What do Anglicans believe about Mary and the saints?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by MatthewOlson, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    What do Anglicans believe about Mary and the rest of the saints? In the Roman Catholic Church (of which I am a member), we pray for their intercessions and we venerate them and try to model our lives after theirs.
     
  2. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    Article XXII, of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, unambiguously states the following: "The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God."

    The intercession of dead saints and the Blessed Virgin is not to be sought without extreme impiety. They are not set by God as mediators to procure blessings for us, Christ alone is. There is but "one Mediator;" and but one is necessary. Prayer offered to the saints or to the Virgin is idolatry, and at the same time removes the one great Mediator from the office which he alone holds, of making intercession with God.

     
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  3. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Matthew

    The Church of England (and the Anglican Communion generally) maintains quite an extensive Calendar of Saints. The Blessed Virgin Mary figures quite prominently with several feasts or memorials throughout the year. As Anglicans, we honour the memories of the Saints, we recount their virtues and try to model our lives by their holy example. In the intercession from Holy Communion in the 1662 BCP we find:

    'And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.'

    Writing from the Church of England's point of view, our official service books (The Book of Common Prayer 1662 and Common Worship 2000) do not contain any prayers directly petitioning the Saints for their intercession. When Archbishop Cranmer put together the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, the Collects for Saints Days were re-written so that requests for their intercession were not included.

    There is doubt on whether the Saints possess the necessary information to pray for us specifically...how aware they are of our condition here on earth is really a matter for conjecture. Many Anglican theologians believe that to pray TO a Saint must mean that the Saint possesses an insight which only God can have. It rather makes that Saint into a deity. We cannot be certain that the Saints possess a particular acquaintance with our individual necessities and distresses (idiopatheia) although they may well have a general knowledge of our needs from their own past experience here on earth (sympatheia). This is why prayers to the Saints along the lines of 'ora pro nobis' - ' pray for us' and 'te rogamus audi nos' - 'we beseech thee to hear us' are not found in the official formularies of the Church of England. Such prayers are regarded as controversial. Prayers to the Saints that request things that only God can grant are regarded as downright idolatrous. (Such as praying to St Blaise to request a cure for throat condition for example).
     
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  4. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    MatthewOlson, thanks for posting.

    With other hierarchical & authoritative Churches, we must distinguish between Anglican Doctrine and "what Anglicans believe".

    As the great reformer Cranmer delved deeper into the early Fathers of the Church, he saw no need to retain many Medieval practices. In 1534, after the first separation from Rome, the Beads were retained and saint-veneration was common. There was no "Reformation" in the sense in which you might understand it today. Invocations of "God, the saints, and the evangelists" attended to every Oath. The first English Liturgy, based on the Litany of the Saints, came out in 1544 with many petitions to Mary & the saints retained.

    After 1546 when Edward VI became King, the Reformation still did not hit England with full force. Only in 1552 did the "Reformed" Liturgy become concrete. All petitions to saints were removed from the Great Litany, it now being addressed to God alone. From 1552-1840, there was a general Protestant consensus that prayer to the saints or Mary were either impossible or superfluous: Christ's sacrifice was consistently believed to be the only merit by which we can petition God for any grace.

    With the 1840s and Newman, Victorian sentimentalism, Medievalism, Ritualism, etc., the prayers to the saints (and especially devotion to Mary in her appearance as Our Lady of Walsingham) reappeared. The resulting split was much like the division between SSPX & FSSP traditionalists in the modern Roman Church. Evangelical High Churchmen like myself have no sympathy for Anglo-Catholicism, because we see it as a return to what was mercifully abolished in the 16th century.

    So, your question needs to be answered in many ways! Just ask any Roman Catholic "what do Catholics believe about Mary and the saints?", and after Vatican II you will get many many answers. Doctrine is not always equal to broad belief.
     
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  5. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Symphorian has it right -- our doctrine is a balance. We both honor the saints, and do not pray to them as we don't believe intercession is a proper godly doctrine. This allows us to remain strongly wedded to the Catholic culture of our Church, while also being Protestant and (we believe) Scriptural.

    Well said. There is some unfortunate Anglo-Catholic influence, but it hasn't reached high enough to rewrite the official Church of England doctrine, and thus we stay within the apostolic pale yet still.
     
