Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Who is that handsome guy?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I received my photo for the school yearbook back today. Thankfully, it was one I could live with being remembered by.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Aloha means "Hello" and "Goodbye"

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Today is the feast of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. They were patrons of the Anglican Church in Hawaii, and were also noted for their works of charity. Emma especially was influential in her labor to see St. Andrew's Cathedral be built.

Which leads me to think . . . perhaps I can be a chaplain for a pilgrimage to visit their tombs and the kingdom they served. Any takers?

Theology of Thanksgiving Dinner

Before Thanksgiving is too far past, I wanted to share the final page of a sermon I wrote for my homiletics class in seminary. I was up pretty late than night, and it shows. It devolved into a sacrilicious theological analysis of food. (Watch for the veiled reference to the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Ghost.)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

. . . We give thanks by celebrating in God’s goodness; we give thanks by feasting. Today you will go home to a table that is filled with the most delightful and appealing food you have come across all year. Feel free to indulge yourself; relish in God’s provisions.

In your feasting, see the signs of God’s goodness, the signs of spiritual blessing. That juicy, delicious ham—it represents the freedom of the Gospel; all things have been made clean and holy in God’s new creation. Put some corn on that plate, don’t be shy. That signifies the seed of the Kingdom. God plants grain in the mission field, and he is the Lord of the harvest.

Don’t forget the butter—it symbolizes the nourishment that sustains us and makes us grow like a mothers milk for her suckling child. Put some extra butter on there, don’t be afraid. Taste of the ghostly succor God offers us day by day.

Dish up a few pea pods. You’ll find that they symbolize the Word of God. When the Word is preached, and the Bible is studied, it’s just like opening up that pod and finding so many delicious peas.

Pass the bread, please. By all means take a roll. The bread shows us the fruit of human labor. And like the grains gathered from the hills, baked into one loaf, the bread symbolizes God’s people, brought together into one Body. This is also our daily bread, and it calls to mind the sacred host.

Get a big scoop of stuffing on your plate; you can’t leave that out. It symbolizes the Holy Ghost, who fills us and makes us grow. And, of course, don’t forget a slice of the Turkey that gave you
the stuffing which proceeded from it. The Turkey laid down its life for us all, to nourish us and offer itself as a thanksgiving sacrifice to God. It calls to mind the offering of Christ.

None of this really makes any sense, of course, without a big helping of gravy poured all over the top of the food. The gravy is like God’s gift of grace—poured freely and abundantly over our lives, making them pleasing and satisfying to our heavenly Father. Grace perfects nature, and if anything on your plate isn't fully pleasing, a good outpouring of gravy will make it more than so.

Have a glass of wine with your meal. Don’t be shy. It was Jesus who turned water into wine for a wedding banquet. This too is a festive occasion, and a foretaste of heaven. The Scripture says, “wine maketh glad the heart of man.”

And as if I even needed to mention, don’t forget to save room for dessert. Nothing could be more American than apple pie, and nothing could be more tinged with the supernatural. It’s sweetness reminds us of our garden paradise and a taste of the paradise hereafter. Those apples remind us of our sin in the garden, and that Christ, the new Adam, has redeemed us, and made the whole creation new. Those apples are delicious. “Do they hint of a fortunate fall?” you ask. Have another bite, and let us reason together.

Taste of all the goodness that is set out before you this day, and when you savor it’s goodness, remember the source, and render thanks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent

It was my privilege to kick off the Christian year with a Saturday vigil Mass for Advent I from the 1928 Prayer Book.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It seemed to me that the following prayers from the morning service for individuals and families from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (see pg. 588) would make a wonderful daily prayer to use through the course of Advent, speaking as it does on the themes of judgment and preparation.

Dedication of Soul and Body to God’s Service, with a Resolution to be growing daily in Goodness.
AND since it is of thy mercy, O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer for Grace to enable us to perform that Resolution.
BUT, O God, who knowest the weakness and corruption of our nature, and the manifold temptations which we daily meet with; We humbly beseech thee to have compassion on our infirmities, and to give us the constant assistance of thy Holy Spirit; that we may be effectually restrained from sin, and incited to our duty. Imprint upon our hearts such a dread of thy judgments, and such a grateful sense of thy goodness to us, as may make us both afraid and ashamed to offend thee. And, above all, keep in our minds a lively remembrance of that great day, in which we must give a strict account of our thoughts, words, and actions to him whom thou hast appointed the Judge of quick and dead, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Translation of the Gregorian Canon

Episcopalians should be familiar with the fact that the Book of Common Prayer was originally based upon the Roman Rite as it was used in England in the 1500s. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer used the Gregorian Canon as a starting point for composing his new Anglican eucharistic rite. One can see the many prayers from the canon that were rephrased and later found a home in the "Prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church."

