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In 1954, when some measure of sanity still prevailed in the American Episcopal Church and Holy Orders had not been thrown over,   John V. Butler and W. Norman Pittenger published, WHAT IS THE PRIESTHOOD? A Book on Vocation.  With the ensuing madness of the next several decades, this became a book that no longer was “relevant” and gradually found its way onto back shelves in parish libraries and sale tables at ECUSA seminaries.  For traditional Anglicans and, for that matter, Roman Catholic and Orthodox men discerning a vocation to the priesthood, this work maintains its worth.

This is particularly so for “continuing” Anglican bodies where the paths to vocation are more than somewhat vague, educational standards nearly non-existent and even the means of background review of candidates for Holy Orders porous.   Certainly, there is little guidance available to those thinking and praying about the possibility of serving the Church as clergy.

Over the next few weeks,  we will be attempting to update and publish the work of Messrs. Butler and Pittenger here on the blog.  It is my hope that it will prove useful to those being led by the Holy Ghost to think about Holy Orders and those others who may simply wish to know more about the priesthood.


     Here is an introduction to the priesthood which is as simple and forthright and illuminating as any parish priest could ask. It is written for the enquirer, primarily—for the student examining his own nature, or the layman impatient for some clearer sign of vocation—yet it will help men long-ordained, as it helped me, by the clear and swift strokes by which the classic form of the priesthood is outlined.

     In a series of brief, packed chapters, there is an exposition of various aspects of priestly life. One of the original authors is a theological teacher and the other an experienced parish priest.  So, the chapters are realistic and as complete as the compass of the book permitted.   To a young college student, whose experience of the Church is probably limited to one or two parishes and as many clergymen, this exposition of the range and variety of priestly life should be invaluable.

     Two emphases are particularly helpful: one is the “manly and straightforward way the whole matter of vocation was approached.”   Almost every young (and not so young) man considering vocation needs to come to the mature realization that vocation is a co-operative matter, in which the individual and society and God all have a hand. How many men there have been, and are, who try to understand vocation as if it all rested on their shoulders, alone before a silent God who gave no sign or help. By the same token, how many there have been who have missed their vocation because they waited for the imagined thunderbolt of a “call” to strike.

     Indeed, all three parties to a vocation have a stake in it—the man who chooses, the Church which speaks for society in assessing the individual’s worth and readiness, and the God who, in all and through all, teaches us in a thousand ways where our duty and our joy are to be found.

     The second emphasis is the pervasive one on the relationship of individual priesthood to the great, single Priesthood which fills the Church and the world.  There is no specific Anglican doctrine of priesthood. All we claim or desire is the ancient form in all its fullness. Yet it has been, in recent years, some Anglican writers such as the late Michael Ramsey have reemphasized the changeless truth that individual priesthood does not stand alone; it is not magic; it is not an ecclesiastical contagion; it is the continuing act of Christ in His Body, of which individuals are privileged to be the voice or hands or thought or prayer.

     Just as the “priesthood of the laity” is a misnomer, because of general misunderstanding of its meaning, so is the individualistic and magical priesthood of the priest when taken apart from the endless work of Christ in time. I hope that blogging a revision of this book will help us see this anew.  In any event, I hope that effort will help  in the most urgent task of awakening our Church to the needs and claims of her ministry, and that it may awaken in many hearts a humble, certain sense of the call of Christ to follow and serve.

-The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls, STL, JD

Ascension Day, 2018

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At length the Lord’s ministry of teaching and healing is over, and that He may prepare Himself and His disciples for the last conflict which He is to maintain, and they are in part to witness, He and they spent this day in quiet retirement. But one of them was absent. Judas Iscariot had gone to the chief priests to inquire, “What will ye give me, and I will betray Him unto you?”

They gladly made an arrangement with him, and he readily, nay greedily, accepted their offer, and agreed to betray his Master who bad chosen him, had admitted him to His friendship, had trusted to him so as to give him the office of providing for the wants of the little company, and had lived His life of gentle innocence for the last three years in his presence. The reward they offered was small; so small indeed that the offer of it by them and the acceptance of it by him was in itself an insult to Him for whose life they were bargaining, but the covetous disciple grasped at it eagerly. It was but the fixed value of a Hebrew slave.

