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Vol II No. 4

The Anglican Understanding of Sanctification As Expressed In The Prayer Book Collects

by
Oliver O'Donovan

One of the collects prescribed in the 1549 Prayer Book for use after the ante-communion, when no communion follows, asks God “to direct, sanctifye and governe both our heartes and bodies in the ways of thy lawes and the workes of thy commaundementes”. It is one of the very few occasions when the English Prayer Book applies the verb “sanctify” to the life of Christians; another is in the first collect for Good Friday, of which more shall be said later. 

We are used to thinking of sanctification, paired with justification, as a standard formula in Protestant dogmatics, and may be surprised not to find it in early Anglican formularies. But not only the Prayer-Book, but the Articles and the Homilies, too, manage without it, as indeed does Jewel, and even on the European continent neither the Augsburg Confession of 1530 nor the Formula of Concord of 1576 makes any use of it. Justification is contrasted with “good works”, and sometimes with the “renovation” of human nature. There is also the language that derives from Luther’s famous tract, Two Kinds of Righteousness, contrasting righteousness as imputed and imparted, as external and internal, as alien and proper, and so on. How this slowly gave way to speaking of justification and sanctification (a pairing that arises originally out of Romans 6:19) is a story for another day, and not one that I feel adequately equipped to tell. 

The question I want to explore here is how the English liturgy did speak of the transformation of the moral life. And in approaching it, I want to focus on a liturgical form in which that is a recurrent theme, the Collects, not only those proper for each Sunday, but those in ordinary use from week to week and day to day. 

It is well known that Archbishop Cranmer gave a considerable amount of care to these. He drew selectively on Latin collects in current use, almost all of them traditional in Western liturgy since the Gregorian Sacramentary, compilations of liturgical prayer made in the reign of Charlemagne, supposedly based on the usage of Gregory the Great.1The Gregorian Sacramentary, ed. H.A. Wilson. Woodbridge, Boydell Press 2009. These breathed the air of an earlier Augustinian theology of grace that was very congenial to the Reformer in contrast to medieval scholasticism. Some he translated directly, others he revised and expanded in ways that demonstrate clearly what seemed to him of most importance, and he added new compositions of his own, which amount to about a third of the total. This work was essentially complete with the First Prayer Book of 1549.2The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI, London, Dent (Everyman’s Library) 1910. Only one new collect was added for the Second Prayer Book, and a couple more for the Restoration Prayer Book of 1662, when a few revisions to the older collects were made, as we shall have cause to note. 

The transformation of life by the Gospel is a constant theme in these prayers, and it is surely fitting that what has to be said on that topic is said in the form of prayer, rather than in dogmatic assertions. I shall analyse the main emphases in a series of steps which follow the course of the Christian moral life from beginning to maturity.

I.

First, the Christian moral life arises from a radical new departure. Our response to the Good News is made in baptism, and in baptism our lives are split in two, into an old life and a new. On the feasts of St. James and St. Matthew the collects recall the radical break made by the Apostles when Christ encountered them, forsaking worldly and carnal affections…and following Cranmer’s new compositions for Advent 1 and Ash Wednesday, strategically to be used every day through the traditional seasons of repentance, Advent and Lent, are prayers for total conversion: that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light, and that God will create and make in us new and contrite hearts. Radicalising the medieval doctrine of repentance, Cranmer confronts us with a paradox: already baptized and converted, we need to pray for our own conversion. It is, of course, the logic of St. Paul in Romans 6, that baptism is not something we can put behind us, but must be reckoned with continually as stamping our life and action with the character of the dying and rising of Christ. “So also you must reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Saint Paul is echoed again in Cranmer’s collect for Easter 1 (using an ancient Antiphon based on 1 Corinthians 5), that we may put away the leaven of malice and wickedness…(and) may …serve thee in pureness of living and truth.

II.

