty-Nine Articles? Each party, of course, insisted that it was itself. And how do we find the answer? They cannot all be right.

The answer is right in front of us. Indeed, right in our hands for it is the Book of Common Prayer itself even if it is not always immediately obvious to the questioner. A party that is at war with the prayerbook itself, either in terms of Geneva or Rome, simply cannot represent the intent of the Church which gave us the Book of Common Prayer. To be ordained deacon or priest, one must promise 'conformity to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the . . . Church: and where are they to be found if not in the prayer book itself. And not just in our 1928 American prayer book but also the English prayer book of 1662 which was used by American Anglicans before our Revolution and without which the rubrics of the American book are sometime not quite understandable.

The question then is what sort of practise recognizably conforms to what we find in the text of our prayer book and the English books which preceded it? Is it one which habitually uses language that is at variance with that of the Book of Common Prayer? Is it one which constantly provides services which are not to be found in the prayer book, i.e., Morning Prayer and Sermon, or which fails generally to provide those services ordered to be daily, i.e., "Daily Morning and Evening Prayer?" I could offer my opinion and in a way am doing so. But more importantly, the priests and deacons of the Continuum as well as the wider Anglican Communion are making their own answer in what they do day by day and week by week. The question is whether by the example of their actions they are teaching what is in the Book of Common Prayer or that which is grounded in another set of assumptions? When you "read the priest" you should find nothing but what you would find in the Book of Common Prayer and in the greater prayer book tradition.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Speaking of reading the Rubrics of the prayer book, most people, and that includes most priests and even bishops, don't. By not doing so they miss a great deal of the positive teaching of the Book of Common Prayer for the Rubrics are not just for telling us how to perform the service, a task for which they are insufficent, but they are also to tell us what the service is about and what the teaching of the Church is in various areas. Read the Rubric at the top of page 321. It tells us a great deal of what the Church expects of us in terms of regular receiving of the Lord's Supper and how, in time of sickness, we are expected to notify the priest so that the priest may bring the sacrament to us, either by celebrating in our homes or by carrying the reserved sacrament to us from the regular service of the Church.

Likewise, it is a rubric on page 313 in the Visiation of the Sick that reminds us that arricular confession is a regular part of the teaching and practise of the Church.

Therefore we should know, that just as we are not intended to read only portions of our Bibles, we ought also to read all of the Book of Common Prayer so that we can know the teaching therein. And knowing the teaching of the prayer book, we should hold it as the standard against the performance and teaching of our priests and bishops. They have promised "conformity" - and in the case of the bishops, "obedience" - to it. If they don't give that in the fullest, without any mental reservation or evasion, then you have good reason to question their faith and their performance. If they try to twist it into something which it is not, you have even better reason to question their honesty. The Book of Common Prayer is a minimum standard and most of us, honestly, don't make that minimum standard. Churches and missions in the Anglican Continuum from a lack of their own buildings are generallyincapable of offering publicly the DAILY offices. They also fail in their ability to celebrate the communion office on all those ocassions for which the prayer book provides propers or implies by ribric that it should be celebrated. But we make no secret of the fact that we know that we are falling short and that more, much more, ought to be done to keep the faith and practise of the Book of Common Prayer.

Godparents in the baptismal office are asked to promise that the child will learn the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments as well as "all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul's health". Other than the whole of the Bible, where are we to find those things save in a large and particular knowledge of the Book of Common Prayer? Consequently we ought to read the Rubrics of the prayer book, but not just them. It is all of the prayer book which we ought to know and use to our soul's health.

How well do YOU know the Book of Common Prayer?