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 maĆ®tre 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 more...to 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