Thursday, December 23


So, I was reading a friend's blog wherin he expostulates at some length about matters liturgical and how that, despite the greatest of efforts and best of intents, it appears that the mystery of the Divine has little relation to the liturgical orders and can, in fact, slip into the service not unlike the proverbial thief in the night and catch all those who are attentive unawares. 

How, the attentive unawares? 

Quite so, my dear friends and colleagues for those who are attentive are at least aware of the existence of the Divine within the sacraments as a matter of fact and proof, not theological debate.  Unawares, I say, for there is rarely (if ever any) harbinger for such a mystical visitation.  For those who are not attentive, the entire spectacle occurs in front of them just the same, whether or not the proceedings are recognized by those in the gallery.  In any event, analysis regarding such matters appear to indicate that they occur in nearly direct inverse correlation to the levels of  rigidity of liturgical purposes.

To put in terms so simple and blunt that even the most coarsely educated could divine, the more fluid the universe, the more opportunities the Divine will show Herself to those who are paying attention.  In worship, His presence will be felt more often the more often we give Her room to be felt.

Working against this is that we, individually and collectively, have been steeped so strongly in a culture which demands instant gratification, uniformity and rationalistic predictability.  We tend to crave order and structure and are quite commonly creatures of habit.   Further, we seem to forget that all of those things are unnatural.  The natural world is filled with things that are unpredictable, irrational, different and slow to fruition.  Human beings come to mind relatively instantly.

If we leave a bit more room in our lives for chaos, if we observe a ritual of life which is flexible and robust, being able and even willing to change as needed, it has been my experience that the Divine is made manifest more often, more strongly and more permanently. 

If that doesn't really make all that much sense, talk to the Boss.  I just work here.  :)

Happy Christmas to all and may the unexpected joy visit you this holiday time.

Tuesday, December 21


I am.

So very grateful.

A single act of unexpected kindness.

Bless, the Lord, my soul and bless God's Holy name.

Thanks be to God.

Wheel a mile in my chair, then we'll talk

One of the blogs I read is from a biomedical engineer who has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.  Her blog has been a very interesting read for some time, as she sees the world differently than most folk do and that difference is quite helpful to me better understanding our society.

In her most recent post, she talks about how experiencing disability is vital to helping develop coping mechanisms.  If you want to truly understand wheelchair accessibility, you need to sit in that chair for a few days.  No amount of degrees or fancy book-learnin will replace the reality check that you can't take a wheelchair up that incline, despite what the textbook says.

Apply this thought to pastoral care.   Tell me, Father Smith.....
  • When your wife of 20 years died, how did you cope with the loneliness?
  • How did you muddle through your teenaged son's addiction to drugs? 
  • When your boyfriend dumped you for a girl half your age, how did you deal with the rejection? 
  • When you got pregnant at 15, how did you choose between your own future and the future of the baby?
  • How did you handle coming out to your parents? To your friends? To your church?

Reading about fishing doesn't make you a fisherman.  Studying parenting or marriages doesn't make you a parent (or married).  Christ ate with the outcasts, walked with the infirm and touched the unclean.  This gave him perspective, a near instinctual understanding of what these people needed and wanted beyond the obvious.  Our society today is different than 50 years ago, let alone 2 millenia ago.  To be able to minister, we need to understand.

If we're going to going to make the world a better place, we need to wheel a mile in another persons' chair.

Monday, December 20

Pulp Fiction and prayer. I explain.

Welcome inside Tim's brain.  Mind the gap.

How often have you been in church and heard the prayer go something like this...."oh gracious and merciful Lord, all-knowing and ever-loving creator....."  and then it drones on, reminding said deity of his proper place, the nature of salvation and so on.  Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be on the other end of that conversation?  This particular screed was triggered by the part in the Eucharist where we all, as a group, say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.  Only say the word and I shall be healed."

And this is when one of my favourite scenes from Pulp Fiction comes in.  This would be from the 'Bonnie situation'...which I would rename 'the Bennie Situation'.  I shall paraphrase the exact exchange.

Benedict XVI: Mmmm! Mercy, Lord! This is some serious healinz! Usually, me and Georgie would be happy with some Manischewitz right, but he springs this serious gourmet salvation on us! You are truly incredible, did you know this?

God: Knock it off, Bennie.

Benedict XVI: [pause] What?

God: I don't need you to tell me how good I am, okay? I'm the one who is Omniscient. I know how good I am.  Even the devils bow down to me and acknowledge how good I am.  But you know what's on my mind right now? It AIN'T the salvation in this cup, it's the hypocrite in my Church.

Benedict XVI: Oh, God, don't even worry about that...

God: [interupting] No, No, No, No, let me ask you a question. When you came into communion with me, did you notice a sign out in front of My Church that said "Old Hypocrite Protection"?

Benedict XVI: Lord, you know I ain't seen no...

God: [cutting him off again; getting wrathful] Did you notice a sign out in front of My House that said "Old Hypocrite Protection"?

Benedict XVI: [pause] No. I didn't.

God: You know WHY you didn't see that sign?

Benedict XVI: Why?

God: 'Cause it ain't there, 'cause protectin' hypocrites ain't my business, that's why!

At this point, Jehovah goes all Old Testament on their a$$ and such.  At least, that's how it works out in my head. point is that we tend to pray as if God is some dottering old man who needs to be reminded at every turn how good, powerful and merciful he is and that we're not jews, but under that 'new contract' which doesn't require blood sacrifices or circumcision. 

"Oh Riiiiiiight.  NEW Testament God now...less with the smiting and more with the salvation.  I recall sending the boy out for something, that must have been it.  Probably important, that is.  I should write that down somewhere.  Now where's me spectacles...."

Yes, yes....I realise that this is all silly and the point is not to remind God, but rather to remind the laity about the nature of God, etc. etc. but please....

"Knock it off, my dear cleric. I don't need you to tell me how awesome my God is, okay?  I'm the one who's received salvation from Him (not you).  I know how awesome my God is. "

That's why we're there in the first place.  Don't treat God like a some senile deity and don't treat the Body of Christ like we're all little children.

Just sayin.

Advent..Lent...homophones, at the least.

A common thread in the last few weeks has been that Advent is about pausing, reflecting and preparation.  Specifically, it's about slowing down, consideration and making ready for the birth of Yeshua bin Yosef, scion of David and of Jesse.

The preparation part is something I recall from childhood, but this reflecting and slowing down thing...that's Lenten-tide stuff.  And yet, they both have similar roots.  Both are times 'out of ordinary' spent in preparation for 'the big thing'.  Both are opportunities to become more deeply engaged and find a closer union with the Divine.

Winter, particularly this part of winter, is about quiet reflection and planning.  The chores of harvest are done and the groundwork for next spring is 1-2 months away (mayhap further, depending on where you live).  There's mending and husbandry work to be done (because something is ALWAYS needing mending and the animals need tending to every day), but there is a lot more time to reflect on what's happened this past year and years previous...and look ahead towards the future.

On a personal level, I know that something's brewing.  Like a big storm, I can feel it coming.  I have no clue as to what that storm will bring or what things will be like afterwords, but my hunch is that nothing will be the same.

"Bless the Lord, my soul; and bless God's holy name.
Bless the Lord, my soul; who leads me into life."

Friday, December 17


I would ask for prayers and kind thoughts this season.
Pray for those in leadership (both mundane and religious), and know that most are trying to do what they think is best, given the limited information and perspective that they have.

