Saturday, September 29, 2007

Feast of Michael and All Angels

Today is the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel and all Angels, or Michaelmas.
The feast is popular again, probably due to the rise of angelology in New Age circles over the past ten years or so. An entire industry has sprung up over for a while around the subject of angels, producing music and books odd websites. Some people's interest and devotion to angels has replaced any interest and devotion to God, which is, of course, idolatrous, but this is not the first time in history that angel worship has been popular. It was also common during the first two centuries of Christianity, especially in Phrygia, Greece, and Palestine, and St. Paul mentions angel worship in his letter to the Christians in Colossus. The introductory lecture by the Rev. Dr. L. William Countryman in New Testament when I was at C.D.S.P. left an impression on my entire class. Professor Countryman shocked us all with the idea that the Epistle to Jude was about sex with angels! So, let’s talk about angels.
The English word 'angel' comes from the Greek word 'angelous' which means 'messenger.'
Angels are God's messengers, and that is the purpose they serve throughout most of the Old Testament. However, Zoroastrian influence during the time of the Babylonian exile changed the concept of angels from messengers of God to powerful supernatural beings who were either on the side of God or on the side of Satan; it introduced a dualistic element to the understanding of angels. By the year 160 B.C., the Essenes, who lived in the desert of Qumran, had created an entire Host or Army of angels who served God, wile the Demons, or Angels of Darkness served Satan. With this idea of an angelic army came the idea of different choirs of angels, different divisions who served different purposes. These groups originally were divided as Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Watchers, and Angels. By the sixth century of the Christian Era,
the mystical theologian Psuedo-Dionysius developed an hierarchy of "Heavenly Beings" which he received from his “sacred-initiator.” According to Psuedo-Dionysius, there are three three-fold hierarchies of Heavenly Beings: the first hierarchy, which are the beings which surround God the Father, are the "Holy Thrones and Orders said to possess many eyes and wings, also called Seraphim and Cherubim." The word "Seraphim" means "Fire-makers" in Hebrew, and Psuedo-Dionysius says that this means they are "Carriers of Warmth." The word "Cherubim" means "Out-pourers of Wisdom" in Hebrew, and Psuedo-Dionysius writes that the Seraphim and Cherubim
are most like God in these ways. The second hierarchy consists of Authorities, Dominions, and Powers. This group works between the first hierarchy and the third hierarchy. The third and final hierarchy, according to Psuedo-Dionysius, consists of Principalities, Archangels, and Angels,
with only Archangels and Angles dealing with human beings.

Human interaction with angels is described throughout the Old Testament, beginning with a Cherub with a flaming sword guarding the gate to Paradise. Abraham's angel visitations, and Jacob's vision of angels ascending and descending from a ladder between heaven and earth is another example. Moses dealt with angels such as Michael in the Wilderness, and the Day of Atonement liturgy described in the book of Leviticus describes the action of the High Priest placing the sins of the community on a goat and releasing the goat to Azazel, a fallen angel of the desert. By the time of the Book of Daniel and the prophet Isaiah's vision of heaven, angels were no longer simply God's messengers, they became supernatural beings with much power,
who praised God in front of the throne or fought in God's army. Angels were also terrifying creatures; their presence was so frightening that the first words they usually say to humans are "Fear not!" This also may be because they tend to simply appear out of nowhere; I don’t know of any stories where one was watching angels wing their way towards them with a message; they just appear and say “Fear not!”
Artists over the centuries, especially during the Renaissance, tended to portray angels as androgynous blonds with wings, and they tend to portray Cherubim as fat little baby angels. But Cherubim are not fat baby angels, they are terrifying creatures; they are described as having the head of a man, the body of a lion, and wings! And Seraphim are huge, fiery, snake-like creatures, not blond guys with wings. Isaiah's description of heaven tells of Seraphim flying above God's throne, and the Seraphim are described as having six wings: two to cover their face, two to cover their feet, (which is a euphemism for genitals), and two with which to fly.
They fly above God's throne chanting "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts." A Seraph picked up a hot coal from the altar of incense and put it on Isaiah's lips to purify them.
In the New Testament, the Archangel Gabriel gave Mary the message that she would become Theotokos, the God bearer. An angel also brought a message to Zechariah and silenced him.
In fact, angels tend to appear throughout Luke's gospel and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles.
Angels appear in Mark's gospel, but only to minister to Jesus while he iwas in the wilderness, after his encounter with Satan, and they appear in Matthew's gospel in dreams to warn of trouble to the baby Jesus.

