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In the context of the saint’s day and the latest scandal involving the abuse of children by clergy as well as those in power who promote anti-life agendas, we have solemn admonitions in an “Homily by St. John Chrysostom” for August 27th (emphasis added).  The saint says to us:

Take heed that ye despise not one of these least little ones, saith the Lord, for their Angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. It was as though he had said: it was for them that I came, because this is the will of my Father. Thus doth he make it our duty to be full of thought and care for the protection and safety of these little ones.

Yea, he pronounceth extreme penalties on them that despise them; and for them that undertake to care wholeheartedly for them he promises most high rewards. In all these things of his teaching, he doth further enforce by his own example and by the example of the eternal Father himself.

Let us therefore take to heart what he saith, and imitate his example. Let us neglect nothing which is in our power to do for these our little brothers and sisters. Let us be ready to undertake any work on their behalf, even the most homely and mean, (that is, homely and mean in the eyes of men).

And if there should be some further need of our assistance, even to the point of self-denying and laborious effect on our part, let us render it graciously; and let us do these things the more so when our help is required for one that is tiny and unloved and unwanted.

And let us practice ourselves in these things until they become tolerable to us, and even easy, because we do them for the sake of one who is our little brother or sister in Christ.

For God hath made evident that every soul is worthy of so much diligent care that he spared not his own son for the sake of such.

-From The Anglican Breviary

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As we reflect on the extraordinary evils perpetrated by clergy upon the young as revealed in the recent Pennsylvania cases, we do well to reflect on the life and witness of those in the Church of those who have sought the good of our “least little ones”. In particular, today is the Feast day of St. Joseph Calasanz, Sch.P. (September 11, 1557 – August 25, 1648), also known as Joseph Calasanctius and Josephus a Matre Dei, a Spanish Catholic priest, educator and the founder the founder of the first free public school in modern Europe. It was a revolutionary initiative, a radical break with the class privileges that kept the masses marginalized and in poverty.

St. Joseph Calasanz displayed great moral courage, in his attitude to victims of the Inquisition, such as Galileo and Campanella, and in the acceptance of Jewish children in his schools, where they were treated with the same respect as other pupils. Similarly, Protestant pupils were enrolled in his schools in Germany. So great and universal was St. Joseph Calasanz’s prestige that he was even asked by the Ottoman Empire to set up schools there, a request which he could not, to his regret, fulfill, due to a lack of teachers. He organized and systematized a method of educating primary school pupils through progressive levels or cycles, a system of vocational training, and a system of public secondary education.

In an era when no one else was interested in public education, the saint managed to set up schools with a highly complex structure. He was concerned with physical education and hygiene. He addressed the subject in various documents and requested school directors to monitor children’s health. He taught his students to read both in Latin and in the vernacular. While maintaining the study of Latin, he was a strong defender of vernacular languages, and had textbooks, including those used for teaching Latin, written in the vernacular. In that respect he was more advanced than his contemporaries.

As well, St. Joseph Calasanz placed great emphasis on the teaching of mathematics, but his main concern was undoubtedly the moral and Christian education of his students. As both priest and educator, he considered education to be the best way of changing society. All his writing is imbued with his Christian ideals, and the constitutions and regulations of the schools were based on the same spirit. He created an ideal image of a Christian teacher and used it to train the teachers who worked with him.


O God, who for the teaching of youth in the spirit of understanding and godliness didst through thy blessed Confessor St. Joseph vouchsafe to provide thy Church with a new succor, grant we beseech thee; that by his example and intercession we may learn so to do and to teach , that we may be found worthy to attain to the reward of everlasting felicity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.-From The Anglican Breviary

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‘It’s been a very meaningful experience, vicar. We must repeat it sometime.’

The sacred ministry is a many-sided calling, eliciting a great variety of gifts and talents. For example, the worship of the Church requires the abilities of men of artistic bent. Art must never be left outside the sanctuary in the worship of the Lord of beauty. Again the Church must have preachers and teachers. It must have scholars, able to commend the faith to our day.

