Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 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

Monday, January 28, 2013

St. Blase - Teaching note for 2/3/13

St. Blase
Today we commemorate one of my favorite saints days - the Feast of St. Blase. Yes, this is the saint where we have the Blessing of Throats. We will bless throats after the 8am and 10am Mass in the Chapel. Below is some information to let you know about him, and about the custom of blessing throats. Why is he a favorite? Perhaps it is the fond memories of being bundled up as a kid and brought to Church for a special weekday service in February to have my throat blessed - it made a deep impression on me!
St. Blase is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers; which same are certain Saints reputed to have a special power of intercession in heaven on behalf of those in peril or suffering on earth. According to the common tradition, they were all martyrs, except St. Giles. The Seven Holy Helpers are Acaius (against False Accusations), Barbara (Fire and Lightning), Blase (Ailments of the Throat), Catherine of Alexandria (learned peoples), Christopher (travelers), Cyriacus (for Clergy), Denys (mental illness), Erasmus (intestinal problems), Eustace (hunters and those with dangerous jobs), George (soldiers), Giles (good workmen, beggars and cripples), Margaret (the fearful), Pantaleon (those who care for the sick), and Vitus (limb infirmaties).

Devotion to the Holy Helpers is an evidence of belief in the spiritual commonwealth of those on earth with the Saints in Heaven.

The following of St. Blase is widespread because of the blessing of throats on his Feast Day. The legend is that on the eve of his martyrdom, Blasé healed a young man who was dying from having a thorn lodged in his throat. Blasé died in the 316.
From The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Press, 1965 p. 1102.

The Blessing of Throats is a request for God’s healing power through the gift of healing intercession given to St. Blase. Just as many people here on earth exhibit special graces given to them by God the Holy Ghost (healing, teaching, speaking in tongues), so too the Church teaches that some Saints continue that gift in heaven by God’s mercy.

-gesima time - Rector's Rambling 2/3/13

As of last week we are back in the purple.  We have begun the pre-Lenten season known as the –gesima Sundays.   Being the suffix after Septua -, Sexima -, and Quinqua -, it is a system of counting time until what is known as Passiontide, or the last two weeks before Easter (Latin for 7, 6, and 5).

              We are ‘calendar’ people in the Episcopal Church, and we celebrate seasons, not just Holy Days.  We mark time with the liturgical calendar through Advent (4 Sundays before Christmas), Christmastide (12 Days) and then Epiphanytide.  The Epiphany Season varies in length depending on when Easter occurs which is set is with formula based on the full moon after March 21, but not if it is a Sunday, and a ’golden number’ (see the four paragraph explanation on page lii in the Book of Common Prayer).  After the –gesima’s we have Lent (40 days), Eastertide (40 days), Ascensiontide (9 days), Whitsuntide (8 days) and then into the Trinity/Ordinary season again.

So although we are in the purple and preparing for Lent, it isn’t the full blown Lenten discipline and starkness.  But I encourage you to begin now thinking of ways that you will be keeping an holy Lent this year, and begin making preparations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Annual Parish Meeting.

As I write this on Monday I am sitting in the church office, listening to the President and Vice President of United States take their oaths of office, and musing upon the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this his national holiday.
A few years ago I came across an interesting fact about Dr. King and a connection to St. John’s.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was hosted at a luncheon here at St. John's on May 15th, 1958 by then Rector I.C. Johnson and the parish. He preached later in the day at St. Pauls' Cathedral. It was a part of a diocesan conference on the Church and Race.  Additionally,  as with so many parades and rallies up and down Woodward, he passed in front of St. John’s as he led a march in 1963,  pictured here. 
Today we do something out of the ordinary.  Although we usually have our Annual Parish Meeting on the last Sunday in January, the vestry decided it needed two more weeks in order to prepare properly.  Since Diocesan canon calls for the meeting to happen in January, we have been advised by the Bishop’s office that we can open the meeting today during the 10am Service, and then immediately recess the meeting until February 10 at which time we will continue and complete the business of the meeting. 
God willing, by next week will have the Annual Parish Meeting booklet published for you to pick up on Sunday and take home with you to read over before the meeting.
I cannot stress more strongly how important it is that ALL parishioners participate in the Annual Parish Meeting.  This is YOUR parish, and it is important that you understand the financial position of the parish, and elect her leadership.