a priest's musings on the journey

Thursday, May 31, 2007

1 June Feast Day of St Justin Martyr

The Account of the Martyrdom of St. Justin
by an anonymous Eyewitness

This dramatic eyewitness account of the dialogue between St. Justin and the Prefect of Rome who subsequently condemned him to death is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the liturgical Feast of Saint Justin on June 1.

The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgement seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin: “Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors”. Justin said: “We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of our Savior, Jesus Christ”.

Rusticus said: “What system of teaching do you profess?” Justin said: “I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “Are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?” Justin said: “Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “What sort of teaching is that?” Justin said: “Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was foretold by the prophets as the future herald of salvation for the human race and the teacher of distinguished disciples. For myself, since I am a human being, I consider that what I say is insignificant in comparison with his infinite godhead. I acknowledge the existence of a prophetic power, for the one I have just spoken of as the Son of God was the subject of prophecy. I know that the prophets were inspired from above when they spoke of his coming among men”.

Rusticus said: “You are a Christian, then?” Justin said: “Yes, I am a Christian”.

The prefect said to Justin: “You are called a learned man and think that you know what is true teaching. Listen: if you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?” Justin said: “I hope that I shall enter God’s house if I suffer that way. For I know that God’s favor is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?” Justin said: “It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods”. Justin said: “No one who is right thinking stoops from true worship to false worship”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy”. Justin said: “We hope to suffer torment for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved. For this will bring us salvation and confidence as we stand before the more terrible and universal judgement-seat of our Lord and Savior”.

In the same way the other martyrs also said: “Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols”.

The prefect Rusticus pronounced sentence, saying: “Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws”. Glorifying God, the holy martyrs went out to the accustomed place. They were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Savior
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:38 PM | link | 1 comments |

Blue Moons and Buddha

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(Some Billie Holiday- Blue Moon)

No, it's not really blue :), but this second full moon in the month is an astronomical oddity, occurring about every 33 months. When you hear someone say "Once in a Blue Moon..." you know what they mean: Rare. Seldom. Maybe even absurd. After all, when was the last time you saw the moon turn blue?

In 1883, an Indonesian volcano named Krakatoa exploded. Scientists liken the blast to a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. 600 km away, people heard the noise as loud as a cannon shot. Plumes of ash rose to the very top of Earth's atmosphere. And the moon turned blue.

Blue moons persisted for years after the eruption. People also saw lavender suns and, for the first time, noctilucent clouds. The ash caused "such vivid red sunsets that fire engines were called out in New York, Poughkeepsie, and New Haven to quench the apparent conflagration," according to volcanologist Scott Rowland at the University of Hawaii.

Other less potent volcanos have turned the moon blue, too. People saw blue moons in 1983, for instance, after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico. And there are reports of blue moons caused by Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

The key to a blue moon is having in the air lots of particles slightly wider than the wavelength of red light (0.7 micron)--and no other sizes present. This is rare, but volcanoes sometimes spit out such clouds, as do forest fires:

"On September 23, 1950, several muskeg fires that had been quietly smoldering for several years in Alberta suddenly blew up into major--and very smoky--fires," writes physics professor Sue Ann Bowling of the University of Alaska. "Winds carried the smoke eastward and southward with unusual speed, and the conditions of the fire produced large quantities of oily droplets of just the right size (about 1 micron in diameter) to scatter red and yellow light. Wherever the smoke cleared enough so that the sun was visible, it was lavender or blue. Ontario and much of the east coast of the U.S. were affected by the following day, but the smoke kept going. Two days later, observers in England reported an indigo sun in smoke-dimmed skies, followed by an equally blue moon that evening."

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Music for Vesak

My Episco-buddhist and Ortho-Buddhist buddies tell me that this blue moon ushers in the holiest day for (some) Buddhists, who celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. This this month has a blue moon, some celebrated the holy day, called Vesak, during the first full moon. Thailand, Singapore, and many American Buddhists celebrate it today. The day is celebrated with rituals at the temple and by gift giving, especially to children and the less fortunate.

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:36 PM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

St Bede's Sermon on the Visitation

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my sprit rejoices in God my savior. With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Then she recalls God’s universal favors bestowed unceasingly on the human race.
When a man devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. His observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that he has God’s power and greatness always at heart. His spirit rejoices in God his savior and delights in the mere recollection of his creator who gives him hope for eternal salvation.
These words are often for all God’s creations, but especially for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.
For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe him.
She did well to add: and holy is his name, to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the name she spoke of earlier: and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
Therefore it is an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church that we should sing Mary’s hymn at the time of evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of God’s Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue. Such virtues are best achieved in the evening. We are weary after the day’s work and worn out by our distractions., The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 8:57 PM | link | 2 comments |

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: May 31 (or July 2)

Today the Western Church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was originally celebrated on July 2 by the Franciscans, who were the first to observe the day. However, now the feast is observed by most on 31 May so that it will fall between the Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. This feast remembers the visit of the Mother of God to her kinswoman, St Elisabeth, shortly after Holy Mary had received the news from the Archangel Gabriel that she would be the Mother of our Lord. The story is told by St Luke (1:39-56). When Mary greeted Elizabeth, who had conceived in her old age, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophecy, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
Mary replied with the beautiful prophetic words of the Magnificat (which you can hear below).

Today we celebrate the meeting of two women: one too old to have child, about to bear the last prophet of an age that is passing away, the other not ready to have a child, about to bear the One who will inaugurate an age of peace and justice that will never pass away.

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The Evening of the Visitation - Written in 1947
by Thomas Merton

Go, roads, to the four quarters of our quiet distance,
While you, full moon, wise queen,
Begin your evening journey to the hills of heaven,
And travel no less stately in the summer sky
Than Mary, going to the house of Zachary.

The woods are silent with the sleep of doves,
The valleys with the sleep of streams,
And all our barns are happy with peace of cattle gone to rest.
Still wakeful, in the fields, the shocks of wheat
Preach and say prayers:
You sheaves, make all your evensongs as sweet as ours,
Whose summer world, all ready for the granary and barn,
Seems to have seen, this day,
Into the secret of the Lord's Nativity.

Now at the fall of night, you shocks,
Still bend your heads like kind and humble kings
The way you did this golden morning when you saw God's
Mother passing,
While all our windows fill and sweeten
With the mild vespers of the hay and barley.

You moon and rising stars, pour on our barns and houses
Your gentle benedictions.
Remind us how our Mother, with far subtler and more holy
Blesses our rooves and eaves,
Our shutters, lattices and sills,
Our doors, and floors, and stairs, and rooms, and bedrooms,
Smiling by night upon her sleeping children:
O gentle Mary! Our lovely Mother in heaven!

The icon above is in the Maronite tradition
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:47 PM | link | 3 comments |

At last, a way to stop the grotesque cruelty in Sudan

From The TimesMay 30, 2007

The Darfur crisis is not insoluble. An oil trust fund is the answer
-Nick Donovan

Faced with a rebellion in Darfur in 2003, the Sudanese Government resorted to its favoured strategy of “counter-insurgency by genocide”. Khartoum appointed Ahmed Haroun, the “Eichmann of Africa”, to take charge. As head of the Darfur Security Desk, he co-ordinated a spider’s web of security services, police, military and militia units.

