By Fr. Mark Perkins
Editor's Note: We have added two pieces to the list that have been published in the intervening time since this post was written, and we will continue to add more if/when they are written. Please let us know if we're missing any entries in the comments below or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that Ora-Pro-Nobis-Gate appears to be officially over [Editor's Note: Ha!], I thought it would be worth providing links to the whole back-and-forth for those who came late or missed it entirely. In short, the debate was over the traditional Catholic recitation of the Liturgy of the Saints — specifically, the request for the saints’ intercessory prayers on our behalf in the phrase “ora pro nobis” (“pray for us”) — and whether this is appropriate for Anglican public liturgy .
Below I’ve linked to the major parts of the conversation that I noticed — but if there are worthy entries or relevant pieces related to the conversation that I missed, please post them in the comments!
Fr. Jefferies kicked things off at The North American Anglican a few days before All Saints Day by arguing that the traditional Litany of the Saints is but suggested a Reformed litany which replaces “ora pro nobis” with “Glory to God.”
Fr. Wesley Walker responded here at Earth & Altar, arguing that “ora pro nobis” is permitted by the Articles, implicitly encouraged by Scripture, and explicitly affirmed by the Fathers.
Fr. Jefferies replied at The North American Anglican, calling into question Fr. Wesley’s exegesis and asserting a lack of patristic precedent for invocation.
In what was originally an entirely unrelated Earth & Altar piece, Fr. Sean McDermott provided a basic overview of the use of icons in prayer, using our All Saints icon as an example.
Fr. Wesley responded again at Earth & Altar, defending his approach to Scripture, deepening his engagement with the disputed passages, and placing the Anglican formularies within the broader tradition of the Church, especially the Ecumenical Councils. (For my money, this is the best piece to come out of the dispute.)
Some good conversation ensued in the comments of that same Earth and Altar essay: (a) Fr. Gene Godbold posited that the many stories of Christians feeling a sudden urge to pray for other (living) Christians may provide a template for understanding the link between the Church militant and triumphant. (b) Fr. Jefferies questioned the Seventh Council’s ecumenicity and claimed that it does not anathematize those who reject invocation. (c) Fr. Gene pointed out that reception over time defines ecumenicity.
Here at Earth & Altar I responded to Fr. Jefferies' comment, arguing that the Seventh Council does athemize those who reject invocation (I was wrong, as it turns out), and that the voice of the Church speaks most authoritatively in Ecumenical Council.
Once again, the comments of that same piece contained some good observations: (a) Fr. Gene suggested the various numbers of Councils posited by Roman Catholics and the Copts shouldn’t detract from the ecumenicity of the Seven. (b) Fr. Jefferies corrected my misreading of the Council record and reaffirmed his view of Seventh Council’s doubtful ecumenicity -- while nevertheless affirming a high view of the authority of Ecumenical Councils.
Again in response to Fr. Jefferies' comment, I argued here at Earth & Altar for the ecumenicity of the Seventh Council, and that the Council practices and endorses invocation.
PS: On January 23, 2020, Fr. Jefferies launched another salvo, "All That is Not True about Nicea II."
PPS: On October 30, 2020, Earth & Altar began publishing series of responses by Fr. Perkins titled "Nicea II and You: Conciliar Authority and Iconographic Devotion."
Again, let us know what we missed down in the comments!
Fr. Mark Perkins is Assistant Editor of Earth & Altar. He is also Assistant Curate at All Saints Anglican Church, Charlottesville and a full-time history teacher.