Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Vocation, privilege and Duty of a Priest in the Anglican Way

(From the Ordination to the Order of Priests from BCP 1662 & Canada 1926 & USA 1928: Note the very high sense of the Vocation, Privilege and the Duties of those ordained Presbyter. Regrettably new Ordination Services lack an equivalent gravity and seriousness. The text is here rendered into a kind of contemporary English.)

Sitting in his chair the Bishop says to those about to be ordained,

My brothers in Christ, you have heard, both earlier in your private examination and now in the sermon and Scripture readings, of what dignity and great importance this Ministry is, to which you are called. In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I urge you to keep in mind the nature of this office. You are called to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord; to teach and to warn, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; to seek for Christ’s sheep scattered abroad in the evil world, so that they may be eternally saved through Christ.

Always have printed in your memory what a great treasure is committed to your charge. For the people whom you serve are the flock of Christ, which he purchased with his death and for whom he shed his precious blood. The Church and congregation, whom you must serve, is both Christ’s Bride and his Body. Thus, if the congregation itself, or any member of it, is hurt or hindered as a result of your negligence, God will surely discipline you for this sin. Bearing this in mind, remember what God has called you to be and to do. Never cease your work, care and diligence, until you have done all that you can possibly do, as is your duty, to bring all those under your pastoral care to a true knowledge of God, unity of faith and maturity in Christ, so that there is no place available amongst you for erroneous belief and immoral behavior.

Since this office is both so excellent in its nature and so difficult in its exercise, you see how most carefully and studiously you ought to apply yourselves to this Ministry, so as to prove yourselves dutiful and thankful to the Lord, who has placed you in such a dignified position. Also you are to take care neither to offend nor to cause others to do so. Remember that it is only God himself who can give you the intention and ability to do these things. Therefore, you ought and you truly need to pray sincerely for his Holy Spirit. And, bearing in mind, that you cannot accomplish so important a work relating to the salvation of man, except by using teaching and exhortation taken out of the Holy Scriptures, and by living a life agreeable to the same, consider how seriously you ought to study and learn the Scriptures, and order your own life and that of your family, according to the rule of the same Scriptures. For the same reason, you ought to forsake and set aside, as much as you can, all worldly cares and studies which hinder you doing your duty.

We are persuaded that you have carefully weighed and pondered these things for some time, and that you have clearly determined, by God’s grace, to give yourselves wholly to this office, into which it has pleased God to call you, so that, to the extent of your ability, you will apply yourself wholly to this one thing, and draw all your concerns and studies towards the fulfillment of this ministry. We are also persuaded that you will continually pray to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Savior Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Spirit; that, by daily reading and considering of the Scriptures, you will grow stronger in your ministry, and endeavor to sanctify and shape your lives and those of your families according to the rule and teaching of Christ, that you may be wholesome and godly examples and patterns for the people to follow.

And now, in order that this congregation of Christ’s flock may also understand your minds and wills in these things, and in order to strengthen your resolve to do your
duty before God, you are to answer clearly the questions which we, in the Name of God, and of his Church, now ask you.

Do you sincerely think that you are truly called, according to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the canon law of this Church, to the order and ministry of Priesthood?

Answer. I do think so.

Are you persuaded that the holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine that is necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined to teach the people committed to your pastoral care from those Scriptures, and to teach nothing as required or necessary for eternal salvation except that which you are persuaded can be proved from the Scriptures?

Answer. I am persuaded and will do so, by God’s grace.

Will you always make every effort faithfully to provide the doctrine, the sacraments and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord has commanded, and as this Church has received
them, according to the commandments of God; so that you may teach the people under your pastoral care diligently to keep and observe the same?

Answer. I will do so, with the Lord’s help.

Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word? And will you use, as need shall require and occasion permit, private warning and public exhortation, both to the sick as well as to the healthy within your congregation, to accomplish this?

I will do so, with the Lord’s help.

Will you be diligent in prayers, in reading of the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as assist in gaining a fuller knowledge of them? And will you at the same time lay aside worldly study and private pursuits?

Answer. I will do so, with the Lord’s help.

Will you strive to frame and fashion your own lives, and those of your families, according to the teaching of Christ? And will you make both yourselves and them, to the best of your ability, to be wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ?

Answer. I will do so, with the Lord’s help.

Will you maintain and promote, as far as you are able, quietness, peace and love amongst all Christian people, and especially among those under your pastoral care?

I will do so, with the Lord’s help.

Will you reverently obey those who are set above you in the Church, your Bishop and other senior Ministers, and gladly and willingly accept their godly advice and submit to their considered judgments?

I will do so, with the Lord’s help.

The Bishop stands and prays,

Almighty God, who has given you the will to do all these things, grant you strength and power to perform them; that he may complete the work that he has begun in you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon
President of the Prayer Book Society 2007

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