As mentioned earlier, during the first and second centuries and during the time of Jesus, angels were very popular, as popular as they are in our day, and there were those who worshipped them and wanted to enlist them in giving them power over others. these beliefs were poplar among some Gnostic groups, and they developed amazing cosmologies in which angels were featured. The Essenes' teachings also added to these ideas. Remember the fourth verse of Genesis, Chapter 6, about the Nephilim, (which means 'fallen ones' in Hebrew) who were the children of human women and angel fathers and were "the giants and heroes of old?" Well, some Gnostic groups took that passage and decided that it meant that they could attain certain mystic knowledge through sexual relations with angels! St. Paul seems to think that angels are attracted to a woman's long hair, and suggested that they keep their heads covered in church. But St. Paul also believed that humans were more important to God than were the angels and he said that humans would judge angels. Some people believe that Satan is a Fallen Angel, and they tell the story of Lucifer, the Morning Star, trying to put his throne higher than God's and starting a war in heaven. Have you read that story in the Bible? No, you haven't because it is not in the Bible.
When John Milton wrote the book Paradise Lost, he used some verses from Isaiah chapter 14:

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, Son of Dawn! How you are cut
down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God . . .
I will make myself like the Most High.

Bu these verses are about a Babylonian king who was called the Day Star. It is interesting how something written by Milton became theological truth to many. When we read the book of Job, Satan is a part of God's Court,so perhaps he is some kind of angel.

Today's feast is named after St. Michael the Archangel. Michael is the head of the Heavenly Host, the Five-star General of God's Angelic Army. Michael is also the protector of Israel, Protector of the Chosen People. Psuedo-Dionysius claimed that every nation is actually directed and protected by one of the archangels, and that Michael is the leader of the Jewish nation; he did not name the other Archangels and their respective nations. According to tradition, Michael is supposed to protect Christians from the devil at the time of death. This probably comes from the mention of Michael arguing with Satan for the soul of Moses, which is mentioned in the Epistle of Jude and comes from the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, an apocalyptic book written in 160 B.C.
There was a cult which venerated Michael the Archangel in Phrygia (a regular hot-bed of heresey!), and they believed he had the power to heal, so many hot springs in Greece and Turkey are dedicated to him. Michael's place in the heavenly court is next to the altar of incense,
and when incense is blessed for use in our liturgy, the priest usually says the following prayer:

By the intercession of Blessed Michael the Archangel, who stands
at the right hand of the altar of incense, and of all the Saints, may
the Lord bless this incense, and accept it as a pure oblation, through
Jesus Christ our Lord.

The name Mikael, or Michael in English, means "who is like God?" in Hebrew, and this has led to some weird ideas about Michael the Archangel. Charles Taze Russel, the man who started the Jehovah's Witnesses taught that Jesus was actual Michael come to earth, and there are New Agers who "channel" Michael. These beliefs and teachings, as well as much of the angelology going on nowadays is actually idolatrous. Angels are God's messengers, and they are God's servants. Their only purpose, the only reason they were created, is to do God's will. They have no say in the matter, and they just do what they are told. Humans, however, are created in God's image, and we have been given free will, and that puts us in a different place than the angels.
When you die, you won't get some wings and a harp and sit on a cloud as a new angel,
no matter what image popular movies leave you. Angels probably don't spend their time fighting demons and keeping you out of trouble. Angels are God's messengers and they deliver God's messages. We are not to worship angels, we are not to try to control angels, and we are not to try to 'channel' angels or anything else. Since we have free will, it’s best if we choose to do God's will, it’s best if we choose to help bring about God's reign, it’s best if we choose to love one another as Christ loves us, and it’s best if we choose to serve God. We don't need to worry about Guardian Angels, or whether angels are real or not; what we need to worry about is how we treat each other, about how we treat those who are the least among us. We need to worry about helping others learn of the Good News of forgiveness of sins and that God loves everyone and want relationship with everyone. We need to tend to the sick, to pray for each other, and to love each other. Then we can join with the angels in heaven and sing God's praises,
because we will be doing God's will, just as the angels do.

