When I was in graduate school at the University of Durham my supervisor, Fr. George Dragas, a Greek Orthodox priest, recommended to me a book written by Darwell Stone and published in 1900, Outlines of Christian Dogma. Fr. Dragas did so because his supervisor, the Presbyterian theologian and professor at New College, Edinburgh, Thomas Torrance, had always kept this book on his desk as a quick reference. This was an impressive ecumenical consensus which would have surprised Dr. Stone. Perhaps the most important Anglo-Catholic theologian of the early 20th century, Dr. Stone’s Outlines of Christian Dogma have not become dated because his teaching was based always on Scripture, the Church Fathers, the Medieval Theologians, the Anglican Divines, the authorities of the Roman and Orthodox Churches.
All Saints and All Souls bring us face to face with theological questions, which are still much disputed among Christians, namely the Invocation of the Saints (asking the saints to pray for us) and prayer for the dead.
The real difficulty is that there is nothing in Holy Scripture which clearly commends, forbids or demands these practices. How you decide these matters depends entirely on how you interpret the Bible. What Darwell Stone gives is a pretty good idea of what the consensus of the Church has been throughout its history, which is in fact the way he approaches all theological questions. The Outlines of Christian dogma is now on the internet(archive.org/details/outlineschristi00stongoog) but if you ever run across a copy, buy it!- Fr. Allen
Darwell Stone on the Invocation of the Saints
The Invocation of Saints, that is, the practice of directly addressing the saints to ask them for the help of their prayers to God. There is nothing either for or against this practice in Holy Scripture or in Christian writings outside Holy Scripture in the first and second centuries. The third century supplies little more evidence than the first two. In the fourth century there is a good deal of evidence. The practice of Invocation is either used or referred to with approval by St. Ambrose and St. Augustine in the West, and St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Chrysostom in the East. There is no writer of the fourth century whose works have come down to us who says anything in disapproval of the practice. Consequently, it is reasonable to infer that the writers mentioned are representative of the general Christian feeling on this subject in the fourth century.
Inscriptions in the catacombs contain addresses to the departed, which include some requests for prayers. There are no Invocations in the Liturgies. This would be the case under any circumstances because of the rule that the Eucharistic prayers were to be addressed only to God the Father.
From the fourth century on, the Invocation of Saints was an ordinary form of Christian devotion throughout the East and West. During the middle ages, Invocations of Saints were very largely used, in many cases with greatly exaggerated and distorted ideas. This was one of the questions which had to be faced in the West in the sixteenth century.
There is a good deal on the subject in the English official publications. In The Ten Articles of 1536 it was carefully explained that the gifts of grace were bestowed by God alone, through the mediation of our Saviour Christ ; that superstitions, as that the saints are more merciful than God, were to be put aside; and that the prayers addressed to the saints were that they might join with us in prayer to God.
In The Institution of a Christian Man, of 1537, commonly known as the Bishops Book, the same position was taken up, and it was taught that no one was to think that gifts came from any but God ; and that the prayers addressed to the saints were for the help of their prayers with God. The same teaching was given in The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man, of 1543, commonly known as the King s Book. In the Forty-two Articles of 1552, the doctrine of school authors concerning Invocation of Saints was condemned. In the Articles of 1563, the phrase doctrine of school authors was altered to Romish doctrine
( Doctrina Romanensium ).
The history of the English documents, as well as the Latin phrase thus used, gives a high probability that what is condemned in this Article is what is condemned in the Ten Articles, the Bishops Book, and the King s Book ; and that Invocation of Saints in the sense in which it is approved in those three documents is left an open question by the present Article.
At the Council of Trent a very guarded position was taken up. In the decree of the Council it was simply stated that it is good and useful to invoke the saints ; that all benefits come from God through the mediation of Jesus Christ; and that all superstition was to be put down. The Catechism of the Council declared that no more might be rightly addressed to a saint than Pray for us ; and that such a form as Have mercy on us addressed to a saint could only be justified if used in the sense of Have mercy by praying for us. Thus the position taken up by the Council of Trent on this point is the same as that in the English Ten Articles, the Bishops Book, and the King s Book with which the present Thirty-nine Articles probably correspond.