It must have men of true pastoral insight. All of this the Church must have because the ministry assumes so many forms and types. There are many, many ways in which the priestly vocation finds expression. In this chapter, we will look at several of these “vocations within vocation” always with the understanding that the need is critical in every area as traditional priests become ever more scarce.  However, there first must be a small jeremiad.

I note at the outset of this chapter, that these areas of ministry are largely a “wish list”.  Until traditional Anglicans, particularly Anglo-Catholics, seriously address the woeful lack of clergy education and formation, these vital ministries will go begging.  Unless the “jurisdictions” take to heart the serious lack of funding outside of military and institutional settings, young men, particularly those desiring to raise a family, will simply be unable to serve the Church in a full-time capacity.  A priesthood comprised largely of retirees, men with working wives and a few independently-wealthy souls is not sustainable.  It is a recipe for decline and loss, a situation that already is manifest to those willing to address reality.  The wonderful ministry opportunities outlined in this chapter will go unfilled and unsupported.

There must be a paradigm shift, not “sometime”, or in a “couple of years” or even tomorrow.  It must happen now, for the hour is very, very late and the opportunity almost gone..

The Parish Ministry. Here is, perhaps, the normal vocation for most men in holy orders. Most of our clergy work in parishes as pastors to the people. The oversight of a congregation may seem to some a cramping and uneventful task, but such an estimate could only be offered by one who knows very little of the life of a parish priest. The parish ministry, as we shall see in a later chapter, provides scope for every manner of ministration and is demanding in countless ways.

The priest in parochial ministry must lead his people in the common worship of God. He must administer the sacraments of the Church worthily and with a glad heart. He must be a prophet, proclaiming the Word of God and doing it in such a way as to make the Church’s scriptures relevant to the human scene. He must be a pastor, acting as a true spiritual father, bringing the people to a realization of their kinship in Christ. He must be the rector, as well, administering the affairs of the parish and providing leadership in its corporate life. More than this, he must stand for the Christian faith in a community largely secular, having a care for those outside the immediate fellowship of the parish.

How many different kinds of parishes there are! A man in parochial ministry may find himself drawn to exercise his priesthood in an industrial community or in a suburban town. He may find himself in a depressed area of a large city or at a vacation center beside the ocean. There are large parishes with curates to help in the discharge of priesthood, although these are fewer and fewer. There are small parishes large enough, none the less, to test and tax the resources of a deeply consecrated man. There are parishes of all classes and groups of people. Parochial ministry affords an infinite variety of opportunities and calls forth from any man all that he can hope to contribute.

The Religious Life. One of the most hearten¬ing developments in the past was been the growth of monastic discipline with its life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Sadly, there are few such religious orders remaining, and even fewer that are, quite frankly, legitimate. Nevertheless, all single men thinking seriously of the priesthood should consider this special vocation within the Church.

The life of a monk is not for all, but for those truly called to it there is there real satisfaction and significance. There has always been such a special vocation within Christ’s Church, for our Lord’s “counsels of perfection” are an outstanding means toward sanctity. Here is a “bound” life, patterned after Christ’s life; and it gives a wide measure of true freedom to those who embrace it.

It is hard to explain the merits of the religious life to our modern world intent on self-expression and anxious for personal liberty. Why should one voluntarily seek hardness and deprivation? To those who are half-hearted and easy-going in their Christian profession the sight of souls with a passion for heroic sanctity seems embarrassing. But if prayer is as important as the Church declares it to be, the very breath of the soul, then we desperately need communities of prayer within the Church.

More than once the Church has been saved from worldliness and apostasy by her religious communities. More than once the Church has been saved from smugness and superficiality by those who have forsaken all to follow Him who was born in poverty and died in perfect obedience to a loving Father who commanded his whole heart. The monasteries are strong spiritual centers. They ought to be stronger. From them, one prays, will come an ever stronger tide, flowing into the life of the whole Church.
Our religious show us how central is the ordered worship of God to our Christian life, how important is life lived by rule, how brotherly love can be expressed in community.

The Church is empowered by the religious who are among our best missionaries, giving retreats, preaching missions, befriending the friendless, providing hospitality for the sinful and care-worn. The religious life is an extraordinarily desirable way in which a priest may exercise his ministry.

