Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2011

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” -Matthew 6:10

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” -Matthew 6:14-15

“I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” – Luke 18:8

The whole to-do last week didn’t really phase me one bit, but then again I have never been exposed to churches that subscribe to Rapture theology, and I don’t subscribe to it either. What I have realized though over the past couple of days is that I don’t really think about going to Heaven either. I only think about Heaven when I pray for those who have passed on.

I do not think of Heaven as a goal, or a reward. I think of Heaven as a blueprint for our lives on Earth. I also do not think of Hell as a outcome unless I chose to dwell in it. I do believe in Evil, and I do believe that Evil is very real, but I also believe that everyone has been given the tools to overcome Evil’s seduction. I see Evil as a side effect of a thinking animal having been given free will. I see Evil as the wide gate.

“‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it” – Matthew 7:13

I believe that God created us so that we could bring Heaven to Earth as our choice, our Perfect Freedom if you will. And as his creation he loves us ALL, so He sent his only Son to give us a Perfect example for our lives, and to redeem us all in eternal life. I strongly believe that C.S. Lewis was divinely inspired when he penned the Great Divorce. If we can just get out of our way, we will achieve Heaven, and ideally before we leave Earth. If we can’t, God isn’t going to force us to enter Heaven, because we won’t get it, we won’t be happy with it.

A very learned, wise, and holy man taught me early on in the return to my journey, “holding a grudge against another does nothing bad to the other and everything bad to you.”

I echo at least one fellow blogger when I say, God did not create us to hate us. God did not create us to hate either, but he did give us the choice. There would be little point to our existence if we were slaves, if we had no free will.

When I act against God’s will, I feel like crap, and for a good reason. Not because I think about my tally in Heaven, but because I know it was wrong. When I act in accordance with God’s will, I feel free. Again, not cause I think about my tally in Heaven, but because I know it was right and it brought just a tiny bit more of the Kingdom to Earth.

Peace

Read Full Post »

“O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” -Psalm 95:1-2

“Sometimes you make me feel like I’m living at the edge of the world, like I’m living at the edge of the world. “It’s just the way I smile,” you said” -Plainsong, the Cure

“An empty shell seems so easy to crack. Got all these questions. Don’t know who I could even ask.” -I’ve Got ID, Pearl Jam

“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory, of His flesh the mystery sing; of the Blood, all price exceeding, shed by our immortal King, destined, for the world’s redemption, from a noble womb to spring.” -An English translation of the Pange Lingua Gloriosi

“Music has always played a central role in my life.  Full disclosure, I can’t sing or play any instruments, so my role has always been that of an avid listener. For a long time, music was my spirituality, and it continues to play a strong role in my existence. I can name a handful of songs, both sacred and secular, that will immediately elicit tears. Sometimes I listen to certain songs just to have a good cry, because so often a good cry seems to be the event that gets me over a period of relative anxiety, frustration, or just general sadness.” -Me, from the first post on this subject

After reviewing my previous post, I realized that I had left out bits that I wanted to include.  Mainly bits around sharing some of the sacred music I have discovered over the last few years.  So I figured I would share:

Favorite hymns:

Pange Lingua Gloriosi – I have a number of recordings of this hymn, I think my favorite is a tie between Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Singers and John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers.

I am the Bread of Life – I own the Richard Proulx version, but I have to admit I love hearing a choir and congregation sing this one.

Agnus Dei set to Barber’s Adagio for Strings – Enough said.

Favorite music for mediative prayer:

Taize Community Choir – Hands down, the best mediative music for prayer ever.  Simple, prayerful lyrics repeated over and over.

Favorite music for Holy Week:

Palestrina – Music for Holy Thursday, Music for Good Friday, Music for Holy Saturday.  I have to give big thanks to Robert Aubry Davis from Sirius Symphony Hall for introducing me to Palestrina on Baroque and Beyond (which needs to move back to Sunday at noon).

Favorite Masses:

Bach’s Mass in B Minor – I love it so much I bought it on vinyl via eBay.

Mozart’s Requiem – Evokes a particular set of emotions

Haydn’s “Nelson Mass” – The sense of urgency in the Kyrie is brilliant and telling, it was written as a plea to end the War.

Desprez’s Missa Pange Lingua – beautiful, I own the Quire of Voyces performance

Anonymous 4 – Mass for the End of Time – awesome, inspired by the spirit of the fear that the year 1000 would bring the End of Days.

Needless to say, I could go broke buying sacred music.

All of these works can be found on iTunes and other music outlets.  I hope you check them out and find something new!

Peace

Chris

Read Full Post »

“O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” -Psalm 95:1-2

“Sometimes you make me feel like I’m living at the edge of the world, like I’m living at the edge of the world. “It’s just the way I smile,” you said” -Plainsong, the Cure

“An empty shell seems so easy to crack. Got all these questions. Don’t know who I could even ask.” -I’ve Got ID, Pearl Jam

“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory, of His flesh the mystery sing; of the Blood, all price exceeding, shed by our immortal King, destined, for the world’s redemption, from a noble womb to spring.” -An English translation of the Pange Lingua Gloriosi

Music has always played a central role in my life.  Full disclosure, I can’t sing or play any instruments, so my role has always been that of an avid listener. For a long time, music was my spirituality, and it continues to play a strong role in my existence. I can name a handful of songs, both sacred and secular, that will immediately elicit tears. Sometimes I listen to certain songs just to have a good cry, because so often a good cry seems to be the event that gets me over a period of relative anxiety, frustration, or just general sadness.