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tonight, on a Very Special Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging...

Okay, okay, okay, I'm sorry, but we've been talking and talking and eating dinner and drinking wine and having a great time AND trying to post this. Sorry it's so late. And now, on a Very Special Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging: The Visit of the Most Wonderful Caminante!!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Wow! The Famous Caminante is coming to Panamá! Why didn't Padre tell me? We better get ready for her visit!!

Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek! ¡¡Shrieeek!!
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty ToyYeah! Whadda ya callin' us all heah foah?
Other Doggy Toysmumble mumble mumble
Red Mr. Peanut Bank I have called you all together to make an important announcement: The Famous Caminante is coming to visit us in our humble abode!
We must prepare for her arrival!
Todos Yay!

Todos ¡Hola, Caminante!
Caminante ¡Mucho gusto!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Welcome! We, the Dance Party Players, are happy to have you with us.
Caminante ¡Mucho gusto!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank What, or who, are you putting in Gallito Mescalito's mouth?
Todos It's a penguin!!!
Gallito Mescalito Shmmmmmbmbmbmmmkk!
Caminante I've brought you two new friends, El Penguino y The Mighty Moose of Vermont!

Mighty Moose of Vermont What is with these guys and gal? They seem a bit strange.
Other Doggy Toys You try spending your week being gnawed on by Señorita Chompita Wiggletail! It's not pleasant!
Padre Mickey, off camera Don't you worry, Mighty Moose of Vermont, you won't be spending your time on the floor being chewed on. That's what the cat's for!
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Oh yeah? Waddaya talkin' 'bout, Padre?

El Penguino I think I will sit in this bowl. It seems much safer than the crazy bird's mouth.
El Penguino Sorry about that, bird.
Gallito Mescalito Shriek.

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Caminante, thank you for coming and taking part in this evening's episode.
Caminante ¡Mucho gusto!

Photo of after-show cast party

Friday Random Ten

1. One Chord Wonders The Adverts
2. Missa Sicut Lilium Inter Spinas (Palestrina) The Tallis Scholars
3. Kill Alberto y Los Trios Paranoias
4. Kal Ho Naa Ho (sad) Alka Yagnik, Richa Sharma & Sonu Nigam
5. Kon Hai Wo (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham) Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, & Kareena Kapoor
6. Barcarolle Tom Waits
7. I Can't Control Myself The Ramones
8. My Bird Performs XTC
9. Please Pass The Milk They Might Be Giants
10. O Le Le Ozomatli

Ya pushes shuffle and ya takes yer chances!
Looks like it's a bit hung-up on the Bollywood today.
Now, I actually shuffled this early this morning, but the Lovely Mona and I have been running around town with Caminante all day, so this is my first chance to post.
I've got to download photos from the camera and then we're setting up for Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito blogging, so it may be a bit late tonight, but worth the wait, I'm sure!

While you're waiting, why not go over to Madpriest's place and post gay-sex obsessed posts for him to delete? Remember to call yourself "Anonymous!" I know he'll appreciate the business!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who Knew?

The Republican Presidential Candidates have their own toothpaste!


Mmmmmm...diethylene glycol!

Feast of Cosmas and Damien, Martyrs

Today is the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, but since 17th century saints aren’t my area of interest, we’re going to talk about Sts. Cosmas and Damien, physicians and martyrs of the third century, the good old days! Somewhere out there is a Acts and Passion of Saints Cosmas and Damien, but I couldn’t find a copy on line, and there is no Flora Lamson Hewlett Library in Panama. I really had to do some digging to learn much about these two.

