Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday at IESC

This has been quite a week so far at the school. Everyday is something different. Yesterday, the grade schoolers had an open house. Each room was decorated as a different Province in Panama. They were also serving the kind of food served in said Province. The kids were really welcoming when I went into their classrooms. I got a couple of pamphlets, a key chain, and some Panama candy. These are the rooms I got to see.

This is from the Province of Colon.

This is a representation of Chiriqui which is by the Costa Rica border.

I found Hilary, who is a member of our parish while I was looking at the display in her room. Her class was doing the Province of Los Santos.

Panamanians like big masks.

These girls are wearing Kuna clothes

I'm not sure which tribe these girls represent, but they are cute.

This is the Ngobe Bugle room. I don't know much about them, but I do see Ngobe Bugles around.

As you can probably guess, this is a week of fun. Tomorrow, I will post pictures of the 5th grade queens. Wait till you see their costumes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Smiles Are In The Genes

Left to right Unca Jimmy, Aunt Manny, Granpa, with Shigeiko-san, Okuma, Okinawa, 1962

left to right Mommy and Auntie Anne, San José, CA, sometime in the 1980's

Miss Bebé, Berkeley, CA, 2010

Tuesday at IESC

Michael and I were really surprised to see all the kids with play horses taking up the street in front of the church when we tried to turn the corner in front of the church. We couldn't even get into our parking spot. So, I parked the car in another place and learned that the little kids were practicing a tradition from one of the provinces in the interior.

This is folklorico week for the grade school kids. Yesterday, Tuesday, I didn't teach at all. First off, the other band teacher didn't show and he has the key to the room. The band was on its way home from Costa Rica, so I guess he wanted the day off. Turned out for the best.

Later, I learned about another tradition from the interior about greasy pole climbing called Palo de cebado. The pole was greased with pork fat and four teams of eight tried to reach the top. I stayed for over an hour and no one had made it. I don't know if they did. Apparently, this is done all the time outside the city. One teacher told me in her day the kids practiced all year long and when the day came, it was easy for them. These students had never done it, so it was quite a challenge. Below are photos.

Waiting for the parade to start.

Off to parade around the neighborhood.

The kids returning from the parade.

Here are the students waiting for the palo de cebado contest to start. Notice all the space in front of them.

Teams are getting instructions.

So much space for the teams to work in.

As you can see, the police tape is still up and students are closing in.

Now, the police tape is down and everyone crowds around the teams as they attempt the climb to the top. We teachers lost all control. Everyone started to participate, including some of the teachers.

Feast of St. 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.

A Poem In Honor of St. Michael Archangel

An ancient Celtic poem in praise of Michael the Archangel

Thou Michael the victorious,
I make my circuit under thy shield,
Thou Michael of the white steed,
And of the bright brilliant blades,
Conqueror of the dragon,
Be thou at my back,
Thou ranger of the heavens,
Thou warrior of the King of all,
O Michael the victorious,
My pride and my guide
O Michael the victorious,
The glory of mine eye.

I make my circuit
In the fellowship of my saint,
On the machair, on the meadow,
On the cold heathery hill;
Though I should travel oceans
And the hard globe of the world
No harm can e’er befall me
‘Neath the shelter of thy shield;
O Michael the victorious,
Jewel of my heart,
O Michael the victorious,
God’s shepherd thou art.

Be the sacred Three of Glory
Aye at peace with me,
With my horses, with my cattle,
With my woolly sheep in flocks.
With the crops growing in the field
Or ripening in the sheaf,
On the machiar, on the moor,
In cole, in heap, or stack,.
Every thing on high or low,
Every furnishing and flock,
Belong to the holy Triune of glory,
And to Michael the victorious

Monday, September 27, 2010

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yesterday at IESC

This has been some week at The Instituto! Yesterday was jean day and I didn't even know until I got to the school. My department was pretty quiet since the band and several teachers are in Costa Rica. The best part was the wonderful entertainment on the patio. I even made videos of two of the dances. Hope you enjoy them!
The dancer in white is our Bishop's daughter.

I love the motion of the dresses in the this group of pictures.

More later....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Random Top Ten

Ya pushes "shuffle" and ya takes yer chances. . .

1. Talking Loud And Clear Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
2. Remember A Day Pink Floyd
3. Original Sin Elton John
4. Tennessee Arrested Development
5. Shorty's Lament The Residents
6. Birthday The Beatles
7. Hanging On The Telephone The Nerves
8. I'll Shoot The Moon Tom Waits
9. Going Mobile The Who
10. Work A Day World Paul Collin's Beat

Geez, this is an Old Man's iTunes edition of Friday Random Top Ten! Nothing written or recorded in this century. None of these are the best songs by any of the artists. Well, Tennessee is one of the best things Arrested Development ever did, but otherwise this is a kinda pathetic old man's iTunes list! We did pretty well on the videos, though, with nine out of ten!

So, watchoo listenin' to?

Here's Arrested Development with Tennessee

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Miss Bebé, the World's Most Beautiful Granchile™ Blogging

Wearing Daddy's Hat!

Today at IESC

I know it's been a while since I've posted. I'm way behind on my pictures. So I'll start with todays group of photos from the school.

We had entertainment during the second recess and I was lucky that my student didn't show so I could enjoy it!

This is the dance I came in on.

This little group played some very nice music.

More good dancing. I love the tembleques.

Our boys in Drag. The pregnant boy/girl gave birth to a baby doll. The Drag queens were the final act and everyone, including the school Director enjoyed the act. They were very funny.

The band is preparing for their five day trip to Costa Rica.

That's it for now. Hopefully, I can catch up in the next few day.

I See You!

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