Author Archives: L. Y. Tsang

Calvin: The Israelite Sabbath an Abrogated Symbol of Sanctification

Calvin on Genesis 2:

Afterwards, in the Law, a new precept concerning the Sabbath was given, which should be peculiar to the Jews, and but for a season; because it was a legal ceremony shadowing forth a spiritual rest, the truth of which was manifested in Christ. Therefore the Lord the more frequently testifies that he had given, in the Sabbath, a symbol of sanctification to his ancient people. Therefore when we hear that the Sabbath was abrogated by the coming of Christ, we must distinguish between what belongs to the perpetual government of human life, and what properly belongs to ancient figures, the use of which was abolished when the truth was fulfilled.

Calvin was not a Sabbatarian like many of the puritans who hated Christmas.

Chinese Academic Dress for a Christian Cleric

Cassock? Mortarboard? What is that?

Álvaro Semedo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest in China at the end of the Ming dynasty:

Nicolas Trigault, a French Jesuit priest in China around the same time:

Though a Protestant should know not to trust the Jesuits, in this case the Jesuits made a sensible choice, to adopt Chinese dress in China, specifically the dress of Chinese Confucian scholars. Two centuries later, Protestant missionary Hudson Taylor made a similar choice to adopt Chinese dress, much to the chagrin of his English missionary colleagues.

James Hudson Taylor – Church History Review

Even though the everyday clothes of ordinary Chinese are much more Westernized today, the everyday clericals worn by Christian priests and deacons ought to reflect the native meaning system in clothes, rather than shout FOREIGN. For this reason, something like the above, analogous to English cassock, gown, and college cap, is what we should come to expect in China of even priests that are come to serve from overseas.

Lawful and Prudent Treatment of Departed Saints in Chinese Culture

Arilje : Sanctuary: Officiating Church Fathers

There is one law of God, because God is one, but in human society it takes multiple concrete forms. The morality of the same outward acts can vary between cultures, even though the inner law, the moral law of God, is unchanging as God himself. How Christian saints are treated in Chinese culture, then, should be calibrated for the existing Chinese symbol system. Evelyn S. Rawski describes part of this system in The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (University of California Press, 1998), 205–206:

Christian Jochim argues that ritualized obeisances are ‘acts both of humility and privilege’. By kneeling and kowtowing before Heaven and his imperial ancestors, the emperor partakes of their numinous power; by kneeling and kowtowing before the emperor, ministers, princes, and others participating in an audience ritual partake of the powers flowing through the emperor. The emperor’s obeisance to his mother carries a somewhat different symbolic message, one that reifies the hierarchical relationships within families that lie at the core of the Confucian order.

The symbolic significance of sitting to receive ritual homage was broadly understood in Chinese society. The same action confirms the submissiveness of the young bride to her new parents-in-law, the subordination of a concubine to her husband’s wife, of a maidservant to her mistress. By extension we find in Chinese society the symbolic vesting of authority in both a specific chair and in the pose itself. By at least Song times some of the legitimacy conferred by this symbolically charged act had been transferred to the chair itself. Chan Buddhist monasteries during the funeral of an abbot placed the deceased man’s portrait in the ‘dharma seat’ – the seat occupied by the abbot – until a new successor was installed, thus drawing on the same symbolic vocabulary found in discussions of the throne in the Taihedian.

The argument that Chinese ritual culture gave primacy to performance of the act rather than to a specific throne or chair can be supported by popular religion, where deities in Chinese temples are portrayed in a seated position, to receive the worship of the people. The tablets denoting Heaven and the imperial ancestors in the Temple of the Ancestors were also ‘seated’ on thrones during rituals. Deities in the popular religion are depicted in this seated pose to the present day. The popular woodblock prints known as zhima, which continue to be produced in the People’s Republic of China, show the deity in a seated frontal pose, ‘like a statue in a Chinese temple’: ‘This effect is no accident, since prints of this type (some authors have called this an ‘iconic’ print) were the focus of domestic religious ceremonials and received offerings, such as incense, from family members.’ As with deities, so with the emperor – or perhaps the statement should be reversed. When the new emperor sat on the throne and received the obeisances of the nobles and officials, he was performing a ritual action that not only echoed those of ordinary persons in the society but also replicated that of the gods in Chinese popular religion.

So the Chinese should not, I think, depict departed saints sitting in a frontal pose, because these saints must not be seated to receive homage. We are, after all, not servants of Mary and the other departed saints, but servants of the Most High. Rather than sitting, then, a departed saint could be depicted standing to praise God together with the living, since dead and living alike ascend to heaven to join the angels and archangels in worshipping the one holy God.