Cosmas and Damien were twins, born to a nameless pagan father and Christian mother, Theodata. They had three brothers, Anthimus, Londius, and Arabius. The five brothers were inseperable. Their father died when they were young and their mother raised them to fear God, be hospitable to strangers, and show compassion and mercy to all. The twins were born in Arabia and studied medicine in Syria. They practiced medicine in Aegea, which is now the town of Celicia in eastern Turkey. Cosmas and Damien did not charge for medical care, so they are known as either the Holy Unmercenaries or anargyroi, “the silverless.” They healed without charge because they were fulfilling the commandment of Christ from Matthew’s gospel: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. You have received freely, so freely give.They were very good doctors, full of compassion and gentle with their patients. They also used their healing skills as a means of proclaiming the gospel. They were so serious about not charging fees for their services that one time Cosmas became very angry with Damien because he had accepted three eggs from a woman named Palladia. Cosmas was so mad that he ordered that he not be buried next to his brother, but Damien didn’t accept the eggs as payment for services, but because the woman asked him in the name of the Holy Trinity to accept them. There is another story in which one of the twins refused to talk to the other for a long period of time because the other had accepted an apple from a patient. The twins apparently performed the first limb transplant in medical history, grafting the leg a recently-deceased Ethiopian on to the body of a white Moor.

When the Diocletian Persecution broke out, the brothers were preaching the gospel and turning people away from the worship of idols. The Prefect of Cilicia, Lysias, had them arrested and ordered them to recant. They refused to do so and a series of tortures began. They were beaten and burned. Lysias also had their three brothers arrested and, after they, too, refused to sacrifice to idols, he had them suffer the same tortures as the twins. Lysias had all five brothers squeezed between drums but they suffered no harm. Then he had their hands and feet tied and threw them off a cliff into the sea, but they did not drown. He had them tossed into a burning furnace for three days and three nights THEN they were placed on red-hot iron beds. They lived through the fire, too. So all five were nailed to crosses and hung there for a few days, yet they survived. The entire time they were being tortured their mother, Theodata, encouraged and comforted them. According to one account, after Lysias was tired of torturing them, he sent them to Diocletian to be tortured (I know this doesn’t make sense; I’m just telling the story from the sources I have available). Theodata followed her sons to the palace of the Emperor, where she continued her vigil and continued to encourage them. The Emperor rebuked her and she responded by admonishing him for idol worship and for his cruelty. Not being one who reacted well to criticism, he had her beheaded. This had everyone scared, so no one would take her body for burial and it remained on the ground for a few hours. Cosmas was so angry he screamed at those standing around, saying, “Men of this city, is there any merciful person among you who will cover the body of the poor old widow and bury her?” This moved Victor, son of Romanus, to place the body in a shroud and bury it. The Emperor didn’t like that and had Victor exiled to Egypt, where he won the crown of martyrdom. The next day, September 27 of the year 297, finally tiring of playing with his prey, the Emperor had the five brothers beheaded. Cosmas and Damien continued to perform healing miracles after their death; There is a story of a farm hand who was sleeping with his mouth open when a snake crawled in his mouth and worked its way into the man’s stomach. He was in great pain and near death when he prayed to Cosmas and Damien for help. The snake left his body and he lived to tell the tale. They healed the Emperor Justinian, too, who in gratitude, rebuilt their church in Constantinople.

According to some accounts there were three pairs of twin saints who were physicians named Cosmas and Damien, but that’s a bit hard to believe, if you ask me. I think the idea that there are three different pairs of such twins is due to the fact that there are several places which claim to have their relics, especially the skulls of the brothers. One pair of skulls were in Rome in the tenth century and may be buried under the altar of some church there, one pair of skulls is at St. Michael’s Church in Munich and another pair are at the Convent of the Poor Claires in Madrid. So I think there was one pair of twins and several sets of questionable relics.

Oh glorious martyrs of Christ, Saints Cosmas and Damian, you gave your lives for the love of God, benefiting your fellow man, and crowning your martyrdom with an open and loyal profession of your faith. You taught us to love God above all things, and to love our fellow man as ourselves, professing always, and without fear, the religion of Jesus.
Augmenting amongst the faithful populace many miracles, you are glorious indeed. Through your intercession, which brings about deliverance of these miracles, we pray to you for your aid in all things. May your patronage never be far from us in the illness of our body and soul.
Oh great protectors, Saints Cosmas & Damian, assist us with your love and free us from all evils. Amen

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Meanwhile at the Hogar

Yesterday, Sinilda asked to work with me. It had been a while and she had to study for a dictation test on her vocabulary words. I dictated the words on her list to her and she did fairly well. We practiced telling time afterwards then played “Go Fish.” It always amazes me how first graders learn to read before they learn the alphabet. She still had problems with many of the letters. At 9:30, the director called a meeting for the girls, so she left for the meeting. Below are some of the photos I took.

