Sunday, May 31, 2009
Unfortunately, there are plenty of Christians who try to do just that: to invest as much as possible of their lives with the aura of Pentecost, forgetting that even Jesus and the great saints of history didn’t live “on the mountaintop” day after day. And, realistically, neither do you and I. There needs to be balance and proportion between the special and the ordinary moments of our life.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
...Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary is the basis for the widely-used Angelus. The reaction of the fetal John is both a foretelling of his own prophetic role as forerunner and “announcer” of the Messiah, and an expression of the joy that must eventually have overcome the women’s confusion and uncertainty. Elizabeth says that her baby “leapt for joy” in her womb – just the verb itself means a carefree skipping or leaping like lambs in a field.
obvious that the Canticle is modeled on the Old Testament Song of Hannah (another barren wife who is given a miraculous pregnancy), and there are many lines in the Canticle which seem to apply to Elizabeth more perhaps appropriately than to Mary, but the best scholars tend to believe that the Canticle is probably a later addition by Luke to his original Incarnation story, as a response to and a balance with the “Angelus Song” of Elizabeth which precedes it. It is likely that the Magnificat itself may originally have been composed by others in a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian community who identified themselves with the poor and powerless who were the remnant of the true Israel. Luke’s choice to include the hymn and to ascribe it to Saint Mary at the Visitation is a demonstration of his belief that the promises made to the Old Testament patriarchs are fulfilled finally (and only) in the birth of the Messiah – and that they are offered not only to all generations of the Jews, but to all people on earth.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.
Fresh Air Fund History
In 1877, the Reverend Willard Parsons, minister of a small rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations as volunteer host families for children from New York City tenements. This was the beginning of The Fresh Air Fund tradition. By 1884, Reverend Parsons was writing about The Fund for New York’s Herald Tribune, and the number of children served grew. In 2008, close to 10,000 New York City children experienced the joys of summertime in Friendly Towns and at five Fund camps in upstate New York.
Fresh Air Fund Children
Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 12 years old, who reside in low-income communities in New York City and are eager to experience the simple pleasures of life outside the city.
As one child says, "I can’t wait to get on the bus every summer so I can see my family and go swimming and hiking!"
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Host a Child
Thanks to host families who open up their homes for one or two weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air vacations.
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There is no such thing as a "typical" host family. If you have room in your home - and your heart - to host a child, you could be one too.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
missionary work in the expanding west. Among them, Kemper, with missionary experience in western Pennsylvania, Virginia, and eastern Ohio, was elected unanimously as the first Missionary Bishop in the Episcopal Church: with responsibility for what now comprises the states of Indiana and Missouri. His jurisdiction eventually included what are now the states of Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota.
William White, Richard Channing Moore, and Philander Chase served as consecrators. New Jersey Bishop George Washington Doane, “the rankest Puseyite in the country”, as he'd been called, preached at the consecration. The
final words of his sermon were: "Go, bear before a ruined world the Savior's bleeding Cross. Go, feed with the bread from heaven the Savior's hungering Church. Go, thrice-beloved, go, and God the Lord go with you!"
In 1838, Kemper was formally made bishop of the entire Northwest Territory, later the states of Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. At the request of Bishop Otey who was disabled by illness, Kemper also made an episcopal visitation of all the states along the Mississippi, the Gulf Coast, and the southern Atlantic Coast.
In the same year, he was chosen as bishop of Maryland in a strongly contested and chaotic election. Having given the call serious consideration, he nevertheless declined to accept. His immediate concern was “inventing” a new model of episcopacy, one that had never been practiced by an Anglican bishop anywhere before. There were few, if any, precedents on which to depend or to look to for guidance. Kemper called himself the “dray horse” of the Church, finding himself separated so much from his loving family who remained in the East. He often saw them only on
Christmas: the one day out of the year which he reserved for himself.
