Sunday, February 20, 2022
Saturday, February 12, 2022
"Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer."
Prayer is the heart and soul of my existence. I don't write this to sound all holier than thou-ish; I write it because I have no other choice. Prayer isn't anything more or less than talking with God. Because praying became too difficult when I first became ill with chronic pain, I found help in praying through the Book of Common Prayer in which prayers are written to be read aloud as a church body or by oneself in private prayer.
I also found great solace in a slim little volume of prayers that I pulled out earlier today to pray from: A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie. It's now out of print in its original form; an updated form is available on Kindle, but I only want Baillie's original book, not a revised edition. I've mentioned this book many times on this blog over the years, and it's a book overflowing with solace and peace.
And gratitude. There's a book -- a very popular book -- a New York Times bestseller for over a year, that I can't recommend highly enough: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Counting our blessings -- the biggies as well as the little incidentals of our ordinary days -- this is truly the heart of following God and feeling His Love for each and every one of us.
And Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, is truly, to misquote John Keats' poem "Endymion," "a thing of beauty and a joy forever." There's nothing quite like pulling up a chair on Ann's huge front porch to listen to her words of wisdom born of suffering, and the resulting joy of a life being lived perfectly imperfect, as we all are.
And, ahhh! The pen of Maya Angelou is gentle one moment and militant the next -- calling out the wrong and lauding the right and with compassion for everything and everyone in-between. She is a Truthteller, Maya is. And she doesn't hold back her punches, no matter whose jaw she is aiming for. Yet her love conquers the injustices she rails against -- and she can be as gentle as this beautiful quotation I've chosen to share with you this week.
I need to get to bed ... as soon as I post the new Collect for Septuagesima (the Third Sunday Before Lent) -- it's included in this week's sidebar -- to our Book of Common Prayer's Facebook group, copy down the verses of the Communion hymn I'll be reciting as poetry via Zoom for our Blessed Trinity Anglican Church's service tomorrow, and pray Compline before bed.
Wishing you all a wonderful Sunday, whether you will be watching the big game or enjoying the unseasonably warm weather here in San Diego (it's supposed to be 83 here on Sunday) or doing whatever else you enjoy most on this day of relaxation and rest. The majority of my family will be trying to slay a green dragon in our 84th Dungeons & Dragons session. Here's hoping we survive until Week 85!
Sunday, February 6, 2022
"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself."
I'll just leave this quote as it is, without explanations. It's an important quotation, though -- one I hope to learn to accept and embody as time goes on.
Later today I'll be likely fighting a dragon in the guise of my part-angelic demon hunter character, Fionnlagh (pronounced Finlay) in our weekly Dungeons and Dragons session. Fighting an ancient green dragon is no joke, yet I believe that our party of five is as ready as we'll ever be.
Because Fionn is a Light Cleric, she has access to a spell called a Heroes' Feast which will give us extra protection against the dragon for twenty-four hours after we feast. It also costs a jeweled bowl worth 1000 gold pieces which will be consumed by the spell. But being protected from poison (this dragon has poisoned breath rather than fire breath) and from being frightened when fighting a very angry ancient dragon whose offspring we killed (in self-defense) will be well worth the price of the spell.
Wish us well, and have a blessed week!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Quotation of the Week
It's been quite a while since I posted regularly to this blog. Life has become increasingly challenging and difficult, and writing wasn't something I had much time for, much less emotional strength and "brain" to make it happen.
I'd like to start posting here again, likely in snippets, while the boat seems to right itself slowly and we all remain afloat. Sometimes that sinking sensation comes and fear rears its ugly head, but we are fighting it off, supporting one another, and finding strength in faith, family, and friends.
And I get to kill bad dudes and monsters when we settle down on Sunday afternoons to play Dungeons and Dragons. That helps a lot. Especially since my character is an Aasimar Light Cleric named Fionnlagh ("white warrior" in Irish) -- basically, she's an angelic creature with an impressive amount of firepower in her pocket. And our party's master tinkerer actually made her a Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (yes, given that our family's favorite movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we had to go there!), one for each vambrace, filled with holy water for fighting fiends and demons. We're now at Level 11, just having celebrated our second anniversary of this campaign on January 18, and we will be playing Session 82 today (Sunday). And we have a green dragon sending assassins after us. Our plan is to go in and attack her ... which should be interesting, to say the least. I'll let you know if any of us make it out alive ...
And if any of you know me, you know that I love to collect quotations. They're thought-provoking, illuminating, and FREE. And I'm now filling my third journal of quotations. So I thought that, if nothing else, I would share a quotation each week. It's not that much to do, and I'll write more if I can.
Have a lovely week, everyone!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Monday, January 10, 2022
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Saturday, May 22, 2021
|An Eastern Orthodox icon of the Christian Pentecost. This is the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. (Source: Wikipedia)|
A re-post from the Archives as I attempt to keep up with my wonderful Brave Writer families and students in Literary Analysis: Shakespeare's Twelfth Night...
I just do not understand something. Why don't evangelical churches celebrate Pentecost? Because of COVID, we are still not yet attending church "live" but instead, I worship via Zoom with Blessed Trinity Anglican. Thus, I have no idea if this year was different and Pine Valley Community Church celebrated Pentecost during the church service. I hope so! It breaks my heart not to attend, but until we feel all clear with several of us having autoimmune challenges, I'll keep on Zooming.
Scripture tells us that the Gift Jesus promised His disciples has arrived at Pentecost: the Holy Spirit. We read Christ's promise in the 14th chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, beginning at the 15th verse:
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.... 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you..." (ESV).
