William Wilberforce was a British parliamentarian and social activist who was chief among abolitionist in the 1700’s and worked hard to end the Slave Trade. Yesterday, July 29th, was the day of his commemoration in the church’s calendar. Wilberforce was a great Anglican who stood proudly in support of what we today would call Justice Ministry. He had a strong theology of liberation and understood well the need for respect and dignity for all persons. Hear his words;
“Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?” [Remember that this was mid 1700’s – I believe that Wilberforce would have certainly today used language inclusive of men and women of all orientations]
We can today, for certain, take his advice understanding that the fabric of our baptisms should be woven with threads of compassion, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance and respect. It is good that we should have opportunity to hold up the lives of the saints who have walked before us who remind us of who we should be. He believed it to be his mission in life to make people better. “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” Let us take a moment today and seek to find a way that we might better live the principles that Wilberforce reflected to us.
Lift High the Cross,
the love of Christ Proclaim!
Till all the world adore
His sacred name.
Yesterday Al Oakley, Jerry Pardy and Bob Cooper spent the day doing some major repairs around the church. The first order of business was the church bell which needed a new cable and a good greasing. They did both. Don’t be surprised if you hear Stacey Adam swinging that bell this morning. The second order of business was the vent at the East end of the church which I have been trying to get fixed for 8 years. The third item was the cross atop the Belfry. It rotted and was removed 4 or 5 years ago. The problem with all of these projects is the sheer height that they all live at. Thanks be to God, Al Oakley arranged for a lift and they were able to get up there. Many thanks Al and many thanks Jerry abd Bob for a hard and satisfying day of work.
I have produced a video of the cross installation and you can view it on YouTube by clicking below. (Be sure to click pause on the medai Play at your right before you do) There are some really great photos that Catherinanne shot and they will be available on the parish webpage www.stmarkschurch.net in a day or two.
[UPDATE: Mother has been thrilled with all of her messages and she continues to receive them. If you want to send one along please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward them all.]
An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. ~Spanish Proverb
Today is my Mother’s 75th Birthday. I am sad to say that I cannot be with the family who will be assembled together to celebrate this great occasion. The Spanish proverb above comes to mind as I reflect on my mother. There have been so many good influences in my life but the ONE who took me to church and was sure to see to it that I was involved was my MOM. She is such a proud church woman and has instilled a great respect for the church in all of her children. Indeed it is fair to say that an ounce of my mother is worth more than a pound of clergy, especially this clergy.
Because there is such a large age difference between my mom and Dad (Dad will be 91 in September), Dad has often received the most profile and attention at birthday time. Mom has always been so good about this and has always downplayed the whole thing although I suspect that she does at time feel a little bit like chopped liver. But Mom should be reassured that we all have so much love for her and all that she has done for each and every one of us. Mom has worked hard, raising seven of us could not have always been easy. Mom is such a great mom that if you ask her she will tell you that she does not remember having any trouble with her children – “they were all good.” I am here to tell you that, while Mother is proud and is so motherly to suggest that we were all good, we were not always easy. We presented our share of challenges. But we always knew what we had at home – a loving caring, forgiving and supportive set of parents. Mom was the constant presence in that partnership as Dad wet off to his Job, Mom took charge of hr job. She was CEO of a family of group of seven all of whom was hoping to get the most out of their partnership in the family. Children can be demanding and Mom was up to that challenge and provided us with good care and constant love and nurture.
Thank you Mom for being there – always! And thank you for being there for all of the spouses we have brought into the family and for your tenderness and care to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Happy Birthday Mom. We are so looking forward to being with you in a couple of weeks. We love you.
Now so that my Vice-Principal other brother Darryl does not feel left out – Mothers are not just better than clergy – Allow me to end with this quote of the great Anglican spiritual writer and parson – George Herbert.
“One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.”