One problem with Roman Catholic devotional missals that include a parallel translation of the Latin canon is that a literal rendering of the Latin does not always flow well in English. Even worse is the wholesale paraphrasing in the English vernacular Eucharistic Prayer I of the Missal of Paul VI now in use in Roman Catholic parishes in America.

I offer to provide another version for devotional purposes that seeks to remain faithful to the spirit of the Latin text while putting it in classic Cranmerian English. I am seeking after something that is both genuine and also beautiful and prayerful. Below is my translation of the eucharistic prayer of the Liturgy of St. Gregory (the Roman Rite) in "Prayer Book language." It is a work in progress. I have noted the Latin paragraphs to help you follow the translation. The alternative proper clauses have been left out. Also, I have placed in brackets any explicit additions that seemed appropriate to me. I invite your feedback.

Canon Missae
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Te Igitur
[Almighty and] most merciful Father, we humbly beseech thee through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, that thou wouldst accept and bless these + gifts, these + offerings, these holy + and unblemished sacrifices, which we offer unto thee for thy holy Catholic Church; vouchsafe to grant unto it thy peace and unity and thy protection and governance throughout the world, together with thy servants N. our Pope, N. our bishop, and with all those who cherish the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

Memento Domine
Remember, O Lord, thy servants and handmaidens [N. and N.], and especially this congregation here present (whose faith and devotion are known unto thee alone) who offer this sacrifice of praise for themselves and for all they hold dear, for the redemption of their souls and for the hope of their safety and salvation, and do now render unto thee, everlasting God, living and true, their most bounden duty and service.

In the fellowship and veneration of the most blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, [and of blessed Joseph her husband,] and also of thy blessed Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Thaddeus, and of Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and of all thy saints; grant for the sake of their merits and prayers that we may be defended by thy might and holpen by thy mercy; through Christ our Lord.

Hanc Igitur
We most humbly beseech thee O Lord, that thou wouldst graciously accept this oblation of our service, and that of all thy people; grant unto us peace in our day and deliverance from eternal damnation, that we may be numbered in the flock of thine elect; through Christ our Lord.

Hanc Igitur
And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe [by the outpouring of thy Holy Spirit] to + bless, + sanctify, and + approve this offering, making it reasonable and acceptable, that for our good it may verily become the + Body and + Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord;

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Qui pridie
Who in the night in which he was betrayed, took bread into his holy and venerable hands; and having lifted up his eyes to heaven, unto thee, God his Almighty Father, and having given thanks unto thee, he + blessed, broke, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat, for this is my Body." Likewise after supper, taking into his holy and venerable hands this glorious chalice, again having given thanks unto thee, he + blessed it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Drink ye all of this; for this is the cup of my Blood of the new and eternal Testament, the Mystery of Faith, which shall be shed for you and for many for the remission of sins. Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me."

Unde et memores
Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, we thy humbly servants, having in remembrance the blessed passion and precious death of thy Son Christ our Lord as well as his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension, now offer unto thy divine Majesty from these thy holy gifts, a + Victim which is pure, a + Victim which is holy, a + Victim which is spotless—the holy Bread of life eternal and the Cup of everlasting salvation.

Supra quae
Vouchsafe to look upon them with a merciful and gracious countenance, and accept them as thou didst accept the gifts of thy righteous servant Abel, the sacrifice of our patriarch Abraham, and that which thy high priest Melchizedek offered unto thee, a holy sacrifice, an immaculate victim.

Supplices te
We most humbly beseech thee, Almighty God, to command that these our prayers and supplications, by the ministry of thy holy angels, may be carried unto thine altar on high before the sight of thy divine Majesty, that we who shall be partakers of these holy Mysteries may worthily receive the most precious + Body and + Blood of thy Son and be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction; through the same Christ our Lord.