So where am I going with this post you ask? Well, let’s just say music has had a considerable influence on where my journey has taken me. For the first 5 months of my return to church, I attended the early said service at my former parish. I love the traditional Rite I liturgy, and wasn’t really interested in singing in church. I led some mid-week Taize services, which I quite enjoyed, but that music was different from service music.

Then I was met with something quite overwhelming (in a good way), Christmas Eve at the Cathedral of St Luke in Portland. The choir, the organ, the musicians, Christmas music, it was transcendental! Having a relative lack of experience with church services with music and choir I thought this must be a once a year event.

Boy oh boy, was I wrong!

Some months later I stumbled upon the 11:15am Solemn Mass at the Church of the Advent. I had been searching for a Rite I service with music, and I found it. And I was blown away. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from that service was proximity and schedule.

Thereafter, my journey led me to worship at many different parishes out of necessity and choice, both Roman and Episcopalian, and to experience choirs and music on a weekly basis that moved me greatly.  Experiencing the Cathedral of St Luke’s Choral Eucharist was amazing.  I really started to firmly believe that the services with choir and music were the ones I wanted to attend regularly, regardless of the liturgy. As a liturgy geek, this was quite a revelation. Given my core love of music, it was no surprise at all.

I discovered Bach’s Mass in B Minor and was hungry for the traditional sacred music.  Hearing the Pange Lingua on Holy Thursday at my former parish done a cappella by our music director and one of our priests confirmed it.

And here is where it gets really tough to blog about this topic, because while I don’t mean it to be comparative, I fear it will be taken as such.  For those who might, please don’t, you have an awesome church going that you love, and I love you all.  I just found my journey taking me elsewhere.

So I am going to leave it at this simple statement because I think my current parish deserves it, the music and the choir at my current parish are awesome and exactly what I have been seeking.  And how I discovered that fact is quite the story for another day.  Our priest is awesome too and her sermons are wonderful week after week, and so that you not think me shallow, that is my first criteria for choosing a church. 🙂

Peace

Read Full Post »

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’” -Matthew 18:20

“Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” -Psalm 23:6

First off, let me get out of the way what this post is not. It is not to implicitly or explicitly tell the reader that he/she should go to church. Furthermore, it is not a “my church is better than yours”, which I suppose should be obvious by the title, but I figured I would just say it outright. If at any point this post angers or offends you, just stop reading it. This post is for those who are unchurched and seeking. Ok good, we have that business out of the way.

I am inspired to post a brief introduction, and hearty invitation, to the one of the best kept secrets in Christianity, the Episcopal Church. I am inspired as one who was unchurched and seeking 3 years ago, and by grace was led to the Episcopal Church. I am inspired by my recent foray in the blogosphere and by many of the posts I have read. I am, quite simply, inspired to share knowledge that 3 years ago I did not have.

The website IamEpiscopalian.org sums up our Church quite nicely, but let me share the Mission Statements of a few of the churches I am quite familiar with:

“The Mission of Grace Church is to unconditionally invite all people to join us in building a faithful Episcopal congregation that goes out into the community; and through prayer, presence, and partnering improves the quality of life by bringing everyone closer to God.”

“Welcome to the Cathedral of Saint Luke! We share in the mission of the Episcopal Church, “to restore all people in unity with God and each other in Jesus Christ.””

“It is our understanding of God’s intention for us that we are called to be “A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE”. We base that statement on two authoritative biblical statements. The prophet Isaiah for instance says precisely that in a fascinating passage in the 56th Chapter of Isaiah in which both eunuchs and foreigners are invited to the Messianic Banquet. This is a remarkable statement in a tradition that tended toward racial purity. Isaiah began to open the door to the Temple a very long time ago indeed. Jesus continues the tradition of Isaiah when he drives out the money changers from the Temple, it is precisely this statement that he uses to clarify the purpose for which he comes to God’s place of prayer. Jesus says that his house shall be a “House of Prayer for ALL People”.(See Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46) It seems to us that we can say nothing less.” St Peter’s Salem

And I would be remiss if I didn’t include the The Church of the Advent in Boston, the church you see in the photo at the head of this post.

“The mission of the Parish, as defined by its charter in 1844, is “to bring to a portion of the city of Boston the ministrations of the holy Catholic Church; and more especially to secure the same to the poor and needy in a manner free from unnecessary expense and all ungracious circumstances.” To that end The Advent was founded as the first church in Boston without compulsory pew rent”

Notice the variation, yet the common threads of these statements. The Episcopal church is diverse yet at the core the central texts of the Book of Common Prayer provide the liturgical setting for our worship. The Lectionary provides readings you will hear. I often say to folks, “if you went to one Episcopal church, liked it but would like something maybe a bit different (music, preacher), try a different one”.

