Sat, 4 August 2018
The Service of Repentance is designed to help believers enter into the spirit of contrition as they prepare for the traditional Rite of Confession. This version consists of the Trisagion prayers, Psalm 50, the Prayer of Manasseh, The Canon of Repentance (abridged), and the the Litany of Repentance. The Canon of Repentance intentionally resembles sections of the Funeral Service.
Sun, 29 July 2018
Today's Gospel (Matthew 14:22-34) includes the powerful image of Christ taming the storm and saving Peter from drowning. Not only has He used this power to bring peace to our lives; He has given us the power - and responsibility - to do it for others. The calm of Christ in us and us in Him must be shared with the world around us!
Sun, 22 July 2018
We have trust backwards, claiming to trust God in the big things (i.e. of the soul) while demonstrating little if any trust God in the little things (i.e. of the body). In His homily on Matthew 14: 14-22, St. John Chrysostom makes the point that the disciples were only ready to believe that Christ was the master of the unseen world after they had learned that he was the master of the things they could see. If we have skipped that first step - as is evidenced when we exhibit no confidence in His ability to rightly govern and bless our bodies and our budgets - it is quite possible that we are fooling ourselves when we say we trust him to rightly govern and bless our souls.
Sun, 15 July 2018
Homily on Romans 15:1-7, focusing on the role of patience in the Christian life.
Sun, 1 July 2018
A meditation on Romans 10:9-10: If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Enjoy the show!
Sun, 24 June 2018
In this (short, Summer) homily for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Fr. Anthony reflects on Romans 6:23; "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Enjoy the show!
Sun, 10 June 2018
It was such a blessing to be back at St. Michael's in Woonsocket. The homily builds on St. Paul's words "there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:11; a wonderful line to remember on "All Saints of [Your Nation] Day") to put the BIG QUESTIONS of the day into perspective.
Sun, 3 June 2018
Sunday of All Saints
Lives of the Saints: every day is an opportunity to learn, and then to remember.
One thing you will notice right away is that the saints were not the same. Some were martyrs, some were soldiers, some were preachers, some were bakers, some were known for their fasting, others for their courage, others for their patience, others for their charity. Some for their piety and others for their dedication.
This is encouraging because we are not all the same. The call to sainthood is not a call to become exactly the same. Growing up, many of us had Mother Theresa as a great example of sainthood; and she is an awesome saint, but could she have been a warrior saint? She certainly had the tenacity and courage, but did she have the physical strength?
Saints are all different because people are all different. Society's need for variation does not go away as it becomes more holy. The Church is the new humanity – the old humanity restored through Christ. But the new humanity still needs to eat, so it has to have virtuous farmers and bakers; it still needs protection so it has to have virtuous soldiers and police; it still needs to learn about the world so it has to have virtuous teachers, peoples' needs still need to be identified and met so we need entrepreneurs and investors. People still get sick so we need medical professionals and administrators.
The thing that makes the lives of the saints different is not what they did or do, but the Spirit in which they do it. The motivation of the saint is not greed or fear or power or attention. The motivation of the saint is to manifest the will of God in every moment. To see what each moment requires and satisfy it with virtue.
The moment requires something different from the baker that from the soldier; something different form the child than from the parent.
So the first charge to you, the saints, priests, and pastors of this parish is to know yourself: and especially your vocation and strengths – and work with God to perfect you and your service.
Perfection is not just some kind of warm fuzzy – I've got God living in my heart – but the ability to bring perfect intent and action into the world.
This leads to the second charge: listen to the moment – and then transform it with perfect action.
You won't always get it right, but if you work at it, you'll get better over time. And it is this kind of grace in action that will save your soul and bring salvation to those around you.
Sun, 27 May 2018
Homily for Pentecost (on Confession)
Lots of powers associated with the Holy Spirit in scripture and popular culture.
But what use are those things?
No practical need for these things (except for a demonstration of God's power).
God desires that all of us have joy; and that we be one in perfection as God is [one in perfection].
What is it that causes the most pain in life? Snakes? Poison? Darkness?
No: the thing that makes life so difficult – and a living hell for many people – is that we are messed up. We are messed up as individuals and when circumstances force us together, we are even more messed up in community. The existential angst of loneliness and societal dysfunction are a result of our brokenness as people and as a people.