Here’s Sinilda practicing telling time.

I like these pictures of Sinilda. She wanted me to take extra pictures of her before we played Go Fish. She was in a really good mood as you can see in these photos.

Here’s some of the girls during the meeting.

This last photo is of the director of the Hogar during the meeting.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reverend Elizabeth Explains It All

Padre suggests that everyone hurry over to Telling Secrets where the Reverend Elizabeth Kaeton explains the finer points of Public Rites and Pastoral Care to those who may not want to understand.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Our Friend in Brasil

Padre Xico, the Secretary General of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brasil (the true Anglican presence in Brasil) and a dear friend of Padre Mickey's Dance Party has an interesting post on the proposed Anglican Covenant at KANTINHO DO REV.
Padre says "Check it out!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Kind of Whine Wine Am I?

You Are Pinot Gris

More hip than most, you spot trends before they even really get started.
If something is new and unique, you know about it... and you've probably tried it.
You have a good number of projects, interests, and relationships - but they are all fleeting.
The world is so appealing and diverse, you can't help but seek variety.

Deep down you are: A true flirt

Your partying style: Exclusive. You only party with people you've personally selected.

Your company is enjoyed best with: A big bowl of pasta

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Illustration From

Remember, even with all the craziness going on in the World Wide Anglican Communion and in the Episcopal Church;
even though the Democrats still appear to be in need of back surgery,
even though everything seems to be going to hell....

Two down,
two to go!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Hello, Gallito Mescalito! How are things with you?
Gallito Mescalito Shriek shriek shriek. ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, that's the way it is here; one minute it's sunny and suddenly the sky opens up!
Gallito Mescalito ¿Shriek-shriek? ¡Shriek!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love? You're right; she certainly has become popular lately!
Gallito Mescalito ¡¡Shrieeek!!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, I wouldn't go that far!
Gallito Mescalito Shriek shriek shriek

Red Mr. Peanut Bank People like her singing. I'm starting to think that you're jealous!
Gallito Mescalito ¿Shriek-shriek? ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Puhleeze! She is NOT trying to get in every photo!

Gallito Mescalito ¿Shriek? ¿SHRIIEEEK?

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well I haven't noticed it. I think you're paranoid!

Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Hey guys! I needsta talk wit cha!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Oh, hello Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy!
Gallito Mescalito Shriek.
Red Mr. Peanut Bank I was just trying to relieve Gallito here of his paranoid delusions.
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Oh yeah? Well, I don' know much about economic teary, in fact, I tink I got a B in Econ 101, but what I DO know is dat Hippo is gettin' too popular! She's everywhere! She's gettin' her face in every pitchure!
Gallito Mescalito ¿Shriek? ¿SHRIIEEEK?

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Puhleeze! You're as bad as the bird!
Gallito Mescalito (off camera) ¡¡Shrieeek!!
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Evah since she stahtid dat band, she's been dominatin' the Friday Bloggin' thang. An' her face is everywhere. You know it's true!!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank I don't know why you're getting so jealous; you have lots of fans!

¡El Toro! Buenas tardes a todos.
Squeaky Gorilla Hi, guys. skeek
Gallito Mescalito Shriek.
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Hello, Gentlemen! What's going on?
¡El Toro! Tenemos un problema con señorita hipopótamo de amor.
Squeaky Gorilla Yeah. She gotted all popalah and sticks her face in all da pitchures. skeek
Red Mr. Peanut Bank What's that noise?
¡El Toro! ¿Cómo?
Squeaky Gorilla I don' heah nuttin'! skeek She showed up on dat old lady's blog, too, and dat make her more famous den us! skeek
¡El Toro! ¡Es verdad!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank You really don't hear that noise? Well, I don't know what the big deal is. I've appeared on other blogs, and people quote Gallito Mescalito all over the episcopalblogosphere.
Squeaky Gorilla Well, we wanna talk about dat, too. skeek
Red Mr. Peanut Bank You know, that's really QUITE annoying!
Squeaky Gorilla What? skeek
Gallito Mescalito Shriek shriek shriek. ¡Shriek!

