Saturday, March 24, 2018

HOLY WEEK SERVICES


HOLY WEEK SERVICES  (March 26 – April 1)
Monday – Ecumenical Service at St. Josephs RC Church @ 7pm
Wednesday – 11am Lenten Service AND 7pm Holy Eucharist
Maundy Thursday – 7pm Holy Eucharist and Stripping of the Altar
Good Friday-       Noon – family Lenten Service with Shawn Wiseman
                   1pm – Stations of the Cross
                   2pm – Solemn Liturgy
Holy Saturday - No service but the Church will be open all day for you to gather for your own quiet reflections and prayers.
Easter Sunday – 7am – Holy Communion BCP followed by a Breakfast in the Fellowship Room
                   - 10:30am – Holy Eucharist

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our Bounden Duty

Our Bounden Duty
"Accept this our bounden duty and service..."
Who wants to hear of BOUNDEN DUTY today? This is the stuff of those under military command, or contractual obligation. The duty is a must do, that conveys the perception of an external force, willingly or unwillingly to be accepted. But certainly it is an onerous, burdensome matter impinging upon my time: "Do I have to?", gets verbally expressed or thought.
Nothing could be further from the truth of bounden duty as written in the prayer after communion in the Book of Common Prayer. The Cambridge dictionary says 'bounden duty' is "something you feel you must do.". One struggles to understand the word 'feel' as if it could be some difficult or undefinable emotion compelling the will, something perhaps irrational.
 The Dictionary of Oxford English Idioms says of 'bounden duty ', "a responsibility regarded by yourself or others as obligatory." this is in my opinion a more accurate description of the phrase : something obligatory, something that is required of a person. There is nothing irrational about our bounden duty to God, or our fellow man. (Indeed, to be fully awake in one's  intellectual and emotional capacities towards God and our fellow man IS to be fully human in the very best sense of what it means to be human.)
In the context of the Gospel of our Lord, as witnessed in the Scriptures and the Church through the generations, 'bounden duty ' is the training ground that leads us towards the fullness of humanity: the virtuous redeemed human. Jesus says, "for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospels will save it.
Now, if I understand love in the Gospel sense of the word, as witnessed in Jesus Christ, it it is to desire the good of the other. One must lose themselves for the good of the other. Jesus did this on the Cross. He lost himself for us. He loved us to the point of death, even death upon a cross.
In another place he says, " Can you drink the cup that I will drink? " The cup of suffering or, "Father, take this cup from me, yet not my will.". These phrases express 'bounden duty' so very well. Love, self-emptying love, sacrificial love, is the driving force of this virtue driven phrase, which trains, nurtures, prunes, and drives to maturity the spiritual fruit. Those desiring to be disciples of Christ embrace 'bounden duty ' with joy because it expresses love in thought, word, and deed.
Only the one who desires to please God enters fully into their bounden duty. They weigh not their merits. They rationally, faithfully, and willfully respond to the love of God witnessed in Christ Jesus and give their lives.
Love so amazing, so divine
demands my life, my soul, my all.
This is BOUNDEN DUTY!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Repentance



TRUE REPENTANCE

As I’ve noted before, a word or phrase from the Daily Office sometimes reaches out and grabs me by the heart. Or rather, it can feel like the prayers of the Church grab me by the beard, as Joab grabbed Amasa, feigning familiar friendship but running me right through the gut (2 Sam. 20:8-10). And as a sharp, piercing sword that separates soul from spirit, the word true before repentance in the Office’s absolution caught me full stop one morning (1979 BCP, p. 42).
What would it mean for my repentance to be true, as opposed to some other kind with which I might be all too familiar? What does it demand of me?
True repentance demands my cooperation in the midst of God’s graceful work. The Office’s absolution begins and ends, and properly so, with God’s pure gift. “Absolution and remission of sin,” as I’ve written before, is something we cannot do or procure for ourselves. We come to God with filthy hands, greased with sin. Attempting to wash off “the sins that cling so closely” (Heb. 12:1) would produce much the same effect as when my youngest son, caked from head to toe in mud, tried to clean himself off with a hose. Each time he would clean one hand he’d use it to grab the hose and then it was soiled with the dirt from the other hand. In the end, he managed more of a spreading of mud than a real cleaning from it. He needed help.
Priests illustrate and live out this truth every time they celebrate the Sacrament, as an acolyte pours water over their hands in the ablution. I teach my acolytes that before I assume the place of Christ for the sake of the community in celebrating the Eucharist, they assume the place of Christ for me when they pour the blessed water of forgiveness over my fingers. It makes an impression.
In an even more explicit way, “the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit” prayed for in the absolution is not something we can acquire or earn. Grace and consolation go beyond even the notion of a divine gift: they are God himself, made present in us. Appearing appropriately at the conclusion of the absolution, the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and the concomitant indwelling of Christ himself is our goal. The Office guides us from the beginning of sanctification in God’s graceful action on our souls to sanctification’s end: moving from prison to freedom, from sorrow to joy, toward communion with the blessed Trinity.
But again, what of the middle part of the prayer of absolution: “true repentance and amendment of life”? This part demands our cooperation in what the Fathers called a synergeia with the Holy Spirit. We must be willing to see ourselves truly and with unflinching courage. This stage of repentance corresponds to the painful task of examining a wound: pressing on it, opening it, even inflaming it as one searches for foreign matter that could spark an infection later.
When I was young, my parents would use a needle and rubbing alcohol to dig out a splinter in my finger or foot. As one who seeks to leave childish things behind (cf. 1 Cor. 13:11), I must now have the courage to root out sinful thoughts and habits that will only fester if allowed to remain. God may reveal them for what they are, but I must confront and defeat them, exercising a will created in the image of God’s freedom.
True repentance means I must be merciless with myself — “judge yourselves, lest ye yourselves be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31) — to prevent a wound in the flesh or soul from poisoning my spiritual heart. What I watch, what I say, how I behave: all of it must be painfully examined by truth spoken in Jesus’ love. This is how one may construe the saying that one must “pluck out an eye” or “cut off a limb,” if it causes one to stumble (Matt. 5:29-30). True repentance is effected and demonstrated by amendment of life — real change in how one lives.
We must present even the best parts of ourselves for examination. Yes, Christ would have us amend even that which makes us “successful” in the world! We must examine what is precious to us, what is apparently our strength. Every part of us must be radically amended, pruned, amputated, if we are to be fruitful branches of the one true Vine (John 15:1-6).
True repentance takes such courage. I cannot say that I have it: we may witness it only in a few, such as the saints. But repentance requires us to acknowledge the depth of the painful interior martyrdom that cooperation with the Holy Spirit requires.
True repentance calls us to amend ourselves all the way down to where Christ dwells in us, all the way down to where the Holy Spirit groans in our agony with all the spiritual forces of wickedness. And if the truth should cause us to despair, if this sort of reckoning should seem to take us down even to depths of hell itself, if the amendment required proves beyond our power, the Church’s prayers do not leave us comfortless. The Holy Spirit himself will come there — especially there, always there — to console us and present us to Christ our Savior, that he may deliver us from where he has gone before. Even to the hour of our death and the end of the age, let it be so.
Fr. Rob Price is the rector of St. Dunstan’s, Houston.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Prayer for the acceptance of God’s will

