Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Feast of St. Andrew, Προτοκλhτος

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

As is usually the case with first century saints and especially with the Apostles, we don’t know much about Andrew. There are twelve passages in the New Testament which mention Andrew’s name. The passages from the synoptic gospels are two about Jesus calling Andrew and his brother Simon Peter, three which are what we may call the List of the Twelve, one which mentions Jesus entering Andrew and Peter’s home (to heal Peter’s mother-in-law so that she could make lunch), and one passage in which Andrew is with a few members of the Twelve who ask Jesus about the eschaton. But the Gospel of John contains four references to Andrew, and he plays a different role than that in the synoptics. He is the first person Jesus called to follow him; there is a reference to the city of Bethsaida being the city of Andrew and Peter; Andrew brings the little boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus at that famous lunch, and Andrew also serves as an intermediary between Jesus and some Greeks who asked Philip to let them see Jesus to ask him some questions. The final biblical reference to Andrew is in the Acts of the Apostles where he is listed as one of those in the Upper Room. Eusebius’ only refers to Andrew as being assigned the area of Scythia for his missionary work. I read the Acts of Andrew, which is a book which was denounced by the Church Fathers (and by Eusebius), but tells some wild stories about Andrew. I’ve used some stories from the Acts of Andrew for this post, especially the description of Andrew’s martyrdom.

As I stated in the paragraph above, the Gospel of John claims that Andrew was at first a disciple of John the Baptizer. When John the Baptizer pointed out Jesus as the Christ, Andrew and another of John’s followers both became His disciples. Andrew took his brother, Simon, later to be called Peter, to meet Jesus. He is called the Protokletos (the First Called) in the Orthodox Church because he was the first Apostle to be summoned by Jesus into His service. In the accounts in the synoptic gospels, Andrew and his brother Peter made their living as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and both dropped their nets and followed Jesus when he called them. Both men became Apostles, and while Peter, who was martyred in Rome, symbolically came to represent the Church of the West, Andrew, whose relics were transferred to Constantinople, likewise came to represent the Church of the East.

According to the traditions of the Church of the East, Andrew began his missionary activity in the Provinces of Bithynia and Pontus on the southern shores of the Black Sea. He then to the city of Byzantium and founded a church there, ordaining the first Bishop of Byzantium, Stachys, who was one of the 70 disciples Jesus sent out to heal the sick and proclaim the Good News. The Apostles began their missionary work after Pentecost. Andrew went to several cities and countries to teach, including Byzantium, Thrace, Russia, Epiros, and Peloponnese. In Amisos, he converted the Jews in the temple, baptized them, healed their sick, built a church, and left a priest for them (I don’t know if he was a priest who had been traveling with Andrew or a local person. Historically, there weren’t any priests in the Church yet). In Bithynia, he taught, healed their sick, and drove away the wild beasts that bothered the people. His prayers destroyed the pagan temples, and those who resisted his words became possessed and gnawed at their bodies until Andrew healed them. Many of the stories about Andrew seem to deal with demon possession. According to the Acts of Andrew, he visited the City of Patras during one of his several missionary journeys to Greece. Through his preaching and the miracles of healing he performed in the name of Jesus, many persons were converted to Christianity. Among those healed was Maximilla, the wife of the Roman Proconsul, Aegeates. Seeing this miracle of healing, Stratoklis, the highly intellectual brother of the Proconsul, also became a Christian, and Andrew consecrated and enthroned him as the first Bishop of Patras. As a prophet, he foretold of the greatness of Kiev as a city and a stronghold of Christianity. In Sinope, he prayed for the imprisoned Apostle Matthias, and his chains fell from him and the cell door opened. This angered the people and they beat Andrew, breaking his teeth, cutting his fingers, and left him for dead in a dung heap. While Andrew was lying in the dung heap Jesus appeared to him and healed him, telling him to be of good cheer. When the people saw him up and around with all his teeth and fingers the next day, they were amazed and they converted. Another time, he raised a woman's only son from the dead. All this activity made the people of Patras and Sinope and Kiev love him, but it did not endear him to those in power, of course. According to the Acts of Andrew, the conversions to the Christian Faith by members of his own family infuriated the Proconsul Aegeates, and he decided, with the urging of his pagan advisors, to crucify Andrew. The crucifixion was carried out on an X-shaped cross with the body of the Apostle upside down so that he saw neither the earth nor his executioners, but only the sky, which he “glorified as the heaven in which he would meet his Lord.” Aegeates had him tied to the cross in this manner so that he would live longer and suffer more. According to the account in the Acts of Andrew, the Apostle went to the cross “and spake unto it as unto a living creature, with a loud voice (and in Elizabethan english!): Hail, O cross, yea be glad indeed! Well know I that thou shalt henceforth be at rest, thou that hast for a long time been wearied, being set up and awaiting me. I come unto thee whom I know to belong to me. I come unto thee that hast yearned after me. I know thy mystery, for the which thou art set up: for thou art planted in the world to establish the things that are unstable: and the one part of thee stretcheth up toward heaven that thou mayest signify the heavenly word: and another part of thee is spread out to the right hand and the left that it may put to flight the envious and adverse power of the evil one, and gather into one the things that are scattered abroad: And another part of thee is planted in the earth, and securely set in the depth, that thou mayest join the things that are in the earth and that are under the earth unto the heavenly things. O cross, device of the salvation of the Most High! O cross, trophy of the victory of Christ over the enemies! O cross, planted upon the earth and having thy fruit in the heavens! O name of the cross, filled with all things. Well done, O cross, that hast bound down the circumference of the world! Well done, O shape of understanding that hast shaped the shapeless! Well done, O unseen chastisement that sorely chastisest the substance of the knowledge that hath many gods, and drivest out from among mankind him that devised it! Well done, thou that didst clothe thyself with the Lord, and didst bear the thief as a fruit, and didst call the apostle to repentance, and didst not refuse to accept us! But how long delay I, speaking thus, and embrace not the cross, that by the cross I may be made alive, and by the cross win the common death of all and depart out of life? Come hither ye ministers of joy unto me, ye servants of Aegeates: accomplish the desire of us both, and bind the lamb unto the wood of suffering, the man unto the maker, the soul unto the Saviour.