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Hi boys! 'sup?
Everyone, in one voice ¡¡SHHRRRIIIIEEEEEKKKK!!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love You aren't talking about me behind my back, are you?
Everyone, in one voice Heavens, no, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love! We would never do anything like that!!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love I hope you boys aren't lying to me. Now, everybody run along, except for Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito.
The other three, all together Yes, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love. Thank you, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love!

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Okay, Red; what's was everyone talking about?
Red Mr. Peanut Bank I think they're just a bit jealous of your new fame.
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Well, don't you worry your pretty little heads about all that. I doesn't mean anything to me. All I want is the friendship of you boys, and for you all to serve as my back-up singers.
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Oh, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love, I'm so happy to hear that. And thank you for letting us back you up and share your fame!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Now you boys just run along with the others. Miss Hippo must get her beauty sleep!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Yes, ma'am!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Heh heh heh heh. Wadda buncha maroons!! HIPPOS ROCK!

Friday Random Ten

1. Let It Loose The Rolling Stones
2. Peaches The Stranglers
3. Satellite Elvis Costello
4. Communion: Pascha Nostrum (7th mode) Monastic Choir of the Abbey of St. Peter, Solemes
5. Brilliant Adventure David Bowie
6. Days Elvis Costello
7. Freeman's Zydeco BeauSoleil
8. Morning Bell/Amnesiac Radiohead
9. Badinerie (J.S. Bach) Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
10. Goodbye Seventies Yaz

As always, a strange mix. I have to say I enjoyed the segue from the plainchant to the Bowie instrumental, and I really like Elvis' copy of the Ray Davies's song. Otherwise, nothing to get too excited about. It is strange that there is no Ramones or Tom Waits; they tend to appear each Friday! Well, ya pushes the shuffle and ya takes yer chances!

The Martyrdom of St. Matthew

The Martyrdom of Matthew by Caravaggio

There is an apocryphal Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew, most probably of Gnostic origin, and it claims that Matthew was martyred in “Myrna,” wherever that is. I will tell you the story of St. Matthew’s martyrdom according to this text.

St. Matthew was on a mountain, resting, when he had a vision of the Christ Child and had a discussion with him about the fate of King Herod (“He dwells, indeed, in Hades; and there has been prepared for him fire unquenchable, Gehenna without end, bubbling mire, worm that sleeps not, because he cut off three thousand infants, wishing to slay the child Jesus, the ancient of the ages; but of all these ages I am father”). The child then instructs Matthew to go down the mountain to Myrna, the city of the man-eaters, and plant a rod next to the church Matthew and Andrew had founded. So, Matthew agrees to do so, and while entering the town he meets Fulvana, the wife of the king, and her son Fulvanus and his wife, Erva. All three of them were possessed by unclean spirits and cried out, “Who has brought you here again, Matthew? or who has given you the rod for our destruction? for we see also the child Jesus, the Son of God, who is with you. Do not go then, O Matthew, to plant the rod for the food, and for the transformation of the man-eaters: for I have found what I shall do to you. For since you drove me out of this city, and prevent me from fulfilling my wishes among the man-eaters, behold, I will raise up against you the king of this city, and he will burn you alive.” Matthew laid his hands on their heads and the demons were evicted and the people were made whole, and they followed him. Matthew went on into town and planted the rod as instructed and all manner of miracles took place, which we won’t get into here.