In the second place, the new life is described as life lived in community.The New Testament refers to the church both as a household and as a people, and of these two designations Cranmer’s sources prefer “household”, but he himself prefers “people”, i.e. an organised and structured community. We find him changing the one to the other, and adding “people” where the source simply spoke of “the faithful”. This corporate agency is to make the practical resolutions of Christian life in the first instance: it will serve thee with a quiet mind (Trinity 21), it will serve thee in good works. The Collect for Easter 4, which we know in its seventeenth-century form as a reflection on God’s ordering of the unruly wills of sinful men, was in Cranmer’s hands a prayer for the unification of moral purpose in the church: Almightie God whiche doest make the myndes of all faithfull men to be of one will, it began, going on to pray for thy people, that they maye love the thyng whiche thou commaundest and desyre that whiche thou doest promes. That is an extreme instance of how a very economical adjustment to the original text can focus a point sharply: the change here is simply from the plural, “peoples”, to the singular, “thy people”, which makes the collect a prayer for the forming of moral unity out of convergent minds. As practical reason is healed by the Gospel, community is formed, and many agents act effectively as one. 

We may recall here the post-communion prayer, where in thanking God that we be very members incorporate in thy misticall bodye, the congregation prays that we may continue in that holy fellowship and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in. It knows that it can walk in those good works only as it continues in the holy fellowship. And the term “fellowship” plays a critical role, too, in the collect of Easter 3, which Cranmer found as a prayer for those who are baptised out of “error” into “the light of thy truth”, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession and follow all such things as be agreeable to the same.3GS p.166. To this he added that “Christ’s religion” is a “fellowship” into which these baptized believers are “admitted”. A “fellowship” is a sharing of common ambitions and undertakings, which is why moral reflection and deliberation is an essential aspect of the church’s common life. To believe together is to act together, and there is no communio in sacris without community of action, a reflection that bears hard upon the vexatious moral disputes that have troubled the Anglican Communion in recent decades.What would credal and liturgical agreement amount to, if it were not borne out in the life of common aspirations, common hopes, common desires and common objects of love? It would be little more than a shared mythical framework, not something that anyone would need to be baptized into. 

The collective service of the fellowship, however, does not have to be a uniform service. Individuals perform good works only within the context of the church, but the works they perform are determined by the diversity of gifts bestowed upon the church. As Cranmer’s collect for Saint Barnabas recalls that the Apostle was endowed with “singular gifts”, and asks that we, too, may not be destitute of “manifold gifts”, so, remarkably to my mind, this emphasis on diversity appears also in the second collect for Good Friday, where, in speaking of the Holy Spirit’s governing and sanctifying the whole body, we ask that every member of the same in his vocation and ministry may serve thee. Contrast this with what Cranmer found in his source: the church, not God, was to be served, and not by every member, but by all its ranks, which is to say by the various degrees of clergy and laity. It was, in fact, a prayer for the harmonious and well-choreographed performance of the liturgy, now changed into a prayer for the exercise of a broad range of individual Christian vocations.4GS p.51.

III.

Our third step addresses the means by which God “rules” or “governs” the church and its members, to “sanctify” it. 

It is convenient here to borrow a distinction from Thomas Aquinas, and speak of the external and internal means, which is to say, the objective norms that God gives us to think about, and the subjective norms that govern how we think. 

For Aquinas, the external means are the laws. But there is only one mention of laws in the collects, which we quoted at the beginning: in the wayes of thy lawes and in the works of thy commandments.“Commandments”, however, are constantly referred to. That is the word used in St. John’s Gospel for the teaching Christ gives to his disciples, and in John 15:14 the point is made that it is the mark of Christ’s friends to keep his commandments.

In the continental Reformation tradition the question of objective norms would have been raised in different terms, speaking of the “uses of the law”. There are three uses, you recall: the theological use, driving us to repentance, the civil use, organising society, and the “third use” to overcome our lack of spontaneity in following of Christ. The law is like a whip, Calvin would later say, to a baulky ass. It is remarkable how little impact this discussion made on Anglican texts. In the collect for Trinity 1, it is true, we may hear a faint echo of it: since through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without thee….we pray that in keeping of thy commandments we may please thee in will and deed. But more generally, the Cranmerian reflection on the commandments is marked by an absence of the tension between norm and obedience, and so strikes a more wholly evangelical note, reminiscent of the sunny view of God’s commands in the nineteenth Psalm: “Moreover by them is thy servant counselled, and in keeping them there is great reward”. So for the feasts of Saint Andrew and Saint James the Apostle we ask that forsaking all worldly and carnal affections we may be ever more ready to follow thy commandments. And most strikingly, Cranmer adopts two collects from his sources (Easter 4 and Trinity 14) which draw on Augustine’s thought that obedience was a matter of reoriented love, praying for God’s people, that they maye love the thyng whiche thou commaundest and desyre that whiche thou doest promes

