Category Archives: Methodist

Aldersgate Day for Anglicans

Lesser Festival of John & Charles Wesley (CoE Common Worship Sanctorale)

O God of mercy,
who inspired John and Charles Wesley with zeal for your gospel:
grant to all people boldness to proclaim your word
and a heart ever to rejoice in singing your praises;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

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Ash Wednesday 2011

Lord almighty and God of our ancestors, you who made heaven and earth in all their glory: All things tremble with awe at your presence, before your great and mighty power. Immeasurable and unsearchable is your promised mercy, for you are God, Most High. You are full of compassion, long-suffering and very merciful, and you relent at human suffering. O God, according to your great goodness, you have promised forgiveness for repentance to those who have sinned against you. The sins I have committed against you are more in number than the sands of the sea. I am not worthy to look up to the height of heaven, because of the multitude of my iniquities. And now I bend the knee of my heart before you, imploring your kindness upon me. I have sinned, O God, I have sinned, and I acknowledge my transgressions. Unworthy as I am, you will save me, according to your great mercy. For all the host of heaven sings your praise, and your glory is for ever and ever.
– The Prayer of Manasseh 1a, 2, 4, 6, 7a, b, 9a, c, 11, 12, 14b, 15b

Collect for Ash Wednesday (from the CoE’s Common Worship)
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Crazy few days

St. Stephen’s Day
Christmas 1 – Sunday

So it’s been a crazy few days. I hope any readers of this blog have had a Merry Christmas with family, friends and loved ones and that you are now all recovering (like me) from too much food. =)

The last week has been spent mainly at home. Cleaning up the house. Apart from the one venture into the CBD on Thursday for a hair cut and to pick up my newly resoled black Florsheim Imperial dress boots that now have a new thick Topy sole on them. The cobbler that The Cloakroom uses did a great job of welting the new Topy to the sole.

Friday night was comprised of two church services that I went to. The first was at Eight Mile Plains where they did the Nine Lessons & Carols service which went off relatively well. To all who performed on the night: Excellent Work!

But somehow, in a mainly Chinese church, it doesn’t quite have the same sort of ring compared to a more diverse church. The Anglicans still pull off a Nine Lessons & Carols service the best. Nailed my solo of “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” with Sime channeling Sufjan Stevens very effectively. Sime: You rock dude.

After that, it was a rush to set up as much as possible for EMP’s Christmas Day service before heading down to the Cathedral for the First Eucharist of Christmas that started at 11pm.

The scene at 10:13pm when I arrived at St. John's before the service began.

At 10:13 when I arrived, it didn’t really look like there was a lot of people there.

By 11pm, the Cathedral was quite packed. The chairs in the nave side-corridors were nearly two-thirds full with all of us in pews in the centre of the nave jam packed. On a side note, the paraments (the banner hanging from the front of the altar and the curtains at the back of the Cathedral) all changed from purple to gold on 24 December. Beautiful. No more photos until after Mass was over.

The St. John’s Cathedral Choir were in fine voice as they gifted us in the congregation a selection of five carols from ages past at 10:40pm :-

  • Angelus ad virginum (arranged by David Willcocks),
  • Adam lay ‘ybounden (arranged by Robert Boughen, former Director of Music at St. John’s and Cathedral organist)
  • The Blessed Son of God (by Ralph Vaughan Williams),
  • The Shepherd’s Carol (by Bob Chilcott), and
  • All In A Garden Green (by Peter Phillips).

I was as happy as a pig in mud when I looked at the service notes and found out that Abp. Aspinall was presiding and preaching. The nativity scene they had set up looked beautiful and at the beginning, it nearly brought a tear to my eye when Abp. Aspinall picked up the figure of the infant Christ that was laying on the nave altar, brought it to the crib in the scene before lighting the Christ candle in the Advent Wreath and then censing the altar, crib and nativity scene with the thurible. All this as the six verses of the processional/entrance hymn (O Come, All Ye Faithful – TiS304) were sung and split up into separate sections to facilitate this Entrance rite that brought Mass to a beginning at 11pm.

Haydn’s Missa St. Johannis de Deo formed the musical setting of the Mass and the choir did a commendable effort in singing beautifully and with joy. Some hymns which I absolutely love were included in the service. I sang my heart out when the “Sussex Carol” (On Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring… – TiS300) was played as the Gradual hymn before we heard St. Luke’s gospel account of Christ’s birth and the shepherds who hastened to see the Lord in the manger.

