Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category


Today, we resume Book II (Ch. 3) of St. Gregory the Great’s treatise entitled Pastoral Care. The subheading of this book spells out its contents, “Of the Life of the Pastor.” Here, the saint explores the idea that the ruler as bishop should be always “chief in action”. While some of the language is a bit stilted, the St. Gregory’s meaning is clear and reinforced by the image of the vestments to be “put on” by the ruler: the bishop should be an example in his way of life to clergy and lay people alike.  Absent a godly life and personal example, clothes do not make the man.

The ruler should always be chief in action that by his living he may point out the way of life to those that are put under him. His life should stand as an example so that the flock, which follows the voice and manners of the shepherd, may learn how to walk better through example than through words. He who is required by the necessity of his position to speak the highest things is compelled by the same necessity to exhibit the highest things. The voice that more readily penetrates the hearer’s heart is that which the speaker’s life commends, because what he commands by speaking he helps the doing of by showing.

It is said through the prophet, “Get you up into the high mountain, you that bringest good tidings to Sion.” (Isaiah 40:9) This means that he who is engaged in heavenly preaching should already have forsaken the low level of earthly works, and appear as standing on the summit of things. In this way he will so much the more easily should draw those who are under him to better things as by the merit of his life he cries aloud from heights above. So it is that under the divine law the priest receives the shoulder for sacrifice, and this the right one and separate to signify that his action should be not only profitable, but even singular. (Exodus 29:22) He should not merely do what is right among bad men, but transcend even the well-doers among those that are under him in the virtue of his conduct.

The breast also together with the shoulder is assigned to him for eating, that he may learn to immolate to the Giver of all that of himself which he is enjoined to take of the Sacrifice. He is empowered not only in his breast to entertain right thoughts, but with the shoulder of work invite those who behold him to things on high. He may covet no prosperity of the present life, and fear no adversity; that, having regard to the fear within him, he may despise the charm of the world, but considering the charm of inward sweetness, may despise its terrors.

Wherefore by command of the supernal voice (Exodus 29:5) the bishop or priest is braced on each shoulder with the robe of the ephod that he may be always guarded against prosperity and adversity by the ornament of virtues. Walking, as St. Paul says II Corinthians 6:7, in the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, he strives only after those things which are before. He may decline on neither side to low delight.

Neither should prosperity elate nor adversity perturb him. Neither let smooth things coax him to the surrender of his will, nor rough things press him down to despair; so that, while he humbles the bent of his mind to no passions, he may show with how great beauty of the ephod he is covered on each shoulder. This ephod is also rightly ordered to be made of gold, blue, purple, twice dyed scarlet, and flue twined linen. (Exodus 28:8) As a result, it may be shown by how great diversity of virtues the priest ought to be distinguished. In the priest’s robe before all things gold glitters, to show that he should shine forth principally in the understanding of wisdom.

With gold there is blue, which is resplendent with aerial color, is conjoined, to show that through all that he penetrates with his understanding he should rise above earthly favors to the love of celestial things. This is a reminder lest, while caught unawares by his own praises, he be emptied of his very understanding of the truth. With gold and blue, purple also is mingled, which means, that the priest’s heart, while hoping for the high things which he preaches, should repress in itself even the suggestions of vice. It is if by virtue of a royal power, he may rebut them, in that he has regard ever to the nobility of inward regeneration. Accordingly, his manners guard his right to the robe of the heavenly kingdom. For it is of this nobility of the spirit that it is said through St. Peter, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.” (I Peter 2:9) With respect also to this power, whereby we subdue vices, we are fortified by the voice of St. John, who says, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God. (St.John 1:12)

This dignity of fortitude the Psalmist has in view when he says, “But with me greatly honored have been Your friends, O God; greatly strengthened has been their principality.” (Psalm 138:17) For truly the mind of saints is exalted to princely eminence while outwardly they are seen to suffer abasement.