Pray for the Body of Christ, that they may hold onto their faith, do the good work and not conflate the finger (the Church) for the moon (the Message).

Pray for us all, that we may always be grateful for what we have and never be resentful for what others may have.

Last and least, I would ask for prayers for myself, dealing with a number of personal issues simultaneously (as such things are prone to do), the upshot of which is fighting off the Darkness of depression.  I know the Light is there, I just can't see my way out of this box I'm in right now and help would be appreciated.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison

Tuesday, December 14

Lessons from the saints - Saint Lucy

Saint Lucy is part of the cycle of early virgin-martyrs, girls who had converted to Christianity and preferred to be tortured/martyred in some pretty spectacular ways than go follow societal convention and have an arranged marriage to some heathen.

In Lucy's case, she denounced her 'pagan' bridegroom, who then ratted her out as a Christian to the authorities.  She was sentenced to forced prostitution, but was unmovable (even with a team of oxen).  At that point, she was tortured, including her eyes being gouged out and was martyred twice (attempted burning, which failed, and beheaded).

Associated with her is the legend that she worked with christians in the roman catacombs, wearing a wreath of candles so she could use both hands to help others.  Every year, the feast of St. Lucy is celebrated by scandanavian countries (as well as other, mostly european nations) on what used to be the solstice, as the humble lady of light (Lucy = Lucia = Lux = light) would defeat the darkness.

As neat as all that is, here is the crux of the matter.  We are in the midst of advent, awaiting the Christ, in the darkest time of the year.  For so many, there is financial uncertainty, personal angst and general gloom surrounding us (Seasonal Affective Disorder, anyone?) and it appears that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, only forever night.  Lucia serves as a harbinger of Christ's birth and reminds us that one candle is enough to keep the darkness at bay and when we cannot see the way ourselves, do not abandon hope and trust in God.

Saint Lucy, show us the way to Christmas.  Remind us that Christ is the light of the world and that the Holy Spirit will guide us through the labyrinth that is our world, seeing what we cannot, if we but ask for His light and Her guidance.  Santa Lucia, bring us light in those dark places. 

PS: I feel a fool.  Saint Lucy is one of my more favorite female saints and I have been so out of sorts that I TOTALLY missed her feast day, which was yesterday.  It is rather apt that I ask for her help as I have been in my own dark places as of late, fumbling about with so little success.

Monday, December 13

Novel concepts

There is an article in the BBC news today about a chap who is donating 1/3 of his income to charity.  What makes this of interest and worth talking about here is that he is not a multi-gazillionare like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates.  Toby Ord is a married academician who makes about $30,000/year.  He calculates that he will have given over $1.5million to charity over his lifetime.

He recognizes that his contribution share is more than most folks would be willing to do at the beginning.  So, he recommends, try a small amount, say 10% of your takehome.  By doing that, you will help others without a substantive impact to your overall ledger.

There are two things which make this work.  The first is figuring out how much it actually costs you to functionally live.  Moving out of your 4br home to a luxurious cardboard box is no more functionally living than having a 4br home for you and the missus. 

Just as important, he says, is to not buy things.  I realise that may sound horridly simplistic, but it's the truth of it.  Every time you see something in the shops, ask yourself "Do I need this more than a boy in Kenya needs a malaria net/girl in Brazil needs a TB shot/homeless person needs a hot meal tonight."  For the non-catholics among us who wish a less guilt-ridden approach, try this on for size. "Let me do without this for a week.  If I still must have it then, then I'll get it then."

Now, why on earth am I speaking about munnahz here on this blog?  Because he's suggesting a set of horridly radical notions.  To recognize one's means, be content to live within them and to freely give to others who are less fortunate than you asking nothing in return.  He's suggesting that people tithe, giving the funds directly to charitable organizations.

"There is no greater curse than wanting more than enough. There is no greater sin than greed. He who knows when enough is enough always has enough." - Tao Te Ching, 46

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain." I Tim. 6:10

In short, what Mr. Ord is recommending is a practical application of the spiritual which we have been raised to believe but, all to frequently, we fail in practice.

Friday, December 10

Baby-steps of faith

This morning's OT reading is from Isaiah:

"I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.

If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea;

Your descendants would be like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, Their name never cut off or blotted out from my presence.  "(Is. 48:17-19)

My translation...If you would just listen to me, it'll all go smooth. I've got ya covered.  Trust me.

Some days, that trust is hard.  Some days, it's hard to hear that voice and harder still to follow where you can't see your steps. It's never a question of intention, to be sure.  He is good and She is love and The Plan does work in the best interests of all (and that includes me and you).  But that leap into the darkness is still hard, especially some days.

 But that's the point of it, yes?

Wednesday, December 8

And now, a special message from our sponsor!

Lessons from the saints - the Immaculate Conception of the blessed virgin Mary

This is the next installment in my ongoing series known as "why Tim is a heretic".  This post very well may honk you off.  You've been warned.

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the infallible dogma that Christ followed in his mother's footsteps and was born free from the taint of Original Sin. Well, sorta.  You see, the idea that Christ was born without sin is not, in fact,  infallible doctrine via the Roman Church. The idea that Mary was born without sin is.

In any event, discussion the state of the Blessed Virgin's soul becomes a topic of some discussion in the 8th century, primarily in the Eastern Catholic faiths, and the feast of the Immaculate Conception is first celebrated in the Roman Catholic church in the 11th century (after the Roman Catholics split with the Eastern Catholics).  The growth of Mariology in the middle ages increased the prominence of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception until Pius IX declared the dogma to be infallible on December 8, 1854 (only one of two times the infallible card has been used).

I would note that there is no Scriptural basis for above mentioned dogma, though there is substantive Tradition which supports the idea that Mary was bathed in some form of Grace (the exact nature of which is debated) which caused her to be free from the taint of sin.

and.....this is where I get off the bus.  It is not that I disbelieve in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  In fact, it is really just the opposite.  I will explain.

You see, as I have stated much earlier in this blog, I do not hold the concept of Original Sin as being valid.     We are all made in Her image and carry within us the spark of the Divine.  We are the ones who walk away from God, not He from us.

If all mortal children are born without the taint of Original Sin, then the disposition of Mary's soul (and the soul of her firstborn son) at the moment of her conception and/or birth has not changed.  What has changed is underlying assumption that Mary (or the child) was born differently than you or I.  For Christ to be born without sin and yet be 'fully human', it would follow that we must also be born without sin. 

What happens after that is, fundamentally, our responsibility.

P.S. - These are things which I believe, but I am but me, a mortal man who can but barely see things physical in the here and now.  If you have reasons to believe differently, then express them.



Tuesday, December 7

Getting back to things

This weekend's gospel reading was from Mat. 3, wherein John the Baptist has some words for the priests.

"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (Mat. 3:7b-10)

There's a rant or three in there for the current hierarchy of most every christian denomination.  A tougher nut to crack is what our pastor mentioned on Saturday, which is a more general exhortation which is important for us all.  Nice thoughts don't feed bellies and the best of intentions won't keep someone warm at night.  This is the core of James' faith/works argument.  This is what Christ is going on about in Mat. 7 when he talks about building a house on sand or on bedrock.  If you hear and don't do, then the house is built on sand.  If you hear and do, then the house will stand.

