Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Miss Bebé, The World's Most Beautiful Granchile™ Blogging Returns!

Feast of the Visitation

Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ayer en Parroquia San Cristóbal

Yesterday was a big day at Parroquia San Cristóbal. We welcomed Gisel Sophie Guerra Peart into the family of God through baptism at the 7:30 service. It's been ages since we had a baptism in English! Even though I had warned her that I was going to splash water on her head, she wasn't too pleased about it. And when I reached towards her to anoint her forehead with chrism oil and mark her as Christ's own forever, she put up a bit of a fight. She did enjoy the rest of the service, though, and was singing even when we weren't singing.
Click on photos to embiggen

Today is Día Etnia Negra here in Panamá, the day in which we honor Afro-Panameños. Yesterday we celebrated Día Etnia Negra and the U.N. declared Year of People of African Descent at San Cristóbal by wearing African or Caribbean-style clothing. Everybody looked great! And here is photographic proof.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dia de etnia negra

Yesterday at Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal we celebrated Dia de Etnia Negra. Some of the kids wore beautiful colorful outfits. The program for the elementary grades was going on when I arrived at the school. Unfortunately I couldn't stay long because I had to run off to teach.

This was the scene when I got to the school.

Directora Patricia Lewis dancing.

Here's the photos for the Jr. High and High School performance.
Not only is she darling, she's a very good trumpet player.


I love the sound of the steel pan drums.

The fashion show.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rest In Peace, Gil Scott-Heron!

May his soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon him!

Friday Random Top Ten Eight!!

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

1. Mercury Poisoning Graham Parker and the Rumour
2. Small Craft On A Milk Sea Brian Eno
3. Tango Till They're Sore Tom Waits
4. Garden Of Earthly Delights XTC
5. You Get What You Deserve Big Star
6. Let Down Radiohead
7. London's Burning The Clash
8. The Back Stabbers The O'Jays

Padre Mickey's Dance Party rule invoked! Well, lemme tellya, I was going to invoke the "Won't Get Any Bettah Than This" rule at numbah 3, but, out of curiosity decided to go one more. Was very tempted to stop at numbah 4 but gave it another try and, dang! Almost stopped there but decided to see what was next and, yow! VERY TEMPTED to stop at numbah 6, but decided to see what would happen. Man! So, went on to the next song and I was SURE I was gonna stop there, but no, just one more time. . . . It's not getting any better than "Back Stabbers" so we stopped.

Watchoo listenin' to?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

La Oruga En El Jardín

La oruga dice: "¡Bienvenidos a todos a el jardín!"

La oruga dice: "¡Mira! ¡Comida!"

La oruga dice: "Tengo hambre. Déjeme en paz!"

¡Wao! Tenemos tres más orugas. Creo que es un infestación.

Feast of the Venerable Bede, Priest and Monk of Jarrow

Heavenly Father, you called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship: Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of your truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make you known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Bede, or Baeda, was probably born in the year 673, the year of the Council of Hertford, the council in which the Bishops of England agreed to respect each others' diocesan boundaries and the date for Easter was settled. He was born on lands which were given to Benedict Biscop's new monastery, St. Peter's of Wearmouth. At the age of seven years, his parents placed him in the care of Abbot Benedict for his education and upbringing. The next year he was tranferred to the monastery in Jarrow, under the care of Abbot Ceolfrid, and he remained there for the rest of his life. Abbot Ceolfrid was a holy man and a a scholar, and young Bede was greatly influenced by his love of learning. Years later, Bede wrote a biography of Ceolfrid, which contains an incident which probably refers to Bede's boyhood. It tells of how, in the year 686, the plague attacked Ceolfrid's monastery, killinig all the choir monks capable of maintaining the regular services of the Church, with the exception Bede writes, of the Abbot himself and one boy reared and educated by him, who is now a priest of the same monastery and commends the Abbot's admirable doings both verbally and in writing to all who desire to learn them. Greatly distressed by this catastrophe, the Abbot decided to discontinue their usual practice, and to recite and sing all the psalms without antiphons except at Vespers and Matins. But when they had done this for a week with great sorrow and regret, he could bear it no longer and directed that the psalms and their antiphons were to be restored in their appointed course. So with the help of all survivors, he and the aforesaid boy carried his decision with no little trouble until such time as he could either train or procure from elsewhere sufficient numbers to assist at the Divine Office.