Memento etiam
Remember, O Lord, thy servants and handmaidens [N. and N.], who have gone before us with the sign of faith, and now rest in the sleep of peace; we beseech thee to grant unto them, and to all who rest in Christ, a place of refreshment, light, and peace; through the same Christ our Lord.

Nobis quoque peccatoribus
Although we are unworthy servants, through our manifold sins, we humbly beseech thee mercifully to grant us grace to share in the fellowship of thy holy Apostles and Martyrs: of John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and of all thy saints. Into their blessed company, we beseech thee to admit us, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord, the fount of all + holiness, + life, and + blessing upon every gift of creation.

By + whom, and with + whom, and in + whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving thanks for family

Thanksgiving day is wrapping up, and I'm saving the best for last. I'm not talking about dessert here, I'm talking about the people that are most important--family.

The holiday revolves around three of the best things in life:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

and most especially, my wife Melisa.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Thanksgiving Bond-a-thon

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
It's that time of year again, and thankfully, Spike TV is giving us a high-octane Bond-a-thon testosterone injection to keep us awake after that heavy dinner. For fun, I thought I'd put up my list of the the top ten best Bond movies.

1. Goldfinger
2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
3. From Russia With Love
4. Licence to Kill
5. Moonkraker
6. Octopussy
7. For Your Eyes Only
8. Dr. No
9. The Living Daylights
10. Diamonds Are Forever

Stay tuned.
James Bond will return in . . . Casino Royale.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving for our military

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
When considering things to be thankful for this holiday, I can't go without mentioning our brave servicemen and women of the armed forces of the United States. I give thanks for them, and to them, for doing a tough job, often at great personal cost. We should also be thankful for those who serve similar roles in our society--the unsung heros of our local police, sheriffs, and firemen.

I am reminded of the Prayer of Thanksgiving for Heroic Service (Book of Common Prayer, pg 839).

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with greatful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"We've got it back!"

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
St. Alban's, Holborn, during the international synod of the SSC.

The parish Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Holborn (Diocese of London) has been known as one of the early leaders of the Oxford/Tractarian Movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. If you look in your latest edition of Lamburn's Ritual Notes, you will notice the photographs were taken at St. Alban's.

It came as a shock to many when Affirming Catholicism was formed on 9 June 1990 at St Alban's, by a number of clergy in the Diocese of London, who had been marginalised within or expelled from existing Anglo-Catholic groups because of their support for women's ordination to the priesthood. The problem with Affirming Catholicism is that catholicism is not what is being affirmed. Rather than lifting up the historic faith and order of Christ (described by St. Vincent of Lerins as "that which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all"), it fully embraced innovations and departures from it. It developed a theological stance which was staunchly liberal in matters of inclusivity, but traditionally Catholic in matters of liturgy. The organization is particularly noted for its emphasis on the full inclusion of members of the Church in the threefold ordained ministry regardless of sex or sexual orientation.

It's prominent supporters include the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr. Rowan Williams, as well as the openly gay (but celibate) Dean of St. Albans Cathedral Abbey, the Very Reverend Dr. Jeffrey John, both of whom have served on the executive committee of British/Irish Affirming Catholicism in recent years. In North America, prelates involved in the organization include Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, and Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

But here's something to be thankful for this holiday. Bishop John Broadhurst (Suffragan of Fulham in the Diocese of London) reported to the 2005 National Assembly of Forward in Faith (UK) that to his astonishment last September, St. Alban's Holborn petitioned under the Act of Synod. This means that the parish council passed resolutions A (that no female priest be allowed to celebrate), B (that no female incumbant be appointed), and C (that requests an orthodox Provincial Episcopal Visitor). "We've got it back!" he told the excited crowd. The Bishop of Fulham noted also that when the Vicar of St. Alban's, Father Howard Levitt, arrived in the parish, he agreed not to discuss the ordination of women to the priesthood. But it was the discussion of the current issues in England, particularly the consecration of women as bishops, that changed hearts and minds in the parish.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Bishop John Broadhurst and Bishop Jack Leo Iker

I give thanks for these little victories that will continue as lifeless churches die off and churches filled with hope and the timeless faith of the apostles continue to move forward. I also give thanks for my own bishop, Jack Iker, and my diocese of Fort Worth in their faithfulness over the years during trying circumstances. Fidelity to the gospel is always being threatened by temption. I loved these passages from the bishop's sermon at the opening Mass of the recent diocesan convention:

"But who do you say that I am?" Jesus was not concerned about popularity or success or about making a good impression on others. He was concerned about drawing the disciples into a recognition of who he was and of calling them into a personal relationship with him as Savior and Lord. He came to do the will of the Father, whether it was popular or not. Sometimes it made him friends, and sometimes it made him enemies. This is why in so many Gospel scenes Jesus is depicted as being in conflict with the authorities or under attack over one controversy or another. But Jesus was in all things obedient to the Father, regardless of what it cost. He was obedient unto death, even death on the cross.