Necessarily an avoidance of depicting the dead as seated would call for changes in ritual depictions of dead parents, for instance, but some changes in standard practice are to be expected. A Christian who has gone to be with the Lord is no longer in a position of living authority on earth. The rites should be modified to exclude all ‘sitting’ of the dead, so that ritual homage in the full sense is done only to living authorities: the reigning emperor, a person’s parents, a bride’s new parents-in-law, a concubine’s mistress (her husband’s first wife), a maidservant’s mistress, and so on. It was customary to depict the dead both seated and facing the viewer, as if God had placed them as intermediate authorities between himself and the living; the truth of the gospel, however, suggests that we should depict them not only standing to praise God, but also facing upward toward the left or the right, wherever God may ritually be imagined to be.

In contrast, when my younger brother married, he and his bride knelt to serve tea to my parents, and my parents sat in chairs side by side to receive this act of homage; my parents then gave them advice and symbolic red packets of money. After order of seniority, I myself also sat to be served tea by my brother and his bride, though they stood rather than kneeling, and like my parents I also gave them words of advice. It was a touching moment for me, to receive thanks from my younger brother and his new wife, and to urge them in turn to do all things by the word of God and raise up godly children. A departed ancestor, however, is no longer in a position of living authority delegated by God, and therefore cannot rightly take a seated posture in relation to the living on earth. Therefore it is right to treat them differently when the Lord has called them to leave this earthly life and its authority, and to await the resurrection of the dead.

Let Us Remember William Tyndale

‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes,’ William Tyndale said before he was strangled by the hangman and burnt at the stake. God answered his prayer, and his work to translate the Bible and reform the Church of England from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome bore fruit in the English Reformation that followed. May the Lord honour his prayers and in Christ save the people of England from their sins.

Teaching Biology in Primary School

Birdwatching with children - BirdWatching Magazine

In primary school, I think there is little point in teaching children about the organelles of a cell or Darwinian evolutionary theory. They simply are not yet equipped to understand or evaluate any of these things in a truly scientific way. Instead, what matters the most is observation. Only when they know how to observe will they know how to account in theory for what is observed.

In my imagination, the ideal primary-school biology teacher is a Lakhota brave teaching the students to observe and identify organisms in nature. He takes them outside and expects them to pay close attention to what they see, hear, and smell. If they see tracks of an animal, they mark well what it is they observe and what it might mean. They draw and write about some of the plants they encounter, and they also keep in mind whatever they have come across, because the teacher will test them both during and after a trip. A student finishing primary school might well say, ‘I don’t know what mitochondria are: I have never seen any in real life. But I can tell apart Eastern and Western Meadowlarks by their bird calls, because I have seen and heard both, and taken notes about the sound that each of them makes. Can you tell them apart?’

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos: National Bolshevik (Part 1)

ramiro-ledesma-ramos-1905-1936

By Juan Antonio Llopart Senent, translated by Fernando Garrayo, originally posted elsewhere in 2012.

Talking nowadays about the National-Syndicalism and about its founder, Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, is at least difficult. It is basically because 37 years after Franco’s death (he died 20th November 1975), the official historians, the media and the most rancorous peoples – whether of the right or the left wings –, without historical rigour, still mistakenly linking, falsely and sometimes intentionally, National-Syndicalism (NS henceforward) with the regime of Franco.

Since 19th April 1937, with the approval of the Decree of Unification with what Franco and Serrano Suñer created that hybrid called FET and of the JONS, resounded at the life of the Spaniards that slogan “For God, Spain and its National-Syndicalist Revolution”, and though indeed, there was a lot of “For God” and a lot of “ITS” Spain, there was not nothing of National-Syndicalist Revolution. The Spanish people lived for almost 40 years wrapped in the National-Syndicalist trappings, but without its essence, the National-Syndicalist spirit and ideology, everything what was presented as such, it was distorted by the elements of the rising regime: technocrats of the Opus Dei, monarchists and reactionary right-wingers, covered all by the Catholic Church and the Army.

Meanwhile, the authentic National-syndicalists were condemned to silence. Manuel Hedilla, 2nd National Chief of FE of the JONS, Ruiz Castillejos, de los Santos, Chamarro, were condemned to death. Félix Gómez and Ángel Alcázar de Velasco, to penal servitude for life. Others, to some years of imprisonment… their crime: to go against the Decree of Unification and the falsification of the NS.

Some National-Syndicalists thought that by going inside the regime of the general Franco they could achieve influence on it. Others, the most decided in the action and in the compromise, opted for the clandestine fight, and the most, accepted the Unification. This attitude was comprehensible in a organisation that was exaggeratedly incremented by elements coming from right-wing and reactionary parties, which pretended to use the NS as political springboard, as well as to turn it in to the truncheon guard of the bourgeoisie´s interests.