With gold, blue, and purple, twice died scarlet is conjoined, to show that all excellences of virtue should be adorned with charity in the eyes of the judge within; and that whatever glitters before men may be lighted up in sight of the hidden arbiter with the flame of inward love. Further, this charity, since it consists in love at once of God and of our neighbor, has the luster of a double dye.

He then who so pants after the beauty of his Maker as to neglect the care of his neighbors, or so attends to the care of his neighbors as to grow languid in divine love, whichever of these two things it may be that he neglects, knows not what it is to have twice dyed scarlet in the adornment of his ephod. But, while the mind is intent on the precepts of charity, it undoubtedly remains that the flesh be macerated through abstinence.

So, with twice dyed scarlet fine twined linen is conjoined. For fine linen (byssus) springs from the earth with glittering show: and what is designated by fine linen but bodily chastity shining white in the comeliness of purity? It is also twisted for being interwoven into the beauty of the ephod, since the habit of chastity then attains to the perfect whiteness of purity when the flesh is worn by abstinence. Since the merit of affliction of the flesh profits among the other virtues, fine twined linen shows white, as it were, in the diverse beauty of the ephod.

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Over the years, I have collected a great many books and pamphlets from the earliest phases of the Anglo-Catholic movement here and in Great Britain.  These were small enough to carry in a coat pocket and sufficiently inexpensive to entice even the most penurious.  One could read important, albeit brief, thoughts about the faith while commuting or even walking.  They needed no batteries to power them or wi-fi connection, but good reading glasses were necessary for some of the smaller typefaces.

The great tragedy, particularly with respect to teaching pamphlets and tracts, our apologetic began to gather dust on tract racks.  Eventually, these gems were relegated to a jumble in store room boxes, or worse, pitched out with the rubbish in favor of brightly colored adverts for cheery social justice themes, in-church raves, and providers of “wymyn’s health services”.

Perhaps the best of these cane from the great Anglo-Catholic Congresses and the spiritual and intellectual giants of the day-Darwell Stone, Francis Hall, and others.  In a few words, they gave a mind to the movement and provided precis if their larger and important works.  In the spirit of returning to our Anglo-Catholic “roots”, I have begun to scan and edit some of the surviving materials for a modern presentation. In the meantime, with the exception of some dated references, the documents still teach and exhort, so I will put them up here to get them out and circulating once again.

The first of these pamphlets is Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament by Darwell Stone, D.D., Principal of Pusey House, Oxford.  It was No. 28 in a series entitled “The Congress Books” edited by another great, Leonard Prestige for the Society of Ss. Peter and Paul, London. Published in 1923, it originally ran to 15 pages.  The price from a used bookseller was USD10.00 some 5 years ago, and worth every penny.  It is offered here for your use and dissemination.  Copies of the original in .pdf with the artwork are available from stirenaeus@hotmail.com, and we hope that paper versions will be republished in the spring.

Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament

The custom of reserving the Blessed Sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was due in the first instance to the practical needs of the Church. And through all the later history of the practice the necessity of receiving grace and the gain by progress in spiritual life have been in view.

The solemn words of our Lord, ‘ Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves ‘ (St. John vi. 53) have been understood in the Church as at least including a reference to the Blessed Sacrament. In consequence one chief duty of the Church’s ministers has been to secure opportunities of Communion for all those who may rightly receive it, whether in health or in sickness, whether during life or at the point of death. The provision of the First Ecumenical Council that a wide and generous indulgence should secure for the departing Christian in all right cases the reception of the last and most necessary Viaticum is but one instance of what the Church has always felt.

In the first ages of the Church there were different groups of persons who, if they were to receive Communion, had to receive it in some other place than that in which the Sacrament was consecrated. There were the sick and dying; there were those who were kept away by necessary occupations; there were those who were in prison, who during the times of persecution included many whose only offence was that they were Christians. In the altered circumstances of Church life there have been at all times corresponding groups. The needs thus existing have been met in different ways.

