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Archive for July, 2011

“Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” -Mark 10:52

Recently I have found my blog, and to some degree my faith, going in a direction that I didn’t set out to go. I decided that it was high time I went back to a reflection on my journey as a whole. So, I figured I would share some of the reasons why my faith has made me a better person than I was before I started my journey. Not, mind you, a better person than anyone else, a better person than I was before.

I am more aware of the blessings in my life and I am consciously thankful for them. Sometimes we can take certain things for granted and may not be consciously thankful for them. For me, being consciously thankful has made me not take them for granted, which has led to a better place.

I am able to detach myself from my work life most of the time. I don’t let work define me, at least most of the time. This practice has led to far more time at home, and far more time at home that I don’t work. I still find myself latching on to problems requiring solutions and obsessively working until they are solved, but those occurrences are far, far fewer than in the past.

I am more charitable in my giving. I just am, no need to go into details. I am also less obsessed with having more “stuff”. Not that I don’t have my toys, but I certainly spend more time discerning before I buy. Often I consider whether I should give said funds to charity instead.

I am far more patient, and far more civil, particularly at work. I take time to contemplate a positive response. I try my best not to let people draw a negative response from me. I try to get people to detach, not be so intense about the job, and so negative.

I try to see God in all things. In the good and the bad, in the joy and the suffering.

I am still a long way from reaching my next goal in my faith. I saw a glimpse of it once a while ago, but I haven’t been willing or able to get back to that place. But as I look back to what my faith to this point has resulted in, I give thanks to God.

Peace.

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

Snap out of it! This command was the message of my morning, both personally and professionally. As I am not inclined to discuss the professional part so much in this forum, I’ll just relay the personal. If you have read my last few posts, you know I am going through a bit of personal turmoil as it relates to my church and, in some regards, my faith. This morning, I reflected on the last 24 hours and realized that I wasn’t doing myself or God any good by dwelling on the matter and stewing. I couldn’t do anything about it. While this helped a bit, by mid-morning I decided to scrap the idea of not attending daily Mass. I needed to go to church, and really experience that spiritual refreshment that I had missed on Sunday.

At that moment, the Holy Spirit tickled my mind and reminded me that there was a Holy Eucharist at the Cathedral of St Paul at lunchtime. Attendance is surprisingly small at the service, usually two or three plus Rev Black, the rector of St John the Evangelist. Rev Black is wonderful, she jokingly mentioned that she was “Father Tuesday” at the Cathedral after the first service that I attended. I usually get to read one of the readings, which I miss. I set my mind on going, calling first to make sure it was still on. It was on, and I went.

It was a wonderful service, and there were 5 of us plus Rev Black! I read from Genesis, heard a wonderful homily, spent time during the Prayers of the People in silent meditative prayer, and received Holy Communion. I was lifted out of my turmoil, by grace, into a good place.

Thanks be to God!

Peace.

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The past few Mondays have been down days. Today wasn’t as bad as last week, but it wasn’t very good, and worse in some ways. I pondered the reality of my former priest’s likely full retirement at the end of the year. So much of my formation over the last three years has been under his direction. I continued to dwell on yesterday morning and my reactions. I surfed the website and read the newsletter of a church in a neighboring town. The low point? I started questioning my faith. I arrived at work and was immediately ambushed by a colleague concerning an epic email she had sent about 30 seconds beforehand. Every ounce of my being wanted to tell her to get out of my office, I knew that was the wrong thing to do.

Later I realized that I simply didn’t feel like I had been to Mass yesterday. The subsequent ripple effect was still taking its toll. I didn’t have daily Mass to fall back on today because, as the pattern goes, I had to back off of the Roman services. I also knew that I had to start rising to the new challenges at work that have been set before me. So I set about that task with my faith as my stronghold and my sure defense.

I honestly don’t know what the outcome of this phase in my formation will be. I may leave my church, but I won’t leave the faith. But I know, despite my periods of anguish, that I will at least give my priest a chance to hear out the congregation. If the majority of the congregation says that it was “fine”, then I know what my path must be. But if a majority recognize it was too much (8 weeks, that is 2 months out of 12 with a closed church), maybe I will continue on there, or maybe not.

Peace.

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Jesus put before the crowds another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” -Matthew 13:31-33, 47-50

Today marks the beginning of my fourth liturgical year in the Episcopal church. This liturgical Sunday will always hold a special place in my heart. My first at an Episcopal church. Me and my wife giggling when we heard Fr Paul say “is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind” because my mother’s name is Annette. 🙂 The interesting reaction to Fr Paul talking about his wife and children, a concept foreign to me as it related to priests, and how much I found it added to his pastoral nature. It is also the sixth Sunday of the summer three church cooperative effort at my church and thus the sixth Sunday that my church has been closed on Sunday, as it is the last church in the group to host the combined Sunday service. If you happened to read my post, Roman blood, Anglo heart, you know that I haven’t attended the services at the other two churches to this point, but I have been attending services elsewhere.

So yesterday and last night I prayed on where to go to church this morning. I also prayed on the bigger idea of my church membership in general. I was guided to a few conclusions. One conclusion was that my struggle with this three church collaborative is really due to the fact that I love my church, I miss my priest, I miss her sermons and I miss reading the lessons a lot. Another conclusion I came to was that I should at least give the other church (the first church is done with their turn) a try. My brief foray back to the Roman church ended as it has each time before, with me just simply not in line with the church’s stance on a few key matters. I also have no plans of returning to my former parish, as my priest there is done at the end of the year, and the other priest is moving to DC in September, and for the few other reasons I left to begin with. I am going back to my church, so I figured I might as well participate in the collaborative to at least have an educated opinion. The final conclusion I came to was that on this morning I wanted to go to a Holy Eucharist in an Episcopal church with music. So I settled on the matter, thanked God for the guidance and peace of mind, and prepared.

I am not going into the details of the service that much. The experience started on a bit of a down note, the church looked like a church built in the late sixties/early seventies, though remarkably didn’t have air conditioning. The pews reminded me of a Roman church, with the kick down kneelers. The hanging cross and the back wall of the church reminded me of Holy Cross in South Portland. No stained glass unfortunately. There were two Baptisms (I didn’t know this prior) so it was long. The sermon was pretty decent, though I didn’t take much out of it, it seemed a bit scattered to me. The weirdest bit was it seemed like the child daycare area was in the back of the church, not in a different room. Kids were constantly making noises and playing with toys, which was crazy distracting. The peace was an epic saga and a large group of people in the same area of the children playing wouldn’t stop talking when the priest was trying to call the congregation to order. I am not really sure if the priest made the sign of the cross over the elements, nor did I see her finish the consecrated wine, but I might have missed both.

All that being said, I am set on going back next Sunday. Two more weeks until my church is hosting the service. I am going to participate.

Peace.

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Great post!!! Well worth reading, saving, and reading again!

Do aspiring or established Olympians head out to their training fields/areas, go over their routines a few times, then pack their bags for the winter olympic games? I'm guessing not. Do presidential hopefuls run a few ads, go on a tour through a couple of states, and then think they've done all they can do to win the hearts of the American people? I would certainly hope not. Neither can we who have battled or are currently battling depression giv … Read More

via The Journey is my Dream

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I love the music of the Taize community! You can find the album I often listen to on my morning commute here. I start with Bless the Lord and it is set to repeat all. As I am still a little unclear around the rules of posting mp3’s, here is a wonderful video of one of my favorite songs, Bless the Lord.

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Well worth a read
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/world/23priest.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

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