Saint Peter and Saint Paul

The collects for today, the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

O almighty God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle Saint Peter many excellent gifts, and commandedst him earnestly to feed thy flock: Make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word, and the people obediently to follow the same, that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his manifold labours in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 St. Peter 1:1-9
The Gospel: St. Matthew 16:13-19

Torretto, Saints Peter and Paul

Artwork: Giuseppe Torretto, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, c. 1711 (with High Altar by Francesco Lazzari, c. 1820-30). Chiesa dei Santi Apostoli, Venice. Photograph taken by admin, 8 May 2010.

Irenaeus

The collect for today, the Feast of St. Irenaeus (d. 202), Bishop of Lyon, Doctor of the Church (source):

St. IrenaeusO God of peace,
who through the ministry of thy servant Irenæus
didst strengthen the true faith and bring harmony to thy Church:
keep us steadfast in thy true religion
and renew us in faith and love,
that we may ever walk in the way
that leadeth to everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Epistle: 2 Timothy 2:22b-26
The Gospel: St Luke 11:33-36

“How readest thou?”: Address to the Prayer Book Society of Canada

“How readest thou?”

Christ crucified, Lancelot Andrewes tells us in a marvellous sermon is “liber charitatis, the book of love, opened to us” to read. How do we read?

It is a pressing contemporary question. How do we read? There has been a virtual explosion of books about the marvel and the miracle of reading and about what reading means in the digital age. There is, in fact, a considerable climate of anxiety about books and reading. Does it mean the end of books? Does it mean the end of reading, itself? In the technological changes of the digital world, do the changes to reading mean changes to our thinking?

There is, for example, Alberto Manguel’s classic, History of Reading (1996), not to mention his A Reader on Reading (2010) and a collection of other writings. There is Maryanne Wolf’s remarkable and prescient book, Proust and the Squid (2008), Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (2010), Christopher Hedges The Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2007), Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardises Our Future (2008) – no prizes for guessing where he is coming from! There is the digital cheerleader, Clay Shirky, with Cognitive Surplus (2010) and, soon to come, Hello Avatar: Rise of the Networked Generation (2011).

There are the scholarly reflections of such figures as Anthony Grafton with his Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West (2009), and Ann Blair’s Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age (2010). And just as recently, there is Alan Jacobs useful overview and balanced reflection in his The Pleasures of Reading in An Age of Distraction (2011), who opens us out to a larger world past and present about the how, the what, and the why of reading. As he notes about Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why (2000), it should really have been called ‘What to Read and What to Think about It’. There is always, it seems, a moral, even dogmatic, imperative that slips into the consideration of reading. And, finally, to end this eclectic romp about books about books and reading, Amazon alerted me just the other day about a book just released by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière, entitled This is Not the End of the Book (2011)! I suspect that this is not “the end of the matter”, though I think the wisdom of Ecclesiastes will indeed be born out, namely that “of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

It might seem that along with the question, “how do we read?”, there is the equally important question, “what do we read?” To be sure. Yet, this may be one of those rare moments where the how sheds light on the what, the means upon the purpose. At the very least, it opens to view the necessary interrelation between how we read and what we read.

And what about worship and prayer? What about the reading of The Book of Common Prayer? How readest thou?

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Sermon for the First Sunday after Trinity

“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him.”

It is the manifesto of the Trinity Season, and, indeed, of the Christian religion itself. We know it more familiarly, perhaps, in Tyndale’s translation which also remains in the Prayer Book in the sentences for Morning and Evening Prayer. “God is love and he that abideth in love, abideth in God and God in him.” Abiding and dwelling. Same idea.

Well, it must seem that we have gone from Heaven to Hell in short order! Just think, last Sunday we had that marvelous vision of Heaven in the celebration of God as Trinity. “Behold, a door was opened in heaven” and we were allowed to enter into what we were given to see and hear. What was that? A vision of heaven, a vision of worship. The four and twenty elders, symbolic of the witness of the Old Testament to God, and the four living creatures, symbolic of the witness of the four gospels of the New Testament to God in Christ, worship the Trisagion, the thrice-holy God. There is a unity of the Old and the New in the worship of Trinity. How do we know God as Trinity? Through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son, “the Word made flesh [who] dwelt among us”. There is that word again.

We are to be what we behold. It means being born anew, born into that vision of divine love, the community of the Trinity.

But what do we have in this morning’s gospel? Luke’s powerful parable of Dives and Lazarus juxtaposed with the lessons about love in The First Epistle of St. John. It is a kind of treatise on love. So what is this all about?

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Week at a Glance, 27 June – 3 July

Sunday, June 26th – Wednesday, June 29th
31st Annual Atlantic Theological Conference
Univ. of King’s College, Halifax

Sunday, June 26th, 7:00pm
Requiem Eucharist – St. George’s
In Memory of the late Dr. Robert Crouse
Preacher: The Rt. Rev. Anthony Burton

Wednesday, June 29th, St. Peter & St. Paul
7:00pm Holy Communion – Christ Church

Sunday, July 3rd, Second Sunday After Trinity
8:00am Holy Communion – Christ Church
9:00am Holy Communion – St. Thomas’
10:30am Holy Communion – Christ Church