Don't pontificate platitudes or dictate dogma about what should or should not be done, how people should or shouldn't act or any of that. 

Produce the good fruit or meet the axe. 

It's that simple.


Wednesday, December 1

An unexpected turn

I was going to say something today about the feast of St. Eligius, which honours the merovingian goldsmith and artisan whose skill in metal was only excelled by his devotion to the poor and love of God. 

Well I was.

Then I got linked to the video below and cried like a soppy sheila.

It's the first week of advent.

Great and wondrous things are coming.


Tuesday, November 30

sick...and tired.

No, I couldn't resist the Cosby reference.

So, yes...I'm sick.  Stupid cold and stupid sinus and icky. meh.  In five years it may not matter, but it's hard to convince me of that today. 

*makes trumpeting noise with nose/tissue*

I'm also tired.  Tired of reading about how senior leadership, both clerical and mundane, argue about power and control while the people suffer.  Tired of bickering over what song to play while the city burns down.

How do all of the arguments over a Covenant help the homeless here in the 'developed' world who froze to death last night? 

Does the battle over what adults (of any persuasion) do in the bedroom help them love their neighbour or does it further alienate and penalize them for being who and what God made them?

How do women in orders (or keeping them out of orders) help over half the world who 'make due' on less than 2 euros/day?

Does what the pope knew 10 years ago about sexual abuse matter to the 4 little kids who died of starvation in the time it took you to read this post?

I  apologize if I am whinging.  Put it down to being sick and tired.  It just seems to me that there's a lot of crowing about things which don't matter while our brothers and sisters are dying (literally and figuratively) at the front steps of our churches and homes.

"And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'" 

Wednesday, November 24

Ecumenical service

Tonight was our annual ecumenical Thanksgiving mass.  Got the chance to sing, which was nice.  We had members from 9 different churches (including our parish), with Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and UCC-folk celebrating along side us Ecumenical Catholics.

Rather than doing a watered down liturgy which neither offends nor satisfies, each congregation in the mix takes their turn annually, using the opportunity to show how much we are alike as well as what makes each different.As it was our turn this year, they got a slightly altered version of our normal liturgy with multiple pastors from different communities giving short reflections on the readings.

All in all, it was really nice and, I think, really sets the stage for tomorrow, which is Thanksgiving here in the US.

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, November 23


For those of you who just tuned in, I have been on hols for the past fortnight or so.  I had the opportunity to share time with Bill of Bilgrimage, which was delightful, to experience mass in a different parish (each parish in our communion has a unique and different expression of liturgy) which was wonderful, as well as spending time with family and friends, which is always nice.  

Well, mostly nice.  

That leads to today's readings and the odd looking drawing at right.  What you see there is a medieval Italian badge, known as an impresa, with the motto 'when the time is right'.

The first reading today is from the Apocalypse, wherein a pair of angels with sickles in turn harvest the grain and grapes of the earth "For the time to reap has come".

The gospel reading is from Luke 21 wherein Jesus prophesies the destruction of the Temple and the Great Diaspora which came to pass within a generation.  When asked when these things would happen, Jesus wouldn't say when and he said specifically to not listen to those who do.

It appears that there is timing going on in my personal life, a turning of seasons and changes in tide.  My partnership of nearly 6 years is over, almost all of my friendships have dissolved over the last 3-6 months and, apart from the topics of this blog, the things which have been of interest to me are linked to people who are no longer in my life and merely thinking of them leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Though I know and trust that He has it all in hand, I shan't lie.  I'm saddened and frustrated and feeling rather at a loss.  I so very much want to move on to what is next.  If this chapter is over, then I want to start the next.  We're all familiar with the passage from Ecclesiastes 3 about for everything being a season.  Recall verse 11, though, which wasn't quoted by The Byrds.

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end."

So...listen and wait for when the time is right.

Friday, November 12

Funny because it's true

This comic, drawn by the lovely and horribly talented D.C. Simpson, seems to capture the underlying gist of the hullabaloo about gays and christians today. The shame is that it was penned over six years ago and it still applies.

P.S. Still on holiday. Peace to all.

Thursday, November 4

Sounds of the gathering storm

This will be my last post for a bit.  I shall be on holiday soon and cannot say when I shall be able to post. I am also saddened and frustrated and more than a bit worn down by all the sound and fury.

On one hand, I hear the thundering of the prelates of an ancient church beating the shabby tattoo of tired doctrine in a desperate attempt to rally the faithful, their thrumming so out of step with the tempo of the day.

Echoing back is the rattling of sabres and ever-growing calls to action against this approaching cloudwall of intolerance and hatred, these very cries filled to the brim with vitriol and stinging rebuke from a cadre of those who do not pass muster in the church's army.

Between these two can be heard the shuffling of feet as the confused faithful quietly flee from the burgeoning tempest,  the bleating of  skittish sheep who have been told to be quiet as their betters dice for the flock and the howls of wolves who rapine the land while the shepherds stand by, afraid of being bitten let alone laying down their lives for those in their charge.

Most of all, to me, I hear the silence of those poor lost lambs who the shepherds led to slaughter.  I hear the parents who have lost their children, their soft sobs writ large against the stunning reticence of Mother Church who has abandoned her children.  I hear the light patter, a rain of tears from the saints who weep over the gravely ill Body of Christ for which they have freely lived and died.

In the midst of this cacophony of clamor and calamity, surrounded by a whirlwind of dread and doubt, there is a whisper which no-one seems to hear, a still, small Voice which comes from nowhere and everywhere.

"Have faith, my child.  I shall not abandon you."

There are days when it is so very hard, beloved Father, but your Son gave all for others, even for me.  How can I do any less?

May our Lord bless and keep us all.

Wednesday, November 3

Francis Xavier and Ratzinger's church.

Reading through the hagiography of todays saints brings me to Francis Xavier and to a lot of other things which are swirling about.

As many would know, Francis Xavier was one of the original founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was one of their principal missionaries.  In the course of a decade, he brought Christianity to southeast Asia (China specifically excepted), baptised tens of thousands etc. etc. etc.

Writing to his Superior General, Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier says:

"The country is so utterly barren and poor. The native Christians have no priests. They know only that they are Christians. There is nobody to say Mass for them; nobody to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Commandments of God’s Law. ... The older children would not let me say my Office or eat or sleep until I taught them one prayer or another. Then I began to understand: “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” - from letters to Saint Ignatius of Loyola from Saint Francis Xavier

So, Francis Xavier's  Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ignorant, poor savages believers who hunger to know about God.  It belongs to a group comprised entirely of the laity, not the Vicar of Christ and his corporate clerical colossus.  Obviously, this doesn't fit AT ALL with the current corporate ecclesiastical model of the Roman Church, but the current Pontiff is looking to 'reform' the church, you know.  He wants to make it a holier and 'purer' place for the faithful, devoid of relativists, luke-warm catholics and others who don't pass muster.  But all of this talk about 'right-sizing' the Roman Church, winnowing it to separate the chaff from the chaste, is aimed towards producing a new and improved (or, one might say, old and improved) Catholic church.

But, how can you have an universal church...a 'catholic' church....if you exclude people?  If we take Paul at his word in Galatians that we're "all one in Christ Jesus", then how can you say that wimmin-folk are 'less' than men?  If we're all made in the image and likeness of God, then that means God is gay, too.  If Christ can sit and break bread with both the wretched refuse AND the priests and righteous, then why is it so hard for his 'stand-ins' (the priests) to do the very same?

