Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Of Parish Priests and Patron Saints

Today is the feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests. A brief survey of his life proves to me yet again, with much consolation, that C students make the best pastors. In this age of rampant grade inflation, that means that B to B+ students make the best pastors.

Here's an excerpt from his St. John Vianney's catechetical instructions, from Chapter 8 on Prayer:

"See my children; the treasure of a Christian is not on the earth, it is in Heaven. Well, our thoughts ought to be where our treasure is. Man has a beautiful office, that of praying and loving. You pray, you love - that is the happiness of man upon the earth. Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When our heart is pure and united to God, we feel within ourselves a joy, a sweetness that inebriates, a light that dazzles us. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax melted together; they cannot be separated. This union of God with His little creature is a most beautiful thing. It is a happiness that we cannot understand.

"We have not deserved to pray; but God, in His goodness, has permitted us to speak to Him. Our prayer is an incense which He receives with extreme pleasure. My children, your heart is poor and narrow; but prayer enlarges it, and renders it capable of loving God. Prayer is a foretaste of Heaven, an overflow of paradise. It never leaves us without sweetness. It is like honey descending into the soul and sweetening everything. Troubles melt away before a fervent prayer like snow before the sun. Prayer makes time pass away very quickly, and so pleasantly that one does not perceive how it passes. Do you know, when I was running up and down the country, at the time that almost all the poor priests were ill, I was praying to the good God all along the road. I assure you, the time did not seem long to me.

"We see some persons who lose themselves in prayer like a fish in the water, because they are all for God. There is not division in their heart. Oh, how I love those generous souls! St. Francis of Assisi and St. Colette saw Our Lord and spoke to Him as we talk to each other. While we, how often we come to church without knowing what we come for, or what we are going to ask! And yet, when we go to one's house, we know very well what we are going for. Some people seem to say to God, "I am going to say two words to Thee, to get rid of Thee. " I often think that when we come to adore Our Lord, we should obtain all we wish, if we would ask it with very lively faith, and a very pure heart. But, alas! we have no faith, no hope, no desire, no love!

"There are two cries in man, the cry of the angel and the cry of the beast. The cry of the angel is prayer; the cry of the beast is sin. Those who do not pray, stoop towards the earth, like a mole trying to make a hole to hide itself in. They are all earthly, all brutish, and think of nothing but temporal things, . . . like that miser who was receiving the last Sacraments the other day; when they gave him a silver crucifix to kiss, he said, "That cross weighs full ten ounces. " If there could be one day without worship, it would no longer be Heaven; and if the poor lost souls, notwithstanding their sufferings, could worship, there would be no more Hell. Alas! they had a heart to love God with, a tongue to bless Him with; that was their destiny. And now they are condemned to curse Him through all eternity. If they could hope that they would once pray only for one minute, they would watch for that minute with such impatience that it would lessen their torments.

"Our Father who art in Heaven!" Oh, how beautiful it is, my children, to have a father in Heaven! "Thy kingdom come. " If I make the good God reign in my heart, He will make me reign with Him in His glory. "Thy will be done. " There is nothing so sweet, and nothing so perfect, as to do the will of God. In order to do things well, we must do them as God wills, in all conformity with His designs. "Give us this day our daily bread. " We are composed of two parts, the soul and the body. We ask the good God to feed our poor body, and He answers by making the earth produce all that is necessary for our support. . . . But we ask Him to feed our soul, which is the best part of ourselves; and the earth is too small to furnish enough to satisfy it; it hungers for God, and nothing but God can satiate it. Therefore the good God thought He did not do too much, in dwelling upon the earth and assuming a body, in order that this Body might become the Food of our souls. "My Flesh, " said Our Lord, "is meat indeed. . . . The bread that I will give is my Flesh, for the life of the world:' The bread of souls is in the tabernacle. The tabernacle is the storehouse of Christians. . . . Oh, how beautiful it is, my children! When the priest presents the Host, and shows it to you, your soul may say, "There is my food. " O my children, we are too happy! . . . We shall never comprehend it till we are in Heaven. What a pity that is!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Update on General Convention

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church recently concluded its business. And reports of its work have appeared and continue to appear in the press. I noticed in this afternoon's paper that the lead article is an AP report headlined, "Episcopal church to affirm gay clergy." The headline is accurate, I believe, regarding the effect of the legislation.

In addition, the convention voted this afternoon to develop liturgies for the blessing of same sex relationships. Since our church doctrine is found in our liturgies, the convention is changing the doctrine of the Episcopal Church in a way that is not consistent with the Anglican Communion and, of course, Scripture and historic Christianity.

In each case, those in favor of these developments outnumbered those opposed by nearly 2 to 1. General Convention 2009 has revealed clarity about the present and likely future of the Episcopal Church.

I don't want any confusion about where I stand. I am strongly opposed to these actions. My opposition places me in a distinct minority in the Episcopal Church, but a solid majority in the Anglican Communion and, of course, the vast majority of the Christian world.

Our Dallas Bishops also stand in opposition to these developments. Writing earlier this week, and in response to the developments, Bishop Stanton said, "My word is 'caution.' And, of course, prayer. I am troubled, as many who have written me in emails are, about what has transpired until now. There is no getting around that. Over all, however, I think we must walk through these days a step at a time."

Those are sound words that I'm happy to share with you all. "We must walk through these days a step at a time."