Twenty thousand of the faithful stood by and mourned. Even then, Andrew taught them and exhorted them to endure temporary sufferings for the kingdom of heaven. Out of fear of the people, Aegeates came to remove Andrew from the cross. Andrew, however, told Aegeates that there was still a chance for Aegeates to become a Christian, but that he (Andrew) had already seen Jesus waiting for him and he would not allow himself to be removed from the cross. Many tried to undo the knots, but their hands all became numb. Suddenly, a heavenly light illumined Andrew for about a half hour. When it left, Andrew had given up his spirit. His body was tenderly removed from the cross by Bishop Stratoklis and Maximilla, and buried with all of the honor befitting the Apostle. Soon countless numbers of Christians made their way to Patras to pay reverence to the grave of Andrew, and when Aegeates realized that the man he had put to death was truly a holy man of God a demon fell upon him and tormented him so powerfully that he committed suicide (In many of these non-canonical books, the one who had someone martyred would commit suicide or explode or fall dead for no reason, as a way of avenging the death of the martyr).

The actual historical record tells us that in the month of March in the year 357 the Emperor Constantine (son of Constantine The Great) ordered that the body of Saint Andrew be removed from Patras and be reinterred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. This was a church built by Constantine the Great, and he had wanted to have the relics or remains of all twelve apostles interred in this church along with his own body. This is because the Christians of that era believed that there was great spiritual power contained in the bones of the Apostles and other martyrs, and to have the relic of an apostle or martyr in the altar made the church a center of great spiritual power. St. Andrew’s bones were returned to the very city which had first heard the Good News from Andrew’s own lips, and with all the pomp and honor and liturgical magnificence of the Byzantine Empire, they were laid in the Great Church of Christ at Constantinople. There is a tradition that some of his relics were taken to Scotland. The skull of Andrew was kept in Patras until the year 1460 when Thomas Paleologos, the last ruler of the Morea, brought the skull to Rome. In 1967, under the orders of Pope Paul, the skull was returned to Patras. He is the Patron Saint of Fishermen and the Patron Saint of Russia, Scotland, and Romania. So, today let us remember and celebrate the ministry and example of Saint Andrew, who continues to call on all Christians to tell others just what he told his brother Simon Peter: “We have found the Messiah!”

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Big Honkin' Announcement

So, I guess I might as well finally give this news to all fifty-three of my Faithful Readers here at Padre Mickey's Dance Party, as I already announced it on Facebook and yesterday at Parroquia San Cristóbal: on Tuesday, November 22, 2011, I submitted my resignation as Rector of St. Christopher's Parish, effective December 18, 2011. I've been trying to find a position in the U.S.A. and have been unsuccessful, to say the least. Bishop Murray said that, as long as I am in Panamá I won't find a position in the U.S.A., and the Search Committee at San Cristóbal agreed. We all agreed that the Lovely Mona and I should plan to leave by the end of the year, but, after discussion, the Lovely Mona and I decided that we wanted to spend Christmas with our family, seeing as we haven't celebrated a family Christmas in twelve years. So, on December 20, 2011, the Lovely Mona, Señorita Chompita Wiggletail and yer Padre will be winging our way to Los Angeles, California. We'll spend Christmas in Fresno with Mona's folks, and New Years in Sonora with my folks, and then on to Beautiful San José, California, famously featured in a Hit Song™ by Burt Bacharach, for the month of January, as I will be returning to San José, Costa Rica towards the end of January to attend a meeting of the IARCA-TEC Covenant Committee, of which I am a member (San José to San José, and back again!). Then, if my current losing streak continues and we find no position in my home diocese, we'll head up to our place in the Trinity Alps (don't get excited, we're not landed gentry; it's a freakin' trailer in the Odd Fellows Camp. A beautiful place, and at least we won't have to live in our car and end up on "60 Minutes" or sumpin'), hoping and praying that I can win over a Search Committee somewhere in That Great Land known as Los Estados Unidos de América. So, keep us in yer prayers and stuff. Personally, I find this a rather anti-climatic ending to twelve years of service as missionaries, but one never knows what God has in mind.