Then on the Feast of the Pentecost, with Jerusalem filled with Jews from around the known world, Christ fulfilled his promise fifty days after His Resurrection. We read in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles:
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, 'Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.' 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine” (ESV).
Peter then preaches to the astounded visitors to Jerusalem (also in the second chapter of Acts), quoting the prophecy of Joel hundreds of years past as well as passages from the Psalms of David while also relating what he and the other disciples witnessed of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection as well as the many sightings of Christ following His resurrection from the dead until His ascension to the right hand of the Living God. Peter concludes:
"32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing" (Acts 2, ESV).And then we read the response of the crowd listening to Peter:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2, ESV).
The events of this Pentecost are simply incredible, and it is from this amazing Gift of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God, that the Gospel of Christ first began to spread and the Church began to form. Why evangelical churches do not regularly celebrate Pentecost is a mystery to me. It always lands on a Sunday and thus it can be easily celebrated with Scripture readings, with praise songs and hymns about the Holy Spirit, with sermons focused on the Holy Spirit, and perhaps even with baptisms since approximately 3,000 people were baptized and added to the Church on the first Pentecost after the Resurrection in Acts 2. Pentecost is a Biblical holy day, and we can celebrate it Biblically, too, with "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart[s]" (Ephesians 5:19, ESV).
In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, one of the Collects (collective or public prayers) for Pentecost reads thus:
Almighty and most merciful God, grant, we beseech thee, that by the indwelling of thy Holy Spirit, we may be enlightened and strengthened for thy service ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.And the Book of Common Prayer 2011's Collect for Pentecost (also in the sidebar of this blog):
"O GOD, you teach the hearts of your faithful people by sending us the light of your Holy Spirit; By your Spirit, give us right judgment in all things, so that we may rejoice forever in his holy comfort; Through the victory of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and rules with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen." (References: John 14.26; Acts 2.1-4; Philippians 1.9-10; Acts 9.31)The Anglican Church has an interesting name for Pentecost: Whitsunday which comes from the white garments worn by those who are baptized this day, just as over 3,000 people were baptized on that first Pentecost in Acts 2. In the above hyperlink to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry of "Whitsunday," an interesting fact is given:
Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast. This is not surprising, for the feast, originally of only one day's duration, fell on a Sunday; besides it was so closely bound up with Easter that it appears to be not much more than the termination of Paschal tide [Eastertide].
I close with this quotation on the importance of Pentecost:
Wishing you a blessed Pentecost,
Sunday, April 4, 2021
|The Resurrection of Christ and the Women in the Tomb (c. 1440-1442) by Fra Angelico|
The liturgical greeting for Eastertide is one that goes back centuries. But my favorite Resurrection Day hymn goes back only to the eighteenth century. Written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley the English church reformer, I miss singing this hymn today with great gusto and joy as it is being sung at churches around the world. These words and the soaring music truly expressed my Easter joy in a Risen Saviour!
1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
2. Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Last night's Holy Saturday Vigil was so powerful. Lighting the Pascal fire from flint and steel, then lighting the Pascal Candle which is embedded with five small nails representing the five wounds of Christ, then praying together before Father Acker and Alice processed into the darkened chapel singing "The Light of Christ! Thanks be to God!!" They stopped to sing this three times, each time lighting more candles; we at home on Zoom lit our candles, too. Then we prayed by candlelight as Father Acker sang the ancient Holy Saturday liturgy in plainsong--it's soooooo beautiful!!
|The Paschal Candle, with the Greek letters "Alpha" and "Omega", the year, and the nails representing the Five Wounds of Christ|
Then we read several long Scripture passages which tell our salvation history as God's people. We then re-affirmed our baptismal vows and celebrated the First Evensong of Eastertide!! With what joy did we greet the end of this amazing vigil, definitely my favorite service in the Anglican tradition. The candles, the incense, the Scripture passages, the vows, the prayers, and the joy of the Resurrection after the sorrow of Good Friday. Thanks be to God, indeed!!
The Good Friday liturgy was equally powerful, but it was filled with sorrow rather than the impending joy of the Vigil. To read the Passion of the Christ from the Gospel of Saint John aloud ... to be crying out "Crucify Him!! Crucify Him!!" with the crowd. My heart was so heavy as I imagined His suffering so greatly ... for us! For me! For those whom I love! For every person ever created on this earth and every person who will be created in the future! His Love is that big!! Alleluia!! Thanks be to God!!
|The Crucifixion with Saints by Fra Angelico (141-1442), fresco|
Saturday, February 20, 2021
|Deposition from the Cross by Fra Angelico|
Updated from the Archives...
While the art of the Pre-Raphaelites remains my favorite period of art, I cannot narrow down all of their talent to a single "favorite artist." And considering that my Master of Arts in English from Catholic University of San Diego was in Medieval Literature (with many courses taught by an amazing nun with a Harvard Ph.D.), it's not surprising that my favorite artist would also be from the medieval period.
Fra Angelico was born approximately the same year in which Chaucer died: 1400. Although he only lived fifty-some years, he produced an incredible body of artistic work.
Today the Church celebrates his Feast Day, and the following is from the "Saint of the Day" e-mail from AmericanCatholic.org:
|Monday, February 18, 2019|
Blessed John of Fiesole
|The Resurrection of the Christ by Fra Angelico|
So I hope that you will enjoy the work of this amazing medieval artist as much as I have and continue to do!
Friday, November 27, 2020
This post is quoted directly from Life for Leaders, written by Mark D. Roberts. To view this post on the website, please click here: Life for Leaders; Getting Ready for Advent.