Chaplains and Teachers in Schools. The “continuing” Anglican Church has recently come to a new understanding of the importance of religious education at every level of the Church’s life. We have a new awareness of the great importance of an integrated Christian curriculum in our private schools. We are beginning to establish parochial schools for day pupils. We are experimenting with choir schools. Within those schools, d “sacred studies” courses are being recast and given a greater prominence. Above all we are learning the critical importance of teaching our young people how to worship.

More and more, chaplains are required in our schools to assume responsibility for all religious activity, for personal counselling and the like. More and more there is a demand, too, for teachers in holy orders, for clerical masters, who may teach many subjects not counted “religious” in nature. We are learning that it is of great value to have men on a faculty who are in holy orders representing the whole tradition of our faith and life to the students and so giving them some conception of the breadth and inclusiveness of the Christian faith. Men who are interested in young people, men who sense the importance of a true Christian orientation in all of human knowledge, will find this type of ministry especially appealing.

Chaplains in Colleges. Few students reading this book will need evidence as to the importance of the Church’s work on the American campus. The effectiveness of the Church’s ministry on the campus varies greatly from college to college and carried out by a competent priest, the results are instantly seen. All will grant that the Church’s ministry on our modern secularized campus is of vital moment. It is one of the most important mis¬sionary fields open to the Church. It requires ded¬icated priests of maturity and insight. It is best served by men of keen intellect and with deep in¬tellectual honesty.

The college chaplain is a priest in a pagan community. He must know apologetics-how to commend the faith to faculty and students alike, as both groups are confused. He must serve both teachers and students. So far as the latter are concerned, he knows them only for four brief years, but these are very critical ones. He meets the student as a maturing person who should come in college years to a new and mature understanding of the faith he has earlier known as a child and as an adolescent. Much will be and should be discarded of that former understanding. What will take its place? The chaplain’s task is to assist the student to a new and true understanding of the Christian way, striving always to insure that it will be full and complete. This applies not only to the faith itself, but also to an understanding of its implications for life.

The chaplain must also be a ready friend and from university to university. Where the work is well conceived, generously supported, and wise confessor, for these qualities will certainly be required of him. Such a chaplaincy is in many respects a lonely calling, and it requires of the man who enters it a depth of Christian conviction and a marked ability to discipline himself. But surely there is no more strategic a mission field anywhere than this one, a field among those who will guide the life and thought of the nation during the decades ahead.

Teachers in Colleges. In our few remaining Church-affiliated colleges, but also in many independent in¬stitutions of learning, there are faculty positions for men in orders. There may be “departments of religion” in such institutions, although the and the tendency has been to weaken then them through modernism and neo-Marxism. Those concerned with higher education and the faith are agreed that abandonment of religious instruction is has bred religious and cultural illiteracy. Beyond this, there is a waning awareness of the central importance of religion in Western civilization. To the contrary, one cannot understand Western history, art, philosophy and the like without a searching exposure to Christian faith and life.

Most clergy, entering the field of teaching in colleges, will find themselves giving courses in the Scriptures, ethics, Christian literature, philosophy, and similar subjects, but there are also openings in the scientific, classical, and other fields. Faculty members of this sort  will exercise a formal ministry by assisting at a local parish or assuming weekend responsibility in some diocesan mission. But all such priests have a unique opportunity to commend the Christian faith to those whom they teach, whether in religious or in “secular” studies. The Christian witness is needed within the faculty as well as from without.

However, the specialization and fragmentation of the curriculum in higher education today, the prevalence of secularism and the disdain for the moral and spiritual factors in life make academe hostile territory. Years ago, author Paul Lehmann, in his History of Bible Teaching at Wellesley College, 1875-1950, aptly described the critical status of the matter in this way:

“The present predicament of higher education in America is its failure to provide the creative leadership for a responsible society. This failure is traceable in large part to the cleavage in under-graduate education between substance and significance; between conviction and criticism. Objectivity as an educational aim has brought a vast accumulation of information and a critical detachment from commitment and meaning. In its own way this has been a necessary and a desirable aim of college instruction. But its inadequacies have been exposed by the rigorous tensions of a society in transition. Without abandoning the critical search for the substance of things as they are, the American campus must wrestle again-as universities in other days have done-with the problem of the loyalties and purposes in terms of which we shall live and die.”

