Brent Day (alternative date)

First, a little ego boost:

A certain Renato Aguila had his letter published in response to Michael Tan’s column on Anglicanism on Wednesday. I was told of this not by my parents who normally read of these things, but by the rural dean of the Southern Tagalog area in the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Philippines. I think it was one of the better letters by myself that was published (and there were three of them published, one of them in the defunct Today) and regular readers of my blog will recognize some of the points I mentioned in the letter.

We discussed the column, this letter, and the implications prior to the Brent School Manila opening Eucharist this morning. My sense is that the ECP, on its part, is reflecting upon what to do with this because, as someone told me, “you can’t buy this kind of publicity.” I am issuing an open invitation to Michael Tan, and to anyone interested, to visit an Anglican and Aglipayan church or two ‘round these parts, so his picture of the church would be complete.

Incidentally, a word on a phrase I used in the letter: “the Anglican way of being Christian” is a concept that was borrowed from the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion’s “Anglican Way” work. The linked piece will be self-explanatory, and relatively speaking uncontroversial, and this is why I use this expression often. However, another way of looking at it would be less than a single way than a trip through the Anglican Heartlands. This comes from one of my favorite recent sermons on Anglicanism, by Njongonkulu Ndungane, now former Primate of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, delivered in 2006 in the wake of Rowan Williams’s The Challenge and Hope of Being Anglican Today. To put it briefly, the Anglican Way is as amorphous as you want it to be, but how Tan described it is but a glimpse into a very interesting dynamic.

*****

As Monday, 25 August, which is the alternative date voted by the diocesan convention of the EDCP for Brent’s feast day, will be this year taken by the feast of St. Bartholomew, the alternative commemoration took place today, 22 August. The opening Eucharist for Brent School traditionally takes place around this time, and this morning, this was the first time in a while that all three orders of the historic ordained ministry (yes, part of the Anglican Way) took part in the liturgy. Though, of course, diaconal liturgics in the ECP still has to evolve along the sensible lines I see whenever Roman deacons take part in the Mass, for instance. (A topic of conversation I had with Fr. Rand Frew dwelt a bit on why deacons at St. Andrew’s do not stand beside priests at the Eucharistic Prayer. For that matter, why are there no real deacons in the seminary, but that’s a long article.)

The choice of August 25 is partly to accommodate Brent School’s opening calendar, and partly because the date placed on both the Philippine and US calendars invariably falls either in Lent, Holy Week, or, as in both 2005 and 2008, in Easter Week. It is neither possible to celebrate it with alleluias, nor with appropriate solemnity, nor to observe it on the day itself at all. But this is not an arbitrary choice. The proponent, Fr. Charles Mock, assistant chaplain of Brent School Manila and one of my mentors, said that this was the date Charles Henry Brent arrived in Manila and hence assumed jurisdiction. (He decided to undertake research on Bishop Brent’s works and life on his own, something the school itself has not done—a tragedy, considering that it is the school’s centennial.)

I think Charles Henry Brent always stood for being a man of mission. Even his quest for ecumenical understanding had at its heart, as Cardinal Kasper told us in Manila in 2007, the Johannine message that Christian unity allows for people to believe in Christ. His most famous prayer was used this morning as the proper post-communion, and it is said by those using the ECP and TEC prayer books at Morning Prayer as one of the collects for mission. Perhaps it is best if I quote it again, and leave it at that:

“Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the Cross that
everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: so clothe us in your Spirit that,
reaching forth our hands in love, we may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your Name. Amen.

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