Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

11/30/2005

Passing God without even noticing

Tonight we continue our book study of Esther de Waal's Seeking God. Here is a quote from one of the three chapters we are discussing this evening from 7-8 p.m.
To listen...means in the first instance that we have to listen whether we like it or not, whether we hear what we want to or something that is actually disgreeable or threatening. If we pick and choose we are in fact turning a deaf ear to the many unexpected and perhaps unacceptable ways in which God is trying to reach us...

To listen closely, with every fibre of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking. If we stop listening to what we find hard to take then, as the Abbot of St Benoît-sur-Loire puts it in a striking phrase, "We're likely to pass God without even noticing Him."

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11/28/2005

Baptism and Canned Goods

panoramic view of our worship yesterday taken during the closing hymn
Yesterday, King of Peace started Advent with Shane Scott's baptism. It was moving to see the conviction in his eyes as he said the replies to the liturgy which he had memorized, renouncing evil and turning to Jesus as his savior.

Shane with his sponsors at the font
Here is Shane with his sponsors at the font as he is presented.

The day ended for King of Peace with the youth group going on a canned food scavenger hunt to help restock the Salvation Army's Food Bank.

some of the teens coming back to the van with the goods
Here are some of the 14 teens who went on the hunt coming back with their non-perishable food items. The hunt pitted Middle School students against high school students. The Middle Schoolers had an early edge as they brought more canned goods to the meeting, giving them an early lead. Then the teens went out and knocked on doors to collect goods. Each group got a nice haul. Then we went to Winn Dixie where the groups were given $20 each to spend from their budget to buy items for the food bank. They shopped carefully for bargains, with each group getting some 7 for $1 Ramen Noodles to hedge their bets. We also picked up ice cream "drumsticks" for the winners and sour candy for the losers. Once back at the church, it was clear that the high school students won, but after picking out their favorite flavors, they proved to be good winners, sharing ice cream with the middle schoolers.

group photo with all of the haul

Collecting a large pile of food for needy families in our community proved to be an appropriate way to round out a day that began with a baptism. First those of us who were already baptized renewed our baptismal covenants. Then the teens went out and lived into it. Isn't that what we are all supposed to do?

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King Kamehameha and Queen Emma

King Kamehameha IVToday (November 28) is the day of the church year for remembering King Kamehameha IV and his wife Emma, who were Christian monarchs of Hawaii and in that role built Christian schools and hospitals and spread of the Christian faith among their people. Queen EmmaBelow is a quote written by the king for the introduction to the Book of Common Prayer created for the Hawaiian Islands. In it, the king outlines his confident belief that it was the Holy Spirit working in hearts and minds over time to bring faith in Jesus to his people on the Hawaiian Islands.
There are branches of this Church in every land. How the Church has come down from the times of the Apostles to these days in which we live is not a matter about which the generality of men are ignorant. It were useless perhaps to set forth how she has taken root sooner or later all over the world. She is planted in America, in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, in the islands which stud the ocean, and now, behold! she is here with us in these islands of our own.

Cathedral of Saint AndrewLet us see how she felt her way and reached us at last. Our ancient idols had been dethroned, the sexes ate together, and the prohibition upon certain articles of food was held in derision by the females to whom it had been a law; the temples were demolished, the kapu had become no more than a memory of something that was hateful before, and the priests had no longer any rites to perform—indeed, there were no priests, for their office had died out. These changes came no doubt by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, acting through blind, unsuspecting agents. These revolutions were greatly furthered and helped along by those devout and devoted men who first brought here and translated into our mother-tongue God's Holy Word: and we, whilst these lines are being written, see the complete fulfilment of what the Bible enjoins in the establishment here of Christ's Church....The Church is established here in Hawaii through the breathings of the Holy Spirit and by the agency of the chiefs...

This our Church is an off-shoot of that branch of the One true Church, established in Great Britain and called the Anglican Catholic Church, which is itself a branch of the One Apostolic and Holy Catholic Church founded for evermore by our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all praise, power, glory and dominion for ever and ever.

Amen.

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11/27/2005

Advent

Advent WreathToday is the first day of the season of Advent, in which we prepare for the joy of Christ's coming at Christmas as we prepare for His Second Coming in glory. Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote this prayer for the season:
Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"

Amen.
Our online resource include a page on Advent and a .PDF of a booklet on Celebrating Advent in the Home.

1 Comments:

  • At 11/27/2005 10:06 PM, Anonymous Wong Online PoKér Hu said…

    Advent reminds me that Christmas is near. Advent reminds me that I should give more love. Advent reminds me that I should give a lot. Advent reminds me that life is sweet.

     

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11/26/2005

Keep Alert

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus warns his disciples,
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
The very Rev. Charles Hoffacker, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Huron, Michigan, has written of this text
click to find out more about winking iconThat’s the point. God is everywhere. An old icon in a famous church may or may not wink at worshipers, but the living Christ winks at us all the time, but too often our souls are asleep, and we fail to get the joke.

What is it that drags us down, that drugs us, so that we do not notice the face of Christ looking at us, winking at us, asking for some response as we encounter him? What is it that drags us down?