Interested in hearing a service or a sermon, or seeing a leaflet? Check out Grace Church’s service leaflet and audio page.

One last note on services, many churches have 2 (or more) Sunday services, a said service without music and a service with music. Both the former and latter will vary. Some parishes use the traditional Rite I liturgy as the said service, some use the contemporary Rite II liturgy(similar to what you would find at a Roman church). Most all use the Rite II liturgy at the service with music and in many churches a choir. A few, the Church of the Advent being one, have a third service, which is the Rite I liturgy with full choir. Quite an amazing experience if you ever happen upon that service!

Well, I hope this post was useful if you got this far. I am considering posting more on the Liturgy as I do find the Liturgies to be fascinating and beautiful. This post by no means sums up the Episcopal Church, but the plethora of links should help seekers at least know more than I did three years ago!

Peace, and let us pray:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, 
and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our 
hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may 
perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; 
through Christ our Lord. Amen

Read Full Post »

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” -Mark 13:32

As a Christian, one thing you can always count on is that no one will ever predict the End of Days/Rapture/Second Coming.  Why can you count on this fact?  It is as easy as reading the Gospel.  In Mark 13:32, Jesus plainly states that no one other than the Father, including Himself, knows the day or the hour of his return.  There are plenty of other occasions where Jesus uses this edict as a lesson, that you should always act as if the Final Judgement is right around the corner.  You should always be a witness to the Gospel.

“Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ ” -Mark 13:35-37

“But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” -Matthew 25:12-13

“Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” -Matthew 24:42-44

My favorite tweet of the day sums it up nicely:

“@TweetJeebus: I have returned … in the form of the poor, the stranger, the sick, and the suffering. How you react is your Final Judgement. Good luck.”

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen. 

Read Full Post »

“Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” -Luke 22:19

I have had an interesting week so far.  On Tuesday morning, my nephew texted me asking for suggestions on Scripture and/or other materials for inspiration.   Unfortunately, I was in the midst of a rather chaotic morning at the office and I didn’t have anything off the top of my head, so it took me until the evening to reply.  That being said, his inquiry also led me to recognize that a) I didn’t have anything off the top of my head and b) that was probably because I needed the same.  Being absolutely exhausted by 11:30 in the morning is rough to say the least when the reason for that exhaustion is a job in IT!

As a few folks may know, I am extremely blessed to work 2-3 blocks (this is Boston, so that is about 1 NYC block) from St Anthony Shrine.  St Anthony Shrine is one of the best places on Earth in my mind, multiple Masses a day, a wide range of programs, and an All Are Welcome message.  The Friars are truly men of God.  I go to daily Mass in fits and starts there, I had not been to one since the end of the Advent season and I can never really explain why I stop going.  However, I can always explain why I start up again!

But this post isn’t meant to be about St A’s, it is about what has happened this week and what a blessing it has been.

On Tuesday, I realized that what I needed was to attend Mass at lunchtime.  I struggled a bit against my exhaustion (I don’t know why I always think daily Mass is going to be tiring, it’s 25 minutes) but I recognized that if you are too exhausted to go to daily Mass, you NEED to go to daily Mass.  We’re not even talking about a Holy Day of Obligation here, simply that it will refresh you.  It certainly refreshed me and I was spirited for the rest of the day.

Yesterday (Wednesday), I attended daily Mass again.  When I get going, I like to keep going.  During the Sanctus, I looked up at the cross and was immediately overwhelmed with emotion

And at that moment, I knew why I was there.  I was there to be shaken back into awareness of Christ’s sacrifice, of his awesome act of Perfect Freedom, and that I needed to wake up and bear the cross that I have been given.

Today I realized I was also there for another reason, so that today’s service would hit me from all angles and reinforce my faith.  The 12:30 service was celebrated by my favorite Friar.  He has an amazing timbre to his singing voice, and he always has us sing an opening and closing hymn, which is a treat.  He always does the Alleluia before the Gospel, and he always has a great homily.  And today, on top of all of that Holy goodness, he led us in I am the Bread of Life during the offertory.  And I had been called upon to help with the collection (sit in back and you will be tapped to help).  Singing, barely holding back tears, I walked the aisle with the basket.

I was overwhelmed with God’s love, and I thanked God for nudging me to this pattern of worship yet again.  Let’s see if I can keep it going, I know for sure that I should.

p.s. – I purchased Fr Jim Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and the Taize Community Choir’s CD for my nephew. 🙂  He has listened to the music and tells me he likes it, and I know he will like the book.  I also sent him this Scripture, which he then posted as his status, and I smiled and thanked God for him.

“‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’” -Matthew 11:28-30

Read Full Post »

Recently I saw an online poster picture of a saying that said, “A person who is nice to you, but is not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.” That kind of sums it up. When we go out and about in the world are we aware that God is everywhere always. It's a hard consciousness to acquire because for us mere mortals that's what it is, coming into consciousness. When we meet people, those meetings are not happenstance encounters. There are no acci … Read More

via SpiritualThemes

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »