Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Darn Yankees....

Ugh - I just loathe those New York Yankees. Since Sunday our Tigers have now lost 4 straight, including the one to the Tribe Sunday.

I just hope that we can win the last game of the series tomorrow and take a victory in to the weekend series against Boston!

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Seven (Thursday)

SEVENTH DAY (Thursday)
Heal our wounds--our strength renews;
On our dryness pour Thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

The Gift of Counsel
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT (to be said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (to be said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Six (Wednesday)

Day Six - HOLY UNDERSTANDING
Thou take Thy grace away,
nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turn'd to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion by faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to "walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT (to be said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (to be said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

St.John's Baseball Outing


Here are some of those promised photos from the baseball game on Sunday, and the pre-game festivities at St. John's. BTW - we had 30 more people at Church on baseball Sunday then on Palm Sunday!

Photos include; a shot of the crowd in the parish hall enjoying lunch, the kids eating in a Sunday School room, and Andrew Kelly enjoying a hot dog.


At the game we see the choir preparing to sing the National Anthem and that is a view from the field of the crowd from St. John's (over 230 people) sitting in section 218.

Unfortunately, the Tigers lost to the Tribe, and were even shut-out! The final score was 9-0! The Tribe even hit a grand slam homerun!













Monday, May 29, 2006

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Five (Tuesday)

Fifth Day – Holy Knowledge (Tuesday)
Light immortal! Light Divine!
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill.

The Gift of Knowledge

Prayer
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. "Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost (to be said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (to be said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that He may perfect in my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Thy divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining Heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with Thee, and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Thy true disciples and animate me in all things with Thy Spirit. Amen.

Memorial Day 2006

Let us pray

For Memorial Days
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; we give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For our Country
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evivl way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue witht he spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, thorugh obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fil our hearts with thankfulness, and int he day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all wichi we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the 1928 Book of Common Prayer

So do I get my mid-life crisis mustang yet?

Okay - just kidding. I don't REALLY want a mustang (it is pretty impractical AND would lead me into temptation to ride over the speed limit), but today, May 29th, I turn 40. The BIG FOUR-ZERO! WOW.

Thank you to all, particularly those at Church today, for the kind birthday wishes, and for the nice gift from the congregation (a gift certificate to Harry the Hatter so I can finally get the fedora I have been desiring), as well as the gift from the Altar Guild.

It would have been nice if the Tigers could have given us the gift of a victory for our parish Tiger Outing today, but heck at 35 and 15 we can't complain about the Tigers this year! I will post pictures later from the game.

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Four

Fourth Day - Holy Fortitude
Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

The Gift of Fortitude
Prayer - By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. "He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in times of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost (said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offermyself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thylove. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and moveand am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee.Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watchover me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking atHis Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His openedSide and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of myinfirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee.Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say toThee always and everywhere, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles andDisciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that He may perfectin my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy love. Grant me the Spirit ofWisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspireonly after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding toenlighten my mind with the light of Thy divine truth, the Spirit of Counselthat I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining Heaven,the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with Thee, and that I mayovercome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect inthe science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the serviceof God sweet and amiable, the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with aloving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Thy true disciples and animate me inall things with Thy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Holy Ghost Novena - Days Two and Three

Holy Ghost Novena - Day Two (Saturday)
Holy Fear Come,
Thou Father of the poor!
Come, with treasures which endure!
Come, Thou Light of all that live!

Prayer
The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by Sin. It is a fear that arises,not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filialsubmission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning ofwisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separateus from God. "They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in Hissight will sanctify their souls."Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I mayset Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun allthings that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pureeyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost (said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thylove. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and moveand am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and Ipray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee.Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. Icling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watchover me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking atHis Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His openedSide and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of myinfirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee.Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say toThee always and everywhere, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles andDisciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that He may perfectin my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy love. Grant me the Spirit ofWisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspireonly after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding toenlighten my mind with the light of Thy divine truth, the Spirit ofCounsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining Heaven,the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with Thee, and that I mayovercome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, theSpirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Thy true disciples and animate me in all things with Thy Spirit. Amen.
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Third Day (Sunday)- Holy Piety
Thou, of all consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast
Dost refreshing peace
bestow The Gift of Piety

Prayer
The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as ourmost loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sakepersons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visibleHead, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who isfilled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not aburdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such alove for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost (said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore thebrightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and moveand am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and Ipray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee.Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. Icling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watchover me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking atHis Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His openedSide and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of myinfirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles andDisciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that He may perfectin my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy love. Grant me the Spirit ofWisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspireonly after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding toenlighten my mind with the light of Thy divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining Heaven,the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with Thee, and that I mayovercome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, theSpirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with aloving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease Him.Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Thy true disciples and animate me inall things with Thy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Holy Ghost Novena - Day One

Holy Ghost Novena - Day One (Friday)
Friends - the 9 days of prayer between the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven, and the coming of the Holy Ghost is the first novena prayer. Below is a prayer form for these nine days. There are two standard prayers to be prayed daily, and one prayer/devotion for each of the days in particular. This Novena was written in 1912 by the Holy Ghost Fathers.
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The First Day - Friday after the Ascension

Holy Spirit! Lord of light !
From Thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give!

Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared -- sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all our sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost (said daily)
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch forThy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Amen.

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (said daily)
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, didst promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Thy work in the souls of Thy Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me, that He may perfect in my soul the work of Thy grace and Thy love. Grant me theSpirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Thy divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining Heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with Thee, and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Thy true disciples and animate me in all things with Thy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seven Runs in the last two innings!

As I was driving to Northville today for the visitation at the Funeral Home for Tom Mullin's Father (may he rest in peace), I heard the Tiger pitcher, Mike Maroth, getting bashed for 6 runs in the first inning. "Oh well", I thought, "every team has a bad game once in a while".

When I turned the radio back on later in the day the Tigers were only losing 8-6. Then by the end of the eighth it was 8-8. Then the Tigers had a 5 run nineth inning to win 13-8!

The Tigers are 33-14, 1 1/2 games ahead of Chicago (who has the second best record in baseball!). They have won13 of their last 14 games.

The next two weeks will be the real test of the Tigers ability!
They come home for 3 games this weekend against the Indians (the parish outing to the game is Sunday, with our Choir singing the National Anthem), then the Yankees come in for 4, followed by 3 with Boston here as well. Then they fly off to Chicago to play 3 against the White Sox.

If at that end of this they are still in the fight, then perhaps we can start planning our PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS service for the playoffs.....

He is Risen AND Ascended!

From Newadvent.org

The fortieth day after Easter Sunday, commemorating the Ascension of Christ into heaven, according to Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2.
In the Eastern Church this feast was known as analepsis, the taking up, and also as the episozomene, the salvation, denoting that by ascending into His glory Christ completed the work of our redemption. The terms used in the West, ascensio and, occasionally, ascensa, signify that Christ was raised up by His own powers. Tradition designates Mount Olivet near Bethany as the place where Christ left the earth. The feast falls on Thursday. It is one of the Ecumenical feasts ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter and of Pentecost among the most solemn in the calendar, has a vigil and, since the fifteenth century, an octave which is set apart for a novena of preparation for Pentecost, in accordance with the directions of Leo XIII.
History. The observance of this feast is of great antiquity. Although no documentary evidence of it exists prior to the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows it was the universal observance of the Church long before his time. Frequent mention of it is made in the writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Constitution of the Apostles. The Pilgrimage of Sylvia (Peregrinatio Etheriae) speaks of the vigil of this feast and of the feast itself, as they were kept in the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem in which Christ was born (Duchesne, Christian Worship, 491-515). It may be that prior to the fifth century the fact narrated in the Gospels was commemorated in conjunction with the feast of Easter or Pentecost. Some believe that the much-disputed forty-third decree of the Council of Elvira (c. 300) condemning the practice of observing a feast on the fortieth day after Easter and neglecting to keep Pentecost on the fiftieth day, implies that the proper usage of the time was to commemorate the Ascension along with Pentecost. Representations of the mystery are found in diptychs and frescoes dating as early as the fifth century.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Priest/Mentor - Fr. John M. Scott

Of your charity please pray for Fr. John Morgan Scott, in great peril of health and near death. He has been suffering from parkinsons for many years, and another retired priest in Philly informed me yesterday via email that he had been to see him and gave him extreme unction.

Although theologically John and I had many a disagreement, he shepherded me through the ordination process while a student at Penn and attending St. Mary's Church, Hamilton Village (pictured here). He then went to bat for me when I was turned down by the 'progressive' Diocese of Pennsylvania for my traditional theological leanings. Although he was not happy that I ended up being adopted by the more traditional Diocese of Quincy to be sent to seminary, we kept in touch and he made an amazing gift to me at my ordination.

John was a 1953 graduate of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, and a dyed-in-the-wool Anglo-Catholic sponsored for ordination by the Diocese of Long Island. During the turbulent 1960's John and his parish on the University of Pennsylvania's campus became very active in progressive causes. They were involved in the anti-vietnam war movement, and John's first introduction to a newly enthroned bishop of Pennsylvania was when the bishop came to bail him out of prison after a protest. His parish's longtime sponsorship of a folk music co-op was a natural cross-pollization with his work with the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. Although we didn't always agree with each other on 'issues' (theological and social), it was interesting that on evening I had pizza with John and a folk singer who was performing later that evening for a special prayer service for the Berrigen brothers (Jesuit priests who were arrested for a protest), only to find out later that the bearded old hippy we ate with was a famous folk singer (Pete Seegar).