We take too seriously the small things, and we ignore what’s important. We see the tinsel, but overlook the tree. Small preoccupations—hurts and desires and failings and achievements—loom large for us, far too large, and crowd out the glory of a greater world.

What is it that lifts us up, that enables us to notice the wink and laugh at the joke? Simply this: the expectation of Christ present and active.

A funny thing about our church calendar is how often the name “Gregory” appears. No name on the calendar appears more frequently among the lesser feasts. There are four Gregories commemorated: Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome; Gregory the Illuminator, who brought the Gospel to the Armenian people; and two additional Gregories who were bishops, friends, and eminent theologians—Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa.

Why so many Gregories? Maybe there’s divine humor here. The name “Gregory” means “watchful, vigilant.” Perhaps these Gregories stand as a reminder that we are to be watchful, alert to Christ winking at us through the circumstances of life. The spiritual rigor to which we are called is to set aside our small preoccupations and recognize what’s really important. We are to allow ourselves to be lifted up by the expectation of Christ present and active....

There’s something more as well: when we recognize Christ in the course of every day, then he will be no stranger to our eyes. When he comes again at the end of time, we will be fit to meet him. Without fear or shame or “un-familiarty,” we will rejoice to behold his appearance.

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11/25/2005

Have a materialistic Christmas

click this photo to find out more about Advent

On the biggest shopping day of the year and the start of the Christmas rush, it seemed worth revisiting a Christmas Eve sermon, Have yourself a materialistic Christmas which said in part
The stuff of this world matters to God who lovingly created all there is. But we have so spiritualized the baby in the manger, so remade him into an image of perfection that we can’t imagine Mary ever having to change a diaper. When we overly spiritualize Jesus’ birth, we really are taming the shock of the incarnation. We end up with a greeting-card faith that can’t stand up to the challenges of real life.

We need a more materialistic view of Christmas. Grab hold of the reality of what it meant for God to be made man. God became a real human baby, fully human with all that means, even as he remained fully divine. Mary and Joseph got no divine assurance that night. Only a grubby group of shepherds with oddly glowing faces as they told of a multitude of angels seen somewhere in the night. The three wise men were still off in the distance somewhere. There were no gifts great or small in sight. There was only the common stuff of this world. Plain old ordinary stuff. That’s the materialism of Christmas. Plain old ordinary stuff made holy by God’s presence.

A more materialistic Christmas does not look like a mad, frantic dash to get just the right stuff to give someone. It’s a fallen, flawed view of matter to amass more stuff as if it is the stuff you own that matters. Having a more materialistic Christmas means coming to terms with the fact that Jesus was human and his swaddling cloth did need cleaning. Having a more materialistic Christmas means that we stop looking at the halos long enough to realize that Mary and Joseph were common folk. Having a more materialistic Christmas means recognizing shepherds, not as noble people performing a job everyone admired, but as men who others looked down on as little better than thieves.

God decided that becoming human meant siding with the oppressed and the outcasts and showed it by coming first to poor, lowly, and even despised people. That’s not how people always thought a god should act. God broke all the rules to fulfill a love story centuries in the making.
Have jumped ahead to think about Christmas, we will now jump back in time. Advent is coming. Prepare the way with an emphasis on the common things God made and loved rather than a mad dash for more.

Now Online: Today's religion column for the Tribune & Georgian, Approving torture would kill the soul of U.S.

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11/24/2005

Thanksgiving

click here to see more of the funAlmighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
—Collect for Thanksgiving Day, from the Book of Common Prayer

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11/23/2005

Clement of Rome

On Wednesday evenings at our worship service, we usually remember a saint, learning more about their life and how we see Christ in that person. I am away on vacation and there will be no Wednesday evening worship, so here is a bit about the saint for November 23—Clement of Rome.

Clements body is recovered after his deathClement is known as the third Bishop of Rome and so appears in charts showing the popes in a line back from the current pope to the apostle Peter. Yet, Clement was Bishop of Rome well before that office held more power than that of Bishop of any other city. The tradition says that Clement was executed by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. It is common to find a church in a port city named for Clement and he is often depicted in art with an anchor, or as shown here in an illuminated manuscript with St. Cyril recovering his body centuries later 868 a.d.

Clement's thought is best preserved for us today in a well attested letter he wrote to the church in Corinth around the year 96 a.d. His letter was frequently read in churches, but was not considered for inclusion in the Bible as he was neither an apostle nor the disciple of one of Jesus' apostles. Clement's letter to the Corinthians also uses many Old Testament figures as examples of the faith including Abraham, Lot, Rahab and David.

The letter bears some resemblance to Paul's letters to the Corinthians as once again the Christians in that city are being called back to faithfulness. Clement also includes a section on Christian love as Paul had done in I Corinthains 13 (which is the most popular scripture reading for a wedding). Rather than telling more about Clement, I'll close with a quote from his section on love
Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things. There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony. By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well-pleasing to God. In love has the Lord taken us to Himself. On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls.

Ye see, beloved, how great and wonderful a thing is love, and that there is no declaring its perfection. Who is fit to be found in it, except such as God has vouchsafed to render so? Let us pray, therefore, and implore of His mercy, that we may live blameless in love, free from all human partialities for one above another. All the generations from Adam even unto this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest at the revelation of the kingdom of Christ. For it is written, “Enter into thy secret chambers for a little time, until my wrath and fury pass away; and I will remember a propitious day, and will raise you up out of your graves.”

Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us. For it is written, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him, and in whose mouth there is no guile.” This blessedness cometh upon those who have been chosen by God through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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11/22/2005

Always something to complain about

(Two Roman matrons meet outside the Lateran Basilica on the Sunday after the Edict of Milan, A.D. 313.)

"Yoo hoo, Livia, over here!"

"My dear Amelia, I haven't seen you since the Decian persecution! How are you?"

"WELL, I don't know about this new service. I was much happier back in that lovely little house church that Gaius Petronius built. He really did have an eye for mosaics."

two bishops in chasubles"And now we HAVE to go to a service in a basilica. It's like having church in the Senate house. All those people. Hundreds of them! I haven't been in a basilica since Marcus had that nasty fraud trial."

"And did you see what the bishop was wearing? An ordinary chasuble isn't good enough for him. Now it has to have all that Macedonian needlework decoration."

"They say it's so he can be seen better"

"And did you see what the acolytes were carrying?!!!"

"You could have bowled me over with a feather! Incense!! In MY day, that was just apostasy. My grandfather was EATEN by a Libyan lion because he wouldn't sacrifice incense to the emperor. And now it's all over the place. I mean, really.... Must we adapt everything from those wretched pagans?"

"And what WAS the deacon singing today?"

"My daughter says they're writing new Alleluias to make the music more exciting."

"Well, MY mother's family was Jewish and we NEVER sang anything but the Temple psalm tunes. You never hear the old chants any more."

"Oh, my dear, it's just going to get worse and worse"

"What have you heard?"

"WELL! Don't quote me, but I heard that the service is going to change from Greek to Latin!"

"That's absurd! Greek is the language of civilization. Do you mean we have to give up Plato and Sophocles for those jumped-up moderns, just so everyone can understand the service?"

"My grandmother knew St. Paul, you know. She would roll over in her grave if she heard we were going to translate his letters. Although she did say that he spoke with such a funny Eastern accent."

"Oh my dear, I suppose we're just too old to give in to popular culture."

"SOMEONE has to maintain standards!"

"Precisely. Now shall we have a little lunch and go to the afternoon games? I hear the new gladiator doesn't shave his chest."

—anonymous

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11/21/2005

Lime green machines for the least of these

During the United Nation's World Summit on the Information Society which met last week in Tunis, MIT tech guru Nicholas Negroponte unveiled his plan to bridge the technology gap between rich and poor nations. Negroponte wants to flood the world with hundreds of millions of lime-green laptops.

unveiling the green machinesThe units are designed to meet the rugged demands of the two-thirds world. Able to function as a computer, a game console, and a TV, the laptops would use flash memory instead of a hard drive so there would be no moving parts. The little computers have also been designed to sip rather than gulp battery power, which can be recharged using a hand crank.

A BBC news article on the green machines said,
Although children will be able to interact with each other through the machines, education was still the priority for the laptops.

But by using mesh networking, the vision is for children to interact while doing homework, and even share homework tips on a local community scale.

Collaboration will also be encouraged by using open-source software, which the children could develop themselves and use in local communities.
Having visited non-developed and developing nations on a few continents, I wonder if Negroponte's grand scheme is not solving a problem the children do not have, while spending money that could go to crushing needs. The Green Machines promise to help network children, building stronger, better educated communities. Yet, stronger communities are something the two-thirds world has that developed nations have lost.

It is true that there is a technology gap in today's world which is part of what keeps some two-thirds world economies from developing. It is also true that famine and disease overshadow the technology gap in many, if not most, of these countries. When you do not have enough to eat, or several of your family members are dying of AIDS, a $100 laptop may not be your highest priority, especially when your income is roughly $1 per day.

While it is easy enough to laugh off computers for the poorest of the world's poor, in his own way, the MIT professor is living in to the Gospel reading from yesterday's worship service—the parable of judgment in Matthew 25—where Jesus said,
I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Negroponte is taking what he knows and applying it to the needs of the least in the world. And he is dreaming big as he does have every world problem in sight as he notes,
Every single problem you can think of, poverty, peace, the environment, is solved with education or including education.
Yet, isn't providing the two-thirds world with what we in developed nations think they need, just another form of imperialism, or cultural colonialism? We also need to listen, discovering what those in these impoverished nations feel are their greatest needs and then work together to solve these problems.