I know many people who have been welcomed to Christ's Table and yet are turned away by the maître d’ and the waiters.  There are so many who are good enough for God but not pure enough for the Bulldog's 'leaner and meaner' church.  Xavier's vision of the Kingdom of Heaven doesn't have waiters, but neither did Christ's church.  

Tuesday, November 2

Lessons from the saints - All Souls Day and suicide

Today is the feast of All Souls, the companion to yesterday's feast of All Saints.  It is important to recall the discussion about the communion of saints and the Body of Christ, for it impacts what we talk about here. If All-saints is about those of the Body who search and strive, then All-Souls is for those who are no less worthy of love, but are lost or misguided.

During my youth, I was taught that the only sin which was unforgivable was suicide.  I mean, for everything else, no matter how terrible, you could realise the error of your ways, be contrite and reconcile.  But with suicide, you're dead. Done.  End of story.  Guaranteed damnation.

As I said previously, the concept of a unified Body of Christ is foreign to protestantism and the idea of connectivity with all creation (though common in other faith systems) is quite outside my old conception of Christianity, being something I normally associate with the Eastern philosophies. 

Heh...and then along came Billy.   This is where all of my study and reflection ends and my leap of faith begins.

I've written at some length about him and the great similarities between us.  See, I had read about this communion of souls and the belief in prayer being able to affect the disposition of the soul after death, but it was, shall we say, theory.  I had never prayed for the soul of anyone, let alone someone I never knew.  Yet, I felt how vitally important it is, to ask for our Lord, whose mercy is infinite and love without bounds, to show those gifts to one who felt so judged, unloved and rejected that they could bear living no welcome His child home.

I...have no proof of the efficacy of my prayers, but I will say that it is my firm belief that after several days of assiduous and ardent supplication that I felt my request was heard and answered.

This day is about praying with our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ for those we know are lost, who have strayed from the path and yet are not beyond salvation.  In the last two months alone, at least 16 teens have, due to bullying and social pressure, taken their own lives. May, Oh Lord, you grant unto them your infinite forgiveness, mercy and love so that they may be at peace in your warm embrace.  Grant these things to all your lost children, I pray merciful Father, and even unto me.

Kyrie Elieson

Christe Elieson

Kyrie Elieson

Monday, November 1

Lessons from the saints - special all saints edition

Today is the Feast of All Saints.  As someone who has a keen interest in hagiography, I will admit that when I first approached this feast day some years ago, it was with a certain amount of disdain. 

You see, reading through the hagiographic accounts, there are literally thousands of saints.  Then you have the '...and companions'.  That would be the unnamed tens of thousands who walked in faith beside the people we know, endured and suffered as they did, lived and died without even so much as a footnote in history - known only to God. November 1 is the feast of '...and companions'.

Those companions have no names to invoke, no stories to inspire, no cause to intercede for.  As that was the focus of my studies and my understanding of hagiography, I did not appreciate the value of this day.

There is this thing, you see, called the Communion of Saints, which I never had really grocked.  Growing up protestant, we didn't really believe in saints, so the idea of the Communion of Saints was really weird and out there (despite it being in the Apostle's Creed).  My, how things have changed since then.

I understand now (or at least have a good inkling) how we are all connected in the Body of Christ, that death is not a barrier between the members of the Body and that the word 'saint' in the New Testament/Early-church understanding means a member of the Body...a real believer and seeker of the Kingdom.  I have a clue now that the Body isn't some abstract and cold idea, but is real and alive...that choir invisible really is there, an ephemeral cheering squad urging us on by example and by exhortation to be better, to do better and to finish the race as they have before us.  They were just like us, they did it and so can we.

So, today is the feast day for all who are of the Body, the believers and seekers of the Kingdom, whether in our choir or in the choir invisible.  It is our feast day, the feast day of the '...and companions.'

Thanks be to God

Friday, October 29

Roman church and teh Dignity folk.

In a comment made over at In Exsilium, a fella said that gay folks were intimately aware of their own failings because they are brought up at every opportunity and, because of that, the Dignity masses were more grace-filled than pre-V2 masses.  The comment pretty instantly brought to mind last Sunday's gospel reading, the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

'Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’  But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." '(Luke 18:9-14)

Now, I can make a wonderful homily linking homosexuals with tax collectors, but that's where I get stuck.  Matthew (and the dude in the parable) chose to be a tax collector.  Jimmy and Susie didn't choose to be gay.  They are no less or more prone to sin, to failure than the tax collector OR the pharisee in the story.  How does that go again, Paul? "All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God".

That said, I will make a link between the Pharisee and the modern church.  The Pharisees were holy lawyers, pious men who studied the scriptures and understood the law intimately.  Further, they believed in ensuring purity of faith in the face of secular assimilation.  In scripture, they are quick to judge others.

Both men in this parable believe and pray.  The upright man who is admired by the community is no more or less righteous by his nature than the morally questionable man who is an anathema in polite society.  Performing rites and making external shows of faith do nothing for the disposition of one's soul. Religion isn't about you or what others think about you.

It's about Him.

It is about loving Him and loving your neighbour. 

That is what religion is about.

Random thoughts

If ordination marries the priest to the Church, does that mean that....

...the Church approves of divorce via defrocking priests?

...deacons are the BFF of Christ?

...since the Church is also the Bride of Christ, God is ok with polyamoury?

...the Pope is the Mother-in-Law who must be obeyed?

This is the sort of thing that happens when I'm allowed to wander the blogosphere unattended.

Thursday, October 28


It's funny, after a fashion.  The more I read about current events, the more ambivalent I become.

On the one hand, there is part of me which is filled with both rage and sadness.  Anger steeped in righteous indignation at those who would cause my brothers and sisters to stumble, who would spew the spittle-flecked invective of intolerance and would feign the power and usurp the authority of the Divine.  As hot as my rage burns against these people, it is cooled by the tears I shed for those who suffer under these people, for those honest and truth-seeking individuals who are misguided and misdirected, turned away and shunned.  Most of all for those who mistake a church for God and, as they are rejected by the former believe that they are rejected by the latter.

And this anger and sorrow leads me to sounding like Habakkuk. 

"How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?  I cry out to You, “Violence!” yet You do not save.

Why do You make me see iniquity,and cause me to look on wickedness?  Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises.

Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld.  For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted."

In short, "DUDE! WTF?!?!"(insert wild gesticulations and finger pointing).   No, my version is not nearly so prosaic, but is a better reflection of my conversations with the Divine and the personal nature of the relationship.

To which the Lord God YHWH replies,

"This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.   If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed."

Which, in my parlance ends up being. "Dude....chill.  Trust me, I got it covered." As silly and stupid sounding as that may seem, when Dad says that, the effect is the proverbial Balm of Gilead.  All of a sudden, it makes sense and things are in focus.  Of course.  Everything will be fine.  Relax.

He's aware...and knows what's best...and has it all under control.  Just trust Him. 

You know...have faith.


"Trust me." 


"Tim.  Trust  me."

Yes, sir.

Monday, October 25

Alan Watts on Faith

Faith is a state of openness or trust.

To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water. You don't grab hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink.

You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging, and holding on.