Ceolfrid's training and encouragement of the young Bede filled him with a love for the Divine Hours and the Church's services, and it was said that he believed that the angels attended all the Daily Offices and would not miss a service because "the angels would ask 'Were is Bede? Why does he not attend the appointed devotions with his brethren?'" Bede was ordained a deacon at the age of nineteen, which is really something since canon law set the normal age for ordination to the deaconate at age twenty-five. His scholarship and devotion must have been recognized as exceptional for him to be ordained so young. He was ordained a priest eleven years later, and he spent the next fifty-nine years writing commentaries on the scriptures and writing histories. He is called the Father of English History because of his classic work A History of the English Church and People which covers the years from 597 to 731, the period in which Anglo-Saxon culture developed and Christianity became the religion of the British Isles. His History is considered a prime source for historians studying early English history because of the care he took collecting information from those most likely to know, his meticulous listing of his authorities and his separation of historical fact from hearsay and tradition. His descriptions are very vivid and bring the story alive to the reader, which is another element of good historical writing in our own era, too. His biblical commentaries were highly appreciated by his contemporaries, because he would use the Vulgate Bible, old Latin texts, and the Greek texts in his studies, and would use the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory combined with his own insights. He wrote some twenty-four commentaries, several histories, a book of Hymns, a book of Epigrams, a Martyrology, a book on the Art of Poetry, a book on Tropes and Figures, and a book entitled On the Nature of Things. There was no printing press, so these books were all handwritten and then copied by others, so the production of so many books is really quite amazing!

What made Bede so prolific? Why did he write so much? He was a monk, a very dedicated monk, and a scholar. Bede experienced God through the use of his mind, through study and research and contemplation and writing. He ended his History of the English Church and People with this little prayer: I prayer you, noble Jesu, that as You have graciously granted me joyfully to imbibe the words of Your knowledge, so You will also of Your bounty grant me to come at length to Yourself, the Fount of all wisdom, and to dwell in Your presence for ever.

Bede was a scholar right up to the end, dying after dictating an English-language translation of the Gospel of John. He died on May 25, the Eve of the Ascension, in the year 735. One of his scholars, Cuthbert, who later became the Abbot of Jarrow, wrote an account of Bede's death, telling how he continued to work for several days even though he was short of breath. On Tuesday before the Feast of the Ascension, he was dictating and teaching but was having a difficult time breathing. He said to his students, "Learn quickly! I do knot know how ling I can continue, for my Lord may call me in a short while." That night, instead of sleeping, he spent the night giving thanks to God. That morning he continued to dictate the last chapter of his work on John's gospel. At three o'clock that afternoon, he said to Cuthbert "I have a few valuables in my chest, some pepper, and napkins, and some incense. Run quickly and fetch the priests of our monastery, so that I may share among them these little presents God has given me." Cuthbert fetched the priests, and Bede spoke with each one and gave him a present. They were all crying, and Bede said, "If it so pleases my Maker, the time has come for me to be released from this body, and to return to the One who formed me out of nothing. I have lived a long time, and the righteous Judge has provided for me well throughout my life. The time for my departure is near, and I long to be dissolved and be with Christ. My soul longs to see Christ my King in all his beauty." Cuthbert says that Bede spent the rest of the day in gladness until the evening. Wilberht, the boy who was taking dictation, said, "Dear master, there is still one sentence that we have not yet written down." Bede said, "Then write it down quickly. " When the boy was finished, he said, "There! It is written!" Bede said, "Good! It is finished; you have spoken the truth. Hold my head in your hands. I would please me much if I could sit opposite the holy place where I used to pray, so that I may call upon my Father sitting up." Bede sat on the floor of his cell, his head held by Wilberht. He said the Gloria Patri and breathed his last. He was buried in the chapel of the monastery of Jarrow, but his remains were moved to Durham and placed in the nave of the Lady Chapel of the Galilee Cathedral, in the year 1020. He received the title "Venerable" about a hundred years after his death. There is a legend which says that the monk carving the inscription on Bede's tomb was at a loss for a word to fill out the couplet Hac sunt in fossa Bedae -blank- ossa (This grave contains the -blank- Bede's remains). That night an angel came and filled in the blank with the word Venerabilis.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Possible Lessons From Saturday

So, I'm hoping that the Family Radio/May 21 Apocalypse crowd will realize that the scriptures are not some puzzle to figure out. There is no formula, there is no computer, there is no numerological system which will reveal secrets to you. There are no secrets; the scriptures are a collection of different people's experiences of God through the millennia. Heck, some of it has nothing to do with experiences of God and are just some nasty, mean, stories about people doing terrible things and then blaming it on God. So, trying to decipher the scriptures will not tell you when the eschaton will take place. For all you and I know, it won't take place. Perhaps we should all spend less time trying to figure out when Jesus is coming back and more time doing what he told us to do: spread the Good News of forgiveness of sins and the coming of the Reign of God; share the Good News that God loves us unconditionally, and feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the prisoner, and welcome the stranger. I dare all Christians to do this. Heck, I double-dog dare ya! And non-Christians and non-believers can all do this, too!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reflections Upon Another Rapture Which Hasn't Happened