One method of administering Communion to those absent from the place of consecration has been by carrying the Blessed Sacrament directly from the celebration. In the middle of the second century there is record that after the Communion at the celebration the Sacra­ment was carried to those who were not present. A like provision was made as one of two alternatives in the English Prayer Book of A.D. 1549 and in the Latin Book of the English Church in A.D. 1560. In the last few years this method of giving Communion to the sick has often been practised in the English Church, the Sacrament being taken sometimes immediately after the service, sometimes after a brief interval, during which it has been reserved in church.

A second method of meeting the need has been by continuous reservation. In the early Church individual Christians were allowed to keep the Sacrament in their own houses for their Communion daily or from time to time. Later this custom fell into disuse, probably partly through the cessation of persecution, partly because Communion became ordinarily less frequent, partly because, as the Church grew, it would be difficult to prevent abuses if such a custom continued. A somewhat dif­ferent method was that by which the Sacra­ment has been reserved in the house of the priest. Possibly this existed in some instances in the early Church. It has been frequent among Roman Catholics in Ireland because of the distance at which the priest often lives from his church and the consequent danger of sacrilege and risk of delay in giving Com­munion to the dying if the Sacrament were in the church. The Irish Roman Catholic bishops possess faculties from the Pope by which they are allowed to give leave to priests to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their houses.

But the ordinary place of continuous reservation has been the church. There are instances of this from Africa in the fourth century and from Constantinople in the fifth. This has been the unbroken practice of the Eastern Church since the first centuries, of the whole West until the sixteenth century, of the Church of Rome since the sixteenth century. In the English Church this practice fell into disuse in the sixteenth century; it was re­vived by the Nonjurors in the eighteenth century; it is the traditional method of the Scottish Church, and during the continuance of the penal laws from A.D. 1746 to A.D. 1792 probably most Communions both of the whole and of the sick in Scotland were made from the Sacrament so reserved ; and during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century and in the twentieth century it has been restored in many English churches.

A third way of meeting the need has been by consecrating the Blessed Sacrament in a private place. Of this method there are some occasional instances in the early Church, all apparently for some special reason. Apart from particular circumstances it was dis­couraged, and in the fourth and following centuries was forbidden. It was one of the two alternatives allowed in the English Church in A.D. 1549 and A.D. 1560 it was the only plan mentioned in the Prayer Book of A.D. 1552 and the later English Prayer Books; and it became the ordinary method in the Church of England, with the result that what had been exceptional in the early Church became usual, and what had been usual became exceptional.

The foregoing brief summary of historical facts opens the way for considering the practical needs of the English Church at the present time. These are of different kinds.

The giving of the Communion to the sick and dying is an anxious concern to the parish priest. Communion can be given more fre­quently to many chronic invalids if the re­served Sacrament is available. For many of them, and perhaps for most of those seriously ill, there will be less physical strain and more spiritual profit if they receive the Sacrament without a celebration at the time. At any rate, in large parishes a serious attempt to give Communion to the dying in all right cases will involve reservation. If the circumstances of the great war emphasized the need of reserva­tion in military hospitals and at the front, they only brought to wider notice, and laid a greater stress on, what had long been well known to many parish priests.

Again, emergencies through sudden dan­gerous illness and through accident are frequent. In many or most of such emergencies a cele­bration is out of the question. If in them Communion is to be given, it must be from the reserved Sacrament, and, it may be added, from the reserved Sacrament not in some distant neighbourhood but close at hand.

Thirdly, there are classes of persons for whom Communion is difficult or impossible at the ordinary times of celebration in church. Two obvious instances are those of hospital nurses and people engaged in agricultural work. Probably few except priests with knowledge of country life have any idea how many of those whose work has to do with cattle and the land fail to communicate from year to year much more because they have not oppor­tunity than because they are alienated from the Church. The possibility of giving Com­munion from the reserved Sacrament in the church to those who cannot come at the times of celebrations removes a most serious diffi­culty in practical work.

