Monthly Archives: March 2008

Liturgical Easter Hangover


It was great to get the liturgical Easter hangover out of the way this morning. What was that? What am I talking about?  Oh – well, that is what I call this Sunday. It is like we have all just got up from a rough night before on the second Sunday of Easter. We spend a week of building toward Easter in all the richness of the Holy Week celebrations, and then we take a week off. When we show up again on the second Sunday, we seem to have forgotten that we still bask in the glow of the Easter candle.  This morning when I lead with the words, “Alleluia Christ is risen!” The response that the congregation offers (usually with exuberance)  is THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA! Today, It was a little less than exuberant and at 8 AM it was barely audible.

Now don’t be getting all sensitive about this evaluation of our liturgical laxity. I  FULLY understand appreciate how it is to sort of feel a little out of steam after a REALLY big week of celebration the resurrection. In many ways – I feel that in every fibre of my being. Yet, we have to be reminded that we have 50 days of Easter and they should be exciting and they should be joyful. The church has designed the seasons in such a way that there is a festive feel to the 50 days that follow the solemnity of the 40 days of Lent!  As liturgically limp as we might feel, we have to dig deep and take on the next party. I am reminded of a wedding weekend back out east in Newfoundland.  There is the party that takes place the night before the rehearsal as we get reunited with friends and family, the party after the rehearsal, the wedding itself which is the mother of all parties, the party at the gift opening the next day, and if you do it right the party the next night if you have family to leave to return to their homes! It is one long weekend of celebrating. When its all over – it is easy to succumb to the idea that we need to get back to reality, back to work, back to solemnity. Alas, we will not treat our Easter celebration that way. Yes we have been ‘busy’ with church but we have so much to celebrate we are going to let Joy dominate our worship, and our lives. And I am proud to say that the people of God did not disappoint at St. Mark’s today.

While we may have started slow this morning at both Masses, we got it together and our celebrations were filled with Easter Joy [Rick Gelinas was so joyful he wore his Maple Leafs Jersey to 8 AM a week early just to remind me that they beat the Montreal Canadiens last evening]. At 10:30 we enjoyed each other’s company at the Soup Luncheon ans we celebrated Nettie Sears 85 birthday. You can see in the phots that we had a great time. We also committed to follow the example of Thomas seek out the wounds of Jesus in the world, enter into those wounds and recognize God and declare God’s presence when we see the wounds.  To that end I invite you to again read my blog from yesterday regarding Similac Sunday. As noted we have envelopes available at the church for your use if you wish to give. I’m not sure if everyone understood that the envelopes were at the back of the church or not and I have not looked to see if a tonne of them have been taken or not. But please consider responding to God by seeking to touch the wounds of Jesus. That woundedness  can certainly be found in an infants hunger. 

Jerry Marcotte sent me a great PowerPoint about Mother Theresa which I attached it in the email that I reminding you that this page is updated. If you are not on my email list, get in touch with me and I will send it to you as well. One of my favourite quotes of hers is “If you can’t feed a hundred people. Feed just one.”  In this Similac Sunday we have a great opportunity to heed her words.

Thanks for a great day everyone – you helped me past my the liturgical Easter hangover.

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A Big Announcement regarding April 20th


Eastwood Citadel edited 

The other day I was privileged to have a tour of the Eastwood Salvation Army Citadel and was impressed with what they have to offer, particularly in the way of outreach to the community around them. The pastors there are Captains Stephen and Erika White. They are a dynamic young couple who come from the greatest of places, Newfoundland!

    Stephen and Erika edited

In touring the church I was introduced to a program that I did not know existed in this community. The church has a Neighbourhood Services Center, which serves as a connector to the community around it. One of their valuable programs is the Diaper and Formula Program.  I asked the Good Captains what the program provides. Stephen White tells us that This program has proved to be a positive ministry in that it helps families, single parents, and most importantly infant children during times of financial crisis. We are able to provide these citizens with formula and diapers to assist them, helping them provide for their young children and get through hard times.”