Want to send along a birthday wish? Email them to me at email@example.com and I will see to it that they get to her in Whiteway, NL.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing Golf at the ERCA (Essex Region Conservation Authority) golf tournament I support of local conservation efforts and wilderness protection. I offer many thanks to the Charltons (Mark and Sally) for making my day yesterday. I stepped in for Mark who was unable to attend but made is offering to the cause by sending along me! It was a great day indeed and I enjoyed playing with Tony Breckhow, Gary Charlton, and Uncle Jim Evans. Thank you gentleman for a fantastic day indeed. I might note that Tony’s putting was a thing to behold!
The day itself got me thinking about the good work that ERCA does for the Windsor-Essex Area. I reflected last night on the Creation story. Reread again the words of Genesis to remind myself of the richness of the story that our ancestors passed from generation to generation to show the importance of the earth and the created order. There was a day when the cosmos was so very integral to us as human beings and I fear that has long since been forgotten. Now I realize that the environment has become the favourite topic of all political parties lately – mostly because we seem as a people to becoming aware at last of our need to be more attentive to the destruction that we ourselves have generated. Joseph Wood Krutch was an American writer and naturalist. He spent time writing and speaking in the last century to try and save what was left of natural habitats of Arizona and other places. In his day, he was a radical and probably labelled a “tree hugger” or perhaps a “cactus hugger (that would hurt). He had an interesting thought - "If people destroy something replaceable made by [hu]mankind, they are called vandals; if they destroy something irreplaceable made by God, they are called developers." I was quite taken by this idea of vandalism vs. development. We often take not a moment to realize the cost of our “developments.” Of course I am not merely speaking of financial cost but the very cost to destroying what in this part of the planted is becoming increasingly more rare natural wilderness and entire ecosystems.
I come at this having lived in a very rural Newfoundland and having lived in the Urban Sprawl of places in Ontario like London, Barrie, and now Windsor and our American suburb to the north – Detroit. Here I see very little wilderness, and spotting any real wildlife is always and exciting event that can literally stop traffic, as it did here in Tecumseh a couple of weeks ago when a deer was found travelling down Riverside Drive. This of course is very different then whet I grew up with. In Newfoundland we almost all lived in wilderness unless you were in St. John’s and even then you were not far from it. Steams and rivers and natural ponds and rivers were taken for granted. There is no doubt that the decreasing wildlife areas in this part of the world have an impact to all of us. This is especially true if our reduced forested areas as well as the pollution and destruction of our rivers and waterways. So I see conservation here very much as an “environmental” issue. I mean to say that it really is about our surroundings and the reduction of arid lands and the protection of forests and wetlands. God’s created order is no doubt being vandalized. I sometimes get the sense that we read that passage where it says “God beheld what was created and it was good,” and we say, “ well …it is good but really it could be better.” We are unrepentant to the place of being supercilious about our need to “develop” and grow.
Now in Newfoundland I see conservation needs differently. There is an abundance of clean unpolluted wilderness in Newfoundland. Indeed, most of the inland of the province is wilderness as the provinces population is primarily coastal. The need for conservation there really is directly related to protecting wildlife and forests. Now I come from a family that has always hunted, fished and heated our homes by cutting firewood, so I would not want my words to be mistaken for being opposed to a form of subsistence living that allows for that kind of lifestyle. In many ways it is much healthier than the alternatives that we all see here. This is really about being realistic and not taking everything because it is there. Yet in Newfoundland there is a need for awareness around protection of species. The collapse of the cod fishery is a good example of how desperately humans need to be convinced that there is a limit to what can be taken from nature before it all falls apart. Governments allowed fishers from Newfoundland and all over the world to rake quotas that were far too unrealistic and were bound to cause collapse. And many people still have the idea that what ever the next thing is – lets fish it till it’s gone. As children we watched as Caplin (small smelt-like fish) rolled on the beaches to spawn. Most years now, they never see the beaches. It was a lucrative fishery that has gone too far. I have watched people go to hunt seabirds called turrs and instead of bringing in 25-30 you see boatloads of 400. Guess what? Birds are not as plentiful as they used to be!
Hear the words of Genesis
“God spoke: "Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life! Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!"
God created the huge whales, all the swarm of life in the waters,
And every kind and species of flying birds. God saw that it was good.