John was also a Third Order Franciscan in the old Order of St. Francis and was instrumental in their merger with the English order to become the Society of St. Francis. He was their minister general for several years

So despite all our disagreements, John's mentorship made a deep impression on me. His nurturing of my Third Order Franciscan Vocation and shepherding me through the ordination process in a liberal parish and diocese despite my traditionalist leanings were important. But perhaps more important was that his parish had daily mass and daily Evening Prayer (I staggered in one evening for EP when I saw the door open and the bell ringing, just out of curiousity.... 3 months later I was getting sober and being reconciled to our Lord) at which I received the sacrament frequently and prayed and heard the Word of God, beginning a frequent Mass and Daily Office discipline which by grace continues these 17 years later!

His love and concern for the poor was also an inspiration. He helped to found the local homeless feeding ministry in West Philadelphia and hosted a portion of it at the parish. He had a way of receiving of the homeless at services as if they were the most important people there, and could move as easily among millionaires as he could the destitute. Yet he was human and his sharing of his frustrations showed that he was not pollyanna-ish about this part of ministry. I think of John frequently when dealing with our many weekday guests how come to the office looking for a hand-out.

John's ordination gift to me? He retired as Rector of St. Mary's Church, Hamilton Village after 30+ years as rector in 1992. He had helped 35 people into the ordination process in those years! At my ordination to the priesthood in 1994 at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont he gave me the chalice he received at his ordination to the priesthood. I have used that chalice at every daily Mass at each of the parishes I have served, (and the 8am Service here at St. John's in Detroit), remembering him at the Altar as I elevate the Chalice and see his name and mine engraved on the bottom.

The disease has destroyed Fr. Scott's cognitive abilities. I pray his last days will be grace-filled and peaceful, and that he will be received into his Saviour's loving arms at his last. And I pray for his wife Fran, so faithful in their 50+ year marriage and now in keeping vigil in John's final sickness.

When the war hits close to home.

We have had the good grace to acknowledge soldiers from our parish, and send them off formally with the Episcopal Church Serviceman's Cross and the prayers and gratitude of the people of the parish. Several have been to Iraq and returned, one is in Afghanistan right now, and other doing Marine training in Eastern Europe.

My brother's wife, Emma, has a brother who is serving in Iraq. His vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Here is the email he sent to family members after the attack, as well as a photo taken 9 days before. We salute them and offer our prayers for them and their families.

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On the 14th May 2006, the “smokewagon” a lead M1114 of the 4th BDE INP SPTT Team was struck by an IED EFP. Two great Americans lost theirs lives and one was wounded.

The two killed in action where:
CW4 John Engeman “Panther 4”
SFC (P) Robert West “Panther 7”

The man wounded:
SFC Gary Galloway “Panther 3 G”

The loss is great, they can never be replaced.

The attached picture is the crew of the “Smokewagon”, I stand next to three of the greatest Americans and best friends I have ever known. I salute them.

CPT SHANE DALY “PANTHER 3”

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Youth Sunday - and MORE BAPTISMS!

This Sunday we have our Youth Appreciation Sunday. Going through the list of parishioners and regular attenders, we have upwards on 50 pre-school and school-aged children in the parish, PLUS another 12 babies under one year old! Now if we could motive better Sunday School attendance!

We add three more children to the parish rolls through the waters of baptism this Sunday. Tatiana (4 years old), Jack and Gordon (8 month old twins) Hudson-Nelson will become children of God and Heirs of the Kingdom at the 10am Service!

Please pray for them as they are prepared to come to the font on Sunday!

This makes our 12th, 13th and 14th Baptism this year already - DEO GRATIAS!

Da Vinci Code - early reviews are in.....

...and most think the movie stinks!

Forget the theological and ecclesiastical objections, not to mention the shear historical evidence against what Brown claims is FACT; the early reviews from the Cannes Film festival is that the move is mediocre at best, and awful by most accounts. Many reviewers said that at what should have been the most suspenseful solemn scenes, the audience giggled. And if you haven't read the book it is hard to follow the plot (by then again, only 40 million + copies of the book have been sold!).

For all the hype, it seems it will go the way of The Book of Daniel - the aweful NBC series about an Episcopal Priest who has Jesus show up and give him bad theological advice. That show was cancelled because there weren't enough views, which meant no one wanted to advertise on it, which means there is no money! The same might end up being true about The Da Vinci Code move - The big splash at the beginning, and after the initial hoopla, the word of mouth will get out and let people know it isn't that good a film. Then off to DVD.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

First Place - May 17th!

And tied for the best record in Baseball!