Fond of citing Mao’s dictum that “the people are like water and the army is like fish”, Haroun directed attack after attack not on the rebels but against the civilians of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes. The pattern became routine: the Sudanese Air Force would bomb the village; army or police units would form a cordon around the perimeter; and then the Janjawid militia would enter, killing the able-bodied men, raping women and driving survivors into refugee camps. Haroun personally recruited, paid and armed the militia: witnesses saw him delivering planeloads of weapons and boxes of cash.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently issued arrest warrants for Haroun. But he was not alone. He reported to the Minister of the Interior (and current Defence Minister) Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, and through him to the President, Omar al-Bashir, Vice-President Taha and the head of security, Saleh Ghosh. He liaised with the Sudanese military and security forces. He gave orders to the governors of Darfur to recruit more Janjawid. Eventually the ICC indictments and trials will reveal these men as involved in nothing less than a criminal conspiracy to commit mass murder. So far they have killed between 200,000 and 450,000 people.

The Sudanese Government has been resisting the imposition of UN peacekeepers for four years now. Estimates of the numbers of troops needed range from 21,000 to 44,000: presently the African Union has only 5,000 troops on the ground – confined to barracks at night and lacking the mandate to protect civilians. In August 2006 UN Resolution 1706 invited Sudanese consent for a force of 20,000 UN peacekeepers. The Sudanese Government has refused, instead restarting its aerial bombardment in Darfur and inciting violence in neighbouring Chad.

The security cabal who rule Khartoum are desiccated calculators of power: they chose mass killings as their strategy in the counter-insurgency because it was cost-effective; they will choose to stop this campaign if faced with the right incentives.

An oil embargo should be implemented immediately, and not withdrawn until the crisis is resolved. From 1999 to 2005 there was a 40-fold increase in Sudanese oil revenues. This paid for a $350 million increase in military expenditure, and provided the cash that Haroun funnelled to the Janjawid footsoldiers – paying each of them $117 per month. Oil sales now contribute up to 50 per cent of Khartoum’s annual revenue.

Faced with an oil embargo Khartoum would be forced to allow UN peacekeepers to enter. Yet sanctions are blocked by China, India, Malaysia and other countries who import Sudanese oil
The rest

Of course, as you may recall, Laurent Fabius suggested an oil embargo to stop the genocide in Sarfur months ago. Read his comments in The Sudan Tribune.

Related, Bush tightens sanctions on Sudan over Darfur here.

And, while I have you here, let me remind you of Divest For Darfur.

Love mercy. Do Justice.

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:23 AM | link | 0 comments |

Real Age Test

I took the Real Age test this morning. My calendar age is 38.7 My Real Age is 29.2 woo hoo :)

Today, May 30, 2007, your RealAge is 29.2!

UGH I can't get the link for this to work anywhere :(

It is www.realage.com

(Thanks Jane for telling me)
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:09 AM | link | 1 comments |

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Instant Karma: Save Darfur

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:39 PM | link | 0 comments |

AMiA seminary

sooo... my MDiv comes from the Anglican Mission in America's newest seminary... UGH

Do you reckon a CDSP or EDS or General DMin will balance out an AMiA MDiv?

Mary help!!!
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:19 PM | link | 4 comments |

Monday, May 28, 2007

Feasts in the East for 29 May

Since ancient times the church has commemorated the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 on this day. The council, attended by St Nicholas of Myra, St Athanasius, St Eusebius, and over 300 other bishops, was convened to eliminate the confusion brought about by the teachings of Arius. Arius taught that Jesus was not the pre-eternal Son of God, nor was he equal in being to God the Father. Arius' teachings were condemned as heresy, and the Nicene Creed was confirmed as the Symbol of faith. The council also set the date for Easter. It is said, that Jolly ole St Nicholas decked both Arius and another Arian bishop at the council. Wow- where is that in the christmas story ;)

The East also remembers the martyr Theodosia on this day. Theodosia was a nun who lived in a convent in Constantinople. In the mid-8th century, the Emperor ordered
that all icons be destroyed. There was one icon of Christ that was especially dear to Theodosia, that was on the wall in the convent. She was so attached to this icon, that when the soldier who had been sent by the Emperor to smash the icon climbed a ladder to remove it from the door of the convent where it was placed, she shook the ladder so violently that the soldier fell to his death. Theodosia was so upset with the iconolasts, that she led a group of women to the palace of the heretic patriarch of Constantinople, where they stoned his palace in protest. The women were arrested and punished for thier actions. Theodosia, however, was tortured and killed for having led the rebellion.

Now, this is a saint I'd love to have my back when I'm being attacked. This is a woman I can pray to- pacifist inclinations set aside ;)

An even stronger Lebanese woman, by the same name, is also remembered today in the East. Theodosia of Tyre was arrested in 308 at the age of 18 for being a Christian and taken to Urban to be tried. He asked her to offer sacrifices to the Roman deities, but she refused. Because she refused her breasts and sides were scraped to the bone- and she stood silently and courageously, enduring the pain without even a grimace. She was asked to offer sacrifices again. This time she mocked Urban in her refusal. She was tormented further, and cast into the sea.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Through labours hast thou inherited life free of pain; with streams of thy blood, O all-praised maiden, thou didst drown the vile lion, who is the most abhorrent enemy of Christ's Church. As thou now rejoicest with Christ, unceasingly pray thou in our soul's behalf.

The icon of Theodosia of Constanitnople is from the Monastary of St Catherine, Sinai, Egypt- 13th century

The icon of Theodosia of Tyre was written by Siippi Sister
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 10:35 PM | link | 0 comments |

Feast of the First Book of Common Prayer

Today, Anglicans celebrate the Feast of the First Book of Common Prayer, although it may be celebrated on any weekday after Pentecost Sunday. The first complete Book of Common Prayer was published in 1549, under the direction of Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley. It was written to give the Church of England a book in the language of the people that would be a unified and simplified equivalent of the Roman liturgical books. The liturgy in the Prayer Book, first used on Pentecost, June 9, 1546, was crafted from a variety of sources, including the Sarum Rite, Medieval Latin Rites, Greek liturgies, Gallican Rites used in French churches, a Revised Latin Rite used on Cologne, and vernacular German liturgies that had been prepared by Luther. Cranmer simplified these sources, and made it possible for the Rites for our public and private prayer to be found in one book. There have been many revisions of the Book of Common Prayer, but each maintiains the shape and values of the First Book.

You can read the First Book of Common prayer in modern language here. (this takes a while to load)

The Rite for the Mass according to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer is here.

Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, restored the language of the people in the prayers of your Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
- Collect for the day

We do not presume to come to this thy table (O merciful Lord) trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies: We be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table; but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore (gracious Lord) so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, in these holy mysteries, that we may continually dwell in him, and he in us, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood. Amen.
- from the First Book of Common Prayer-
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 1:00 PM | link | 1 comments |

A Romanian Priest's Thoughts on Community: Why attend Church?

Have Faith: Why attend church?

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Props: blue tiger, white heron

blue tiger, white heron also wrote these thoughts of Pentecost, which are worth sharing.

for those who follow or celebrate the traditional christian calendar, today-this sunday is called 'pentecost' the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.
it marks the 50th day after Pascha/Easter.
in the Jewish calendar the 50th day is significant and symbolises completion and fullness (the number 50 in mystical jewish perspective symbolises fulfillment and totality). pentecost in hebrew is called 'shavuot'.

among both Roman Catholics and the Orthodox as well as Anglican it is regarded as the birthday of the church.

in the eastern churches (both Catholic and Orthodox), it is called sunday of the Holy Trinity as well as "green sunday" because the boughs and branches of green leaves as brought into the churches to symbolises the fullness in creation that is a fruition of the gift of life as given by God as the "life-giver" and "comforter' who is seen as the third person of the Trinity in the Holy Spirit.

church is not only defined as a building, but rather more importantly "the community" (greek- ekklesia).
this is a good response for anyone curious or interested as to why people go to church, given by Father Theodore, from the Orthodox perspective.

"Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of truth who are everywhere present and fills all things, treasury of blessings and giver of life, come and abide within us, cleanse us of all stain and save our souls oh Good one
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:47 AM | link | 1 comments |

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holy Spirit Monday

In the East, the Monday after Pentecost is a day dedicated as a feast of the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life: come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls, O Good One.

Kontakion (Plagal Tone Four)
When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men at Babel, He divided the nations. When He dispensed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.

Creator Spirit all Divine,
come visit every soul of Thine.
And fill with Thy Celestial Flame
the hearts which Thou Thyself did frame.
O Gift of God, Thine is the Sweet
consoling name of Paraclete.
And spring of life and fire of love,
and unction flowing from above.
The mystic seven-fold gifts are Thine,
finger of God's Right Hand Divine.
The Father's Promise sent to teach,
the tongue a rich and heavenly speech.
Kindle with fire brought from above
each sense, and fill our hearts with love,
And grant our flesh so weak and frail,
the strength of Thine which cannot fail.
Drive far away our deadly foe,
and grant us Thy true peace to know,
So we, led by Thy Guidance still,
may safely pass through every ill.
To us, through Thee, the grace be shown,
To know the father and the Son,
And Spirit of Them Both, may we
forever rest our Faith in Thee.
To Sire and Son be praises meet,
and to the Holy Paraclete.
And may Christ send us from above,
that Holy Spirit's gift of love. AMEN.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:01 PM | link | 2 comments |

Happy Pentecost

This is one of my favorite icons for this day because it includes the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the center- representing the heart of the Church- and the holy women who were also in the company of Jesus (probably St Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, and St Joana.

This is a more traditional icon, which I don't like because it excludes the Mother if God and the other holy women. However, I do like the symbolism of the King, who represents the inhabited world that is being renewed by the Holy Spiirt as the Gospel is proclaimed to all in their own language.

This one is a Mexican Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

African Pentecost

Pentecost India

Asian Pentecost

Jesus Breathing the Spirit on the Apostles by Sadao Watanabe (one of my favorite artists)
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 3:23 PM | link | 4 comments |

Friday, May 25, 2007

Saints for 26 May

Today we celebrate the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury. The figure of St. Augustine, the great Wonderworker and Apostle of the English people, is somewhat controversial. He represented the Orthodox Patriarch of the West, the Pope of Rome, whereas the Celtic Christians were without a Patriarch and were, indeed, hostile to the concept of being placed under a Patriarch! St. Augustine moreover committed a great faux-pas when in meeting with a delegation of the anti-Patriarchal Bishops he remained seated when they approached him, rather than rising to greet them or even prostrating himself humbly before them. Due to his conduct, springing either from a protocol the Celts misinterpreted or from carelessness, he alienated them--and on this account the integration of the non-English Christians of Britain into the Patriarchate was delayed for many centuries. In the meantime, an uneasy situation prevailed. The decision of St. Theodore of Tarsus, the Greek-bred Archbishop of Canterbury who brought a comprehensive canonical structure to the English Church, and of several Church Synods, was that the Celtics could only be received after Chrismation and renunciation of error. It was felt that their Baptism rite was incomplete, their method of tonsure unsatisfactory, and their dating of Pascha, which had been superseded elsewhere in Orthodox Christendom by the pan-Orthodox method still used today in the Eastern Church, was faulty. Despite these difficulties, certain Hierarchs accepted the Holy Mysteries of the Celtics. St. Bede, in his History, proves himself to be a moderate in his ecclesiology, both accepting their essential character as Orthodox Christians and criticising their "uncanonical" mores.

Interestingly, the Celtic Ordo Kalendar included three other saints associated with the evangelization of the British Isles. Today is the feast day of St Eleutherius, a Greek deacon who was elected to be Pope in 174- apparantly without benefit of oridnation to the priestohood. He was martyred in 189 after, according to Holy Tradition, he sent missionaries to Britain. Those two missionaries, Fagan and Damian, are also celebrated on this day.

Among the many saints who appear on various calendars today, the following caught my attention:

St Alphaeus, also known as Cleophas, the father of St James the less
St. Mary Ann of Jesus de Paredes y Flores of Quito, an Ecuadoran Franciscan tertiary who educated Native American children (d. 1645)
Bl. Matthew Nguyen Van Phuong of Ke-Lay, a Vietnamese catechist who was martyred by beheading in 1861

and my favorite:

St Zachary of Vienne, the second bishop of Vienne, who was martyred under Trajan.

Alas, there are no images of these obscure saints that I can find. But here's a pic of my St Zachary

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:31 PM | link | 1 comments |

Sermonette: Pentecost C

I was raised in a Pentecostal Church, so the Holy Spirit has always been a central part of my experience of God. The goal of the Christian life was to be filled with the Spirit, and one knew that had happened by becoming “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and speaking in tongues. People desiring the baptism of the Spirit would have hands laid on them and they would “tarry” in prayer and praise until the Spirit descended upon them, as the Spirit did on the Day of Pentecost. After some time, and in some cases many attempts, the person would begin to speak in tongues, and all would rejoice and dance in thankful praise. In fact, worship was often characterized by a jubilant and chaotic rhythm of dancing, shouting, and speaking in tongues.

So, it’s easy for me to imagine what Luke is trying to describe as the Holy Spirit descends upon the 120 in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost with the sound of a mighty, rushing wind and tongues of fire. I can also appreciate why the Spirit appeared in this way. Some of us get so obsessed with this manifestation of the Spirit, that we cannot see its purpose. The tongues of fire came not to usher in a new mystical experience in and of itself, but to usher in a new creation- to give life to a new incarnation of Christ in the world. We first see the Holy Spirit in the first verses of the Bible, brooding over a chaotic void, calling light out of darkness, and birthing life out of barrenness. Later in the Creation Story, it is the Spirit who is breathed by God into the human being, making
A-dam a living soul. On the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit breathed the breath of God upon the gathered followers of Christ, and transformed them to be the body of Christ in the world. Before this day, these disciples had experienced God in Christ in the person of Jesus, who walked among them as God with them. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit enabled them to experience God in them and to discover Christ in one another. More than that, the Holy Spirit enabled them to recognize that all people were now invited to share in the life of the Spirit and to find a their own place in the body of Christ.

Luke doesn’t really tell us who was present in the Upper Room with any great detail. But he goes out of his way to tell us of all of the ethno-linguistic groups who were present in Jerusalem for the great feast of Pentecost- which was one of the major festivals of the Jewish religion. In Exodus, the feast is described as a Feast of Harvest, celebrated fifty days after the Passover. After the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews, Pentecost became an important festival for the Jewish Diaspora, who began to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast. Luke tells us that there were people from almost every language and ethnic group represented in the Roman Empire in Jerusalem to worship God at the feast of Pentecost. Suddenly, this wild group of men and women charge out of the Upper Room where they had been praying, and begin to proclaim the Gospel of God’s salvation through Christ to those in the streets. Some thought they were drunk. But most were amazed, because all heard the message of God’s mighty acts in their own language. The divisions of Babel had been reversed; no longer would we be divided by language and culture. Now, God was inviting us all to be a part of the life of the God. Now, the Spirit was giving birth to a new community and to a new way of experiencing God. This new community is one centered in Christ, who is the source of its unity. It is a community of diversity without division, and unity without uniformity, as Dan Clendenin reminds us in his essay, “Beyond Babel.” It is a community that embraces and celebrates the diversity of culture, social status, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity of its members, and yet transcends the diversity, in order to create the one body of Christ.