Which makes it natural for Cranmer to follow his sources in speaking prominently not only about commands but about promises. But here he was subjected to a curious act of censorship on the part of the Revisers of 1662, who, when they found the phrase running to thy promises in Trinity 11, replaced it with “running the way of thy commandments”. That phrase recalls, of course, the delightful text, Psalm 119:32, “The way of thy commandments I will run, when thou dost enlarge my understanding!” But the change was not dictated solely by an innocent preference for a biblical echo.

At Trinity 13 they find the same phrase and make a more far-reaching change. Cranmer, following his model, had contrasted two moments in the church’s life, both dependent on God, its true and laudable service on earth and its attainment of heavenly promises, and to make the link between them, had used the contentious phrase to speak of the church’s eager anticipation. That link is removed in the seventeenth-century revision, which repeats the motif of service and goes straight to the attainment of heavenly promises without, as it were, any looking forward to them. What is John Cosin, if it is he, thinking of here? My guess is that he is conscious of the growing influence of “quietism”, that mystical tradition of piety which thought it the highest achievement of sanctity to abandon all personal interest in salvation for the sake of God’s will for the whole. Cosin is not a quietist, but he does not want the prayer to give rise to objections from that quarter against a supposedly “carnal” motivation of desire for God’s promises. Cosin himself added a collect for Epiphany 6 which looks like an attempt to state, in a less challengeable way, how believers may look forward to God’s future. God’s purpose in manifesting Christ was to make us the sons of God and heirs of eternal life, it says, and then echoes 1 Jn. 3:2, that having this hope we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure. The hope is present, but in the background, while the immediate practical purpose is focussed on self-purification. 

Along with commands and the promises we should notice a third external means, example. Primarily, the example of Christ himself: for Palm Sunday Cranmer adopted a prayer that we may follow the example of his patience. But he did not wish to confine the imitation of Christ to the passion, and so three weeks later, on Easter 2, he adds his own prayer that we may… daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life. At All Saints this exemplary role is extended to the saints in general, and on certain feast days specific examples are drawn: from John the Baptist, for example, that we may constantly speake the trueth, boldly rebuke vice, and paciently suffer for the trueth’s sake, and from St. Stephen, that we may learn to love our enemies.

IV.

And so in the fourth place to the internal means by which God rules our lives, which is how Thomas Aquinas locates his famous discussion of the virtues. So much emphasis is placed in ethical discussion on virtues, habits and the associated theory which Thomas draws from Aristotle, that we may be surprised to find the word hardly used in the Reformation legacy. What we do find is specific mention of the three theological virtues identified by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. Trinity 14 asks for the increase of faith, hope and charity, and Trinity 6 & 7 both ask for the love of God, all three collects good representatives of the Augustinian tradition that Cranmer’s Latin sources contained. To these Cranmer adds one of his own, the beautiful collect for Quinquagesima, based on 1 Corinthians 13 and Rom. 5. There is also a prayer for hope founded on the Scriptures, which Cranmer contributed for Advent 2, where the blessed hope of everlasting life is not only to be “embraced” but “ever held fast”.

That last phrase points to something on which Cranmer does have in common with the virtue-tradition, which is the need for a stable character, that our hearts may surely there be fixed (Easter 4), and that love may be “grafted” in them (Trin. 7). There is, in deed, an implicit understanding of how good practices may become virtues, settled in our characters, and we grow to stable maturity. An important part in this is to be played by self-critical reflection, which the Reformers, echoing St. Paul, liked to refer to as “mortification”. Cranmer took the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Innocents to follow his source in asking God to Mortify and kill all vices in us, and added a new prayer to the same effect for the Feast of the Circumcision. That idea was traditional enough; more innovatory was his conviction that the shaping of character was to be achieved by reading and listening. The collect for Advent 2, again, which treats of the Holy Scriptures, that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope… is a fine statement of principle. It is echoed by the third of the ordinary collects for use after ante-communion, which asks that the wordes whiche we haue hearde this day with our outwarde eares may throughe thy grace bee so grafted inwardly in our heartes, that they may bring foorth in us the fruite of good liuing.