Detroit 25-13
ChiSox 25-13
N.Y. Mets 24-14
Boston 23-14
St. Louis 24-15
Cincinnati 23-16

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Finished a good book tonight

The Yes of Jesus Christ by Joseph Ratzinger AKA Benedict XVI (Crossroads Publishing, 1991). In it were several very interesting quotes...Bon Mots as Fr. Ziemba at Orchard Lake St. Mary's used to call them (in my senior year at St. Mary's Prep I got to take a college frosh english course at St. Mary's College taught by Fr. Ziemba and we had to turn in a Bon Mot every class). It sounds surprisingly like St. Augustine's description in The City of God about the fall of Rome due to moral decadance, and our modern culture/American Protestantism as well?

Human beings oppose the truth that would demand submission of them - submission in the form of honoring God and giving God thanks (Romans 1:21). For Paul the moral collapse of society is merely the logical consequence and the exact mirror image of this fundamental perversion. When we place our own will, our pride, and our comfort above the claim of Truth, everything is in the end necessarily turned upside down; it is not God to whom worship is due that is worshipped any longer; what are worshipped are the images, the appearance, the prevailing opinion that wins domination over people. This general perversion extends to all fields of life. What is unnatural becomes normal; the person who lives against truth also lives against nature. People's powers of invention no longer serve what is good but the ingenuity and refinement of evil. The relationship between man and wife, between parents and children is dissolved, and in this way the sources of life are blocked up. It is no longer life that reigns but death, and a civilization of death has become established. (p.22)

Will it ever stop raining?

It has been raining since Thursday (or so). I know we have been really spoiled by the end of April and beginning of May with temps in the 70's and lots of sun! But now if feels as if the rain will never stop. Grey skies, intermitten cloud bursts. Ugh!

I haven't heard any command to build and ark, and the weatherman says nice weather for most of tomorrow, followed by more rain! And I try to look on the bright side...the new plantings in the garden (trees and bushes) are getting plenty of water!

Pray here for the Tigers?

Hey - where did the banner go? The Tigers are finally winning and our "Pray Here for the Tigers" banner has 'disappeared'!

Don't panic. Note in the photos the cords and pulleys. When the windows were being repaired we used the lift to take down the banner and install the pulleys and cords. The banner is being attached to a frame, being fabricated by parishioner Bruce Burton's Burtek Incorporated. Then it can be lowered and replaced more easily, and banners made for things such as Christmas and Easter Services.

But don't worry - we will primarily have the Tiger banner up. It is a lot of good press, and a local attraction for fans coming to the game.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Two parishioners lost

This week we lost two parishioners.

Dwight Watkins, who came to us in the last few years, passed away on Thursday at Beaumont Hospital. He had had cardiac bypass surgery back in Lent, and after a stint in cardiac rehab, returned home for a brief period of time. He was hospitalized for a week before dying. His burial will be May 23rd.

Our second parishioner to leave didn't die. He as moved. Morley Stevenson, a long-time parishioner, frequent vestrymember, and parish architect, called this morning to tell me that he was beginning his new job in North Carolina. The economy here in Michigan is not great, and he had several opportunities out of state. He starts tomorrow, and his wife will join him once their youngest begins college in the Fall.

Rest Eternal Grant unto your servant Dwight, O Lord.
And protect Morley as he begins his new job in North Carolina.

Morley's children will continue in the area, and so we look forward to Morley's visits.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

If the Detroit Tigers....

....were in any other division except the American League Central (their division) or the National League Central, they would be in first place!
Just an FYI!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A new window is coming

Last night the St. John's Altar Guild met for their annual meeting and they voted to purchase a new window for the chapel. One window, installed in 1859 and intended to be 'temporary' was damaged by age and had to be removed. It was a "grisaille" window - which is a painted grey decorative glass that was intended to be a 'space-filler' until memorials could be donated as the parish grew in time.

The altar guild chose as a theme the old testament heroine Ruth. We will have to work with a studio to have a window designed, and hopefully we will have the new window installed by Fall. It will be a complimentary design to the windows on that wall in the chapel, and a match in design (but a different figure) as this Annunciation window in the matching space to the other side of the altar in the chapel.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Game Ball

Andrew's Little League team had their second game today, and won this one by an indentical score as the first one - 17-12. Andrew has had an amazing hitting streak. In 7 at bats in 2 games he has 6 doubles and a single. Today he had 3 of those doubles, scoring 5 RBI's. He also accounted for, or assisted in, at least a half-dozen outs, if not more. The highlight was in the 4th inning, when with one out, Andrew caught a line-drive at first, and then stepped on the bag to get the runner who was on first out before he could tag up, thereby getting an unassisted double-play.

After each game the coach gives the game ball. Before the coach could even begin the several of the teammates began saying that Andrew should have the ball - and the coach agreed. Nice to be honored not only by the coach but by teammates as well.