Bishop Kemper’s life as a missionary is almost inconceivable to us today. He traveled from the shores of Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico: by steamboat, on horseback, by stagecoach, and often on foot. He slept in the open or on the hard floor of a remote hunter’s cabin or in an Indian wigwam. In one instance, he traveled for four days in order to confirm a young person in northern Wisconsin. He organized six dioceses, consecrated nearly a hundred churches, ordained over two hundred priests and deacons, and confirmed almost 10,000 souls. He lobbied, unsuccessfully, in the East for a German translation of the Book of Common Prayer to use in his ministry to German immigrants. Pleased with the Winnebago mission at Oneida in Wisconsin, he pressed for further work with Native Americans: “…why should there not be a hundred similar congregations among the red race of this country?” Bishop Kemper later confirmed five people of the Ojibwe nation, among them John Anmegahbowk Johnson, now commemorated on June 12 in the Episcopal Church's liturgical calendar as Enmegahbowh, the first Native American Episcopal priest.
During the Civil War, almost alone among the Episcopal bishops, Jackson Kemper chose not to speak about or promote the war. Many of his tiny mission stations suffered when the men were called up to service. Nashotah House seniors were threatened with the draft, and Kemper decided that, if necessary, he would ordain them in order to exempt them from military service. At the end of the war, he did compose a prayer of gratitude that was used throughout his jurisdictions, but he never gave in to national chauvinism or jingoistic patriotism.
early ministry came back clearly.
miles during the 35 years of his episcopate: more than St. Paul himself. Bishop Kemper was eulogized in a sermon preached in 1882 by the Rev. Professor William Adams of Nashotah House: “[Bishop Kemper] has always seemed to me to have been chosen and formed by the decree and power of God, for just such work as he had to do. He was kind-hearted and social in all his feelings; beneficent in the highest degree; sympathizing evermore with the sick and sorrowing. He was sweet in temper and pleasant in speech, and at the same time he was full of the weightiest business ability and of far-reaching wide-thoughted missionary plans. If there was ever a man framed and adapted for the work he had to do in this world, for the people among whom he had to labor, and also for the peculiar state of the country which was to be the sphere of his enterprise, it was Bishop Kemper, the Missionary Bishop of the Church in this region of the Northwest… A spotless, stainless, loving-hearted Bishop of the Church!” Bishop Talbot of Indiana summed it up well when he wrote: “No bishop in the line of our American episcopate has succeeded in concentrating upon himself more entirely than he, the love and veneration of the Church.”
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
When the future Pope Gregory the Great was still a monk in Rome, he saw, one day in the marketplace, some young blond slaves for sale. Inquiring about them, he was told that they were Angli, or “Angles” from Britain, He replied: “That would be right, for they have angelic faces, and it would be proper that such as these be companions with the angels in heaven”. When he learned that they were heathens, he lamented that “those who were so comely on the outside should have none of God’s grace within”. The experience so moved Gregory that he asked Pope Benedict I to send missionaries to preach Christianity in Britain, offering himself first. The Pope and Gregory's abbot accepted his offer, and he set out quietly for Britain with a few monks from his monastery. The people of Rome, hearing that their former chief magistrate and advocate, Gregory, had left, raised such a commotion so that the pope sent messengers after Gregory calling him and his company back to Rome.
In April, 597, Saint Augustine arrived in England, on the Isle of Thanet, on what might nowadays be called a revival mission. The language, among other things, proved to be a huge barrier. The King of Kent at this time was Ethelbert, who was already aware of Christianity, as husband, since 589, to a Frankish Christian woman, Berta, who had brought her chaplain, Lúidhard, with her. Nevertheless, he was somewhat leery of these foreigners, actually meeting with them for the first time in an open field, fearing that they might cast a spell on him in an enclosed setting. Whether or not his spouse influenced him, he provided for them a house near the market gate in his capital city of Cantwárabúrg (the modern “Canterbury”), and gave them the use of an old church dedicated to St. Martin that stood just east of the city and had been left by the Britons. One of the main purposes of the future abbey was to serve as a burial place for the Kings of Kent and the Archbishops of Canterbury. In 978 a new larger building was dedicated by Archbishop Dunstan, to the Saints Peter, Paul, and Augustine.
The monks lived the full monastic life, witnessing to Christ mainly by their presence and piety. They spoke of the Savior to all who would hear. Finally, on June 2, 597, the eve of Pentecost, King Ethelbert abandoned his cautious attitude and was baptized. Immediately afterward, at Pope Gregory's instruction, Augustine traveled to Arles in France where he was consecrated Archbishop of the English. When he returned he found many more of the English people ready to follow their king by becoming Christians. Consequently, at Christmas that year, according to information in one of Pope Gregory’s letters, Augustine’s monks baptized as many as 10,000 converts.
