28 February 2006

GRRR! Tagged again!

Father Petersen has tagged me with an different one: the "oddest" thing in my office.

Well, I like Petersen's thought: surely the man sitting at the desk!

But ASIDE from him...

two things that are unusual:

a tumbleweed that sits above the iMac. Picked it up in Montana visiting my brother a number of years ago. It reminds me of the Holy Virgin - of whom the burning bush of Moses was a type (and an icon of her as the antitype of the burning bush sits right above the tumbleweed).

two bricks. They came from England to the royal Colony of Virginia with Governor Spotswood as the ballast in his ship, and they were formed into the plantation house in which my family lived just outside Richardsville, Virginia, until the damned Yanks burned it down (even as it was being used as a hospital) during the Utterly Unwarranted War of Northern Aggression.

Okay: I'll tag Juhl (http://fatherdmj.livejournal.com/) and McCain (http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/)

Patristic Quote for the Day

My point is that just as the first tree, though green, bore death, the wood of the cross, though dry, gave birth to life. - St. John Chrysostom, *On Saint Phocas* par. 5

27 February 2006

Speaking of homilies...

...I listened to this one today and was quite edified by it. I wonder what others think of it? It is by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita and was delivered Good Friday last year. If you don't want to listen to the chanting of the Epistle and Gospel, I think the sermon begins about half-way through the download:


Homily for Invocabit

“Be sober! Be vigilant! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in the faith!” (1 Peter 5:8,9) Those words that Peter wrote to newly baptized Christians in his first letter, capture the theme of today’s readings.

In the sad words of Genesis we learn where listening to the devil lands us: in exile from the home our God planned and planted for us. The devil is like the mythical chimera, and can assume many shapes. So he appears to our first mother as a serpent. But he was hungry to devour her, and her husband. He eats both body and soul - but he always goes for the soul first. He begins by sinking his teeth into our inner being and draining it of faith, of trust in our God.

So he plants the seeds of doubt: “Did God really say you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” The implication being, “what an unreasonable God, he is! Why would he demand such a thing?” And then the bold contradiction of what God had said: “No! You will not die! God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The insinuation that God had denied them access to that tree because He wanted to hold them back and keep them from growing into all they were destined to be.

You can almost see the serpent licking his chops as Eve reaches out to the tree and takes and gives to Adam and then Adam eats as well. The Serpent sighed. That was a good meal, he just ate. And there would be more to devour later, for their bodies would be his too now. Death would devour them. Two people who now shared his distrust of God. Two people who would pass that distrust on to all their descendants. Two people who died inside as the serpent sucked the faith right out of them.

From the Garden to the desert. In the Gospel reading, we see the old serpent at work again. This time he is identified by three names: the devil, the tester, and Satan (or the accuser). It’s a different setting, to be sure, but his tactics remain the same. And once again, the consequences are enormous. In the first reading, a world fell into unbelief through the deceit of the devil. In the Gospel reading, that very world is being rescued by the promised Seed of Eve. He endures what his and our first parents endured – the assault of the devil. And make no mistake about it: it is His trust in the Father that is under attack.

Remember, that Jesus has just come from the River Jordan, where he was baptized for us and the Spirit descended and the Father spoke: “This is my Son, whom I love, in him I am well-pleased.” Forty days alone in the desert, and Satan begins to work on him: “Some fine Father you have! I see how beloved you really are. Leaves you out here all alone. Well, the only way to get ahead in this world, Jesus, is to look out for #1, so why don’t you make these stones bread. Your Father sure isn’t bothered with feeding you, is he?”

Do you see what Satan is attacking? Our Lord’s trust in the Father. His trust that His Father loves Him and cares for Him and provides for Him. And how does our Lord answer? He quotes Deuteronomy. A passage that begins: “He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your ancestors had ever known to make you understand that human beings to do not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” As though He said to Satan: My Father’s promises do not fail.

So Satan changes his vantage point, but launches the same attack: “You trust Your Father. How sweet. Well, come up here with me and jump off from this tower. For the Lord has promised: ‘He has given his angels orders about you,’ and ‘thy will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.’ So, jump, Jesus! Jump and trust!” Jesus goes back again to Deuteronomy and quotes: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” You see, what Satan was urging Him to do was not to trust the Father, but to jump in order to make the Father prove that He loved His Son. Jesus will have none of it.

In the final test, Satan’s hunger is unveiled for all to see. He is hungry for worship, for adoration that belongs to God alone. He promises Jesus the world if only Jesus will worship him. Jesus says: “That’s enough. Away with you, Satan!” Again He quotes Deuteronomy: “The Lord your God is the one to whom you must to homage; him alone you must serve.” And being unsuccessful in turning our Lord away from trust in His Father, the devil departs and the Father’s unfailing love sends angels to Jesus, who is comforted and refreshed by them.

So Jesus’ trust in His Father does not waiver, does not fail. It holds through the desert and the temptations; it holds all the way – even through the cross. Our Lord lives in the faith that His Father will not let Him down, that His Father’s promises are more sure than heaven and earth. In this faith in the Father, He goes to the tree where He offers Himself a sacrifice of faith at the Father’s bidding in place of all our unbelief and distrust. And so He grants forgiveness to a world of rebellious distrustful humanity – even you and me.

Our second reading spoke of our times of testing, when Satan is coming after us to devour us, to swallow us down and make us share in his unbelief and distrust. When those moments come upon us, and he whispers in our ears: “If you really were a beloved child of God, would he let this happen to you? He doesn’t love the likes of you!” - I say, when those moments come, it is our unspeakable joy to be able to go to the throne of mercy and find grace when we are in need of help. Our Lord Jesus, who knows our every temptation to unbelief and distrust, He will strengthen us and keep us firm in the faith.

Today He spreads His table before us again. Here He who conquered temptation for us comes to us with the body and blood that is our redemption; He comes to us whispering: “Child, my Father did not abandon me in my time of need, but raised me from the dead; no more shall I abandon you, whom I have purchased with my own blood. Be of good courage – Satan shall not devour you, not now and not ever.” Amen.