Now the king, Fulvanus, was happy when he learned that his wife and son and daughter-in-law had been delivered of their demons, but then he became jealous when he noticed that they were devoted to Matthew. His family had spent the night in the church with Matthew and the local bishop, Plato, and were baptized by Matthew. This increased Fulvanus’ jealousy and he decided to execute Matthew. It didn’t help that the demon Matthew had cast out of Queen Fulvana had taken on the form of a soldier and told Fulvanus that Matthew was a stranger and a sorcerer and a former tax collector, and was made an apostle by a person who was crucified, so why would you want your wife and son and daughter-in-law listening to the likes of him? The king agreed; he had no choice but to kill Matthew. Meanwhile, the Christ Child warned Matthew that the king’s men would be coming to get him. The king sent four soldiers after Matthew and Plato, but when they arrived at the church they heard voices but couldn’t see anyone, so they went back to the king to report that no one was there. This really made the king angry, so he sent ten more soldiers, who were man-eaters, and told them, “Sneak into the church and tear Matthew and Plato into pieces and eat them.” When the soldiers got to the church, they saw Matthew and Plato and the Lord Jesus, who was in the form of a beautiful boy holding a torch, which he used to burn their eyes! The soldiers ran back to the palace speechless. The king was really angry now, and he tried to get some advice on how to take Matthew from the demon/soldier, but the demon/soldier admitted that he, the demon, couldn’t do anything as God was protecting Matthew.
Now the story gets really strange: the king finds Matthew at the church and is struck blind. He cries out to Matthew to heal him, because God has decided that he wants Matthew in heaven now, and the king is to bury his body in their city as a testimony of salvation! So Fulvanus is healed and his sight is returned and he grabs Matthew by the hand and drags him to the seashore where executions take place. The king told the executioners that he heard that the God of Matthew saves those who believe in him from death by fire, but they’ll get around it by following his orders. He had them nail Matthew to the ground and cover him with paper smeared with dolphin’s oil and then cover him with brimstone and asphalt and pitch AND brushwood, and then light it all on fire. And if any of the Christians get in the way, they were to suffer the same fate. The executioners followed the king’s orders but when they put the fire to the highly flammable pile it turned to dew, and all the people watching cried out with one voice: “The only God is the Christians', who assists Matthew, in whom also we have believed: the only God is the Christians', who preserves His own apostle in the fire.” So the king had coals of fire taken from the furnace to be piled on Matthew. He also had idols of gold and silver brought to surround Matthew, to keep him from bewitching the fire. The entire pile was re-ignited, and Matthew looked up into heaven and prayed: “O God the Father, O Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me, and burn down their gods which they worship; and let the fire also pursue the king even to his palace, but not to his destruction, for perhaps he will repent and be converted.” When the king saw the flames rise higher and higher, he said, “Has your magic been of any help to you, Matthew? Can your Jesus help you now?” All of the sudden all the fire left Matthew and surrounded the idols instead. The fire melted the idols of gold and silver and also burned several soldiers to death. The king shouted “Woe is me! I should have used idols of stone, which don’t melt down!” The fire then took on the shape of a dragon and chased the king all over the place but wouldn’t let him find safety in the palace. Fulvanus ran back to Matthew and said, “I beseech you, whoever you are, O man, whether magician or sorcerer or god, or angel of God, whom so great a pyre has not touched, remove from me this dreadful and fiery dragon; forget the evil I have done, as also when you made me receive my sight.” Matthew forgave Fulvanus and actually called off the dragon, which disappeared, as did the flames. Matthew then looked up to heaven and prayed in Hebrew, commending his soul to the Lord and said, “Peace to you!” And, having glorified the Lord, he completed his martyrdom. Fulvanus took the body of Matthew and placed it on a golden bed. While they were bringing the bed back to the palace, all saw Matthew rise up to heaven, led by the beautiful boy, and twelve men in shining garments and wearing gold crowns met him. Everyone saw the beautiful boy crown Matthew, and in a flash of lightening all disappeared into heaven. And just when you thought the story couldn’t get any stranger, the king decided to put Matthew’s body in an iron coffin and throw it into the deepest part of the sea. Bishop Plato and others went to the church where they kept a vigil throughout the night. The next morning they came out of the church and saw Matthew standing on the water some seven furlongs from shore, accompanied by two men in shining garments and the beautiful boy. The king saw all this and ran out of the palace to the bishop and confessed in front of the bishop and priests and deacons that he believed in the True God, and in Jesus Christ, and asked to be baptized and given communion. After communion, Matthew appeared before them all. He told Fulvanus and his son that their names would be changed to Matthew, and that Fulvana’s named would be changed to Sophia, and Erva, the daughter-in-law’s name would be changed to Synesis. Then Matthew appointed the king a presbyter, and his son a deacon, and the queen a presbytress, and the daughter-in-law a deaconess. Then he blessed them and vanished. And they all went and destroyed all the idols and everyone in the kingdom became Christians. And King Matthew was given the gift of healing. And I’m exhausted after telling this story, as you probably are after reading it!