What a fun way to spend a Saturday Morning - watching your son play baseball...and with some proficiency! Yes, I am really excited and proud of him!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sam's Birthday Today!


It is hard to believe that 10 years ago my oldest son, Sam, was born at Bryn Mawr Hospital (PA). It seems like just yesterday that he was a newborn, yet 5 years ago when we moved here he was the age that my youngest son, William, is now! Tempus Fugit!
Of course for presents he got lots of rocket stuff. I made his favorite big breakfast (eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, bagels). For his birthday dinner he wanted Beef Burgundy in the Crockpot, which he helped make with Jennifer. He also helped bake his double layer carrot cake.

After his and Andrew's karate testing we rushed home for his big dinner. We find out Monday how he did on the testing (either advanced purple or green - two belts from black)

Happy Birthday Sam!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A trip (row) down memory lane (Schuylkill River)

While looking for something else on the web, I ran into an article that the Heavyweight Crew (rowing) coach at The University of Pennsylvania, Stan Bergman, was resigning and taking an administrative position in the athletic department at Penn.

This brought back many memories of my 2 years on the crew team at Penn, after 4 years rowing in High School before it, and two years afterwards sculling (two oars per person instead of one like sweep rowing) at Vesper Boat Club and Penn AC. This all was many years (and pounds) ago.
Coach Bergman came my sophmore year - by then I knew that there was no chance of my making the Varsity Heavyweight boat. At 5'11 and 175lbs I was TOO small for heavies (most of them were over 6'3 and 200+ lbs.) Height especially can be a factor since the taller you are, the longer your blade is powerfully in the water (once the blade is in the water it moves very little...it is the boat that is moving and the blade the fulcrum point). By Sophmore year I had sucked weight, down to 153, to row lightweights. But I got to observe and interact with Coach Bergman, and I have always had a great respect for him.

The photo above is a recent Penn Crew, and below is Coach Bergman in a double scull. Perhaps some day soon I will scan a few pictures from my Penn Rowing days and post them as well for a good laugh!

Another article debunking "The Da Vinci Code"

Here is another good article debunking the so called "FACTS" of the Da Vinci Code, coming soon to a theatre near you. The article below is by Sandra Miesel, and it (and other good sidebars) can be found at http://www.tothesource.org/5_3_2006/5_3_2006.htm

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Da Duh Vinci Code by Sandra Miesel

People often ask, "How much of The Da Vinci Code is true?" I wearily answer that Paris is in France, London is in England, and Leonardo da Vinci painted pictures. Let's look at four areas where Dan Brown's history is bunk.

Constantine the Great
First is his treatment of Constantine the Great (d. 337), first Christian emperor of Rome. After adopting the Christian God as thanks for a dramatic military victory in 312, Constantine initially seems to have imagined him as the "the Highest Divinity" among other gods. But he swiftly gave tolerance, favor, and subsidies to Christians, even before becoming sole Roman emperor in 324.
These moves were not, as Dan Brown claims, an effort to curry favor with the "new Vatican power base." Not only were Christians just a small and unimportant minority of the population, the pope wouldn't reside at the Vatican for another thousand years. As historian A.H.M. Jones says, Constantine "would not on any rational calculation of his interest have chosen to profess Christianity."
The emperor called bishops to the Council of Nicea in 325 to settle disputes among Christians, not between Christians and pagans. He provided free transportation, served as honorary chairman, and proposed homoousion, "of the same essence" to describe the relationship between the Son and the Father. He didn't invent the Divinity of Christ, choose the canonical Gospels, nor rewrite the New Testament.
Constantine did continue to control all pagan cults through his imperial office of pontifex maximus--a title still held by the pope. Yet he forced no conversions and didn't devise a hybrid religion as Dan Brown claims. Neither was baptism forced upon him while dying. The emperor had delayed his baptism, as many adults did in those days. He'd had been planning an elaborate ceremony when he fell mortally ill. The Eastern Churches honor him as a saint, "the Thirteenth Apostle."

Knights Templar
Then Dan Brown grossly distorts the history of the Knights Templar by making them secret goddess-worshippers destroyed by the cruel Catholic Church. The real Templars were an order of warrior monks founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land. This wasn't, as Brown absurdly alleges, a cover to excavate documents about Jesus and Mary Magdalene on Temple Mount.
Far from being masters of esoteric mysticism, the Knights were largely an illiterate bunch. They didn't invent Gothic architecture and their several round churches aren't proclamations of crypto-paganism.
The Templars lost their reason for existence in 1291 when Muslims drove the Crusaders from the Holy Land. But they retained great wealth which King Philip IV of France coveted. Having persuaded himself that the Knights were depraved heretics, he had all members in France arrested in 1307. After horrible tortures, a hundred of them confessed to idolatry and immorality, crimes that persuaded the pope to suppress the order in 1312. Scores of Templars, including their last Grand Master, were burnt at the stake. None of this happened in Rome as Dan Brown describes because the pope of the time, who was dominated by the French king, resided in Avignon.