It is doubtless that if Ramiro Ledesma had been comprehended when he accussed FE of the JONS of acquiescent with the right wing, if José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of Falange, FE) had accepted the criticisms of Ramiro and had not took so long to comprehend them, that the fate of the NS would have been something else. Both died assassinated by the Government of the People’s Front, but both were murdered day after day by the regime of Franco and after this, by all those who, with their blue shirts, their beltings and their hair fixed, made of flashiness, bullying and rightism their found of action, attitude that nothing must envy of what 40 years ago had in Salamanca guys as Dávila, Aznar or Garcerán.

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, a National-Bolshevik?

If, as I have pointed at former occasions, the National-bolshevism (hereafter NB) is the harmonic union between the most radical conceptions of the national and the social, evidently we can assert that Ramiro Ledesma was a National-Bolshevik. “There are here two words: one, the national idea, the Homeland as historical enterprise and as guarantee of historical existence of all the Spaniards; the other, the social idea, the socialist economy, as guarantee of the bread and economic welfare of all the people” says roundly Ramiro.

Since the beginnings, Ramiro and his Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (JONS), aspired to attract all the workers to the national cause, as the jonsists wanted “acquire a broad proletarian base”. This inquietude was a faithful reflex of their social extraction: proletarians, peasants and radical cutting intellectuals, vehemently against the bourgeois order. One of the constant fears of Ramiro, one of his most painful worries was that jonsism were confused “with a frivolous and futile task of young gentlemen”.

With the JONS was born in Spain, in words of Ramiro, “a political movement, of national core deep and great social perspectives, rather, socialist ones”. Ramiro has very clear the role of the rights, and he does not hesitate in accuse them as one of the greatest evils that pinch their people, while he does not hesitate either in denouncing the operetta patriotism, “we well know a long time ago what to expect about the rightist patriotism, specially those of the forces more directly clerical and linked to the sacristies. Every day is more evident for us the suspicious that the national weakness of Spain is due, in great part, to “the inoperative patriotism, false and without warm” that till now has ruled, incubated and oriented the right wing”.

In Ramiro, the fate of the community always goes linked to a just distribution of the riches: “The submission of the riches to the national advisabilities, that is to say, to the pushfulness of Spain and the prosperity of the people”. Always there were in the jonsists social and economic consigns. “With we, then the workers; to nationalise the parasitic banking, to nationalise the transports, to cut off the action of the speculating piracy and to exterminate to the great profiteers of products”. The jonsist NS had very clear what had to be the basic aspirations of the community: “The JONS ask and want the nationalisation of the transports, as notorious public service, the control of the financial speculations of the high banking, democratic guarantee of the people´s economy; the regulation of the interest or income produced by the money used in exploitations of national utility; the democratisation of the credit, the benefit of the unions, communal groups and small business; abolition of the forced unemployment, making of the work a right of all the Spaniards, as guarantee against starvation and misery, equality before the State of all the elements that intervene in the production (capital, workers and technicians), and rigorous justice in the responsible for disciplining the national economy organisms; abolition of the abusive privileges and instauration of a hierarchy of the State that reach and be nourished by all the Spanish classes”. These were then the consigns of the JONS. Does anyone doubt of its rotundity and its people´s and revolutionary spirit?

Ramiro, as other National-Bolshevik thinkers of that time, does not hesitate in criticise the fascism when this turns to the right. He says about it: “ …has crushed, in effect, the political institutions of the bourgeoisie and it has given to the proletarians a new moral and a political optimism… but Has it crushed or weaken the great fortresses of the financial capital, the high industrial bourgeoisie and the landowners in benefit the general economy of all the people? And, furthermore, is it actually making possible the elimination of the capitalist system and basing increasingly the regime at the economic interests of the great masses? Without any doubt, with such statements, it is comprehensible and logical that Ramiro were silenced and marginalised by the regime of Franco, inasmuch as it is known by everyone, this was supported to settle on the power, accurately on these great fortresses of the financial capita to which Ramiro refers.

For Ramiro and his JONS, the fascisms of operetta were totally condemnable, “groups without deep dimension, artificial, that import the fascist phenomenon as someone imports any fashion gender”. He shows hard, very hard with these fascist movements of importation when he states that. “Mosley is there out, with his shirts, his fascist party and his mussolinian dreams; as here Primo de Rivera, with a similar team… they have a leader, an aristocrat Duce, millionaire, who spends his money organising the party. Just like that, Mosley, the Englishman, who is Sir, multimillionaire and flamboyant. So is Primo de Rivera, the Spaniard, millionaire and superfine. So is Starhemberg, who is prince and everything else. All of them are soft, doughy, cottony, with good manners, that pretend to implant a Corporate State… They are characterised also for their notorious tendency to disown all people´s angish then they are incubated in privileged social classes and they are linked to all the reactionary forms of the society”.