God blessed them: "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean! Birds, reproduce on Earth!"
It was evening, it was morning— Day Five.”
At times I wonder is we have the attitude that we need to conquer everything. These very creatures are such an important part of our sustenance on this plant and indeed for us Newfoundlanders, they are an important part of livelihood for a lot of people. Weather it is our inability to see the importance of forest in South-western Ontario or an inability to conserve fish in Newfoundland, the protection of God’s created order should be an important matter for all of us. The efforts of ERCA should well be appreciated by all of us as they seek to re-establish wilderness areas and to protect what we have left. Thankfully there is a changing awareness and ERCA has had a large role to play in that here. In Newfoundland and Labrador I have noticed that there are is as well an increased effort to raise awareness. Organizations like the Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador are doing good work to help a younger generation to work hard to not just maintain and protect but help restore natural resources for the generations that are too come. Let us all think about how we can participate in looking after the created order. We might all pray to take the words of scripture into our hearts; “God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good!”We need not make it any better – in fact we need to get it back to good!
When I began reading the Custodian of Paradise I thought the title was a reference to the main character – since she takes up residence early in the book, on a deserted Island off the South Coast of Newfoundland. I have finished the book and the phrase means so much more to me now. I think that I was at least partly accurate – but it is only a fraction of the depth of meaning of the great title. It was near the end that the title takes on its full significance. For that reason, I cannot share all of what I feel about it here, in hopes that you may also wish to read this fantastic book.
Webster’s defines a custodian as “one that guards and protects or maintains.” There are many custodians in this story and many that exist in it without much mention. For now I am custodian of the joy that reading this tale of the human condition gives to the readier. I must maintain some secrecy about this tale so that you too might enjoy the revelations found in it.
I was not disappointed at all. This is a great story of tragedy and triumph, it is a story that brings great redemption and reminds the reader of the importance relationships and of forgiveness. We learn in this book the pitfalls of resentment and revenge and we learn the freedom that openness and honesty along with forgiveness can bring. It is an Excellent read – kudos again to author Wayne Johnson!
Today is the Commemoration of the feast Day of the Parents of the Virgin Mary – St. Joachim and St. Anne. Catherinanne has taken two pilgrimages these past two Sundays to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec. This is a very sacred and holy place and has been a place of great spiritual renewal for many. I leave you today with this prayer which pilgrims pray at St. Anne de Beaupré;
Saint Anne, I have come to honour you and to call upon you in this blessed Shrine of Beaupré. Here, pilgrims have often felt some of the fruits of your goodness, power, and intercession. Like every true pilgrim, I also have favours to ask of you. I know that you will be as good to me as you have been, in the past, to thousands of others who have come to implore you in this Shrine.
Saint Anne, you know the grace of which I stand most in need at the present moment, the special favour for which I have undertaken this pilgrimage. Hear my prayer. I entrust to your care, all of my material and spiritual needs. I commend my family, my country, the Church, and the whole world to you. Keep me faithful to Christ and His Church and one day, escort me into the Father’s Eternal Home. Amen.
I am back at it after a few days to visit Catherinanne and enjoy Quebec City. I left on Thursday Morning and came back on Sunday morning for the 10:30 Mass – (I am told I made the longest commute to church this past Sunday of any clergyperson in Canada). It was a short trip but a good little break for sure. Quebec City is probably our favourite place to vacation – the place is simply beautiful. Now – Catherinanne was not able to vacation too much she is after all working. I on the other hand was able to take a little breather and that was well appreciated. A couple of reflections from my trip I felt I should share –
1. A Refection of Food
“The Môss Bistro Belge, means mussels and fries, beer and chocolate. What a magic moment it is, indeed, sitting down with friends and having to choose a drink, when the place offers a unique selection of world renowned Belgian beers, including the famous Stella Artois. What an exquisite pleasure you feel, smelling the spellbinding aroma of the mussels simmering to perfection in an infusion of fresh herbs, celery and carrots.”