In a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting, the Anglican Bishops of the Global South identified some weighty needs saying,
The world of the Global South is riddled with the pain of political conflict, tribal warfare and bloodshed. The moral and ethical foundations of several of our societies are being shaken. Many of our nations are beset by problems of poverty, ignorance and sickness, particularly the HIV and AIDS that threaten millions, especially in Africa.
photo by James Nachtwey for TimeCreating hundreds of millions of the lime green machines, as intriguing as that idea may be, would divert billions of dollars away from taking care of pressing concerns in order to solve more long range problems. Before taking on the technology gap through networking children's laptops, we should lift the burden of debt, curb malaria and other diseases including AIDS, and take care of necessities such as clean water—beginning with the needs Jesus spoke of in that parable saying,
I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.
Similarly, closer to home, we want to provide for others the assistance we want to give when we wish to give it. But we are called by God to help others when they need it, rather than when it is convenient. This always proves a challenge, but giving people the help they need rather than the help we want to give is just as important in Camden County as it is in the two-thirds world.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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11/20/2005

Pregnant Pause

Writing in the Christ Church, Chattanooga newsletter, The reminder, the Rev. Jocelyn Bell notes,
One year ends, and another begins as the ceaseless round of liturgical time continues. Advent begins on November 27. The color of the season changes, we use different prayers, and begin to sing seasonal hymns as we enter this time of preparation to celebrate the coming of Christ once again. I love Advent...primarily, I think, because it is a time of such hope and longing. It touches all the depths of our hearts; it speaks to all our individual longings and desires.

Advent is a pregnant season, pregnant with new life and possibilities. I preached about it like that one year in Missouri. Afterwards, all the women in the congregation told me pregnancy stories (after all, pregnancy lasts nine months, so most women are pregnant in Advent), and the men stood around scratching their heads and wondering what i had been talking about.

But, when we pray our prayers for new life and growth here at Christ Church, are we not praying to be pregnant? Think about it. As you rejoice at the presence of our young people here on the Feast of Christ the King, pray for pregnancy.

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11/19/2005

Inherit the kingdom

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells of the judgment saying
Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Kari Jo Verhulst at Sojourners writes of this passage,
Christ triumphant from the 500sThe Reign of God, and Christ the King, demands absolute allegiance. Jesus' words are no mere suggestion of charity, but a call to abdicate our love of strength so that we might embrace that which most terrifies and repulses us, including our own vulnerability and nakedness. What saves us from ourselves, and from despairing at how impossible a call this is, is the unshakeable truth that we cannot save ourselves, just as, when lost (and when aren't we getting lost?), we cannot find ourselves. The shepherd never ceases seeking and will rescue and draw us to himself. Once there, he sends us out in his Spirit to feed, clothe, and befriend.

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11/18/2005

Thanksgiving Preview

The ducks class

Elissa, Hannah and T.J.

Thanksgiving is fast upon us and the parents, staff and students at The Preschool are celebrating early with a covered dish dinner tonight at 5 p.m. Here is a preview of the kids' costumes online.

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I will come down to you

All man-made religion stands in opposition to the gospel. It is an ascent toward the eternal, perfect God. Up, up—that is its call. God is high above, we are down below; and now we shall soar by means of our moral, spiritual, and religious endeavors out of the earthly, human depths into the divine heights.

icon showing the resurection after Christ's descent among the deadGod is too high and the evil in us too deep for us to reach the goal this way. Our souls become crippled and cramped by trying to rise to the highest height. The end is despair, or a self-righteousness that leaves room neither for love of God nor for love of others.

So if we are honest, we have to say that we cannot reach the goal. We cannot become what we ought to become, true men and women. Many let the matter rest there; they confess it, but take no action. They make themselves satisfied with half because they cannot have the whole. God demands all, not just half. And this "all" we are not capable of giving. What is impossible for us is what God wants—all love to him and to our fellow humans. If this is true, it would seem that we can have no good conscience, no trusting relationship with God, no inner peace, and no freedom of the soul.

But God has in his mercy shown us a different way. "You cannot come up to me, so I will come down to you." And God descends to us human beings. This act of becoming one of us begins at Christmas and ends on Good Friday.

God goes to the end. He reaches the goal. To be sure, this end is exactly the opposite of what we fix as our goal. We wish to climb up to heaven; God, however, descends—down to where? To death on the cross. This is why Jesus Christ had to descend into hell. He had to go the way to its very end. Our rightful end is hell, that is, banishment from God—godforsakenness. Only there has God completely come to us, there where he has taken upon himself everything, even the cursed end of our way.

Jesus Christ has gone into hell in order to get us out of there. For with everything he does, that is his goal, that he may get us out, reconcile us with God, and fill us with God's Spirit. He had to despair of God for us ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") so that we do not have to despair of God. He has taken this upon himself so that we may become free of it.
—Emil Brunner (1889-1966), from The Divine Scandal

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11/17/2005

The Love Letter

ancient papyrus text of RevelationThink of a lover who has received a letter from his beloved—as precious as this letter is to the lover, just so precious to you, I assume, is God's Word; in the way the lover reads this letter, just so, I assume, do you read God's Word and conceive that God's Word ought to be read.
—Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), from For Self-Examination

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11/16/2005

Necessary Evil?

Torture is in the news of late. This in and of itself is not so unsual as humans have committed atrocities against other humans with startling regularity over time. What is unusual is that it is the American government being accused of torturing prisoners.

photo from Abu Ghraib PrisonAside from the photographically well-documented abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, there are allegations of abuse at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as well as reports of other nations carrying out torture with U.S. knowledge. This BBC News article is typical of the reports.

Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney has taken flak for seeking a provision in a defense spending bill which would leave torture open as an option for CIA operatives.

It is possible to posit cases in which many would feel torture is justified. These cases revolve around a ticking bomb scenario in which a suspect is caught who police or soldiers feel has knowledge of an imminent threat posing the risk of great loss of life. In that scenario wouldn't authorities be justified in using any means at their disposal to gain information that could save lives?

