Thursday, November 27, 2008

Archbishop's Reflections on Advent

Once again a commendable video that I can't embed. Here is the Most Rev. Dr Rowan Williams's Advent message for 2008. It's worth watching both for the insightful content and the sheer therapeutic value of His Grace's voice. Let's face it, the man is a British James Earl Jones.

Headline Howlers

From the Anglican Communion News Service:

Anglican bishops oppose death penalty, Jamaica

Indeed. Neither the death penalty nor Jamaica can possibly be justified by right-thinking Christians.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Talking points on Scripture and homosexual relationships

The best defence of the "reappraiser" position is to be found in Br Tobias Haller's "Sex Articles". For all their protests, none of the "anti" crowd have ever come up with anything nearly as sophisticated, and his points remain unrefuted .

Because of the density of his work, however, I have come up with my own cheat sheet to remind me why (lest I become complacent and take my position for granted) I regard the classic Christian position on homosexuality as untenable. Here they are:


*Because St Paul had no concept of an innate "homosexual" orientation (hence my double invert commas: it's an anachronism). You can't try to stretch what he says to fit a topic he wasn't writing about.

*Because St Paul was fallible. He was only the human instrument of divine inspiration.

*Because the Greek of the passages in question, to the extent that it is intelligible at all, seems to refer to specific forms of "homosexual" activity that we wouldn't recognise today.

*Because each of the passages in St Paul comes in the context of a broader rhetorical argument of which "homosexuality" is not the point. It's used as an example of depravity, one which would not have been questioned in that time and place.

*Because St Paul in general does not express a recognisably Christian ethic of marriage and sexuality. It's laughable—and incoherent—that so many who profess to believe in the sanctity of marriage (or rather, some marriages) take their cue on homosexuality from a man who didn't believe in that sanctity ("It's better to marry than to be aflame with passion," remember?)

*Because Jesus himself reduced the Law to a bare minimum expressed in the Summary of the Law and the Golden Rule.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

He's a gay man now!

This post is dedicated to my mother, a somewhat less exaggerated version of the heroine in this sketch.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Visitation of the BVM

Somehow, these never went up. They are from the final Saturday of the May Festival, at the Church of St Mary Magdalene.

Inside a Reformed Episcopal church

Mobile photos of St George's Reformed Episcopal Church, Hamilton (previously St Margaret's Anglican).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Ontological subdeaconness" and the extraordinary form

Patrick Cook pointed out today that I am only a subdeacon when acting in that capacity, since the Anglican Church has, for the most part, not ordained subdeacons since the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church, outside of certain priestly societies with an indult, has not done so since the Second Vatican Council. Fr Clough, my last RC pastor (post passim), was among the last generation of seminarians ordained to minor orders and the subdiaconate while doing so was still "ordinary."

Until the publication of the Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders rendered my defection to Anglicanism necessary, it had been my intention to offer myself to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, the setting of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Affiliated with the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, the seminary's formation includes a year of spirituality, two years of philosophy, and three years of theology. Beginning in the second year, seminarians begin the process of admission to minor orders before being ordained to the subdiaconate and Holy Orders.

Because it was my desire to follow this course (the wisdom of which I may now question with the benefit of hindsight), my lack of "ontological subdeaconness" is something of a sore point for me. But in the context of the Anglican Church of Canada, Patrick is of course quite correct. I wonder, though, if that means that it's wrong to say one is a server (as opposed to saying one serves at the altar) because the Anglican Church has not retained the minor order of acolyte. But perhaps I split hairs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What St Peter might say about my shoes

In the promise of the breaking in of your shoes, you rejoice, even if now for a little while your feet have had to suffer various trials, and be clothed in Band-Aids all day, so that the genuineness of your desire for new shoes - being more precious than the ratty old ones you had before - may be found to result in your not looking like a homeless person.

Although you have not seen this breaking in, you love it, and even though you do not see it now, you believe in it and rejoice with an indescribable joy, for you shall receive the outcome of your sufferings, the ability to be seen in public.

(cf. I Peter 1.6-9)

A treat from Remembrance Sunday

Another goody from St John' s Episcopal Church in Detroit, which alas does not allow most of their videos to be embedded. But it's here for the viewing. I got to sing this yesterday during Choral Mattins at the Church of the Nearest Sunday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Requiem aeternam (part III)

A Requiem Eucharist was held for Br William Gatewood Sibley, OHC, at the church of St John's, West Toronto, yesterday, followed by a reception at Holy Cross Priory. Bishop Ann Tottenham, visitor to the Priory, who is freaking awesome and needs to have my babies, offered the Holy Sacrifice. Br Christian Swayne, OHC, Prior, functioned as deacon.

This was as modern as modern can be. The Mass was celebrated in white at a nave altar. Loaf bread was used for the sacrament. The church was devoid of kneelers, and there was no altar rail: communicants had to stand assembly line-style. Nevertheless, I was touched that the requiem form of the Agnus Dei was used.

There were no liturgical books on hand, which led to the comical sight of the censing of the leaflet from which the Gospel was to be read.