In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
 - Alan Watts

lessons from the saints - Crispin and Crispinian

To those of you of a thespian bent, I must disappoint in discussing the feast today, for unlike so many in England abed tonight, I shan't consider my manhood cheap this nor any other day. Yes, indeed, it is Saint Crispan's day, (or, more correctly, the feast of Crispan and Crispinian, whom the Bard calls Crispian).

Twofold lessons are today, as fitting being doubled saints. The first regards the men themselves, of ancient and noble lineage who denied their imperial position in Roman life for the King of Kings. Plying the trade of cordwainery by night, the pair would preach the good word and donate to the poor by day. Their acts of kindness and Christian virtue did not go without notice in Gaul, as France was called in those days, and they were arrested and brought to trial.  During the trial, they were both threatened with torture and death as well as offered status and wealth by the co-emperor.

Their reply was simple:
"Thy threats do not terrify us, for Christ is our life, and death is our gain. Thy rank and possessions are naught to us, for we have long before this sacrificed the like for the sake of Christ and rejoice in what we have done."

The pair were taken at their word by these gaulish pagans and the gentle shoe-makers were tortured horribly and then slain (though it took several times to strike them down, it seems).  The lesson to be seen is clear, dear friends, in that rank and wealth mean naught to the true children of God. and that we should consider the example of Crispan and Crispinian, noble men, both, who gave up nobility and became craftsmen in service to a carpenter's son, making their faith shown in deed and action most noble in face of consequence dire.

The second lesson comes from the Bard himself and his referencing of these hallowed people, albeit in passing. I say this for Crispin and Crispian were brothers, though in blood or in the Spirit I cannot truly say, and it is important for each and every to recall that we too are a band of brothers (and sisters), bound by blood most sacred and flesh hallowed to a co-fraternity which stretches past the veil of death and beyond the ages.

Therefore, my beloved kindred, know then that when any one of us stands apart, willing to challenge and rebuke, not for the sake of ourselves or the Church, but for the Kingdom and the perfection of Christ on earth, that you do not stand alone. At your back is a host of brothers and sisters who are here with us now and have gone on before that see the good work, have fought the good fight and still stand to kindle the fire within us to do what is best for His glory.

Thus, gentle kin, stand a tiptoe this and every day for the Lord our God.

Saturday, October 23

A brief musical break

Several years ago, I was, briefly, part of the Columbia House Borg.  I have done penance for this, to be sure, but during this dark time they sent me a few disks which I specifically didn't ask for.  Most of them were pop trash which I gifted to others more appreciative.  One I kept was this one about Celtic Women.  Fast forward 5 years and it's turned into a 'heavy rotation' CD, in large part because of the song below.

Friday, October 22

Storm Clouds and the Sacred Church

Reading my blog-friends posts, the religious news seems to be centered around populi versus auctoritas.  You have what appears to be a fundamental disconnect between the needs of the faithful and the dictates of the organization.  This is not, I would note, a problem specifically with Rome or Canterbury (though they are the most visible as of late) but rather it is within nearly any organized religious structure which is based upon theological principles that have not been seriously examined since Pascal's Pensées and haven't been 'reality-checked' for relevancy since men landed on the moon.

Today's reading is from Luke 12:54-57.
Then Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud coming in the west, you immediately say, ‘There's going to be a storm,’ and that's what happens. When you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It's going to be hot,’ and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, yet you don't know how to interpret the present time? Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?" 
I'm sorry, Jesus.  I couldn't hear that last bit over the church telling me who I should love, how I should worship and which way I should vote.  Could you repeat that?

Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?

What? Seriously?   *sighs, exasperated*

OK Look...this sort of thing has to stop.  First it was free love, then you've got free will and free eternal life and now this.  How's a church supposed to earn a buck with this damned hippy around giving everything away?

Thursday, October 21


Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion must look out on the world.

Yours are the feet with which He is about doing good.

Yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.

- Saint Teresa of Ávila

Tuesday, October 19

We are all connected

I had a long and involved post written about things of 'importance' and 'relevance' to people, etc. etc. Upon reading it before posting, I realised that it was all of that and had nothing of real value and I deleted it. So, instead of something funny or 'important', have some neat music from John Boswell at Symphony of Science.

Monday, October 18

Two, oddly related issues

AKA, why Tim shouldn't be allowed to free-associate.

So, ordination of women and same-sex relationships are the two hot buttons in the Roman church right now.  In my brain's fevered attempts to keep relevance, it noted something really interesting and amusing.  Through the vast majority of the Roman church's history, it self-identified as being the 'Bride of Christ'.  Paul uses this imagery extensively, as do many mystics and theologians down through the ages. It has been even used as a reason for the celibacy of nuns.

If the Roman church says that only opposite-sex marriage is valid, does that mean the only people who should be priests are women?  The only people who are to be in the church are women?

Does that mean that priests are in a celibate, homosexual relationship with the King of Kings?  It certainly would mean that all the male parishioners are and nobody in the Church is saying that being a good Catholic is 'intrinsically disordered'.

Oh, right...the 'new and never changed' belief is that priests ARE Christ and since Christ was a guy, then all priests need to be guys.  That means, then, that the ordained members of the Church are Christ...and the Bride is also the Groom.  It still means that the male laity is gay for the priest, bishop, Christ.

Yes, these questions are tongue-in-cheek and outline how easily we can tie ourselves in knots about things.

In seriousness, we are all the children of God, equally worthy of His love, mercy and grace.  Straight or not, male or female, slave or free, greek or jew, clergy or laity, we are all the Body of Christ.  Trying to divide the Body and expecting it to flourish is as silly as cutting off one's hand and expecting it to function.

Love God, do good and keep your nose clean.  It really is that simple.

Day 21: Still no questions

So...yah.  No, I haven't been blogging as much as I prolly should for the last couple of weeks.  A bit of it has been work, but a lot has been that I'm running low on new things to say. 

Let me explain.

I have been seeking and asking and pursuing for almost 30 years now.  About 3 weeks ago, Dad gave me all the answers.  I figured that it may be a developmental plateau or a stage or something.  Now, it's starting to really sink in that it's not just a phase or something I ate, but a more permanent effectual change.


You see, a lot of my personal identity has been bound up over the years with being a questioner, an observer and analyzer.  Now?  Now I have a working model which neither denies nor engages questions, analysis or observation, but rather turns the whole process on it's head.  My rational mind has spent the majority of the last three weeks racing like a chihuahua on crystal meth, desperately attempting to find a chink in the armour...some niche in which to grab on.  It's pretty much lost the fight, at this point.  I am sure that there is some philosophical terminology that describes what I'm referring to, probably associated with Taoism or Buddhism.  Not that it matters.

So, I'm out of questions.  Day by day, the screaming and hollering of that logical mind that has to have a puzzle to solve is becoming fainter.  Not sure where things go from here, but Dad does and he'll let me know when it's time.

Thursday, October 14

Lessons from Saints - Pope Callistus I

Today is the feast of pope Callistus I, martyr and saint. Born into slavery, he was owned by a Christian. Wrongly accused of theft, he was sentenced to work in the tin mines of Sardinia. He was bought out of slavery by a priest and became the caretaker of a cemetery on the Appian way, when he was ordained as a deacon. From there, he became an arch-deacon, then the sixteenth pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Callistus is known primarily for his heretical beliefs, such as allowing women into religious study, permitting bishops, priests and deacons to remarry, allowing those who have performed penance to receive communion, and condoning marriage outside of one's own social status. Legend has it that he was martyred by a riotous mob who threw him into a well with a millstone around his neck.