As a next step for St. David's, I simply want to make myself available to you all to listen to you and address any questions you may have. Here at St. David's, we'll have our conversations on Wednesday evenings. Of course, I'm always available by phone or email.

Let's commit ourselves to perseverance, patience, and continued study of and obedience to God's Word as He has revealed it in Jesus and the Holy Scriptures. And trusting our heavenly Father, we may wait word from our Bishops in Dallas, and word from Anglican leaders world-wide.

Remember that we are called to be faithful disciples of Jesus in our homes and our communities, and with God's help, that's what we will do. No legislation can keep us from that.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom 15:13).

Fr. Greg+

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What is an Anglican Church?

The following article is a short introduction to who we are and what we do as Anglican Christians. My prayer is that this is a helpful invitation to "come and see."

Fr Greg+

Why Choose the Anglican Church?

By The Rev. Quintin Morrow, St Andrew's Church, Fort Worth, Tex.

One of the great triumphs of capitalism of course is the multiplication of choices for the consumer. If you have ever traveled abroad you cannot help but notice that while most of the world's population must content itself with three kinds of ketchup we in America can choose from thirty. That kind of choice can be a wonderful think. But that kind of choice can have a deleterious effect as well -- especially if it creates a culture in which people thing they have a right to a multiplicity of options, and that this right applies to every arena of human existence.

Modern American culture has certainly made a supermarket out of religions. There are more "brands" of religion in our country than in any other country on the planet, and all with sometimes subtle and sometimes outlandish distinctions between them. Spirituality has literally become a designer enterprise with every conceivable preference and permutation made available to the potential proselyte. I even read recently of a "church" in San Francisco dedicated to promulgating the "gospel" of jazz great John Coltrane.

But it does no good for us to wrinkle our noses in disdain at this phenomenon and pretend that our church still has a preferential cultural claim on the vast majority of un-churched Americans. It doesn't. We must now compete with other spiritualities and other churches to get a hearing with people as to why we thing we have something unique to offer them. We mustn't change who we are -- that's not my meaning. But we must clear out throats and invite people to our church, and with the inviting, provide them with compelling reasons to, as Philip said to Nathanael, "come and see" (John 1:46).

The Anglican Church is an historic church, with roots going back to the time of the Apostles. While it is true that novelty is interesting, it is also undeniable that things that have stood the test of time endure because of their quality.

The Anglican Church is a catholic church that holds fast to, and proclaims, what Christians in all times and is all places have believed. The Greek word katholikos, from which we derive our English word "catholic," has two distinct but related meanings: The first is "universal," and the second is "that which belongs to the whole." The content of the faith we declare to be true is not simply the pious opinions of a select minority on the "Sceptered Isle," but what Christians everywhere and for all time have accepted as true. Our church is not the church in toto, but a part of the whole.

The Anglican Church is a reformed church that emphasizes the authority of Holy Scripture and the truth that we are made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Antiquity does not equal verity. The 16th century Protestant reformers purged the medieval church of centuries of man-made accretions that obscured the grace of God and restored it to a simple gospel based upon the Word of God. The motto of their work was "Post tenebras lux" -- "After the darkness, light."

The Anglican Church is a biblical church that proclaims and strives to live by the unchanging truths of God's Holy Word. One gets more Bible on Sunday morning in an Anglican Church -- in the prayers, the liturgy, the readings, and the sermon -- than in any other church in the nation. It is only the Word of God that possesses the power to change the human heart and alter destinies; consequently, saints and sinners alike ought to get as much of God's Word and as little of man's ever-mutating opinions as is possible.

The Anglican Church is a liturgical church that worships with the biblical and time-honored Book of Common Prayer. The prayer book saves us from the tyranny of man-centered worship, and the tyranny of becoming the "church of what's happenin' now," and frees us and teaches us how to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The Anglican Church is a welcoming church, which invites all kinds of people from all walks of life to come and meet the Lord Jesus Christ.

Statistics indicate that three-quarters of visitors to any church are there because they've been invited by someone. Won't you invite someone to "come and see?"

-- Reprinted from The Anglican Digest

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lenten Study: 30 Days Through the Bible

Our Lenten study begins Monday, March 2 and ends Saturday April 4.

We will read and discuss 30 Days Through the Bible, edited and with commentary by F. LaGard Smith.

Our discussions will be on Wednesday evenings at St. David's Church from 6-7pm, with Mass following. Discussions begin Wednesday, March 4th and conclude Wednesday, April 8.

Whether or not you're able to read along, join us for teaching, discussion, and worship on Wednesdays during Lent.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Day in the Life

The next sermon series at St. David's Church is a three-week series called, "A Day in the Life," and it will begin Sunday, February 1.

This three-part series will cover the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verses 21-45. This section of the first chapter of Mark is a summary of one day in Jesus' ministry.

We will look at this day, as described by Mark, and find how, by grace through faith, we can live with Jesus on all of our average days.


Fr Greg+

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Perils of Priestly Blogging

Apparently, when I started this blog last summer, I thought I would have time to post frequently enough. Now I see that I haven't done so.

Looking back, I didn't have a firm grasp of how a wife, three children, two parishes, and two extra teaching assignments for the Stanton Center for Ministry Formation would eliminate my time for blogging.

Though there's no evidence on the blog, the last six months have been quite productive and exciting. Good things are happening at St. David's Church. Come and see.

Fr. Greg+