Abp. Aspinall’s homily was beautiful. He reminded us that amid the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks, that tonight, we should remember that God, the God of love, dared to reveal himself in weakness into the world He created so as to bring his creation into a position where they could echo and reflect his love back to Him. That the Christ child helps to soften hearts of even the most ardent and toughest cynic of the Church so as to bring them into the enfolding arms of God who wants others to turn to Him but has opened his very self and being up to being rejected. For what is love if it only controls but never yields to the other? Powerful, powerful homily. It will stay with me for years. Unfortunately, Abp. Aspinall was caught up too in the moment that as soon as his homily was finished and he was back to his seat, he launched right into the Creed without even giving the choir (and Choirmaster Graeme Morton) a chance to provide the musical reflection of “Infant Holy” (a traditional Polish carol).

For the Offertory hymn they used “Forest Green” (arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams) as the musical setting for O Little Town of Bethlehem (TiS316) which is a tune that I prefer to the one EMP uses (St Louis). Mass came and went and there were a lot of communicants. They had four bread plates and 8 chalices for all who came forward to partake of Christ’s body and blood. Two sets for the altar rail around the nave altar and one set on either side for those who were sitting in the nave side-corridors.

The motets sung by the choir during Communion were beautiful. William Mathias’ A Babe is born, Colin Brumby’s O my dear heart and my favorite of the lot, Malcolm Williamson’s This Christmas Night. We finished the night off by singing Hark, The Herald Angels Sing (TiS303) and then the organ thundered into action for the final movement of Louis Vierne’s Symphony No. 1 (opus 14) for the postlude. I couldn’t help but head straight to the Lady Chapel and give thanks again to God for a wonderful Mass, thanking Our Lady for her humble and willing obedience to God’s will with an Angelus and thanking God for what happened on that first Christmas night. After that, I snapped some photos of the nativity scene and of the three wise men: Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar. See the following photos.

Post-Mass: Nave Altar to High Altar
The Holy Family. With angel looking on. And the obligatory Ass in the stable.
The Three Wise Men

I even managed to get in a few words with the Archbishop to wish him a very Merry Christmas before departing the Cathedral just before 1am. Was in bed by about 2am… only to rise at 7am to get back to EMP for the Christmas Day service. After that, came home for a Christmas Day lunch with my relatives, Uncle George and Erin. I think all of us ate too much. Couldn’t be bothered to eat dinner last night.

Service again this morning at EMP which wasn’t any sort of day at all. Though, like any good self-respecting Anglo-Catholic, I observed St. Stephen’s Day. His story in Acts 6 and 7 is a powerful reminder of what the cost of being a Christian could actually be. Had another solo to sing at EMP this morning with Sime again on the geetar (I owe you food and/or drink sometime dude). And without even knowing it, Frances decided to play camera ninja and capture it on (virtual) film…

Went out for lunch with some of the youngish peeps at Parkland Chinese Restaurant at Sunny Park. Which was followed by a failed attempt to go post-Christmas shopping at Westfield Garden City (spent 20 minutes trying to get a carpark). Ended up driving into the CBD and went walkies to David Jones and Myer. And found some good stuff on sale.

Finished off this long weekend with 5pm Mass where the regular congregation there had the pleasure of baptising an infant into the Church. I think with this little one, his godparents and parents appear to be committed Christians so here’s hoping he follows in the faith. For evensong tonight at 6pm, given that the St. John’s choir is now on recess until February 2011, the few of us who attended sat in the choir stalls for vespers.

Said Evensong in the stalls - choir stall #1 before I moved seats.
The Archbishop's Cathedra from Choir Stall #1
The view looking upwards from the choir stalls
The view towards the High Altar from the Choir Stalls
The view of the Liturgical West End from the Choir Stalls. Note the large group at the entrance of the Cathedral who came for the infant baptism at the 5pm Eucharist.
View from my second stall choice, towards the Evensong leader's stall
Ready for Evensong - view from choir stall choice #2

Fr. Peter gave an inspiring homily for St. Stephen’s Day where he reminded the 6 to 7 of us in attendance for Evensong that it was our task to be “white martyrs” (as the early Christian church of the Celts called their holy men and women). Whereas St. Stephen was a “red martyr” because he witnessed for the Gospel and ultimately shed his blood (hence red martyr), the Celts didn’t have martyrs who shed blood like St. Stephen did. Their holy men and women (like St. Aidan, St. Cuthbert, etc, etc) lived holy lives (in keeping with a theme that developed from our second Evensong reading from Titus chapter 1) before they died of natural causes – hence white martyrs.