Patristic Quote for the Day

[The topic is spending time in Church at the Liturgy and the Prayer Offices]

Don't, then, be careless, beloved, about spending time here. For if some despondency is troubling you, here it is chased away; if business concerns, they turn away; if irrational passions, they are extinguished. We go home from the marketplace and the theatre and other gatherings in the outside world trailing a great number of worries and despondencies and sicknesses of the soul. If you constantly spend time here, you will completely discard those evils which you received out in the world. But if you turn away and flee, you will completely destroy even those blessings you acquired from the divine Scriptures, while your wealth is gradually sucked down the drain by the gatherings and conversations in the outside world. And that these assertions are true, when you go home from here make an effort to catch sight of those who stayed away today and you will see how substantial the divide between your cheerfulness and their despondency. - St. John Chrysostom, *On Saint Lucian* par. 2

26 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Come, then, with precision let us launch the ship that never perishes nor sustains shipwreck. But pay precise attention to what's being said. For today the psalm leads us out into battle array against the heretics, not so that we might fell them as they stand, but so that we might raise them up from their fallen state. I mean, that's how our battle works. It doesn't make corpses of the living, but fashions living people of the dead, brimming as it is with gentleness and considerable kindness. For I don't hound in reality, but pursue verbally, not the heretic, but the heresy. I don't reject the person, but hate the error and want it overturned. My fight is not with substance. For substance is a work of God. Rather, I want to set straight the thinking which the Devil destroyed. - St. John Chrysostom, *On Saint Phocas* par. 4

25 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

It is not just the death that creates the martyr, but also the disposition. For often the martyr's crown is woven not just from the way out, but also from the will. Indeed, it is not I, but Paul who gives this definition of martyrdom when he speaks in this way: "I I die every day." (1 Cor. 15:31) - St. John Chrysostom, *On Saint Eustathius* par. 5

24 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

For saints' memorials are not urns or coffins or columns or inscriptions, but good works and a zeal for faith and a healthy conscience towards God. - St. John Chrysostom, *On Saint Eustathius* par. 3

23 February 2006

Quinquagesima - Luke 18:31-43

“Son of David, have mercy on me!” That is what the blind man cried in today’s Gospel. And in that cry he spoke words of truth that are deep indeed. “Son of David.” There is no title for Jesus that gets more to the heart of what He said He would happen to Him in Jerusalem. “For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise.”

Son of David. Think of what happened with David and Bathsheba. After the great King had committed adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers, after she turned up pregnant with his son, after his failure to make Uriah think that the child was his, after he arranged the murder of Uriah and tried to make it look like an accident of warfare, after he then took Bathsheba into his house as his wife, after he thought he had gotten away with it all, Nathan shows up on the royal doorstep with a story.

The story of the poor man and his little ewe lamb, which was snatched from him and killed to serve as a rich man’s feast. David, the former shepherd, now King, became very angry. He said: “The man who did this deserves to die.” And Nathan whirled around and confronted him: “You are the man! You did this!”

You can see the color drain from David’s face as Nathan proceeds to expose to him and to all the court the sins which David had thought he had successfully hidden. One after the other, Nathan named the sins of David. And David sunk beneath the weight of the truth. He was crushed and devastated. He did not try to excuse what he had done. He did not order Nathan killed and so silenced. Instead, in utter honesty David confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord.”

To that confession, Nathan spoke a word of absolution. “The Lord has also put away your sin.” Then he added some curious words. I wonder if we hear them correctly: “You shall not die.” The Lord put away David’s sins, and so David did not die. But another would. You shall not die. But the child born to Bathsheba shall die. That is, the little son of David shall die. And die for the sins of another.

“Son of David,” cried the blind man! That is, the One who is truly David’s Son, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, and who as David’s Son is on His way up to Jerusalem to be handed over to the Gentiles who will mock him, and treat him shamefully, and spit on him, and flog him, and kill him. And all for David’s sins. And not just for David’s, but for the sins of all people. Yours and mine too. The little son of David had no choice in the matter. He suffered innocently, true enough. But he was, as were the many animals sacrificess, an unwilling victim, and so an altogether inadequate sacrifice. The little son of David was only a type. He pointed ahead to a greater Son of David. One whose death could truly wipe out sins, because it wouldn’t be a forced death, but a voluntary one.

Jesus walks the road to Jerusalem and it is a road that He wills to walk. No one makes Him. He himself said it: “No one takes my life from me; I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” (John 10) The absolution that Nathan spoke to David is anchored in the voluntary death of David’s Son; as is the absolution spoken to you.

To give the absolution its power, to demonstrate its truth, Jesus heads up to Jerusalem to lay down His life and to take it back up again. “They will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

He wanted them to be in no doubt that what was about to transpire in the holy city was no tragedy that befell him, nothing outside of his control. He was giving himself into it, and He gave Himself into it in the confidence that He would rise again on the third day. He would die the death for David’s sin, and the sins of all the people of Israel, and the sins of all the Gentiles. He would die the death for all. But death was not the end for this Son of David, for He was innocent. He would be raised again, but not like those He raised from the dead. He would rise in a body that never subjected to death again. Incorruptible, and so made the source of incorruption for all who believe in Him.

The disciples just didn’t get it. St. Luke makes that clear: “But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” They were the ones who were truly blind; it was ironically the blind man who really saw. For He called Jesus both “Son of David” – in other words, the one who would suffer and die for the sins of others – and he calls Him, “Lord,” confessing that He has the power to give sight to the blind. “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened” said Isaiah. Then when? “When your God will come and save you.” (Is 35:4)

And so the blind man who saw, even before his eyes were opened, pleaded with the God, with the Son of David, with the Lord, for mercy, and he received it. Not only seeing eyes, but then the privilege of following Christ up the road to Jerusalem with eyes wide open to the mercies of God.

“We are going up to Jerusalem.” We, too, for Lent is upon us. Let us not follow Christ on the road to the cross with the blindness of the disciples, who feel sorry for what Christ is about to undergo. Rather, let us follow with the sight of the blind man. For our Lord goes forth as the Son of David, to suffer for a world gone wrong. He goes forth as the Lord, who rises from death and leaves it shattered in pieces behind Him, granting freedom from death, resurrection and incorruption to all who believe. Let us follow Him up the road, joining the formerly blind man as he glorifies God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the God who loves mankind, whose mercy opens blind eyes and leads His people home, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Beautiful gift

I was given yesterday the most wonderful gift. It was a prayer in calligraphy that simply gets at the very heart of it all:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,
For you are merciful and love your whole creation. Lord have mercy!
Now and ever and unto ages of ages.
God is love.

