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Living Church Foundation Annual Requiem sermon 2018

October 25, 2018; St. John’s Cathedral, Jacksonville, Florida

May God’s saints be helped by the reading and hearing of his word. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.”

Each of us here knows something intimate about division in church life: division in a parish, division between seminary classmates, division in a diocese, division in an international communion, division within a national church, division among spouses, division in a workplace, division between lifelong friends. We have spent too much of our lives thinking about it, managing its after-effects, sorting the fragments and living within them. With Eliot, we can each say “these fragments have I shored against my ruins.” Jesus seemed to have known nearly two thousand years ago precisely what we would be experiencing in our own now and here.

But do take note that the arithmetic in Christ’s words is imprecise. There are three divided against two, and two divided against three. There is no indication of whether it is the same two and the same three in either case. The division seems to be a given—even for those of us who have already said that Jesus is Lord, and made our knees a place where he is honored. It is a very bleak weather forecast.

Is there still anything interesting to say about division after hearing this gospel?

My heart inclines rather to the idea that as we meet together today, with the names of our friends on our lips in this requiem, we focus instead if briefly on another kind of division Jesus has also known: the division of death. Love is strong as death, and each of the persons we will mention today has met it. Each of us shall meet it.

We name them not because we have any ability to change their state with God—because that would be arrogant folly—but because we ourselves need the light perpetual they needed, and because we ourselves need the rest they now enjoy. We name these names because this is how a Christian family cares for its own. Their names become little speech-icons we put in and on our hearts while we say them, and we turn them—as with every other care—to God for their good.

There is a leveling and an equality at this annual requiem, a manifestation of the epistle’s great hymn of gratitude:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Strengthened with might, knowing love which passeth knowledge, being filled with fulness.

I hope it is not gnosticism to suggest that the gospel and epistle may be talking to one another on this wise. The possibility of being known as we are known is there at the core of the letter to the Ephesians—knowledge beyond knowledge, love beyond loving, the comprehension of things utterly incomprehensible. Is it the solution of division, or its essence? Whatever it is, the answer to the riddle is the cross.

This is one of the best teachings of Christianity: that because of Jesus we are known as we know ourselves, and that Jesus has filled himself the human experience of everything we can possibly know. He knows that this one had a row with an old friend over something stupid. He knows that this one snores. He knows that this one thinks too much about clothing. He knows that that one struggles with anxiety or depression. He knows that the relationship with that one’s son is fraught for many reasons, and that that one never really sorted things out with his mother before she died. He knows that each of us hate people who are much more worthy of God’s love than we will ever be ourselves. He knows that we have been horrible stewards of his gentleness, and worse stewards of the children over whom he rebuked his own disciples. Jesus has been us, and there is no human difficulty or division outside of the wide arms of love stretched out for us in baffling freedom on the cross.

This is the strengthening with might from the epistle—his might, not ours but also ours. This is the love that passes knowledge—his love and knowledge, not ours, but also ours. This is the being filled with fulness: the sharing in Christ’s humanity by our natural birth, the growing toward sharing in his divinity through our baptism and death.

If I may speak as one American heretic to other American heretics in the words of another community of American heretics—in this case, the Shakers of late nineteenth century New Hampshire—I believe it is the seeking in Christ to know others in Christ as we are known in Christ that gives us our best shot at humility, unity, gentleness, mutual honoring, kindness, honesty, peacefulness, decency, good humor, eagerness for service and learning and teaching. As we pray for our departed colleagues and family, may it be places of division where we put love, both in our personal lives and in our working lives—and as we prepare ourselves to be happy sleepers in our own graves while the Lord tarries. May every celebration of the Holy Communion make us readier guests at God’s Board and more dreading aspirants at the Gate of Heaven.

May I see as I am seen and know as I am known
By one who judgeth all in righteousness.
For the light of his countenance in my soul hath shown
And left me no cause of my duty to guess.
’Tis to watch with care and pray without ceasing
Well improving each moment as it passes along
To keep the sword in motion which will slay every passion,
Bringing perfect victory over all that is wrong.

And now glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power that worketh in us: glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.


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2018 Advent calendars

x487-6710The Metropolitan Museum returns a relatively poor showing again this year with just five Advent calendars, despite a dedicated catalog section for the same. The avian calendar is the most worthwhile; old customers will miss the New York-themed calendars. The three-dimensional tree-calendar option is gimmicky.

The (US) National Gallery has a varied selection of fourteen calendars. The official 2018 calendar ($14.95) is religious, while the others are merely about Christmas. (The Norman Rockwell one looks like fun.)

The (UK) National Gallery does a somewhat better job again this year, especially with its ongoing offering of the very wonderful altarpieces calendar.

Top prize for good calendars this year goes again to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, whose eight offerings cover themes religious, Japanese, and medieval. All are priced under £3.

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High Dyes (1968)

It’s hard to ascertain a norm
For Anglicans in uniform;
A Church that numbers devotees
In thirty-nine varieties;
To which, it seems we need to bring
A little bit of everything.

A coat of many colours built
In pattern, like a patchwork quilt,
With strings of ornamental beads,
To symbolize our private creeds;
A variegated, motley dress,
Of perfect comprehensiveness.