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  6. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Consular raises some good points. Whilst the formularies of the Church of England do not contain prayers with direct petitions to the Saints, many Anglicans in the Anglo-Catholic tradition will use 'ora pro nobis' type prayers to the Saints. Many will also have a heightened devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Walsingham, as Consular mentioned, is a good example of this. Within the Church of England there is a Society of Mary:

    http://www.societyofmary.net/gallery34.htm
    http://www.societyofmary.net/gallery32.htm

    The pics in the above links show the more extreme end of Anglo-Catholicism and Marian devotion.

    My Anglican Diocese is on the Anglo-Catholic side of the spectrum. At our Cathedral Church (of the BVM) there are two large figures of the BVM; a Madonna & Child and a Pieta. Both have votives.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7786842@N02/8091790687/

    Mark Frank, (1612-1665) one of the Caroline Divines and a 17th century Prayer Book Highchurchman sums up my personal view in a sermon on the day of the Annunciation of the BVM:

    "Give we her in God's name the honour due to her. God hath styled her 'blessed' by the Angel, by Elizabeth; commanded all generations to call her so, and they hitherto have done it, and let us do it too. Indeed, some of late have overdone it; yet let us not therefore underdo it, but do it as we hear the Angel and the first Christians did it; account of her and speak of her as the most blessed among women, one 'highly favoured,' most 'highly' too. But all the while give Dominus tecum all the glory, the whole glory of all to Him; give her the honour and blessedness of the chief of the saints, Him only the glory that she is so, and that by her conceiving and bringing our Saviour into the world we are made heirs, and shall one day be partakers of the blessedness she enjoys, when the Lord shall be with us too, and we need no angel at all to tell us so."

    More snippets from Mark Frank's sermons regarding the BVM here:

    http://mariannedorman.homestead.com/Theotokos.html
     
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  7. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    Okay. Thank you all for your responses.
    Do Anglicans pray for the dead (I think this ties into beliefs and doctrine about the communion of saints)?
     
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  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Prayers for the dead were not accepted in the Communion from about 1560-1860. Some schismatics in the early 18th century called the Non-Jurors put forward the idea that we should restore such prayers for the dead. Many Anglo-Catholics have done so. Evangelicals, classicists, and "Protestant" reformed Anglicans do not.
     
  9. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Whilst the 1662 BCP makes an oblique reference to the departed in the intercession from Holy Communion, Common Worship 2000 is somewhat more explicit but the language used is perhaps still guarded and couched in terms of 'remembrance'.

    An example from Common Worship 2000 (from an intercession):

    Remembering...names of departed...and all who have gone before us in faith, and in communion with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Peter and all the saints, we commit ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ our Lord.

    another example:

    Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ ...names of departed...according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom. Rejoicing in the fellowship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Luke and of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.

    Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), Bishop of Winchester had this prayer in his private book of devotions (Preces Privatae):

    Give to the living mercy and grace,
    to the dead rest and light perpetual;
    give to the Church truth and peace,
    to us sinners penitence and pardon.

    Whilst 17th century Anglican Divines rejected the Roman doctrine of purgatory, many defended an 'intermediate state' characterized not by purging but by waiting. Anglican Divines such as Andrewes, Taylor, Thorndike and Bramhall felt that the dead could benefit from the prayers of the living in accordance with the practice of the early church, long before the ideas of purgatory developed.
     
  10. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    What do you think about the Ten Articles asserting the following? (I'm trying to understand what is essentially "binding" for Anglicans.)
    7. The honoring of saints and the Virgin Mary
    8. The invocation of saints
    10. The doctrine of purgatory, and prayers for the dead in purgatory (made purgatory a non-essential doctrine)
    (Article summaries from Wikipedia.)
     
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  11. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The problem about the word "binding" is that it generally has different meanings for Rome & for Anglicans.

    Rome makes the ex-cathedra declarations of one bishop to be the binding declarations about Faith & Morals, along with the decrees of Councils in union with that bishop.

    Anglicanism binds all men to the Holy Scriptures in matters of salvation, and to those alone. The Six, Ten, Thirty-Nine, and Forty Articles of 1536-1560, were guidelines about things to be considered by each Christian's conscience.

    The Ten Articles come from the 1530s, a time of great change. "Protestantism", per se, did not exist in the C of E until the 1550s for a brief period, then the 1560s and onward. The 10 Articles were written long before any Lutheran, Calvinist, or other Reformed theology had even been accepted by anyone in the hierarchy. From 1533-1550, the only things England had out of common with Rome, were 1. separation from the jurisdiction of the Pope, and 2. Scriptures allowed, and printed publicly, in vernacular.

    A blessed Sunday to you, by the way. :)
     
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  12. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    Okay. Thank you for clearing that up for me. :)
    A blessed Sunday to you, as well! :)
     
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