The Church in our time needs courage to proclaim an uncompromised Gospel, to put doing God’s will above all other concerns, and if necessary to suffer rejection, persecution and loss, as the cost for being obedient. We cannot limp along divided between two opinions. We must choose whom we will serve. This means that we must be willing to endure the ridicule and the sneers, at times even from fellow Christians. Let us pray for boldness and courage in the days ahead, that we may face the challenges that confront us without fear or timidity. Let us bravely pursue God’s agenda for His Church and for His world, not being sidetracked by distractions or conflicts, but being faithful and obedient to the Word, that He has given us to proclaim, whatever the cost, wherever it leads us.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Spared again

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
One Tom has reason to be thankful this holiday season. Once again, the presidential pardon was bestowed upon the Thanksgiving turkey (this one named Marshmellow). President Bush issued the executive order today in front of an audience of school children. After meeting with the press, Marshmellow flew to California to be the honorary Grand Marshal of the Thanksgiving Day Parade at Disneyland. He will therafter spend his retirement at the historic themepark.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Monday, November 21, 2005

Rebel without a cause

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Getting ready for this time of giving thanks, the legendary Jimmy Dean comes to mind. For more than three decades, he's been singing songs and making sausages . . . his own way.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christ the King

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
What now remains of the Titulus Crucis, kept in the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. It originally bore the full inscription "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

"He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet."
1 Corinthians 15:25

In 1925, Pope Pius XI established the feast of "Christ the King" to be celebrated on the last Sunday of October throughout the Western Church. The object of that new celebration was to reassert the authority of our Lord to rule all the nations, as well as the authority of Christ's mystical Body, the Church, to teach the human race, to proclaim Christ crucified, and to call people to repentance and so "establish the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ."

While Christmas and the Epiphany highlight the royalty of Jesus, this new feast was to focus sharply and exclusively on the reign of Christ. When the lectionary was being revised for the Missal of Pope Paul VI in the 1960s, other churches were engaged in a similar effort and formulated together a three year cycle of Sunday readings.

It was understood that each season had a theme: Advent is a time of preparation for Christ's coming, Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation, Epiphany explores the manifestation of Christ to the world, Lent is a time of penitence, Holy Week and Easter explore the great mysteries of our redemption and Christ's triumph over sin and death.

It was also recognized that the long period of extra-seasonal readings through the summer also developed some related themes in its collects and readings. It is a time of the Church's growth and learning. The readings are mainly from Christ's teachings in the parables. Toward the end of the liturgical year, there is an increasing focus on the kingdom of heaven, the saints, and the afterlife. It seemed fitting to close the Christian year in the new lectionary cycle with this celebration of the lordship of Christ, especially as the end of the year leads into the Advent theme of his second coming in glorious majesty as judge and lord of all. In our Prayer Book, the last Sunday of the Church year is not an official feast day, but is known as "Christ the King" Sunday because of the theme of the collect and readings.

There is a clear agreement in the gospel records that the kingdom of God was the main theme of Jesus' message and the focus of his theological discourse. The kingdom is not a new idea for the scriptures, however. The Old Testament is filled with the notion that God is king and lord of the universe, and that he wishes to rule the lives of his faithful people.

Though the Bible speaks often of God as reigning over all the earth, sea, and sky, it should be remembered that the Hebrew concept of kingdom refers more to the force of rule that it does to a territory known as a kingdom. That is, a king reigns over people more than land. The concept of God as king was taken at first to exclude the possibility of earthly kings for the Israelites. Hence, the period of the judges is the story of Israel's struggle with the needs of practical government in the absence of an earthly monarch. It required the direction of God through the prophet Samuel to anoint an earthly king--a man to act as God's royal proxy.