Priory of Sion
Dan Brown piles on a further distortion by making the Knights mere puppets of the Priory of Sion, a secret organization that since medieval times has protected the holy bloodline descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Many notable figures from politics, science, and the arts including Leonardo da Vinci supposedly belonged. For a rare original touch, Brown also makes them worshippers of the divine feminine through sexual rites.
But the Priory of Sion was a hoax perpetrated by a convicted French conman named Pierre Plantard. In 1956, he and several friends had established a short-lived club of that title named for a hill in France, not Temple Mount. Plantard and his confederates later prepared phony genealogies and other documents "proving" his descent from Christ via the Merovingian dynasty of France. His great secret was supposed to shake the foundations of Christendom and make him king of France. These claims became of basis of Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (1982) but were definitively debunked by BBC in 1996. Plantard was forced to admit his fabrication to a French court and died in 2000. So the con game was over before Dan Brown commenced his novel, but somehow he failed to notice this.

Leonardo da Vinci
Brown's wildest distortions cluster around the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci. Exploiting the artist's enigmatic image was crucial to the project. Brown makes Leonardo a "flamboyant homosexual" with occult tastes whose contempt for Christianity inspired him to hide hostile coded messages in his paintings.
Leonardo may have experienced same-sex attraction but he can scarcely be called flamboyant about it. He despised occultism, including the mystic pretensions of alchemy. There was much to criticize in the Renaissance Church but he died and was buried with full Catholic rites.
Brown is flatly wrong on Leonardo's output (seventeen acknowledged paintings, not an "enormous" number and not all religious), his patronage (secular as well as clerical, one not "hundreds of lucrative Vatican commissions"), the medium and location of the Last Supper (it was painted directly on a monastery's dining room wall; it isn't a fresco in the monastery's church), and even the size of the Madonna of the Rocks (six and a half rather than five feet high).
Brown's allegations about the paintings' content are just as wrong. That's St. John, not Mary Magdalene, to the right of Jesus in the Last Supper. He's painted as an effeminate young man according to the taste of the time. Leonardo's St. John the Baptist is--unconventionally--just as womanish. The Eucharistic aspect of the scene is expressed by Christ's hands near bread and a wineglass. No central "Grail" is needed.
The Mona Lisa is traditionally identified as a portrait of a Florentine lady. Perhaps it's just Leonardo's idea of feminine beauty. There's no reason to imagine it as an androgynous portrait of the self-pleasuring artist. The Louvre's Madonna of the Rocks and the National Gallery's copy the Virgin of the Rocks feature the Infant Jesus blessing baby St. John, an unusual but hardly heterodox subject.
Considering how Dan Brown makes hash of historical facts, who would trust his historical speculations?

Weekday Holy Communion Services

One of the features of an active Prayer Book Catholic Parish in the Episcopal Church is the proliferation of weekday services, particularly the Holy Communion. When I arrived here at St. John's there was one weekday service of Holy Communion, on Wednesday at 12:15pm. I added a celebration of the Holy Communion on Tuesdays, and then on Thursdays as well, so it is offered three times a week and on Holy Days. Having communion so often seemed quite the innovation in a parish which before my arrival had been still alternating Morning Prayer and Holy Communion as the primary Sunday Service.

While rummaging through a pile of brochures in the Archives room a while ago, I found the report to the Annual Parish Meeting in 1926. Back then, St. John's had over 2600 people at the Easter Services compared to our 420 this year, and the Sunday School had an enrollment of 190! I was surprised to find that in the 1920's there were 5 weekday Masses (Tuesday and Thursday 10am in the Church, Tuesday, and Thursday at Noon in the Chapel, Wednesday at 8pm), as well as 'intercessions' at Noon on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, and the Litany on Friday at Noon. Daily Mass and Services were the norm, not the exception for the first 70 years! They took a hiatus beginning in the 1930's! Since the finding of the brochure I have talked with longer-time parishioners (here before the 1920's), as well as the Great-grandson of the first Rector of the St. John's and read many old vestry minutes of the parish. In fact St. John's was an early 'Prayer Book Catholic' parish (Higher Church than the average parish, but certainly not as highly ritualized like many East Coast Anglo-Catholic Shrine Parishes). Weekday celebrations of the Holy Communion is one of the clues to that identity, especially in the 19th Century!

Now we have The Holy Communion at 12:15pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and Holy Days at 7pm; Noon Prayer and Litany on Monday and Friday at 12:15am; and the Daily Office at 9am and 5pm Monday through Friday.