Both sets of documents affirm the lawfulness of asking the saints for the help of their prayers ; both condemn seeking from the saints what can be given by God alone.
Prayer for the Dead
It is possible to sum up certain conclusions as to prayer for the dead and the Invocation of Saints based upon the consideration of the present state of the departed.
While there have been differences of teaching in the Church as to many details about the state of the departed, it came to be the general sense of Christendom that some of those who will eventually be among the saved are in a higher state, others in a lower state, and that at any rate those in the lower state are capable of development and progress which may be assisted by the prayers of Christians upon earth.
On the supposition that the great saints have attained to the Vision of God, there is a reasonable ground for the belief that in the Vision of God they behold all things which He wills to make known to them and that they are thus cognizant of the requests for their prayers made by Christians on earth.
On the contrary supposition that even the great saints are still in a waiting state without the Vision of God, there is no reasonable ground for denying that God may reveal to them the requests for their prayers made by Christians upon earth. Similarly, such requests may also be revealed by God to the faithful
On the constant tradition of the Catholic Church ; the sources of which may be seen even in the Church of the Old Testament. Judas Maccabaeus offered sacrifice for his men that had fallen. 2 Mace. Xii. 43. Prayer for the departed has ever formed a fixed part of the Divine Liturgy from the first Liturgy of the Apostle James. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says “Very great will be the benefit to those souls for which prayer is offered at the moment when the holy and tremendous sacrifice is lying in view.” Led. Myst. V. 9. St. Basil the Great in his prayers for Pentecost says that the Lord vouchsafes to receive from us propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for those who are kept in hades, and allows us the hope of obtaining for them peace, relief, and freedom.
There is a consensus of Catholic theology that at any rate many of the departed may be benefited by the prayers of the living. There are those, indeed, who, being eternally lost, cannot be helped by prayer. It is only a very few exceptional writers here and there, not weighty as they stand by themselves separated from the mainstream of the Christian tradition, who use language inconsistent with this fact. There may be those who have already attained so fully to perfection and glory that prayers offered on earth no longer help them. For at least all who are between these two groups, it is right and useful to pray. This simple truth is not affected by differences of belief or statement at different times and in different places. On the supposition of the state of waiting spoken of by St. Irenaeus, or the purgatory of the mediaeval West or the modern Church of Rome, prayer for the departed is both a lawful practice and a useful duty.
Ronald Knox on Hope
“Hope is something that is demanded of us; it is not, then, a mere reasoned calculation of our chances. Nor is it merely the bubbling up of a sanguine temperament; if it is demanded of us, it lies not in the temperament but in the will... Hoping for what? For delivereance from persecution, for immunity from plague, pestilence, and famine...? No, for the grace of persevering in his Christian profession, and for the consequent achievement of a happy immortality. Strictly speaking, then, the highest exercise of hope, supernaturally speaking, is to hope for perseverance and for Heaven when it looks, when it feels, as if you were going to lose both one and the other.”
The pace picks up this time of year:
Nov. 1 All Saints Masses Noon & 6:30pm
Nov. 2 All Souls Masses 6:45 & Noon
Nov. 6 Election Day Vote!
Nov. 22 Thanksgiving Mass 10:00am
Nov. 25 Sunday Christ the King Masses as
usual followed by Parish Annual Meeting
Dec. 2 The First Sunday of Advent
Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Masses 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm
Dec. 25 Christmas Day Mass 10:00am
Dec 28 Holy Innocents: 6:00 p.m. Evening Prayer and Holy Rosary, followed by Low Mass (Anglican) at St. Francis Church, 3838 Walnut Hill Ln., Dallas (between Marsh & Midway). Blessing of the Gifts & Christmas Celebration will be held in the Parish Hall at 7:15 p.m. In honor of the Christ Child and in remembrance of the Holy Innocents, we are requesting diapers, wipes, toiletries, and new layette items. Donations benefit the White Rose Women’s Center, Birth Choice, and Project Gabriel mothers who made courageous decisions for life in 2011.