V.

From these determinations of our agency and character, then, we turn, fifthly, to how we make actual discernments and decisions, from which actions may proceed. The first thing that struck me about the collects was how very carefully and analytically they approach a description of the moment of moral decision. This is the heading under which we shall find most to report. 

Let us begin from Lent 1, another new composition of Cranmer’s, where we are bidden to pray that our flesh being subdued to the spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness. “Godly motions” is a curious phrase, clearly intended to make a point: God’s rule over us is not simply a matter of something done up front, giving commandments, promises, shaping character etc., from which point we can be left to work the rest out. God moves continually, and we are called continually to discern and respond to his movements. The Holy Spirit is to be mentioned especially in this context: having the flesh subdued to the spirit, for Cranmer, although “spirit” lacks an initial capital in the First Prayer Book, implies being alert to the movements of the Spirit. In Trinity 19, where Cranmer fills out the bare lines of an original that asks that the operation of thy mercy may direct our hearts, we pray that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts, another small change with a large import. Not only the Holy Spirit, but “in all things”, caught up, that is, in an unfolding chain of events which God is continually directing. The same combination of the Spirit “in all things” recurs in the collect for Whit Sunday, where the original petition “to have right wisdom by the same Spirit” becomes by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things. The noun “judgment” giving sharper focus to the vaguer Latin verb sapere, turns the prayer towards the resolution of concrete decisions. 

In giving sharper definition to this movement of the Spirit, Cranmer made considerable use of a formulation going back to Augustine about God’s grace. Grace was both “prevenient” (going before) and “subsequent” (coming after). Sometimes this double work was expressed as grace “operative” (i.e. bringing our will to pass) and “cooperative” (making it effective). To limit the work of God to either one or other of these two aspects, Augustine thought, would be Pelagian. We might either think that our initiatives were our own, and God gave strength to support our promising beginning, or that after God had set us going we could conclude successfully on our own. But we need a work of God that operates on both sides of our work, enabling a beginning and sustaining a conclusion. Since the language of “cooperative grace” had become slightly suspect in the eyes of the Reformation, we do not find it used here, but the language of prevenient and subsequent grace is one that Cranmer was very ready to employ. In his source for Trinity 17 the petition was for grace, which may always prevent and follow us…that we may continually be given to all good works…And so, too, in his own Easter Day collect, of more must be said shortly: as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect. In the fourth of the six collects for use after ante-communion the double aspect of grace, Prevent us, o Lorde, in all our doinges…and further us with thy continuall helpe, opens up into a triple operation: that in al our woorkes begonne, continued, and ended in thee we may glorifye thy holy name…It is worth noting those repeated phrases “in all our doings”, “in all our woorkes”. The Gregorian original for the first line of this collect read: may thy grace prevent and follow us, o Lord, we pray, but that was a prayer for use at the offertory, concerned only with that one good and religious work, while Cranmer wished the prayer to encompass all human works. 

The double work of grace is seen as touching the mental and physical aspects of action respectively. Prayers for deliverance of body and soul are standard fare enough in the Latin sources; in Lent 2, for example, we pray to be delivered from all adversities which may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul. But in a number of Cranmer’s adaptations the connection is made directly with the inner and outer aspects of human action: In Trinity we pray that we being ready both in body and soul may with free hearts accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done. “Accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done” is Cranmer’s addition; the original prayed simply that we might be equipped to “pursue” quae tua sunt, godly interests. Grace is prevenient and subsequent in enabling a concrete resolution of moral thought and a physical translation of that thought into act. So God’s “going before” is not simply his government of the past, supplying the environment, as it were, for us to think about what to do, but his government of the future, giving us anticipations of the good thing he has in store for us to do. Deliberative thought, confronting the future horizon of action, meets God’s grace already preparing the way there, grace which has the circumstances of our future action under control and in order. As the Epistle to the Ephesians puts it (2:10) in words we have seen quoted in the post-communion prayer, God prepares before, i.e. before us, good works for us to walk in. 