So I say all that to say this....I really am grateful for the interesting mix of people we have at our weekday services of Holy Communion. Today we had 9 people at the service, including yours truly. 3 were not parishioners: one works in the neighborhood and drops by for the service, the other two are with the L.A. Angels baseball team, in town for the series tonight against the Tigers (one of them comes nearly every year the team is in town). Of the congregation present today one is a retired county employee. One is a doctor. One is a police officer. 4 are African-American. 4 are women. One is in a wheelchair, another on disability. An anonymous few in 12 step recovery programs. It is not unusual to have such a wonderful mix of people coming to Church to glorify God, lift up their prayers and praises to Him, and to receive the Blessed Sacrament at a weekday Holy Communion Service at St. John's!

Deo Gratias for the volunteers!

Once again St. John's was the host to the "One Night Initiative", turning our Chapter Room and Youth Ministry Rooms into a temporary shelter for the homeless. We had dinner (spaghetti and meatballs), showers, a snack, evening board games/cards/television, and then an early lights out. In the morning we had breakfast (sausage and eggs), new clothing distribution, and everyone was sent off with a bag lunch prepared by the parish Episcopal Church Women.

A hearty thank you to all the volunteers at the event, as well as Shirl, Andre and Tristan who set up, and Tristan, Andre and Pat who broke it down and cleaned up afterwards. Over the next few days we will be washing the sheets, blankets and pillows and storing them for use again. The cots were borrowed from The American Red Cross.

Our next hosting of the initiative will be next winter. Deo Gratias for the volunteers, and for the opportunity to serve others in Jesus' name.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - FICTION!

Here is a good associated press article from www.foxnews.com on the upcoming movie The Da Vinci Code, coming to theatres soon.
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Impending 'Da Vinci Code' Movie Release Spurs Religious Debate
Monday , May 01, 2006

A line from Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" tells you why it's easily the most disputed religious novel of all time: "Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false."
With 46 million copies in print, "Da Vinci" has long been a headache for Christian scholars and historians, who are worried about the influence on the faith from a single source they regard as wrong-headed.
Now the controversy seems headed for a crescendo with the release of the movie version of "Da Vinci" May 17-19 around the world. Believers have released an extraordinary flood of material criticizing the story — books, tracts, lectures and Internet sites among them. The conservative Roman Catholic group Opus Dei, portrayed as villainous in the story, is among those asking Sony Corp. to issue a disclaimer with the film.
Bart Ehrman, religion chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, likens the phenomenon to the excitement in the 19th century when deluded masses thought Jesus would return in 1844.
The novel's impact on religious ideas in popular culture, he says, is "quite unlike anything we've experienced in our lifetimes."
To give just one example, Ben Witherington III of Asbury Theological Seminary is following up the criticisms of the novel in "The Gospel Code" with lectures in Singapore, Turkey and 30 U.S. cities. He's given 55 broadcast interviews.
Assaults on "Da Vinci" don't just come from evangelicals like Witherington, or from Roman Catholic leaders such as Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, who says Brown is waging "an attack on the Catholic Church" through preposterous historical claims.
Among more liberal thinkers, Harold Attridge, dean of Yale's Divinity School, says Brown has "wildly misinterpreted" early Christianity. Ehrman details Brown's "numerous mistakes" in "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code" and asks: "Why didn't he simply get his facts straight?"
The problem is that "Da Vinci" is billed as more than mere fiction.
Brown's opening page begins with the word "FACT" and asserts that all descriptions of documents "are accurate."
"It's a book about big ideas, you can love them or you can hate them," Brown said in a speech last week. "But we're all talking about them, and that's really the point."
Brown told National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" during a 2003 publicity tour — he declines interviews now — that his characters and action are fictional but "the ancient history, the secret documents, the rituals, all of this is factual." Around the same time, on CNN he said that "the background is all true."
Christian scholars beg to differ. Among the key issues:
Jesus' Divinity
Brown's version in "Da Vinci": Christians viewed Jesus as a mere mortal until A.D. 325 when the Emperor Constantine "turned Jesus into a deity" by getting the Council of Nicaea to endorse divine status by "a relatively close vote."
His critics' version: Larry Hurtado of Scotland's University of Edinburgh, whose "Lord Jesus Christ" examines first century belief in Jesus' divinity, says that "on chronology, issues, developments, and all the matters asserted, Brown strikes out; he doesn't even get on base."
He and others cite the worship of Jesus in epistles that Paul wrote in the 50s A.D. One passage teaches that Jesus, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped" and became a man (Philippians 2:6).
Historians also say the bishops summoned to Nicaea by Constantine never questioned the long-held belief in Jesus' divinity. Rather, they debated technicalities of how he could be both divine and human and approved a new formulation by a lopsided vote, not a close one.
The New Testament
Brown's version: "More than 80 gospels were considered for the New Testament" but Constantine chose only four. His new Bible "omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up and burned." The Dead Sea Scrolls and manuscripts from Nag Hammadi, Egypt, were "the earliest Christian records," not the four Gospels.
Critics: Historians say Christians reached consensus on the authority of the first century's four Gospels and letters of Paul during the second century. But some of the 27 New Testament books weren't universally accepted until after Constantine's day. Constantine himself had nothing to do with these decisions.
Some rejected writings are called gospels, though they lack the narrative histories that characterize the New Testament's four. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were earlier and won wide consensus as memories and beliefs from Jesus' apostles and their successors.
The rejected books often portrayed an ethereal Jesus lacking the human qualities depicted in the New Testament Gospels — the exact opposite of Brown's scenario. Gnostic gospels purported to contain secret spiritual knowledge from Jesus as the means by which an elite could escape the material world, which they saw as corrupt. They often spurned Judaism's creator God and the Old Testament.
On the question of mass burning of texts deemed heretical, Ehrman of North Carolina says there's little evidence to support that claim. Rejected books simply disappeared because people stopped using them, and nobody bothered to make new copies in an age long before the printing press.
The Dead Sea Scrolls? These were Jewish documents, not Christian ones. The Nag Hammadi manuscripts? With one possible exception, these came considerably later than the New Testament Gospels.
Jesus as Married
Brown's version: Jesus must have wed because Jewish decorum would "virtually forbid" an unmarried man. His spouse was Mary Magdalene and their daughter inaugurated a royal bloodline in France.
Critics: First century Jewish historian Josephus said most Jews married but Essene holy men did not. The Magdalene myth only emerged in medieval times.
Brown cites the Nag Hammadi "Gospel of Philip" as evidence of a marriage, but words are missing from a critical passage in the tattered manuscript: "Mary Magdalene (missing) her more than (missing) the disciples (missing) kiss her (missing) on her (missing)."
Did Jesus kiss Mary on the lips, or cheek or forehead? Whatever, Gnostics would have seen the relationship as platonic and spiritual, scholars say.
James M. Robinson of Claremont (Calif.) Graduate School, a leading specialist, thinks the current popularity of Mary Magdalene "says more about the sex life (or lack of same) of those who participate in this fantasy than it does about Mary Magdalene or Jesus."
The whole "Da Vinci" hubbub, Witherington says, shows "we are a Jesus-haunted culture that's biblically illiterate" and harbors general "disaffection from traditional answers."
But he and others also see a chance to inform people about the beliefs of Christianity through the "Da Vinci" controversy.
"If people are intrigued by the historical questions, there are plenty of materials out there," Yale's Attridge says.
British Justice Peter Smith, who recently backed Brown against plagiarism charges, perhaps best summed up the situation in his decision:
"Merely because an author describes matters as being factually correct does not mean that they are factually correct. It is a way of blending fact and fiction together to create that well known model 'faction.' The lure of apparent genuineness makes the books and the films more receptive to the readers/audiences. The danger of course is that the faction is all that large parts of the audience read, and they accept it as truth."