Then beyond the worse case scenario, others will argue that as those detained would have not shrank back from horrific acts, why are we not justified in using torture as a tool to gain information which will save lives?

While worst case scenario cases of a ticking bomb are tempting, I don't feel that Christians can justify the use of torture in any case. Jesus faced up to an unjust system through non-violent means and he never taught his followers that evil could be a path to accomplishing the good. In fact, he taught that one must be willing to suffer unjustly rather than to lash out at those who wrongly oppress you. I believe that our nation is only great to the degree we continue to live up to the principals which formed us.

While some Americans may have committed attrocities in the past, we as a nation have never condoned this. The actions of the few were not committed with the knowledge or consent of the many. But if the Defense Spending Bill goes through with the O.K. for the CIA to use torture, this past practice will be changed with a diametrically opposed policy.

photo from Abu Ghraib PrisonRather than giving us crucial information to save lives, when Americans use torture to obtain information, we only justify those who would torture our own soldiers and other citizens. When another nation uses torture against our citizens, on what basis will we take a moral stand against their actions if we have already stooped to their level. Using torture could cause Psalm 7, verse 16 to become true of our nation:
They make trouble, but it backfires on them.
They plan violence for others,
but it falls on their own heads.
What do you think? Can good ends ever justify evil means? Should torture be an option in some cases?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

But if you are willing to listen,
I say, love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Pray for the happiness of those who curse you.
Pray for those who hurt you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek,
turn the other cheek.
If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.
Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it;
and when things are taken away from you,
don't try to get them back.
Do for others as you
would like them to do for you.
—Jesus Christ (Luke 6:27-31)

1 Comments:

  • At 11/17/2005 6:59 AM, Blogger Cathy said…

    Makes me wonder sometimes why we teach all we teach to very young children. What happens? Why are all the very basic beliefs we bestow upon our very youngest seem to be in nought and go askew?

    And then, we see all the very good in the world that is done... and know what we do is not in vain.

     

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11/15/2005

Christ's wounds are still bleeding

As we approach this coming weekend when we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, this passage by farmer/philospher Wendell Berry seemed appropriate:
For a while again I couldn't pray. I didn't dare to. In the most secret place of my soul I wanted to beg the Lord to reveal himself in power. I wanted to tell him that it was time for his coming. If there was anything at all to what he had promised, why didn't he come in glory with angels and lay his hands on the hurt children and awaken the dead soldiers and restore the burned villages and the blasted and poisoned land? Why didn't he cow our arrogance?...

But thinking such things was as dangerous as praying them. I knew who had thought such thoughts before: "Let Christ the king of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Where in my own arrogance was I going to hide?

Where did I get my knack for being a fool? If I could advise God, why didn't I just advise him (like our great preachers and politicians) to be on our side and give us victory? I had to turn around and wade out of the mire myself.

Christ did not descend from the cross except into the grave. And why not otherwise? Wouldn't it have put fine comical expressions on the faces of the scribes and the chief priests and the soldiers if at that moment he had come down in power and glory? Why didn't he do it? Why hasn't he done it at any one of a thousand good times between then and now?

I knew the answer. I knew it a long time before I could admit it, for all the suffering of the world is in it. He didn't, he hasn't, because from the moment he did, he would be the absolute tyrant of the world and we would be his slaves. Even those who hated him and hated one another and hated their own souls would have to believe in him then. From that moment the possibility that we might be bound to him and he to us and us to one another by love forever would be ended.

And so, I thought, he must forebear to reveal his power and glory by presenting himself as himself, and must be present only in the ordinary miracle of the existence of his creatures. Those who wish to see him must see him in the poor, the hungry, the hurt, the wordless creatures, the groaning and travailing beautiful world.

I would sometimes be horrified in every moment I was alone. I could see no escape. We are too tightly tangled together to be able to separate ourselves from one another either by good or by evil. We all are involved in all and any good, and in all and any evil. For any sin, we all suffer. That is why our suffering is endless. It is why God grieves and Christ's wounds still are bleeding.

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11/14/2005

Grief Companion

The Bruderhof Community offers a website Grief Companion as a place for those working through grief for a loved one. As the website notes,
click to learn more about this imageEveryone grieves differently. But no one needs to carry grief alone. Whatever loss you are grieving, here you can share your loss with others, and find material that other grieving people have found helpful and comforting. Grieving takes time. Take time to grieve.
One quote at the site is from Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy who wrote
It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, (protecting its sanity), covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But, it is never gone.
For this very real sense of loss, the website offers words of comfort through some quotes, but also in the form of E-books (in .PDF format) with five books on grief online in their entirity.

My mother-in-law also highly recommends On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as a book which has been very helpful to her in working through grief.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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11/13/2005

Healing Prayer

Tonight from 6-7 p.m., we'll have a service of healing prayer at King of Peace. Here is what you can expect:

The worship service will be a communion service, very much like our Sunday morning worship services, though the music will be organ music, using our keyboard.

