Lent in God’s Perspective

water's edgeThe Spanish nun and mystic, St. Theresa of Avila, has written, “Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.”

God’s perspective is all-encompassing.  In our limited language we say, God can see from the beginning to the end and everything in between.  God is infinite.  God is everywhere and nowhere.  We, on the other hand, are quite finite.  We are stationary.  We have a perspective that is most often hemmed in by our particular circumstances and limited vision.  And yet … we are told by mystics and teachers alike, that we are to become more like God.  We are challenged to look beyond our limitations and see the broader perspective that God beholds.

Each Lent we have a new opportunity, a new reminder, to look beyond our limited horizon and see into the world beyond our simple confines.  The traditional Lenten practices of prayer, almsgiving, and penance each play a part in helping us to broach our narrow vision and participate more fully in God’s perspective.  Prayer opens us to reach out and be receptive to our God.  It gives us the opportunity to beseech on behalf of others, while at the same time expanding our own heart and soul.  Almsgiving also calls us to look beyond our own needs and to look to the needs of others. The Orthodox specifically call almsgiving, the act of mercy.  Not only are we to open our pockets, but we need to open our hearts to those beyond our usual scope of concern.  And, penance teaches us that to reach for God’s perspective, we need to utilize discipline and determination to look up and away from the present moment.  In this way we may grasp the panoramic vision of the “one Glory” to which St. Theresa refers.

St. Theresa tells us above that we only have one opportunity, one life in which to look beyond the local horizon.  Lent is a reminder of our one soul to which we must attend.  The time is short.  The stakes are the highest.  As we approach the end of this Lent, may we reach higher towards God’s perspective and open our hearts to the love and mercy proclaimed by Jesus the Christ, whose Life, Death, and Resurrection we celebrate at each Eucharist.water's edge

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Staying True to Our Mission

FreeCatholicDD51aR04cP01ZL-Coolidge4c_smlWe find ourselves at a crossroads in the diocese.  Our prior church home has gone in a direction that we could not follow and for some time now it has felt as if we were adrift.  As that thought came to me, I thought of the diocesan crest or coat of arms that was designed several years ago.  It is pictured here.  Both the graphic and the word images are water related.  Both summon the idea of a journey on water.  The ship is an early metaphor for the pilgrim church. Reminiscent of the protection given by Noah’s ark.  The crest contains both the moon and the Morning Star signaling a morning voyage to Christ under the watchful gaze of Mary, the Mother of God (often symbolized by a moon).  The Latin motto translates to “Put out to deeper water.”  Those of us who are in the Independent Sacramental Movement have done this before; we have moved on from our origins to church homes of more depth, more offerings.

This is what we do again!  We follow our mission and put out for deeper waters. Powered by gusts of the Spirit, we journey toward the Morning Star bearing the cross of Christ.  What better way to observe Lent and stay true to our mission as Catholic Christians.  We are a pilgrim people.  We reach out to those who want journey with us and look to brighter shores.  We implore the saints above and the saints among us to pray for us to the Lord, our God, for protection, guidance, and wisdom.  May our Lenten journey be true and hearts full of the Mercy of God.  May God bless you all.

How About Dinner?

Would you like to join me for dinnerdinner-party? More specifically, would you like to join me in a return to making dinner more civilized, more polite, more human.  All too often we forego a traditional sit-down meal for something on the run, or it’s a date with our cell phone, or the family members all fend for themselves.  Some would argue that all of civilization has developed so that we can eat.  Hunting and gathering alone was not sufficient to provide enough food consistently for the family.  As a result farming developed and ultimately allowed people to pursue other interests with their time (thus civilization!) at the same time providing sufficient food for the family.  Feeding ourselves is a basic act of self preservation.

However, we are social creatures and require more than just to feed our face.  We need, crave, and thrive on interaction with others. Gathering to eat together is the perfect opportunity for interaction with each other.  That is why so many cultures and religious traditions sanctify the act of eating: the Jews have the Passover, Christians have the Eucharist, Muslims have the meals that break the fasts of Ramadan, and many of the Far Eastern religious have religious rituals that are conduct within the context of meals.  Eating together and sharing together can be a deeply spiritual experience as well as an act of pure enjoyment!

We, as Catholic Christians, have a long and deep tradition of connecting eating with our central beliefs.  However, we are in serious danger of losing the ability to share this tradition with our young people, and perhaps all people, because the tradition of a regular sit-down meal spent attending to each other and sharing our inner selves is quickly fading away.  It is quite significant that the act that inspired the impetus for the process of civilization is fading away.  We should NOT let that happen!  Despite the busyness of our everyday life, or rather because of it, we owe it to our social nature to make the effort to preserve this cornerstone tradition – intentional dinner.  This is a dinner where we intentionally gather to share a meal and our thoughts with family (however you constitute your family) or friends or both.

There is a new and burgeoning movement called #DinnerMode that has started to specifically help people to preserve the Dinner tradition, especially in regard to avoiding the use of cell phones during your intentional dinner. This movement issues us all a basic and simple 4 part challenge:

  1. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes. Your choice! Challenge whoever you’re with (friends, family, co-workers) to do the same.
  2. Turn your phone down on the table. Don’t cheat! Give yourself that time to disconnect from your device and technology to enjoy the people you’re with (or quality time spent alone) and the food you’re eating (at home or in a restaurant).
  3. Congratulations, the timer goes off. You feel amazing, calm and refreshed.
  4. Challenge your friends and family to take the #DinnerMode challenge. Use the hashtag #DinnerModeand to share your experience online.

I issue a challenge to all who read this to go to #DinnerMode’s Facebook page.  Like the page.  And, take the challenge.  Encourage others to visit the page and take the challenge.  View their website.  Have dinner!  Eat, drink, and be merry!  That’s why after every Eucharist in the Diocese of the Epiphany all the participants are invited to go to dinner together.  Let’s become civilized again.  Eat together!

Hey Everyone, how about dinner?!?!

Passiontide 2014

Passiontide 2014

As of this past Sunday (two Sundays before Easter) we have entered the time known as Passiontide. A venerable tradition is that all the crucifixes and statues in the church are covered from Passion Sunday until Easter. This veiling is one way of signaling to the faithful that the Holy Triduum is nearing. It serves to remind us that our focus should be on the essentials of our faith – those key concepts that are contained in the last days of Our Lord on earth. Just as life takes on a different tenor when we are faced with the reality of the death of a friend or loved one, so too should our Lenten renewal become even more focused as we approach the great feasts of the Triduum and the Easter season.

No matter where you worship, or how you practice your faith, join us in prayer and penitence as we Free Catholics of the Diocese of the Epiphany and the rest of Christ’s Catholic Church strive to faithfully journey to the renewal of Easter. May we all be a sanctuary of prayer and faithfulness.

Advent is Here! Be Quiet!!!

 

week-one-advent

Each year we start the holiday season with our own traditions, trimming tress, buying gifts, visiting friends, attending parties, singing carols, greeting strangers, giving change to the bell ringers, and oh so much more!  None of this is bad, in fact, most of it is beautiful and life-giving.  However, anything can be taken to an extreme; all good can be twisted away from its original blessing; and the best of intentions can be led astray.  An most of us do get led astray in our preparations for the holidays.  How often have you heard, “I need a vacation from the holidays” or, “the holidays are so hectic,” or, “it’s the holidays, everyone is miserable!”?  The problem is that we don’t take enough time to be quiet and let the meaning of these preparations sink into our soul and being.  If fact, this season is quite simply a microcosm of our entire life.  All too easily we get caught up in the craziness of busyness and lose sight of the deeper meanings of life.

Advent is a time of hope, waiting, yearning.  It is a time to remind us that in order to know what we await, we must be quiet and listen with the “ear of our heart” to the gentle call of our God.  Our God chose not to come in thunder, bombast, and great fanfare.  Rather, our God comes as a gentle kick of an infant deep in the mother’s womb; in the sound of a tumbling snow flake; in the murmur of moonbeams on a cold winter’s night.  This season we are given an opportunity to slow down, reevaluate our goals and aims, and consider the simple needs of an infant, rather than the desires of adults.  Consider accepting the invitation to be as quiet as a single burning candle, to ponder the reason for our mania, and to help each other to calmly and considerately look for the Christ-child beckoning to us this season and always.

Wishing you Advent silence and contemplation!