By 1100 all remains of the original Anglo Saxon building had disappeared under a massive romanesque edifice, to which an Almonry was added in 1154. Apart from some rebuilding work in 1168 as a result of a fire, the rest of the 12th century passed fairly quietly at St. Augustine's Abbey. However from about 1250 onwards the abbey was once again alive with building work. The cloister, lavatorium, and kitchen were totally rebuilt and a grand new abbot's lodging was built. The range was also extended to provide a great hall.
A new crenellated Great Gate was built in 1309 completing the Inner Court. On the north side the monks were able to take in much more land, which provided space for a new outer court with cellarer's range, brewhouse, bakehouse, and in 1320 a new walled vineyard. There was also expansion on the east side of the abbey where a series of lodgings were built along with a walled cellarer's garden. An earthquake in 1382 meant more building work, and in 1390 the gatehouse which still survives was built. The last thing to be built was a Lady Chapel, to the east of the church. By 1500 the abbey covered a very large area, and its library contained in excess of 2000 volumes, a staggering number for that time. Many of these books would have been produced in the abbey's own scriptorium.
In 1535, Henry VIII dissolved all monasteries found to have an annual income less than £100. St. Augustine's survived this first round of closures, as its income was found to be £1733. But on July 30, 1538, the abbey's fate was sealed when it fell to the dissolution by the king. The abbey was systematically dismantled over the next fifteen years, although part of the site was converted to a palace, ready for the arrival of Anne of Cleves, from France.
The palace was leased to a succession of nobles, and in the early 1600s was in the possession of Edward Lord Wotton, who employed John Tradescant the Elder, to lay out formal gardens around it. The palace is thought to have survived until a great storm in 1703, which certainly caused great damage to the already ruinous structure of the abbey.
Now a World Heritage Site, the ruins of this important monastic foundation built by Saint Augustine are in the care of English Heritage. Today the ruin precincts cover a substantial area east of Canterbury Cathedral. In fact, in its heyday, the church rivalled the nearby cathedral in size.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Bede was placed in the monastery for training as a very young child. Throughout his life he was utterly gentle, wholly devoted to his monastic life, humble, but with a razor-sharp mind and a generous spirit. He never involved himself in politics or in controversy, did not wander about, and his holiness and wisdom came to be celebrated across Europe, both before and after his death.
Benedict, who founded the monastery, was of noble birth and of such wide learning and culture that he later had tremendous influence on the entire Church in England. He was a Greek and Latin scholar who taught theology, astronomy, art, and music. He brought back vestments and treasured furnishings for the monastery church
whenever he travelled to Rome and the Continent. He imported stone-masons and glaziers from Gaul so they could build his monastery of stone and teach their trades to the English. He even brought John the Arch-Cantor from Saint Peter’s in Rome to teach his monks the liturgical chant – something that affected the whole future of English
Bede’s body was laid to rest in his monastery church, but about the year 1020, a Durham monk stole the relics and brought them secretly to Durham where they were placed in the tomb along with the remains of Saint Cuthbert. In
1370, they were translated to a splendid new tomb in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral where they rest to this
day. [See photo above]
to fill out the couplet:
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and
keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and
abroad, living and departed. Defend them day by day with your
heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations;
give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant
them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Who is the special patron of goldsmiths, jewelers, and locksmiths??
Good guess, if you said Dunstan of Canterbury!
Now a harder question: why is he their patron?? Well, in his earlier life, while living at Glastonbury Abbey in a hermitage that was five feet long by two-and-a-half feet wide, adjoining a tiny oratory dedicated to the Mother of God, Dunstan, then an ordinary monk, began his practice of handwork: making bells, crosses, vials, censers, and sacred vestments. Among other things, he also learned to draw, to paint, to copy and illuminate books, and to play the harp, as well as to compose ecclesiastical music. Dunstan is often artistically depicted as holding the devil by the nose with a pair of tongs – based on a legend that the devil tried to tempt him once when he was working in his blacksmith shop, and Dunstan responded with the tool that was handiest! Another story has it that Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil's horse, thus causing the Devil great pain. Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed, true or not, as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.
