Archives for March 2006

Feast of the Annunciation

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive Jesus, and she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit at that moment. Here is an Eastern prayer for the Annunciation Feast, complete with icon:

Lord who came down from heaven
and stayed in the womb of St. Mary,
after making the annunciation
to her through his head of angels, is blessed.
The Lord is blessed whom the heaven and earth,
Angels and mankind are praising always.
Oh Lord let the intercession of your mother
be a fort for us all.

Peace be unto thee,
Mother of the Sun of righteousness.
Peace be unto thee,
the palace of holiness,
Peace be unto thee
the ship full of blessings,
the fruit of your virginity is blessed,
Holy Mother please pray for us,
so that we would also
be holy like you in our lives.
Lord have mercy upon us.

Lord Jesus,
who was kind enough
to take the presence in humble virgin,
kindly live in us
and redeem us from
the strong bondages of sins and death.
Lord make us good and worthy divine homes,
so that you could stay in us.

Lord who had been kind enough
to take the human body from the virgin,
unite us all in your peace.
Unite us all with your grace.
Fill your love in us
so that we could share the love
with you and among us all.
Make us worthy to praise thee
with your blessed Mother and all the saints.

Holy virgin Mother, you are blessed,
By thy prayers
let the Holy church and her children
be saved from all sorts of calamities
and let all the departed get forgiveness for their sins.
Amen.

From Annunciation Prayers and Collects

Community and Togetherness…Separation and Grief

I ran across the conversion story of William J. Cork, a former Lutheran Pastor (with a Seventh Day Adventist background) tonight and found a couple passages I wanted to share.

As I would articulate it in years to come, having been raised in a legalistic and sectarian environment, I had two critical issues: the Gospel and the church. I liked what Ford and Brinsmead [controversalists within the SDA–J] were saying about the Gospel’s message of unconditional forgiveness, but I didn’t think forming a splinter movement of a splinter movement was the answer. My study of the church’s history opened to me the continuity of the faith of the ages; experiences with other Christians led me to seek out new and wider forms of fellowship. The Gospel, I came to believe, must create a community of faith in continuity with the preaching of the Apostles. It must draw us toward other believers, not away from them. [emphasis mine–J]

Even though Mr. Cork eventually left the SDA denomination and became a Lutheran chaplin and pastor before finally entering the Catholic Church, his wife remains an Adventist.

Joy found herself pulled between me and her parents; my own father had joined the Adventist church not long before. In such emotionally charged surroundings, Joy was not about to even consider leaving; when her brother formally left, it was a second blow to her family. She has remained an Adventist to this day. Our marriage could have been shattered at that time had it not been for one of my professors, to whom I went for counseling. He helped me see that one who undergoes a conversion experience goes through the same sort of grief process as one who is watching a loved one die — and the convert’s family and friends go through a parallel process. There will be anger, and denial, and depression, he warned. And so there was. [emphasis mine, again–J]

I enjoyed the rest of his story as well. Looks like he’s also done a fair bit of other writing about the Faith on his site. I don’t why I haven’t heard of him before now, unless I have and forgotten.

Feast of Saint Joseph

Today is the Feast of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. I wish everyone a blessed feast day. Here is a prayer for today’s feast:

God our Father,
Creator and Ruler of the universe,
in every age you call man
to develop and use his gifts for the good of others.
With St. Joseph as our example and guide,
help us to do the work you have asked
and come to the rewards you have promised.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
from New Saint Joseph Weekday Missal.

Appears in Prayers and Collects for the Feast of St. Joseph

One of those “Reasons for the Season” type posts

I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a priest, of the village Bannavem Taburniæ; he had a country seat nearby, and there I was taken captive.

I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people—and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.

And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.

Hence I cannot be silent—nor, indeed, is it expedient—about the great benefits and the great grace which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity; for this we can give to God in return after having been chastened by Him, to exalt and praise His wonders before every nation that is anywhere under the heaven.

Because there is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than God the Father unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, the Lord of the universe, as we have been taught; and His Son Jesus Christ, whom we declare to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning; and by him are made all things visible and invisible.

He was made man, and, having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father; and He hath given Him all power over all names in heaven, on earth, under the earth. Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe, and whose advent we expect soon to be. He is judge of the living and of the dead, who will render every man according to his deeds; and He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality. Who makes those who believe and obey, sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name.

–St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland

I read the rest, and I didn’t find anything about green beer or corned beef.