As Evensong came to a close we sang a couple of hymns acappella (TiS319 – Child in the manger, infant of Mary; TiS313 – Good Christians all, rejoice) that turned out quite well before we received the blessing from Fr. Peter. Afterwards, I had a chat with Fr. Peter and asked what the usual procedure was for those who were seeking to be confirmed. Now that I know that the procedure is tailored for each confirmand, I feel a little bit more at ease. God willing at the 2011 Easter Vigil, Abp. Aspinall will confirm and receive me formally into the Anglican Church of Australia. And the long journey into the Anglican Church and Anglican Communion will be complete. I’ll still help out at EMP with CMCA matters though. Fr. Sandy’s wife is a very wise lady. I still remember her counsel to me post one 9:30am Eucharist when we were talking about my dilemma.

After that, the weekend was over. I drove back home in the pouring rain with Gregorian Chant playing from the stereo. Had some dinner and started on this mammoth blog entry.

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Quote of the week

Advent 2 – Thursday

Jeez, there’s been a lot of feast days this week. St. Nicholas on Monday, St. Ambrose on Tuesday and then yesterday was the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you’re Roman Catholic, that’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s been a strange week too. Earlier on in the week it felt like something or someone I couldn’t see was stalking me everywhere I went. I’ve still got that same feeling (albeit less) now even. While sitting here in my room. The lines by St. Peter in one of his epistles about being sober and vigilant have been on my mind along with prayers that echo the words of Ps 90(91):11 …

On another note, Chrome 8 beta isn’t rendering the admin pages for WordPress that correctly, but that’s a minor issue.

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It’s Advent and this season is supposed to be a time of reflection. Reflection on both the coming of Christ that first Christmas morn but also on his second coming in the future. And given the liturgical calendar that has been a formative influence in recent years on my Christian spirituality, I’m reminded of those who have died in faith (the saints triumphant) who are awaiting the resurrection. Especially given that in the breviary I use for devotions, the period between All Saints Day and the beginning of Advent is a mini liturgical season where the remembrance of those who have gone before is linked with the second coming of Christ.

Tonight I was looking back at some coffee table books I have. OK, not so much coffee table books, but books with a lot of photos and text in them. I nearly cried this evening when I was looking at a book on the life of the late Pope John Paul II. A photo of him standing hunchbacked in his papal vestments for celebrating Mass but clutching on ever so tightly to his pastoral staff as age and weariness take its toll on him. A pastoral staff of the Cross, with Christ crucified.

And then a photo taken at his final General Audience on 30 March 2005. All looks well on the photo on the left with him waving a palm branch while grasping onto the clear plastic of the lectern. On the right, a heartrending photo of the late Holy Father as he tries to speak but no sound comes out. And the look on his face says it all: “I want to tell you something, but it hurts me to not be able to!” A few days later, the Holy Father was called back to be with the Lord, with Our Lady and with all the company of heaven.

I just can’t help but be taken back to a time when my grandfather was alive. Standing hunchbacked in a suit wearing his bishop’s violet rabat and clerical collar, one hand with a Methodist ritual and Bible in it and the other clutching tightly to his tongkat (his walking stick) while waiting for me to assist him in walking back to a waiting car after a Sunday service had concluded. And from that scene, I jump to the last time I ever saw him.

Bedridden at home on the day Dad and I were about to leave Malaysia after what was to be our final visit back home while he was alive. Wanting to say something to me but nothing could come out. All that was left was a gesture to come closer to him, a smile at me that followed by a ruffling of hair my head, a silent blessing from him and then a final kiss on my forehead while I tried my best to keep myself from crying. All I could say in response to him was,

“I will be reunited with you soon Ah Kong, I will be reunited with you soon…”

A few months later, his soul was committed back into the Lord’s hands in a strange and mysterious manner that was very typically of him. He passed from death into life eternal at a time that was very much in line with a personal preference of his: doubles. As I recall my aunt telling me, he passed on at 11:44pm on 5/5/2002.

Dammit, I’ve teared up now.

