Morning Prayer: June 9th

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Psalm: 105:1-22
Old Testament: Ezekiel 18:1-4;19-32
New Testament: Hebrews 7:18-28

‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own. (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

It may not seem like it on first read….but this prophetic shift in Ezekiel is HUGE . When the law of YHWH was revealed at Sinai, it was made explicitly clear that sin is a generational burden.. Of course the opposite was true as well……righteousness also extended to children…but the idea was that everyone was responsible for the whole well-being of the community.

Now…God declares through Ezekiel that the old ways are gone. God has now decided that each individual is only responsible for him or herself.

In an amazing declaration, God declares that the wicked who repent will no longer have their sins remembered….that they will be washed clean indeed. Through the power of Grace and Love, there is no point where we are beyond redemption. Alleluia! Alleluia!

If you get a chance in the next little bit, why not gather with a priest and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? It gives us a chance to confess to God our sins…those times when we have missed the mark, and to gain encouragement from a fellow brother or sister in Christ to continue striving to live fully in the Lord.

More than that, we are given absolution. reminded that Jesus came to save us, and rejoices over one sinner who returns than 100 righteous ones. I for one, place hope in that promise. 🙂

Each day, we are given the chance to embrace our hearts of flesh…..and to remember that through Christ….all sins are forgiven, and we are loved beyond all telling.

My dear readers… brothers and sisters…go in peace and pray for me, a sinner + ❤

Evening Prayer: June 8th

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Psalm: 119:121-144
Gospel: Luke 10:17-24
Reading from the Magisterium of the Church: An excerpt from The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church

At that same hour Jesus* rejoiced in the Holy Spirit* and said, ‘I thank* you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.* 22All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ (Lk 10:21-22)

Maybe it’s because I was brought up on retro movies……but whenever I read this line about Jesus rejoicing…my brain automatically jumps to the image of David dancing before the LORD in 2 Samuel…..and once I think of that, my brain automatically goes to Kevin Bacon’s cheesy yet effective speech in Footloose :):

Yeah I know…..I’m a nerd…..but just go with it for a second. I think that sometimes in our quest to be holy, we forget to rejoice. Faith is not something which is supposed to burden us….but to set our hearts free and make us glad.

I hope that as you go through this week, you will find things that will bring your spirit joy; that the Holy Spirit will inflame your heart to dance with and lifting our voices in praise and to be gladdened in your heart that God has been made known to us in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. Alleluia! God is great! ❤ +

Morning Prayer: June 8th

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Psalms: 101,109:1-4, 20-30
Old Testament: Ezekiel 11:14-25
New Testament: Hebrews 7:1-17

I will give them one* heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

Whenever I hear about hearts of stone being removed and replaced with new hearts…I am instantly taken back to elementary school :). When I was younger, hymns written by Don Schutte were super popular and this song was on repeat for almost every Mass I attended as a child:

God has already begun the work of transforming us, and making us new :). But the question remains…..what will our response be?

It’s all well and good to be given a new heart…a new perspective on love and life. But are we going to keep it to ourselves??? or exercise that new heart in the world around us??? I hope and pray that our response to Grace will be: “Here I am LORD, send me” +

Evening Prayer: June 6th

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Psalm: 89:19-52
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:61)

Oh look another uncomfortable bit of Scripture….awesome! 😀 [insert sarcasm here]

Seriously though, this is one of Jesus’ teaching that makes me distinctly uncomfortable. I don’t know about you, but I look back all the time. At past relationships, past work-experiences, past times where I was genuinely happy.

There are lots of times that I take my focus off of Jesus and place it somewhere else. If my mind is always meandering…how can I hope to do anything of value???

Now the good Protestant in me says..of cooooooourse we can’t do anything of value….we are all depraved sinners beyond the pale in need of Grace….but at the same time, I ask myself whether Jesus can really ask me to be unwavering in my determination. And the answer I’ve stumbled upon is that yes, he can. 🙂

This isn’t to say that we won’t screw up multiple times in our efforts to follow our Lord…..but rather he has given us the Holy Spirit to put us back on the right path, through repentance.

Each time we confess our sins to God with a humble and contrite heart, we are given what St. Symeon calls the Baptism of Tears.

The fantastic and radical news of the Gospel is that Christ expects us to follow him with our whole heart, mind, soul and body. He knows that we–as finite, sinful beings–are going to need help along the way. We are not perfect and therefore he has sent his Spirit as our Advocate and guide.

To borrow from the Patristic reading tonight, St. Cyril puts it this way:

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit.

