Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Words

will  be sufficient to address the reason I did not watch Tinseltown's mutual affection society awards on Sunday night:

Seth MacFarlane.

I did not wish to participate in the humor of an individual who represents the coarsening of our culture, or humor of the lowest common denominator, and it appears my instincts were correct.  I have enjoyed Family Guy in the past, I enjoy good satire, and good humor (not just the ice cream), but over the past several months have discovered that I do not like who I become after a steady diet of contemporary popular television.

I really do no longer have a stomach for the crass, the cheap, or the degradation I see in so much of what is popular.

I guess I really am a Fogey.

For another perspective see the article at First Things entitled: They will Know We Are Christians By Our Lack of Irony.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Be Careful For What You Ask

Ash Wednesday began in a lovely way.  After taking the time for personal hygiene, I was able to see the children off to school, then sat down as is my custom to a cup of Irish Breakfast tea and a brief conversation with my beloved.  We then prayed the Office together before I made my way to the Rector's Study for a day of study, reflection and prayer to begin the Lenten fast.

Part of my Lenten discipline is to fast on Ash Wednesday, and over the years I have had varying degrees of "success".  I am not a person of great discipline when it comes to food, as I like it too much.  I will admit that I struggle with the sin of gluttony.  My struggle can be seen with my ever increasing girth, and this particular sin is the focus of my Lenten discipline this year.  I am trying to fast regularly, watch my intake of food (particularly the fast and processed kind), and in general to be mindful of my eating habits.

So, as I came to the building this morning, I began to prepare for tonight's liturgy, and found that the ashes I thought we had, we did not.  Reflecting on this development, I recognized the comedy of errors that led me to this find. Without rehearsing the details, I discovered, in short, it was my fault. (Is failure to plan ahead a sin?  If so, there's another one to work on).  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  In a panic, I thought about burning the greenery from last Sunday's flowers, but a calmer head prevailed and after a couple of phone calls I found myself on the road to acquire the last packet of ashes at Lagron-Miller.

In the midst of this, the hunger struck.  On the road, listening to the radio, and passing all the signs for the quick meals, my belly started to rumble.  On the return, surrounded by restaurants I began to feel weak, both physically and spiritually.  I was craving.  A juicy burger would be wonderful, a chicken sandwich, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Subway, I was even considering stopping for the compromise of a decent salad.  I know, that last one indicated my desperation!  So, I turned off the radio and spent the time in prayer, passing up all those wonderful delicious options. The final temptation was returning to hear our Administrator announce that she was going to the soup restaurant for their delicious Lobster Bisque.  Get thee behind me, and back to the study for prayer.

So the fast continues, with Jesus's help, so far.

I do not write this as a wish for congratulations, or even to "publicly" announce my fasting and turn it into some sort of Pharisaic cause for pride.  I write because it is a small victory.

Would it have been some great sin to eat? No.  Would it have been some great sin to stop for a quick processed meal?  No.  But, it would have been a one in giving into the temptation to take the easy way out, and not keeping discipline.  No, it would not have been unforgivable, but it would not have been a step in the right direction for my spiritual discipline.  I could have be forgiven, but strength only comes with struggle.

The lesson, for me, is about grace.  Of course, grace is available in forgiveness, but God's grace was available through prayer to make one small step of victory.

And isn't that what we all need?    

That is part of the message of Lent.

Thought of the Day (Ash Wednesday)

The moon as it waxes and wanes illustrates the condition of man: sometimes he does what is right, sometimes he sins and then through repentance returns to a holy life. The intellect of one who sins is not destroyed (as some of you think), just as the physical size of the moon does not diminish, but only its light. Through repentance a man regains his true splendor, just as the moon after the period of waning clothes itself once more in its full light.  If a man believes in Christ, "Even though he dies, he shall live: (John 11:25); he shall know that "I the Lord have spoken, and will do it: (Ezekiel 17:24, LXX).

--St. John of Karpathos, For the Encouragement of the Monks in India Who Had Written Him, sec. 4.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Benedict XVI

I was quite shocked to awake to news that Benedict XVI is resigning from his position as Bishop of Rome to be effective 28 February 2013.  He is the first to do so since the 13th Century when Celestine V resigned from office after just a few months in St. Peter’s chair.

No doubt, the rumor mill will start to grind and many elaborate conspiracies constructed to “figure out” just why this Bishop of Rome is resigning at this particular time with this short notice.  I will leave the gristmills to do their grinding, and take his resignation at face value.  He is tired, aged, and no longer has the capacity to serve as the position requires.  He wishes to devote himself to prayer.  Benedict XVI seems to have always spoken his mind, so I trust he has spoken true in this case.

I was always surprised with the adulation and joy with which younger Roman Catholics greeted this particular incumbent and embraced his reforms. He seems to have had quite an impact on the next generation of Roman Catholic leadership, both lay and ordained.  What does this mean for Anglicans?

It will be interesting to see who the Cardinals will elect in conclave to be Benedict XVI’s successor.  I openly suggest that it may be time for a member of the Global South to be elevated to the role.  That would prove most interesting.

In any case, it is a good and gracious thing for Anglicans to pray for our Roman brothers and sisters in the midst of this transition.  Pray for the conclave, and may the Holy Spirit lead it to a faithful shepherd for the Church of Rome.  Pray also for Benedict XVI as he leaves his office and enters retirement.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Inspiring Speech

Dr. Benjamin Carson delivers the keynote at the National Prayer Breakfast.  He has an amazing and inspiring story.

One thought that jumped out at me, "What is more important to the future of this nation, the ability to make a 25 foot jump shot or solve a quadratic equation?"