I know that things are tough all over, and that so many people are requesting help at this time, but, since we will have no income beginning in January, and you are moved to donate to help us out, please contact Nathaniel Lim at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 1205 Pine Ave., San Jose, CA 95125, 408-292-7090. Please feel free to check St. Francis' web site at, which includes an archive of our letters and pictures of our mission.

Blessed Advent, everbuddy!

Ayer en Parroquia San Cristóbal

Yesterday we had our Thanksgiving luncheon at San Cristóbal. We usually hold it on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, but since we had our Festival Partiótico, we wanted to give everyone a little break. We had a huge turnout and a wonderful meal. I roasted one of the turkeys, and we had a total of six turkey, plus chicken, rice and peas, salad, mac and cheese, platino, stuffing, empanadas, fruit, and pumpkin pie. ¡Mucha comida! Every one had a great time, and the Lovely Mona took photos.

Feast of Kamehameha and Emma of Hawai'i

O Sovereign God, who raised up King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and inspired and enabled them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of your Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I'm not big on Royal Saints, but these two were different than most.

The government of the archipelago of Hawai'i was originally a group of small chiefdoms on the various islands. From the years 1795 to 1810 the chiefdoms were brought under a single authority by the warrior chief Kamehameha, with the help of British sailors John Young and Alexander Adams and their western weapons. A constitutional monarchy much like that of the United Kingdom was formed. Alexander Liholiho 'Iolani was the nephew of King Kamehameha III, and was adopted by him and named his heir. Alexander and his brother, Lot, were educated by Anglican missionaries at the Royal School in Honolulu. King Kamehameha III believed that the boys' education would benefit from extensive travel, so in 1849 they sailed for California with their guardian. After California, they came here to Panama, before moving on to Jamaica, New York, and Washington D.C. and then to England and Europe. In 1855, Alexander, as King Kamehameha IV assumed the throne with his Queen Consort, Emma. Emma was the granddaughter of John Young, the British sailor who helped establish the Kingdom of Hawai'i, and she was also the great grandniece of King Kamehameha I. Kamehameha IV was only twenty years old when he assumed the throne.

Past kings and queens of Hawai'i had ruled with pomp and power, but Kamehameha and Emma were different. The year before Alexander's coronation, Hawai'i had been hit with an epidemic of smallpox. King Kamehameha and Emma went about Hawai'i with notebooks taking down information and soliciting funds to build a hospital. Queen's Hospital, named for Emma, is the largest civilian hospital in the islands. In 1860, Kamehameha and Emma petitioned the Bishop of Oxford to send missionaries to establish the Anglican Church in Hawai'i. Bishop Thomas N. Staley and two priests arrived in Hawai'i on October 11, 1862, and a month later Kamehameha and Emma were confirmed. Kamehameha translated the Book of Common Prayer into Hawaiian and also translated quite a bit of the hymnal. The Royal Family's life was marred by the death of their only child, Albert, at the age of four. Kamehameha blamed himself for the child's death and was overcome with sadness. Kamehameha died only a year later, of chronic asthma, at the age of 29 years. Emma declined to rule and committed her life to good works. She worked for the poor and the sick, and built hospitals and schools throughout the kingdom. Kamehameha and Emma worked for their people and also established the Anglican faith in their country, and that is why we celebrate them as saints today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito's Thanksgiving Day Special!

It the Holiday Season. Well, it's the Holiday Season here in Panamá; we started on November 1st! And what goes with the Holiday Season, besides lots of good food and drink and stuff? That's right: re-runs Holiday Season Classics! And here at Padre Mickey's Dance Party we have our Holiday Season Classics, just like your favorite television station, the only difference being ours aren't thirty to forty years old, and none of the characters appear as balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. So just sit back and enjoy It's A Red Mr. Peanut Bank And Gallito Mescalito Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!And, since you haven't seen our crew in ages, I'm sure you're gonna enjoy it!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, Gallito Mescalito, it's that time of year again!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek! ¿Shriek? ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut BankYes, I can understand that, the smell of roasting turkey makes you nervous, but it's only once or twice a year.
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, I don't like it that much either; all that cooking really heats up the house, and with Summer almost here it's hot enough around here!