In the circumstances of to-day the practical need for reservation may well be greater than at any earlier time. If some kinds of violence are less than they once were, the massing of population in great towns and a new preva­lence of accidents are among the causes which increase a need always great. Consequently, the principle which underlay the practice of the past has increased force now. This prin­ciple was that the priest should always be able to give Communion to those who ought to receive it. The regulation of the Excerpts of Egbert in the eighth or ninth century “that the presbyter have the Eucharist always ready for the sick, lest they die without Communion” is a representative instance which shows the mind of the Church in its care for souls. If the Church at the present time is to be no less careful for the spiritual needs of its members, provision must be made that the Sacrament be always at hand, lest either the whole or the sick be deprived of their due. The custody of the sacraments in his parish is given to the parish priest at his institution; and it is his duty to see that he does not fail in any right care for the souls committed to his charge.

The Blessed Sacrament then is to be reserved in the parish church. In the treatment of it, again, there is a principle of present value contained in the regulations of the past. The Sacrament thus reserved is no other than the Sacrament which is on the altar after the con­secration in the Mass. It is the body of the Lord; it is the presence of him who is our God as well as our Saviour. This sacred and divine presence may not be treated as a common thing. The honourable place, the locked taber­nacle, the beautiful pyx, the fair veil, which old English regulations required, simply gave effect to the truth that what is reserved is the body of Christ.

The custody of the Eucharist, being an integral part of the cure of souls, is shared by the bishop of the diocese and the parish priest. It is the duty of the parish priest to reserve the Sacrament in the parish church for the purpose of Communion as described above; and it is the right of the bishop to make regulations concerning the method of reser­vation, in order to ensure due security and reverence, and also to decide whether the Sacrament may be reserved in churches and chapels other than the parish church, or not.

There is a further consequence of the truth that the reserved Sacra­ment is the body of Christ. Wher­ever the Lord manifests his presence he makes a demand. The soul of the Christian can at all times and in all places worship the incarnate Lord in his heavenly glory on the throne of God, just as at all times and in all places there can be worship of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But the sacramental presence is a special manifestation of the Lord, and calls for a special response. Such a response is to be made by the worshippers at the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice; it is to be made also by any who draw near to the reserved Sacrament.

In all the gifts of God there is a claim made on the soul of man. But the work of God does not end when he asks for worship, for love, for surrender. In his care for mankind, he links together the soul’s response to him and the soul’s own good. The adoration in the Mass strengthens the soul against temptation and for duty, and helps to equip it for the service of God. The worship of the Lord in the reserved Sacrament aids thanksgiving for Communions already received, enriches pre­paration for Communions which are yet to come, strengthens the sense of the abiding presence of God throughout his universe and the lasting union of the incarnate Lord with the Christian soul, is a means to deeper peni­tence and firmer resolve, and a stay for con­stant prayer. It is one of the resting places in the Eucharistic life of the devout com­municant; and it has appealed with a singular force to some who from sin are finding their way back to God.

Prayer before the Sacrament might help the soul even if the Sacrament were only a symbol. Even so, it might recall the memory of Christ, as the crucifix recalls his death for us and a picture recalls the fact of his incarnation. But, when it is acknowledged that the Sacrament is not only a symbol but also the living pres­ence of the Lord himself, then there is a special claim on the soul’s allegiance and a special gift for the soul’s life. Prayer to the Lord in the reserved Sacrament has its own meaning for the servant of God.

The devout use of the reserved Sacrament is very prominent in the present practice of the Church of Rome, inheriting a long tradition of Western Christendom. To enter a Roman Catholic church for prayer is naturally associated with, though not wholly confined to, the incarnate Lord in his Sacrament.

