Saturday, July 01, 2006

Gregory of Nyssa

In his "On the Beatitudes," an excerpt of which is today's patristic reading for Vigils, Gregory of Nyssa writes:

In our human life bodily health is a good thing but this blessing consists not merely in knowing the causes of good health but in actually enjoying it. If a man eulogizes good health and then eats food that has unhealthy effects, what good is his praise of health when he finds himself on a sickbed? Similarly, from the Lord's saying: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God, we are to learn that blessedness does not lie in knowing something about God, but rather in possessing God within oneself.
For those who think that Catholic Faith is all "ritualism" (whatever that is!), here is an Orthodox Catholic Father from the 5th century to show us yet again that Catholic Faith is not all about doing stuff, or knowing stuff, but about being in a relation with Christ. I get so tired of hearing "evangelists" scream that Christianity isn't a religion but a relationship! You don't need to tell us, buddy. We've been there, and we've done that, and we're still at it. Two thousand years of faith and faithfulness---we know what we're doing.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

At the urging of our former bishop, J. Peter Sartain, and having been nominated by members of the order, I will be inducted into the KHS in September in Austin, TX during the meeting of the Southwest Lieutentcy of the KHS. Anyone who knows me knows that my natural humility recoils from such attention ;-) However, while it is a personal honor, it is also an honor to my abbey of Subiaco and this parish of Holy Redeemer.
I must admit, that in the past I have had little concern for the Holy Land, other than the political and humanitarian problems therein that cover the newspapers. Perhaps this is a way to turn my attention to it in a spiritual way. Besides, Christians living in the Holy Land are much more on the edge of life than we here in the US. There is a much greater chance for martyrdom and the dispossession of one's land and property by being a Christian in Israel or Palestine.
The work of the KHS is to assist his beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in spiritual and humanitarian efforts for the people under his jurisdiction. Certainly a worthy thing in our times.
Deus lo vult! (God wills it!)(The Motto of the KHS)

Anglican-Catholic Dialog

With all the troubles besetting the Episcopal church these days, it is good to reflect on more tranquil times. In the early 1980's, Bishop McDonald of Little Rock, and Bishop Herbert Donovan of the (Episcopal) diocese of Arkansas, met and approved a covenant between our two dioceses. This covenant, suitably engrossed, framed, and hung on a wall in one of the chancery buildings, has pretty much become a dead letter.
Its provisions generally meant that the Catholic and Episcopal churches in any town were to work together as much as possible in ecumenical, social-justice, and fellowship concerns, and to pray for each other in the liturgy (Bring back the dyptics, boys!)
Since the first time I was pastor at Holy Redeemer, Fr. Bob Allen of St. Mary's Episcopal and I have tried to fulfill this covenant. We are probably the only two churches in either diocese who do. There should be more. And we should be doing more. However, while the pastors are concerned, that same level of concern for ecumenism doesn't filter down into the pews as much as we'd like.
What we do now, together, is primarily our annual Lenten "Quiet Day." Each year one parish hosts a day of recollection on a Saturday of Lent. The other parish provides the speaker. In the past, some of the speakers that we've provided are Fr. David McKillin, OSB, of Subiaco; Fr. Christopher Shappard, OSB, (deceased) of St. Meinrad Archabbey, and Bishop J. Peter Sartain of our diocese among others. These Lenten Quiet Days have re-introduced both our congregations to the spirtualities of the Church Catholic in a pleasant day of prayer and fellowship.
We also join for Vespers on the Feast of Christ the King (Holy Redeemer's patronal feast). This vesper service has the combined choirs of both parishes. The ministers of the downtown churches are invited to take part in this, along with Fr. Allen.
At least we are doing some of the covenant. Would that it be revitalized when both our dioceses receive their new bishops.

Summer Projects

The pastor's mind (being in constant ferment) is always at work. I suppose that a brick-and-mortar (or brick-and-martyr) pastor is what I've become. From the repair of the north retaining wall, or the building of the new parking lot, or the driveway and carport for the rectory, the dirt is starting to fly.
With the bishop's blessing we bought three new properties. The first was a 100-foot square lot directly across the street from the front door of the church. This will become the new parking lot. It will be a handy access for our older people, if they look both ways before crossing the street!
Dr. Smith's house and office are purchases that round off our property on the west. The house will provide more rental income for the parish, and will, along with about half of the monthly rental income, go to pay the note for the money we borrowed from the diocese for these properties. Being a landlord has been a cash cow for the parish.
But how many souls are being saved?

New Administrator

While our diocese is saddened by the transferral of our bishop, J. Peter Sartain, to Joliet, IL, we are happy that the priest-consultors have chosen Msgr. Gaston Hebert to be our administrators during the sede vacante period. Msgr. Hebert was the former vicar general of our diocese under Bishop Andrew J. McDonald. Let us pray for Msgr. Hebert as he takes up these duties.
Of course, we have no idea how long he will hold this office, since we have no idea when a new bishop will be appointed to Litle Rock. We need to pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in that process.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Getting back to blogging

It's been since the end of December last that I've added any blogs. Busy and lazy, I guess. With the summer, I've decided to get back into it.
This summer we have a seminarian from the diocese of Little Rock staying with us. Jason Sharbaugh will be in the seminary in St. Meinrad this fall. He is a former student of mine from Subiaco back in the early '90's. It's good to have someone other than the old pastor around. I'm surprised that the diocese let him stay with a monk. I promise not to try to snatch this sheep to the monastery. That's not where he is, anyway.
The choir is on vacation for the summer, although they seem to think that their vacation begins on Low Sunday, some of them, anyway.
The heat is tremendous down here. In the high nineties every day. My water bill is going to be high because of my gardens' needs.
I will get back into this blog, I promise.