The way it is designed the "God is love" is right at the heart and center of the concentric circles of writing.

It is drop dead beautiful and right at the heart of it all. Thanks, Laura!!!!

Here's the pic:

Patristic Quote for the Day

In addition to all these things, who does not know that by the very fact that He was among men and thus fully united with our flesh, Christ most clearly and evidently showed forth the kindness and love for mankind of Him who sent Him, and thus rendered the glory which was the Father’s due. St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ*

18 February 2006

Snow Ball!

Here are the kids with their dates to Metro's Snowball: David and Misha, Bekah and Shawn

A Kretzmann Goodie

My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

There are few unique events in history... The same patterns occur and recur... Here, however, is a moment in the story of man which is unique... Suddenly on a Friday afternoon a man was forsaken of God, cut off from the living and the dead, utterly and ultimately alone... The sudden emptiness in those shadowed eyes... The sudden flood of every sin of every soul from Eden to Chicago raging in a broken heart... It was then, much more than afterward, that He died...

You see, this is sin... It is not merely a matter of murder and adultery and gossip... Something to do or not to do!... It is always loneliness... It is cutting yourself off from God... It is a deliberate turning away from truth, from goodness, from heaven...

You see, this is redemption... All this He took into Himself, alone there in the dark... He became sin for us... A mystery?... Yes, but only a part of the great mystery which began in a stable and was now ending on a cross... Above His "Eli, Eli" was the sound of tearing veils, of falling walls, of the glad crying of those who now had a home again after the long loneliness of sin... They would continue to wander, groping, stumbling, falling, in all the black ways which men will walk when they turn away from God - to the countinghouse, the Maginot line, and the West Wall... But there was a way back now, beyond Jerusalem and beyond thought and hope to the place where the open arms of the cross had become the gates of heaven.

(O.P. Kretzmann, *The Pilgrim*, p. 47)

Patristic Quote for the Day

It is obvious that in the Savior we have come to know the utmost limit of God’s love for man. By the things which He has done He alone taught men how God loves the world and how great is His concern for mankind. - St. Nicholas Cabasilas, *The Life in Christ* p. 119

17 February 2006

Another Patristic quote for the Day

A most famous quote on the nature of Redemption by St. Gregory the Theologian:

We must now consider a problem and a doctrine often passed over silently, which in my view, nevertheless needs deep study. The blood shed for us, the most precious and glorious blood of God, the blood of the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice – why was it shed and to whom was it offered? We were under the reign of the devil, sold to sin, after we had gained corruption on account of our sinful desire. If the price of our ransom is paid to him who has us in his power, I ask myself: Why is such a price to be paid? If it is given to the devil, it is outrageous! The brigand receives the price of redemption. Not only does he receive it from God, he receives God Himself. For his violence he demands such a disproportionate ransom that it would be more just for him to set us free without ransom. But if the price is paid to the Father, why should that be done? It is not the Father who held us as His captives. Moreover, why should the blood of His only Son be acceptable to the Father, who did not wish to accept Isaac, when Abraham offered Him his son as a burnt-offering, but replaced the human sacrifice with the sacrifice of a ram? Is it not evident that the Father accepts the sacrifice not because He demanded it or had any need for it but by His dispensation? It was necessary that man should be sanctified by the humanity of God; it was necessary that He Himself should free us, triumphing over the tyrant by His own strength, and that He should recall us to Himself by His Son who is the Mediator, who does all for the honor of the Father, to whom He is obedient in all things… Let the rest of the mystery be venerated silently. (Oration 45, 22)

Patristic Quote for the Day

When physicians are treating the body they do not administer the same remedy in all cases. Neither does God, when treating the illnesses of the soul, regard a single kind of therapy as suitable for all conditions; but He allots to each soul what is suitable for it and effects its cure. So let us give thanks while we are being treated, however great our suffering, for the result is blessed. - St. Maximos the Great, *First Century on Various Texts* par. 20

15 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day - #2

As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity, dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corrruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belong to human nature except for sin, and indeed sin is not part of human nature. In this way, by enticing the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh, He provoke him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it. - St. Maximos the Confessor, *First Century on Various Texts*, #11

Patristic Quote for the Day

Christ our God is born and becomes man by adding to Himself flesh endowed with an intellective soul. He who from non-being brings all things into being is Himself born supranaturally of a Virgin who does not thereby lose her virginity. For just as He Himself became man without changing His nature or altering His power, so He makes her who bore Him a Mother while keeping her a Virgin. In this way He reveals one miracle through another miracle, at the same time concealing the one with the other. This is because in Himself, according to His essence, God always remains a mystery. He expresses His natural hiddenness in such a way that He makes is the more hidden through the revelation. Similarly, in the case of the Virgin who bore Him, He made her a Maother in such a way that by conceiving Him the bonds of her virginity became even more indissoluble. - St. Maximos the Confessor, First Century of Various Texts, #9

You know, he always DID like to play dress up...

...Captain America - the original superhero - David Weedon. Today was "Super heros day" at Metro. He won a prize at school for the costum which he mostly created himself, with a little help from the Mama.

Patristic Quote for the Day

“Death came to His body, therefore, not from Himself but from enemy action, in order that the Savior might utterly abolish death in whatever form they offered it to Him.” -- St. Athanasius, *On the Incarnation of the Word of God*, Par 24

14 February 2006

In honor of Valentines Day...

...in its secular form, that is, this is where the Weedon Clan happens to stand currently - Lauren and Dean, David and Misha, Bekah and Shawn:

Your Body, So Full of Divine Power...

Pre-Communion Prayer of the Blessed Johann Gerhard...

