Monday, April 30, 2007

reconciling faith with political ambition

I'm presenting this article from the NY Times, not to endorse any political position, but, rather, to illustrate the challenges in reconciling faith with politics. A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith.

from Odes of Solomon

My heart was split, and a flower appeared, and grace sprang up; and it bore fruit for my God.
You split me, tore my heart open, filled me with love.
You poured your spirit into me; I knew you as I know myself.
Speaking waters touched me from your fountain, the source of life.
I swallowed them and was drunk with the water that never dies, and my drunkenness was insight, intimacy with your spirit.
And you have made all things new; you have showed me all things shining.

-- written in the 1st or 2nd Century, A.D.
(to be continued)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Goodwood United Church

Free coffee
Everlasting life
Yes, membership has its privileges.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

protecting your mind from evil

This was written by Rick Warren, but is certainly applicable to lay people.
We have to be choosy. We have to control what – or who – we allow into our minds. What’s true of computers is true with humans – garbage in, garbage out.
Five things to guard against:
1. We are to guard our minds against false teaching.
2. We are to guard our minds against temptation.
3. We are to guard our minds against counterfeit spiritual experiences.
4. We are to guard our minds against pride.
5. We are to guard against an overworked mind.
Read the whole essay.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

The Lord is here.
God's Spirit is with us.

Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.

Holy Spirit
giving life to all life, moving all creatures,
root of all things, washing them clean,
wiping out their mistakes, healing their wounds,
you are our true life, luminous, wonderful,
awakening our hearts from their ancient sleep.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


There are some questions that can't be answered by Google.
-- Claude Presbyterian Church sign

Sunday, April 22, 2007

the need for quiet

We all need it. One of the reasons I go to Blue Cloud Abbey. The need for quiet.
Abbot Thomas comments on this need:

Our world is awash in noise, especially if you live in a big city. There is no way we can get away from it sometimes. If you have to wait on the phone, there is music. You ride in an elevator there is piped in music. The store aisles are filled with music and other noises. People have cell phones with them all the time and they are always on. Then there is the I-Pod, the radio, the computer, the T.V. Maybe you can list a few more.

What to do about it? If you really want some quiet in your life, then you will have to do something about it yourself. Don’t turn on your cell phone unless you need to, others can leave you a message. Don’t turn on your car radio, just sit in quiet and listen to the silence, or speak to God, or pray the rosary. When you get up in the morning, the very first thing you should do is take 10 or 15 minutes to read a short section from the Bible – maybe say morning prayer from our web-site, then close the Bible and sit there in silence talking with Jesus. He is your best friend and is always there for you.

If you do this everyday you will be amazed at how much your inner life calms down and is at peace.

Abbot Thomas, O.S.B.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Desert Mothers

At the dawn of Christianity, holy women went into the wilderness of the deserts of northern Egypt to give themselves totally to lives of prayer. In her new book from Morehouse Publishing, Episcopal Priest and retreat leader Mary Earle explores the spirituality of these little known “desert mothers” from the fourth century. Earle invites readers to learn ways to apply the wisdom of these ancient women today.
“We are discovering, often through painstaking, detailed examination of primary texts, that women played an essential role in the early years of the Christian faith,” says Earle. “In those first centuries, before the church was marked by the institutional division between East and West, women were functioning in a variety of roles. They were seeking to live out the faith in Christ…and living in ways that were authentic and true to the gospel. Their example challenges our ways of understanding the faith.”
The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness provides an introduction to discover some of the foremothers in the Christian faith, and an invitation to practice their way of living. These women began to create and shape lives in the deserts of the Holy Land as “ammas,” -- literally, “mothers” -- but also implying wise guidance and care of souls.

Friday, April 20, 2007

this applies to all Christians and denominations

After describing an e-mail received from an ex-seminarian from Argentina, Ryan writes:

….He made me question my own motives for remaining in the church.

The most obvious and simple reason is that I’m used to it. I was born and brought up Catholic. I happen to be Catholic just as I happen to be American. It’s an empirical fact-the rather prosaic underpinning of my fidelity.

Because I’m a Catholic, I go to Mass on Sundays (or Saturday evening), and I’m relatively at ease. I know when to sit, stand, and kneel, and I know the responses. I am deeply aware of Eucharistic theology, and I want to respond to this gift with all my being. Yet I often feel as though I’m just going through the motions. The people around me are strangers, the music is led by a choir singing a couple of octaves above what most of us are capable of, the songs themselves are sickly sentimental, and the sermon is often insipid. . . . At church, I have the impression that we are a motley crew fulfilling an obligation. There is a clique of dedicated people in the parish who keep things rolling, but I’ve never been tempted to become part of that group. I simply don’t have a vocation to lay ministry. These are very good people who are trying their best. The worst of it is that I haven’t a clue as to how things could be improved.