In the end of the Book, the Apostle John sees a vision of what this community birthed at Pentecost looks like in its maturity: he sees a multitude of people from every nation, tribe, language, and culture offering praise to God around God’s throne. A community that has recognized the Holy Spirit present in one another, and has allowed that Spirit to knit them together in community, even when their differences might suggest they should exist in isolation from one another.

On this Pentecost, we can look back to the story of Acts to see the birth of this community, and we can look forward through John’s visions to see God’s dream for this community. But, as we look at the present, we see that God’s dream isn’t a reality yet. Here in the South we still have churches for different ethnic groups; which is not necessarily a bad thing- after all, there is beauty and comfort that comes from praying with people who share your cultural story and ritual. But we all know, that in many cases, these separate communities exist because some groups will not include those who are not like them in their community of prayer. In our own Anglican Communion we are divided over theological disagreements which threaten to divide us. Instead of acknowledging that we can have different opinions and serving the one Christ who is present in each of us, some are walking apart and refusing to serve the Christ in those who are not conformed to their vision; they are confusing uniformity with unity.

What do we who desire to live into this community that the Holy Spirit is creating do to bring reconciliation? How do we embrace those who do not want to be embraced by us? How do we include those who exclude us? The Rev. Ann Fontaine suggests that there are eight ways that we nurture this community into which we all have been born through our baptisms.

1. Gather and support one another.
2. Devote ourselves to prayer and study of the Bible and those who have gone before us in faith.
3. Serve one another and the world in Christ's name.
4. Obey Jesus' commandment to love one another.
5. Witness and teach our faith to others - by word and deed.
6. Invite others into our community and make them feel welcome when they come.
7. Remember we know only in part - all is not revealed to us, sometimes we have to wait for more information before moving ahead or making judgments.
8. Open ourselves to the power of the Spirit to strengthen us and empower us to do the work we are given to do.

In the end, community is a gift that the Spirit gives us; but a gift that has already been offered to us who have been baptized into the community of Christ, who joins us to community of the life of God. When we are intentional about nurturing community through these ways and through the promises we have made in the Baptismal Covenant, then the Holy Spirit is able to empower us to go into the world as agents of reconciliation and ambassadors of transformation.

Therefore, on this day when we remember the Church’s birth, I ask you to recall the day you emerged from the womb of the Spirit and became a part of this community of Christ. As we re- member the moment of our new birth, let us pray that the Spirit will come among us, and incarnate God within ourselves; and, let us renew the commitment we have made to Christ and to one another in the words and promises of the Baptismal Covenant.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:44 AM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Celtic Saints of the Day 25 May

St. Dunchad Abbot of Iona
(Dumhade, Dumhaid, Dunchadh)
Died March 24, 717. Dunchadh was born into the line of Conall Gulban.
He became a monk at Killochuir in southeast Ulster and, from 710 until
his death, ruled the abbey of Iona, Scotland. During Dunchadh's abbacy,
Saint Egbert (f.d. April 24) finally convinced the Celtic monks of Iona
to adopt the Roman customs-- tonsure, date of Easter, Benedictine Rule.
For Saint Bede (f.d. tomorrow), this was the final sign of unity from
diversity, which was the main theme of his "Ecclesiastical History."

Dunchadh is the titular saint of Killclocair, in the diocese of Armagh.
His feast is still celebrated in Donegal on May 25; elsewhere it is
March 24. He is the patron of sailors in Ireland.

St. Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne
(Adhelm, Aldelmus)

Born in Wessex, England, c. 640; died at Doulting in Somerset, May 25,
709. In the 7th century an Irish monk named Maeldubh (f.d. May 17)
settled in the lonely forest country that in those days lay in the
northeast of Wiltshire. After living for a time as a hermit, he
gathered the children of the neighbourhood for instruction. In the
course of time his hermitage became a school and so continued after his
death, acquiring fame as a community of scholars known as Malmesbury.

To this centre of learning came a young and clever boy called Aldhelm, a
kinsman of Ina (Ine), King of Wessex. He was to be the first English
scholar of distinction. After studying under Maeldubh, he learned what
he could from Saint Adrian (f.d. January 9) and Saint Theodore (f.d.
September 19) at Canterbury, where he probably became a monk (though he
may have done so earlier at Malmesbury).

He returned to Malmesbury and under Aldhelm the school became a
monastery, of which he was appointed abbot about 675. He knew Greek,
Latin, and Hebrew, and attracted scholars from other lands. He was also
a poet, and was so full of music that it was said that he could play
every musical instrument in use. In course of time he established other
smaller religious communities in the neighbourhood and, thereby,
advanced education in all of Wessex.

He was an advisor to Ina and held in high regard by King Alfred, who
wrote down this story about him. Aldhelm was distressed because the
townspeople were indifferent to the church services, either by absenting
themselves or by gossiping and remaining inattentive when they attended.
He therefore stood on the town bridge and acted the part of a minstrel
by singing popular ballads and reciting his verses interspersed with
hymns, passages from the gospels, a bits of clowning in hopes of winning
'men's ears, and then their souls.' The result was that he soon
collected a crowd of hearers and was able to impart simple religious
teaching to them; 'whereas if he had proceeded with severity and
excommunications, he would have made no
impression whatever upon them.'

Later, at the request of Pope Sergius I, he accompanied Coedwalla, the
West Saxon king, to Rome. Later still, he took an active part in
disputes between the Celtic and the Anglo-Saxon Church. He addressed a
famous letter to Gerent, king of Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall),
explaining the date on which Easter ought to be kept by the Celtic
clergy there. At one famous synod (Whitby?) Aldhelm attempted
reconciliation with what remained of the old British Church in Cornwall,
which was then a kingdom with its own king.

In 705, Aldhelm became the first bishop of Sherbourne, his appointment
dating from the time of the division of the old diocese of Wessex into
Sherborne and Winchester. His brief episcopate was marked by energy and
enterprise. He had travelled a long way from the days when he joined
the school in the forest and sang as a minstrel on Malmesbury Bridge.
But always he is remembered as the Saxon poet-preacher, who first
translated the Psalms into the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and who sang the
words of Scripture into the hearts of the common people. In King
Alfred's words:

'Aldhelm won men to heed sacred things by taking his
stand as a gleeman and singing English songs on a bridge."

His English writings, hymns and songs, with their music, have all
perished; of his Latin works, the longest are a poem in praise of holy
maidens and a treatise on virginity written for the nuns of Barking in
Essex. In his lighter moments he composed Latin verse and metrical
riddles. As a scholar, Saint Aldhelm has been described as 'ingenious,'
and it has been well said that the Latin language went to his head. He
liked to play with words and his writing was so involved and obscure as
often to be unintelligible; but his reading was extensive--so extensive
that he has been described as the first English librarian.

In his own day Aldhelm had a wide influence in southern England. He was
buried at Malmesbury Abbey. The cape in Dorset usually called Saint
Alban's Head is properly Saint Aldhelm's Head.

