Monday, September 24


I don't ask with frequency, but I would ask for prayers for...

Kit and his family, that sickness would leave him and his liver be healed.

Michelle and her family, that her passing brings closure to long suffering and healing to all.

Will and for Roger, that both them come to terms with who they are and shed the sickness which afflicts them.

Tim, that he grasp the lessons being taught.

Thursday, September 20

Reflections on being reborn

It is not uncommon for me to talk through some of my thoughts on subjects in private, trying to work out kinks and derive greater understanding about things which my gut says is true.  This means that the dog has a much better understanding of ecclesiology than the cat (for she normally wanders off), though the cat would argue that she has a better grasp of theology as she is certain that there is a god (and she is Her).

During one of these pacing/muttering episodes, I was reminded of Nicodemus' conversation with Christ in John 3.  Recall that Nicodemus was a rabbi, a Pharisee and a member of the Sandhedrin - the jewish equivalent of a first century cardinal.  In short, Christ is not talking to a simple farmer or fisherman, but to a learned member of the clergy.

Christ talks about being born again and Nicodemus asks how this works in physical terms.  No no, replies Jesus, I'm talking figuratively, that ones being is reborn through water and the Spirit (It is likely that Christ is referring to the Mikveh, the ritual purification rite involving immersion in water, which is what John the Baptist was doing).  Physical is physical and Spirit is Spirit, so don't be all surprised when I say that you need to be reborn in the Spirit.

Then Christ says that the Spirit blows where it wills, we can see the effects, but we have no idea where it comes from or goes and that's how it works for everyone born in the Spirit.  This is where the train takes a turn.  I make this break because it really appears that the conversation is shifting.  Nicodemus asks "how is this possible?" Christ then goes into some depth of the Universality of God

This rebirth is not a matter of ashes and fire, but of paradigm shift.  The world isn't as you saw it before, but much bigger, greater, more complex and wonderful than you previously imagined.  It's not about rules and regulations, ancient pacts and dusty tomes.  It is about the living world in the here and now, immediate and direct in a way which can't be rationalized or ignored.

It is about encountering God in Her creation.

Lessons from the saints : Januarius

Yesterday was the feast of Januarius (Gennaros), a fourth century bishop and martyr.  Like so many of the 'persecution-era' martyrs, little is known about the person's life and we only have scant information about his death ('s the only way to be sure).  What brings Januarius to my attention (and why I wish to mention him here) is his relics.  Yes, you read that, his relics.

In Naples, there is a reliquary bust of Januarius which purportedly contains his head.  There are also bones (fingers, I think) stored in a vault, but there are also two ampoules of his solidified blood which are kept in a specially made monstrance-like vessel.  And this is where things get....exciting.  Thrice a year for the past 600+ years, the vessel is brought forward and placed next to the altar (and the bust).  Every year, the blood liquifies....sometimes for hours, sometimes for days....and then resolidifies.  It has not happened five times in over six hundred years, and every time there has been a significant natural catastrophe which has befallen the city or direct environs (plague, earthquake, etc).  Scientists have done spectral analysis and concluded that it is, in fact, blood, but have no working theories as to how, let alone why, it occurs.

I mention this for two reasons.  The first is that witnessing this miracle first hand is on my rather short 'bucket list' of places/things to see.  I have been to the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre, visited the Upper Room and knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane (Join the Navy, see the world).  I have walked in places where the presence of God was tangible, where the Divine was present, and I have stood in halls called hallowed and knew that there was nothing special here.  I wish to see this with mine own eyes and, through direct experience, know the truth of things.

The second reason I mention this miracle is to highlight the importance of icons and miracles of this nature.  The key is that it actually isn't important.  They are corporeal pointings to the incorporeal being.  These icons and mystical things are fingers which point to the Divine moon.  They can also be considered to be comfort and solace, something tangible which links us to the intangible.  Of course, that is a falsehood...not because they are not temporal things which link us to the Divine, but rather because the Divine is within us all already.

Tuesday, September 18

Dispatch from the Wilderness : two quotes, two thoughts

"A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials." - Confucius (attrib.)

A number of factors have been working together to dissuade me from posting.  I have no stomach for the current events or politics as of late and my studies have left me....unsatisfied.  That said, Dad's idea of OJT has been most 'illuminating' and has done much to stretch me mentally, emotionally and psychologically.  Also, my beloved has been most helpful in tempering and testing my beliefs and I feel rather indebted to her for this.  Polishing the stone, indeed.

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (I Cor. 2 : 4-7)

The more I look at this, where Dad is calling me and what needs doing, the more I realize that I can't reasonably be like most other priests and that my 'people' don't fit in a parish.  Maybe it's  all of the days and nights in the Wilderness, but the folks who I am called to serve don't sit in pews, sing V2 hymns off-key and talk about their grandchildren.  They don't care about ad orientem, by-mouth reception, bishops or any of that stuff.  They need to see, to know that both the Divine which suffuses all and people here on Earth love and care about them and wish to help them.

There is a lot of uncertainty and questioning which comes of this, being so far beyond the comfortable walls of 'church as usual'.  What I know for certain is that I do not walk alone.  There are others, both visible and invisible, who wander the wastelands with me.