"Come and journey with a saviour" (Beach Spring) (the organist missed the last verse)
"The Christ who died but rose again" (St Magnus)
"Sister, let me be your servant"(Servant Song)
"You are Salt for the Earth" (Bring forth the kingdom)

Br Robert Sevensky, OHC, Superior, preached, or eulogized rather. Although I did not know Br William I was moved by the Superior's words and glad to be with the community at this time. At one point Br Robert mentioned Br William's drift away from Anglo-Catholic orthodoxy (in fact characteristic of the Order as a whole), illustrating his point by referring to the deceased's distaste for "cookie worship." I was amused that the rector of the only church in the diocese with regular Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was in the congregation.

Bishop Ann allowed me to kiss her ring, and there was a very lively reception next door at the Priory, where I got to touch base with the brothers. It had been too long since the last time I was there, and I was starting to feel like a wayward associate. I had a chance to meet the superior and the newest brother at the Priory, a recent transfer from the mother house in upstate New York.

Mom spanked the gay out of me!

(Courtesy of Tom)

Erm, yes, of course children get naked with each other all the time and pour sand into one another's arse cracks. Didn't you?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Requiem aeternam (part II)

Requiem High Mass of All Souls Day at St Thomas's, Huron Street.

Mass was celebrated ad orientem in black vestments according to the Book of Common Prayer (1962) with Fauré's setting. The black high mass set at St T's dates back to the requiem offered in 1917 for the dead of the First World War. There was no gradual, but there was a tract (to plainsong). The Dies Irae was, to my regret, not sung. The Lesson was read, but the Gospel was chanted. We then sang "Christ enthroned in highest heaven" (Ad perennis vitae fontem) as a collection was taken. The bell was tolled during the Solemn Remembrance of the Departed. I had a moistened eye as Fr Warren Eling, whose heart-rending story was made into an episode of Canadian Case Files, was named. (He was also remembered at the requiem I attended on Saturday, post passim).

A BAS prayer over the gifts was interpolated. The Communion Hymn was "The King of love my shepherd is" (St Columba). The ceremonies at the catafalque concluded the Mass. Though the leaflet promised (as last year) that the Kontakion of the Dead would be included, it was not (as last year). We did not, I regret, sing "Let saints on earth in concert sing" as we did last year.

It was a very moving liturgy, and is one of the highlights of the Christian Year for me, along with the other distinctively Catholic feasts of Corpus Christi and the Visitation. It was good to be back at St T's, especially for so reverent and inspiring a Mass.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Requiem aeternam (part I)

This morning I attended the annual All Souls Requiem at the Chapel of St James the Less, at the cathedral's cemetery. It was a moving service in its way, though not quite how I would have done things. The Missa Cantata was set to Byrd's Mass for Four Voices. Vestments and paraments were, sadly, violet, but the priest (a brother of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd) celebrated ad orientem. (When I approached the altar rail for communion I saw that in fact the altar has never been moved forward). The Very Rev. the Dean of Toronto assisted and the cathedral's transitional deacon, a former Presbyterian minister who now occasionally sports a biretta I understand, read the Gospel. He was in surplice and deaconwise stole. (Are deacons meant to wear their stoles diagonally with a surplice?)

Burial sentences from the Prayer Book (setting by Croft) were sung by a quartet from the cathedral choir. (The abolition of the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is a rant for another post). The greeting was said rather than sung. The crucifer read the lesson ("But the souls of the righteous...") rather like a weather report. He concluded "The Word of the Lord." I couldn't help recalling the story of a layman of my acquaintance who is said to have stood up in the cathedral and shouted "No it's not; it's the Apocrypha!"

The psalm was sung to plainsong. The leaflet indicated that the choir would sing the psalm, but since it was a basic plainsong setting, I defiantly joined in. (I would do this again during the Gospel Acclamation [with Alleluias by Ager] and the Kontakion of the Dead [with antiphon by an unindicated composer]).

The intercessions named seemingly every Anglican in the diocese ever to have died. The offertory hymn was "O what their joy and their glory must be" (Regnator orbis). The crucifer-cum-thurifer committed the cardinal sin of censing the congregation at a requiem. I was so astonished that I omitted to sing the last verse of the hymn.

At Communion, the motet was Tomkins: "I Heard a Voice from Heaven." The prayer after communion (from the BAS) was followed by the Kontakion of the Dead. The beginning and ending ("Give everlasting") were sung to a choral setting, with the middle to plainsong. Then the celebrant said the prayer of commendation. The concluding hymn was "Jerusalem the Golden" (Ewing).

I was rather chagrined when I saw that the leaflet indicated to kneel at certain points (Kyrie, Eucharistic Prayer) since I did not in fact have a kneeler. I assumed that this was a typo and that this would be a standing Mass. I looked around, however, and saw that others did have kneelers. And those who didn't tended to solve the problem by sitting, which I refused to do on principle. So I was the lone congregant standing at those times, which was a tad awkward.

I will report back on Monday's Requiem High Mass at St Thomas's, Huron Street (which will be in black).