As I often say in true Benedictine tradition, we must always seek balance. So here is an interesting take on the Sacred Scriptures..
† Aperi, Domine, os meum
ad benedicendum nomen sanctum
Aidan, Missionary, Abbot,
Bishop of Lindisfarne
31 August 651
During the seventh century Northumbria, an area in northern England comprising the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, was a violent battleground. Rival kings determined whether or not the Gospel could advance and in what form (Roman or Celtic). In 616, Edwin, the new king, was converted by a mission from Canterbury led by Bishop Paulinus, who established his see at York. Edwin's death in battle in 632 was followed by a severe pagan reaction. The next year, Edwin's exiled nephew Oswald gained the throne, and proceeded immediately to restore the Christian missionary Church.
During his exile, Oswald had lived at Columba's monastery of Iona (in Scotland), where he had been converted and baptized. He therefore asked the Bishop of Iona for a missionary instead of Canterbury. The first Bishop to preach was a monk named Corman, who had little success, and returned to Iona to complain that the Northumbrians were an unteachable race of savages.
The historian Bede writes that, at a meeting to discuss the problem, a young Irish monk called Aidan, said: "Perhaps you were too harsh with them, and they might have responded better to a gentler approach." Aidan, therefore, found himself appointed to lead a second expedition to Northumbria. He centered his work, not at York, but in imitation of his home monastery, on Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast of England, now often called Holy Isle.
With his fellow monks and the young English men he trained, Aidan restored Christianity in Northumbria, King Oswald supported him and even served as his interpreter from time to time. The mission was extended through the midlands as far south as London.
Aidan lived a frugal life, and encouraged the people to fast and study the scriptures. He himself fasted every Wednesday and Friday, and rarely ate at the royal table. When he was required to attend a feast, the food set before him would be given away to the hungry. He was often given rich presents, but these he gave to the poor or used to buy the freedom of slaves, some of these freed slaves entered the priesthood. During Lent Aidan would go to the small island of Farne for prayer and penance.
Aidan died at the royal town of Bamborough, 31 August, 651. The historian Bede said of him:
"He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was given him by kings or rich men of the world. He traversed both town and country on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity. Wherever on his way he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works."
That is quite a testimony, and one any Christian could be proud of. Perhaps a kinder, gentler way of talking to people would attract more converts even these days!
O loving God, Who called Your servant Aidan from the peace of a cloister to re-establish the Christian mission in northern England, and gave him the gifts of gentleness, simplicity, and strength: Grant that we, following his example, may use what You have given us for the relief of human need, and may persevere in commending the saving Gospel of our Redeemer Jesus Christ; Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim Your praise.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
The Spirit of the Lord renews the face of the earth:
Come let us adore Him.
Almighty and gracious God, we come to You with our hearts full of prayers both spoken and those that cannot be put into words. As the ancient psalmist wrote You are our refuge and strength, the light in the darkness, and so with confidence we offer our prayers to You for those States and Cities still suffering from the wounds and destruction of a year ago. Gather us under Your wings, calm our fears and keep our faith strong.
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for those who grieve the loss of family, friends, neighbors, their towns and cities, and for those who still suffer from injuries. We ask for your comfort for those separated and living apart from their family, and we ask for Your continued healing presence in their lives and communites. We commend to Your loving care all those who have died.
Lord hear our prayers.
We ask Your blessing on all those who are involved in rebuilding efforts and those caring for those scattered and still recreating their lives. Be with all the churches and people as they minister in Your name to Your people. Sustain them through this time of tremendous loss and stress.
Lord hear our prayers.
We commend to Your care those visitors who are working in debris removal and cleaning up, the missions from all over the country that come to help. We especially pray for those burdened by unimaginable losses and who have found themselves like refugees in their own country. May reconstruction and new life shine in the darkness of destruction.
Lord hear our prayers
We pray for those - especially the poor, who live along the coast and whose livelihoods have been lost or impacted by this disaster and ask that You would raise them up and bless them. We pray for those whose workplaces have become unsafe and who face an uncertain future and ask that they may find the assistance they need
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for communities that have been devastated that they may live and learn and support one another and have joy in their lives once again. May this disaster bring people together to rebuild their cities, and to fill their lives with justice, their plates with food and their streets with music,. Bring them peace and healing from all evil.
Lord hear our prayers.
We pray for those far from their old homes, who feel homesick and far away from loved ones; those who are trying to stay in contact with parents, children, friends, and all who are worried and frustrated and long to embrace their families. Comfort families across the distance.
Lord hear our prayers.
We give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives, especially the gifts we so often take for granted until they are in danger of being taken away from us - the gift of family, friends, a home, our possessions. Most of all we praise God for the gift of life itself.
Lord hear our prayers.