*attempts to stifle back tears and a runny nose*

Anytime I see photos of the late Pope John Paul II, I am reminded of my late grandfather. Two bishops (let’s not get into an argument on denominational and theological lines here), both from a generation where war, suffering and hardship were part of their early lives, both who dearly loved the Lord and continued serving Him even as age and illness ravaged their physical bodies. And they remain as an inspiration to me in my life’s journey, both spiritually and personally. In this Advent season, I can’t help but remember both of them and thank God for their lives.

+ Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, may your light perpetual shine upon them, and bring us to joys everlasting with them when you come again in glory. Amen.

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A quote that has stuck with me today has been the following one:

“My life is not composed of random chance incidents: rather there is One who looks and thinks ahead of me and guides my life.” – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI)

This week, the strangeness of it must be for some purpose. And while I do question these events, the more important thing is how I keep living my life in the face of them occurring.

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Feel the burn

Advent 1 – Sunday

I really could go for some sleep. Some deep sleep. Right about now.

If I didn’t wake up from it, I don’t think I’d care.

That oft-talked about phrase used in modern life – “burnout” – has been a real big factor this year for me. Maybe I’m just getting old now.

I know I have to be on my guard at these times. For these are the times when I can end up particularly in the dumps. Physically, mentally and spiritually in the dumps.  And where the urge to end it all rears its ugly head. Kyrie eleison.

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This is three weeks in a row where I haven’t gone (or am not going) to St. John’s on Sunday evenings. Usually because my parents have dragged me out to some function after church in the morning and then I have to get the usual stuff all done before Monday morning rolls around. So vespers/evensong will happen again here at home tonight. Not quite the same, but at least I know that I’ll be using the same texts for the readings as those who are at the cathedral this evening.

I’m simply just too darn tired to drive up to St. John’s tonight. This weekend has been a killer. Being audio boy on Friday night for Rev. Yuan Zhi Ming’s evangelistic rally. Toowoomba in the day yesterday to attend my cousin’s wedding. Then a mad rush back to Brisbane to help Chris out with audio last night for Rev. Yuan’s second rally and then being audio boy again this morning for the final worship service and closing ceremony of the CMCA’s 9th Annual Conference. Rev. Yuan’s evangelistic rallies were rather amusing for me. For all the Protestant notion that we don’t (or we shouldn’t) have someone like the Pope, watching the adoring throngs trying to cosy on up to Rev. Yuan for a photo or an autograph in one of his books they had purchased on the night kinda made him look like an Asian Pope to me. That potentially apocryphal saying by Catholics to Protestants rang a little bit true: Protestants don’t have a Pope, they have many…

Managed to say a hi and have a quick chat with Bp. Hwa Yung here this morning. Especially seeing as he’s just come out of the Annual Conference season in the Methodist Church in Malaysia: six back in the motherland that recently finished – Chinese Annual Conference, Tamil Annual Conference, Trinity Annual Conference, Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, Sarawak Iban Annual Conference, Sabah Provisional Annual Conference. Last time I saw him I think he was either preaching at Seremban Wesley Methodist or he was paying my grandmother a visit and I happened to be visiting Malaysia at the time. His vestments were the standard Methodist episcopal dress: black preaching/Geneva gown (standard attire) and a purple stole that looks a heck of a lot like the bishop’s purple stole my grandfather wore. Very similar embroidery on it too. I’m a noticer of details…

Was pleasantly surprised to see Bp. John Lin from the Methodist Church in the Republic of China (Taiwan) here too. Dad introduced me to him after the service was over and the first thing he said to me in Mandarin was “You really look like your grandfather a lot!” Interesting vestments for him too. An all white preaching/Geneva gown with the purple stole. I like.

Best of luck, wishes and prayers for the new CMCA Bishop, Bp. James Kwang who takes over from the former bishop, the Rev. Albert Chiew. And who under the standard Methodist discipline, Rev. Chiew, reverts back to being a regular elder now, unlike in the UMC where I believe bishops retain their ecclesiastical standing for life after they are consecrated irrespective of whether or not they are a resident bishop of an Annual Conference. Here’s hoping that the next quadrennium under him will be fruitful. His Geneva gown reminded me of the judicial gown of the 16th US Supreme Court Chief Justice, William Rehnquist. Classy. The consecration of Bp. Kwang today was an interesting one. The saddest part was that I had the consecration service going on in my head (including the requisite texts) while those on the stage were saying the same words at the same time. My brain is fast becoming a repository of liturgical flotsam and jetsam…

Time for vespers and then it’s ironing time. Lo’ and behold, it’ll be Monday morning before I know it. Where on earth do the weekends go?