Ramiro also acquires a revolutionary compromise with the Spanish country. Its words are dialectic bullets against the rural capitalism: “Spanish countrymen: the land is the nation. The peasant who cultivates the land has got the right to its usufruct. The regime of the agrarian property hitherto has been a consented theft and carried out by the Monarchy and its feudal hordes. Countrymen: 147 great landowners have got in their hands more than a million hectares of land. All the land is yours. Demand its nationalization”

These affirmations will affront the sanctimonius minds of the right-wing. A lot of these proposals are totally left by the traditional parties of the left-wing, and even by the most radical leftists.

“Up with the new world! Up with the Spain that we will do!”. These were the jonsist consigns and shouts. They were, without any doubt, new proclamations, shouts of hope, but over all, shouts of revolution. Yes, of revolution, because they were fed-up men of a rotten world, plenty of injustices, of exploited men and exploiters. There was an imperative, popular and revolutionary: to subvert the bourgeois order. And in this task, the JONS fought. Ramiro managed print that spirit between his comrades, who understood the need to distance from the bourgeois vulgarity, to shun from all the old and from all the deciduous.

So the first task of the NS “was to link those two separate ingredients: the national and the social, the Homeland an the Work. That nobody think that the adoption of the term both charming and polemic, of the national-proletarian revolution, were in the founders work of reflexive and cautious tactic, but immediate consequence from living in a deep and endearing manner the history of our time”. These words from Pedro Laín Entralgo newly approximate us to the jonsist aspiration of the social and the national.

The National-Bolsheviks preferred an alliance or rapprochement with the Soviet Russia to an alliance with the occidental democracies, as the Great Britain, fact that differentiate them clearly from the Hitler´s approachs… And in this context, newly we appeal to Pedro Laín Entralgo when he affirms: “As Ramiro Ledesma remarks with dowser sight, the Soviet communism is becoming more and more in a national-communism. Stalin is doing the turn from the world proletarian revolution of Lenin to a national Russian revolution”. These words can seem exaggerated, but Ramiro in some times does similar affirmations: “Russia, with its national-communist regime, with war moral, overarmed, in full experiment of gigantic social subversions, is not yet, of course, the revolutionary country that conspires everyday for the world revolution”. Or when he affirms: “It is the rotund efficacy of the Soviet state, that offers to the Russian people, in a coactive and questionless manner, the possibility of taking august national discipline. Nowadays Stalin guarantee his economic plan brandishing the nationalist Russian fury”.

It is clear that Ramiro was not at all communist, and he himself explain us why: “Against the communism, with its charge of reasons and efficacies, we put on a national idea, that it do not accepts, and that represents for us the beginning of every human enterprise of jaunty range. This national idea contains a culture and some historical values that we recognize as our highest patrimony”.

Go on to part 2, translated by L. Y. Tsang.

Su Shi’s ‘Riverside City’ Poem, to Share with the Non-Chinese

Some poems are so powerful that I cannot help showing people, even if they have almost no experience of poetry in the language in which the poems are written. Recently I was showing my American friend a Chinese poem in the ci 詞 lyric genre, written in 1075 to the tune ‘Riverside City’ 江城子 by the Song dynasty poet Su Shi 蘇軾 (art name Su Dongpo 蘇東坡):

  1. 十年生死兩茫茫,
    不思量,自難忘。
    千里孤墳,無處話淒涼。
    縱使相逢應不識,
    塵滿面,鬢如霜。
  2. 夜來幽夢忽還鄉,
    小軒窗,正梳妝。
    相顧無言,唯有淚千行。
    料得年年腸斷處,
    明月夜,短松岡。

The whole poem is what you hear at night after, in the daytime, having heard a shi 詩 genre poem by the Tang dynasty poet He Zhizhang 賀知章:

少小離家老大回,鄉音無改鬢毛衰,
兒童相見不相識,笑問客從何處來。

Both poems have the years away from home (十年, 少小離家), the greyed hair on the temples (鬢如霜, 鬢毛衰), the being a stranger to someone at home (縱使相逢應不識, 兒童相見不相識). If Su Shi in the Song dynasty poem was not intentionally alluding to the Tang dynasty poem, he might as well have been doing so. But if the Tang dynasty shi poem in the daytime was bittersweet, with the children in the speaker’s hometown being strangers to him, asking this foreigner where he was come from, then this Song dynasty ci poem is a very different, nocturnal poem.