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Hi boys! Up to no good, I suppose!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Good evening, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love. You look marvelous, as always!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Thank you, boys; you're so sweet! Well, it's that time of year, isn't it? The days are shorter, the nights longer, the smell of burning leaves in the air, and in some places it's snowing like all get out!
Gallito Mescalito ¿Shriek?
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Yes, I agree with my loving partner; what on EARTH are you talking about?
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Well, not HERE, of course, but back in the ol' U.S.A. I kinda miss all that.
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank He's right again; when we lived in the U.S. we lived in the S.F. Bay Area, where it rarely snows! But I guess the other stuff did happen. But you're from Egypt originally; I doubt you had snowy winters there!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love I just miss seasons! All we have here is "rainy season" and "not-quite-as-rainy season" or verano. I miss the cold.

Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Hey dere, fellas! An' a very good evenin' ta you, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Hello, Mr. Squeaky Cat!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Hello, Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy!
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy 'sup wit eveybuddy?
Red Mr. Peanut Bank We're discussing the season and the holidays.
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Yeah! I luvs dis tima yeah! In fact, we gots a nudder nashunal holiday on Sunday, which means we gits Mundy off! Independence from Spain Day! ¡Viva Panamá! ¡Viva Libertad!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Well, I'm thinking of a different holiday.

Mighty Moose of Vermont, Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose, and ¡El Penguino! Hello everybody!
The others Hello, Mighty Moose of Vermont, Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose, and ¡El Penguino!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose, you don't look very happy? What's wrong?
Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose Wayul, Ahm jus' feelin' a bit homesick.
¡El Penguino! She's worried about Thanksgiving. I told her it's the only estadoünidense holiday Padre and the Lovely Mona still celebrate, but she's worried it won't happen.
Mighty Moose of Vermont Come on, ¡El Penguino! You were just as worried last year. We told her it would happen but she's still worried.
Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose Wayul, Ah've nevah been away foh such impohtant holidaze befoh.
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Why is dis holiday so importint' ta you guys? 'Sup wid dis?

Diablito Sucio y Wooden Kuna Doll Si. ¿Es este fiesta más importante qué la Día de Independencia de España? ¿Por qué?
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Yeah, I'm wunderin' 'bout dis, too. Is dis anuver one of yer Gringo "weah betteah dan you" tings?
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Los Juegetes de los estados unidos No! It's just different!!!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank No, no, no! It's not more important than Panamanian holidays; it's just different. It is an important holiday to the Lovely Mona and Padre and their extended family and the estadoünidense toys and knick-knacks because they like the idea of taking one specific day to thank God for their many blessings, and because it is an important part of the mythology of the U.S.A., not that Padre and the Lovely Mona buy the myth (although they both have family members who are participants in the story!).
Las Jugetes Panamañas What is the myth? Tell us, TELL US!!!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, it all started with the Puritans Pilgrims and their search for a land in which they could oppress others find religious freedom. . .

Announcer We'll return to It's A Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalto Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown! right after this Important Message.

Before the break which was guaranteed to offend EVERYONE!, Red Mr. Peanut Bank promised to tell Padre Mickey's twisted, totally warped enlightened version of the Myth of the First Thanksgiving. As we would never want a toy bank to go back on Padre's its word, we now present Padre Mickey's Dance Party's Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging Players in The First Thanksgiving

Narrator Once upon a time, several centuries ago, there was a group living in England, who, having been driven insane by the more fringe elements of the Protestant Reformation, decided that everyone in England must believe as did they, be as pure as were they, and be just as grumpy. They were known as Puritans The majority of Believers in England disagreed, and made life even more miserable for these folks, until they finally left England for the Netherlands, where, soon tiring of a diet of chocolate, edam, and tulips, they made their way to The New World to make life miserable for Padre Mickey's relatives. Europe's favorite population decimator, small pox, had already cleared the way for the Pilgrims (as they were now called) so that there was plenty of room! Landing in an area they named Plymouth, after the place from which they had been evicted, their leader gave thanks to God. . .
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices, that we have arrived safely in this heathen, yet almost empty land, where we are free to worship God in our own manner, and may make sure that everyone else worships God in our own manner, too!
Other Pilgrims Amen!

Narrator The Pilgrims soon met the indigenous inhabitants of the land. . .
Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Hey dere, peoples wut don' look nuffin' like us! Watcha up to?
Red Mr. Peanut Bank We are the Pilgrims, and we have come to this nearly empty land to live in peace and worship our God in our own manner. We are trying to plant our crops. And what is your name, almost naked guy? And why are you wearing that feather?
Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy My name is Tisquantum, but you kin' call me Squanto. An' I weahs a feddah cuz it looks much coolah dan dat ting on toppa yer head! Uhm, ya know, dem seeds won't grow in dis climate.

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love And how did you learn our tongue? Hast the Holy Spirit descended upon you to give you this gift? I doubt it, you being such a heathen savage!
Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy No, no Espíritu Santo. Sum sumbich white guy captured me and my friends Manida, Skidwarres, Nahanada and Assacumet a while back n' dragged us kickin' an screamin' in a big nasty boat to your pitiful island and taught us yer funny langige. But, like I sed, dem seeds won't grow in dis climate. . .
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Sir, these are the seeds our God commanded us to bring and plant!
Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Well, dat's too bad 'cuz dey ain't gunna woik heah. Hey! Massasoit! Go grab some maize and some fish. Let's show dese rubes howta do it, or dey gonna starve and be botherin' us all wintah for food!

Narrator And so Squanto and Massasoit and their people taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and squash and pole beans and which nuts were safe to eat. . .
Mighty Moose of Vermont See, you dig a little hole,put a dead fishy in it, place a kernel of maize on top of the dead fishy, then cover it all up; make a little hill. Then move over about eight inches and do it again.
¡El Penguino! 'sup with the dead fishy?
Mighty Moose of Vermont It fertilizes the maize so you get a nice, big, healthy plant. And it's not as nasty as that manure your people use!
¡El Penguino! Heh! You savage! Poop is great!
Mighty Moose of Vermont Yeah. Sure. So, why aren't you wearing a hat with a buckle on it?
¡El Penguino! I AM wearing one. It's just so tiny you can't see it with your heathen eyes.
Mighty Moose of Vermont Oh-kay. So, dig another hole, take a dead fishy. . .

Narrator Eventually, the song of Harvest Home was raised, all was safely gathered in, ere the winter storms began, and the Pilgrims decided to thank the Lord of the Harvest with a feast. . .
Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose An weyul invaht Squanto an' hiyus friens', too, as theyah wuah SUCH a biyguh haylp!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank That's a great idea. What will be the main course? We don't have any cattle for roast beef, and they eat venison all the time.
Gallito Mescalito Shrie--cough, cough--er, gobble gobble!
Fuzzy Southern Mountain Moose Hmm, thayut maht be reyul good!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Er, how about pumpkin soup in the pumpkin? That could be Very Elegant!

Announcer: We interrupt this program for this important Breaking News!

Announcer And now, we return to It's A Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown! already in progress. . .
¡El Toro! Yoohoo! Mr. Pavo!
Crocagator Heh Heh Heh Thanksgiving dinner.

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, we're gathered together to ask the Lord's blessing, you at your table and we at ours, as we really can't be mixing with the likes of you. You know, He, the Lord, hastens and chastens, His will to make known!
Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Really! Well, ya know, we gots a little diff'rint teolugie an' understandin' of da Great Spirit! Ya see, WE believes dat. . .
Red Mr. Peanut Bank No one wants to hear your heathen ideas! We came here to worship God in OUR OWN MANNER, and we expect everyone else to worship God in our own manner, too! Now eat your pumpkin soup!

Narrator' And everyone gave thanks to God, with heart and hands and voices, and ate and had a wonderful time.
Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Well, dat was great! burp See ya next yeah!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Don't count on it!

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love What hath the Lord in store next for the Pilgrims in His Divine Plan?
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, we survived our first year and survived dinner with the Heathen Savages. Now it's time to get to work! Time to start taking their land and pushing their sorry heathen bottoms West until they can go West no further!

Gallito Mescalito Gobble Gobble!, er, ¡¡Shrrriiieeekk!!

Padre Mickey's Dance Party's Traditional Thanksgiving Day Message

And now, the traditional and offical Dance Party Favorite Thanksgiving Day Message:

"You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now, my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the roadsides. You will play golf and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, "Do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all these reasons, I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground."
Wednesday Addams in Addams' Family Values

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Feast of St. Clement of Rome, Bishop and Martyr