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One of my favorite days

Collect for Reformation Sunday (31 October), derived from the United Methodist Church Book of Worship (1965 Edition)

O gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Church catholic, that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

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So it’s one of my favorite feast days of the liturgical year: All Saints’ Day. And on a day like today, I can remember the whole body of the faithful departed who now are in the closer presence of our eternal God. And I will be especially remembering the souls of my grandfather, Bishop Emeritus C.N. Fang and my baby brother, Quentin.

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Others may call this feast day something that is non-biblical. But I find this particular feast day to be one that is profoundly biblical.

The entirety of Holy Scripture talks about the lives of imperfect human beings whom God calls into fellowship with. Some respond to this call (like the heroes in the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures and the faithful in the New Testament/Greek Scriptures like St’s. Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, etc, etc). Others reject it. It’s the former of these two groups that are the ones who I hope and pray to be a part of when I am long gone from this earth.

The ones who St. John the Evangelist, when in exile on Patmos, described in his Revelation of the Apocalypse. The ones who surround the faithful and cheer them on from heaven as described by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (traditionally ascribed to St. Paul) in the twelfth chapter.

As Christians living on this earth, our sainthood while we are here is an imperfect one. We bear an imprint, as Martin Luther so described, as being simul justus et peccator (both justified and sinful). By the merits and death of Christ alone is our sanctity derived. Both imperfectly here on earth and perfectly in heaven.

As a creedal Christian (among other descriptions such as Scripture-shaped, Jesus-shaped, Evangelical Anglo-Catholic and lay Benedictine that I use to describe myself as a Christian), I affirm that “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholick Church, the Communion of Saints…” (emphasis mine) each time I pray the words in the Symbolum Apostolorum (the Apostles’ Creed). Celebrating All Saints’ Day is a way in which I affirm my faith and I remember that death is not the end of life, but simply the beginning.

Next Sunday at Evensong, it will be special. Apart from being the first All Saints’ Day (given it is translated from 1 November to the first Sunday in November) that I will celebrate with the community at St. John’s (given that EMP doesn’t follow the traditional Methodist calendar), I hope to hear the names of my grandfather and baby brother read out in amongst the many names of those who are dear in memory to those in the St. John’s community. And that the sounds of Faure’s Requiem will assist us all in remembering the dead and looking forward to life eternal spent with them in the presence of God: Father, Son & Holy Ghost.

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Background to All Saints’ Day, taken from Exciting Holiness: Collects & Readings for the Festivals & Lesser Festivals of the Churches of England, Ireland and Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church

From its earliest days, the Church has recognized as its foundation stones those heroes of the faith whose lives have excited others to holiness and has assumed a communion between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven.

Celebrating the feast of All Saints began in the fourth century. At first, it was observed on the Sunday after the feast of Pentecost; this was to link the disciples who received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the foundation of the Church, with those who were martyrs, giving their lives as witnesses to the faith. In the eight century, a pope dedicated a chapel to All Saints in St. Peter’s at Rome on 1 November. Within a century, this day was observed in Britain and Ireland as All Saints’ Day.

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Collect for the Vigil of All Saints’ Day (31 October),
taken from Exciting Holiness: Collects & Readings
for the Festivals & Lesser Festivals of
the Churches of England, Ireland and Wales
and the Scottish Episcopal Church

Almighty God, in your mercy we prepare to celebrate the solemn feast of all your saints: grant that their example may increase our devotion and lead us in the way of salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer for All Saints’ Day (1 November), taken from the United Methodist Church Book of Worship (1965 edition)

O Lord our God, we praise thy holy name for the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and for all who have served thee faithfully in thy holy Church throughout the world. We bless thee for all who by their speech, their writings, and their lives have enabled us to see more of the light of the knowledge of thy glory in the face of Jesus Christ; and for all who have helped and comforted, strengthened and encouraged us our way. For all whom thou hast called to be saints, and through whom thou dost manifest the riches of thy grace, we praise thee, O God; and we beseech thee that with them, and with all the host of thy redeemed, we may perfectly praise thee in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for All Saints’ Day (1 November), taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1662) and the United Methodist Church Book of Worship (1965 edition)

O almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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A sermon of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.