We also pray for all people of the human family all around the world affected by other natural disasters. O God, Great Shepherd of the sheep, gather us all in Your arms and lead us safely within the one fold of Your love.
Lord hear us, Lord hear our prayer
May we pray with St. Chrysostom
Almighty God, You have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to You; and You have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in His Name You will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of Your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen
I noticed today that a news story flashed around the web of the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing as a vision on the belly of a small turtle. Well this was so patently ridiculous that I made a big joke of it to some co-workers and some friends. But a post on a blog got me to thinking. Why do people need to see Jesus or the Blessed Mother on objects?
Reading the story of the turtle I see that 81yr old Shirley McVane lost her husband of 49 years the same year that I lost my wife. During the lonely years of her widowhood, she has covered the walls of her home with rosaries, prayer cards and paintings of the Last Supper. Shirley says the turtle's image is mostly fun, but in other ways she reaches out for God. Right now across my room, there is an icon of the Theotokos, and a votive burning in front of it. Comforting? yea... maybe I should shop for some turtles...
Today is August 24, feast day of St.Bartholomew (Nathanael Bar-Tolmai) Apostle of Christ
We know very little of Bartholomew with certainty, but he is mentioned in the lists of Apostles, both in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the Twelve. These lists normally are given as six pairs, and the third pair in each of the Synoptics is "Philip and Bartholomew". Scholars believe he is the same as Nathanael mentioned in John,(who says he is from Cana) because:
(1) "Bar-tholomew" is a patronymic, meaning "son of Tolmai (or Talmai)." It is therefore likely that he had another name."Nathanael son of Tolmai" seems more likely than "Nathanael also called James (or Simon)."
(2) Nathanael is introduced in John's Gospel as a friend of Philip. Since Bartholomew is paired with Philip on three of our four lists of Apostles, it seems likely that he is the same man.
Even as few lines are mentioned of Bartholomew, there is a wealth of information. When Nathanael made his appearance in the Gospels, he did so with a bit of amazing sarcasm by saying "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Maybe Bartholomew was teasing about Nazareth with a little rivalry that comes with being familiar since Cana, the home of this apostle, was only about nine miles Nazareth.
Jesus nevertheless extended an astounding and unique welcome to (Nathanael) Bartholomew. Not one of the other Apostles did the Lord greet so warmly. As He saw Bartholomew coming, joyfully He could say, "'Behold a true Israelite in whom there is no guile. '" St. Augustine made the remark about this passage: "A great testimony! That which was said neither to Andrew nor to Peter nor to Philip was said of Nathanael."
What moved him from doubt to faith in Christ? What does Bartholomew see in Jesus that causes the change? Can you imagine what it was like meeting Jesus face to face? What would He say to you, and how would you reply to Him? During this brief meeting with Bartholomew, Jesus told him that he would experience greater things than with this first meeting, and he certianly did, for he was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on the shore of the sea of Galilee after His resurrection.
After what we see recorded in the Scriptures, we know very little of Bartholomew's life. Some writers, including the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, say that he preached in India. However, the majority tradition, with varying details, is that Bartholomew preached in Armenia, and was finally horribly skinned alive and beheaded by King Astyages. One "chance" meeting…changed Bartholomew's life forever, can it change ours?
May our prayer be:
Almighty and everlasting God, Who gave to Your Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach Your Word: grant, we beseech you, to Your Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever, Amen.
Interestingly enough, God's people in ancient times (the Hebrews) fought tenaciously to prevent any representation of the Invisible God. He was beyond all understanding and representation. Only when God became Incarnate and permitted us to see His face in this world did we have any way of applying physicality to the Transcendent One. I have blogged about this before, and remain disappointed in the outcome.
Seems just this week U.S. Judge White has ruled that Haskell County's Ten Commandments monument may stay on the courthouse lawn in Stigler, Oklahoma. I wonder if they fixed the misspelled Seventh Commandment, or perhaps no one is concerned enough to actually look at the engraved stone pillar. It is just an Oklahoma Idol, to be erected and ignored. Sigh. Symbols mean more than our lives. So easy, put up a pillar, then your done, forget the One Who cries, weeps and bleeds for the poor and downtrodden.
According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments. Five, that is just half. Does it somehow roll back the Fall to erect a stone pillar? Does sin reduce in counties protected by such a pillar?
So, here we are. The modern people of God feels like we must erect stone pillars in direct contradiction to His word not to, and the witness we give to the world is that we care more about cold granite than we do about living right and reaching out our hands to serve those with wounded lives as the Christ Who served us with His wounded hands.
I pray that we, rather than erecting cold, granite pillars could see the face of Christ in everyone we meet but most of all, I pray that that everyone we meet could see the Face of Christ in us.
Today I was talking to a friend about ways of strengthening his prayer life, and I was wondering what other people did for their private prayers/worship/devotions. Does anyone out there use physical devotional aids?
