Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Breakfast Club

Sometimes the third time may be the charm.  This is, after all, is the third time this post has been published in just as many days.

I wasn't sure whether it actually fit into the 'praylium' world of blogging.

A couple of days ago I was at a rather unusual breakfast gathering.
Around the table sat;
My lovely wife and son.
Myself (who, for the sake of this story, will be referred to as the 'ex-episcopal rector')
A rather eccentric man who hails from Texas--the convener of the breakfast
A recently-fired-church organist, her husband, and son
A recently fired Anglican priest and his wife.

The bond?  The Anglican priest, myself, and the organist all at different times served the same Episcopal congregation and we were all fired.

Before any accusations of gossip and slander are thrown--the breakfast was really more about laughter and perspective-with an occasional horror story thrown in.
While the organist and priest were much closer to their departure date--myself and my family were years out.  I felt bad for them.  I couldn't imagine going through what the others at the breakfast table went through--because when I was fired--the Virgin Mary was already leading us back home.

But here is what I want to talk about...
At one point the Anglican priest asked me, "Do you miss it?"
"Nope."  I quickly answered, then added. "I do miss celebrating Eucharist and hearing confessions."  (Yes Reconciliation is in the Book of Common Prayer--but in my five years I never heard one sacramental confession)
I then went on to talk about how the Episcopal bishop (at that time) wanted me to re-institute the proper celebration of Holy Eucharist at that church on a weekly basis---
"No problem"  I thought.
Boy was I wrong.
When I first arrived at the church I found consecrated Hosts stored in a plastic baggie in the aumbry (tabernacle)
For my remaining time we used a ciborium.

I found out at breakfast that when I left that church--the plastic baggie returned.
If that is true--how sad.

That church is still seeking a new rector.
I hope they find what they are looking for.


Now, the reason I finally decided to share the above story is because of an article I read concerning the population of the Episcopal Church in the United States. Episcopal Church Numbers 

You can make all the necessary connections.




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Really? This will inspire vocations to the priesthood?

I'm not too sure about this one.
The Cathedral of SS Simon and Jude, diocese of Phoenix has disallowed female altar servers.
The rector says the new parish liturgical mandate will inspire more men to become priests.  This smells like clericalism.

Before I begin you need to know two things.
First I am not in favor of woman priests.  Second I'm not even in favor of married priests.  So there you go. Now, let's address the issue at hand.

I know the theology behind the ministry of acolyte--a ministry in priestly formation (one of the passages on the way to receiving ordination--the ministry of acolyte is a 'minor order')  The altar server has it's roots in the ministry of acolyte--but it isn't that ministry.


The rector wants to inspire males to become priests.  Why?  There is obviously a shortage and the priesthood has suffered a certain diminishment during the past decade or two.  In order to fix that the solution is to allow only the male gender around the altar.  

It isn't a matter of females serving at the altar that diminished the priesthood.  No, the church as a whole has done a fine job.  The magisterium, clergy, and laity have shared in the joint venture of that diminishment.
There are men who have discerned that they are called to formation and ordination in the sacred orders--so let's ask the question; Where was their inspiration?  The Holy Spirit?  Mom and Dad and family?  Perhaps a teacher or coach or friend?  Maybe even a priest?
Or was it that no girls were allowed to serve at the altar?

Perhaps fasting and praying and adoration are what need to be fostered.  Perhaps more priests who spend time in the confessionals and go to confession are what need to be fostered.  Perhaps priests doing the work of priests ought to be the visible sign.

 Perhaps what inspires the heart to answer the call isn't 'who is allowed' but who is holy.


By focusing on the gender of altar servers the focus is taken away from what is really occurring on the altar--Christ's becoming present.  That is the center of the priesthood--nothing else.

Oh, and by the way--When I was an active priest, I found that female servers were much more reliable.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Unbelievers

In our 'neck' of the woods (whatever that means)--there is a majority of people who are readying themselves for the start of the academic year.
In my day-- that meant you received a new ruled tablet with glue binding and one #2 pencil that could never write on the tablet because the paper was too cushiony.  For some (except my brother who merely switched between two classrooms for six years) there was a new classroom and new seating.  There may even be a 'new kid'.  It's a mix of excitement and anxiety.

Right now, I'm the newbie at a parish where I recently began some part-time work.
This past weekend I said hello and shook some hands..."Hi, I'm the part-time youth director..."
I don't do well with that kind of stuff--actually the older I get the more difficult it has become.

How many of us have that automatic shut off that is activated whenever a person begins to speak after communion?  Even as a priest I would shut down.  None-the-less I decided to share a quick story (that I had published earlier in this blog).