In art, Saint Aldhelm is portrayed as a bishop in a library. He is
venerated at Malmesbury.

St Bede

Born in Northumbria, England, 673; died at Jarrow, England, on May 25, 735; named Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1899.
In the days when Northumbria was a great scholastic center with famous schools at Jarrow and York, Bede was the most distinguished of its scholars. Beginning at age seven (or three?), he was educated at the newly-founded monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow under Abbots Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid. In 703, he was received as a monk by Saint Benedict Biscop and ordained a priest at age 30 by Saint John of Beverley. Except for a few brief visits elsewhere, Bede spent the rest of his life in Jarrow; never going further afield than Lindisfarne and York.

"I have spent my whole life," he says, "in the same monastery, and while attentive to the rule of my order and the service of the Church, my constant pleasure lay in learning or teaching or writing." He numbered 600 monks among his pupils and became the Father of English learning. "I have devoted my energies to the study of Scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing the daily services in church."

Bede was a prodigious worker, the author of 45 volumes, including commentaries, text-books, and translations. His range was encyclopedic, embracing the whole field of contemporary knowledge. He wrote grammatical and chronological works, hymns and other verse, letters, and homilies, and compiled the first martyrology with historical notes. These are in Latin, but Bede was also the first known writer of English prose (since lost). Bede's Biblical writings were extensive and important in their time, but it is as an historian that he is famous. The Latin of the hymns 'The hymn for conquering martyrs raise' and 'Sing we triumphant hymns of praise' was written by Bede

His supreme achievement, completed in 731, was his History of the English Church and People, in the laborious preparation of which he searched the archives of Rome (? most sources say he never left England), collecting and collating documents, and set forth in detail the first authoritative history of Christian origins in Britain. To this he added Lives of five early abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow. Nor until his last illness had he any assistance: "I am my own secretary; I dictate, I compose, I copy all myself."

Many stories have gathered round his name. This one is probably mythic: On a visit to Rome with other scholars, he found them puzzled by an inscription of cryptic letters upon an iron gate. A passing Roman citizen, seeing their confusion, sneered at Bede and rudely called him an English ox, when, to his surprise, Bede at once read out the meaning. From that time, because of the range of his wisdom and the keenness of his intellect, he was given the title of venerable.

But the best-known story is related by his contemporary Saint Cuthbert of how when illness and weakness came upon him at the end of his life, his translation of Saint John's Gospel into the English tongue was still unfinished. Despite sleepless nights and days of weariness, he continued his task, and though he made what speed he could, he took every care in comparing the text and preserving its accuracy. "I don't want my boys," he said, "to read a lie or to work to no purpose after I am gone." His friends begged him to rest, but he insisted on working. "We never read without weeping," remarked one of them.

When it came to the last day, he called his scribe to him and told him to write with all possible speed. "There is still a chapter wanting," said the boy, as the day wore on; "had you not better rest for a while?" But Bede persisted with his task. "Be quick with your writing," he answered, "for I shall not hold out much longer."

When night fell, the boy said: "There is yet one sentence not written." "Write quickly," Bede replied; and when it was done, he said: "All is finished now," then after sending for his fellow monks and distributing to them his few belongings, in a broken voice he sang the Gloria and passed to his reward on Ascension Eve.

Of all the writers in Western Europe from the time of Saint Gregory the Great until Saint Anselm, Saint Bede was perhaps the best known and most influential, especially in England. He was a careful scholar and distinguished stylist. His works De Temporibus and De Temporum Ratione established the idea of dating events anno domini (A.D.).

Already in 853 a church council in Aachen referred to him as 'the venerable,' i.e., worthy of honor. Saint Boniface called Bede 'a light of the church, lit by the Holy Spirit.' To Alcuin, himself the 'schoolmaster of his age,' he was 'blessed Bede, our master.' (Alcuin claimed Bede's relics worked miraculous cures.) Bede is the only Englishman whom Dante names in the Paradiso. The center of Bede's cultus is Durham, where his shrine is located, and York.

A good deal of further information on Saint Bede is available on the Internet, including his Life of St. Cuthbert. Saint Bede is depicted in art as an old monk writing with a quill and rule. He might also be shown (1) studying a book, (2) holding up a pitcher with light from heaven falling on him, or (3) supported by monks as he is dying. He is the patron saint of scholars and historians.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 8:23 PM | link | 5 comments |

Mary, Our Lady of Help

When I was in seminary, it was my custom to make regular visits for prayer and retreat to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pa. During one of my visits I saw an icon of the Mother of God which just drew me in and embraced my soul. I couldn't leave without her, so I decided to buy one of the icons. As she was wrapping the icon for me, Mother Christophora, the abbess, slipped a holy card of another icon into the bag and quietly said, "you need her too." The holy card was a reproduction of this icon, The Protection of the Mother of God (also known as the Theotokos' cerement, which in many Slavic languages has the double meaning of veil and protection.

The icon depicts the story of the miraculous apparition of The Most Blessed Virgin Mary at the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople in 911. The city was under threat of military attack by the Saracens, and the Church of Blachernae, which held the relic of the Virgin Mary's veil, was filled with the fearful citizens of the city gathered for an all night vigil to plead to God for mercy and protection. At 4 a.m., Andrew the fool,a Slav, and a slave who ahd converted after coming to Constantinople, looked up and saw the Mother of God walking in the air, accompanied by St John the Baptist, St John the Beloved, and hosts of angels. She went to the ambo, knelt, and while weeping, prayed silently for an hour. She arose and went to the altar and prayed once more that her son would hear the cries of his people for protection against things visible and invisible which would harm them. She then faced the people and spread her veil over the people as a sign of protection. Miraculously, the invading army retreated, and the city was spared bloodshed and suffering.

Other stories are told in Sacred Tradition about the protection of the innocent faithful from military attack. One tells how the city of Constaniople was spared from invasion by the Russians when the Archbishop of Constantinople placed Mary's veil in the waters, causing a violent storm to arise which destroyed many of the invading ships. In the Western tradition, Pope Pius VII attributed his release from imprisonment at Fontainebleau, where Napolean had held him captive, and Napolean's downfall to the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercessions. He returned to Rome on May 24, 1814, and in gratitude, he establishled a universal feast in honor of Mary, which we commemorate today, under the patronage of an invocation used at Loreto, Auxilium Christianorum : Mary, Our Lady Help of all Christians.

While I appreciate this patronage, I find myself also asking the Mother of God to spread her mantle of protection over non-Christian innocents who also deserve her intercessions. I pray that Holy Mary will watch over those of us who know God through Jesus Christ and interceede for our protection against the powers of evil. I also ask that she would spread her veil over the people of Iraq, the refugees fleeing Beirut, the displaced Sudanese, the homeless who move invisibly among us, those enslaved by thier own addictions, the victims of domestic violence, gays and lesbians who live in varying degrees of oppression throughout the world, children who are being physically, emotionally, and psycholigically abused, and all innocents who are suffering unjustly.