When I was a child my parents belonged to the Assemblies of God church. When they were missionaries on Okinawa I went to a school which was run by evangelical, fundamentalist Christians, so I've been around this rapture stuff all my life. As a child I was always scared that I would be left behind when the Rapture took place. I was very relieved when, as a young adult, I did some research and discovered that the idea of a Rapture of the Saints was not a teaching of the ancient church but a nineteenth century invention. The return of Christ is the hope of the Church, but this Meet-Jesus-In-The-Sky-While-All-The-People-Who-Disagree-With-Me-Suffer-Terrible-Plagues-Oh!-Won't-THEY-Be-Sorry! stuff is something I left behind many years ago. I believe in living my life as if Jesus will return at any moment, but I don't spend any time worrying about it anymore.

I've had a lot of fun this week and especially yesterday and today mocking this belief system and I believe it deserves to be mocked, but now it's after 6:00 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time and nothing predicted by Harold Camping has taken place, just like the last time he made such predictions. However, last time the only people really aware of his heresy were those in the San Francisco Bay Area; this time, thanks to the innertoobes, his claims have spread around the world and many people have given up everything to spread the word. They've left their jobs, they've stopped saving for their children's education, and they've given their life savings to Family Radio to spread the word. I'm expecting a lot of people around the world who have been crushed, spiritually.

So, as my friends James Holloway and El Profesor Jay Johnson have pointed out, we are going to be dealing with a lot of people whose faith has been severely damaged. I believe we need to be there for them, we need to help them through their disappointment and the destruction of their trust (that's how I define "faith"). They were sincere, yet misled, and they have been spiritually abused, in a way. I spent some three years in a cult and I can understand their pain in realizing that all they believed was a crock. It takes a while to recover from such spiritual betrayal. We are also going to have to deal with Harold Camping. Will he be humbled by this experience and finally decide to quit treating the Bible like some cryptic puzzle he could only decipher with the right formula, or will he realize the error of his ways, apologize and perform retribution to those he led astray and STFU from now on? I must say that, from observing Brother Camping's past behavior, he's gonna figure that there was some mistake in his calculations and STILL work on figuring out when Jesus will return in the sky and kill everyone Brother Camping disagrees with. As extremely difficult as it will be, we will also have to treat Brother Camping in a loving manner. If we take this Christian stuff seriously, we have to do a lot of stuff we don't like. I'm actually hoping that this will be another nail in the coffin of Fundamentalist Christianity, but, since it is so much a part of the nationalism of the U.S.A., it may not make any difference in their belief that God created 'Murica.

Many years ago I helped administer a password protected website for people leaving Divine Light Mission/Elan Vital/The Prem Rawat Foundation, a psuedo-Hindu cult, providing a safe place for them to work through their issues. It wasn't as safe as we thought, but I believe many people were able to work through much of their spiritual betrayal. Perhaps we, the Christians who don't accept nineteenth century Christian innovations, can help these folks in such a place. I would be interested in hearing from anyone so inclined.

This is a sad situation, but also an opportunity for evangelization amongst The Churched, and opportunity to expose them to the more traditional and ancient traditions and beliefs of the Christian faith. I'm wondering how we will all deal with this situation. ¡Maranatha!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

St. Dunstan

From The Golden Legend: And on a time as he (Dunstan) sat at his work his heart was on Jesu Christ, his mouth occupied with holy prayers, and his hands busy on his work. But the devil, which ever had great envy at him, came to him in an eventide in the likeness of a woman, as he was busy to make a chalice, and with smiling said that she had great things to tell him, and then he bade her say what she would, and then she began to tell him many nice trifles, and no manner virtue therein, and then he supposed that she was a wicked spirit, and anon caught her by the nose with a pair of tongs of iron, burning hot, and then the devil began to roar and cry, and fast drew away, but Saint Dunstan held fast till it was far within the night, and then let her go, and the fiend departed with a horrible noise and cry, and said that all the people might hear: "Alas! What shame hath this carle done to me, how may I best quit him again?" But never after the devil had lust to tempt him in that craft.

Nice guy, Ol' Dunstan.

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