The same holds doubly true today in these post-modern times.

We need the Church’s voice on the campus, within the faculty.

Military Chaplains. In the present and for an indefinite future our armed forces always need priests to serve as chaplains in the army, navy, and air force. This is a particular type of ministry calling for a particular type of man, making tremendous demands, presenting innumerable problems, offering rare opportunities.

The chaplain is traditionally the one to whom the service member takes all sorts of problems. If he is a good counsellor with the confidence of his men and women, the chaplain is in position to do great good for Christ and His Church. His position in military life makes him easily accessible. He shares duties and dangers with all others. He knows as well as all others in his unit the boredom and the horror of war. He has the opportunity to send service members back home to civilian life better soldiers of Christ than they were when they entered a branch of the service.

Meanwhile, he must minister the grace of God, preach God’s Word, be a shepherd and pastor to men in loneliness, in danger, separated from natural ties and normal life. He must do all of this against a constant assault from “social engineers” and frank atheists who have no regard for traditional Christian teaching and, often, would punish the chaplain who holds vast to orthodox Christian beliefs. Never the less, we have reason to thank God for the ministry of such military chaplains, men who helped in the conversion of many a person away in the armed services.

Urban Mission. All over the country in the great industrial and metropolitan areas, parishes have died as the demographics shift to the suburbs. The churches stand empty while thousands pass them by. The churches likely stand empty because their doors have not been opened to the unchurched, the poor, the members of other na¬tional and minority groups. We forget the obligation placed upon all who call themselves Christians to bring into the Body of Christ His beloved poor.

Some studying for the priesthood, may wish to consider turning to the vocation of stimulating the rebirth of these old parishes, founding Christian communities in neighborhoods where little sense of community exists. Such work is very different from that of the average parish: a priest here must work into the lives and ways of his people, sharing insofar as he can their burdens and frustrations, patiently accepting the endless pastoral problems of life in a “blighted area.” He must be lawyer, doctor, banker, psychiatrist, athletic coach, social worker, chauffeur, lobbyist, civic leader, and much else, and all as a part of his priesthood. No drunk or addict on his doorstep can be too repulsive for him to ignore, no child too un¬important to overlook, for he and his colleagues set the tone of the community of love whereby so many may be healed, and in being healed, find Christ.

In many ways, this greater dependency of the parish on its priest gives him a greater opportunity to exercise his ministry. Although he may be an amateur in much that he has to do in some fields in meeting the secular needs of his people, he must develop all of his own professional skills as priest and pastor to channel effectively the grace of God to souls in such various situations. In the rush of his business, he must never forget that only through much prayer may he hope to find the Holy Spirit working through him.
Whatever the methods he uses, and these will vary with each different situation, the overwhelming principle, is to bring to the city a ministry of love.

The agencies and professional social workers with which the people ordinarily must deal make a fetish of impersonality and frequently are hostile to traditional Christian values and morals. The Christian must above all be personal-far from avoiding emotional involvement in his relationships, he must seek to love his people, because there are some for whom this will be their only experience of love. This concern, to be effective, reaches out beyond individual lives into the structure of society itself, necessitating an intelligent and liberal point of view on social issues and a willingness to be courageous in the field of social action.

Although the demands of such a ministry are heavy, although the priest may have to give up such things as privacy, a scheduled life, orderliness, and even efficiency, the general atmosphere of such a parish is one of gaiety and joy, so much so that he is more than compensated for any hardships. There seems to be more laughter in the rectory kitchen, as people come in and out of it all day long, more natural warmth and friendliness in parish calling, more true affection from children, a readier acceptance of leadership in the commu1nity, and above all, a deep sense of Christ’s presence and companionship in the day to day ministry. Perhaps this is because in a place so devoid of love, love finds its greatest return; perhaps because here Christ dwells sacramentally in the suffering of His Body and in the loneliness of the social outcast dying on the cross.

Whoever seeks this vocation will never be disappointed and will find the priesthood a most glorious and joyous life.