Almighty God, you chose your servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that your Church may be grounded and settled in your truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; reveal to it what is not yet known; fill up what is lacking; confirm what
has already been revealed; and keep it blameless in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As is often the case with these first-century saints, we do not know much about the life of Clement. Some of the ancient sources claim that he was a member of the family of T. Flavius Clemens, cousin of the Emperor Domatian, but most scholars in our time believe that he was actually an ex-slave of that household. Some sources, including Origen, believed that he is the person mentioned by St. Paul in Philippians 4:3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Clement's name does appear on the different lists of the Bishops of Rome, so it is safe to call him one of the Popes. Hegesippus, Irenaeus, and Jerome all list him as third after St. Peter, while Hippolytus and Augustine list him as second after St. Peter. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote that Clement saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and had their tradition before his eyes, and not he only for many were then surviving who had been taught by the Apostles. St. Epiphanius repeated a story about Clement being ordained by St. Peter and refusing the office of bishop at first: Whether he received episcopal ordination from Peter inthe life-time o the Apostles, and declined the office, for he says in one of his epistles, "I retire, I depart, let the people of God be in peace," (for we have found this set down in certain Memoirs), or whether he was appointed by the Bishop Cletus after he had succeeded the Apostles, we do not clearly know.

When we call Clement the Bishop of Rome, we must realize that the office was quite different than it is now. As far as we can tell, bishops who were sole rulers of the local congregation were not yet known in Rome; in fact, in his epistle,Clement seems to speak of bishops and presbyters, or priests, as if these were identical terms. There is another book written about the same time as his epistle, The Shepherd, by Hermas, which says that, of two copies of a certain vision One is to be sent to Clement and the other to Grapte; and Clement shall then send it to the cities abroad, for that is his business. It is possible that Clement was one of several leaders of the Church in Rome, and that he was in charge of relations with churches in other cities.

Most of what we know about Clement comes from an epistle he wrote to the Christians in Corinth around the year 96. There are some other writings attributed to him, but most sources, including Eusebius, do not believe that he wrote anything other than the one epistle. If Clement was in charge of relations with churches in other cities, it makes sense that he would write to the Christians in Corinth. The reason for his letter was that the feuds and dissensions which had threatened the unity of the Christian community in Corinth during Paul's time had reappeared a generation later. Some of the younger hot-heads had risen up against their lawfully appointed presbyters and ran them out of office! According to others, the deposed ministers had always performed their duties without reproach and were good leaders of their communities, but I guess they were not doing things the way these younger men thought things should be done. It is quite possible that the dispute was more personal than doctrinal and it may have been the action of an insubordinate minority who resent the authority of their seniors. Clement denounced the handful of individuals as the troublemakers, but he included the entire Corinthian church in his criticism. He asserted that, as a result of their material prosperity, the Corinthian Church had become swollen with pride, and that this had given rise to the present jealousy, strife and disorder. In the epistle, Clement gives an account of salvation history and he also speaks of the importance of authority and respect for those whom God has put in authority. He explains the authority of bishops. and he also explains the importance of a clergy who serve both God and God's people, the Church. It was Clement's great hope that his epistle would induce the erring sheep of Corinth to repent of their pride, learn the grace of humility and find their way back to the peace and unity of Christian brotherhood. He quotes the Hebrew scriptures (which were the only scriptures of the Church at that time) throughout the epistle, although it can be confusing since he strings quotations from different books together so that it seems as if the come from the same source. The Epistle of Clement was widely known and held in very great esteem by those of the early Church. It was publicly read in numerous churches and regarded as scripture in some communities.

There is an apocryphal Acts of St. Clement in Greek. It relates how Clement converted Theodora, wife of Sisinnius, a courtier of Nerva, and after performing numerous miracles, he converted Sisinnius and four hundred and twenty-three other persons of high and noble rank. The Emperor Trajan heard of the conversions and banished Clement to the Crimea, where he quenched the thirst of two thousand Christians with a water miracle. The entire country was converted and seventy-five churches were built. This upset Trajan so much that he ordered Clement to be arrested. Clement was chained to an iron anchor and thrown into the sea, where he received the Crown of Martyrdom. Yet every year, the tide receded two miles, revealing a shrine built by angels which housed Clement's bones. In the year 868, St. Cyril (of Cyril and Methodius fame) passed through Crimea, and he dug up some bones from a mound, where he also found an anchor; he believed that these were the relics of St. Clement. These relics are now in the altar of St. Clement's Church in Rome.

The following is a prayer from Clement's epistle: Teach us, O Lord, to hope in your Name, which is the source and fount of all creation. Open the eyes of our hearts to know you, who alone are Highest amid the highest, and ever abides Holy amidst the holy. You bring down the haughtiness of the proud, and scatter the devices of the people. You set up the lowly on high, and you cast down the lofty. Riches and poverty, death and life, are in your hand; you alone are the discerner of every spirit and the God of all flesh. Your eyes behold the depths and survey the works of humanity, you are the aid of those in peril the Savour of those who despair, the creator and overseer of everything that has breath. By you the nations of the earth are increased; and from humanity you have chose out such as love you through your dear child Jesus Christ, by whom you have taught us and raise us to sanctification and honor. Grant us, O Lord, your help and protection. Deliver the afflicted, pity the lowly, raise the fallen, reveal yourself to the needy, heal the sick and bring home your wandering people. Feed the hungry, ransom the captive, support the weak, comfort the faint-hearted. Let all the nations of the earth know that you are God alone, that Jesus Christ is your child, and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture. . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22, 1963

Today is the 48th anniversary of the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. For many of us of a Certain Age ahem! this was a defining moment in our lives, but nowadays the anniversary slips by with little comment.

