Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Hard to be Humble

“Humility is, when the other person is at fault, for us to do a bow to him saying, ‘Forgive me, my brother, I am sorry!’ before he has time to seek forgiveness. This should not seem difficult and burdensome to you. It is nothing in comparison to what Christ the Master did for us. Before the angels He stooped down and did a bow from heaven to earth; ‘He bowed the heavens and came down’ (Ps. 17:9) – God to men! Whereas you turn the world upside-down so that you don’t say one ‘sorry’! So then, where is your humility? When you humble yourself, everyone will seem saintly to you; when you are proud, everyone will seem bothersome and bad.

~Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Thanks to Christ in our Midst

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Return to the Daily Office

Many of us clergy know of the Daily Office. I often wonder how diligent we are in keeping the rhythm of the prayers. That said, I wonder too, of how diligent the people of the Church are in Daily prayer and Scripture reading - not that I have done a good job in teaching it, and holding the benefits of its practice up to the people. In honesty, I have to say that I am generally very good about saying the Morning Office, so much so that I know most of it by memory. I am not so good at the Evening Office. I came across this wonderful reflection by Bishop Anthony Burton, who used to be the Bishop of Saskatchewan before taking up a new position in Dallas, Texas. From A Tribe Called Anglican, specifically HERE

When I first started this Blog I had the daily readings listed along the side of the postings. I shall try to return to the practice for those who might like to avail themselves of the resource. Lord have mercy, Brian+

Some thoughts about the daily office by Bishop Anthony Burton:

Prayer is a participation in the priestly ministry of Christ and is not a consequence of some external rule but springs from the very nature of our vocation as Christians. It is not the preserve of the clergy but is a vocation common to clergy and laity alike. This is a Biblical teaching which the Reformers understood well: it underlies Cranmer’s insistence that the daily work of prayer be taken out of the monastery and placed in the parish church.

Its daily character also underscores this high view of the priesthood of all believers. Time itself is ordered, sanctified and offered through Christ to the Father. Hooker had this to say:

“Now as nature bringeth forth time with motion, so we by motion have learned how to divide time, and by the smaller parts of time both to measure the greater and to know how long all things else endure.” (Laws, V, lxix.2)The whole Prayer Book is designed to enable the laity to fulfil their priestly vocation of prayer: the responses are to be returned by the people and not by the choir only; the prayers are generally short and contain one thought; they are in a language that all can understand; the laity are exhorted to receive their communion; the rubrics demand audibility and visible ceremonial…

and this:

The offices of the Prayer Book proceed from the belief that baptism issues in a vocation to pray in two ways. As a member of the Church, the body of Christ, we are to pray the prayers of the whole Church, publicly if possible, otherwise privately.

We are not members of the Body only at “The Gathering of the Community”. As an individual Christians, we should also have a domestic prayer life, which pertains to the particular needs and circumstances of our life as individuals and, if we have one, as part of a family. No amount of extemporary petition, barked from the back of the Church on Sundays can substitute for this. The distinction between public and private is a problem for the modern world generally. The Prayer Book tradition can help us recover the distinction.

The Prayer Book as a system of spiritual discipline is invaluable in helping us to grow to maturity in Christ. It continually reminds us that the good of the Kingdom of Heaven lies not in the devices and desires of our own hearts but in living in and by the Word of God. And it helps us to grow in community in the Body of Christ by enabling us to pray and adore in the Gospel in common.

Charles Simeon wrote that “The finest sight short of heaven would be a whole congregation using the prayers of the liturgy in the true spirit of them.” The recovery of that spirit has never been needed more than today, and yet if conferences like these are any indication, we have reason to hope that the golden age of Anglican spirituality lies not in the past but in, God willing, His the future.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting Ready for LENT

Reminder of some older posts on the theme of LENT

The Agesimas

Lenten Discipline

Earnest Prayer

I Also found this podcast by Matthew Gallaton helpful this morning. He speaks form an Eastern Orthodox perspective, but he gets to the matter of being a prodigal. HERE

Blessing to all as we prepare for a holy Lent. Brian+

Lost and Found


1. Theology is not a static set of understandings which are always true in every age and every place.
2. Theology, in order to be vital living thing, must always be open to re-thinking, and re-configurations
3. The time in which we live is a new time and requires new formulations of the Christian Faith
From: "Should being Baptised be a Pre-requisite for Receiving Communion" by Yme Woensdregt in LITURGY CANADA (Issue 50, volume XIII


The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith:

[We believe] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race; in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord and God and Savior and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love — some from the beginning [of their lives], and others from [the day of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.

As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these — for no one is greater than the Master; nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.

Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202 AD), in “Against Heresies” 1:10:1-2

Monday, February 21, 2011

Remembering God

Lately I have been preaching and reflecting upon the Remembrance of God, and that such remembrance is vital in spiritual transformation. I came across these thoughts regarding the remembrance of God and the use of the Jesus Prayer in aiding the exercise. Brian+

From The Orthodox Way of Life

The true path to union with God is one that involves the continual remembrance and God and always acting on the guidance of our conscience. It is only in this way that we can do as we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." One of the most fundamental practices to make this a reality in ones life is prayer. Saint Theophan says prayer is "a spiritual barometer for self-observation." In prayer we find out how "high or low our spirit has gone." A sound prayer life involves regular morning and evening prayers. This is supplemented with the ongoing repetition in our minds of the Jesus Prayer so that we attain continual remembrance of God through unceasing prayer.

Saint Theophan offers us some advice about prayer.
He says,

The essence of prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God...You must train yourself in remembrance of God, and the means for doing this... is short prayer, in which you continually repeat the thought, "Lord have mercy!" "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!"

In addition we need to train ourselves to focus on pray and not to let our minds wander. Saint Theophan address this as follows:

Make this your rule: always be with the Lord in mind and heart; never allow the thoughts to wander, but when they do, call them back again and force them to stay at home in the house of the heart and speak with the most sweet Lord. Once you have made this rule, you must force yourself to carry it out faithfully.

My own spiritual father gave me this simple advice when I discussed this common problem with him, "Just decide to reject them! When you do, they will stop." Prayer involves giving your full attention to God alone.

From my personal experience, the practice of the Jesus Prayer in conjunction with controlling the thoughts is the essence of a fundamental spiritual practice that will lead you continually closer to God. Everything will follow with ease once you have engaged in a regular practice of the Jesus Prayer. Once the mind has been conditioned to remember the prayer in all situation, then God will be in your presence and there is time for you to listen to your conscience and to act with wisdom instead of passion.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Candlemas vs Groundhog Day

This is an article that I wrote for the Anglican Life publication (Newfoundland and Labrador's Anglican paper). It will appear in the March issue

Rev. Greg Mercer recently (February 2011 Issue) presented his impassioned displeasure of a Biblical literalist publication dropped into many mailboxes throughout the Province, that denounced Christmas as Biblically unjustifiable and even pagan in origins: thus true Christians should not celebrate it. I couldn’t help but to connect the whole affair with the recent celebration of Groundhog Day. That might seem to be a strange twist, but hear me out.
Many of our parents would be able to relate to us this old poem, or some closely related version of it:
If Candlemas Day is cold and glum, the rest of Winter is yet to come.
If Candlemas Day is fair and fine, the worst of Winter is left behind.
Not that long ago, Candlemas day was what today’s Groundhog Day is, but that the day, in folklore had become a predictor of the weather is not important. What needs to be noted is that February 2 was known in the mind of the people as Candlemas Day, NOT Groundhog Day. In other words, the day was rooted in Christian memory. Now it has been ‘paganized,’ for no good purposes than a silly news story and mid-winter humor.
Candlemas, in its origins, is rooted in the development of the Church Year. It is exactly forty days after Christmas, and celebrates the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Purification of the Virgin Mary. The feast became known as Candlemas after the development of the Blessing of the Candles to be used in the Church for the coming year. This arose from the Gospel reading for the Feast Day where St. Simeon says that Jesus would be, “…a Light to lighten the Gentiles.” Celebrating such an event is of far greater benefit to those of the Christian faith than wondering if a groundhog in the United States will cast a shadow.
I agree with the Biblical Literalists that Christmas is not established by the Scriptures, but because they do not have a developed understanding of the living witness of the Body of Christ, His Church, they cannot understand the validity and importance of the Nativity Feast in the Life of the Church and Christian formation. Any brief research of the origins of Christmas will reveal that it was a very deliberate placement by the Church of the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at the same time of the Roman Pagan festival of the Sun. Thus Christmas is not a feast of Pagan origins: it is a supreme example of how a Christian Feast can and did replace a pagan feast. The Church Year with its rhythms of Feasts and Fasts developed very quickly throughout Christianity, and for the express purpose of keeping Christ and the Biblical witness in the minds and hearts of those who would come to Christ in and through His Church. Let us understand that when we forget God and His Christ we become pagans, or worst, but when we remember Him we are transformed. Knowing this the Church very deliberately overshadowed a pagan festival with a Christian Festival, and good on the Church!
That being said, the Biblical Literalists are making a good point in noting that Christmas is very quickly becoming pagan, not unlike Candlemas Day is now Groundhog Day. And this is because we are forgetting Christ as revealed in the Church and the Bible. As Anglican’s I believe we must return to the roots of our Biblical and Liturgical witness, to deliberately engage in the Feasts and Fasts of the Church because they help us to remember Christ, and thus be transformed into His likeness, and light.
Lord have Mercy, Brian