Saturday, September 27, 2008

28 September 08




Morning Prayer: Psalm 72; Job 24:1-17; Titus 2

Holy Eucharist: Ephesians 4:17-32; St. Matthew 9:1-8

Evening Prayer: Psalm 80; Jeremiah 5:7-19; 2 Corinthians 13


As bees[1] will never settle down in an unclean vessel,--and this is the reason why those who are skilled in these matters sprinkle the spot with perfumes, and scented ointments, and sweet odors; and the wicker baskets also, in which they will have to settle as soon as they come out of the hives they sprinkle with fragrant wines, and all other sweets, that there may be no noisome smell to annoy them, and drive them away again,--so in truth is it also with the Holy Spirit. Our soul is a sort of vessel or basket, capable of receiving the swarms of spiritual gifts; but if there shall be within it gall, and "bitterness, and wrath," the swarms will fly away. Hence this blessed and wise husbandman well and thoroughly cleanses our vessels, withholding neither knife nor any other instrument of iron, and invites us to this spiritual swarm; and as he gathers it, he cleanses us with prayers, and labors, and all the rest. Mark then how he cleanses out our heart. He has banished lying, he has banished anger. Now, again, he is pointing out how that evil may be yet more entirely eradicated; if we be not, saith he, "bitter" in spirit. For it is as is wont to happen with our bile, if there chance to be but little of it, there will be but little disturbance if the receptacle should burst: but if ever the strength and acridness of this quality becomes excessive, the vessel which before held it, containing it no longer, is as if it were eaten through by a scorching fire, and it is no longer able to hold it and contain it within its appointed bounds, but, rent asunder by its intense sharpness, it lets it escape and injure the whole body. And it is like some very fierce and frightful wild beast, that has been brought into a city; as long as it is confined in the cages made for it, however it may rage, however it may roar, it will be unable to do harm to any one; but if it is overcome by rage, and breaks through the intervening bars, and is able to leap out, it fills the city with all sorts of confusion and disturbance, and puts everybody to flight. Such indeed is the nature also of bile. As long as it is kept within its proper limits, it will do us no great mischief; but as soon as ever the membrane that incloses it bursts, and there is nothing to hinder its being at once dispersed over the whole system, then, I say, at that moment, though it be so very trifling in quantity,[1] yet by reason of the inordinate strength of its quality it taints all the other elements of our nature with its own peculiar virulence. For finding the blood, for instance, near to it, alike in place and in quality, and rendering the heat which is in that blood more acrid, and everything else in fact which is near it; passing from its just temperature it overflows its bounds, turns all into gall, and therewith at once attacks likewise the other parts of the body; and thus infusing into all its own poisonous quality, it renders the man speechless, and causes him to expire, expelling life. Now, why have I stated all these things with such minuteness? It is in order that, understanding from this bitterness which is of the body the intolerable evil of that bitterness which is of the soul, and how entirely it destroys first of all the very soul that engenders it, making everything bitter, we may escape experience of it. For as the one inflames the whole constitution, so does the other the thoughts, and carries away its captive to the abyss of hell. In order then that by carefully examining these matters we may escape this evil, and bridle the monster, or rather utterly root it out, let us hearken to what Paul saith, "Let all bitterness be" (not destroyed, but) "put away" from you. For what need have I of trouble to restrain it, what necessity is there to keep watch on a monster, when it is in my power to expel him from my soul, to remove him and drive him out, as it were, into banishment? Let us hearken then to Paul when he saith, "Let all bitterness be put away from you." But, ah, the perversity that possesses us! Though we ought to do everything to effect this, yet are there some so truly senseless as to congratulate themselves upon this evil, and to pride themselves upon it, and to glory in it, and who are envied by others. "Such a one," say they, "is a bitter man, he is a scorpion, a serpent, a viper." They look upon him as one to be feared. But wherefore, good man, dost thou fear the bitter person? "I fear," you say, "lest he injure me, lest he destroy me; I am not proof against his malice, I am afraid lest he should take me who am a simple man, and unable to foresee any of his schemes, and throw me into his snares, and entangle us in the toils which he has set to deceive us." Now I cannot but smile. And why forsooth? Because these are the arguments of children, who fear things which are not to be feared. Surely there is nothing we ought so to despise, nothing we ought so to laugh to scorn, as a bitter and malicious man. For there is nothing so powerless[2] as bitterness. It makes men fools and senseless.