For me, November 22, 1963 was really November 23, 1963, due to the International Date Line. I was in the third grade at Okinawa Christian School. My friend, Michael Bennett, the Nazarene missionary kid, had spent the night. Our house had a small apartment attached, and so Michael and I spent the night in there, up half the night laughing and making third grader type jokes (waddaya mean, I still do those, Grandmère Mimi?). One of the ways we entertained ourselves that evening was mocking a photograph of President Kennedy making a speech; he was pointing in to the crowd, and we had him saying silly things. Eventually, we went to sleep.

Early the next morning, as we were enjoying our breakfast of Rice Krispies and planing the day, my mother came and knocked on the apartment door. We opened the door, and she came in, sat down at the table and said, "I want you boys to be kind of quiet today and not run all over the neighborhood. Something very bad happened last night and you need to keep it down." We asked what happened, and she said, "Some body killed President Kennedy last night." Then she left. Michael and I just looked at each other in disbelief. Being the children of Evangelical Missionaries, and going to a school where we had an hour of Bible Class every morning, taught with a strong dose of Evangelical Protestant theology, which had convinced my nine-year-old self that God would punish people for any mistake, whether they knew they had messed-up or not, we knew that we were in big trouble. I was pretty sure that God was punishing us for making fun of the president the night before (just a LITTLE egocentric, eh?). I'm not sure if Michael Bennett carried the same guilt, but he seemed to be as troubled as I.

I remember my parents and other missionaries having discussions about the assassination for the next few days, and my father was convinced it was a conspiracy. I remember going with him to Ft. Buckner, one of the large U.S. military bases on the island to watch the flag, which was flying at half-mast, come down and listening to the bugler sound To the Colours and then Taps. I remember how sad everyone was: estadoünidense, Okinawans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Fillipinos, everyone I knew. And I remember how this event seem to affect everything for years afterwards.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated forty-eight years ago today, and this year there is some acknowledgment this tragic moment in history. Many of the readers here are around the same age as me; share your memories in the comments if you feel so inclined.

Feast of St. Cecilia, Martyr

Today is the feast of St. Cecilia, a young woman who was martyred in Rome around the year 230. She is the patron saint of musicians because, according to the Acts of Cecilia, she heard heavenly music on her way to her wedding. She was one of the most venerated martyrs of the Ancient Church and her feast has been celebrated in the Roman Church since the fourth century. The Acts of Cecilia was written in the fifth century, and its text was the basis for the version in the Golden Legend, a collection of the lives of saints written in the thirteenth century. What follows is my retelling of the story of Cecilia according to the version of the tale in the Golden Legend.