A number of collects probe this moment of anticipation that leads to action. In a striking prayer that Cranmer was content to leave as it was, the collect for Trinity 10, the mental intention upon action is understood to be prayer itself: that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee. God is at work twice, first prompting and then pleasing: making us to ask for this or that, and then accepting the prayer and acting. Clearly this petition is not directed to universal prayers such as “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, which are simply taught. These are particular requests that the church will make from time to time, and in which it can ask either rightly or wrongly. Universal prayers must become concrete, and that requires a constant presence of God to help our discernment in framing our prayers, for asking rightly or wrongly may lead us either to heaven or to hell. 

One way of referring to the moment of mental anticipation was “will”. This is not a word he ever uses on his own account, for like other reformers he is suspicious of the facultative conception of will that the medieval era had bequeathed, representing it as a kind of free and undetermined power of decision over right and wrong, good and evil. Like Luther he would have hesitated to say that fallen man had “free will” in that sense. But there is a freedom in serving God (as in the first ordinary collect of Morning Prayer, where “perfect freedom” is Cranmer’s addition5GS p.200.), and there is, as he knows from reading Augustine, an acceptable way of speaking of the will, which refers to a definite mental act that God makes possible in us, a moment of practical resolution when we settle on what we are to do, and in that sense that he will repeat the term when he finds it in a source. It is clearest, perhaps, in the original version of Easter 4, where God makes the myndes of all faithfull men to be of one wil – the “one will” not being some self-determining power that lies within them, but an object of action that they can all agree upon. Similarly at Trinity 1, we find the prayer that in keeping of thy commandments we may please thee both in will and deed. Again, it is quite clear: to “keep” the command is not just passive avoidance of breaking it, but involves a moment where we must resolve upon the deed in conformity with the command. More ambiguous, but to be read in the light of these other instances, is the Sunday before Advent, where praying Stir up the wills of thy faithful people, we should hear these “wills” not as immanent powers which need putting into motion, but as resolutions that we need God to bring us to, which can then produce good deeds as their effects. 

The first ordinary collect at Evening Prayer following a Gregorian prayer for peace, identifies two stages of thought before actual performance of a deed: from whom all holy desires, all good counsels and all just works do proceed…6GS p.200. And “desires” are the theme of one of Cranmer’s own most reflective compositions, the Collect for Easter Day: as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect. It is important not to overlook the adjective “special”; grace may be either “special” or “general”, and this case the grace we ask for is the power to determine concrete particularities of our mental lives, our desires to do this or to have that. (This point is sadly lost sight of in the re-translation of this collect undertaken for the English Common Worship.) Desires are not confined to general goods, such as “peace”, “justice” and “love”. We do, indeed, desire such general goods, because our created nature is made for them. To desire something is necessarily to think it good in general terms, for we cannot desire what we think of as simply bad. But to turn common and general desires into action means to focus general desires upon concrete objects. If a desire is not good, it is not that it is bad through and through, but bad in particular, here and now, as related to ourselves and our circumstances. There lies the moral danger, but also the opportunity for the grace of God. When God’s special grace puts into our minds good desires, he allows us to desire what is not only appropriate to our created nature, but to our personal agency in our personal historical circumstances. Human being arises both generically and, as we say, “historically”. And desires must be attuned to our generic human nature but also to our historical situation. 

That our desires are concrete and particular, then, does not mean that they can be wholly idiosyncratic. Just as we cannot speak a private language, so we cannot conceive a wholly private desire, inconceivable to others. To desire effectively we must form intelligible intentions. So as well as speaking of will and desire, the collects speak of this moment of anticipation as thinking, or, in the language of the Evening Prayer collect, counsel. In Easter 5 Cranmer prays that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that be good, and by thy guiding may perform the same. Good things to be thought about are clearly actions, for they are also to be performed. The source called them those things that be right. If we wonder why Cranmer changed “right” to “good”, it may have been to avoid the impression that all our decisions were simply a matter of applying commandments. Within the framework allowed by the commandments there are discernments to be made of which among the permitted actions would be “good” to do. In Trinity 9, on the other hand, he let the word “right” stand. This is a prayer for the Holy Spirit, once again, to think and do always such things as be rightful, that we, which cannot be without thee, may by thee be able to live according to thy will. John Cosin filled out the rather bare phrase “cannot be without thee” to make it clear that what is in question is precisely our capacity to act well: we who cannot do any thing that is good without thee.., an improvement which sensitively interpreted the line of thought. The verb “think” in these two examples echoes a verb constantly used by St. Paul to describe practical reason, the way our mind thinks towards acting, in Greek phronein. In Romans 8:6f. he contrasts phronêma sarkos and phronema Pneumatos, thinking in material or in spiritual terms, a contrast Cranmer was to return to in drafting the Articles of Religion. 