In addition to the private prayers of indi­viduals, services of common worship are frequent among Roman Catholics. There are processions in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried as an act of faith and reparation, to elicit the adoration of the faithful and to seek the blessing of the Lord; there is exposition in which the Blessed Sacrament is shown to the people in the monstrance that they may worship and pray; there is benediction in which the people are blessed by the priest holding the monstrance containing the Sacra­ment. In part these forms of devotion follow practices current in the West during the Middle Ages; in part they are due to the Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The extent to which they are used differs considerably in different parts of the Roman Catholic Church; by some Roman Catholics they are but slightly valued, while from others they draw out great en­thusiasm and love.

n all ways the use of the reserved Sacra­ment in the East is very different from that in the Church of Rome. The Roman Catholic on entering a church naturally thinks first of the reserved Sacrament and the presence of the incarnate Lord. To the Eastern, although the Sacrament is reserved equally in his churches, the chief attraction is the eikon, the sacred

The last ninety years have seen a great transformation in the Church of England. The many changes which have taken place have had their centre in the Eucharist. The restoration by the Tractarians of a Eucharistic doctrine which was well-nigh lost led by a natural sequence to many changes in practice. Celebrations which had been infrequent became frequent. In many places where three times a year or once a month had formed a standard, one celebration or more daily have become the established custom. In many places the Mass, from being almost out of sight for the general congregation, has come to be acknowledged as the principal service. Where Communions were made by tens they are now made in great numbers. And step by step there has come to be a widespread recognition of the need for the reserved Sacrament and for its devotional use.

In accordance with English descent and associations the development in the use of the reserved Sacrament has naturally proceeded on Western lines. Not unnaturally, too, some in the Church of England whose Eucharistic doctrine is without suspicion, have felt the tradition of Eastern Christianity to afford a reason against the adoption in the Church of England of practices distinctively Western. It may well be that for some time to come not all who are agreed as to Eucharistic doctrine will be altogether agreed as to its results in practice. At any rate, there is room here for a wide and a wise toleration. The fatal mistake would be to mar spiritual life by wrong ways of controversy or to crush it by a wrong rigidity.

In every restoration of what has been wholly or partially lost there are dangers. There is the danger lest enthusiasm for what is regained may tend to obscure what has always been possessed. There is danger lest the balance and proportion in thought and worship and life be not rightly preserved. There is danger lest the very intensity of some movements of the soul may hamper or dwarf or make unreal other not less needed sides of life. No religious progress can be free from dangers such as these. It may not be expected that the stirring of life in the English Church can be without them. But the dangers are to be met, not by abandoning what is true and right but by seeing that it is in its proper place and that it has its proper complements.

A great responsibility rests on all who value the reserved Sacrament. If stress has been laid in this paper on reservation as the duty of the priest and on the devout use of the reserved Sacrament as the response of the Christian to the claim of our Lord, it is because the writer believes that these are among the aspects which ought to be emphasized. To the priest the custody of the Sacraments is a very solemn thing. To the lay people the approach to the reserved Sacrament is only less solemn than the approach to Communion and the offering of the sacrifice. As this solemnity is recognized, the reserved Sacrament may take its place in the whole sphere of Christian life. For it will be seen that the Christian life is a harmony in which the outward is supported and sustained by the inward, and the inward by the outward, and in which both outward and inward share the task of promoting the imitation of Christ.

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Why Catholic?

St. Vincent de Lerins

Several parishioners recently have expressed concern over, or even complained about, the use of the word “catholic” on our parish sign and in our advertising. The concern seems to be that people will pass our parish by because the use of the word catholic will somehow repel them from the church. I fear that this is a failing of clergy to adequately fulfill their teaching office, and for that I can do nothing other than offer profound apologies and to try to teach.
The easy answer to the question simply would be that it is a matter of “truth in advertising”: we are, after all, corporately a member parish and individually members of a body called the Anglican Catholic Church. It is a body that asserts it adheres to the first seven Councils of the undivided church, among other theological norms such as a sacramental life.  As well, we are “catholic” in the sense that we profess to be so every time we recite the creeds. To be an an Anglican, is to assert a claim to being catholic.