Repentance is what allows us to see God. It is the process through which we can make peace with the past behind us and not look back on our mistakes. Each time we turn to the LORD in earnest, we are given the strength to walk forward and not look back. What was old is now made new….and what was once unable to do anything is now inspired and gifted to do things far greater than could ever be asked for and imagined.

Jesus tells us that even if we fall flat on our faces, we can cry out his name and keep walking the path of discipleship in faith. He never leaves us without hope and comfort. Amen, Alleluia! +

Morning Prayer: June 6th

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Psalm: 89:1-18
Old Testament: Ezekiel 4:1-17
New Testament: Hebrews 6:1-12

Author’s note: Originally, I had totally misheard the Old Testament reading at the Cathedral and thought Ezekiel ate/cooked with the human dung and built my reflection around that idea. The post stayed that way for the majority of the day. I have since changed it…..but to those whom I inadvertenly led astray…mea culpa! mea culpa! Will definitely make a more concerted editing effort in future posts. 🙂

‘See, I will let you have cow’s dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread.’ (Ezekiel 4:15)

But if [your faith] produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over. (Hebrews 6:8)

Eeeew! We have some pretty dark images going on in today’s readings, non? :S Despite my own discomfort though, I think there is still something to be gleaned here.

I am particularly struck by Ezekiel’s command from God to literally eat shit. :P. It is shocking enough to our own sensibilities, but for a prophet, the thought of doing such a thing would be unbearable.

According to the Torah, if a Jewish person came into contact with biological waste (corpses, menstrual blood, feces, urine &c.) there was an automatic exclusion from the whole congregation. Normally, there would be a priestly ritual (lasting anywhere from 7-14 days) that would remove the contamination and allow the person to re-enter the people of God.

Of course, with Ezekiel writing during the Babylonian Exile…the Temple is gone and the Levitical priests have been banned from practicing their faith. To eat animal dung would be to enter a state of defilement that was impossible to recover from ritually.

For all his protesting, Ezekiel is told he must eat the feces in order to convey God’s message to the people. Like so many prophets who have come before him, this faithful Jew is called to say and do things that seem impossible.

There is also an interesting twist to the story.

In his mercy, YHWH has allowed Ezekiel to eat cow’s dung–rather than human dung…..for to eat a waste product of God’s most precious creation is too great an embarassment. Even in the midst of humiiation, there is mercy. 🙂

On a metaphorical level, there is also something comforting to know that even when we must eat shit…..God is with us…loving us…..upholding us…..even to the end of the age. +

Morning Prayer: Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

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Psalm: 72
Old Testament: 1 Sam 1:1-20
New Testament: Hebrews 3:1-6

So I know I have been away for a looooong while…..but I figured this feast day is as good a time to reclaim my place in the blogosphere as any :). Today the Church celebrates one of its most joyous occasions.

Cousins unite to celebrate their respective miracles and greet one another with a kiss of peace. One of the most important aspects of this day for me…is that God never leaves us alone.

Mary is faced with the prospect of being a first-time mom, she has also been told that her Son will redeem the world. No pressure right? 😛

And yet, in this incredible time of anxiety and stress, Mary can rely on her cousin Elizabeth; who is going through an equally surreal experience…..carrying a baby well into old age, who has been told that her son will herald the coming of the Messiah.

Together these two women will help to transform the world…taking responsibility for raising John the Baptist and the Christ-child. To instruct both of them in the Law of Moses and to make sure they grow up knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Today’s feast is a way of acknowledging not just the incredible challenge these women faced…..but the joy with which they embraced God’s plan for them. Elizabeth hails Mary as the most blessed of all women, and the child in her belly leaps for joy. Mary responds with the Magnificat, which is first and foremost a song of praise.

In all trials, tribulations and uncertainty…..their example teaches us that we must have joy in our hearts….if not for what God is doing in our lives….then as a way of thanking Him for the family, friends and strangers he brings into our lives to hold us up when we feel like we are falling. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Evening Prayer: Feast of St. Matthias (May 14th)

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Psalm: 33
Old Testament: 1 Sam 12:1-5
New Testament: Acts 20:17-35

Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. (Acts 20:28)

If there is one thing I’ve noticed from the readings selected for today…it’s that the Christian community must take care of itself and be committed to living out the Gospel and good governance for each other. Kind of appropriate as we are heading into Diocesan Synod.

My inner cynic sometimes gets the better of me….but I am always interested in the idea of what would happen if the Church actually read Acts before heading into decision making and policy….Hmmm…..+

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