Which uniform of varied hue,
Would need a color-filter too,
That faithful friends might choose the best,
And shun the hues that they detest,
And members of the C. of E.
Discern the things they want to see.

Since party-politics, in church,
Are giving ground before research,
We’d mostly use unstable dyes,
And hope that water from the skies
Would make the vivid colours run,
And coalesce them into one.

Our efforts to attain a norm
For Anglicans in uniform,
Unhappily, does not appear
The easiest of tasks, we fear,
Within a Church that came to be
By Act of Uniformity!

—S.J. Forrest, Parson’s Play-pen (London: Mowbray, 1968), pp. 19-20.

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NYTSD yearbooks are digitized and available online

Wayne Kempton, archivist and historiographer of the Diocese of New York, has digitized a run of twenty-two year books for the New York Training School for Deaconesses (NYTSD), formerly located on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights. The NYTSD, founded in 1891 by Mary Twing (1845-1901) and William Reed Huntington (1838-1909), was a major center for women’s formation in ministry until it closed in 1948. NYTSD year books contain a wealth of information about the school: the names and positions of faculty, admission procedures, curricula, calendars and daily schedules, lists of students and graduates, and appendices with liturgical forms.

The collection, spanning from 1894 to 1927, is available online free of charge through Project Canterbury at the following URL: . Anyone with information about the whereabouts of missing volumes for 1919, 1921, 1923, 1924 and 1926 may contact the diocesan archives at or 212-316-7419.

This collection supplements the earlier work of the Episcopal Women’s History Project in digitizing the NYTSD alumnae bulletins from 1913 to 1967 (available online at ).

NEHA life member Richard J. Mammana is archivist of the Living Church Foundation and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences.

—From The Historiographer, Vol. 58, No. 2, Spring, 2018, p. 10.

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Roman Priest Admitted (1921)

On Thursday, June 9th, in the chapel of the Diocesan House in Baltimore, the Rev. John W. Török, D.D., former Roman Catholic Monsignor, was received as a priest into the ministry of our Church by the Right Rev. John G. Murray, D.D., Bishop of Maryland. The Rev. W. M. Dame, president of the Standing Committee, presented Dr. Török. All the members of the Standing Committee were present; and also the two recommending priests, the Rev. Thomas Burgess, Secretary of the Foreign-born Americans Division, Department of Missions, and the Rev. George E. St. Claire.

The service, which was made wonderfully impressive, included the reading of the canon and an address by the Bishop to the applying priest, who then made a formal declaration and was formally received into our ministry by the Bishop, after which the Holy Eucharist was celebrated.

Dr. Török, who was a Greek Catholic (or Uniat) and a professor in the Uniat College in Rome, where he was in touch with the people of many races, is well-known in Europe as a Hungarian patriot and scholar. He came to this country in 1920 by permission of the Roman Propaganda Fidei Congregacio for the purpose of lecturing to the Hungarians on anti-Bolshevic propaganda. He has taken out his first papers as an American citizen. Dr. Török takes his place as a special assistant to the Rev. Thomas Burgess in the Foreign-born Americans Division of the Department of Missions, where he will prove of great value in helping to lead the Americanization and religious work among the unchurched immigrants from Middle Europe in the United States and where he will be of great assistance in many ways in addition to his particular work among the unchurched Magyars in America. Enormous numbers of these have left the Church of their native land and are out of touch with all religion and isolated from American life. They are thus a natural prey to Bolshevic propaganda.

Born in Hungary in 1890, after acquiring his lower and middle education at Budapest, studying law and philosophy at the Universities of Budapest and Tübingen, and receiving his theological training at Budapest, Eperjes, and at Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1914, Dr. Török in the year of his ordination was appointed chaplain in the Cathedral of Nyiregyhaza. Early in 1915, he was appointed professor of Canon Law in the Greek College at Rome, where he remained until 1917. When the Greek College was temporarily transferred to Switzerland on account of the war, he kept up very strong anti-German and anti-Hapsburg policies, and for this the Magyar Government instituted against him a suit for his “entente-friendship.” His case was heard directly at the outbreak of the revolution, and because all historical facts were in his favor, he was, of course, exonerated, and, consequently, considered a national hero. Under Bolshevism, they tried to hang him and he had to seek refuge from prison, in reality from the scaffold. Dr. Török was appointed Consistorial Councilor in 1919.

The Living Church, June 18, 1921, p. 232.

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Sine Nomine (1902)

I am a loyal Anglican,
A Rural Dean and Rector;
I keep a wife and pony-trap,
I wear a chest-protector.
I should not like my name to be
Connected with a party;
But still my type of service is
Extremely bright and hearty.

Of course, one has to keep abreast
Of changing times and manners;
A Harvest Festival we keep,
With Special Psalms—and banners;
A Flower-Service in July,
A Toy-Fund Intercession,
And, when the hens lay well, we hope
To start an Egg-Procession.

My wife and I composed a form
For dedicating hassocks,
Which (slightly changed) we also use
For surplices and cassocks;
Our Bishop, when we sent it for
His Lordship’s approbation,
Remarked: “A very primitive
And pleasing compilation.”