The fact of an earthly king for Israel was properly seen as a part of God's larger cosmic dominion. And even though God is presently the king of the entire universe, the eschatological hope for Israel was that his lordship would be further and further revealed until all the nations would finally come to submit to his gracious rule. The messiah was to be the final and perfect king--the one to exercise that perfect rule over all nations and all peoples, to show clearly that God reigns on earth, just as he does in heaven.

In my Sunday School class, we have been looking at the theme of worship in a study of the book of Revelation. One of the key sections is chapters 4 and 5, when there is an open door in heaven, and John gets to look inside. God is seated on the royal throne of heaven, surrounded by the elders and patriarchs of Israel, with serafim and cherubim, and a myriad of the heavenly host, bowing down before him and joining in an endless hymn of praise: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts."

Everything is exactly in line with first century Jewish expectations of heaven. But now, something completely different. An angel cries out to creation, asking who is worthy to open the seals of the book of destiny. No one is worthy, and John begins to weep. Then one of the elders says, "Do not weep. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered, and he is worthy to open it." Then to the scroll comes a lamb--a slain lamb, though now standing, and now invested with the signs of all power and authority. The hosts of heaven begin a new song: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor, and glory, and blessing! . . . Blessing and honor and glory and power be to him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb, for ever and ever!"

It was something that no one had expected--God's messiah had conquered creation as a helpless sacrificial lamb, and the Lamb of God now reigns in glory. Christ conquered sin, and death, and hell for the kingdom at the cross. As we read today from St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians,"Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdomto God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." The victor of the kingdom delivers the spoils to God the Father.

Who would have thought it would end this way? The one constant pressure Jesus faced in his ministry-from his temptations in the desert up until his crucifixion, was to claim an earthly throne: to begin a revolt, root out Roman occupation, and restore the Davidic kingdom of Israel, just as the Maccabees struggled to do to their Greek oppressors a century before. But Jesus always refused. He would not be derailed from the Father's plan for our redemption. He remained faithful to his purpose.

When the Romans crucified a prisoner, there was normally a placard over the head of the prisoner, noting the crime for which he was being executed. Crucifixion was not simply about getting the job done of execution, nor even simply about being cruel, it served primarily as a fearful reminder and a warning to everyone who passed by and saw. It said, "This is what happens to people who do this."

Certainly the two thieves crucified next to Jesus had this placard noting their crimes. For Jesus this wooden sign, called the titulus, had written upon it: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Those who had brought Jesus to Pilate complained, "It should say, This man said, I am the King of the Jews." But either because it was too much of a bother to change it now, or perhaps because Pilate wanted to through it back in their faces a little bit for forcing him get involved in this local mess, he responded, "What I have written, I have written."

And so there, on a lonely hill outside Jerusalem, our Lord and Savior at last, in God's timing, finally and willingly claimed his throne, wearing a crown of thorns, raised up high before the crowd of his royal court, nailed to a beam of wood which bore the sign: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. It was not to long before that dreadful day that Jesus had spoken of the event: "When the Son of Man is lifted up [on the cross], then you will know that I AM." His first royal edict is to make our peace through the blood of his cross. All dominion and authority in heaven and earth belongs to him. And Christ has made all who have faith in him and bearhis name to be heirs and joint-heirs of that kingdom.

Jesus is the King of all creation, Lord of the cosmos, he has rightful claim to all things. But Jesus does not force anyone to belong to that kingdom against their will. He has conquered sin and death, but the territory of the heart must be willingly surrendered to him as Savior and Lord. I challenge you to do so. Surrender to him anew every day as lord of your life, even and especially the darkest corners of your life. Let everything be his; carve out no territory for yourself alone. All that Jesus reigns over will be ushered into his everlasting and glorious kingdom, it will be redeemed and renewed and become part of his new creation. All that is left unsurrendered will be cast into the fire. If you are carving out a territory for yourself, it will be lost forever.

Jesus stands at the cross, his arms open in love, beckoning you and all people to enter the gates of the kingdom of God, saying, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." As we pray together now, open up your eyes to see the Lord Jesus, the slain Lamb of God, now reigning triumphant on the cross, open your ears to hear his word and his call of faith, and open your hearts to welcome him to reign in you.