There are a few interesting websites that appeal to the Theotokos of Protection for help agianst injustice and oppression. Please check out pokrov.org- a site for victims of abuse in the Orthodox Church, and The Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

Other saints on today's calendar include:

Dominic, confessor - who founded the Order of Preachers
Vincent (of Lerins), confessor - from whom we have the Vincentian Canon as a rule for catholicity: "Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus" - "that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all".
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 10:02 AM | link | 1 comments |

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Moral Loneliness

Each of us, beyond what we can name, has a dark memory of once having been touched and caressed by hands far gentler than our own. That caress has left a permanent mark, an imprint of a love so tender, good, and pure that its memory is a prism through which we see everything else.
The old myths express it best when they tell that, before we were born, God kissed our souls and we go through life always remembering, in some dark way, that kiss and measuring everything else in relation to it and its original purity, tenderness, and sweetness.

for the rest, check out quaeritedominum

Props Joshie
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 10:18 PM | link | 1 comments |

Monday, May 21, 2007

This was chosen by Zac's classmates to be shown in the Jefferson School Art Show on Monday, May 29. Zac said he was inspired by Van Gogh's "Starry Sky".
Zac calls it "Red and Orange Sky"
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:54 PM | link | 4 comments |

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Zac's Forest

Ok, Joshie; don't ask a father to show you his child's work unless you really want to see it ;) I don't think it's finished, but here is Zac's Forest.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 2:23 PM | link | 4 comments |

Friday, May 18, 2007

Collaborative Art in the Park: Fuel for Zac's creative energy

Tonight, Zac and I went to the opening party for the North Carolina Storytellers Festival in Center City Park , downtown Greensboro. We went to hear some ghost stories, but, no storytellers ever showed up. However, we had the greatest time. There was some great jazz music, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and this cool collaborative art project. When we arrived five local artists were painting. My Zac is becoming interested in art (he has a painting in an art show next week at school) :), so he went straight to the tents where the artists were working. We walked around looking at each of the five works of art- 4 painters and one creating with mixed media. Zac fell in love with one of the paintings- she had just begun creating an upper blue section and a lower golden one. The blue paint was dripping intentionally down into the golden bottom, and she ignored the drips, letting them go where they wanted. Zac was mesmorized, watching her every move. The piece was a beautiful abstract piece; but for me just that. Then, suddenly, Zac said, "that's a pretty forest." I smiled and said encouragingly, "You can see that already? I bet it will be a gorgeous forest when it is completed."

As we stood looking at this emerging forest, she suddenly covered much of the blue with a crimson red, wildly rubbing the red into the blue. The next thing I heard was Zac complaining, "she just ruined it!" He was so upset that he had to leave.

We walked away to listen to the music by the fountains, until we noticed another artist was painting on the "forest canvas." We went back to the tent to discover that each artist had now switched canvases, and were going to continue the work another had started. In fact they would continue switching until each artist had made a contribution to each work.

Zac led us back over to his forest. This second painter apparantly saw something like what Zac had envisioned. Zac smiled as he saw trunks and branches and pink blossoms appear. "See," Zac proclaimed, "I told you it was a forest."

The night ended with an auction of the works created by the collabortive art event. Alas, Zac was not able to leave with his beautiful forest- but he did leave with the desire to go home and create his own :)

PS I'm hoping to find a pic of the painting soon to share.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:17 PM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, May 17, 2007

St Brendan's Day 16 May

Yesterday was the feast day of St Brendan the Navigator. I had totally forgotten about it until I was reminded of his feast day at Fr Peter's blog. (Surely he is still on the Episcopal Ordo Kalendar). Brendan was a dedicated missionary in 6th century Ireland and Scotland, but he is best known for his fantastical 7 year voyage to the Island of the Saints (possibly Newfoundland). This wild tale is told in the Navigato Sancti Brendani , written around 800AD (can I still use A.D?) During this journey he met St Patrick, Judas Iscariot, said prayers with talking birds, and sailed to the mouth of hell, where they saw a river of fire flowing from furnaces from which demons attaked them with burning slag (this is a thin place I'd gladly skip). Once on this voyage, he celebrated Easter Mass on the back of a whale- my Zac loves his story.

I love telling these stories to my son- partly because they are fun, partly because he is still young enough to know they are true. Zac reminds me that God and the Sacred Divine can be experienced not only in "churchy" ways, but also in wild imagination. Zac still knows how to see God in everything around him. He still knows how to carry on a converation with St Patrick and how to listen to birds speaking to him; he can find a thin place wherever he finds himself.

When did we lose that ability? How do we get it back?

By the way go here for a great blog about whales in medieval popular belief.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:39 PM | link | 5 comments |

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Blessed Ascension Day

... the fulness of him who fills all in all.

O Christ, you ascended in glory on the Mount of Olives
in the presence of your disciples.
O you who penetrate all things with your divinity,
you were enthroned at the right hand of your Father
and sent down upon your disciples the Holy Spirit
who enlightens, strengthens, and saves our souls. Amen Orthodox Vespers

CS Lewis writes:

...a being still in some mode, though not our mode, corporeal, withdrew at His own will from the Nature presented by our three dimensions and five senses, not necessarily into the non-sensuous and undimensional, but into, or through, a world or worlds of super-sense and super space. And He might choose to do it gradually. Who on earth knows what the spectators might see? If they say they saw a momentary movement along the vertical plane - then an indistinct mass - then nothing - who is to pronounce this improbable?" (God in the Dock, p. 35; also see "Horrid Red Things," in Ibid. pp. 68-71)

See, the Conqueror mounts in triumph; see the King in royal state,
riding on the clouds, his chariot,
to his heavenly palace gate.
Hark! the choirs of angel voices
joyful alleluias sing,
and the portals high are lifted
to receive their heavenly King.

Who is this that comes in glory,
with the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
he has gained the victory.
he who on the cross did suffer,
he who from the grave arose,
he has vanquished sin and Satan,
he by death has spoiled his foes.

While he raised his hands in blessing,
he was parted from his friends
while their eager eyes behold him,
he upon the clouds ascends;
he who walked with God and pleased him,
preaching truth and doom to come,
he, our Enoch, is translated
to his everlasting home.

Now our heavenly Aaron enters,
with his blood, within the veil;
Joshua now is come to Canaan,
and the kings before him quail;
now he plants the tribes of Israel
in their promised resting place;
now our great Elijah offers
double portion of his grace.

He has raised our human nature
on the clouds to God's right hand;
there we sit in heavenly places,
there with him in glory stand:
Jesus reigns, adored by angels;
man with God is on the throne;
mighty Lord, in thine ascension
we by faith behold our own.

Glory be to God the Father,
glory be to God the Son,
dying, risen, ascending for us,
who the heavenly realm has won;
glory to the Holy Spirit, t
to One God in persons Three;
glory both in earth and heaven,
glory, endless glory, be.

Words: Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885), 1862
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:13 PM | link | 1 comments |

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

16 May Feast of the Martyrs of Sudan

O God, the One who is steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of the Sudan, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they refuse to abandon, even in the face of death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The Christian bishops, chiefs, commanders, clergy and people of Sudan declared, on May 16, 1983, that they would not abandon God as God had revealed himself to them under threat of Shariah Law imposed by the fundamentalist Islamic government in Khartoum. Until a peace treaty was signed on January 9, 2005, the Episcopal Church of the Province of the Sudan suffered from persecution and devastation through twenty-two years of civil war. Two and a half million people were killed, half of whom were members of this church. Many clergy and lay leaders were singled out because of their religious leadership in their communities. No buildings, including churches and schools, are left standing in an area the size of Alaska. Four million people are internally displaced, and a million are scattered around Africa and beyond in the Sudanese Diaspora. Twenty-two of the twenty-four dioceses exist in exile in Uganda or Kenya, and the majority of the clergy are unpaid. Only 5% of the population of Southern Sudan was Christian in 1983. Today over 85% of that region of six million is now mostly Episcopalian or Roman Catholic. A faith rooted deeply in the mercy of God has renewed their spirits through out the years of strife and sorrow.