So I can’t stand outside and throw stones. The very things that pain and disappoint me in the church exist in myself, and I don’t like them there either. Often I feel like a hypocrite among hypocrites-all of us pretending to live something we are constantly contradicting.

That is the nitty-gritty level. In the larger context, there is a whole litany of complaints: the church’s obsession with micromanaging the sexual life of the faithful and imposing its one-size-fits-all regulations; its courtship of the rich and powerful (who are the laypeople who sit on diocesan boards and consulting committees? Are they representative of the people of God?); the political posturing (morality must be legislated). The litany could go on and on.

* * *

Is it simply out of inertia that I continue to be a Catholic? I hope not. Faced with so much that puts me off and the temptation to simply walk away, I find myself replying with Peter: “To whom else will we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

-- Jerry Ryan “Why I Stay Catholic: The Bonds of Belief & Friendship”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

spiritual reading

Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.

As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God's voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.

Henri Nouwen Society

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


It is important to realize that tranquillity is less of a destination than a manner of traveling.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Psalm 131

My mind is not noisy with desires, Lord,
and my heart has satisfied its longing.
I do not care about religion
or anything that is not you.
I have soothed and quieted my soul,
like a child at its mother's breast.
My soul is as peaceful as a child
sleeping in its mother's arms.

-- Stephen Mitchell A Book of Psalms Selected & Adapted from the Hebrew

Sunday, April 15, 2007

first Communion at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, St.Paul, MN

the girls' section

Pastor Glenn & Pastor Amy

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Easter Saturday

The Lord has risen, alleluia.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Tranquillity is not created.
It is there in all of us already.
We simply lose touch with it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Psalm 1

Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond their greed
and have put an end to their hatred
and no longer nourish illusions.
But they delight in the way things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like trees planted near flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fall or wither.
Everything they do will succeed.

-- Stephen Mitchell's adaptation from Hebrew

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

painting chalices for first communion

After supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people
for the forgiveness of sin.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Easter service at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN


God our Father, creator of all, today is the day of Easter joy. This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to men who had begun to lose hope and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold that first he must die, and then he would rise and ascend into his Father's glorious presence. May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes that we may know him in the breaking of bread, and follow him in his risen life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-- Liturgy of the Hours

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday

O God, whose loving kindness is infinite, mercifully hear our prayers; and grant that as in this life we are united in the mystical body of thy Church, and in death are laid in holy ground with the sure hope of resurrection; so at the last day we may rise to the life immortal, and be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-- Anonymous

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Almighty Father, Everlasting God, Who didst permit Thy Son to suffer the anguish of the Cross for us, so that Thou mightest drive the power of the enemy from us: Grant us that we may so commemorate and give thanks for His Passion that we may thereby obtain forgiveness of sin and redemption from eternal death; through the same Thy Son. Amen.
-- Martin Luther

Suggested reading:
Lenten message by Fr. Richard Herbel of Saint Augustine's House Lutheran Monastery.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday

O my Father, I have moments of deep unrest -- moments when I know not what to ask by reason of the very excess of my wants. I have in these hours no words for Thee, no conscious prayers for Thee. Yet all the time Thou hast accepted my unrest as a prayer. I know not what I ask. But Thou knowest what I ask, O my God. Thou knowest that, because I am made in Thine image, I can find rest only in what gives rest to Thee; therefore Thou hast counted my unrest for righteousness and hast called my groaning Thy Spirit's prayer. Amen.
-- George Matheson

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota

Kristine sent me these pictures from Duluth;
she attended evening prayer at St. Scholastica.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

no simple faith

It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things aren't simple. They look simple, but they're not. The table I'm sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it's really made of—all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain—and, of course, you will find what we call "seeing a table" lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of. . . .
Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn't have guessed. That's one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It's a religion you couldn't have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we'd always expected, I'd feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it's not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let's leave behind all these boys' philosophies—these over-simple answers.

-- C.S. Lewis

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

It was a blessing to worship this Palm Sunday morning at Beaver Lake Lutheran Church in Maplewood, Minnesota. Above, Pastor Charlie Brown is reading the Gospel text.

A highlight of the service was the baptism of a young mom & her son;
the dad is holding their son in this picture.
See a brief video.

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