Seriously, though, I think celebrating our older brothers and sisters in the faith who have, by God’s grace, been rewarded with their place around the throne is wonderful (we don’t call them Feast Days for nothing), but it saddens me when the memory of a Saint of such seeming humility and courage gets swallowed up by revelry, drunkeness and ethnic pride.

The irony here is that St. Patrick came to save a land from paganism and now his feast day is full of its hallmarks.

St. Patrick, pray for us…green beer and all.

“What am I to do with this Sacrament?”

I was listening to Michael Barber‘s “Reasons for Faith” on EWTN radio today, and he read an entry from “Swept Over”, the blog of Scott Lyons, a Protestant who sounds like a “doomed” man to me. Read this excerpt and be the judge:

Let me share with you the true riches of the Catholic Church. It is not found in her history, and it is not in her unity or charity (or even her hats). I do not find it in her strong moral stand within our culture or in her unrelenting grasp of right. It is not that she has given us the Scriptures or that she is, after two millennia, thoroughly orthodox. Don’t misread me – there are riches here. But her true riches are, unquestioningly for me, in her Mass.

Many of the riches in the Catholic Church I can explore as a Protestant. In many cases, I can even make them my own. But the Mass is wholly different, wholly other. It has its liturgies (the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist) that must be performed. And though the priest plays an essential role in the Mass, it is not about the priest. Or the music. Or the homily (sermonette). The Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist. And the Eucharist – and here lies the scandalon, the stumbling stone – is Christ.

…The Eucharist, therefore, celebrated as such, is either the greatest good or it is foul evil. I don’t know that there is a middle way.

And therein is my great struggle with Catholicism. It is the most profound and life-changing news I have ever received as a believer – that I can touch and experience and feast upon our Lord. And it is the most terrifying.

What am I to do with this Sacrament?

How many of you converts does this sound familar to? Perhaps from the days when it began to echo inside your own skull?

You can read the rest here. It’s worth a look.

I’ll definately keep an eye on Scott’s blog and pray he’ll know what do to with the Sacrament when the time comes.

An Update to the Lenten Reading Plan

I just finished updating the Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan slightly. You’ll notice that the plan is now outlined in table form, with the days in Lent, the readings, and the actual calendar date the reading is scheduled for. This makes it more convenient to know what’s going on. And to modify a phrase from old G.I. Joe episodes, “Knowing what’s going on is half the battle.”

New Podcast: “The Didache”

The chatters in our “Catholics Building Bridges” room on Pal-Talk discuss “The Didache“, possibly the oldest extant Christian document outside of the New Testament. This is the first in a series of Podcasts related to our “Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan.”

Episode 4 (3-1-06): Lenten Discussion: the Didache (18.5 Mb, 46:25)

(Feel free to check our other episodes and subscribe to our feed on The Ancient and Future Podcast page.)

Lent is Here!

Lent is here. Why do I like Lent? It is probably the same reason I enjoy cleaning the house and sorting my books every so often. It is good to clean house every so often. Lent gives us a chance to examine those areas of our life that are encumbered by material and sinful things. By denying ourselves physical pleasures and by increasing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we allow God to transform us. Lent is in some senses a journey of transformation (sorry to use a buzz word!). Either Jonathan or I took this photo at a local shrine. I enhanced it using Google’s Picasa2, which is an amazing, free, photo organization and manipulation program.

Here is my basic Lenten plan (a plan I am sharing with my girlfriend Jennifer). I am not posting this to brag in any way, but to share the ideas we had. Note that numbers 1-3 are expected of all Western Catholics. Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians often have stricter requirements. For more ideas we have compiled Suggestions for your Lenten Fast.

1. No Meat on Fridays
2. Fasting on Ash Wednesday
3. Fasting on Good Friday
4. Read Matthew, John, Galatians, Philippians and Jude
5. Follow the Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
6. No Snacking
7. No Fried Potatoes
8. Save gas by avoiding 1 trip out/week
9. Exercise 3 times/week

Now, here is what sin each activity fights:
1,2,3,6,7,9: Gluttony, materialist attachments
4,5: Ignorance, Sloth
9: General Materialism

Also, the plan is to give any money saved (from not eating fries or taking an extra car ride) to a Catholic charity.

What are you giving up?

Also, for those interested in discussing the Church Fathers readings online, please check out the schedule for the Catholics Building Bridges Room on Paltalk.