  

 It is a program that receives funding from The United Way, and it has seen its funding reduced of late. And yet, the demand on the program seems higher than ever. I immediately felt that indeed God calls us to respond to these needs. To that end I have declared April 20th at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake to be…(Drum roll please)…SIMILAC SUNDAY! [Note: I have no allegiance to Similac over any other brand....it just goes well with the word Sunday!]

 

At Church tomorrow you will find a bulletin insert with the following details;

 

St. Mark’s by-the-Lake

& Eastwood Salvation Army Citadel are teaming up.

  sheild

Together we invite you to make a difference

in the lives of young families.

 

Eastwood sponsors a program that provides formula for

babies in families of great need.

 

The program is in a state of need and

they are struggling to keep their cupboard stocked.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP WITH THIS?

 

1.      GIVE TO A JOINT RESPONSE

The Average Cost for a can of Formula is near $20. We have envelopes available in the form of a ‘LOVE OFFERING’ (They are at the back of the Church) in which

you can donate as many cans as you would like to. The Church will purchase in bulk as much as we can with what you give.

 

2.      PURCHASE FORMULA

If you are out shopping and you see a can of formula on sale [OF ANY BRAND] pick it up and bring it in on or before April 20th.

7007457831 

Please consider donating to this project.

As Community we can make a difference.

 

I leave you with these words of Jesus of Nazareth from Matthew’s Gospel chapter 25 as paraphrased in “The Message”

34-36 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.’

 37-40 Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

 

[BY THE WAY --- IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO OF LATE - YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THE PARISH WEB PAGE AT www.stmarkschurch.net  TO SEE VIDEOS AND PHOTOS OF HOLY WEEK. IF YOU WERE HERE CHANCES ARE YOU ARE FEATURED IN THERE SOMEWHERE]

 

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Hockey Losses


I note here three significant events from the Hockey world last evening:

1.       THE LEAFS

      The Toronto Maple Leafs were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. This is the 3rd consecutive year that TO has not made the playoffs.  Today I think of Ed Smith, Randy Kettlewell, Art Shields, Steve White x 2 (one a parishioners here at St. Mark’s and the other the Captain at Eastwood Salvation Army Citadel – more on him later ) and my Dad, all of whom are  big Leafs fans and offer my sincere regrets for your situation. Let’s just hope that by the time April 6th rolls around the snow has melted so that the boys in blue can get some exercise on the golf course. On a serious note, I must confess that I have been secretly cheering for Toronto to get into the playoffs.  It is always so much more exciting that way.

 

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2.       THE SPITFIRES

      The Windsor Spitfires were defeated 4-1 in the first round of the OHL Playoffs. This, after a year in which they surprised most and a year which brought unbelievable adversity and loss.  I was at the Barn last night with a ‘newfound’ friend and fellow fan Stephen (thanks for the call to go Stephen, you are a great guy for a Leafs fan!) and I must say it was heartening to see the support that the fans gave to this team that has been through such tragedy and has rose to do so well in the midst of it all. With the recent death of their Captain Mickey Renaud it is hard to imagine what is going through the minds and hearts of these young players. All of our hearts and prayers go out to the Spits. 

salute_2008

      3. RYAN WILSON

      Also impressive is the play of Windsor’s Ryan Wilson who Captains the Sarnia Sting. He has impressed me very much. I met him at his step-father’s funeral last Wednesday, a day before this series started. While I am sad to see Windsor lose, I am pleased for Ryan and for his mom Heather that he is doing so well. I am sure that it is good for the family to keep focused on something that Barry (His stepdad) felt so passionate about. From all accounts Barry was very proud of Ryan as is his mom Heather.  Now let’s hope he can keep it going. I have been praying for this young man and his family in the midst of their loss.   

 Ryan Wilson

HOCKEY JERSEY SUNDAY

In a little over a week on April 6, 2008 we will observe Hockey Jersey Sunday at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. This will be our 5th Hockey Jersey Sunday and I hope to plan some new things that will bring us even more spirituality and more opportunity to show our love for God as found in the playful places in our lives. This tongue-in-cheeck event, started as a little fun, has become a favorite of many in the church. In past years we have attracted the attention of the local papers and the local CBC, not to mention Hockey Night in Canada for our ability to laugh at our selves, while celebrating Canada’s game. (No need to write me – I no our ‘official’ sport is Lacrosse) In any event HJS is a hit at St. Mark’s and we invite you all to participate.

So if you are saddened by either loss last night or if your thankful that your team is on top, bring your sorrow and bring your joy to the table of the Lord! Do Plan on Joining us for Hockey Jersey Sunday. WE WORSHIP AT 8 am AND 10:30 am

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Meister Eckhart


Lest yestreday’s blog left you with the impression that the Church of England in its’ persecution of Roman Catholics in the 1500s is alone in its ability to miss thepoint, I bring you today’s tidbit of interesting history. Aparently, there are days in RC History which are sort of a sad statement as well.

 

On this day in 1329 Pope John XXII condemned some of Meister Eckhart’s writings as heretical.  

180px-PopeJohnXXIICameo

JOHN XXII

 

In fact Eckhart was tried and reportedly died before his verdict was rendered. Today many progressive theologians look at Eckhart as a philosopher and theologian who was ahead of his day. While I understand his work is used in some circles and in some seminaries, the Vatican has still not restored this man to a ‘state of orthodoxy.’ His reputation has not been rehabilitated as it were. In the prologue of the ‘papal bull’ that condemned him are found these words;

 

“In the field of the Lord over which we, though unworthy, are guardians and labourers by heavenly dispensation, we ought to exercise spiritual care so watchfully and prudently that if an enemy should ever sow tares over the seeds of truth (Mt. 13:28), they may be choked at the start before they grow up as weeds of an evil growth. Thus, with the destruction of the evil seed and the uprooting of the thorns of error, the good crop of Catholic truth may take firm root. We are indeed sad to report that in these days someone by the name of Eckhart from Germany, a doctor of sacred theology (as is said) and a professor of the order of Preachers, wished to know more than he should, and not in accordance with sobriety and the measure of faith, because he turned his ear from the truth and followed fables.

The man was led astray by that Father of Lies who often turns himself into an angel of light in order to replace the light of truth with a dark and gloomy cloud of the senses, and he sowed thorns and obstacles contrary to the very clear truth of faith in the field of the Church and worked to produce harmful thistles and poisonous thornbushes. He presented many things as dogma that were designed to cloud the true faith in the hearts of many, things which he put forth especially before the uneducated crowd in his sermons and that he also admitted into his writings.”

 

 

You can read this ‘bull’ in its entirety by clicking here. It is an astonishing thought to me that Meister Eckhart, whose writings I so love, is considered to have taken to the ‘Father of Lies.’ The Pope, then writing from Avignon, seems to find most offensive the idea that his ‘heretical’ ideas were mostly offered to “the uneducated crowd” when he preached.  The uneducated crowd that John XXII was referring to were the people of God. One of the scariest prospects for the Holy See at the time was the fact that Eckhart was preaching his theology of self emptying and looking to accept the divine in others to the people in the vernacular, which in his case was German. I imagine it was a dangerous proposition for the church to allow the people of God the power to embrace knowledge, thought, instruction, and dialogue. In knowledge there is power, and I am certain that was the greatest threat of all to the church.

 

  MeisterEckhart2

One of his offences was his theology of God in humanity. His theology was very incarnational. The church never understood the encouragement he gave to the people that the Divine can be found within them and that they should nurture that sense of the Holy and allow it to grow. He wrote; “The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.”  Again – I find myself on the outside of the church’s position and embracing the ‘heresy’ of Eckhart. The Dominicans to which he belongs lobbied at the end of the last century to have Eckhart fully embraced by Rome. While there were rumours that John Paul II was sympathetic to their cause, Rome has not issued any official response. It’s a pity really.