Almighty Lord Jesus Christ, source of life and immortality, as I come to Your holy table to refresh my spirit, I pray You to make me, unworthy as I am, worthy through Your grace; impure as I am to make me clean; naked as I am to clothe me, so that Your Body, so full of divine power, and Your most precious blood, may not become for me, Your servant, the occasion for judgment or punishment,but a memorial of the death You underwent for me, a strengthening of my faith, a proof of the taking away of my sin, a bond of closer union with You, an increase of holiness, the basis of a glad resurrection, and a pledge of eternal life. Amen.

Patristic Quote for the Day

You must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form. He has not assumed a body proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word He is without body. He has been manfested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. - St. Athanasius, *On the Incarnation of the Word* par. 1

13 February 2006

Thee before Whom as My Judge I Cannot Stand...

A Pre-Communion Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan

To the Table of thy most sweet Feast, O loving Lord, Jesus Christ, I, a sinner, presuming nothing on my own merits, but trusting in thy mercy and goodness, approach with fear and trembling.

For my heart and my body are stained with many and grievous sins, my thoughts and my lips have not been carefully kept.

Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, I, in my misery, being brought into a great strait, turn to thee, the Fountain of mercy; to thee I hasten to be healed, and flee under thy protection: and thee, before whom as my Judge I cannot stand, I long to have as my Savior.

To thee, O Lord, I show my wounds, to thee I discover my shame.

I know my sins, for which I am afraid, are many and great. My trust is in thy mercies, of which there is no end.

Look therefore upon me with the eyes of thy mercy, O Lord Jesus Christ, eternal God, God and Man, crucified for man.

Hearken unto me whose trust is in thee; have mercy upon me who am full of misery and sin, thou Fountain of mercy that will never cease to flow.

Hail, Victim of salvation, offered for me and all mankind upon the Altar of the cross!

Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my Crucified Lord Jesus Christ, and washing away the sins of the whole world!

Remember, O Lord, thy creature whom thou hast redeemed with thine own Blood. It grieves me that I have sinned, and I desire to amend what I have done.

Take away therefore from me, O most merciful Lord, all my sins and iniquities; that being purified both in soul and body, I may be made meet worthily to taste the Holy of Holies; and grant that this holy foretaste of thy Body and Blood, which I, unworthy, purpose to take, may be for the remission of my sins, the perfect cleansing of my faults; the driving away of shameful thoughts, and the renewal of good desires; the healthful performance of works well-pleasing unto thee; and the most sure protection of soul and body against the wiles of my enemies. Amen.

Patristic Quote for the Day

A soul can never attain the knowledge of God unless God Himself in His condescension takes hold of it and raises it up to Himself. For the human intellect lacks the power to ascend and to participate in divine illumination, unless God Himself draws it up - in so far as this is possible for the human intellect - and illumines it with the rays of divine light. - St. Maximos the Confessor, *First Century on Theology* #31

12 February 2006

Ack! Chris!!!!!

Well, I've been tagged. Drat it all. Christopher, I hate these things. But FOR YOU I will do it:

Four Jobs I've Had:

Gas-station attendent
Salesman at a lighting store
Tile Layer (okay, so it only lasted about two weeks)

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:

Steel Magnolias
Lord of the Rings (I, II, III)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Anne of Green Gables

Four TV Shows I Watch:

I really don't watch TV anymore. But I used to watch:
Magnum PI
Rockford Files

Four Places I've Lived:

Wheaton, MD
Richardsville, VA
Garfield, NJ
Burlington, NC

Four Places I've Vacationed:

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Prince Edward Island
Niagara Falls
Bethany Beach, DE

Four Websites I visit daily:

Mac News Network

Four of My Favorite Foods:

Chicken a la Shannon
Pizza (loaded!)
My mother's buckwheat pancakes

Four Places I'd like to be right now:

Wherever it is snowing (NY, NJ, Boston, I'm not picky)...
Wherever it is 85+ sunny and there is a beautiful beach...
Wherever the Mass is being celebrated...
Wherever the Rachmaninoff All Night Vigil is being sung (has to be Russian and with real Russian basses)...

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:

Deb Dillon - http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/debdillon/
Charles Lehmann - http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com/
John Fenton - http://conversiaddominum.blogspot.com/
David Juhl - http://fatherdmj.livejournal.com/

Offertory - "We Give Thee But Thine Own"

Have you ever pondered over the fact that our Lord commanded the use of bread and wine, not wheat and grapes? It's a giving contest of sorts:

He gives us wheat and grapes.
We work to transform them into bread and wine.
Then we give them back to Him at His command - and He seems to say: "You think THAT'S something! Well, how about this!"
And He proceeds to transform the bread and wine into something so much more: His body and His blood, given for us and for the forgiveness of our sins.

Which is all to say that anything we offer is only His gift to begin with, and that the ability to labor over those gifts is a gift from Him, and that when at His command we offer His gifts and our labor back to Him, He in turns blesses them to be so much more than anything we could ever dare desire or dream of. You can never outgive Him!

Glory to Your condescenion, O Lover of man!

Prayer of St. Anselm of Canterbury

(Before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ)

Lord, I acknowledge that I am far from worthy
to approach and touch this sacrament;
but I trust in that mercy
which caused You to lay down Your life for sinners
that they might be justified,
and because You gave Yourself
willingly as a holy sacrifice to the Father.
A sinner, I presume to receive these gifts
so that I may be justified by them.
I beg and pray You, therefore, merciful Lover of men,
let not that which You have given for the cleansing of sins
be unto me the increase of sin,
bur rather for forgiveness and protection.

Patristic Quote for the Day

Blessed is he who knows in truth that we are but tools in God's hands; that it is God who effects within us all ascetical practice and contemplation, virtue and spiritual knowledge, victory and wisdom, goodness and truth; and to all this we contribute nothing at all except a disposition that desires what is good. Zerubbabel had this disposition when he said to God: 'Blessed art Thou who hast given me wisdom; I give thanks to Thee, O Lord of our fathers; from Thee comes victory and wisdom; and Thine is the glory and I am Thy servant" (1 Esd. 4::59-60). As a truly grateful servant he ascribed all things to God, who had given him everything. He possessed wisdom as a gift from God and attributed to Him as Lord of his fathers the efficacy of the blessings bestowed on him. These blessings are, as we have said, the union of victory and wisdom, virtue and spiritual knowledge, ascetic practice and contemplation, goodness and truth. For when these are united together they shine with a single divine glory and brightness.