Callistus held a model of the church where mercy and love ruled the house of God, where people were brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of social status and where forgiveness and tolerance was vital to the body of Christ.

We could learn much from him.

Callistus, may we learn from your example and build a church filled with forgiveness and tolerance. Inspire us to work for equality and justice knowing that mercy flows from God and love of the other is at the heart of Christ's teachings.

Thanks be to God.

P.S. - I find it interesting to note that Pope Callistus I was never formally ordained a priest and that it was commonplace (perhaps even expected) in that time that ordained clergy of all levels to be married.

It gets better

I'm not much for re-posting and becoming an echo-chamber. However, watching video after video in this series, the one group of people who seems to be unwelcoming, judgmental and intolerant is the church. Thus, given the speaker and the message, I'm ok with re-posting this.

Wednesday, October 13

I kan haz U-ker-ist?


I've been attempting to write something insightful, meaningful or even witty, but I have no brain.  For over thirty years, I've been constantly asking questions, looking for answers and wanting Father to provide insight.  Well, He did.  So, now, for the first time ever, I'm without questions.

I look at current events and see nothing worth saying much about.  It's all so transparent, shallow and, well, I know what's important will be handled by the Boss (no, I don't mean Bruce Springstein) and if there's anything for me to add or help with, He knows I'm ready.

The readings are so plain that making commentary would be re-inventing the wheel.  I stare outside at the wonderful, glorious view of Creation and just giggle like a school-girl, cause it's so obvious that a blind man could see.

So, I sit here, listening to Gaelic Storm (wonderful Irish-celtic band with funny music), typing over the cat in my lap while the dog snores away on the couch to my right.  What could I possibly say at this point?

Duh! There is ONE thing.

Thanks, Dad.  Glory and honor are yours.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us, have an adorable kitten cause...well...adorable kitten.

Tuesday, October 12

Like a neutered dog...I just don't get it.

Ok...I'm going to admit a failing on my part.  I've read and listened and thought about this at some length and I keep coming up with goose eggs.

From pretty much everything I've read and studied, the central message of Christ's teaching, the sum of all the law and all the prophets, is to love God with all you've got and to love your neighbor (which I read to be all of God's creation) as yourself.

If this is so, then why are christian groups, who espouse that they follow Christ's teachings, so full of hatred and disdain for those who they deem unworthy? 

Even assuming that these organizations believe (wrongly, in my opinion) that those who are 'unworthy' are the enemies of their faith, Christ says that one should love your enemies.  How can someone declare that they follow the Prince of Peace and yet openly promote violence?  How can someone worship God (who is love) and yet advocate hate?  How can anyone say that they follow that Nazerene man who said 'Judge not, lest ye be judged' and yet deny the Bread of Life and Saving Cup to any who earnestly desire it or condemn another person for how they were born?

No, I'm not posing rhetorical questions or trying to be sarcastic (despite what it may seem).  These are questions asked in earnest.  There must be something I'm missing here, some text or principle which eludes me, for this thought process seems deeply ingrained in most all of the Christian faiths.  Many of you who read this blog are far more learned and experienced in these sorts of things, so I am turning to you for assistance.  Please enlighten me.

Thursday, October 7

Lessons from Saints - Sergius and Bacchus

Today is the feast of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, the first and most prominent of the 'paired' saints.

Sergius (aka Serge) and Bacchus were highly-placed roman soldiers and gay lovers (ἐραστἐς) at the turn of the 4th century AD.  Favoured of Emperor Maximianus, they rose to some stature until their love of Christ was discovered.  Bacchus was tortured to death and Sergius was tortured and then beheaded.  To the end, they loved both our Lord and each other.  The story of their martyrdom, known as the Passion of Sergius and Bacchus, is considered one of the first well documented cases of martyrdom and they are some of the very earliest saints to be venerated in the manner we know now.

Do note, the Romans had no great issue with their homosexuality.  Neither did the people of the early church.  Some of the later hagiographic stories refer to them as 'brothers' or don't mention their relationship at all, but the early sources are rather plain about their relationship as being far more than 'brotherly' in nature.

I believe a more salient and enduring lesson can be derived from these early martyrs, however.

Given the recent epidemic of hatred, intolerance and fundamentally unchristian behaviour by so many (especially by those who call themselves follower of Christ), I believe it would be instructive to recall the words echoed by Saint Sergius in the hour of his death.

"For you wish all to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. When you lay death upon them (the pagans who were to kill Sergius), accept their repentance, Lord, and do not remember the sin of ignorance which they have perpetrated against us for your sake. Enlighten the eyes of their minds and lead them to the knowledge of you."

Merciful father,
I pray that those who have been victims of hatred and intolerance find your compassion and love in both this life and the next, no matter how they may cross that bridge.

I pray that those who have inflicted these pains be enlightened to the suffering they have caused, may their hard hearts softened to the plights of those about them and know the forgiveness and tenderness of your mercy if they turn from their errors and ask for reconciliation.

I pray, oh Lord, that you would show unto us all  that same mercy and love, and I pray that we may be able to show that same mercy and love to those who do such injustices to both ourselves and to my brothers and sisters, who are all of creation.

I pray that we may have the strength of Serge and Bacchus to stand up for what is right, believe when all are against us and run the good race for your glory oh Lord.


Monday, October 4

Billy and Francis and Tim

It's been three weeks since I blogged about Billy Lucas.  I have a pic of him here at work, staring back at me with a soft yet piercing gaze, a silent reminder of what could have been and what could be prevented.  In the last three weeks, five more boys have died by their own hands.

Died because of intolerance.
Died because of insensitivity.
Died because of indifference.

Francis of Assisi said "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."

Paul exhorts Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

Timothy was a boy about Billy's age when that was written, about the age I was when I first heard the Voice within. Timothy is my name too.

Stand up for what's right. Stand up for your neighbor. Stand up for God.

A single voice can make a difference.
A single action can save a life.
A single person can, and did, change the world.

Lessons from Saints - Francis of Assisi

Today is the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Of all the saints (other than the BVM), this is the most difficult person for me to write about.

When we read about the simplicity and rustic nature of Francis' life, it is easy to forget his origins. He was educated and of money, urban and refined. The essence of his tale is that he gave all of that up. Rather than attempting to rephrase brother Thom's wonderful post about Francis or attempting to create yet another summary of his life, I will cut straight to the point.

We, as humans and especially as creatures of  21st century western culture, are suffused with a crowd of things and a near inexhaustible demand on our attentions. This very medium by which you are reading this is a vortex of distractions. I don't need a fancy this, or a shiny new that.  I don't care about Beiber or Brietbart or the Broncos.  That's not what life is about.  It isn't what following God is about.

Also?  Following God isn't about altar rails, gays in church, women in orders, liturgies in latin or commands from the curia.  All of those things are human-generated, human focused.  Francis shows us that, reminds us of that.

Love God and treat all of God's creation with respect and care.

Thank you brother Francis, for preaching the gospel at all times.  May we, like you, be an instrument of God's Peace.

Friday, October 1

Job - that reminds me of a funny story

The OT reading today is from Job, wherein YHWH questions the eponymous character.  For reasons I don't know (and prolly shouldn't think too hard about), I can't keep from hearing the voice of this old NY jewish guy in my head as I read this.