The words from the web page linked, give a fitting summary of a place that I love to go. A Dream – Belgian Beer and Mussels in one place. Not just mussels – but 14 different varieties of them (i.e. prepared in 14 different sauces etc). I need to add FOUR simple words – ALL YOU CAN EAT! It is a remarkable place as you sit in beautiful ambience and enjoy each others company while thinking which kind of mussels you might order next. Mussels prepared in curry, in mustard, in garlic and butter, in three tomato sauce, in wine and herbs, and in at least 9 more ways. Each time you order they arrive steamed in a pot and you get enjoy the aroma of such fine cuisine. For the tidier folks like Catherinanne you can have them come, in the sauce already shelled. The whole thing is great and It was a big thrill for me to be there with Catherinanne in Friday evening. We had a wonderful date! Thank You Catherinanne. I hasten to add that this is one of sooooo many places of great quality and ambience to eat and to socialize. From restaurants, to cafés, to pubs, to patisseries, to gelato stands, it is a paradise if you like to eat – and I like to eat!
2. A Reflection on Words
I forgot to take one of the many books I have been meaning to read of late. So at Pearson Airport I purchased a copy of Wayne Johnson’s The Custodian of Paradise. I have read over the half the book and am anxious to get the rest read to find out how the pivotal Character Sheilagh Fielding is doing. It is a marvellous book. Johnson is a Newfoundland author who has had several bestsellers and is known for his ability to write historical fiction. This is to say that he include historical figures in is fictitious stories, most notably Joey Smallwood who has a small role in this book. Miss Fielding was a non-pivotal character in his book The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. The Custodian of Paradise gives the reader a look into this Fielding who played piece in the earlier novel. If you have not read either of these I recommend both, and it really does not matter so much which order you read them in. One review I read last evening, in fact, said that the reader had wished he had not yet read “Colony” before he read this book telling the tale of Miss Fielding. The book is a great journey of a woman who struggles with her inner demons by seeking solitude and self examination. It really is hard to put down. Sheilagh has sought out an isolated island where no one lives and is living through her own journey and I am riveted to know what is happening next in her life. She comes from privilege but has a host of problems. This is a great journey into the human dynamic and is a thrill to read. I shall let you all know when I am finished if the second half is a great as the first – I have no doubt that it will be.
These two things come together for me if for no other reason than the title – "Custodian of Paradise." Quebec City is for me and I would say for Catherinanne and I both, a little piece of Paradise. The three days there gave me a reprieve in which to be custodian of not just the paradise of Quebece City, but also of the paradise of time and tenderness with the person i have missed for most of the last 12 weeks. While Catherinanne has made a couple of trips home it is always busy when she is here. So much to do and accomplish. It was a good way to have a visit. I was for a couple of days "Custodian of my own Paradise."
That’s all for now – The day marches on!
Summer is a great time to take in so much – it is an excellent time to understand the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. So much so that often we get caught up in it all so much that we neglect to take in God in the public assembly we call Sunday Church. Now one of the most common things we hear this time of year is that we can experience God in nature, at the campground, on the golf course, on the lake, etc. I AGREE – wholeheartedly I agree that God is to be found in all of those places. Now I am grateful that I am a member at a parish where the “summer numbers” are not so bad. Now, we have seen some decline I the past couple of weeks, but it is NOT as drastic as it used to be. This change in attitude about summer worship has not happened by accident. We have taken the time over the past number of years to remind people that we worship each and every Sunday of the year – all 52 weeks. This week our Wednesday Liturgy had 25 people. That is an excellent number especially for summer. In some communities the Wednesday Mass is cancelled, the early Sunday Mass is cancelled or both Masses are moved to make one 9:30 AM Liturgy. What this says to the people of God and to people searching out a community is – summer attendance is less important than winter attendance. Many parishes have a Sunday in September, straight after Labour Day that is actually called “Start-Up Sunday,” giving the loud and clear message that the church has been shut down over the summer. I ask the question, do we cease to need to offer ourselves in the summer? Do we cease being hungry for spiritual food? I am guessing that the answer to those questions is no. Oddly, our spiritually often becomes far more of a “private matter” in the summer – God in nature etc. But we all need to be reminded that while we all have a relationship with God and that relationship is indeed is a personal and private commitment, public expression of that commitment is like oxygen for the Christian. In our baptisms we commit to “witness to the apostles teaching in the fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.” We commit to be present at the table – at the weekly communal feast.
