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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rector's Rambling - November 1, 2009

Today we deviate once again from the “Sundays after Trinity” in order to celebrate a grand holy day. Today is the Feast of All Saints. On this day we celebrate with great liturgical and musical solemnity all those holy women and men who have gone before us and are now in the presence of God.

The Roman Catholic Church has a very formal process for proclaiming someone a ‘saint’. It involves collecting materials and testimonies, miracles attributed to the deceased’s intercession, and a process from venerable, to blessed, to saint. This process was codified over time to assure the faithful of the holiness of the person being remembered, and to avoid the over-excitement about that holy person developed in local cultus around him or her.

The Anglican Church, particularly our American Episcopal Church, recognizes those early saints of the early church, as well as those recognized by the East and West in more recent times. We also have a ‘process’ to add someone to our calendar to be remembered, usually on the anniversary of their death (their heavenly birthday). This roll of people is commemorated in the Book Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The deceased are proposed to a committee established by the General Convention for investigation, possibly added to the calendar for trial use, and the approved by the Convention itself. Some additions in recent years have, unfortunately been added for political motivation rather than the person’s holiness of life. God is sorting that out.

It may be of interest to note that in our register of services we have the signatures of several American Episcopal “saints”. Bishop Jackson Kemper of Wisconsin consecrated our first Rector here at St. John’s to be his successor. Fr. James Lloyd Breck, founder of 3 seminaries (only Nashotah House remains) and countless parishes, preached and celebrated here, and Fr. James DeKoven, twice elected and then overturned to be a bishop, (for being too traditional) preached our first rector’s funeral here as well. And I would also guess, known to God alone, that many saints have sat in our pews this past 150 years, and some are sitting here now.