Somehow, though, that may not be sufficient explanation for those who question the use of the word catholic. So, here is the reason for the use of the word in the words of St. Vincent of Lerins, a father of the undivided church (to which we also claim adherance) in A.D. 434.

You see, there had been considerable doctrinal confusion way back then-just as is the case in these post-modern times. St. Vincent wrote for “a literate minority” of Catholics at a time when the Western Empire was disintegrating and the Church, in the East as well as the West, was rife with heresies. Remember: “Catholic” was not viewed throught the prism of the Protestant Reformation and/or through the lens of antipathy or even bigotry. It was ther term applied in the Nicene Creed to non-heretical Christians. (Heretics liked the term too, but that is for another day.)

St. Augustine, for example, had died in 430 while still fighting, among other evils, Donatism and Pelagianism. In 431, the third “ecumenical council” too place at  Ephesus, and was held amidst street riots and bitter episcopal machinations.  That council anathematized a fellow named Nestorius and, thus, caused a schism that has lasted down to this day.

We do not know whether St. Vincent, a Western father, knew about that council when he wrote. But his purpose in that tumultuous and parlous time was clear: to give thinking Catholics a reliable criterion for determining whether a given controversial doctrine expressed the faith of the Catholic Church (his term, mind you) or not.

So, father, you ask, “Why does this have to be on the sign?” It is the definition of the metes and bounds of our faith. Here it is in the words of St. Vincent. The language is a bit stilted and difficult, but, I believe in letting saints and fathers of the church speak for themselves. The bold bits are those I believe are particularly important.
From Chapter 4 of the Commonitorium (A.D. 434) [ed. Moxon, Cambridge Patristic Texts):
(1) I have continually given the greatest pains and diligence to inquiring, from the greatest possible number of men outstanding in holiness and in doctrine, how I can secure a kind of fixed and, as it were, general and guiding principle for distinguishing the true Catholic Faith from the degraded falsehoods of heresy. And the answer that I receive is always to this effect; that if I wish, or indeed if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly, that is, by the authority of God’s Law, then by the tradition of the Catholic Church.

(2) Here, it may be, someone will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and is in itself abundantly sufficient, what need is there to join to it the interpretation of the Church? The answer is that because of the very depth of Scripture all men do not place one identical interpretation upon it. The statements of the same writer are explained by different men in different ways, so much so that it seems almost possible to extract from it as many opinions as there are men. Novatian expounds in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another, Arius, Eunomius and Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in another, and latterly Nestorius in another. Therefore, because of the intricacies of error, which is so multiform, there is great need for the laying down of a rule for the exposition of Prophets and Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Church Catholic.

(3) Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly ‘Catholic,’ as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.

(4) What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb. But what if some novel contagion try to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty. What if in antiquity itself two or three men, or it may be a city, or even a whole province be detected in error? Then he will take the greatest care to prefer the decrees of the ancient General Councils, if there are such, to the irresponsible ignorance of a few men. But what if some error arises regarding which nothing of this sort is to be found? Then he must do his best to compare the opinions of the Fathers and inquire their meaning, provided always that, though they belonged to diverse times and places, they yet continued in the faith and communion of the one Catholic Church; and let them be teachers approved and outstanding. And whatever he shall find to have been held, approved and taught, not by one or two only but by all equally and with one consent, openly, frequently, and persistently, let him take this as to be held by him without the slightest hesitation.

This, beloved, is what we claim to profess and to confess at each service. This is our reason for being. We draw our faith from the well-spring of the Scriptures as kept within the bounds of tradition and the councils of that time (and it was tumultuous) when the Church established by Christ was undivided East from West, and before the excesses of the continental Reformation.