All the achievements of the saints were clearly gifts of grace from God. None of the saints had the least thing other than goodness granted to him by the Lord God according to the measure of his gratitude and love. And what he acquired, he acquired only in so far as he surrended himself to the Lord who bestowed it. - St. Maximos the Confessor, *Third Century on Various Texts* #28, 29

11 February 2006

On Collects and Such...

I couldn't help but notice. At the first Mass for Septuagesima, which we celebrated this evening, the LSB collect struck me as a bit odd. I went and checked it against TLH and other sources. This is what I discovered:

LSB: "O Lord, graciously hear the prayer of Your people, that we, who justly suffer the consequences of our sin, may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name; through Jesus..."

TLH: "O Lord, we beseech Thee favorably to hear the prayers of Thy people that we, who are justly punished for our offenses, may be mercifully delivered by Thy goodness, for the glory of Thy name; through Jesus..."

TLH offers a rather precise translation of the Gregorian original, except for the phrase "by Thy goodness" (added by Cramner at the time of the Reformation).

I find the transformation of "justly punished for our offenses" into "justly suffer the consequences of our sin" to be a bit of weaking of the bite of the original. The one confesses that God actively punishes; the other confesses that He permits us to suffer the consequences of our sins. Both could be argued biblically. Still, why the change? Surely there is nothing wrong in saying that we ARE justly punished for our offenses, is there? It is the "darkness" of the original which makes the petition so bold: "that we may mercifully be relieved...to the glory of thy name!"

Patristic Quote for the Day

Let us then, my brethren, love stillness until the world is made to die in our heart. Let us always remember death, and by this meditation let us approach God with our heart, despise the vanity of the world, and hold its pleasure as something contemptible... - St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies (#64)

10 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Again, prophetic language attests that the conversion of those in error is the work of God.
- St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius (NPNF II:vol. V, p. 133)

Homily for Septuagesima 2006

Let me put it to you real simply. You are 12 years old and your mother asks you to go out and rake the yard. It’s a big job and will probably take you all morning. She promises: “I’ll give you ten dollars if you do it well.” So out you go and you start raking, piling leaves, stuffing them into bags, hauling them off. It’s hard work. And then about 11:45, your little brother comes smiling around the corner, grabs a rake and starts to help you gather leaves. How cute. That is until your mother says at noon: “That’s good enough. Come here and let me pay you.” And she proceeds to give the little rat $10 and then hands you $10. Now what would you say? Wouldn’t you be screaming at the top of your lungs: “That’s not fair!” And what if your mother says: “It’s my money and I can do with it what I want; what’s your problem?”

That’s today’s parable in a nutshell. But to get what it means, you’ve got to back up a little bit. The parable began with Jesus saying: “For.” “For the kingdom of heaven is like...” That means we better find out that “for” is there for!

And if we back up, this is what we find. A rich young man who had come to Jesus. And that young man thought he had kept all the law. But Jesus showed him that he’d broken the first commandment – because he had made a god out of his stuff. When Jesus told him to give it all away to the poor and then to come follow him and he’d have treasure in heaven, the young man thought “I just can’t do that,” and went away sad. That led Jesus to comment that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.

That astonished the disciples. They ask: “Who then can be saved?” I think the answer they were expecting was: “Only folks like you, who have left everything and followed me. What do you think, dummy?” Instead they get this answer: “With man this is impossible, but not with God. With God all things are possible.”

And that is what set Peter off. And setting Peter off is what prompted the Lord’s parable. Peter pieced it together. “Oh fine. I get it. You or your Father are going to work some miracle in the end to bring in even those who haven’t sacrificed a thing for you? Well that’s not fair. We have left EVERYTHING and followed you. What then we will we have?”

Jesus' answer, of course, is that they will have a kingdom and an abundance. They will sit on thrones to judge Israel. They will receive a hundredfold in the church for all that they left, and all kinds of trouble too, and they will have eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and so the parable of the laborers.

Do you get it now? The parable deals at its root with our begrudging God’s generosity. And so it is a parable of special importance for those who have been long at work in the Lord’s front yard or his vineyard. It’s a parable for us to rethink and get a handle on the truth about living the kingdom life.

Peter spoke of it in terms of sacrifice, of all that they had given up. And how many times we think the same way! When we belong to the Lord and live as His people, too often we cast the longing eye back toward our so called “freedom” when we could do whatever we wanted and not worry one little bit about whether or not it pleased the Lord. We think of how we’ve lived lives of “sacrifice” – if you will – and then see Jesus granting entrance into the Kingdom to those who have sacrificed nothing, for with God all things are possible, our sinful old Adam rises up and cries: “Foul!” Not fair. As though the poor thief on the cross had really gotten to live it up and then he has the audacity to sneak into the kingdom at the last moment.

What our parable shows us is how twisted the thinking is. You see, it’s not a matter of fairness. It’s a matter of life. The only life that’s worth the living in the end is life that’s lived in service to God, in faith in Him, in communion with Him. Any other life is just idleness, just wasted time. It’s when you realize that life in the vineyard is real life, that you begin to get the perspective of the Owner of the vineyard, and you look on those who are living aimlessly in the world, living as though pleasing themselves was why they were here, and you feel sad. You think, man! they’re missing out on what life itself is for.

And so when one starts off life in the Lord’s vineyard, baptized as a baby (like Sidnee) we rejoice that they’ve begun the adventure of a lifetime – given over to real life. Or when one creeps in at the last moment and is rewarded with eternal life, there is no complaining and saying “not fair.” Instead, there is the hugging of the brother or sister and saying: “I’m glad you made it in before the end of the day. Welcome to the Lord’s vineyard where the work is joy and there’s always plenty for everyone to do.”

And you know, that is itself the attitude of our Lord Jesus, who came to do His Father’s work with joy in His heart. It was not a burden to Him to live this life of service - it was the only life worth the living! And He went to His cross precisely so that what is impossible for us could by done for us by the God-man. He labored to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. That's the miracle He works not just for those who come late, but for us all!