From the proposal before the 75th General Convention

There is a video about the journey for peace and the work of the New Sudan Council of churches here. Sorry, it can't be embedded here. There is information about the Episcopal Presence there.

The icon of Our Lady of Darfur was written by Luiz Coelho - link on left-Wandering Christian.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 1:59 PM | link | 6 comments |

Monday, May 14, 2007

Great Ad in NYTimes by the Episcopal Church


hat tip: Jared
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:47 PM | link | 1 comments |

Gas Boycott

We all know refusing to purchase gas for one day of your life is an exercise in futility, right? What is needed is lifestyle change... right?

Just wanted to make that clear, since some 18,000 + seem to be have decided to not buy gas tommorrow in order to bring the price down. I wish they'd decide to conserve gas, invest in alternate fuel, take public transportaiton etc.... but this? not gonna help.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 4:53 PM | link | 3 comments |

Friday, May 11, 2007

Zac, Red Belts, and Fortune Tellers

Since this is MY blog, I can use it to shamelessly brag on my son, Zac, who was promoted to Red Belt in Taekwondo today. I was exhausted just from observing the test that lasted over an hour. I have my reservations about Taekwondo; my pacifism is offended by the sparring exercises, which appear too violent for children in my opinion- although I understand the techniques are taught for self-defense. Nonetheless, I can not help but be proud to see my son execute each form flawlessly. He kicks, spins, and jumps purposefully and powerfully. He displays physical strength and endurance. At one point he stayed in the plank position for three minutes. I am thoroughly impressed with his strength and skill.

But not only does he demonstrate competence in the forms, he possesses integrity and strength of character. My son has always been a gregarious, extroverted, friendly child. He will play with any child on the playground, and he always treats others with compassion and respect. He is well liked by his teachers and peers, and he he tries to include everyone. He is responsible, courteous, and disciplined. What most impresses me is how he repays rudeness with kindness. I have most observed this at his taekwondo dojo (gym/class), where the instructor's wife routinely snaps at the children and responds to their simplest questions with asperity and acerbity. But Zac merely smiles and walks away. I wonder what he is thinking as he discounts her remarks and leaves her to her bitterness. Does he intutively realize some deeper cause of her disaffection which enables him to respond compassionately? Perhaps. Once at a All Hallow's Eve party at a parish where I was a curate, I decided it would be fun to take him to the rector's wife's fortune telling booth. (Don;t freak out; this was all in fun). She did her mojo and said, "Father Rob, I've got bad news for you. Zac is going to be a bishop." Well, who knows- he certainly seems to be developping the leadership and compassion needed for such a role. Lord Have Mercy :)

He may advance to the High Red level now, where he will remain until he turns 16. Then he can be promoted to the black belt. I prefer the harmonious techniques of Aikido, which less offend my sensibilities, and perhaps the time has come to redirect his skills to a more peaceful, non-agressive expression. We shall see.

For now, the proud father beams delightfully at his sons achievement.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 8:27 PM | link | 11 comments |

Thursday, May 10, 2007

'Between Agabe and Eros' revisiting traditional Orthodoxy teaching on homosexuality by Andre Florin

I'm still processing this, but check it out. It is an essay written by a twenty something Anglican seminarian at St Mary's College, University of St Andrews. Although an Anglican, he has an attraction, as I do, to Eastern Orthodoxy. I'll post his conclusions below, then you can go read his essay. I do not agree with all he says, but I think he raises some interesting ideas here.

5. 5. Recommendations

To sum up, the recommendations flowing from this essay are as follows:

The Orthodox Church should refrain from using the modern concept of homosexuality to talk about its theological anthropology and moral teaching.

The Orthodoxy Church should retain the distinctions made by the Apostles and Holy Fathers between agape and lustful passions and uphold the distinction between different sexual acts.

Orthodoxy should consider agape-based relationship with greater compassion and exercise the same sensible church economy with them (as it does with divorce) rather than impose temporary excommunication.

It could only be in the interest of Orthodoxy to consider the revival of the liturgy of brother-making within the framework of church economy in order to (1) provide a liturgical context in which members of the same sex can live in agape and work together towards theosis (2) make clear from the existing liturgy that this bond of love has nothing to do with marriage and is only between two individuals rather than any given number as in monasticism.

Orthodoxy has the chance to allow those of its faithful and catechumens who are called by God to love members of the same sex a meaningful life in the Orthodox Church, which has an immensely rich tool at its hand in order to support these members and to bear witness to its mission to the world at the same time. It has even here on earth access to a healing and deifying reality, which transcends the weary world – the reality of the Divine Liturgy, in which all the faithful come together in Christ to worship him in true agape.

'Between Agabe and Eros' revisiting traditional Orthodoxy teaching on homosexuality by Andre Florin
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:59 PM | link | 1 comments |

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Can the Pope stop the Roman Church in Brazil from ministering to the poor?

“Morality in Jesus' mind means social morality, solidarity, responsibility, ethics – that is morality. And you cannot go to communion on Sunday, and on Monday destroy the forest. It is against the law of God.” Fr Edilberto Sena

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth – it is justice… And the objective of liberation theology is to create a more just society, not necessarily a wealthier one. And the great question is, how do we do this?" Leonardo Boff

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives this week in Brazil, he will no doubt recall the stir he made in the world's largest Roman Catholic country two decades ago.
Then, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Defender of the Doctrine of the Faith, he clashed with Brazil's leading liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff. Ratzinger warned that his teachings conflated Christ's mission with Marxism, which drained Jesus of his divinity and unique role as the Son of God. .
Ratzinger ordered Boff to be silent for one year in1985. When the church went after the ordained Franciscan a second time for addressing the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Boff told Rome: "The first time I accepted punishment out of humility. Now it is humiliation. That is a sin, and I won't do it."
Boff quit the priesthood but remained a Catholic, pressing for what the 68-year-old theologian, philosopher and author calls the central tenet of liberation theology.
"The opposite of poverty is not wealth – it is justice," he says. "And the objective of liberation theology is to create a more just society, not necessarily a wealthier one. And the great question is, how do we do this?"

The rest of the story is here.

Although I do not agree with all of his theology, I aspire to be the kind of priest that Boff is (well would be had he not been forced to walk away from ordained priesthood by Ratzinger him out of the Church). He gives me hope and encouragement that the work of the Gospel, the continuation of Jesus’ liberating action, not only must continue, but will continue, whether or not the Church wants to participate in it or not.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:30 PM | link | 1 comments |

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sedaris, Burroughs: Memoir, Fiction, or ?

I have been a fan of David Sedaris ever since I first heard him read his Santaland Diaries on NPR. I love his sardonic wit, southern accent, and the stories he tells about his Greek family and their lives in North Carolina. Recently, Alex heard wrote an article criticizing Sedaris' claim that his works are autobiographical and non-fiction. In This American Lie, published in the March issue of The New Republic, Heard claimed that Sedaris' stories were out right lies that never happened. Heard writes that he had conversations with people in Raleigh who can prove his claims. I don't know. Perhaps he does (well, I'm sure he might; however, I think Mr. Heard just might not be able to appreciate Southern storytelling. We all tell Tall Tales when we tell our stories down here; a bit of exaggeration and colorful embellishment is expected and understood. It does not mean the stories are not true.