Feast of St. Matthew

We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Matthew was an Apostle and Evangelist, as was John, and tradition states that he was also a martyr. Matthew's name appears in all four lists of the Twelve, so we can safely assume that he really was in that group, although he is also known as Levi. He was a Galilean, although Eusebius claims that Matthew was Syrian. Tradition states that Matthew preached to the Hebrews, and the Church Father Papias wrote that Matthew had written a collection of the sayings of Jesus in Aramaic. This collection of sayings in Aramaic may have been the basis for the gospel which bears his name.

Now, usually we don't really know much about the Apostles, they left no autobiographies for historians to use. What we know about Matthew comes from the gospels. He was a publican, a tax collector, an occupation despised by most Jews. Tax collectors were seen as collaborators with the Roman government, as extortionists who took money from their own people to help further the cause of the Roman oppressors and to line their own pockets. Most people hated tax collectors and saw them as traitors, and many of the most devout refused to marry into a family which had a tax collector in it. One can see the disgust for tax collectors in some of the passages we hear from the New Testament. Even Jesus used the name as a disparaging term; he said that when Christians have a dispute they are to try to work it out alone, and if that didn't work they were to bring a witness and try to work it out, and if that didn't settle things the offending person was to be treated like a Pagan or a Tax Collector. Since he was a tax collector Matthew was obviously not the kind of person anyone wanted to be seen with, yet when Jesus passed by his office, which was probably a stand like a kiosko, Jesus looked at Matthew sitting there and said, "Follow me." And Matthew dropped everything and followed Jesus. Jesus and the disciples came to Matthew's house for dinner, and many of Matthew's fellow tax collectors and friends came and joined Jesus and the disciples at table. Since Matthew was a social outcast, we can assume that his friends were, too, and the gospel calls them "sinners." When the Pharisees saw this group of outcasts sitting together, eating and talking and drinking wine and having a good time, they asked one of the disciples "What kind of example is this from your teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?" And when Jesus heard their question, he said, "Who needs a doctor, the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, the sinners, not to coddle insiders!" I think that we all forget this at times, that we are all sinners and that Jesus came for sinners, not for those who are already perfect. The truth is, none of us are perfect, we are all sinners, we have all missed the mark, and Jesus came for all of us .So Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector and outcast, to follow him, and Matthew dropped everything and said "yes" to Jesus' call. In a way it's good that Matthew was already an outcast because becoming one of the Twelve, one of Jesus' followers, was going to keep him in that category.

The Calling of Matthew by Caravaggio

As I said earlier, tradition states that Matthew was the apostle to the Hebrews, and that he wrote a collection of the sayings of Jesus. Scholars are not really sure whether the Apostle Matthew actually wrote the gospel attributed to him; it may bear his name because it contains his collection of sayings. One of the main characteristics of Matthew's gospel is the fullness with which it records the Lord's teaching; it has a special interest in the relation of the Gospel to Jewish Law, the Torah, with its stress upon Christianity being the New Torah. It also emphasizes the special commission given to Peter, and it contains the stories of the Resurrection appearances in Galilee. The Greek of Matthew's gospel is much more elegant than the Greek of Mark, and it also translates well into other languages. Because of this, it is the gospel most suitable for public reading, and for this reason it is probably the best known of the four gospels.

As is often the case with stories about the Apostles, there is some disagreement as to the rest of Matthew's life. There is a tradition that Matthew left Palestine to travel and preach, and that he wrote his gospel so that a witness would continue in his stead. The Roman Martyrology states that St. Matthew was martyred in Ethiopia, while the Hieronymianum, the martyrology of Asia Minor and Greece says that he was martyred in Persia in the town of Tarrium out on the Persian Gulf. Another tradition states that he suffered martyrdom in Pontus, and the town of Salerno in Italy claimed to have his relics.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let Us Pray

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the House of Bishops for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Latest Photos of Miss Bebé, the World's Most Beautiful Granchile

The Most Boring Meal Yet!

Miss Bebé Gets A Job!

I'll sell those shares of Intel and buy ISHARES Russell 2000 Index FD. Microsoft my diaper!!

Miss Bebé Visits the Oakland Zoo (Yea! Abuelo was born in Oakland!) "What's wrong wid dose animals? Dey heads is too high up!"

Hey Madpriest! You don't like this hat? Well, Bbblllllpppppsssstttttt!!!

I See You!

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