An important addition is that immediately following the prayers and before the congregation exchanges the peace, time will be offered for those who wish to do so to come forward for healing prayers. It is appropriate to ask for prayers for healing of body, mind and spirit. You may tell those praying for you about the need, or if you prefer, you may keep the specific reason for prayer between you and God. Our pastor will anoint your forehead with oil and pray briefly for your healing. When possible, a few others will also lay hands on your shoulders and agree in prayer for your healing. The service will then continue as usual with the exchange of the peace and communion.

That gives an outline of the service. Most importantly what you can expect is that God will be present in our worship and in our prayers.

About Healing Prayer
Prayers for healing were an important part of Jesus' ministry. Jesus also sent his disciples out to heal and their own ministry of praying for healing continued after Jesus' resurrection. As such, healing prayers have always been a part of our Christian tradition.

In James 5:14, scripture counsels us, "Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." This is what we do in coming to church and asking for healing prayers.

We come in faith asking for others to pray for what we need from God. Sometimes people will feel something when being prayed for for healing. Many other times the person will feel nothing. Whether you feel anything or not, God is present and we trust God to heal us as is best for us. Prayer is a request and not a demand made upon God. We may pray for healing of body and God may allow our sickness of body to get our attention and keep it focused as a means of learning and growing. In those times healing may come, even if it is not the sort of healing we had in mind. So, we approach the altar with an open mind, knowing that God desires our wholeness and well-being and has instructed us not only to pray for that health, but at times to seek out the elders of the church, by coming forward for the laying on of hands.

This new worship service creates a new opportunity for healing prayer, but does not set limits. You may ask for healing prayers at an service, or call the church and ask for the pastor to visit you in the hospital or at home for healing prayers as needed.

Some related links
Christian Healing Ministry—the Jacksonville-based healing ministry, which a very strong emphasis on teaching about healing. The following articles from their newsletter are found at their website:

God always heals, but God does not always cure—a Harvard research project on the understanding of healing prayer in the Episcopal Church.

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11/12/2005

Criterion of Judgment

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells a parable of a man who in going on a journey, summons his slaves and entrusts some of his valuables to each of them each according to his ability. Specifically, Jesus says one is given 5 talents, another 3 and the third is given 1 talent. A talent was a measure of gold—28-30 kilograms of it. Two slaves double their master's investment and are rewarded while a third does nothing with what his master gave him to take charge of and he had even that responsibility removed from him.

John J. Pilch of Georgetown University notes
In first-century Mediterranean culture people believed that all goods already exist and are already distributed. There is no more where this came from, and the only way to get more is to defraud another. Anyone who suddenly acquired something "more" was automatically judged to be a thief.

Wealthy people were especially under suspicion. How could they honorably increase their wealth? They commissioned slaves to handle their affairs. Everyone knew slaves were shameless, and dishonorable behavior was all one could expect from them.
John Kavanaugh of St. Lewis University has written of this passage
As the parable immediately following the one about the talents makes clear, the entire judgment of history and of each individual is based upon our service to the least of our brothers and sisters.

In its most fundamental sense, the image of the talent represents the bounty of life itself, as well as the preeminent gift of faith. If we are among those fortunate enough to reach the maturity required for personal responsibility and to have the opportunity to use the talents of life and faith, it is incumbent upon us to invest our gifts, not hide them out of fear or laziness.

The parable is not about the stock market or entrepreneurship, commendable as those activities might be. It is about what we do with our gifts, financial or otherwise...The goods of the world and the wealth derived from our labor must be used for God's glory and human assistance. What is more, if a Christian would defend the benefits of capitalism, it ought to be based on the argument that capitalism is most effective in the service of God and ministry to the poor, homeless, and hungry.

The trustworthiness of the profitable servants ensures their share in the "joy of the Lord." This is not because money is made. It is, rather, because the wealth of life and talent given them had been invested to bear fruit in labors of faith, hope, and charity.

Whether we are millionaires or paupers, it is upon this criterion that we will be judged.

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11/11/2005

Veteran's Day

At 5 A.M. on Monday, November 11, 1918 the Germans signed the Armistice, an order was issued for all firing to cease; so the hostilities of the First World War ended. Since 1954, this day (previously observed as Armistace Day) has been marked as Veteran's Day—a time for remembering all who have served in our armed forces.

As we remember today all who have served in our armed forces throughout our nation's history, we especially recall those who are serving today. The following prayer, from our Book of Common Prayer, is for all in the armed forces:
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
At our website, you will find an area devoted to A Prayer Vigil in Time of War which includes a brief service for time of war, prayers for those engaged in war, prayers for peace and a sermon giving a good understanding of praying in time of war.

There is also a religion column in our archives Support our troops with more than ribbons.

And as we want to recognize those who serve today, we also would not want to forget the many veterans who have already worked to preserve the peace through service in our armed forces. Pictured here is the oldest of the many veterans who attend King of Peace, Janet Finkelstein. Janet served in World War II, not as a WAC or WAVE, but as an Army nurse and was in England as it was bombed during the war. She'll serve this Veteran's Day by folding bulletins for King of Peace. We are thankful for her wartime service as we are thankful for the many men and women of our congregation who are veterans.