Rural Ministry. Our small town and country parishes provide almost unlimited opportunity for a creative and imaginative priesthood and so many have closed are on the verge of closing. For little or no financial compensation, there is a comprehensive ministry.

A rural priest may have a tremendous influence in an entire countryside and the rural parish can become a real community center in every way. The rural priest will find that his ministry includes that of educator, evangelist, handy-man, and leader in every conceivable kind of enterprise (including, one may note, the development of leadership in the local citizenry). Like the farmers who make up his parish, he must be able to do just about everything. Whatever his abilities and interests may be, the rural priest will discover that his vocation demands a full use of all of them and many another as well. In addition, these abilities may be necessarily used to take on outside employment in the manner of St. Paul so as to provide a modest income. (“tent making”)

The rural priest must be an educator not alone in his own parish but in the whole community. He must give educational guidance in the rural school system. He must open up windows on the world outside his own community, trying to relate town and country life to the whole national entity. He must help provide cultural opportunities that will stir the imaginations and broaden the horizons of his people.

He must be a community leader and builder and his voice must be heard in every welfare and social agency. He must see to it that the best possible use is made of available resources, and arrange for the development of unusual or unknown skills. His parish must be a decisive Christian force and a rallying point for all manner of worthy Christian enterprise. The rural priest surely has a comprehensive ministry and one that is of tremendous moment in the life of the whole Church.

Institutional Chaplains. Here we have a largely forgotten ministry to forgotten men and women. What of the priestly duty toward those in prison, in mental hospitals, homes for the aged, and even ordinary hospitals? The Church has a special responsibility for the sick in body and mind and this special obligation is increasing exponentially in intensity in our modern society. Hospitals have become increas¬ingly numerous and complex. Hospital management has become a vocation demanding special training. Who will bring the glorious gospel of Christ to those who stand so greatly in need of it? The need cannot be met by the part-time activity of a local parish priest.

There are millions of people in the institutions of this country on any given day. The Church has not begun to realize its mission in this area of responsibility, but, rather, has shrunk from it. We need more chaplains for penitentiaries, jails and prisons. There are veterans’ institutions, homes for the mentally ill and others all of whom cry out for the charity of Christ. The number of people over sixty-five has grown astronomically as life expectancies have increased, many are in homes for the aged and others in home care. Modern life has created many new demands on the Church, but nowhere as obviously as in this particular direction.

A priest who would give his priesthood to answering this growing need must be specially trained. He must have a knowledge of psychiatric study, social case work, community welfare work. It is missionary, pioneer work; and it is utterly necessary to the Church’s life.

Teaching in Seminaries. The current author of this book is deeply committed to theological education. I believe that a well-edu¬cated ministry is essential to the well-being and future of traditional Anglicanism. I would not have re-written this book otherwise.

Contrary to the current sad state of affairs, “read for orders” programs and local, denominational “theological colleges” are inadequate for the training and formation of clergy. This is particularly so because of the lack of objective standards and personal preferences that have been the rule for such educational avenue for the last forty years. This is not to say that good clergy have not come out of these programs to serve the Church. However, solid results and consistent standards are few and far between.

So, the Church must have strong seminaries for the training of its future priests. The faculties of those seminaries must be made up of men whose devotion to truth and whose scholarship are beyond question. There must be priests who are willing to adventure in the intellectual service of the Faith, who will have a courage and fearlessness in study. We need priest-scholars, men competent to guide and direct the candidates for the priesthood in their only a conception of the Catholic faith in its many-sided aspects but also a passionate devotion to its spread among all men everywhere. Such vocations are greatly to be desired and we should pray constantly for them.

A young man in college who has a natural inclination to scholarship, and ability as well, should understand that the Church’s seminaries need his particular gifts. Too little has been said of this in the past, nor has the Church supported and encouraged its potential scholars and teachers to any perceptible degree. As a result, we have suffered from a marked dearth of scholarship and the few seminaries that existed in the years following 1978 have foundered and certainly have been hard put to it to fill up faculty ranks. Men have been pressed into teaching positions without sufficient training, and our few actual scholars have been overloaded. Research and writing have suffered. All our inadequacies here have had repercussions on the successive generations of clergy.