O Lord, I do not know what to ask of You.
You alone know what are my true needs.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me.
I do not dare to ask either for a cross or for consolation.
I can only wait on You.
My heart is open to You.
Visit and help me, for the sake of Your great mercy.
Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will and Your unsearchable ways.
I offer myself as a sacrifice to You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray You Yourself in me. Amen.
                                -Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

From: HERE

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Surrounded with fullness of living Food, you allow yourself to starve




Advice from Mother Theresa to Malcolm Muggeridge who was struggling with the offences of the institutional church before he finally converted to Roman Catholicism.

"One reason for my hesitating so long before becoming a Catholic was my disappointment at some of the human elements I saw in the Catholic Church.  In spite of the following letter from Mother Theresa I still held back, and a number of years went by before I could make up my mind.

“I think, dear friend,” she wrote, “I understand you better now. I am afraid I could not answer to your deep suffering.  I don’t know why, but you are to me like Nicodemus (who came to Jesus under cover of night), and I’m sure the answer is the same: ‘Unless you become a little child…”
“I am sure you will understand beautifully everything – if you would only become a little child in God’s hands.  Your longing for God is so deep, and yet he keeps Himself away from you.  He must be forcing Himself to do so, because He loves you so much as to give Jesus to die for you and for me.  Christ is longing to be your Food.  Surrounded with fullness of living Food, you allow yourself to starve.
“The personal love Christ has for you is infinite – the small difficulty you have regarding the Church is finite. Overcome the finite with the infinite.  Christ has created you because He wanted you.  I know what you feel – terrible longing, with dark emptiness – and yet He is the one in love with you.  I do not know if you have seen these few lines before, but they fill and empty me:

My God, my God, what is a heart
That Thou should’st so eye and woo,
Pouring upon it all Thy heart
As if Thou had’st nothing else to do?"

From "Conversion: The Spiritual Journey of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim," by Malcolm Muggridge

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent: More than Dust



A meditation I wrote for our Diocesan Executive Meeting December 9, 2014

Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) was all the rage in the news recently.  The European Space Agency out-did themselves by rendezvousing the Rosetta Satellite with the comet and then executing a landing on it.   The lander had a more difficult surface to land upon than anticipated – it was thick with dust and the ice was more like concrete.  Looking at pictures from the space agency one could see that the comet was comprised of two balls of ice and dust, held together by a miniscule amount of gravity.  It was covered with dust, but yet they hoped to find the building blocks of life.  It reminded me of the fact that we are made of stardust.  As one astronomer wrote:
“The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way they could get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”
Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing
We are but dust!  Nothing new here; nothing new there – just dust.  There might be things of interest in dust, but there is no meaning in dust, or colliding balls of dust, or complicated gatherings of dust.  It is just dust.  Interesting dust.
But God has spoken into the dust
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103.14
 “…the dust of death.”  Psalm 22.15
“What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?  Psalm 30.9
All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.  Psalm 22.29
The Lord has breathed life into the dust, He has shone His light from above, as it were, and we are thus.  This is the story of our faith.  But it is more than a story, more than a mere philosophical meta-narrative of human thought and imagination, created to construct meaning out of the stardust.  It is the story of revelation, of the divine creation and restoration, to lift us from the ‘dust of death’ to the life of God.
Into the darkness of dust and dead stars the Lord breathed life, and thus meaning into existence. 
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4              What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?  Psalm 8.3,4
The advent of Christ restored meaning, purpose, and hope, to help us to live as we are meant to live: truly human, in love and union with God, and in love and union with each other.
The Star over Bethlehem is for the whole world.  The Breath of Pentecost is for the whole world.  They call us out of the dust of death, darkness, and meaninglessness.  They call us to truth, goodness, and beauty.  They call us to peace with God and each other.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.  Isaiah 9.2

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77             To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78             Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79             To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1.76-79


"So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today?” says the philosopher and physicist.  No, never!  Let us forever proclaim the Gospel of Peace on earth, goodwill to all.  Let us forever remember Jesus, our light and life, indeed the light and life of the world.

O Morning Star, splendour of the light eternal and bright Sun
of righteousness: come and enlighten all who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.
Lord Jesus, come soon!