Su Shi wrote his poem ten years after the death of his wife. After ten years, he says, life and death are vast, unmeasured, boundless, the distance between them oceanic. He may not dwell on it, to ponder and to reckon, to consider and to measure, yet the thing by nature is hard to forget: a thousand miles, a lone grave, and no place to speak of his bleakness. Even if they were to meet, they might not know each other. Dust fills his face; his temple hair is like frost.

The second stanza begins with a striking line that shifts the mood, and the poet and listener’s location: 夜來幽夢忽還鄉. It also is the favourite line of one of my father’s college friends. We can try to understand it by prosody and sound.

Let’s hear the line with a cæsura after the fourth syllable, as is usual in a Chinese line of seven syllables: 夜來幽夢 || 忽還鄉. Thus: night comes, dim dreams – sudden return village.

In Cantonese, this line sounds like ye loi yau mung || fat waan heung. The sound of the line’s first half is soft. Of the four syllables, three are open (no consonant after the vowel), and the fourth ends in a nasal consonant. All the consonants in those four syllables are sonorants: semivowels, liquids, or nasals. (If you want to hear the sound, even if you speak no Cantonese, it’s always possible to look up the Middle Chinese sound of every syllable on Wiktionary.) Because of the correspondence of sound and sense in this line, the netherworld dreams, or dim dreams (幽夢), have a sort of charming, romantic Southern Gothic feel to them, like a lazy, warm summer night breeze on an old South Carolina plantation, with Spanish moss hanging from the trees. That’s the kind of mood I get from 夜來幽夢, just on the edge of spooky. Now you get to the last three syllables, 忽還鄉. The first syllable there, 忽 (‘sudden’), sounds like huət̚ in Middle Chinese: first a fricative, then a reduced-sounding vowel followed by a stop! like a strong wind that suddenly stops. ‘In the night were dim dreams, and suddenly I was returned home.’ Through the texture created by the sounds in this line, the audience is suddenly transported with the author.

He shows us a little high window, and right there is combing and adorning. His and his wife’s care for each other has no words, only tears’ thousand tracks. One can guess every year the place where his guts snap: a night with a bright moon, a mound with short pines.

The West Coast Chinese Christian Conference (WCCCC) Website

The website for the West Coast Chinese Christian Conference is wcccc.us, not wcccc.org. Of the latter, the WCCCC registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (whose information you can confirm) no longer has effective control, and therefore WCCCC updates after the 2018 conference have been at the newer WCCCC website, not at wcccc.org. So do please go to wcccc.us for information on the conference and the organization’s work.

Some Processions for Advent

How does this look?

Advent I

Vigil Evensong

At Evening Prayer, after the Collect of Advent I and the two collects, a procession to the pulpit singing ‘Behold the Bridegroom Cometh’.

V. The voice of one crying in the wilderness.
R. Make straight the way of the Lord.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst will to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that all the kindreds of the earth, set free from the captivity of sin, may be brought under his most gracious dominion; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

In the return, ‘Hark the Glad Sound! the Saviour Comes’.

V. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
R. Because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.

Let us pray.

O GOD, who hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the whole earth, and didst send thy blessed Son to preach peace to them that are far off and to them that are nigh: Grant that all men everywhere may seek after thee and find thee. Bring the nations into thy fold, pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh, and hasten thy kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Morning Service

At Morning Prayer, after the Collect of Advent I and the other two collects: ‘Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending’ or ‘Hark! a Herald Voice is Calling’.

Litany.

V. The voice of one crying in the wilderness.
R. Make straight the way of the Lord.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst will to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that all the kindreds of the earth, set free from the captivity of sin, may be brought under his most gracious dominion; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Chrysostom and the Grace.

Advent II, III

Vigil Evensong

At Evening Prayer, after the Collect of the Day and the two collects, a procession to the pulpit singing ‘Behold the Bridegroom Cometh’.

V. The voice of one crying in the wilderness.
R. Make straight the way of the Lord.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

In the return, ‘Hark the Glad Sound! the Saviour Comes’.

V. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
R. Because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst will to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that all the kindreds of the earth, set free from the captivity of sin, may be brought under his most gracious dominion; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Morning Service

At Morning Prayer, after the Collect of the Day and the other two collects: ‘Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending’ or ‘Hark! a Herald Voice is Calling’.

Litany.

V. The voice of one crying in the wilderness.
R. Make straight the way of the Lord.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
Chrysostom and the Grace.

Advent IV, and all seven days before Christmas

Vigil Evensong

At Evening Prayer, after the Collect of the Day and the two collects, a procession to the pulpit singing ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’.

V. The voice of one crying in the wilderness.
R. Make straight the way of the Lord.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

In the return, ‘Hark the Glad Sound! the Saviour Comes’.

V. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.
R. Because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst will to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that all the kindreds of the earth, set free from the captivity of sin, may be brought under his most gracious dominion; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Morning Service

At Morning Prayer, after the Collect of the Day and the other two collects: ‘Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending’ or ‘Hark! a Herald Voice is Calling’.

Litany.

V. The voice of one crying in the wilderness.
R. Make straight the way of the Lord.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

Chrysostom and the Grace.

A Structure for Anglican Religious Instruction in a Grammar School

In grammar school – that is, the university track (maybe 10–15% of the population) rather than the trade school track, or German Gymnasium rather than Realschule or Hauptschule – religion classes in forms 1–6 (or grades 7–12) could be sequenced as follows:

Form 1, Alexander Nowell’s Middle Catechism (1572).

Form 2, First Book of Homilies (1547).

Form 3, Second Book of Homilies (1571).

Form 4, John Jewel’s Apology for the Church of England (1562), Richard Hooker’s ‘Learned Discourse of Justification’ (1585), and Christopher Wordsworth’s lectures On the Canon of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament (1848).

Form 5, John Pearson’s Exposition of the Creed (1659); or else James Gorle’s Analysis of Pearson on the Creed, an abridgement with basic examination questions), compared with parts of Zacharias Ursinus’s Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (1584) for a broader view of the Reformed tradition.

Form 6, Edward Harold Browne’s Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (1887), sometimes compared with expositions by William Beveridge (1669, incomplete, running only to Article 30) and William Griffith Thomas (1930), for a detailed understanding of the confession of the English Reformed tradition.

The Psalter would be said through once every month at daily Morning and Evening Prayer, with prizes for memorization of the whole Psalter. Other books of the Bible could well be studied whole or excerpted in literature and rhetoric classes, with Proverbs for example supplying maxims for progymnasmata composition exercises alongside (say) the maxims of La Rochefoucauld.

Upon graduation from high school, the top 2% of male students, confirmed and subscribing to the 39 Articles ex animo, could be trained for the diaconate from that age as inductive Bible study leaders, liturgical readers, acolytes, and keepers of accounts. Others can be deacons as well, of course, but I think the top 2% percent especially should be recruited if spiritually suitable, and of this number some who are able to teach may also be called to serve as presbyters. After all, why should the clerics on the whole be intellectually less capable than the doctors and lawyers? Let the ministry be filled with men who have the sound learning and intellectual ability to contend well for the gospel, through an educational system that trains those whom God has already endowed with suitable natural gifts. Then, because they already have some of the necessary education, their further training will not have to wait for undergraduate degrees, but can begin at once after high school.

Commemorative Processions in an Anglican Church

In Anglicanism, processions are probably most popular among Anglo-Catholics, and indeed historically the Church of England went without processions within church buildings (except entrance processions) for quite some time.

But this relative lack of processions is due more to accident of history than to a reforming plan, and certainly there is no Reformed principle against walking to pray or praying while walking. If we want to restore vigil worship and instruction on the nights before feast days, processions may well form a part of that plan. The point is not to instruct the people by reason alone, but also to bring along their bodies into remembrance of what God has done and will do, and thus to build up good Christian cultural habits to leaven a whole people.

According to Sally Elizabeth (Roper) Harper, writing in Medieval English Benedictine Liturgy: Studies in the Formation, Structure, and Content of the Monastic Votive Office, c. 950–1540,

Most processions consisted of three stages: in eundo, where the procession left the choir, a focal statio, or station, and finally in redeundo, the return to choir. The outward phase was normally accompanied by a borrowed respond, or sometimes a proper processional antiphon or hymn. At its destination (an altar or chapel, the rood or some other focal point), the procession stopped for a versicle and collect, sometimes said with an antiphon. The third stage of the procession, in redeundo, was effectively a self-contained memorial. An antiphon (or less often a respond) was sung as the procession moved off from the station, usually halting for the versicle and collect at the choir-step. Often the independence of this final stage was emphasized in that it honoured a quite different saint or intention from the preceding parts of the procession (quite commonly the patron).

The first two of these stages are fairly straightforward. In eundo, the procession would leave the church chancel and sing a hymn or anthem as it went. Arriving at its destination, in statione, the procession would stop for a versicle and collect. For example, at the end of Evensong on Christmas Day, the procession would remember St Stephen for the next day. Leaving the chancel, the procession might be accompanied by the hymn ‘Saint of God, Elect and Precious’.