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Crazy weather

[ now playing? ] Match Point OST – Various Artists | Telecoteco: um sambinha cheio de bossa… – Paula Morelenbaum

The weather the past week has been ridiculous. Mainly raining. Apart from a couple of days where it’s been humid like heck in the day followed by… oh yeah, that’s right, rain (again) at night.

Today has been stupidly wet. Some strong winds and heavy rain have made it a complete washout.

Nice to see Steph, Sime, Jacky and Phillip again today. =)

But today was the first week of the “two-church” approach to faith. EMP in the morning followed by 5pm Mass @ St. John’s. I would have stayed back for Choral Evensong at 6pm but alas, I had to get something to eat before my last meeting as secretary for the Worship & Music Committee. I am getting used to this split nature for church now. EMP is there primarily for the social factor (with faith formation too) but St. John’s is primarily for faith formation and music with the liturgy and the music program there each week. Will have to get used to choral evensongs at night instead of choral Eucharists in the morning now.

I’m somewhat relegating my hopes of one day celebrating a Eucharist as a priest to being down the drain for the moment. In vestments no less. *shrugs shoulders* Oh well. Dear God, it was fun while it lasted. Maybe in God’s time it will come back. Maybe it won’t. Studying theology hasn’t gone out of the picture though. And neither has my lay monastic sense of faith formation and spirituality that is probably a sharp contrast to the rest of my life. But I live with these inherent contradictions within myself. Deo gratias.

This past week I have been getting rather sick of the constant questioning from rellies about my lack of a marital status. Sure, there are some young women that I do like (some may even pick up on this) but I can’t foresee myself in a relationship with them. Whether it’s real concerns that I have or me just killing myself by a thousand cuts before the battle has even begun, I have no idea. Maybe this is my calling in life, as a single man. And while I have pity on myself, I don’t expect anyone else to have pity on me. I expect laughter at me and incessant questioning from relatives. If this is what it comes down to, all I pray is for grace. Lots of it.

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Bryan’s post on Oct 7 has got me thinking. Especially with the church issues I’ve had over the last few months. He quotes from Merton in The Monastic Journey initially:

The real secret of monastic stability is, then, the total acceptance of God’s plan by which the monk realizes himself to be immersed into the mystery of Christ through this particular family and no other.  It is the definitive acceptance of his communion, in time and eternity, with these particular brothers chosen for him by God to share his sorrows and his joys, his difficulties and his achievements, his problems and their solutions.  It means the glad realization of the fact that all who are thus called together will work out their salvation in common, will help one another to find God more easily, and indeed that we have been destined from all eternity to bring one another closer to Him by our love, our patience, our forbearance and our efforts at mutual understanding.

He has some pointed observations next.

This vow of stability isn’t so much about my physical location but has more to do with where I am spiritually.  Am I dwelling in God?  Am I choosing to surrender my will for His will?

I love the last quote too . . . read it over a few times.  Do you have a “particular family” of people that you are working out your salvation with?  If so, how does that look?  What kinds of things must we be willing to surrender to live in this kind of communion?

And they are pointed. They cut to the very core of the discontent and spiritual malaise that has afflicted me intensely over the last few months and more generally over the last two to three years. I haven’t really been able to find a “particular family” (as Merton puts it) where I can be immersed into the mystery of Christ. Or maybe I have but haven’t realized it and it has been this last few year’s sojourn in the spiritual wilderness/desert (so to speak) that maybe God is slowly removing the scales from my eyes.

Is my fervent Anglo-Catholicism something that I can surrender to live in communion? Or is it an integral part of what makes me, well, “me“? Have all these years in an evangelical parish actually dulled the innate Anglo-Catholicism in me to the point where my time spent in the evangelical parish was actually a front, a facade with elements of the underlying truth visible in parts? And has it been this 5-6 months away from the evangelical parish that has restored the sanity and balance in my faith that was partially a facade before? Quite possibly.

Dwelling in God is not as easy as it sounds. At the risk of cutting it very finely on the line between faith and works, it does take effort to dwell in God. My own effort. If it’s effort through my own strength, then it is for naught. But, if it is my own effort through Christ’s strength, by gosh do I have a shot at dwelling in God then.

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Delfonics Notebook & Pen Holder + Rhodia A5 Webbie/Clairefontaine A5 Life Unplugged + LAMY fountain pen with EF nib = writing heaven.

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