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11/10/2005

The this-worldliness of Christianity

On July 21, 1944, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) wrote the following from Tegel Prison to a friend.
Dietrich BonhoefferDuring the last year or so I've come to know and understand more and more the profound this-worldiness of Christianity. The Christian is not homo religiosus, but simply man, as Jesus was a man—in contrast shall we say, to John the Baptist. I don't mean the shallow and banal this-worldiness of the enlightened, the busy, the comfortable, or the lascivious, but the profound this-worldliness, characterized by discipline and the constant knowledge of death and resurrection. I think Luther lived a this-worldly life in this sense.

I remember a conversation that I had in America thirteen years ago with a young French pastor. We were asking ourselves quite simply what we wanted to do with our lives. He said he would like to become a saint (and I think it's quite likely that he did become one). At the time I was very impressed, but I disagreed with him, and said, in effect, that I should like to learn to have faith. For a long time I didn't realize the depth of the contrast. I thought I could acquire faith by trying to live a holy life, or something like it. I suppose I wrote The Cost of Discipleship as the end of that path. Today I can see the dangers of that book, though I still stand by what I wrote.

I discovered later, and I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. One must completely abandon any attempt to make something of oneself, Bonheoffer's cell in Tegel Prisonwhether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman (a so-called priestly type!), a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick man or a healthy one. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In doing so we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world—watching with Christ in Gethsemane. That, I think, is faith; that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian (cf. Jeremiah 45!). How can success make us arrogant, or failure lead us astray, when we share in God's sufferings through a life of this kind?
—From Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison

Bonhoeffer wanted to emphasize a connection between the Christian and this very real world of God's creation rather than some spirituality disconnected from day-to-day life. Is he right that, "it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith?"

Note: It is perhaps ironic, and definitely appropriate, that Bonhoeffer did not pursue being a saint and yet the Episcopal Church honors the pastor and theologian as a saint, marking April 9—the day he was hung at Flossenburg Prison—as his day in our calendar of saints known as Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

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11/09/2005

Cheap Grace

In 1937, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship in which he wrote of cheap grace and costly grace. Bonhoeffer began his book saying, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.”

He went on to outline what we meant writing,
Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the courtyard at Tegel PrisonGrace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto, a part in that grace. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Later Bonhoeffer goes on to show the distinction between cheap grace, which he sees as an empty promise and costly grace, which he sees as Christ’s true teaching.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all the he has….it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man his only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.
Not one to mince words, Bonhoeffer wrote further in the same book, “Those who try to use grace as a dispensation from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves.” Eight years after writing these words, Bonhoeffer was killed in the waning days of Germany's so-called Third Reich. The pacifist ethicist was put to death for his part in a plot to assasinate Adolf Hitler.

The love of God is still free. You still do not have to earn it. But before accepting the free gift, you should be aware that there is a cost that comes later. Forgiveness of sins is just the beginning, it is followed by a call to go and sin no more. Being united to God through Christ is also just the beginning; it is followed by a call to redefine all of your commitments in the light of that relationship.

1 Comments:

  • At 11/17/2005 3:46 PM, Anonymous Mark said…

    I came across your site today while searching for "irenic" on dictionary.com. And although this post has been up for some time I thoguht I would leave a comment. The words penned by Dietrich Bonhoeffer so long ago have deeply touched me from the first time I read them. "Cheap grace is the grace we give ourselves... but what cost God much can not be cheap for us." In the church and world today we have lost touch with the true meaning of penantance. It is only God who forgives and it cost him much to restore relationship with a sinful fallen world. When we realize the cost of grace to God we can not but be humbled by the fact that this cost was not too high. We are loved by God. Thanks for posting this and drawing people's attention ot this issue and such a great leader in church history

     

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11/08/2005

Prayer in tribulation

cars torched in French riots
With the streets of 300 French towns aflame with with riot and at least 22 dead from an Indiana Tornado, it seems an appropriate time for the Rev. Christina Mitchell Archibald's prayer, In the wake of tragedy:
Lord, the psalmist asked, how long O Lord,
how long will Thou hide Thyself from me.
Today, God, there are terrible disasters
which take the lives of many people.
It is hard to recognize Your hand in such tragedy,
but I pray that through such tribulations,
many people can come
to a deepened relationship with You,
even a new relationship with You,
as we recognize the frailty of our physical existence
and the lack of control we have over it.
Perhaps You use these opportunities to knock at the hearts
of those affected by these calamities,
and I pray they let You in.

damage done by Tornado in IndianaNo matter what tribulations arise in this life,
if we have You dwelling in our hearts,
we are sure to overcome. In Christ's Name.
Amen.

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11/07/2005

Church is other people

worship at King of PeaceChurch is other people, a worshipping community. The worship, or praise of God, does not take place only when people gather on Sunday morning, but when they gather to paint the house of an elderly shut-in, when they visit someone in the hospital or console the bereaved, when Sunday school kids sing Christmas carols at the nursing home.

