Saturday, 30 January 2010

Who are the "saints" ? (2) The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church calendar of some 140 holy people who are to be remembered in prayer (on the anniversary of their death) has been criticized because it is heavily weighted to commemorations of dead white males, most of whom were priests or bishops.

Of course they had to be dead to be included. And there is nothing intrinsically bad about being a white priest or bishop.

But the calendar would leave one to believe that the most important people in the history of the Church were those white male ecclesiastics.

That is manifestly NOT the case, and the Episcopal Church has taken pains to add commemorations of women and of lay people.

It is still a very European and North American focused list, and we scarcely take time each year to think of the “heroes” of the faith from South America, Asia, Africa and even from the Middle East. We are thus impoverished, and led to be forgetful of much of our multi-cultural history.

In the Anglican Communion the Churches decide to honour various folks, but there is no process to “make them” or “declare them” Saints.

In fact, although we are awfully polite about it, we think that the Roman Catholic process of “canonization” is BOGUS! 

More about this tomorrow.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Who are the "saints" ? (1)

The English Reformation severely cut the number of “saints” who were to be recognized in public worship.

The reformers had three concerns.

1. That many of the “saints” were simply legendary figures, or figments of lively imaginations.

2. That many “cults of the saints” detracted from the unique life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

3. That we should remember “saints” because of their example of faith, and not because of their supposed powers of intercessory prayer.

To be on the “safe side” the English reformed Prayer Books: 1552 and 1662, [virtually the same book], restricted commemorations to “biblical” saints” mostly the New Testament apostles; about 20 of them in all. (Eccentrically enough, they also included Michael the Archangel!

They referred to these commemorations as “Holy Days”. Identical commemorations were included in the 1797 American Prayer Book, and in its revision in 1928.

Those commemorated were all men, excepting that two days were devoted to Mary the mother of Jesus.

Mary’s days had to do what “happened to her” rather than what she did. They were the “Annunciation” (when the Archangel Gabriel told her that she would conceive and bear the son of God), and the “Purification” (when Mary observed the Jewish rite of purification after childbirth). Ouch!!!

Some 40 years ago the Episcopal Church came to the conclusion that these 20 commemorations were insufficient and inadequate. So we began to include very many more holy men and women - as of now some 140 in all. We have been very careful NOT to name these as “saints”.

There is no process for “canonization” in the Episcopal Church or for that matter in the Church of England.

I’ll write more tomorrow about this. I’ll suggest that the Episcopal Church list is totally inadequate.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Another day in paradise?

“Another day in paradise”. This is often said by residents of Hawaii and of south Florida at this time of year.

Certainly the temperatures in south west Florida have been kindly today.

Since midnight we’ve experienced a minimum of 47f/8c, and a maximum of 83f/28c.

When I walked Penne at 8:30 p.m./20:30 hrs, the temp was 62f/17c.

It is good to enjoy such warmth in January, and to be able to walk out in short sleeves and shorts at 8:30 p.m./20:30 hrs.

I am merely recording this. I do so without any intention of teasing those whose temperatures have been much lower. There are advantages and disadvantages in daily temperatures whether we live in semi-tropical or temperate climes.

I have grown to love the warmer winters in Florida. But weather alone is not a decisive factor in determining “paradise”.

“Paradise” is all about people. Even in balmy Florida we live alongside many miserable and mean folks, whose every impulse is to create hades.

Conversely there are very many people who live in chilly north America or in northern Europe, whose primary mission is to enable and create paradises.

Paradise is in the soul, not in the climate.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

This Britain

 A lazy blog entry tonight!

The following may be of interest to folks in Great Britain, to British expatriates in many lands, and to  (*) Britophiles throughout the world.

(*)  I had to create this word, since “Anglophile” is too limiting.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Four essential people

Kate is a wonderful woman who comes to my home once a month to clean it. She is one of the best, and after her monthly four hour stint, my home is cleaner than clean. I always plan to be out of the home on her “morning” so that she can dust, vacuum, dry and wet mop without interruption.

Peggy runs a pest exterminating business here in Sarasota. She comes to my home four times a year to “spray” with insect and bug deterrents. (She uses pet-safe and environmentally friendly products).

Claudette is a friend from New York State who is at this moment visiting here in Florida, and staying with my good pal Ben. After an illustrious academic career in Manhattan she had planned for a good retirement with her life partner Doris. But Doris died from the effects of cancer. Rather than sit on the pity-pot, Claudette re-invented herself and now owns a small farm near Pittsfield, MA and Albany, NY. There she grows “heritage” tomatoes and beans, and bakes bread. She has a seasonal farm-stand, and also sells excellent produce to restaurants in her neck of the woods.

Laurel is one of the co-owners of a business known as Florida Native Plants in Myakka, not far from my home. I love to go there either to purchase plants which are Florida natives, or to chat with Laurel.

Kate was cleaning my home this morning, whilst I was at St. Boniface Church for the Tuesday Eucharist and clergy bible study, after which I had lunch with Larry, a fabulous retired Roman Catholic Priest.

Peggy came to my home at 1:00 p.m. to spray for an infestation of fleas which has been bothering my cats and my dog. She warned me in advance that I’d have to evacuate the house for four hours following the anti-flea treatment.

This meant that I, with the pets, would have to be out of the house from 9:00 – 5:00. I put my dear cats (with food and water), into my utility and laundry room, which is discrete and separated from the rest of the house. From 9:00 – 5:00 my dog, Penne was with my good dog-sitter Ron.

After lunch I drove Claudette to the Florida Native plants nursery where I bought some plants to replace those which had been killed in our unusual Florida deep freeze. Claudette and Laurel chatted about “heritage” crops in New York State and in Florida.

The sum of this is that I had a most wonderful and useful day thanks to the work and wisdom of Kate, Peggy, Claudette and Laurel.

What do these four people have in common?

(Hint ..they are not male!)

Monday, 25 January 2010

Upon receipt of a compliment.

I met him as I walked Penne late this afternoon.  He too was walking, but I cannot remember seeing him before.

We greeted each other and he stopped and said “your dog is one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen”.   He continued “I have seen you walking many times, and have always admired your dog”.

We exchanged names.  He is Michael, and so am I.  He made a great fuss of Penne.  She was delighted.

Of course I agreed with him.  Penne walks with great verve - she strides forth with much energy, her tail always a-wagging.

I received his compliment with ne’er a blush.  I am so happy when strangers admire Penne. 

Evolution and G-d bought forth a gorgeous pooch, and I am blessed to have her as my house-mate and walking companion.  The cats also like her.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Profound theology

After the Eucharist this morning at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, FL one of the priests asked me if I’d be willing and able to take holy communion to a parishioner in one of our local hospitals.

Of course I was happy to be asked, and happy to be available to serve.

The parishioner had just had major surgery. He was having a tough time. His wife told me of other family “issues”. She is an in-between woman, caring for an elderly mother, a very sick husband, and an errant teenaged step child.

After while it seemed to be the right time to share in the holy communion. This I did. The sick parishioner got to be very teary eyed.

Communion ended, I announced that I had a profound theological comment about the man’s health.

I said:   “this is so shitty”. Neither husband nor wife disagreed.