After all the talk of Wedding Anniversaries this past two days [See the posts for July 17 and 18] perhaps this would be a good reminder of how Madeline L’Engle views this subject of church attendance given the way we all have a private relationship with God. She states, “So I go to church, not because of any legalistic or moralistic reasons, but because I am a hungry sheep who needs to be fed; and for the same reason that I wear a wedding ring: a public witness of a private commitment." This is a good analogy – our marriage is very much a private commitment and a private relationship between two parties – BUT – our wedding banns are a witness to all around that we have made that commitment and that we are in that relationship. So it is that my attending church – even in the summer – is a statement to the world that I am in love with Jesus and public profession of that is important. If we make room for God on Summer Sunday mornings we witness to our family, friends and neighbours that God is important in our lives and can be important in theirs as well.
So in the midst of your planning this summer – plan to take time to worship as well. If you are staying in town – come on out to St. Mark’s – we will be here – worshiping as usual, teaching Sunday school as usual, singing and praying as usual. If you are out touring this summer – plan to visit a church and see the expressions of faith that other communities have. Pray about how we might be able to better witness to God all year – after all God never vacations from us.
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do
The something that I can do.
See you in church.
Today July 18 is the memorial for ST. THENEVA. She was a British princess who had a sad story indeed. When she became pregnant before marriage, her family threw her from a cliff. I have heard of parents being upset at things their kids did – but my heavens! Remarkably she was reported to have survived the fall unharmed. She found a boat, floating with no one in it and got into the boat and sailed across the Firth of Forth to land at Culross where she was cared for by Saint Serf; he became foster-father of her son, Saint Kentigern. She is the Patron Saint of Glasgow along with her son.
Now all of that brings me to Scotland – “No one provokes me with impunity." Being from Scotland usually affords the quality of character that lives up Scotland’s motto. Scots are proud people and a very determined and patriotic lot. One of my very favourite Scots is a woman by the name of Jean Anderson. She has displayed well the good Scottish heritage that she has grown up with – mostly in her ability to keep her husband John on the straight and narrow. John and Jean are celebrating their 5th Anniversary today. It is hard to believe how quickly five years go by. The wedding day was HOT – very HOT! Nonetheless, it was a fantastic day a we all got to celebrate a union that came about at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. It is legend at this time that when John started courting Jean he took it slow on Catherinanne’s advice. January to July is not TOO FAST! We must remember that John is Brazilian, their motto being "Order and Progress." While Jean’s origins may essentially say "Who dares meddle with me?" John is hell bent on making progress with good order and good prudence. So John’s Brazilian charm and sex appeal overcame the determined nature of a Scottish Princess. Just as Theneva displayed a great ability to hang in and make it even when it is tough – so to has Jean.
On a serious note it was great to see these two people come together. John and Jean are a wonderful couple and I am so pleased to have been a part of their wedding – and before that to have had a part in their meeting. On their wedding day I reminded them of what their names tell them. John means “God is Gracious.”Jean means “God is Gracious” I thought then that was significant because in each case I believe that God has shown the gracious nature of the Divine in each of them. They are good people and they bring out goodness in those around them. Indeed, since then having been able to watch them grow together I think the fact that their names mean “God is Gracious” is very apropos. In their life as a couple we see the gracious nature of God and God’s love expressed.
Congratulations to a Warden of this parish and his beautiful wife on your anniversary – you are both so fortunate to have each other – So to sum up – with order, John made progress with jean despite the fact that she was not to be provoked unless he was willing to pay the price – John paid up willingly and they are a happy and wonderful couple. – this is what happens when mottos come together!
Keep it going -54 more years and you will catch up with Geoff and Margaret Dibbs!