29 June 2009

Saint Peter

Saint Peter the Apostle
June 29.
The Collect

O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle Saint Peter many excellent gifts, and commandedst him earnestly to feed thy flock; Make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word, and the people obediently to follow the same, that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24 June 2009

Saint John the Baptist

Saint John Baptist
June 24.
The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

11 June 2009

Saint Barnabas

Saint Barnabas the Apostle
June 11.
The Collect

O LORD God Almighty, who didst endue thy holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of the Holy Ghost; Leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them alway to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

08 June 2009


Here is a sample of our choir. I joined after Easter. It had been many years since my last choral performance. I like it--brings back good memories.

03 June 2009

Jesus Prayer & Spirituality

I have been using the Jesus Prayer since reading Anthony M. Coniaris' Confronting and Controlling Thoughts According to the Fathers of the Philokalia.

What is it?
Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner

Coniaris points out that the prayer was developed by monks long ago. It is the key to opening a deeper life of the Spirit. The book remarks how all-encompassing the prayer is...how simple...how concise and accurate.

Why use it?
Well, reading the book will answer it ten times better than I can. Let me just share a story. I have personal reason to read and apply that book to my life. My thoughts can master me...they can lead me to believe false things...they can verge on surreal expectations...they wander and ask me to follow. The book and the Prayer help me to snap back into the hear-&-now. I don't think I'm alone in that battle either...perhaps in a small company of those that admit it openly. I used to think that I simply had wonder-lust. I could spend hours thinking about what life would be like if I had billions of dollars. What would I do with that money? What would life look like? Oprah would be proud of my visionary wanderings. Sadly, vagrant thoughts can take you other places--vulgar places. The problem with these thoughts is how you naturally begin to make decisions to allow those dreams to become reality. Romantically I thought that I had a clever device to stamp out any chance of online wonder-lust. I made my wife's full name my password to the computer. Surely if I had to type her name I could not be tempted to venture places she would disapprove of. [crickets chirping...long silence] WRONG. However there is power at the Name of Jesus. We express this when we reverence His Name during the Divine Liturgy. Coniaris comments, "when sinful thoughts knock...let Jesus get the door!" So I have a new password to all accounts--but don't try to hack me, I'm too clever for that! (wink)
William of Saint Thierry would consider this the very first level of spiritual maturity. First one must master their passions...master their thoughts. William had a three-tiered approach to Chrisitian proficiency. 1-control your physical passions. 2-wash your thoughts in the scripture. 3-unify your heart and mind. William was the Abbot [or master] of an Abbey [monastery] in Saint Thierry and best known for his advice to young monks. He is also classic reading for Western Spirituality mainly because he relied upon the ancient Fathers of the Church so much. That reliance makes him far for Eastern Orthodox in his approach.

What is a spiritual man?
Having read Coniaris' book I realize the true meaning of Proverbs 4:23. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life, KJV. The NIV translation is perhaps misleading here, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. I once thought that this meant to build a fence around your heart and protect it from any outside forces. Think Buckingham Palace guards! The NIV word 'guard' led me to that conclusion. Now I think the picture should involve me turning around to face the heart; keeping an eye on it constantly. Since I am supposed to be mortifying any vestige of the Old Man I must watch my heart as if it were an unfamiliar & sleezy old man at the neighborhood playground. Keep from the KJV should remind us to keep and eye on it. Now the mental image is an armed soldier training his weapon on a captured spy/terrorist.
I got my eye on you, buddy!
A spiritual man is someone that treats his inner life like he wants to treat others--under intense scrutiny and without any mercy! He is also a man that treats others the way he is inclined to treat himself--with pity, understanding, and mercy [since we know that everyone carries this burden of being a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve].

I love this Star Wars quote from Obi Wan Kenobi to his padawan Anakin Skywalker, "Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin, they betray you."

How true.

01 June 2009

Too much T.V., or what?!

On the way back from Houston on Saturday, my 5 year old piped up from a long silence with this question:
"Mommy, do we have credit debt?"
"Do What?" we both said!
"Credit debt...call now for $10,000 $20,000 or $30,000..."
"Where did you hear that?" we quizzed.

Well, it had been a frantic extended weekend. After a full day of work on Thursday we attended a funeral and internment late that afternoon. Then we drove from North Dallas to my in-laws at Fairfield [intending to make the full distance to Freeport...we just could not stay awake]. Friday we finished the trek through Houston [don't ask about my 40 min. detour!] and spent four hours at the beach and a few more in the hotel pool. I vaguely remember eating too. Up early Saturday morning, we had a full day of commencement, banquet, and trip back to Dallas. We were all pretty exhausted.

Needless to say, I don't recommend the itinerary above--but, hey, it's summer. Neither do I recommend letting your little ones fall asleep with the television on. Garbage in...garbage out.

I love posting about his funny remarks!