For example I say the Daily Office (a group of Scripture readings and prayers said 4 times a day), and during it, I often play Chants in the background or use my Thurifer to burn incense. Other times I might use my Chaplet, or I might use my complete Rosary. I also attend a Contemplative Prayer session at St. Joseph's Monastery. These are examples of prayer aids/tools I personally use.
I also want to mention that we must not let songs, prayers or the words of Sacred Scripture become mere emptyness, and for me, part of involving the body/senses helps to prevent that. There is an old contemporary Christian song from some twenty or more years ago where the singer says something like "Light a candle and say a prayer, or jump a pew and sing Hallelujah, if your heart really isn't there, what good is it going to do ya?" I think that while there are times that we should be saying the prayers even if we don't feel like it, saying the prayers even if we don't connect on ALL levels, we should remember that song's phrasing and take it to heart.
I wish I had a spiritual Director here in town, due to the nature of my Order, my Brother Director is some distance away, however my Priest is a wonderful man, and very helpful.
† May you all be blessed with illumination of the uncreated light of the Son of God.
With so much attention on Mary Magdalene these days, it is good to celebrate and remember the Feast of the Blessed Virgin and remember the woman Scripture calls "Blessed" for all generations.
Her life was very localized, dusty and seemingly of no more consequence than the thousands around her that had gone on before. We know very little about her and then generally only when her life and the Life of her Son connect in various ways. Somehow I think that is very telling. She never seems to draw attention to herself, but is God's handmaid, humble and an example to us all. Jesus is the One Who is important, and her life's story is only told in connection to His. Isn't that a wonderful way to be remembered?
She does, however, deserve honor. She was especially chosen to be Theotokos or the God-bearer. We must never lose site of that extraordinary fact. Of course Mary is a creature and wasn't the origin of God, Who is without beginning or end. But the Second Person of the Triune Godhead chose to truly become man. He did not just come and borrow a human body and drive it around for awhile like some rental car. No, at the moment of His conception in the womb of Mary, a miracle almost beyond comprehension happened. God the Son united Himself with a human nature forever. Humanity and Divinity were so closely bound together in Jesus, Son of Mary, that they could never be separated again.
She was real, young and scared, yet willing to be used of God. How many of us faced such fear and danger, yet willingly laid our lives down?
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you; Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus;
Son of Mary, Son of the living God, have mercy upon us, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
In this part of the globe, it is pretty common that Churches do not permit their members to
consume alcoholic beverages. (Interesting side note, the liquor stores seem to maintain their profits quite well)
The really wild thing is that these Churches are usually ones that pursue a literal or fundamentalist reading of the Bible. A few bold fellows point that logical flaw out, to their credit. Clearly the Bible permits the use of alcoholic beverages, that usage being blessed by none other than the Master Himself.
Fortunately the ancient Churches never have bought into such foolishness, preferring our own ridiculous and myopic viewpoints. Even better over the centuries various Monasteries not only permitted the drinking of beer but, in fact made it and did quite well at it. You might take a look at what some of my Trappist Brothers brew, and if u like, they tell you how here.
So, any locals want to lift a pint with me? Give me an email and we will bless the Lord and pass the Beer.
I found this on the web, and felt like I wanted to pass it on.
The following request comes from Tony Maalouf, Assistant Dean of the School of Evangelism and Missions, and Associate Professor of Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dear Praying Friends,
Below is a communique from our Lebanese brothers and sisters that are diligently working in the midst of a great human tragedy to make a difference for Christ. Currently they are taking care of more than 1000 refugees and displaced people in the name of Christ. They are using both the facilities of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary and the Beirut Baptist School. Both of them are ministries with big SBC heritage and IMB involvement. Please do pray for these needs and if you or your churches are led to contribute toward easing the pain and suffering of Lebanese civilians for His sake, send contributions to the address below designated LSESD/Lebanon Relief Fund. Fuel, water, medication and all humanitarian aid are urgently needed in Lebanon now as all roads/bridges, airports and seaports are cut, and Lebanon is isolated from the rest of the world. The UN is struggling to channel supplies through risky humanitarian corridors. Please pray for an end to this tragic situation in the Middle East.
A P P E A L
WATER Needed at ABTS
No sooner did we address the shortage of water supply at the Beirut Baptist School on Friday, this morning the artesian water well of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary dried up (350m) and its pump broke down.
We now have one alternative: to directly dig on campus another artesian well at 450m depth. The estimated cost of this emergent need is US$23,000.- We urgently appeal to friends and partners to help us address this urgent need knowing that we have on campus around 125 adults and 100 children.
Tax-deductible contributions are mailed to:
Middle East Bible Outreach
12850 Hwy 9
Suite 600 Pmb 374
Alpharetta, GA 30004, United States