A great weekend

Sometimes I sit back on Sunday night and think, "What a great weekend!" This was one of them, for many reasons.

Of course, primary is that we had Sunday worship. Attendence was down a bit, but it was overwhelmingly high last week for the baptisms, and I expect will bounce back soon enough. But I am grateful for all those who were there with us to worship, including several guests.

But this was a weekend in which I actually had two days off: Friday and Saturday. Fridays are generally my day off (except in Lent), and if I don't have a parish responsibility on Saturday it feels like a two day weekend!

So what makes a great weekend in addition to Sunday Worship? Well, I had my chiropractors appointment Friday - always feel better after an adjustment. We got lots of projects done around the house; painted a bedroom, put up the pictures that were taken down last week when we re-arranged a few rooms, got the 'weekly cleaning' done (as compared to the daily dust/vacuum, etc.), and cut the lawn (first of the season). We had great weather all weekend! The Tigers SWEPT the Twins, scoring 35 runs in 3 games, and only allowing 1! (The Piston's & Red Wing losses of course, were the exception to this great weekend - and I am not as big a fan of those two sports as I am baseball).

Saturday was also opening day for Little League baseball in out town. This means that on Friday PM we had a pizza party at Andrew's manager's house to make decorations for the parade pick-up truck, and stuffed the ad-booklets with envelopes into bags. On Saturday at 9am we met to distribute them to our assigned block - 180 houses. At 10:30am we assembled for the parade of teams, driving around the town and throwing candy out to the the spectators on the route. Then at the field we had opening ceremonies and the ceremonial first pitch.
At 3pm, our team, the Astros had our first game. We won 17-12. Andrew got three doubles and made several great outs on defense. William also has his first soccer game, winning 3 -1.

It was a wonderful weekend with my family!