***from Homily XV in Vol. VIII from St. John Chrysostom on the Epistles***


O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


St. Wenceslas, Prince and Martyr (907-935)

Duke of Bohemia (now, approximately, the Czech Republic) he was born in 902 and succeeded to the title at the age of 20. A devout Christian, he worked in harmony with the Church to bring religious and educational benefit to his people. He sought contacts with Christians elsewhere, including the neighbouring German Empire, whose political claims he was prepared to recognise. This brought him the hostility of a number of leading non-Christians in his own land, who gathered round Wenceslas’ own brother, Boleslav. Some henchmen carried out the murder of Wenceslas in 929 as he attended Mass, in a scene reminiscent of the death of St. Thomas Becket. In a fit of remorse, Boleslav tried to make amends by having his brother’s remains transferred to a fine tomb in the Prague church of St. Vitus, where they became a centre of pilgrimage. He was being honoured as a saint from at least 985 and shortly afterwards his head appeared on the country’s currency. The famous Christmas carol dates only from the 19th. century and tells of an event not known in Wenceslas’ biography. It is presumably a pious fiction, written to encourage Christian charity.
O God, who through the victory of martyrdom didst exalt thy blessed Saint Wenceslas from his earthly principality to the glory of thy heavenly kingdom : we pray thee, at his intercession, to defend us against all adversities ; and to suffer us to rejoice in his eternal fellowship. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

14 September 08

Morning Prayer: Psalm 25; Jeremiah 13:15-21; Mark 10:35-45
Holy Eucharist: Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 14:1-11
Evening Prayer: Psalm 36:5 & 130; Malachi 2:1-10; Luke 13:10-17
Today we are taught about “humility” and “grace”, and their relation to each other. The readings for Trinity XI also treated the subject of humility, but there we were shown examples of humility toward God in the character of St. Paul and in the prayer of the publican. Today we learn the harder lesson of humility in our dealings with men.

The Epistle tells us that we are to walk in a way worthy of our vocation, with all lowliness, meekness, long-suffering and forbearing one another in love. Lowly in himself, the Christian will be meek towards others, careful of offending them. We will be patient, forbearing and forgiving when someone sins against us. Pride, harshness and the bearing of a grudge have no place in the Christian’s character. Today’s Gospel continues the theme of humility, concluding: “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The Collect begs God’s grace to prevent us (that is, “go before” us), and follow us. Recalling the use of the word “grace” in II Corinthians 8. 9, shows us how grace is related to the humility described in the Epistle and Gospel: “ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” In other words, you know how great a favour and kindness he did us, in humbling himself to become mar and to suffer the death of the cross. As St. Paul says in Philippians 2. 5, 8: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who...being found in fashion as a man...humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

If we are to follow the example of our Blessed Lord and humble ourselves before others and do “good works” with all lowliness and meekness, we need the grace of God to work within us. Thus, on a Sunday when our Eucharistic readings emphasize humility and good works, we pray in the Collect for the grace of God to surround us.

We need God’s grace to go before us to prompt us with right desires, to give us opportunity to do good for others, and to guide us that we may be able to complete what we begin. We need God’s grace ever behind us to urge us on that we may not fall, to support us when we fail, to guard us from unseen enemies, and to bless our works with good results.
***From COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary Volume 5: Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity to Twenty Sixth Sunday after Trinity St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada***
Lord, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
***None for today***

13 September 08

I thought that I would post a few pictures I have taken with my cell phone over the past week.

Above is a pic of the waves along a beach on Okaloosa Island (Fort Walton Beach). (9 Sep 08)
Above, another view of the same beach from high up on the beach. (9 Sep 08)

Above in a view of the Fort Walton Beach Pier. Notice the first out band of Hurricane Ivan beginning to show in the pic. (9 Sep 08)

Above is a much better pic of the first outer band of Hurricane Ike. We had a blustery downpour for about an hour.

Your truly. Yeah...those are my neon white chicken legs!

Storm surge from Hurricane Ike flooding into a park in downtown Fort Walton Beach. (11 Sep 08)

Anoter view of the storm surge from Hurricane Ike. (11 Sep 08)

A pic taken today of the still angry seas, high waves, and continued storm surge. (13 Sep 08)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

11 September 08



Morning Prayer: Psalm 126, 128; I Kings 8:54-63; I Thessalonians 4:1-12

Evening Prayer: Psalm 121, 122, 138; Job 1:1-12; Matthew 10:32-11:1


In today's reading from the Gospel, found in Evening Prayer, we find some very strong admonishments from our Lord.

- We are to confess Jesus
- We are not to love family more than Jesus
- We are to take up our cross and follow Jesus
- We are to lose our life for the sake of Jesus
- We are to receive Jesus, thereby receiving the Father too

Heavy stuff, folks. You's all about Jesus! Everytime we look at an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Our Lord, she is always pointing the way toward Jesus. In fact, in everything she does, she points toward Our Lord. It should be the same with us. All that we are and do should be all about Jesus.

On another note, I wanted to point out that this Sunday is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In today's Gospel we hear Jesus say, "...he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." All of us have a cross of some sort to bear. None of us escape that reatlity. May we ask God for strength and courage to pick up our cross daily so that we might follow Our Lord wherever He may call us to go.

Be blessed in Christ!

Fr. Greg


O Lord, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.