For those who all their life long have known the joys of work in the vineyard and for those who have found out only in the middle of life what life was all about, and even for those who come in at the very end, praying: “Jesus remember me in your kingdom” - for them all He died to fling wide heaven’s gates and to each he gives the very same gift: the gift of His body and blood, forgiveness of sins and oneness with Him forever. It’s a gift that says: “This is how much I value and love you; can you value each other any less?” So you see, it's not a matter of your ratty little brother getting the same as you - it's a matter of God's rich love giving you and him both far, far more than either of you could ever deserve or even dream of. And to Him be the glory forever!

09 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

Unspeakably deep and wondrous. Reminds me of the first line of the 1521 Loci Communes: "The mysteries of God are to be adored, rather than investigated." Glory to Your condescension, O Lover of Man!

Let us contemplate with faith the mystery of the divine incarnation and in all simplicity let us praise Him who in His great generosity became man for us. For who, relying on the power of rational demonstration, can explain how the conception of the divine Logos took place? How was flesh generated without seed? How was there an engendering without loss of maidenhood? How did a mother after giving birth remain a virgin? How did He who was supremely perfect develop as He grew up? How was He who was pure baptized? How did He who was hungry give sustenance? How did He who was weary impart strength? How did He who suffered dispense healing? He did He who was dying bestow life? And, to put the most important last, how did God become man? And -what is even more mysterious - how did the Logos, while subsisting wholly, essentially, and hypostatically in the Father, also exist essentially and hypostatically in the flesh? How did He who is wholly God by nature became wholly man by nature, not renouncing either nature in any way, neither the divine, though He is God, nor ours, through which He became man? Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason. - St. Maximos the Confessor, First Century on Various Texts, #13

08 February 2006

The Majesty of Christ

The Church of Christ is the majesty of Christ - His blessed, holy Church, the fruit of His labors, the crown of His abasement, the work of His hands, the flowering from His blood. Blessed is the name of His Church itself, holy and giving salvation. His Church will be brought to its fullness; it is His work, His glory, encompassing the whole world. With the words 'for ever and unto the ages of ages,' the prophet speaks of the deathlessness of the work of Christ, that is, His Church. It is built in time, and will be revealed in eternity. It will be built till the end of time, and be revealed whole and complete in eternity. - St. Nicholas Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ochrid

Patristic Quote for the Day

'You have been bought with a price; do not become the slaves of men.' (1 Cor. 7:23) What greater price is there than that the Creator shed His blood for the creature? - St. Jerome, Homily 29 on Psalm 102 (103)

Aren't blogs fun?

I've been thinking lately about how GREAT it is that conversations can happen as they do on blogs. People who are miles separated - many of whom have never even physically met - are able to talk, to learn, to share, and to grow. Praise be to God for THIS use of the internet!

And the blogs just keep on coming! Fr. Fenton's began this week (referenced below). Salvatore (who, by the way, is even MORE hyper than I am - it's always a comfort to know Sal exists!!!!) shared HIS blog with me this week, with numerous goodies from Luther:


and now my friend Cheryl (who has a most unusual way of looking at things, inviting us to see things from an angle we have missed before) has posted a blog with some beautiful (and to some, provocative) thoughts about the saints in heaven:


Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory to Him forever!

07 February 2006

Worth Reading

A beautiful devotion by Father Fenton on St. Andrew and St. John and our Lord. I'm partial to St. Andrew, since I was bpatized in the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Silver Spring, MD, and can stll see the lovely stained glass image of St. Andrew in the window (though he was not yet gracing it when I was baptized there!). Check it out:


Note too how Fr. Fenton's take on John's "doubts" is precisely that of Luther and the fathers.

Patristic Quote for the Day

And we too are all saved by grace... The grace then that is with us is not like theirs (i.e., of the OT). For not only was pardon of sins given to us (since this we have in common with them, for all have sinned), but righteousness also, and sanctification,, and sonship, and the gift of the Spirit far more glorious and more abundant. By this grace we have become the beloved of God, no longer servants, but as sons and friends. - St. John Chrysostom, Homily XIV on John 1

06 February 2006

From "Farewell to Hallelujah"

The last Hallelujah dies away in chapel and cathedral, and while the echo still lingers among the rafters, the violet paraments of sorrow are placed upon the altar... It will be Easter morning before the Hallelujah is heard again...

There is wisdom in this... It is another and profound difference between the Church and the world... The world never willingly abandons joy... Her votaries hang on to happiness with all the strength they have - until, inevitably, it is taken away from them... They have forgotten that the line of life must sometimes go down into the darkness of sorrow... It is never easy, but it is better to go down willingly than to be driven down like a slave... To give up joy by the strength of Him who gave up heaven is a part of the way by which joy and heaven will return... Easter can come only to the heart that has known Lent...

The shadow which clings to all earthly good when it is seen in the light of faith is inevitable... Because of this the Christian view of life *appears* so much darker than the pagan - checkered with a darkness more intense the brighter the light of faith shines upon it... But the farewell to Hallelujah, though necessary, is only temporary... It springs from the strong compulsions of the dust from which we came and the stronger compulsions of the everlasting mercy which has lifted us from that dust... When all is said and done, Christianity is a religion of deeper gladness just because it is a religion of deeper fear and greater sorrow... The Cross remains the world climax of divine and human sorrow, ineffably distant and ineffably close, the sorrow of sin and the pain of man's long and lonely separation from God...

So it is good that our Hallelujahs are silent for a little time... In their stead appear the crown of thorns, the drops the blood, the way of mourning, the five wounds, and the sound of our hands driving nails... And on Eastern Morn our returning Hallelujahs will say that our Lord arose and ascended into heaven, that He is now the King of Glory, who has given us a share in both His suffering and His victory, in His passion and His power, in His former pain and in His present peace... (O. P. Kretzmann, *The Pilgrim*)

Alleluia, song of gladness,
Voice of joy that cannot die,
Alleluia is the anthem
Ever raised by choirs on high.
In the house of God abiding
Thus they sing eternally.

Alleluia, thou resoundest,
True Jerusalem and free;
Alleluia, joyful Mother,
All thy children sing with thee,
But by Babylon's sad waters
Mourning exiles now are we.

