Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Feast of the Annunciation

This last Saturday, on the Feast of the Annunciation, I was in Winnipeg at my sponsoring parish. We heard the deacon proclaim these words spoken to Mary by Gabriel:

‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you . . .'

Fitting words for an ordination, when we ask for the Holy Spirit to descend upon a person and to fill her with "grace and power."

Mary's ministry was to bear God, the person Jesus, our Saviour, and to bring him into the world. The deacon's ministry is not terribly different; the deacon also carries the word into the world. And by God's grace and power, this word gathers the world into the church through the ministry of the deacon.

Mary's response is the response that God hopes to hear from us all: ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Only one of us was chosen to be the Godbearer, but God calls us all, some as priests and bishops, some to the many and diverse un-ordered ministries. And this last Saturday, the church and the bishop called my mom into the ministry of the diaconate. We said 'amen,' and so did she.

This is my prayer for you, mom: may your response to this call be ‘here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ The word is not the same as the messenger; say yes to the word borne by the messenger, and to the one from whom the message comes.

I'm proud of you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lenten Citation (3): St. Makarios of Egypt

This Lent I will be posting some citations from the Philokalia on fasting, without commentary. I hope you find them helpful in your Lenten devotional practice.

Fasting is good and so are vigils, ascetic practice and voluntary exile. But all these things are but the start, the prelude to the citizenship of heaven, so that it is altogether senseless to put one's trust merely in them. It sometimes happens that we attain a certain state of grace but that evil, as we said above, lying in ambush within us, plays a trick on us: it deliberately withdraws and remains inactive, thus making us think that our intellect has been cleansed. In this way it produces in us the self-conceit of perfection, whereupon it stealthily attacks us and carries us down to the lowest depths of the earth. It often happens that young soldiers or brigands resort to tricks against the enemy: they set up ambushes and, catching their opponents unexpectedly from behind and surrounding them, they slaughter them. If that is what they do, then how much more skilled must evil be, that has dedicated itself for thousand years to the crucial task of destroying souls. It knows exactly how to devise such ambushes in the secret places of the heart, sometimes keeping quiet and inactive deliberately in order to entice the soul into the self-conceit of perfection. Indeed, the cardinal rule of the Christian life is not to put one's trust in acts of righteousness even if one practises all of them, or to imagine that one has done anything great; and even if one participates in grace, one must not think that one has achieved anything or reached the goal. On the contrary, one should then hunger and thirst, grieve and weep even more, and be totally contrite in heart.

St. Makarios of Egypt

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Release of James Tramel

Regular readers of Baby Priest might remember a post from a while back, called Inmate Priest is Tangible Sign of Hope for Those in Prison. It was an article about James Tramel, a prisoner who was a student at the same seminary as me, though I never did see him. He was in prison at the time.

We got a call from Joe, a good friend of ours and a good friend of James', with the news that James is about to be released from prison.

Prayers for James are in order, I think. He leaves the prison with a supportive community, but I can't imagine the transition will be without some difficulty and adjustment. I thought being a new priest took some unexpected re-orientation. James is a new priest and leaving prison.

Read some of the story on James' release here, at the Episcopal News Service: Inmate priest due for Sunday release.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lenten Citation (2): St. John of Karpathos

This Lent I will be posting some citations from the Philokalia on fasting, without commentary. I hope you find them helpful in your Lenten devotional practice.

Suppose you have ordered yourself not to eat fish: you will find that the enemy continually makes you long to eat it. You are filled with an uncontrollable desire for that thing that is forbidden. In this way you can see how Adam's fall typifies what happens to all of us. Because he was told not to eat from a particular tree, he felt irresistibly attracted to the one thing that was forbidden him.

St. John of Karpathos

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Things They Don't Teach You in Seminary (2)

I learned how to chant in seminary. I also learned that I should practice my chanting and be prepared for worship.

What I didn't learn is how to prepare for something like, say, the Great Litany, maybe about 10-12 minutes of chanting, with about 5 minutes of preparation time.

In case you were wondering, this is how you do it: *

1. Point the text hurriedly in the sacristy.
2. Pray.
3. Rush to the back of the nave, while praying.
4. Process while chanting. Don't think about the words, you don't know them anyway.

* Not recommended. Do not try this at church. (Except the praying part; try that everywhere.)


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lenten Citation (1): St. Diadochos of Photiki

This Lent I will be posting some citations from the Philokalia on fasting, without commentary. I hope you find them helpful in your Lenten devotional practice.

Those pursuing the spiritual way should train themselves to hate all uncontrolled desires until this hatred becomes habitual. With regard to self-control in eating, we must never feel loathing for any kind of food, for to do so is abominable and utterly demonic. It is emphatically not because any food is bad in itself that we refrain from it. But by not eating too much or too richly we can to some extent keep in check the excitable parts of our body. In addition we can give to the poor what remains over, for this is the mark of sincere love.

St. Diadochos of Photiki

Things They Don't Teach You in Seminary

Don't wear light-coloured pants on Ash Wednesday.

If you spill, your ash shows.