This is why we hold such beliefs that Christ is really presnt in the Eucharist, Baptism is regenerative, that there are sacraments, and that our clergy are deacons, priests and bishops in Apostolic Succession, rather than simply “ministers”. This is why we should not wish to re-invent the Episcopal Church without it’s more recent novelties, but to yearn for something more-something more ancient, something more traditional, something more universal and true.

Beloved in Christ, we are called by St. Vincent, and by all of the saints and fathers, to “go deep”. We are called to go deep into our faith to find, to nurture and to advance that which is “believed everywhere, always and by all.”

(With thanks to Michael Liccione)

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Not surprisingly, a religious background and a firm family structure are a strong deterrent for unwed pregnancies.

Please take a moment to read this important and telling article and to pray for unwed mothers and their children.

As well, you may wish to see the full piece with charts which can be found on the Family Research Council site here.

Lenten blessings,

Canon Nalls


Mapping America: “Ever Had an Unwed Pregnancy” by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin

by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Scott Talkington, Ph.D.

The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that females who grew up in intact families who frequently attended religious services are least likely to have had an unwed pregnancy.

Description: Examining structure of family of origin, 19 percent of females who grew up in an intact married family have had an unwed pregnancy, followed by females from intact cohabiting families (26 percent), single divorced parent families (36 percent) and married stepfamilies (36 percent), cohabiting stepfamilies (37 percent), and always single parent families (54 percent).

Examining only current religious attendance, 16 percent of females who worship at least weekly have had unwed pregnancy, followed by those who attend religious services between one and three times a month (25 percent) and those who attend religious services less than once monthly (25 percent), and those who never attend religious services (27 percent).

Examining current religious attendance and structure of family of origin combined, 18 percent of females who worship weekly and grew up in intact families have had an unwed pregnancy. By contrast, 40 percent of females who never attend religious services and come from non-intact family backgrounds have at some point become pregnant out of wedlock. Between these two extremes are those who never worship and grew up in intact families (24 percent) and those who attend religious services weekly but grew up in non-intact families (33 percent).

Related Insight from Other Studies
Studies based on the 1995 General Social Survey show that family structure affects the unwed pregnancy rate. According to Valerie Martin of McGill University, when compared with peers from intact families, adolescent and young adult women who experienced parental divorce were significantly more likely to give birth out of wedlock.

Using this same survey, Jay Teachman of Western Washington University also found intact families to be protective in many ways: Compared with peers from other family structures, women who grew up in intact families were less likely to form high-risk marriages, to cohabit before marriage, or to have a premarital birth or conception.

Another study demonstrated the protective nature of the family’s religion: When compared with peers whose mothers had not attended religious services frequently, 18-year-olds whose mothers attended religious services often were more likely to have attitudes about premarital sex, cohabitation, abortion, and divorce.

The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Survey also showed the impact of religion on urban mothers, finding that urban mothers who attend church frequently are at least 70 percent more likely to be married when they give birth or to get married within one year of a nonmarital birth than are urban mothers who do not attend church frequently.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Scott Talkington has been Research Director for the National Association of Scholars and Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University School of Public Policy since 1998.

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A Thought on Sacrifice

Here is a brief meditation for the day from the late Bp. Charles C. Grafton,

The Eucharist is the gospel sacrifice and it is a sacrifice of fourfold aspects. It is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, for in the canon the priest asks God to accept it as such. It is also a sacrifice of prayer or the calves of our lips. “We pray that we and all Thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins and all other benefits of His Passion.” It is a sacrifice of ourselves. “We offer ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable,
holy, and living sacrifice unto Thee.” The Church also offers and presents Him, her Head, and pleads His death and merits for herself and her children. On the cross Christ died for humanity; by the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice we as individuals plead, and appropriate that sacrifice to ourselves. Once the command concerning sacrifice was “touch not,” now it is “offer”; once it was “eat not,” now it is “eat and live.”

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