Alleluia cannot always
Be our song while here below;
Alleluia our transgressions
Make us for a while forego;
For the solemn time is coming
When our tears for sin must flow.

Therefore in our hymns, we pray Thee,
Grant us, Blessed Trinity,
At the last to keep Thine Easter
With Thy faithful saints on high;
There to Thee forever singing
Alleluia joyfully! (HS 98, #819)

NOTE: the question has been raised why, when Lent is several weeks off, this devotion now? If a Church is using the historic lectionary of the Western Church (as for example TLH, see pages 60ff.) then the Tract replaces the Alleluia in the Gradual during Prelent and in Lent.

For All the Sins of Men...

For all the sins of men I repent before You, Most Merciful Lord. Indeed, the seed of all sins flows in my blood! ... For all the history of mankind from Adam to me, a I sinner, I repent; for all history is in my blood. For I am in Adam and Adam is in me. - Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich. Prayers by the Lake

In Adam we have all been one,
One huge rebellious man,
We all have fled that evening voice
That sought us as ran.

We fled Thee and in losing Thee
We lost our brother too.
Each singly sought and claimed his own;
Each man his brother slew.

By Thy strong love it sought us still
And sent Thine only Son,
That we might hear His shepherd's voice
And hearing Him be one.

O Thou, who when we loved Thee not,
Didst love and save us all,
Thou great good Shepherd of mankind,
O hear us, when we call.

Grant us Thy Spirit, teach us truth,
Thou, Son, O set us free
From fancied wisdom, self-sought ways,
To make us one in Thee.

Then shall our song united rise
To Thine eternal throne
Where with the Father evermore
And Spirit Thou art one. Amen. (Martin Franzmann)

Patristic Quote for the Day

Indeed, He (our Creator) meant us further to be free from care and to have but one work to perform, to sing as the angels, without ceasing or intermission, the praises of the Creator, and to delight in contemplation of Him, and to cast all our cares on Him. - St. John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Chapter XI.

05 February 2006

Transfiguration Joys

Today those Lutheran Churches using the historic lectionary celebrate the Transfiguration of Our Lord. What a joy this feast is! How beautiful is the light of Tabor, uncreated and mysterious, which reveals to us WHO it is that hung upon the cross, destroying Death by His death. There are several beautiful hymns for this day, but my all time favorite is "O Wondrous Type" - sung to the lovely Agincourt hymn, and with trumpets and choir enhancing its beauty. We got the treat of singing it that way this morning at St. Paul's:

O wondrous Type! O vision fair
of glory that the Church may share!
which Christ upon the mountain shows
where brighter than the sun He glows!

With Moses and Elijah nigh
the incarnate Lord holds converse high;
and from the cloud the Holy One
bears record to His only Son.

With shining face and bright array
Christ deigns to manifest today
What joy shall be their's above
Who joy in God with perfect love.

And faithful hearts are raised on high
By this great vision's mystery,
For which in joyful strains we raise
The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

O Father, with th'eternal Son
And Holy Spirit ever one,
We pray you, bring us by Your grace
To see Your glory face to face.

Patristic Quote for the Day

This one is a guess who? And I truly do not know who said it. I know who quotes it, but I assume it is not his own composition. So half-credit goes to anyone who recognizes where I got it from, but full credit (and my deep thanks) to anyone who can locate where the original came from:

The Master dies instead of the servant;
In place of the debtors, the Faithful One;
The Physician dies for the good of the patient;
The Shepherd rescues His sheep;
The King dies for the sins of His subjects;
The Peace-maker for the warriors;
The Creator dies for His creation;
God Himself wins man's salvation!
What now should the servant, the debtor,
the sick one, the sheep, the nation, the multitude do?
What should the creatures, mankind, do?
In love extol his Redeemer!

04 February 2006


Last night, Cindi and I got a wonderful surprise. David told us he was going out on a date with Misha. We watched a little bit of Oliver's Travels (what a great series - and I WILL get it back to you, Deb!). And finally, at about 10 headed to bed. We'd just drifted off to sleep when David got home. He came to the door of the bedroom and said: "Mom, Dad, I'm home. Oh, and I found something." And then LAUREN ran in and jumped on the bed!!!!

Those little sneaks! They had it arranged that Lauren was riding home with Dean this weekend, and David went to pick her up in Collinsville when she got in from Seward.

So this morning, at breakfast, I had the unspeakable joy of ALL my children gathered around the breakfast table. God is very good - He always is - but moments of the family being together make me sense that benevolence more than ever!!!

Hmm. Ever been there?

How true, how true:

However, St. Silouan teaches that man often makes his sufferings out to be more unbearable than they really are. This is a source of great anxiety and it is due to lack of faith. It shows that the believer has not yet humbled himself, nor given himself over completely to the will of God.33 The believer must realize that it is ultimately the Lord who is in complete control of every facet of his life. By allowing such sufferings, whether they be physical ailments or spiritual trials, the Lord actually directs and disciplines the believer, thereby making him His own `legitimate' son or daughter. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by Him. For the Lord disciplines whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives…God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline…then you are illegitimate children and not sons…He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness."34

The rest of this article on Suffering can be found here (and thanks to Deb for pointing me to it):


How often is the suffering of our lives magnified by our fear, our lack of trust? Kyrie, eleison!

03 February 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day (#2)

(in honor of Fr. Alms' request for a Western Father!)

Almighty God, whose whole being is goodness, whose will is power, and whose every act is mercy, designated in the very beginning the remedy His good will had ordained for our redemption. Immediately after diabolical malice had stricken mankind with the poison of its envy, it was foretold to the serpent that the see of the woman by its own power would crush the pride of his wicked head. Christ, the fulfilment of this prophesy, as God and Man born of the Virgin, by an inviolate birth, would damn the tempter of mankind. When the fulness of time ordained for this redemption had come, our Lord Jesus Christ descended from His heavenly throne, though not abandoning His Father's glory, and came into this world. In the nature order His birth had no precedent; it was a new order because the Invisible had become visible; it was a new order because the Incomprehensible had willed to be comprehended; it was a new order that the Eternal should begin in time; that the Lord of the universe should permit the dignity of His majesty to be overshadowed and to assume the form of a servant; that God infinitely distant from all suffering, should deign to become man with all his sufferings; that the Immortal should humble Himself under the laws of death. - Pope St. Leo the Great, A Homily upon the Annunciation

A Question

How do you understand 2 Corinthians 5:10-11?

2Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...

It seems to me that this must move beyond a simple "thumb up / thumb down" approach to the Judgment...

Any and all thoughts welcome!

Patristic Quote for the Day

It therefore followed that each man's soul inherited the wickedness of the first Adam. It spread from his soul to his body, and from his body to the bodies which derived from his, and from those bodies to the souls. This, then, is the old man whom we have received as a seed of evil from our ancestors as we came into existence. We have not seen even one day pure from sin, nor have we ever breathed apart from wickedness, but, as the psalmist says, 'we have gone astray from the womb, we err from our birth' St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ, page 76-77

02 February 2006

Presentation Thoughts...

“I Could Just Die Now”

They brought the offering of the poor. They could only afford the turtle doves. But it was an offering commanded in the Law – for the life of every first-born Israelite belonged to Yahweh and had to be redeemed, ever since the first-born of Egypt died in the Exodus. Yet even as they purchased the offering and entered the Temple precincts, they knew that that the real offering was not the birds, but the Babe. He would be the Offering to end all offerings. In Him the Law would be fulfilled. They thought that they and a handful of others were the only ones in the know.

But then they see him – according to tradition, an old man. He is not looking at them. He is looking at the Babe in Mary’s arms. And he is coming across the courtyard with the familiar look on his face. Mary had seen it before. It was on the face of Elizabeth when she visited her and Elizabeth looked in awe at her swelling womb. It was on the face of the Shepherds when they knelt beside the manger and told her of the angels and their words and song. Now it was on the face of this old man as he hurried toward them, aged arms outstretched, reaching for the Child.

Mary would not give her precious package up lightly to anyone, but she saw and understood the look. Yet another one in the know. Yet another one who realized that Mary was holding THE offering, the Child that would bring to an end man’s long exile and open wide the way home to the Father’s house. She knows she can safely give Him into old Simeon’s arms. He’s been waiting a life-time.

Simeon holds the Child, looks into his infant face, and he begins to pray. Not to any other, but to Him, to the Child in his arms: “Now, Lord! Now you can let your servant go in peace. I’ve seen Your salvation. A light for the gentiles. Glory for your people Israel.”

Which is all to say: “I can just die now.” Now that I know that the Death of death lives and breathes on earth, I have no fear. How could I fear the displeasure of God when I see the irrefutable testimony of that love right here in my arms. God so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son. Gave Him into the flesh. Here is forgiveness! Here is life! Here is the peace that all the world longs for!

It was surely a stroke of genius when some long forgotten Lutheran suggested that the words of Simeon were the perfect words to sing when we come back from the Table of the Lord. Having received the Body and Blood of Him whom Simeon held all those centuries ago, we pray with him: “It’s okay, Lord. I can just die now. Take me home! I’ve seen your salvation. I’ve tasted your life. My sins are forgiven. My death is destroyed. I have nothing to fear because YOU have given yourself to me entirely. I can go home right now.”

Mary and Joseph presented the turtle doves that day, but the true Offering was the Child they held – the Child Simeon held – the Child who is our Lord and Savior and who delights to give Himself to us that we might “depart in peace” according to His Word!

Patristic Quote for the Day

At the risk of Fr. Alms' censure, another EASTERN father, but one that Chemnitz relied on extensively:

Every action of Christ and all His working of miracles were truly very great and divine and wonderful, but of all things the most wonderful is His honorable cross. For by nothing else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ has death been brought low, the sin of our first parent destroyed, hell plundered, resurrection bestowed, the power given us to despise the things of this world and even death itself, the road back to the former blessedness made smooth, the gates of paradise opened, our nature seated at the right hand of God, and we made children and heirs of God. By the cross all things have been set aright! – John of Damascus, The Christian Faith, Book IV: Chapter 11

01 February 2006

A Theologian of the Cross...

...calls a thing what it is. But I really shouldn't USE that sort of language on a public blog....

What are we in communion fellowship with? A member of mine just returned from a long visit with her family. They attend a parish in another state that is one of our LCMS parishes and where, shall we say, there is a tang of salt in the air. Bulletins were brought to me. They reveal so many interesting things.

How's this for a communion statement: "As Lutherans, we believe that Christ's body and blood are truly present for the forgiveness of sins, in, with, and under the bread and wine. We invite all those who share this understanding and believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior to attend his holy supper. White grape juice is provided for those who do not consume wine...."

"Under the bread and wine"..."white grape juice"? And I don't suppose anyone needs to be baptized - just share our "understanding and belief"? So much for closed communion!

Oh, but it gets better. One of the bulletins indicates that the homily was delivered by the deaconess. Isn't that precious?

After one of the Eucharistic prayers, we get: "Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, O God, now and forever." [Traditional form: Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever!]

Obviously using the ELCA's latest tripe, so I suppose that the word HIM (and heaven forbid, the word FATHER!) is like unto the unpronounceable name of God and must be avoided at all costs even in parts of the LCMess.

And I just love one of the hymns they sang:

"I'm trading my sorrows,
I'm trading my shame,
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord.
I'm trading my sickness,
I'm trading my pain,
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord."

We commune with this each week we celebrate the Sacrament as members of the altar and pulpit fellowship that is the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Almost Patristic Quote for the Day (I consider Schmemann right next to patristic!)

"The Word presupposes the sacrament as its fulfillment, for in the sacrament, Christ the Word becomes our life. The Word assembles the Church for his incarnation in her. In separation from the word the sacrament is in danger of being perceived as magic, and without the sacrament the word is in danger of being 'reduced' to 'doctrine.' And finally, it is precisely through the sacrament that the word is interpreted, for the interpretation of the word is always witness to the fact that the Word has become our life. 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)' The sacrament is his witness, and therefore in it lies the source, the beginning and foundation of the exposition and comprehension of the word, the source and criterion of theology. Only in this unbreakable unity of word and sacrament can we truly understand the meaning of the affirmation that the Church alone preserves the true meaning of the scripture."
Schmemann, The Eucharist, pp. 68, 69