The procession would stop at its station, some place where St Stephen would most readily come to mind:

V. Behold, I see the heavens opened.
R. And the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth, for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Upon the return, if the procession was not already in commemoration of the saint after whom the church was named, then a fitting anthem commemorating that titular saint would be sung. For example, in a Reformed cathedral named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, an acceptable Marian anthem would be sung, perhaps one from the Song of Songs, directing prayer toward no one but God. These words by Thomas Ken could also fit quite well:

1. Her Virgin eyes saw God incarnate born,
When she to Bethl’em came that happy morn;
How high her raptures then began to swell,
None but her own omniscient Son can tell.

2. As Eve when she her fontal sin reviewed,
Wept for herself and all she should include,
Blest Mary with man’s Saviour in embrace
Joyed for herself and for all human race.

3. All saints are by her Son’s dear influence blest,
She kept the very Fountain at her breast;
The Son adored and nursed by the sweet Maid
A thousandfold of love for love repaid.

4. Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced,
Next to his throne her Son his Mother placed;
And here below, now she’s of heaven possest,
All generations are to call her blest.

Then would follow the Collect for the Annunciation, with a versicle and response before it.

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
R. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Let us pray.

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

But if the procession was already in commemoration of the Holy Virgin rather than St Stephen, then instead in redeundo an anthem should be sung for the Feast of All Saints, and then the collect following with its versicle and response before it.

V. Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the Lord.
R. And be joyful, all ye that are true of heart.

Let us pray.

O almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Easter Day to Ascension, the anthem in redeundo would be better replaced with one about the Resurrection, perhaps to one of those which the Prayer Book orders for Morning Prayer on Easter Day.

V. The Lord is risen from the grave.
R. Who hung for us upon the tree.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, whose beloved Son for our sake willingly offered himself to endure the agony and shame of the Cross: Remove from us all cowardice of heart, and give us courage to take up our cross and bear it patiently in his service; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Who Heads the Church When the King Is a Heathen?

A question of political theology I have considered, I recently saw addressed by the German Reformer Wolfgang Musculus, translated by John Man of Merton College, Oxford, in Common Places of the Christian Religion (London, 1578), ¶ ‘Magistrates’, § ‘Whether that the Magistrate have authority to take order in religion or no’, pages 1303–1304. The question is this:

Some man will say: What if the faithful people have no faithful Magistrate, but are subject unto an ungodly prince and enemy of true religion, in whom shall then the power be for the charge of religion? When the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt and Babylon, and subjected unto the power of those wicked kings, unto whose jurisdiction did the charge of the true Religion appertain to at that time?

It is easy enough to see, in Protestant political theory, that the Christian magistrate has cura religionis (care of religion) by divine ordinance; what some writers seem to say little of is the question relevant to Christians who face persecution, whether in China or in Afghanistan: When the chief magistrate is not even a professing Christian, is he the temporal head of the Church within his country? Who is in charge of true religion?

I answer: It did appertain unto the very kings of the Egyptians and Babylonians unto whom they were subject. It was their duty [i.e., the kings’ duty] both to understand and to serve the Lord, by whom they did reign, and also to have the care and order of his true religion. And whereas they did the contrary, it was an ungodly abuse of their good authority, whereunto the people of God was not bound at all to obey. So when Nebuchadnezzar did set up an image of gold, and commanded it to be worshipped, he was not to be hearkened to: but then men were bound to hearken unto him, when he forbade by open proclamation that no man should blaspheme the name of the true God, the God of Israel.

This is a hard saying; many cannot accept it. It is especially hard to those who come from cultures that speak often of ‘separation of chuch and state’, or of the autonomy of ‘the Church’ (read: the clerics) from the operation and even the jurisdiction of the magistrate. In support of the notion that Christian believers are a societas perfecta (complete society) that needs no magistrates, neither dependent nor bound to obey, Christians may even cite 1 Corinthians 6, where St Paul writes against the Corinthians’ taking each other to court in front of unbelievers. That is indeed the political theology promoted by Rome and, in their own way, the Anabaptists such as the Amish. It also seems pious to defend the rights of ‘the Church’ against the merely ‘secular’ hands of ‘the state’, and so papists and Baptists alike are prone to circling the wagons when (for example) a cleric is accused of sexual assault or the like. This is the logic of Thomas Becket, who was not martyred for the faith. Musculus, in contrast, exemplifies a different political theology that insists that the chief magistrate, even when he is a heathen, is temporal head of the Church within his own commonwealth.