 

It is interesting that over the many years that have passed since Meister Eckhart was reeled in by the church; his writings and his teaching have become stronger than ever. It is worth noting that while Eckhart may have died with no record of where he is even buried, his words have not just survive but have instructed for centuries. It is the Easter story all over again.  God arrives in places and persons that often make the institution uncomfortable.  Again and again the institution responds poorly to the lights that arrive in its midst. Miraculously, those lights are not extinguished. The darkness does not prevail. Love lives -even after death.

 

Eckhart once said, “God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.” Indeed, I believe that the church has oft gone for a long stroll while God waited at home patiently.  I just hope God’s patience does not run out.

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St. Margaret of Clitherow


Today in the Roman Catholic Church is a feast day for St. Margaret of Clitherow. Now This is what www.catholic.org has to say about Margaret.

 

St. Margaret Clitherow was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. Possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, she was a charming personality. In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do grazier and butcher (to whom she bore two children), and a few years later entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. Recourse was had to every means in an attempt to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes. The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily glimpsed in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise." Her feast day is March 26th.

How we can do this to each other is beyond me. This of course was a day in age when those who were RC were persecuted in England. So these ‘God-fearing’ people in the middle of the fourth week of Lent that year thought it a good thing to ‘press’ a woman to death for become a member of the Roman Catholic Church – all in the name of God. Boy we can be brutal.

I remember reading about Margaret a few years ago and thinking how very faithful she must have been to choose that painful end over recanting. It seems today that we would deny faith rather than be embarrassed at a cocktail party. But we have been reminded this week that this sort of dark and brutal reality is not the answer. That as sure as Jesus showed a different and appropriate response to the violence of his day, so too did Margaret of Clitherow show a fearless and appropriate response to violence in her day, and we too are called to respond to the violence of our day with nonviolence and action.    

LIGHT has defeated darkness and we must respond in Light, in Love and in hope. Not long ago I was reflecting with someone about how brutal religious extremist can be in the Middle East. I hear people musing about it all the time. It is terrible when we hear of people being torn apart limb by limb for their Christian faith. And yet as Margaret of Clitherow’s story reminds us, this is not new. We still allow violence in the name of The Supreme Love. Let us all embrace the Easter Gospel and try and live with a sense of peace and justice. We can all affect a new way of being by being brave enough to embrace the faith we have been given and by refusing violence as a response., beginning with how we respond to those closest to us. Love, Love, Love!

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Jubilate Deo, Omnis Terra


[There are highlights of this great weekend found on Youtube. You can view this video by clicking here]

  St. Mark's Holy Week and Easter 2008 044

At Easter, when we were in seminary, the late great George Black would have us sing a wonderful Taize Canon and the words were;

 

Jubilate Deo

omnis terra,

servite Domino in laetitia

Alleluia, Alleluia in laetitia,

Alleluia, Alleluia in laetitia.

 

That translates to:

 

Make a joyful sound to God,

all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness

Alleluia, Alleluia with gladness

Alleluia, Alleluia with gladness

 St. Mark's Holy Week and Easter 2008 009

That song has been ringing in my head all morning as I look back at Saturday’s Vigil and Sunday Morning’s liturgies. We have celebrated the great triumph of Light and Love. We celebrate that God is good and God wants good for us. Our response has to be a joyful one and it has to be a full response. On Saturday Evening we celebrated the fullness of that love as we baptized little Elijah Paulton and Gabriella Goetz. We were so pleased to have the Rev’d Sue Paulton as our guest preacher and concelebrant. She had a special interest in that her Grandson is Elijah. Alex Haley wrote; “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” It was very touching to watch Sue baptise Elijah. So much better, I think, that she was at church on Saturday to baptise her grandson. Thank you Sue and thank you to the folks from St. David’s and St. Mark’s (West End) who came out in support of your fine priest.