St. Dunstan has been called “the most famous of all the Anglo-Saxon saints”. Given what he went through in his almost 80 years of life, it seems he deserved the title. To mention only the highlights, Dunstan was suspected of sorcery, exiled by two kings, accused of treason, thrown into a cesspool, and was suspected of having leprosy. Amazingly, he
somehow survived the convoluted entanglements of kings and courtiers, politics and religion.
Born near Glastonbury, around 909, to Heorstan and Cynethryth, Dunstan was the son of a noble family closely related to the royal house. He wasn’t badly connected in Church circles either, his uncle, Athelm, being the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dunstan was educated by Irish monastic scholars, resident at Glastonbury, and who, according to him, were “excellent masters of the sciences”. Through the recommendation of his uncle, the Archbishop, he was sent to the court of King Athelstan, where he became the king’s favorite. Some jealous courtiers, who also probably couldn’t carry a tune in a wet paper bag, and who overheard Dunstan practicing Church chant, accused him of practicing incantations and wizardry, and so the king expelled Dunstan from the court. As he was leaving, his enemies further vented their jealous spite by capturing him and throwing him into a cesspool. Guess they really didn’t like his chanting!
Dunstan fled to the protection of the Bishop of Winchester, another of his uncles (the bishop of Wells was another one) who advised him to take religious vows. Dunstan held off for a time, thinking first of getting married and then suffering from a skin ailment which he believed to be leprosy. When he recovered from the disorder, he took it as a sign from God, arranged to enter the monastery at Glastonbury, received the habit, and was ordained deacon and priest by his uncle.
After a brief reign, King Edmund was treacherously murdered, and he was followed on the throne by his brother, Edred, who made Dunstan his chief advisor. In that position Dunstan continued his reforms of the local clergy and attempted to conciliate the remaining Danish element in the society, thus making enemies in high places.
Edred died five years later and was succeeded by his dissolute, debauched teenaged nephew, Edwy, who, finding it hard to control his raging hormones even on the day of his coronation, actually left the royal banquet for a tryst with his concubine. Abbot Dunstan followed him and sternly reprimanded his unseemly conduct on the spot. Well, that, of course, went down real well with the self-absorbed young king! In no time at all, in league with Dunstan’s enemies, Edwy saw to it that Dunstan’s property was confiscated and that Dunstan himself was exiled on an extended vacation to Flanders. In the meantime, King Edwy wreaked havoc on all the abbeys of England that had escaped the devastation of the Danes, excepting only Glastonbury and Abingdon.
Predictably, after a year, rebellion broke out in England and the north and east of the country threw off Edwy’s yoke and chose his brother, Edgar, as their ruler. King Edgar immediately recalled Dunstan, made him Bishop of Worcester. Edwy’s hard-and-fast living must’ve caught up with him because he died in 959 at the age of 20. The kingdom was reunited under Edgar who made Dunstan was the Archbishop of Canterbury and papal legate in England. Dunstan is said to have given away all his travel money to the poor on his way to Rome to receive the archiepiscopal pallium, and thereupon had to beg his own way to Rome!
Prominent officials, as well as clergy, were subject to Dunstan’s discipline. Even King Edgar got called on the carpet for deflowering (great word!) a virgin who had intended to enter a convent, and was wise enough to submit to Dunstan’s spiritual authority. Edgar’s penance was to not wear his crown for seven years, to fast twice a week, to give alms to the poor, and to erect a nunnery in reparation for his sin. Ouch! The king humbly bore these humiliations, and when the time was up, Dunstan, in a public assembly, once more set the crown on Edgar’s head, and remained the king’s most trusted minister. After Edgar died and his son, Edward the martyr, became king for a short time, Dunstan remained as prime minister. Dunstan, in crowning Edward’s halfbrother, Ethelred, in 970, foretold the calamities that would mark his reign.
Dunstan finally left politics and returned to Canterbury where he lived a quiet, scholarly life. He loved to teach the Cathedral School students and to share with them stories of his many experiences. With great affection for him, for many years after his death the Canterbury schoolboys would pray to “sweet Father Dunstan” when threatened with corporal punishment!
On the feast of the Ascension in 988, the aged archbishop, though seriously ill, celebrated Mass, preached three times to his people, and announced to them his impending death. That afternoon he went to the cathedral and chose a place for his burial. Two days later on Saturday, May 19, 988, having received the last rites and Communion, he died peacefully in his bed. He was buried beside the high altar in Canterbury Cathedral.