To pick the best from every school
The object of my art is,
And steer a middle course between
The two contending parties.
My own opinions would no doubt
Be labelled ‘High’ by many;
But all know well I would not wish
To give offence to any.

When first I came I had to face
A certain opposition,
And several friends in town advised
A short Parochial Mission;
I thought that quiet pastoral work
Would build foundations firmer.
It did. This year we started “Lights,”
Without a single murmur.

One ought, I’m certain, to produce
By gradual education
A tone of deeper Churchmanship
Throughout the population.
There are, I doubt not, even here
Things to be done in plenty;
But still—you know the ancient saw—
“Festina lentè—lenté.”

I humbly feel that my success,
My power of attraction,
Is mainly due to following
This golden rule of action:
“See all from all men’s point of view,
Use all men’s eyes to see with,
And never preach what anyone
Could ever disagree with.”

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The Asperges Come to Times Square (1933)

The leading article in The Chronicle for last month, which had for its thesis the fact that the Anglo-Catholic movement today is increasingly emphasizing Roman practices and doctrine, has been well borne out by a new practice instituted in the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, in New York, on the first Sunday of October, which was observed as the Feast of the Dedication, and the opening of the Winter schedule of services. Before the High Mass on Sunday the Roman rite of the Asperges is now given each Sunday in this parish. For the benefit of readers of this periodical who are doubtless ignorant of this ceremony, we may continue and explain that the Asperges is the sprinkling of holy water over the priests and acolytes in the sanctuary and then over the faithful in the congregation. The name of the ceremony is taken from a portion of the Psalm which is chanted during the procession as the three sacred ministers, accompanied by the ceremonarius, who bears the holy water bucket, go down and up the aisle, the celebrant of the Mass casting water on either side of him as he passes along: Asperges me hyssopo et mundabor, that is to say, Thou shalt purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, etc. The congregation at St. Mary’s, or, at least that portion of it which follows blindly and avidly all the latest importations from Rome which the Cowley Fathers introduce into this parish, were filled with rather more glee than devotion when they heard that the ceremony was to be instituted. They supposed that they would be “one up” on St. Ignatius’ Church, a rival to St. Mary’s in adding exotic rites. But those at St. Ignatius’ are not as slow as they have sometimes appeared to be to some folk down at St. Mary’s, and on the first Sunday in October St. Ignatius’ congregation were also sprinkled with holy water. However, with a difference. “We don’t do it the same as St. Mary’s,” one of the Ignatian congregation told us in a superior air, the difference being that instead of passing down the aisle, the priests simply stand at the gates of the sanctuary and sprinkle the people from that point. It is more simple and doubtless saves time. We understand that there are two other parishes in the Diocese which indulge in this rite—Corpus Christi, and St. Augustine’s Chapel, of Trinity Parish. Returning to St. Mary’s, as we might return to our mutton were we French, we are informed that the whole program of High Mass has taken on a very Roman tint. There is a great deal of plainsong, the propers and the secrets of the Mass are said as appointed in the Roman Missal, the processional hymn and the usual hymn before the Holy Gospel have been omitted. There is no doubt of the direction in which the Cowley wind is blowing. Before another few years St. Mary’s will be like all the other churches served by the Cowley Fathers—very Roman and very mechanic. This will be a distinct pity in the church life of New York, for although a man may have disagreed with the teachings at St. Mary’s, there has never been any denying the fact that from a musical standpoint it ranked very high. The finest Masses were sung superbly at St. Mary’s, and even the hymns were, in their own way, classics. They were selected not from one hymnal, but from many sources. A large number of them were based on German chorals, and they were not only of a high standard from a musical viewpoint, but they were high in literary quality. But this is all in keeping with the Cowley Fathers’ plan to “popularize” St. Mary’s, and great stress has been laid on what the Roman Church knows is popular, such as the cultus of the Sacred Heart, with Votive Masses on every first Friday, the dedicating of every Saturday to the Gran Madre di Dio, with a Votive Mass, which the calendar calls, “Of St. Mary on Saturday,” and also Votive Masses of St. Therese, who has been the most popular saint in the modern Roman Church, and the incentive for more cash being put in money-boxes than the world dreams. At Corpus Christi Church, in New York, we believe, there is a Guild of St. Therese, which meets to study the life of this recently-canonized saint, and to further her cultus in the Protestant Episcopal Church. All of this is simply by way of substantiating what the leading editorial of last month maintained. Many a movement has died from excesses on the part of some of its rattle-brained followers, and it sometimes appears as if the extreme Anglo-Catholics are going to wreck the whole movement in the Protestant Episcopal Church. We do not expect them to pay any attention to our predictions, but we have conferred seriously with many Anglo-Catholic lay-folk, and if the Anglo-Catholic clergy knew how they are increasingly alienating a large number of their lay-folk, they would perhaps stop awhile and catch their breath. They apparently agree with the Red Queen that it takes all the running they can do to keep in the same place.

—The Chronicle (Poughkeepsie), November, 1933, p. 43.

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