So, Judas, instead of resisting the temptation, gave place to the devil, and the devil entered into him. He yielded: Satan triumphed. The two were working together; and so, when the work was done, Judas hurried himself into the presence of his Judge, and went to his own place. How dangerous is a grasping, greedy, covetous spirit! What will not men sometimes do to gain money, rank, power, popularity!

The Lord Jesus Christ has been betrayed again and again since that time by those who, preferring such things before Him, have practically renounced Him that they may gain them. But sin pays very poorly. The reward of Judas was very small, and caused him no satisfaction, but the bitterest remorse, when he had received it. So it must always be. Let me watch and pray against temptation, lest perchance, like Judas, I should choose something else rather than Jesus, my Lord, and be led into sin against Him that I may gain it.


Save me, Blessed Saviour, from the bitter remorse of an awakened conscience by helping me to choose Thee before all things, and to be faithful to Thee in all things, I humbly beseech Thee. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Elizabeth Barton

We have finished our “mini-retreat” a bit early today.  My special thanks to Bernard Riley and David Wheeler for the wonderful Lenten repast-a savory, fresh tomato and corn soup. We meditated on the theme of humility, particularly the humility of the Cross.  As well, our prayers were directed to seeking to the grace to bear our own crosses in the imitation of Christ and anticipating the Passion narratives of Holy Week.

Present with us today were the holy relics of Ss. Thomas of Canterbury, Columbae, Bede the Venerable, Cuthbert and Edmund.  We blessed the new icons of English Saints Augustine of Canterbury, Ethelbert and  Thomas, as well as that of Blessed Elizabeth Barton.  These reached us here in the States good offices of the Royal Mail and Bp. Damien Mead of the Anglican Catholic Church in the U.K.  Many thanks, your grace!

The lessons for our retreat were made manifest in the life of Blessed Elizabeth Barton.  For those of you who don’t know her. Known as “The Nun of Kent”, “The Holy Maid of London”, or “The Holy Maid of Kent”, she was an English Catholic Benedictine nun executed as a result of her prophecies against the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn.  She urged devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and for people to undertake pilgrimages. Thousands believed in her prophecies and both Archbishop William Warham and Bishop John Fisher attested to her pious life.

When Henry sought his first annulment and began siezing the properties of the Church, Sister Elizabeth opposed him.  She was condemned by a bill of attainder (25 Henry VIII, c. 12); an Act of Parliament authorising punishment without trial.  She was hanged and beheaded for treason at Tyburn along with five of her chief supporters, and buried at Greyfriars Church in Newgate.  Her head was put on a spike on London Bridge, the only woman in history accorded that humiliation.

For Palm Sunday


Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Collect for Palm Sunday, 1928 Book of Common Prayer

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palm sundayTomorrow we shall be commemorating our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was the one hour of anything resembling triumph in His earthly life. Yet, His eyes were dimmed with tears, even though shouts of a joyous and apparently believing welcome were sounding around Him. He comes as the Savior, meek and lowly, desiring to be received for our sake rather than His own. He is weeping because of His rejection, not merely because of that rejection, but because those who reject Him know not the things which belong unto their peace.

When He entered Jerusalem He went first to the temple, and looked round on all things. He marked the prayers and thanksgivings which devout souls were offering, and the Hosannas of the children who were singing there His praises.

He marked also the traffic and noise which rose in one of its courts, which had been set apart as a place of prayer for the Gentiles, as though it did not matter if their prayers were disturbed provided the convenience of the people of Israel was carefully provided for. When He saw it all He could not but feel indignation.

He will thus come to look round on all things in the temple of our hearts; and, if we will have it so, to cast out all that is wrong, all that is ruinous ourselves, and therefore displeasing to Him.

If He finds there a lack of charity for others; if He finds there irreverence for anything that pertains to God, His Name, or His house; if He finds that the business and traffic of this world so possesses us as to disturb our prayers and to indispose us for His holy worship; if He finds that anything like greed and covetousness is growing within us also, then, again, as of old, He will be grieved.