St. Mark's Holy Week and Easter 2008 017

 

 

Both Elijah and Gabriella were so good and they were so beautiful. It was great to see our friends from St. Barnabas present as well. Dave and Gisela are such great people and it was good to see their family and friends there offering love and support.   

 

Sunday morning was also tremendous. Our 8 AM celebration was one f the largest groups I have witnessed at that time. Our 10:30 AM Liturgy was more than full with 245 people fitting into a space that will feel over full after 200. The kids were awesome and the whole atmosphere was of joy and of jubilation. We made lots of joyful noise to the Lord. Eric Mainwaring was present and offered his gift of music on the trumpet. It was tremendous. It was a great addition to the choir and Andrea who were stellar in their leadership of music ministry. Beyond all of that the congregation sang with the greatest sense of joy and celebration and there was no doubt that this is a community of the resurrection.

 

So once again… There are highlights of this great weekend found on Youtube. If you were here this weekend there is a good chance you are in the video!!!You can view this video by clicking here.

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A Great Youth Vigil


Tonight Catherinanne and I were privileged to be present for a portion of the Youth Vigil at the church. Jane had a block of the vigil time slotted off for the young people to come out and be together. In that time they were invited to reflect, to pray and to share. It was very well done and I must say I was very proud of the work being done in this parish for the development of faith of young persons.  

To see a short video highlighting tonight’s please click here

[YOU MAY WANT TO PAUSE THE MUSIC ABOVE FIRST]

This prayer comes to mind as perhaps appropriate to what I witnessed tonight. It comes from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and was prepared for those getting ready for World Youth Day.

Prayer for Youth
(as they prepare for and travel to the World Youth Day)

Where can I go when the night is dark and I stumble along the way?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, whose light turns the night into day.
Where can I go when my heart is low and my spirit wounded with pain?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, to the God who gives joy to my youth!

Where can I go when my heart is full, overflowing with thanks and praise?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, whose peace is the joy of my days.
Where can I go when my heart is healed and mended with comfort and love?
I will go up to the house of the Lord. my God, whose grace gives me strength from above.
Where can I go when my heart is at peace and filled with the spirit of truth?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, to the God who gives joy to my youth!

Where can I go to give of myself in return for all I’ve received?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, who calls me to serve those in need.
Where can I go to pour out myself as God’s love is poured out for all?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, whose love bids me answer the call.
Where can I go for life worth the living, for love strong in word, deed, and truth?
I will go up to the house of the Lord, my God, to the God who gives joy to my youth!

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Jesus – Not Rational


Today we celebrate [if that is the right word] Good Friday. We mark the most painful day in the three day journey called the Triduum. The liturgy is a beautiful reflection of the sacrifice of Jesus and the love that God has for God’s people. We reflect today on the ways in which we participate in the crucifixion. It is important to take time in the quiet and solitude to ask ourselves how we can step back from the mob mentality that we often participate in. We often participate in the crucifixion when we judge others, when we fail to offer the love and compassion characteristic of Jesus of Nazareth. When Jesus reached out to those pushed to the fringe, it was a powerful and healing act born of his humanity. It was also a witness to us that we ought to do the same. When Jesus touched the leper who had not felt human touch for many years, it again was an act born out of his humanity and it was a witness to the rest of us. When Jesus ate with those who were forgotten and forsaken, it was a human witness to his followers that we must do the same.  Jesus stepped out of the comfort zone of the people of the institution and establishment to take on that which may not have seemed sensible to the world around him. Each day we have the opportunity to do the same. We, too, have every opportunity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the lonely, and set the captive free. Do we embrace that very human possibility or do we stand beside the fire pot and warm ourselves and deny Jesus and deny the covenant that we have with him.