Xi's Dictatorship Threatens the Chinese State - WSJ

Having upheld the temporal headship of the king even in ‘churchly’ matters, Musculus then describes a descending chain of authority, such as Charles Bartlett also described a decade ago in terms of the Church of England’s Litany:

When the kings are wicked and adversaries to godliness, the charge of religion comes to the priests and elders of the people, such as at that time Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, etc. were judges, priests, and elders of that people, after the captivity until the time of our saviour Christ. And when they also became corrupt, the power of the charge and order of religion was put over by Christ himself unto the Apostles, and to the ministers of the word, until the time that kings and princes began to understand the truth of God, to believe in the Lord, and to serve him. And how they used this power, we may perceive by their laws. But in case that neither kings nor princes, nor the priests nor elders, not the people itself, should taken upon them the care of well ordering religion, but should go out a contrary way from the word of God, so that the saying of Jerome should be fulfilled, ‘There are wonders and marvels done in the earth, the prophets do prophecy falsely, and the priests do clap their hands at it, and like it well, and the people do love such’: then there is no safety else, but that every husband and master of his family must practise the power of religion in his own house, and dispose and order the same, according unto the prescript of God’s word. So the matters were done in the times of the Fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

So we see a chain of descending authority in the care of religion, from kings in the first place, to the priests and elders of the people, to extraordinary ministers of the word, to the people itself exercising authority on its own behalf, and finally to the patriarchs of every family. But the substitution was only ‘until the time that kings and princes began to understand the truth of God, to believe in the Lord, and to serve him’. When kings and princes began to believe in the gospel, they began to use their God-given supreme power to foster true religion in their realms. This is not a Constantinian stage the Church has grown out of, but the norm and the ideal to which God bids us aim in the conduct of temporal affairs.

Why Call Mary the Mother of God?

‘Moreover we confess that the Son of God was born of the blessed Virgin and we do not hesitate to call Mary the Mother of God.’ So says Peter Martyr Vermigli in his Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ (Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1995; reprinted by the Davenant Institute), Topic II: On the Property of the Natures in Christ, 2:59.

This is Reformed. Both the theology and the practice are 100% Protestant.

Maryja – Parafia Matki Bożej Częstochowskiej w Lubinie

Some Protestants may object that the point is fruitless and unnecessary to make, and that the title Mother of God is both needless and confusing. When would it be relevant and ædifying?

Suppose that we reflect on the Incarnation over several weeks. Suppose that we come to the thought that God the Son deigned to be born of a woman: as the hymn Te Deum says, ‘When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.’ Then suppose that we look at the same event from the other end: God gave a woman, living under the curse placed upon Eve, the privilege of becoming the Mother of her own Creator. Viewed this way, Mary’s becoming the Mother of God is one part of Christ’s fulfilment of Psalm 8, where the Psalmist says,

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Is this not what God the Son began to do in becoming the son of a woman, and what he completed in ascending to the right hand of God the Father to reign over heaven and earth as a man? Already in Mary’s becoming the Mother of He-Who-Is-God, Christ was beginning to crown mankind with a glory and honour that was until then unimaginable.

Perhaps that doesn’t do much for you, and you may feel unsure why it should.

But Luke 1.42–43, I think, encourages us to have the same response of the heart as Elizabeth had, mutatis mutandis. Jesus is so holy, and he has both received and conferred such privilege for believing mankind, that even the arrival of his holy vessel elicits from Elizabeth the exclamation, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ It is a godly and indeed prophetic response to the dignity with which Christ, by his incarnation in the womb of a woman, has crowned Mary and all mankind. May these contemplations, called to memory by Mary’s title ‘Mother of God’, magnify God’s holy Name and cause our spirits to rejoice in God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Making Excuses for Divorce

Lol:

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "Jory Micah, M.A. Christian Doctrine... @jorymicah I guess there is no better time to say this. My husband & I are officially separated. I'll always love & respect him, but bc our fundamentalist background, our marriage has been rocky since the beginning, but man did we fight for us. Now it's time to fight for ourselves & heal. 8:25 a.m. 11 Aug. 21 Twitter for iPhone 6 Retweets 4 Quote Tweets 1,360 Like"

Ungodly woman does not want to obey husband, uses psychobabble (e.g. ‘fight for ourselves’, ‘heal’) to justify divorce. Many such cases.

I pass over the fact that this woman præsumes to ‘teach’ in the Church, something clearly forbidden according to Scripture. The healing that this character needs will come only through repentance.

Our Future Belongs to the Lord

This 1978 Cantopop song, which I recently learned, has sentiments of James and Ecclesiastes, but in a happy light:

無論有幾多變遷,何必諸多掛牽?
過了今天,再有一天,仲有幾個十年。
願望係做個預算,夢幻係自我去編,
無謂去搵個道理,把你欺騙。

命裡係注定從前,夢境係一片胡言,
唯有我永遠面對目前。
明日話今天,昨天亦提到
想到舊年 更多挑戰。

迎面有幾多變遷,誰知道邊一個先?
這裡高山,那裡滄海,在那天變良田?
實在係話變就變,預伏在樂趣前面,
前面有千變萬化,不會睇見。

(Approximate English translation on Lyrics Translate.)