God sees that. He knows our pain. He feels it more keenly than we do because he knows everyone's pain that every has been, is, and will ever be.
And so He sent His His Son and the Holy Spirit to comfort and save us.
What is the super-power that the Holy Spirit gives us? Let me two fundamental powers that will make your life better and more joyful.
Because it is what we is truly necessary to bring an end to your pain and to the pain of the world's pain and confusion.
Yes, Confession is the superpower. And it is always available for you to use here at St. Mary's. Throw away the kryptonite of pride, exercise that power of the Holy Spirit through true repentance, and save the world.
Tue, 22 May 2018
Bible Study #36: Ruth
The Book of Ruth
Ruth was a Moabite. Moabites were descendants of Lot. They lived on the East side of the Dead Sea. This history takes place during the time of Judges, about 1300 BC. Ruth, a Gentile, is the great-grandmother of David (and thus an ancestor of Jesus Christ).
Chapter One. The death of husband and sons.
St. Paulinus of Nola. Daughters as a metaphor for The Big Choice. Next pass with eager eyes to Ruth, who with one short book separates eras—the end of the period of the judges and the beginning of Samuel. It seems a short account, but it depicts the symbolism of the great conflict when the two sisters separate to go their different ways. Ruth follows after her holy mother-in-law, whereas Orpah abandons her; one daughter-in-law demonstrates faithlessness, the other fidelity. The one puts God before country, the other puts country before life. Does not such disharmony continue through the universe, one part following God and the other falling headlong through the world? If only the two groups seeking death and salvation were equal! But the broad road seduces many, and those who glide on the easy downward course are snatched off headlong by sin which cannot be revoked.
St. Ambrose of Milan. Ruth as an example for us in the Church. Ruth entered the church and was made an Israelite, and [she] deserved to be counted among God’s greatest servants; chosen on account of the kinship of her soul, not of her body. We should emulate her because, just as she deserved this prerogative because of her behavior, [we] may be counted among the favored elect in the church of the Lord. Continuing in our Father’s house, we might, through her example, say to him who, like Paul or any other bishop, [who] calls us to worship God, your people are my people, and your God my God.
Chapter Two. Ruth and Boaz meet.
Ruth's virtue include hard work and humility; but they worked with grace to bless her.
Romans 11:19-24. You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.
Ephesians 2:11-16. Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall[a] of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.
The Orthodox Study Bible argues that the meal Ruth is invited to represents the Eucharist (ft 2:14).
What a beautiful blessing; “And Na′omi said to her daughter-in-law, 'Blessed be he by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!'” Ruth 2:21.
Chapter Three. The Threshing Floor.
St. John Chrysostom. Virtue. Those things which happened to Ruth should be seen as figures. For she was an outsider and had fallen into extreme penury; but Boaz, seeing her, did not despise her on account of her poverty, nor was he horrified on account of her impiety; even as Christ received the church, who was both a stranger and laboring, in need of great good things. Ruth is not joined with her consort before forsaking her parents and her nation and her native land: never was anyone so much ennobled by marriage. Thus the church was not made loveable to her spouse before she had forsaken her prior customs. The prophet says, “Forget your people.”
Chapter Four. Happily ever after.
Ephraim the Syrian. In praise of virtue. Let Tamar rejoice that her Lord has come, for her name announced the son of her Lord, and her appellation called you to come to her. By you honorable women made themselves contemptible, [you] the One who makes all chaste. She stole you at the crossroads, [you] who prepared the road to the house of the kingdom. Since she stole life, the sword was insufficient to kill her. Ruth lay down with a man on the threshing floor for your sake. Her love was bold for your sake. She teaches boldness to all penitents. Her ears held in contempt all [other] voices for the sake of your voice. The fiery coal that crept into the bed of Boaz went up and lay down. She saw the Chief Priest hidden in his loins, the fire for his censer. She ran and became the heifer of Boaz. For you she brought forth the fatted ox. She went gleaning for love of you; she gathered straw. You repaid her quickly the wage of her humiliation: instead of ears [of wheat], the Root of kings, and instead of straw, the Sheaf of Life that descends from her.
Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.