 

Madeline L’Engle writes in her book The Irrational Season, "We pin him [Jesus] down, far more painfully than he was nailed to the cross, so that he is rational and comprehensible and like us, and even more unreal. And that won’t do. That won’t get me through death and danger and pain, nor life and freedom and joy."  It seems that this is painfully true. We have painted Jesus into the frescos of our lives as well as our cathedrals. We follow this Jesus when it is convenient and we abandon him when it is hard to follow through, all the while we do so knowing we have painted this very polite, rational and conventional Jesus who more resembles the Rev’d Eric Camden [The minister from the popular TV Series 7th Heaven] than the peasant Jewish cynic who challenged, who taught, who upset the applecart, who embraced the irrational, who sought to bring LOVE to even the most undesirable of us all. And that is of crucial importance if we want to "…get through death and danger and pain." The truth remains that death, and darkness and pain are not rational and in most cases those feelings move beyond comprehension. God does not simply show up when things are tidy and rational – quite the contrary. God is abundantly present in the chaos of our lives. We should show up in the chaos of others’ lives. We should cry out as Jesus Cried out at the death of Lazurus. We should embrace as Jesus embraced. We should reach to those pushed to the fringe and be present with those who need us the most. 

StoryofJesus 

[I have found this to be a powerful image]

 

We often fail to transition to doing what Jesus calls us to because of what I call the Easter Extenuation. What is the Easter Extenuation? I am glad you asked.

 

 In two days (technically tomorrow evening) we will celebrate the Great Triumph. We will celebrate the Resurrection Miracle.  We will celebrate the Divinity of Jesus – he becomes THE CHRIST.  I think that sometimes becomes our opportunity to say of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth, “I can’t be Jesus. Jesus is Lord after all!” Today, Good Friday is for us a tacit reminder of the humanity of Jesus. Today we acknowledge that he died. I think we need to be reminded of that as much as we need to be reminded of his divinity, perhaps even more. We need to re-paint the frescos of our spirituality and perhaps even of our cathedrals. The image needs to be one of the worker, the healer, the supplier, the comforter, the feeder, the LOVER. Today is a great chance to take hold of what we can do as humans when we choose to pay the price. I know that we can do so knowing that the price is so heavily discounted today because of how much Jesus paid 2000 years ago!

 

 

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Maundy Thursday


From John’s gospel tonight is Chapter 13 verse 34; "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"). It is because, in part, of the Latin word at the beginning of that verse, we have the word Maundy.

Tonight we had a moving liturgy to commemorate the Last Supper and the foot washing. It was an opportunity to set our sight on Good Friday and the solemnity of it.

Tonight the church lies still in Candle light while parishioners keep watch and prays. Perhaps we will see you there. It is beautiful in there.

Tomorrow morning at 10:30 we will mark Good Friday. Please plan on joining us.

Let us come and reflect on these words of Henri Nouwen

“I look at your dead body on the cross. The soldiers, who have broken the legs of the two men crucified with you, do not break your legs, but one of them pierces your side with a lance, and immediately blood and water flow out. Your heart is broken, the heart that did not know hatred, revenge, resentment, jealousy or envy but only love, love so deep and so wide that it embraces your Father in heaven as well as all humanity in time and space. Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched. Together with all people of all times, I look up to you whom they have pierced, and I gradually come to know what it means to be part of your body and your blood, what it means to be human.”

Here is what it looks like tonight

Holy Thursday 005

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On being Godparent


Above all else, know this:  Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and be ready always for new ones. For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive.
                                                                           - Meister Eckhart

On Sunday evening Catherinanne and I had dinner with our friends Andrew and Pamela and little Peter. We thought it to be a brilliant time to see friends that we had not seen a few weeks and we were grateful for the invitation to be with them. As Meister Eckhart says, we need to “…be ready at all times for the gifts of God.” We were floored to over dinner to be asked a simple question that has brought joy into out hearts that we have been revelling in since Sunday.  “Pamela and I would like for you both to be Peter’s Godparents,” Andrew said quite unhesitatingly.  We were at that moment rapturous. Since that time the sense of how honoured we are to be considered for this role has grown that much stronger.  True indeed, then, that “…God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive.” This is a great gift of God’s giving and we are thrilled to bits over this.