In Epiphany 1 the double grace of God is spelled out in terms of a moral perception followed by an attitude of faithfulness to that perception, carrying it into action: thy people… may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same. If we compare the original text here, we see how deliberately Cranmer has thickened the lines around this sequence of thought and performance. What he found was fairly brisk: that they may see what is to be done, and have strength to do what they see. “See” has now become “both perceive and know”, for the mere conception of an action to be done is not enough for a conscientious act; it requires a moral conviction. “Have strength” is now “have grace and power”, for the strength required must not be supposed to be an inherent human power, but one that only God can give. 

The mention of faithfulness involved even in a single action brings us finally to the question of endurance, how the Christian may be endowed with a consistency that holds true from one decision to the next for the whole length of life. Cranmer is conscious of the contrast of time and eternity. In the collect for Trinity 4, which was already very lovely in its original Latin form, we meet a startling case of how a few careful adjustments achieve a complete shift in focus: God was implored as the protector of those who hope in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy. He is asked to “multiply” his mercy, that thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through temporal goods that we lose not the eternal goods. This is a prayer about moral motivation, taking up the traditional Augustinian conception of a purified love that can see through earthly goods to appreciate the eternal good that radiate through them. God, the supreme good, is the only source of the strength and holiness we may be glad to find in earthly goods; therefore he is the only true object of our “hope”, i.e. our aspiration for good. He is asked to “multiply” the mercy he has already shown in pouring his goodness into the goods of creation, by adding to it the gift of a capacity on our part to see these goods and interpret them correctly, following them back to their source. By the simplest means Cranmer has transformed this entirely: he has replaced “hope” with “trust”, “goods” with “things”, has filled out the verb “multiply” with “increase”, and has added “finally”. It has now become a prayer for perseverence through time. We trust in the one whose goodness will not be manifest to us until the end; the experience of history is an experience of “things”, not “goods”; the strength and holiness that God imparts is imparted to us as we endure the passage of things in time, rather than to the goods we enjoy, and we look for an “increase” of his mercy because was need to experience time as a moral progress through our life on earth. 

Cranmer is aware that time is divided into days. We have already encountered his prayer for Easter 2, that we may daily endeavour ourselves to follow the steps of his most holy life. In the second ordinary collect for Morning Prayer we pray that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but the day is not an end in itself. Cranmer’s thought is not that one day at a time is as far as our practical horizon can stretch, but that the next day is the gateway to all future days, the passage that points us towards our final destiny. What we ask for “this day” leads to what we may ask for “all our doings…always”: but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance to do always that is righteous in thy sight. And, to conclude on a high point, the most striking reference to the daily experience of grace occurs in his own collect for Christmas Day, which celebrates the unique day in all history, the centre around which the whole time of the world revolves, when God’s Son was born of a virgin. As that day governs all days, so we may celebrate that day on this day, “as at this time” as the collect puts it, as we turn our minds back to it and rejoice in its signficance. And then we can pray for each day in the light of it, that as we are made thy children by adoption (which was the work of that one day) we may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit, the work of every day. 

We bring this brief survey to a close. What the English Reformers did, lacking a general doctrine of “sanctification” through which to recount the impact of God’s saving work upon our human living, was to trace the steps of moral reason, always in the attitude of prayer, from the first break from the old life into the new, through the restored community of action, by obedience to norms and the building up of virtues, to decision and action, which sustained over time shapes a life fit for eternity. Is their teaching less smoothly finished, less tidy and digestible, than the more straightforward dogmatic formulae that later Protestants, including Anglicans, called on? Perhaps, but it may also claim to be more closely attentive to the movements of the Spirit of God. It is, on any account, both Reformed and Catholic.

Footnotes

  • 1
    The Gregorian Sacramentary, ed. H.A. Wilson. Woodbridge, Boydell Press 2009.
  • 2
    The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI, London, Dent (Everyman’s Library) 1910.
  • 3
    GS p.166.
  • 4
    GS p.51.
  • 5
    GS p.200.
  • 6
    GS p.200.
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