Shall we not implore Him to drive it all out? He may need to use a scourge. It may be that only through some suffering these can be driven out, but better so than that they should not be driven out at all.


Yea, O Lord Jesu Christ, cleanse, I pray Thee, the temple of my heart and soul, that I may be a dwelling-place for Thee for evermore. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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What is life? No one can tell entirely, though all know something of what it is to live. Again, what is death? No one knows what it is to die. We only know that death consists in the separation of the soul from the body. The latter is buried in peace, but the soul liveth for evermore, passing at the moment of death into the place of departed spirits. There it waits until soul and body shall be again united, and those who were dead shall arise from the dead and live forever.

The Gospel for the week teaches us that those who keep the word of the Lord Jesus shall never see death. Yes, for by His death, He destroyed death, and by His rising to life again He restored to us everlasting life. He died that we might not die eternally. He rose again that in Him we might have eternal life.

We all die, indeed, for we have all sinned. The sting of death is sin, and in the case of those whose sins are all forgiven for His sake, that sting has been taken away. They depart with the sure and certain hope of rising again through Him, and at His bidding, to an everlasting life of blessedness and glory. This life, however, must be begun now.

In Baptism I was born again in Christ of water and the Holy Ghost. I was made a member of Christ. If I feel that this is really the case I shall hardly need to be entreated to keep myself pure in heart and thought, in word and act. I should be willing to live as He lived in all obedience to the will of God. I should love all men in obedience to His commandments. For if I live in union with Christ, I must of course in some degree live the life of Christ.

In my childhood I shall endeavor to live the life of His boyhood. At that time of His life, He was brave and submissive, thoroughly in earnest in all that He did, anxious to be doing His work, devout, open, sincere, gentle, and obedient. Such a life will last on into eternity, and will be increasingly blessed.


Grant me, O God, the help of Thy Holy Spirit, I humbly beseech Thee, and lead me in the path of obedience to the, example of Thy Blessed Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, for His sake. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Communion Cup


We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Blessings on this Feast of Saint Chad, also called Ceadda, (died March 2, 672, Lichfield, Mercia, England).  He was a monastic founder, abbot, and first bishop of Lichfield, who is credited with the Christianization of the ancient English kingdom of Mercia.
With his brother St. Cedd, he was educated at the great abbey of Lindisfarne on Holy Island (off the coast of Northumbria) under its founder, Abbot St. Aidan, and later apparently studied with St. Egbert, a monk at the Irish monastery of Rathmelsigi. Cedd recalled Chad to England to assist in establishing the monastery of Laestingaeu (now Lastingham, North Yorkshire). Upon Cedd’s death in 664, Chad succeeded him to become the second abbot of Laestingaeu, and, probably late in the same year, at the request of King Oswiu (Oswy) of Northumbria, he was consecrated bishop of the Northumbrians (with his see at York).

An ecclesiastical dispute arose because St. Wilfrid had already been chosen bishop of York and had gone to Gaul for his consecration, a mix-up recorded in Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (considered to be the best source for Chad’s life). The issue remains confusing. When in 669 the new archbishop, St. Theodore of Canterbury, arrived in England, he charged Chad with improper ordination. On Wilfrid’s return in the same year, Chad resigned York and retired to Laestingaeu. Theodore, however, was so impressed with Chad’s humility that when the bishop of Mercia died he asked King Oswiu to appoint Chad as the bishop’s successor. The king approved, and Chad, having been reconsecrated by Theodore in 669, chose Lichfield, where he built a church and monastery, as the new seat of his diocese.

During the last three years of his life, Chad founded a monastery in Lindsey, on land given him by King Wulfhere of Mercia. In the same area Chad supposedly founded another monastery, at Barrow-upon-Humber. He is noted as having conducted his apostolate zealously, traveling much on foot. He died of plague, and numerous miracles were reported as having taken place at his tomb. His relics, originally in the Cathedral of Lichfield, were saved by faithful Roman Catholics during the destruction wrought by the Reformation and transferred to St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

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