"Oy, you're zo schmat?  Zo tell me, den, schmat guy..."

at which point Job gets quizzed about things which physics and chemistry have been starting to figure out in the last 50 years or so.  This leads me to a funny story (cause this is how my brain works) which also has the same old guy's voice as well as the same message that Job is on about.

A cadre of brilliant scientists go to God and speak to Him.  "Oh God, we know that you were great for the human race in the past, but your creation has surpassed it's creator," they say.  "We have evolved beyond a need for you or your wisdom."

"Ach, iz dat zho?" says the Almighty, Lord of all Creation.
"Oh yes," say the scientists. "We can control the wind, manipulate the waves, even create life itself.  We have no need of you."

"Create life, you zhay, ya? Vell den, I have unt bahrgain," sayeth the Lord.  "Ve shall bot make unt human being from dirt alone, yah?  If hyu can recreate my greatest miracle, zhen I shall leave hyu in peace.  If not, zhen hyu must recognize Me az Gott und not hyour szience."

The scientists all huddle and whisper...plan and collaborate and draw up proposals.  At length, they agree that it could be done and go back to the Lord God.  "You have a deal."

So, the Almighty stretches forth his upturned hand and the dust of the earth appears in it.  He forms the earth into the shape of a man, breathes into it and it comes to life, a new Adam.  "Zhere.  Now hyu tryz it"  And God turns and starts to walk away.

The scientists stop him.  "God?  We need the earth to challenge you."

"Ach, look at zhe schmat guy.  Ya, vell, you vant to be Gott? Make your own Earth."

well...I thought it was funny.  :)

Thursday, September 30

lookin' like a goldfish

In Murphreesboro, TN, there is a storm brewing.  You see, there is a faith community in town and the community has outgrown their old worship site so they have bought property and filed paperwork to have a new one built.  This is horrible and the end of the world because the worship site is, in fact, a terror-drome, training fanatics to overthrow the government of God-fearing americans and impose religious dictates upon the masses.  No, they're not Opus Dei, they're a moderate muslim community who have been worshiping in town since the 1980's.

What flags this saddening display of intolerance and ignorance worth annoying enough electrons to write about it is not the arson (according to the ATF) at the construction site nor the fact that the lawsuit is based upon the construction of a cemetery.  No, the trouble comes from the most recent talking point from the opponents to this construction.

"Are you aware that's all the plaintiffs have wanted from day one is to know whether this is a religious institution?...Did you do anything to determine this was a religious meeting place?...Sounds like you don't know what a mosque is."

Islam is, by most estimations, the second largest organized faith system in the world.  To intimate, let alone openly question if is a religion at all boggles the mind.  I cannot recall ever reading, even in the most intolerant language of the 'bad old days', where the 'muhammodans' (or, for that matter, protestants, catholics or jews) didn't follow a religion.  That they're following the wrong religion, doing X or failing to do Y (which, we all know, is an anathema), or somehow disrespect the [insert name of Divine you follow here]...sure, they all say that, but never that it isn't a religion at all.

So, yeah.  I'm sitting here reading this, shaking my head slowly and looking like a goldfish, mouth agape, due to the sheer incredulity of it all.  Even assuming that those 'god-fearin murikans' are right (which I don't) and Islam is an enemy of Christianity and/or the United States (which I don't believe it is)...

"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that."

 Damned hippies.

Wednesday, September 29

Lessons from Saints - St. Michael the Archangel

Today is the Feast of Saint Michael (which, under the new ways, includes Gabriel and Raphael).  Of the three Archangels mentioned in Scripture, Michael is the most prominent.  Hie identified himself to Joshua as the general of the army of the Lord and Michael is considered to be the protector of the Church.  This is affirmed in the story of the miracle of Chonae, when pagans attempted to destroy a church by diverting the river Lycas, only to have Michael intercede and split the rocks in twain, carving out a new channel and saving the sanctuary.

During the Middle Ages, the feast of Saint Michael, aka Michaelmas, was the annual day of reckoning, of settling accounts between merchants.  On this day, a celebration would be had, thanking God for his benefice in the past year and asking Him for continued benefice in the year to come.  This ties into the story which I wish to mention and relates directly to the lesson.

Jude references an ancient judaic story, wherein Michael comes to blows with the Devil over the body of Moses, for the Great Deceiver wishes to give the people of Israel a hero to worship instead of YHWH.  Triumphing at the last, Michael has Satan at his mercy whereupon the Devil says 'So, then, you shall judge me and throw me into the pit?'  And Michael replies that it is only God who may judge.

Only God may judge.  If the greatest of the angels, the general of the army of God cannot judge the very incarnation of evil, how can we dare look at another and say that they are found wanting?

Tuesday, September 28

Nunc aspicio, nunc scio, semper credo

It's all so simple.

The scales fall like coins from my eyes and I rise from my slumber of study to have the truth rise and greet me like the dawn.

The forms of things are not the things.  The names are not what is, only a pale shadow. 

Indeed, dear Anglic Doctor, it is all straw.

All the erudition is of effect only when it does not distract, all the pages are of profit only when they enrich our soul and the world.

We are all part of the Sacred which we forget and make mundane.
We are all part of Creation which we forget and make our enemy. 
We are all the children of God which we forget and sin.
We are all the body of Christ which we forget and divide.

We shall glorify you, oh great Divine,
       and not forget your place in our lives.
We shall love you, oh Maker of All,
       and love all your creation and all your children.
We shall honour you, oh God our Father,
       and remember that we are your children.
We shall give you praise, oh blessed Lord
      and know that we are all an instrument of your peace.

Thanks be to you, oh gracious and wonderous Lord,
      all glory and honour be to you.
May all the creatures of creation praise and magnify your name,
      especially this little blind one who does now see.

Aspicio, Scio, Credo

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Monday, September 27

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Glory to God in the highest
and peace to all people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Thanks and praise to you, almighty Lord.

Sunday, September 26

Stop me if you've heard this....

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."   -Dalai Lama

Preach it, brother.

Custom, Heritage and Tradition - words have meaning

We had a discussion on Wednesday at church about Tradition and what that word means in relation to being Catholic. The discussion, like all of the Chatauqua talks, was fruitful and respectful...but. The 'but' was niggling in the back of my head for a good part of the week and it came to the fore today at mass when our priest mentioned 'it is our custom and tradition at Light of Christ....".


Custom isn't tradition. The distinction is both subtle and important.

A custom is a practice which is performed frequently enough in a specific manner that it becomes ritualized. In short and brief, it is a fixed method of action which is objective and sociologically ingrained. Perhaps the least problematic and most obvious example in liturgy is something which happens every mass. "The Lord be with you" "and also with you". You don't hesitate, there's no profound theological basis for the forms of the exchange and it never varies. It's just the way 'its done'.

Conversely, tradition is a subjective interpretation of ideas, events and beliefs which are transmitted, principally orally or by practice, from generation to generation. Note, then, that tradition is subjective in nature and it is both conserved and transformed by each succeeding generation. In our church, the gesture of genuflecting towards the altar before you sit in the pews would be a tradition. Some folks do this, some don't. Ask those who do and they'll tell you that's how they were taught. Ask those who don't and some will say it's not how THEY were taught and some will give a reason why they don't do it even though they were taught that way.

