Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 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 new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy St. Michael and All Angels Day!!!

Although we will keep the Feast on Sunday at St. John's, today is officially the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. Here is a prayer, asking St. Michael's protection in the battle against the spiritual forces of this world (the elemental spirits under the domain of Satan!) that seek to deceive us and turn us away from serving the Good God!

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host
-by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

But if you want something more powerful....try the original prayer, of which the paragraph above is only the ending section. It is spiritually informative as well!

O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of theheavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, and spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of the Lord, togetherwith the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist Thee, nor was the replace for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss withhis angels.

Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men hastaken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men; his depraved mind, corrupt heart, his spirit oflying, impiety, blasphemy, his pestilential breath of impurity and of every vice and iniquity. These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate Thee as their protector and patron; in Thee Holy Church glories asher defense against the malicious power of hell; to Thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men incaptivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil andSatan, do Thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered, hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name, and we humbly implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel St. Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.
Pope Leo XIII, 1888

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Opening Day? No, a Thursday in September!

In years past, a Thursday Tiger day game in September would draw about 5, maybe 6,000 people. Now with the Tigers heading toward the playoffs there are over 28,000 people at Comerica Park right now. The parking lot is full, and lots of folks going to the game, albeit in sweatshirts, etc. due to the fall temperatures in the 50's.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The banner returns!

After being taken down for window restoration and other work being done around the building, our PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS AND LIONS banner has returned - just in time for the last week of the regular season AND for the post-season!

Additionally, we will have a PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS service, playoff edition, on Sunday, October 1st at 11:45am, after the 10am Service. This is the day of the last game of the regular season. It has been a long time since the Tigers have played in the 'second season' (19 years).

Oh, and the 10am Service should be interesting because it is our Blue Mass for law enforcement personnel. We have invited officers from the surrounding departments to join us. We could have 10 officers here, or 100 - who knows!

So we look forward to a busy Sunday with our regular worship, special guests, and the excitement of the Tiger prayer service and the last game of the regular season taking place 250 yards away at 1pm!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Putting our house up for sale

We've decided we could use a few extra square feet around us, as the family grows, and so we are putting our house on the market. No, we are NOT leaving St. John's - we are actually looking at new houses in the same town we live in!

The person who initially said they were interested in buying it had to back down, and of course we have now looked around and seen houses we like and can afford (assuming we can sell this one), so we are taking the plunge and putting it on the market.

So is there anyone out there who is interested in buying it before we put it on the market this week? (or anytime afterwards, for that matter)
We love this house, and have really taken care of it over the last five years, and improved it in many ways too.

Here are the basic specs and a few photos (more photos to come later)....

1335 Beaconsfield, Grosse Pointe Park, MI

1500 Square Feet (first and second floor)
plus 500 more square feet of wonderfully finished basement space (family room and laundry room) plus a large workroom and storage room in the basement too (done in 2002)!
4 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms
Newer 1.5 car detached garage
Air Conditioning
Newer Roof (2000)
Hardwood floors on first and second floor
Beautifully renovated front porch (new wood 2006)
New Wallside windows, all updated grounded electrical

The first two photos are of the Living Room

This is the dining room, looking from the living room toward the kitchen


Monday, September 18, 2006

More reason to pray for conversions......

From the Breitbart News Service......
Hundreds of angry Iraqis demonstrated against the pope in this southern Iraqi port city on Monday, burning him in effigy and calling for an apology.
The 500 protestors, followers of Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hassani, a mystical Shiite Muslin cleric, also burned German and American flags and called for the pope to be tried in an international court.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq warned in an Internet statement Monday that it will wage jihad, or holy war, until the West is defeated.
"We say to the servant of the cross (the pope): wait for defeat... We say to infidels and tyrants: wait for what will afflict you. We continue our jihad. We will not stop until the banner of unicity flies throughout the world," said the statement attributed to the Mujahedeen consultative council.
"We will smash the cross," it added, promising Muslims they would "conquer Rome... as they conquered Constantinople."
Another armed group linked to Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sunna (Partisans of the Precepts of the Prophet), threatened in a website statement to attack the West -- Italy in particular.
Calling the pope "Satan's hellhound in the Vatican," the statement addressed to "Crusaders" said: "The day is coming when the armies of Islam will destroy the ramparts of Rome."
In Tehran, Iran's supreme leader Khamenei linked the pope's remarks to caricatures published in a Danish newspaper last year deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoons set off deadly protests in the Muslim world.
"Leaders of the arrogant imperialists have already defined the links of the chain in this US-Zionist project by attacking Iraq," Khamenei said.
"The issue of insulting cartoons and remarks of some politicians about Islam are different links in the conspiracy of the crusaders and the pope's remarks are the latest links in this," he added.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis

Before the day slips away, I wanted to wish everyone a blessed Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. Here is the legend from the "official" biography of St. Francis, written by St. Bonaventure.

Two years before Francis, the faithful servant of Christ, gave his soul back to God, he was alone on the top of Mt. Alverna. There he had begun a fast of forty days in honor of the archangel Michael and was immersed more deeply than usual in the delights of heavenly contemplation. His soul became aglow with the ardor of fervent longing for heaven as he experienced within himself the operations of grace.
As he was drawn aloft through ardent longing for God one morning near the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and was praying on the mountainside, he saw what appeared as a seraph with six bright wings gleaming like a fire descending from the heights of heaven. As this figure approached in swift flight and came near the man of God it appeared not only winged but also crucified. The sight of it amazed Francis and his soul experienced joy mingled with pain. He was delighted with the sight of Christ appearing to him so graciously and intimately and yet the awe-inspiring vision of Christ nailed to the cross aroused in his soul a joy of compassionate love.
When the vision vanished after a mysterious and intimate conversation it left Francis aglow with seraphic love in his soul. Externally, however, it left marks on his body like those of the Crucified as if the impression of a seal had been left on heated wag. The figures of the nails appeared immediately on his hands and feet. The heads of the nails were inside his hands but on top of his feet with their points extending through to the opposite side. His right side too showed a blood-red wound as if it had been pierced by a lance, and blood flowed frequently from it.
Because of this new and astounding miracle unheard of in times past, Francis came down from the mountain a new man adorned with the sacred stigmata, bearing in his body the image of the Crucified not made by a craftsman in wood or stone , but fashioned in his members by the hand of the living God.

As a Third Order Franciscan I keep these feasts close to my heart. The thought of how Francis desired to indentify so closely and intimately with our Lord's Passion that he bore, by miraculous apparition, the marks of His Crucifixion and its accompanying pain!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The irony of the reaction

I find it ironic the reaction by some muslims to Pope Benedict's recent statement. Quoting a 14th Century dialogue between a Christian Prince and a Muslim, as the vatican statement asserts "The message he is sending is very, very clear," Taft said. "Violence in the name of faith is never acceptable in any religion and that (the pope) considers it his duty to challenge Islam and anyone else on this."

But the reaction to pointing out the violence of what is asserted is a 'peaceful' religion was to rile up followers at Friday worship so they would go out and protest and riot. The reaction of the followers of 'peaceful' religion is
"The pope and Vatican proved to be Zionists and that they are far from Christianity, which does not differ from Islam. Both religions call for forgiveness, love and brotherhood," Shiite cleric Sheik Abdul-Kareem al-Ghazi said during a sermon in Iraq's second-largest city, Basra.

Which leads to
In the West Bank, firebombs left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of a Greek Orthodox and an Anglican church in the city of Nablus. In a phone call to The Associated Press, a group calling itself the "Lions of Monotheism" claimed responsibility.


Does anyone else see the irony? The one they claim is the prophet of peace, when put in a cartoon with bombs, some riot and destroy over it? And now this? In another article I saw yesterday, which I can't find now, there was a quote by a Muslim leader saying they would never say anything to discredit the prophet Jesus. Yet by deigning His Divinity they do so every time they mention him! Yet no one expects to see Christians heading into the streets protesting and bombing mosques!

There is a solution which seems to continue to be overlooked. If we believe Jesus Christ is Lord (and He is!), and He is the Truth (He is!), and that he has commissioned us to go out into the world and tell the entire world he is Lord (the great commission) baptizing them...then anything that contradicts that is wrong! He cannot be the Son of God and NOT the Son of God at the same time.