St. Cecilia was born of noble Roman lineage. Her parents were Christians and Cecilia was baptized as a baby. She “fostered and nourished the faith of Christ from the time she lay in her cradle,” she kept the gospel in her heart and said prayers day and night. At an early age she dedicated herself to remain a virgin. Her parents arranged a marriage with a young man named Valerian even though he was not a Christian. When the day of her wedding came, she heard heavenly music and sang in her soul, “O Lord, I pray that my heart and body may remain pure so that I may not be confused or perplexed.” That night, when she and Valerian retired to the Wedding Chamber, she said, “My sweet, beloved husband. I have a secret to tell you. Promise that you will tell no one what I am about to share with you.” Valerian was curious and promised to tell no one. Cecilia said, “I have an angel that loves me and protects my body whether I am asleep or awake. I have dedicated myself to be a virgin for the glory of God, and I am afraid that if you try to take my virginity the angel will kill you. But if you promise to love me only in a holy and pure manner, he will love you as I love you and will protect you, too.” Well, as one might expect, this wasn’t exactly what Valerian wanted to hear on his wedding night, and he said, “If you want me to believe this, I will have to see this angel. And if it turns out that there is no angel and that you love someone else, I swear that I will kill both you and your lover with my own sword!” Cecilia said, “If you believe and are baptized, you will see the angel.” She then told Valerian to to the Via Appia, three miles outside of Rome. There he would see the Bishop of Rome, Pope Urban, working with the poor and the sick. Valerian was to tell the pope what Cecilia said and listen to the pope, and if he believed what Pope Urban said, be baptized. Valerian followed instructions, and Pope Urban was happy to talk with him and baptize him. Pope Urban said, "One God, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, above all, and in us all, everywhere. Do you believe this?” Valerian responded, “There is nothing truer under heaven!” and was baptized. Then he returned to Cecilia and the Wedding Chamber. When he entered the Wedding Chamber he saw Cecilia talking with an angel. The angel had two crowns of roses and lilies. He gave one to Cecilia and one to Valerian and said, “Keep these crowns with a pure and undefiled body for I have brought them from Paradise and they will never fade or lose their scent or wither. They can only be seen by those who live chaste and pure lives. And because you listened and followed Cecilia’s wise counsel, what ever you wish shall be granted to you, Valerian.” Valerian told the angel, “There is no one in this world more dear to me than my brother, and I want him to know the truth of the gospel, too.” The angel replied, “Your petition pleases our Lord, and you both will come to him by the palm of martyrdom.” A few days later, Tyburtius, Valerian’s brother, came to visit the newlyweds. He was amazed because he smelled roses and lilies but didn’t see any in the room. Valerian told him that he and Cecilia had crowns of flowers which he couldn’t see, but if he believed he would see them, and he then preached the gospel to his brother. Tyburtius was converted that day and baptized by Pope Urban. After that he saw angels everyday and was constantly blessed by God.
Almachius, provost of Rome, was persecuting Christians and many were being executed for refusing to offer incense to the image of Jupiter. Valerian and Tyburtius were burying the martyrs and giving their goods to the poor. Word of their activities spread throughout the city, and Almachius had them called before him and ordered them to sacrifice to the image of Jupiter. They refused and were condemned to be beheaded. They were taken four miles outside of the city and beheaded, and Cecilia took their bodies and buried them. The man who arrested them, Maximus, was converted by their preaching. He went home and preached to his household and friends, and they, too were converted. Cecilia came to his house with priests and all were baptized. When Almachius heard that Maximus had converted and was baptized, he had Maximus beaten with whips with lead tips until he died. Cecilia took Maximus’ body and buried it with Valerian and Tyburtius. When Almachius heard of Cecilia’s activities, he had her arrested, too. She was brought to court, where she preached to the judges and lawyers. She converted them all to the faith, and they were crying to think that such a beautiful young woman should be condemned to death. She said to them, “Oh you good young men, I will not lose my youth, but change it into something more valuable, like changing clay into gold or a dirty place into a beautiful, clean palace. God will reward a hundred fold for one small gift of life. Do you believe what I have said?” They all answered, “We believe Christ to be very God and you are his servant.” Then Pope Urban was called and four hundred people were baptized that day! Almachius had Cecilia brought before him and questioned her, but she showed him no respect at all. He said, “Do you realize what power I have?” She replied, “Your power is nothing to fear, it is like a bladder full of wind which disappears when pricked with a needle and never meant anything to anyone.” He said, “I have the power to have you executed. Now sacrifice to Jupiter.” She refused, of course, and was condemned to death. Cecilia was taken home and condemned to be suffocated in her bath; the heat was turned up to its highest level, and should have suffocated her, but when the soldiers came in hoping to find her lifeless body, the room was cool and comfortable and she was quite alive. Almachius then ordered that she be beheaded in her bathroom. The executioner struck her neck three times with his sword but was unable to behead her. He left her there in her own blood, half alive and half dead, for three days. She continued to preach and made arrangements that all her goods go to the poor. She sent many people to Pope Urban to be baptized, saying, “ I asked God to let me live three more days so that I could commend these souls to you and ask that my house be used as a church.” Then she died and Pope Urban and the deacons took her body and buried her among the bishops and consecrated her house to be used as a church.

Sometimes it is difficult to prove that some of the martyrs of the Early Church actually existed, they are often simply a name on a martyrology, or list of martyrs. Cecilia Valerian, and Tyburtius’ names all appear in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum of Rome. It appears that her house actually was made into a church; records show that the building known as the church of St. Cecilia belonged to Gens Caecilia (Cecilia’s Family) and was donated to the church in Rome. So although the story from The Golden Legend contains elements which are difficult to believe, especially that a heterosexual man would agree to a marriage like that of Cecilia and Valerian, and while the angel seems more like a genie than a divine messenger, there is a good chance that there really was a Cecilia, Valerian, and Tyburtius. St. Cecilia was a young woman totally dedicated to Christ and the Church. The threat of death did not stop her from doing the work of the gospel, and even with her dying breath she gave all she had to the Lord. That is why she was held in such high esteem by Christians from the fifth century through the Middle Ages and that is why we remember her and her witness today.

Lord of mercy, be close to those who call upon you, with Saint Cecilia to help us hear and answer our prayers. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I See You!

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