And so, I preface my request for your prayers for this group with that story...

(The following scene happened to me a few years ago)
The room was filled with about 50 some high schoolers attending a retreat that I was to give.
But I couldn't even get the evening started...

I read the Gospel passage where Jesus was tempted in the desert.

They gave me that blank stare. 
"Crap," I thought "This whole evening is centered on this passage and they're looking at me like I'm some old fart with ten heads."

I put the Bible down and with that my eyes were opened.

"How many of you believe in God?"
There was silence.
"Come on, be honest, we got nothing to lose.  I'm just curious, raise your hand if you believe in the existence of God."
Six hands...out of about 50

"Okay, so lets move to Jesus.  How many believe?"
Four hands.

"Now, what about satan?"
Two.

We spent the next two hours talking about why and what's missing, and what can the Church do, and who goes to Mass, and what is going on at home ...and all that stuff.

WE HAVE FORMED A GENERATION WHERE THE MAJORITY BELIEVE IN NOTHING.

One of the clergy upon hearing this remarked, "Well you know, it was bad weather that night."

Yep, I base my faith on the weather.


Do me a favor today and pray for the youth who will be gathering this evening.

For anyone interested in following the startup and life of a new youth community you can follow them on twitter @stjoesbol











Thursday, August 11, 2011

Search Keyword

St. Michael the Archangel...defend us in battle
...be our safeguard
...against wickedness
...and snares
...and temptations

Most likely because of the title Praylium and a page entitled Satan's Pings this blog receives alot of 'hits' from people who type a variety of searches using keywords like;  temptation, evil, demons and satan..  I am not sure if they are looking to align themselves with darkness, or for information, or a way out of their present condition.
Not a day goes by where this website isn't hit by some searching soul.

Yes, it is a spiritual battle out there, in there, and everywhere---for your soul.

Where you at?
It takes work you know?  Work and prayer.  Whatever works for you--find it and stick with it.  Never let up...cause darkness always comes around and takes advantage of every moment.  The 'father of lies' will mask himself as good and rational.  satan preys on transition times in our lives.  Those are the times when we excuse ourselves more readily.  satan preys on times when our hearts ache and are broken, when we are depressed and when we are anxious.

Give us this day, our daily bread.
Free us from anxiety as we wait in joyful hope...

So, where are you at?  You doing the work?  You climbing the Cross Mountains in your life?  You praying and fasting?
For those of you who searched a key word and got this site---what are you doing with your soul?
The Holy Spirit lead you here--now it's your turn to do something with it.

And here is the Good News...Really Who are you searching for?
No matter how far off the mark we have been or become---Christ is waiting.
Come home.

pray for all who happen upon this site by 'accident'.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Me and St. Pete

I have to admit--I really didn't listen to the priest's homily today.  My lovely wife said it was pretty good.
I was pre-occupied with a thought that hit me at the conclusion of the Gospel.
Here is a snippet...

It was the story of Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on the water towards Jesus.  A storm blew up, Peter lost his concentration, Jesus saved him and then asked him why he had such little faith.

I closed my eyes and imagined my conversation with St. Peter.
"Come on Pete--I mean you have seen how many miracles by now? And you're coming off the feeding of the five thousand--and now Christ is walking to you on the water and you say, 'if it's you--command me', and you're on the water walking man!  Then you become frightened?  What's up with you?
You had everything right before you and you blew it...again."

St. Peter looked at me and quietly said,  "So do you."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An old youth minister and an atheist..

I began another chapter in my ministry 'career' today--still holding onto my imaginary title of being the oldest youth minister in the diocese.
I unlocked the office door and found a place to open the lap top--and I was off.
I set up an email and tweet account, picked some dates for the initial meetings, and started getting some names and numbers.

I sat back in my chair and gazed out the window.  I thought of the first youth ministry I formed many years ago in a diocese far far away.
It was a phenomenal group.  I was a young priest who happened to be at the right parish at the right time.  We did the rallies, retreats, and mission trips-- It was a graced time.
But I didn't do my job.
I didn't teach the faith--good enough.
You see, a few years ago, I heard that one of the members of that original group was now an atheist.
Yeh, I know--it really isn't my fault--but you know what?  It inspired me to do better.

Who knows maybe one of the youth from the past couple of years or one from this about to be formed group will be the one to bring him back?


Jesus did feed five thousand.....


For this newly formed ministry---your prayers are appreciated
you can follow us on twitter @stjoesbol
let us know your prayers are with us.