The LEAST we should be doing is praying regularly for the conversion of the world to Christ and His Church! Be assured the Muslims would love to convert us (whether by the sword as some claim the Koran says, or not) - read Jill Carrolls account of the pressure on her to convert in her captivity, chronicled in the Christian Science Monitor.

Here is a Prayer Book Collect to get started! p. 38

Almighty God, whose compassions fail not, and whse loving-kindness reachest unto the world's end; We give thee humble thanks for opening heathen lands to the light of thy truth; for making paths in the deep waters and highways in the desert; and for planting thy Church in all the earth. Grant, we beseech thee, unto us thy servants, that with lively faith we may labour abundantly to make known to all men thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

S.S.C. – Society of the Holy Cross

The SSC is An order for priests in the Anglican Communion, of which I and my assistant Fr. Bedford are members. So are 3 other priests of the Diocese of Michigan. Below is the 'teaching note' for this Sunday about the SSC
SSC stands for Societas Sanctae Crucis - the Society of the Holy Cross. The Society was founded in London in 1855 by a small group of priests led by Father Charles Lowder. Fr Lowder spelled out the objects of SSC: ‘To defend and strengthen the spiritual life of the clergy, to defend the faith of the Church, and to carry on and aid Mission work both at home and abroad.’

The Society has now spread throughout the world and is organised in autonomous Provinces under Provincial Masters elected by their Brethren. Priests of the Society live under a common Rule and meet together in their local SSC Chapters every month or two for prayer, Mass and some kind of study or conversation. Presiding over the Society worldwide is a Master-General who has a special responsibility to ensure an on-going fidelity among the Brethren to the spirit of the Society.

SSC is not a devotional guild, but takes its stance upon a shared vision of ‘a disciplined priestly life fashioned after a definite spiritual rule.’ It is this Rule of Life which unites the Brethren in their various priestly ministries and lives. They are required to ‘consider their obligation to the Society as a close spiritual bond...which takes precedence to that of any other voluntary society.’ This obligation includes a commitment to attend local SSC Chapter meetings and annual Regional and Provincial Synods. The life of the Society is experienced primarily through the local Chapter, and attendance at Chapter is of obligation unless prevented by genuine pastoral duties.

Priests of the Society can be recognized by the small gold lapel cross that they generally wear. On it is inscribed the motto of the Society - in hoc signo vinces - in this sign, conquer!

Happy Holy Cross Day!

September 14th is the Feast of the Exhaultation of the Holy Cross, set on the date when Ss. Helena and Constantine's Church over Calvary in Jerusalem was dedicated. It is a reminder that through the hard wood of the Cross Jesus has redeemed the world! As the Proper Preface in the American Missal for Passiontide says, "and that he who by a tree once conquered (the devil using the fruit of the forbidden tree in the garden - ed), might also by a tree (the Cross) be overcome.

Here is a portion of my favorite hymn for Passiontidc from Venantius Honorius Fortunatius (d. 569), english version by J.M. Neale

Faithful cross! above all other
One and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be:
Sweetest wood, and sweetest iron!
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor
That they birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heav'nly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

a larger house

When I became rector of St. John's 5 1/2 years ago, we purchased our current house (the church has not owned a rectory in a long time), it seemed plenty large for us, having 5 year old, 3 1/2 year old, and 6 month old sons. Now that the boys are 10, 8 1/2, and 6 and we've added Meg to the mix, the house feels REALLY small!

So we have begun the chore of looking around for a new house. We want to stay in the current town we live in since we are embedded in the community already. I am certainly (God willing) staying as St. John's, and hope to do so for a LONG time. We just want something larger to live in, in decent shape, and in our price range.

So far we have visited 8 houses. We thought that one of them might be it last visits, but on a second visit to the house, as much as we loved the curb appeal and charm, it was too formal and not laid out really well for a family of 6.

On a lark, and at the recommendation of another agent, we looked at a house in probate. From the outside it is nothing impressive, and the inside needs LOTS of cosmetic work. But we like the lay out, the 5 bedrooms, and the location. We are going to arrange for another walk through soon. I saw it twice today (once with a contractor friend and his brother, once with my wife), and want to see it again.