While not a Southerner, another writer who knows how to spin his personal story into a Tall tale, albeit a raunchy one, is Augusten Burroughs. His stories are not exactly funny, but you'll find yourself laughing anyways (sometimes most definitely inappropriately). I suppose now he is most known for Running with Scissors,which was released in 2006 as a movie with the same name. Like many of Sedaris' works, Burroghs writings are embellished memoirs. Running with Scissors is a telling of Burroughs adolescents and teenage years, from the time his parents separated and his mother came out as a lesbian, to the day Burroughs himself came out to his guardian's son, who sexually abused him.

In January 2007, Vanity Fair published an article, similar to Heard's article in New Republic, alleging that much of Burroughs story in Running with Scissors was fiction. This time, however, the authors telling of his story was challenged by the Turcotte family, who claim that Burroughs has slandered them and portrayed them falsley in his book, using them as a basis for the Finch family. In 2005 the Turcotte family sued Burroughs for defamation of character. The family also sued Sony, who used the memoir as a basis for the movie; this suit was settled out of court. The suit against Burroughs and his publisher is still pending.

Burroughs latest book, published in 2006, is Possible Side Effects, is a dark, lewd, and humorous retelling of his dysfunctional life. You can read the first chapter here.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 9:57 PM | link | 1 comments |

Can We End Homelessness?

Is ending homelessness a realistic goal?

The National Alliance to End Homelessness and the federal government have championed the idea that it is possible to end homelessness, or at least significantly reduce the number of people who chronically lack a place to live.

Cities such as Denver, San Francisco and St. Louis have reduced the number of people sleeping on their streets by one-third in the past few years. The cities say it is less expensive to move homeless people into housing than leave them in the streets.

Read the rest of Sarah Arnquist's article here
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 2:29 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sermonette: Some thoughts on Revelation 19:1-9: The Lamb's Victory

I've been in one of those funky places again lately, as the second anniversary of my be forced departure from parish ministry approaches. To be honest, it's more than just a funk; it's lethargy. I am tired. I am tired of being in a Church that oppresses the very people God has called us to liberate. I am tired of being the political agenda of the month. I am tired of always having to prove myself as a priest because of my sexual orientation. I am tired of the games I have to play to find a place to be in the Church. One day I feel like it is safe to be out; the next I am running back into the corner and hiding because I know I'll never be called to be the pastor of a parish in the South if I am openly gay. I cower in the darkness chained by to my fears and to the insitutional homophobia of the Episcopal Church. Even as I write these words, I am concerned that some search committee (particularly the three I am involved with at the moment) will stumble across this blog and delete my name from the candidate's list (again). Yet, I sit here knowing that this is not a life that I can live. The Church can not make me less than human, and it can not make me a second class member of the Church. Christ has set me free; Christ has made me a member of His Body, just like everybody else. Moreover, Christ has defeated the powers of sin, death, Hell, and oppression. Todays Epistle reading for the Holy Eucharist says it this way:

19After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, 2for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 3Once more they said, “Hallelujah! The smoke goes up from her forever and ever.” 4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
5And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.” 6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; 8to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
Revelation 19:1-9

The Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of the Feast of Christ's Victory that we will enjoy with God in Heaven. It is a reminder that this Resurrected Christ has overcome the great whore who seeks to destroy the children of God. It is a reminder that the great whore can not keep me away from God. And one day, God will bring justice to the poor and the oppressed. Our Holy Eucharist is our banquet of liberation, and all of us are invited to this supper!

At the end of the day, the Church might keep pushing me and my gay brothers and sisters to the sidelines; it might keep putting up obstacles for us to overcome before we find a place to minister as equal servants of our Lord in the Church. But, the Institutional Church can not separate us from the love of God; it can not take away our baptismal union with Christ nor God's claim on us as God's beloved children. We belong to God. We are members of the Body of Christ too. As long as the "church" tried to amputate us, it will not be able to function and live as Christ intended. Without all of us working together, the Body of Christ risks becoming unhealthy and unproductive. So, all I can do is continue to work for Jesus, as my Pentecostal preachin' Grandfather would have put it. If not in a parish, then I'll have to find another venue in which to live out my vocation as a priest. There's so much work to do- I can not continue to allow the sins of the church to keep my focus off of Christ and God's dream for my life. It's time to start living into that dream again.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:03 PM | link | 6 comments |

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More for Boy's Day

:: posted by Padre Rob+, 3:59 PM | link | 2 comments |

Japanese children singing Koinobori

During my senior year in seminary, I finished my courses early so that my (then) wife and son, Zachary, could spend a month in Japan visiting family and friends. We arrived in late April; I still remember the endless rows of flying carp kites and windsocks that were dancing in the wind and floating in the rivers, literally everywhere. They were strung across rivers, hung out of windows, and flown from poles which had been erected in each yard. I was as taken with these colorful kites as my Zachary was.

The long koinobori (carp) flew in celebration of Boy's Day (May 5). A koi is flown for every son in the family, each flying under a large koi that represents the father. The carp has become the symbol of the Boys' Festival because the Japanese consider it the most spirited of fish, so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage, determination, perseverence, and the ability to overcome obstacles in order to attain one's goals. The carp is an appropriate symbol for the strength of character that the Japanese desire to inculcate in their children. They also symbolize wishes for a long and healthy life, since koi, known for their longevity, can live for more than fifty years.

When we arrived at my in-laws' home, koi had been strung up for both Zachary and me, and the house had been decorated with bamboo and samurai dolls- one of which had been Zachary's great-grandfather's and was to be handed down to Zachary, since he was the firstborn male grandchild. Unlike the contemporary gogatsu-ningyo, which often show a playful boy dressed in a samurai costume and riding a koi, this family heirloom depicted a traditional samurai, sword drawn and poised for battle. In spite of my pacifist inclinations, I could not help but be excited about this connection to Zachary's cultural history; and, it has become for me a symbol of the qualities from the Japanese culture that I want to see developped in my son; the quiet strength of the Japanese people, the committment to harmony and balance, the willingness to incorporate the giftedness of other cultures into one's own lifestyle are all traits that I also desire to see in my son.

I also find the historic ritual from which the giving of gogatsu-nungyo evolved to be a beautiful one. In ancient times, the samurai would hand down his Yoroi(armor) and Kabuto (headpiece) to his son with a blessing which passed on his spirit to his son. Now, the samurai dolls or replicas of the armor and headgear are passed down, continuing one's connection to one's ancesters. (Dare I compare this to the relics of the saints that some of us Christians venerate to remind us of our participation on the community of saints that transcends time and space, and unites all in God in Christ).

The boys day holiday is filled with images that recall the strength of the samurai and the ritual of passing the spirit of strength on to sons. Children create samurai hats out of newspaper and wear them. (It took me a while, but I finally learned how to fold it the correct way; since Zachary's objii-chan and
obaa-chan (grandparents) are a world away, I had no choice to but to practice until I got it.) Homes are also decorated with iris', whose long stems are symbolic of the samurai's sword. It is also traditonal to bathe in a hot bath filled with iris leaves in order to ward off evil spirits.

So, now I'm out to raise our koinobori, dust off the old samurai (and the cuter, non-violent version that we purchased in Tokyo)and head out to the asian market in search of mochi (sweet rice cakes filled with red bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves)and shobu (iris').
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 4:45 AM | link | 2 comments |