Heritage....heritage is a different animal all together.  Heritage is our inheritance, whether it be religious, racial, ethnic, cultural or national.  It is the combined thought, wisdom, tradition and custom of hundreds (possibly thousands) of generations. It is this which traces a line from the here and now into the misty past and creates a bond to all those who come before.  Heritage can be accepted or denied, but it is almost totally fixed.  I say almost because our generation is creating the heritage of the future, adding our own small contribution to the collective just as each generation did before.  In liturgy, the signal representation of heritage is the Eucharist, or Communion if you are Protestant.  In both forms, we celebrate and commemorate the act that all Christians have done in memory of our Lord.  By doing so, we re-affirm the faith of untold billions of the course of thousands of years and add our voices to the choir.

The Roman church (and it's progenitor, the Orthodox church) have taken the general term tradition and made it a technical term, Tradition.  In the Roman church, that Sacred Tradition is, using the above definitions, the heritage of the Christian faith, but interpreted as the Magisterium sees fit (just as Sacred Scripture is to be only interpreted as the Magisterium sees fit).  As an aside, I should note that I find great irony in the fact that an institution which dates to Vatican I sees fit to speak with the authority of the whole of Apostolic Succession and tell the laity how it has always been.

And...this is where things get dicey.

A lot of what people think of as Tradition is, in fact, tradition or custom.  The use of Latin, altar rails, or 'by mouth' aren't linked to the Apostolic Era, but are traditions which developed over time for a variety of reasons which may or may not still have validity today.  Sacred Heart of Jesus?  A tradition.  The rosary?  A custom.  Mariology as it is practiced in the Roman church?  A tradition.  What needs to be noted here is that I am not questioning the value or purpose of these things.  Let me say again.  I am not questioning the value or purpose of these traditions or customs.  Rather, I am saying that these things are not the apostolic heritage passed down to us from ancient times, they are not Sacred Tradition.  They are traditions and customs which, depending on the catholic community in which you participate, may have more or less importance.  

If a community wishes to change their customs, then the community decides to change them.  If a community wishes to alter traditions, then the community teaches their successive generations different traditions.  Heritage, as I said, can only be embraced or denied, it can't be twisted to serve the agenda du jour.  A authoritative body cannot arbitrarily ret-con history (despite what some political parties may believe), they cannot flip a switch and force a people to change what has meaning to them as a tie to previous generations or what they have always done.  To attempt to do so is to invite the whirlwind.  Welcome to Vatican 2.

So, how does a hierarchical structure affect a change in custom or tradition?  Education and gradual change.  Explain why it was done the old way, why it was valid then and is no longer applicable and how the changes to the customs and traditions are applicable while holding to the spirit of the old.  After that, gradually (over a number of years) implement the changes.  All of these things are very important.  Validation of what was is important because it shows respect for the past and an explanation of what was held important. Why the transition is needed is a question which must be answered for reasons of continuity as well as recognition of the validity of the needs of the people.  Explanation of of the new is vital, for it informs and allows for acceptance of the importance of the new.  Gradual implementation is needed to acclimate folks to changes.  Will everyone be all sweetness and light about it?  Of course not.  But they will understand.

hmm...this isn't where I started at all, but it's a lot better than what I had thought originally.  Thanks Dad!  :)

Friday, September 24

reflection on the journey

There are times when things just snap into focus, when you look around and realise where you look back and see how you've gotten here and how strange a journey it's been.

When I was growing up, my church was the primary font of theology and pastoral wisdom.  I was 'lucky' in that I went to a private, protestant school who taught some rather different things from what my church taught.  This gave me the first inkling that there wasn't just 'one, right way'.  That the word 'truth' shouldn't be capitalized.

I've done a lot of walking between those days so long ago and today.  Some things have changed and some things haven't. 

I am more willing to accept living without certainty than I have ever been and more willing to say 'I was wrong'.  To me, those are all matters relating to letting go...of releasing control. 

I am more willing to recognise that other people who hold radically different views from my own are just as right, holy and earnest in their attempts to understand and live within the Divine as my own paltry endeavours.

I have become more emotional and filled with passion, not just for a single cause but rather for nearly everything and everyone.  I think that these are part of a growing recognition of  the Net of Jewels, not just on an intellectual level but on a heart-level.

I am full of faith and entirely without faith, depending on your definition of the word.  If faith is a belief in things unproven, as many of the Fundies will define it, then I am without faith for  I know, not believe.  If, on the other hand, one considers faith to be confidence or trust in someone/thing else, then I have an abundance of faith.

My personal Credo is as valid and important to me as it was years ago when I came upon it through meditation and prayer.  To hear from other faiths (which I had not had contact with) that I 'reinvented the wheel' is heartening, as it is an example of parallel and convergent evolution.

I am still sure, perhaps now moreso than before, that Dad's got something planned and that I am to do more.  Whether that is a specific call to the presbyterate or the diaconate...well, when She let's me know, I'll pass it along.  There's a lot more road ahead, but the more I walk down this road, I realise that there are others who are going my way and the conversations as we walk are most heartening.

Thanks to all and thanks be to God

Thursday, September 23

Dogs, Gays, Geese and Reasonability

I realise that this is the third post in a row about 'teh gay', but something which has been rattling around in the back of my head just popped.  Please bear with me on this.

There is a dog.  She's a good girl, to be sure, and she knows full well that I shan't tolerate any of the pets doing their business in the house.  But, if I don't walk her as I used to or otherwise allow her to go outside, then there's not much choice now is there?  I mean, theoretically she could hold her water for the whole time, but...yah.  Of course, the cat has the same prohibition against crapping everywhere, but she has a litter-box that I provide.  So, if I keep to that regimen of not walking the dog but she must not do it indoors, then who's at fault when there's a mess?  The well meaning dog or me?

There is a gay boy. He's a good Catholic, to be sure, and he knows full well that the Church shan't tolerate anyone having sex outside of marriage.  But, if the Church won't condone same-sex marriage like it used to or otherwise allow any sexual release, then there's not much choice now, is there?  I mean, theoretically he could be chaste, but...yah.  Of course, his straight brother has the same prohibition against extra-marital sex, but he has marriage that the Church provides.  So, if the Church keeps to the regimen of no same-sex marriage but no extra-marital sex, then who is at fault when there's 'a mess'?  The well-meaning gay or the Church?

My point in this isn't to argue for or against the concept that sex is a fundamental bodily function which 'can't be helped'.  Instead, what I'm looking at is a matter of reasonableness.  For Christians, the choices regarding sex are simple: chastity, marriage or some form of sin.  Yes, there are some who can be chaste, but even in orders which call for chastity it has always been a problem, and those orders are voluntary.  For over half of the Christian tradition, same-sex marriage (under various names) have existed and been a valid alternative, but since the Church turned intolerant towards women, Jews and homosexuality in the 14th century, marriage is a straight-only option.  Thus, the only alternative that the Church condones involves harming the relationship between man and God.

In a more general sense, one can make the same argument for the gay boy in a society which says promiscuity is wrong but won't let him get hitched.  Don't prevent him from doing what everyone else can do and then castigate him when he exercises the only other option available....and especially do not castigate those who don't have another option whilst turning a blind eye to those who can get married and yet are promiscuous.

"If you don't eat yer meat, ye can't have any pudding."
"'s Friday.  The Church says I can't have any meat, either." 

The point is that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If we say that the only way to be good is to do [X], then everyone must be given the opportunity to do [X].

Just sayin.