 

In our family, Catherinanne and I are godparents Lauren, and Dafydd.  As a couple, we are also Godparents to Alanah and we have tried to live up to the role as best we can, trying always to be present to her in matters of faith and always trying to build relationship with her. She has been a joy in our lives and we have been made better because of our relationship with her. She has been a witness to us in many ways.  I hope that we can be a positive influence in the life of little Peter Sasso.

 

I am sure that many of you have been asked to be a Godparent before or perhaps you are preparing for that role right now. So what is a Godparent called to do? I did a little internet search and found some answers to this question. [Not to say that I had no idea, but I was curious as to what ‘people’ are saying.] Here is what the Anglican Church is New Brunswick has to say; [The red parts are my reflection after the next three points]

1.      Godparents represent the Church of Jesus Christ, as new members are initiated into the Christian faith and life.

·         godparents can and still do represent the community of faith at the act of baptism

·         the presence of godparents from other families within Christendom underscores the universality of the Church and the strength of our wider fellowship as Christians.

·         godparents maintain a vital interest in the spiritual life of the candidate’s family

·         Their ongoing concern is not only the welfare of the individual they sponsor, but also the spiritual atmosphere in which the child is raised

·         a godparent brings the life of faith to the Christian family as a friend and representative of the greater Church

Now this is a good thing as I see it. I like the idea of representing the Christian Community. Since I am from another “family within Christendom” than young Peter I am pleased to think that my presence could help underline the universality of the church. It is also good news for us that we get to be interested in the spiritual life of the candidate’s family – because truthfully, Peter’s family has been very important in our spiritual life.

2.      The godparent is the guarantor of education.

·         Godparents are rarely a child’s primary educator

·         the sponsor must maintain a lively interest in the candidate’s Christian education

·         The godparent himself or herself should possesses a level of spiritual maturity

·         Sharing the substance of the faith with a godchild is a rewarding and exciting charge

Thank goodness they acknowledge that the godparent is NOT the primary educator. In the meantime, I fancy myself a bit of an educator and I have witness how good Catherinanne is at educating so I am hoping that we might be able to help Peter out with this. I do know that having a level of spiritual maturity is a large task and I find myself in the infancy of my spirituality and in my faith. The good news is I am working toward spiritual maturity all the time.   

3.      A godparent is a mentor, helper, and friend.

·         Godparents should seriously consider whether they are capable of making a lifetime commitment to another human being

·         they must expect to be available to their godchildren at all times for counsel, encouragement, and companionship

·         This experience of faithful companionship should be a comfortable and natural one for Christians, modeling their relationship with their godparents, their first friends in faith.

This sums it up well. This commitment is lifelong and it is a serious commitment to undertake. When we make those promises at the baptism in a few weeks, we will be making a commitment for our, and/or Peter’s, lifetime. That’s a big commitment! Indeed, our hope is that we will be there for him and for his family in any way that we can be in the future.

 

Now, who really knows if the Anglicans in New Brunswick know anything? They may be out to lunch. So I thought I would read some Roman Catholic stuff. Having read a little about what might exclude me and a little more about how I can witness along with a ‘Catholic’ godparent [conveniently I am married to a ‘good Catholic’], I decided to leave well enough alone a settle for the ‘stuff’ that I read from the New Brunswick Anglos.

 

There is so much joy in our heart to take on another lifelong commitment to another human being and to seek to try and offer teaching and counsel to that young man regarding a Nazarene named Jesus.  I want to teach Peter about a little law f life that Jesus spoke of – LOVE. I want to teach him about loving others and finding Jesus in others. I want to teach Peter that being an important part of the church is all about service and all about loving. I want to be able to do that by being a part of that great family of his. The Sasso and Sweeney families are great people of faith and they have both been so influential in our lives. We only hope to be able to give to Peter and part of the good witness that his ancestors have given to us. I journey on now hoping to learn more of how I can be a godparent. If you have insights – be sure and pass them on.

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