The Church has no more devoted sons than those priests who at great personal sacrifice, and with little understanding from without, have given themselves to theological study and to the teaching of our priests-to-be.

The Mission Field. Here is something which, though mentioned last, will come first in the mind of many an inquirer. In truth every field is a mis¬sionary field for the dedicated priest. There is but one Gospel, that God has acted salvifically in Christ Jesus and that the Holy Spirit still works in and through the Body of Christ to bring all men every¬where to the knowledge and love of the Father. This is the Church’s mission and she has no other. We cannot speak of the missionary gospel of the Church as though this were one phase of her life. The Church has no other gospel.

By nature and by divine commission the Church is a missionary Body. It has a relevance for all men, in all lands, in every age, in every circumstance of life. It is for those who do not yet know Christ and His salvation, as well as for those already within the immediate sphere of divine grace. The life of the Church has been strengthened and refreshed again and again by the sacrificial heroism of those who have given themselves for the conversion of pagan lands, to bring many to acknowledge the reign of Christ in foreign lands and alien tongues. When the Church is strong in her missionary outreach, she is true to her essential nature and spirit. When the missionary effort lags, the Church needs revival.

The Church today requires a re-dedication to her essential missionary endeavor. There is no gift that is not needed in the mission field and no man’s life or abilities are ever wasted in this vocation. Not only in foreign lands, but also especially here at home throughout America. Who will go to proclaim God’s sovereignty, to carry the gos¬pel of His Son, to bring to men the life and strength of the Holy Spirit?

I have tried to indicate some of the ways in which priesthood may be expressed. The listing is not exhaustive and there are many other avenues through which the priesthood is realized. Yet it is all one priesthood, though it must be used to meet a host of varying needs and conditions. Roman Catholics on meeting a priest for the first time used to frequently ask, “Where are you stationed, Father?” It is a good question, interestingly phrased. The priesthood is one. Its members are stationed in every walk of life, in every imaginable circumstance, to meet every sort of human need.

The priesthood of the priestly Body must embrace all of life. Surely there is variety enough in the priesthood to challenge the varied gifts and talents of every sort of man. Indeed, there are so many ways today in which a priesthood may be lived that no human ability or gift is wasted in its ranks. The student at college ought to study the priesthood with a view to its usefulness and relevancy today. The Church has a place for each and every man provided he senses the divine activity in his soul exerting its pressures upon him, and himself answers the call. But only the individual soul can make his response and offer [himself] for this ministry that thereby mankind may be drawn to [God’s] blessed kingdom.

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On the Priesthood


Chapter 5 of On the Priesthood is on the way!  The profound changes in the Anglican expression in the United States in the last 40 years have made this a difficult chapter to rewrite.  For the “continuing Church” and traditional Anglo-Catholics, there have been particular difficulties.

Lack of education for, and formation of, clergy make this chapter on the various ministries available to Anglican traditionalists especially problematic.  Absent proper credentials, a number of ministries such as military or VA chaplaincy and teaching are simply closed.  Nevertheless, we will explore the various opportunities available to those who are willing to undertake accredited education and preparation.

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Do consider a visit to St. Alban’s (Richmond) on Saturday, August 18th (8 am), for a unique celebration of Canon Charles Nalls’ 8th anniversary of institution as the Rector of  the parish. On that date a choral matins/lauds cathedral service, newly composed by Diocesan Choir Master Bernard Riley will be held.

The St. Alban’s choirs have been preparing for over a year for this celebration. The list of compositions includes complete Versicles and Responses including the Lord’s Prayer and Creed, a short double choir motet on the beloved hymn “Astoria” 405, a descant on “Wigan” 338, four Anglican chants, Venite, Benedictus Es, Benedictus and Jubilate Deo and two antiphons, one on Psalm 99 and another on Psalm 101.

Choir Master Riley “would encourage you to invite friends and acquaintances who are curious about us and to come and worship with us and experience our most extraordinary tradition of worship. You shan’t want to miss this opportunity.”

The service will be followed by a Benedictine breakfast. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to atbrashweb@comcast.net

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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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