If a church has life, its "programs" are not just activity, but worship. And this is helpful, because if the Sunday morning service falls flat, it is the other forms of worship that sustain life. When formal worship seems less than worshipful—and it often does—if I am bored by the sheer weight of verbiage in Presbyterian worship—as worship at King of Peace on Easter 2005I often am—I have only to look around at the people in the pews to remind myself that we are engaged in something important, something that transcends our feeble attempts at worship, let alone my crankiness.
—Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: a vocabulary of faith

Norris' approach is very Benedictine. This is not surprising as she has written (in Cloister Walk) about how influential a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery was in her own spiritual journey. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480-543) helped create monasticism in the west. In time it was the monasteries influenced by Benedict that left their own impression on Christianity in England. At its best, the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part, reflects this Benedictine heritage. We'll take a closer look at how principles found in The Rule of Saint Benedict can be helpful to all Christians in the class starting Wednesday on Seeking God. Seeking GodWe'll use Esther DeWaal's book Seeking God, but this first week we'll watch and discuss a video on the influence of Benedict which includes DeWaal and others discussing the Benedictine approach to life. The books are available at the church for $10 each.

1 Comments:

  • At 11/08/2005 6:49 AM, Blogger MacDuff said…

    This is the first time I have ever managed to read an entire page of a website devoted entirely to the Christian Church, that must be a tribute to your writing.
    I shall read the rest.

     

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11/06/2005

Googling God

A recent New York Times article told of the immense power of the search engine Google. Fulfilling the corporation's mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" Google has become a verb as it is very common "to Google" someone or something as a way to find out more.

A fun way to see how two things compare in Google is to use the separate website called Googlefight. Enter two search terms to see which has more web pages. For example Googlefighting Jesus vs. Buddha shows Jesus as the winner with a score of 70,600,000 to 13,900,000.

King of Peace googles quite well by the name of the church or even when looking for "Episcopal Church" and "Kingsland" as search terms. Google also sends a lot of folks our way who are looking for information on Anglican Prayer Beads, tying palm crosses, a Pet Funeral, or quite commonly when looking into T.S. Eliot's poem The Journey of the Magi and other search terms. There's no reason to get a big head about it though as Washington National Cathedral can still stomp us in a Googlefight.

One more online tool. Cathy at St. John's Episcopal Church in Bainbridge taught me to put King of Peace on my personalized Google screen. Go to http://www.google.com/ig/ and follow the directions to create your own personalized Google homepage with news, local weather, local movie times and more. You can add a link to www.kingofpeace.org, but more to the point you can also set it so that Google automatically shows the headings for the three most recent posts to this blog. Go to "add content" then click on "create a section" and add this text to the block for text:

http://kingofpeace.blogspot.com/atom.xml

and Google will keep you updated on Irenic Thoughts every time you visit Google. Or make the personalized Google your homepage and you'll always have the latest Irenic Thoughts close at hand alongside your news and weather, etc.

Given that the Internet is a tool and not in and of itself Good or Evil any more than a shovel or a hammer, it is up to Christians to dot the Internet landscape with safe havens of solid information on how to have and cultivate a relationship with God. What could King of Peace add to its website to enhance its ability to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in cyberspace?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

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11/05/2005

People Get Ready

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells the parable of ten bridesmaids, five of whom were foolish, five were wise. The difference was that the wise bridemaids were prepared to go meet the bridegroom at anytime as their lamps were ready. Jesus concludes his story saying, "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

At her lectionary blog, Dylan writes,
In the parable we read this Sunday, there are ten young women who are guests of the bride. Five of them don't have enough oil, so they rush out to buy some before the groom arrives. The groom arrives while they're still out, so the party starts without them.

If I were preaching this Sunday, the sermon would probably be titled "People Get Ready"—and not just because I've wanted since 1987 (when U2 started pulling fans on stage for this purpose) to get pulled on stage to play that song with the band. "People Get Ready" is pretty much the point of this Sunday's gospel reading. The party we've waited for is starting, and if we want to be in on the action, we need to prepare ourselves for what's coming.
Then Dylan goes on to compare Jesus' return in the Bible to the return described in the Left Behind series. She makes some good points in comparing the "Christ-inator" of Glorious Appearing with the Jesus we meet in the New Testament. Her whole entry (linked here) is worth reading.

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11/04/2005

On Christian Marriage

Marriage is more than your love for each other…God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Rom. 15:7). In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must not think that our love has to be extraordinary. But we do need to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. These drops are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being quiet, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. They are the true drops of love that keep our lives and relationships burning like a lively flame.—Mother Teresa

Marriage is not only the fulfillment of the immediate love that brings a man and woman together, it is also the slow transfiguration of that love through the experiences of a common reality. Early love does not yet see this reality, for the pull of the heart and senses bewitches it. Only gradually does reality establish itself, when eyes have been opened to the shortcomings and failures revealed by everyday life. He who can accept the other then, as he really is, in spite of all disappointments, who can share the joys and plagues of daily life with him just as he has shared the great experience of early love, who can walk with him before God and with God’s strength, will achieve second love, the real mystery of marriage. This is as far superior to first love as the mature person is to the child, as the self-conquering heart is to that which simply allows itself to be conquered. At the cost of much sacrifice and effort something great has come into being. Strength, profound loyalty, and a stout heart are necessary to avoid the illusions of passion, cowardice, selfishness and violence.
—Romano Guardini
"'For this reason a man shall leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh'
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
What therefore God has joined together,
let no man separate."
—Jesus Christ
Matthew 19:5-6

3 Comments:

  • At 11/06/2005 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Most of this could be applied to our relationship with Jesus.

     
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