When the Feast of Christ the King was established in 1925, a new preface for the Eucharistic prayer was composed to be used on that occasion, and so we now pray: "It is right and a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to you, O Lord, holy Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who anointed your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord with the oil of gladness to be a priest forever and king of the whole world, so that by offering himself on the altar of the cross as a pure victim and peace offering, he might perform the sacrificial rite of mankind's redemption. All creation thereby has been made subject to his dominion, that he might present to your infinite majesty a universal and everlasting kingdom-a kingdom of truth and of life, of holiness and of grace, a kingdom of justice, of love, and of peace. Therefore, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones, Dominions, and all the militant hosts of heaven, we forever praise and glorify your holy Name," world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Stairway to Heaven

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The Sunday School class I'm teaching this semester is called, "Our once and future worship: A study of the Book of Revelation." After peeking into the worshipping congregation of heaven in chapter 5, we took a few weeks to look at the history of liturgy and church architecture.

One of the key themes of the early Eucharist of the Church is the eschatological direction and the idea that the earthly and heavenly sanctuary overlap in the canon of the Mass. One of the ceremonial elements that I find most enriching is the "stairway to heaven" posture of the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon in the High Mass. It is intended to express in a visual way the hierarchy of heaven. I find the effect to be a striking reminder of the sanctuary as the meeting place of heaven and earth--as striking a visual reminder as the presence of statues or icons of the saints around the Altar.

In Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob has the vision of the stairway to heaven at Bethel. When he awakes, Jacob is moved to respond, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

Just stopping by

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Tony Curtis stopped by to say "Hello" this afternoon . . . and I'm not sure what to make of it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thank you, veterans

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
To all veterans of the armed forces of the United States, many thanks. You proudly wear the uniform in the preservation of freedom and democracy at home and abroad. Have a blessed Veteran's Day.

November 11 was formerly called Armistice Day to commemorate the signing of the Armistice ending World War I, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 inviting all Americans to observe the day, and made it a legal holiday nationwide in 1938. In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has since evolved into primarily time for honoring living veterans who have served in the military during war or peacetime, in contrast with Memorial Day, which commemorates the dead.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mary Matkin

My sister Mary Elizabeth had a birthday today (not pictured below). I suppose she's almost old enough now for me to not say exactly how old. Instead, let me just say that I still remember the day she was born and I remember her being brought home for the first time from the hospital. It was a great day.

In celebration, I shall pipe and do my happy dance.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

"I need a quote" --Myself

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
David Elton Trueblood, PhD

If the title of this post applies to you, I commend the following three good quotes from Elton Trueblood--an author, philosopher, educator (professor of philosophy at Earlham College), and theologian who was a lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

"Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation."

"The world is equally shocked at hearing Christianity criticized and seeing it practiced."

"A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Holy dying means holy living

One part of All Souls Day is to take account of our own mortality. When I think about dying a holy death, I see more clearly the need to live a holy life. There are so many beautiful prayers from the burial office in the Prayer Book. Here is one of my favorites--for both the eloquence of its prose and its expressions of truth.

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favor with thee our God; and in perfect charity with the world. All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer, pg. 489)

Monday, November 07, 2005

New Chasuble

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
At last, I finished making my black chasuble with silver and red trim. It made its debut at the Requiem Mass on All Souls' Day (November 2) at St. Alban's. One day, it will be used at my own Requiem. I hope it is a part of many beautiful celebrations that speak of the mercy of God and the bond of love in the fellowship of the Mystical Body.

Offertory for a Requiem Mass
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell, and from the bottomless pit. Deliver them from the lion's mouth, that hell might not swallow them up and that they might not fall into darkness, but let Michael the standard-bearer bring them into the holy light which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and his descendents.
We offer unto thee, O Lord, this sacrifice of prayer and praise. Receive it for the souls whose memory this day we recall; make them, we beseech thee, O Lord, to pass from death into life, which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and his descendants.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

What makes a man noble?

Melisa and I just finished watching the film Braveheart again (one of our favorites).

A line I have always found striking was the statement of the 16th Earl of Bruce to his son, Robert. The father says, "It is precisely the ability to compromise that makes a man noble." The son comes to discover otherwise through the course of the film--experiencing compromise in the worst possible way.

I would suggest that a wonderful description of what makes a man noble is found in the traditional list of the seven heavenly virtues: faith, hope, love, prudence, temperance, justice, and most especially, fortitude.

Indeed, according to its etymology the word "virtue" (Latin: virtus) signifies manliness or courage. The world will always need virtuous men.