The biggest delay in buying a house, in what is a buyer's market here in Southeast Michigan, is that we have a house to sell. But while discussing the possibility with some friends of moving, the woman we bought the house from walked into the discussion, and announced she would like to buy the house back from us! Her circumstances have changed over the past 5 years, and she would like to have this house back! So as she works on the financing, we shop. God willing, in the next week or two we will know whether we are actually moving any time soon, or not.

Say a prayer for us: for discernment, patience, and our buyer Beth's financial arrangements. If she cannot purchase, we may just stay in this house for while longer.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Overheard recently at a social event

A parishioner relays a story that at a social event two people were talking about their local ECUSA parish, with which they were unhappy. The two people talking did not go into details as to why they were unhappy, but it is a parish that has gone through some turmoil in recent years as it has turn much more theologically inventive. Then one person was overheard saying to the others, "You could try St. John's downtown", to which the other answered, "oh no, I couldn't do that, they are to strict down there. I prefer to pick and chose the parts of religion I want to believe."


Perhaps we should pray she will pick and choose Jesus, His Church, and the fullness of faith in Him as a part of religion she likes best - sooner rather than later (or too late)! Rather than strict, she might actually find it liberating from the tyranny of self!

We remember - 9/11

It has been an exhausting two days, remembering the events of 9/11/01. After thinking I wouldn't, I watched nearly all 3 hours of the ABC mini-series about the events leading up to 9/11. Earlier in the weekend I caught snippets of various shows about the attacks on The History Channel. Today I participated in the Detroit Police/Fire Departments Memorial Service at Campus Martius Park, and we had our 12:15pm service at St. John's, with the opportunity to pray for those who have died, their families, and our country. Afterwards I went to Roll Call at Central District (I am a DPD chaplain) and the officers and I mused upon the events of 9/11 and how precious and fragile life is, as well as the presence of evil!

I guess I will watch the end of the mini-series tonight and then offer it all up in prayer before going to bed tonight.

May God have mercy on us all!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Soggy Tiger Game

When I have noticed the DPD officers working the Tiger Games, I have thought about what a neat detail that must be. But here, Ofc P. Collins, shows a downside! The game started sunny, then had a 2 1/2 hour rain delay due to thunderstorms. The delay started just as the Tigers tied it up in the 8th. They then lost in the 10th.

Best wishes to Dmitri Young, who was released by the team yesterday. I pray he stays clean and sober through this transition.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bl. David Pendleton Oakerhater

Today we commemorated Deacon David Pendleton Oakerhater (feast date - September 1), a Cheyenne Indian warrior who converted to Christianity in prison, and went on to evangelize his people to Jesus Christ. The Lesser Feasts and Fasts, the hagiography book for ECUSA, lists this great speech when he returned, converted to his people.

You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all He tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace.

In an age of Political Correctness, when we are told to 'respect' others traditions (did you know the "Our God is Mother" billboard was supposed to appeal to Native Americans?), it is refreshing to rejoice in one who turned from the error of his people's religion, and brought the Truth of Jesus Christ to them to lead them out of error as well.

For more info on Deacon Oakerhater you can go to

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Labor Day

I hope everyone has a blessed Labor Day today. Our neighbor, Jeff, works for the UAW HQ and should be heading down to the parade today. In other years the Unions have had downtown Woodward to themselves, but this year they share it not only with the Jazz Fest, but with the Tigers fans, who are playing at 1pm today and should start filling the parking lot by 11am.

As for our Labor Day plans....some chores around the house, a last of the season dip in the community pool, and bbq later this afternoon (it is not Memorial Day or Labor Day without burgers on the grill).

Friday, September 01, 2006

The volume of water in a minute

Last night, when I pulled up the sprayer nozzle to rinse something in the sink, it clipped the supply line to the regular faucet.

It is remarkable how much water sprays under your sink, onto the floor, and through the pipe holes into the basement in the minute it takes to turn off the water supply. Geesh!

So this morning, off to the hardware store at 9am for a new supply line, which I upgraded from the basic plastic one to a braided one. Basic sink plumbing, and replacing the flush mechanism is about the extent of my plumbing know-how...but vital to avoiding expensive visits from a licensed plumber!