Thursday, September 29, 2005

a michaelmas prayer

St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. We humbly beseech God to command him. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


By way of AC Ruminations.

i've been 'tagged'

I'm not sure what being tagged means. But J-Tron has tagged me. I am going to work on the assumption that I should list five of my idosyncracies, as I see them.

1. Not wearing socks when I don't have to.
2. Singing ridiculous, made-up songs.
3. Trying to be obedient to Catholic Christianity (idiosyncratic among Episcopalians).
4. Sleeping only with a duvet (I'm stretching here).
5. An inordinate love of mayonnaise, especially upon tomatoes.

michaelmas or st. michael and all angels

What is the value to us of remembering the Holy Angels? Well, since they appear to excel us in both knowledge and power, they remind us that, even among created things, we humans are not the top of the heap. Since it is the common belief that demons are angels who have chosen to disobey God and to be His enemies rather than His willing servants, they remind us that the higher we are the lower we can fall. The greater our natural gifts and talents, the greater the damage if we turn them to bad ends. The more we have been given, the more will be expected of us. And, in the picture of God sending His angels to help and defend us, we are reminded that apparently God, instead of doing good things directly, often prefers to do them through His willing servants, enabling those who have accepted His love to show their love for one another.

Read all about angels and angelology here.

Holy Mihcael, pray for us!
Holy Gabriel, pray for us!
Holy Raphael, pray for us!
Holy Uriel, pray for us!

All you holy angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim, pray for us and defend us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

litany from my ordination

Beloved, click here and listen to the litany from my ordination. My very own father is the litanist (i.e. is chanting the litany). The tone-deafness manifest in the audio foreground is my bishop, God bless him.


a great day for science

For decades, scientists and sea explorers have mounted costly expeditions to hunt down and photograph the giant squid, a legendary monster with eyes the size of dinner plates and a nightmarish tangle of tentacles lined with long rows of sucker pads.


But in an article to be published Wednesday in a leading British biological journal, two Japanese scientists, Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori, report that they have made the world's first observations of a giant squid in the wild.

Working some 600 miles south of Tokyo off the Bonin Islands, known in Japan as the Ogasawara Islands, they managed to photograph the creature with a robotic camera at a depth of 3,000 feet. During a struggle lasting more than four hours, the 26-foot-long animal took the proffered bait and eventually broke free, leaving behind an 18-foot length of tentacle.

Read the whole thing here. I am very excited about this. We can lay aside our theological differences, and all rally 'round this momentous day in the history of science!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

ct six file suit against everyone in sight

Six Episcopal Churches, their elected officers [wardens and vestries], a number of parish communicants, and five priests in Connecticut today filed a civil complaint against Andrew Smith, Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut; the Diocese of Connecticut; Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold; and nine other individuals and/or entities. The lawsuit accuses the 12 defendants of working together to infringe upon the rights of the plaintiffs in violation of the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. In addition to these federal issues, the complaint outlines multiple violations of Connecticut statutes.

The civil suit follows months of theological dispute and hostile actions by Bishop Smith, who stands in “opposition to traditional Christianity and Anglican teaching.” Bishop Seabury Church, Groton; Christ Church, Watertown; Christ & The Epiphany Church, East Haven; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Darien; Trinity Church, Bristol; and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, have consistently supported traditional Christian belief and teaching regarding human sexuality, also upheld by the Four Instruments of Anglican Unity. In light of the serious conflict, the six churches requested alternative episcopal oversight, a request denied by Bishop Smith. Central to the complaint is the contention that Bishop Smith’s actions are motivated by a desire to impose “his own singular views of canon law, church polity and theology” on the congregations and clergy because they reject his revisionist views on theology, particularly on human sexuality.

“We have been left with no choice but to seek intervention by the civil courts in order to protect our constitutional rights and serve our congregations without interference and harassment,” said the Rev. Christopher Leighton, rector of St. Paul’s, Darien. “We are being punished for upholding Biblical truth as well as Anglican teaching, faith and practice, and our ability to proclaim the Gospel is being dramatically hindered.”

The suit asserts that the State of Connecticut has given special legal status to the constitutions and canons of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut not provided to all religions and charitable entities. Such incorporation of Episcopal constitutional and canonical components into Connecticut statutes effectively codifies them as civil law. The complaint alleges that the state of Connecticut “has entangled itself in every aspect of the temporal and certain aspects of the spiritual, operations of all the Episcopal parishes” such that Bishop Smith and other defendants represent the government in their actions. This blending of state and church violates the First Amendment prohibition against government establishment of a religion and the Fourteen Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law, thereby supporting a claim of “state action” in respect to civil rights.

The comprehensive and multifaceted complaint outlines numerous actions of Bishop Smith and the other defendants which deprived the congregations, clergy, wardens and vestries of their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, association, inquiry and thought, property, privacy, due process of law, and equal protection of the law. The suit asserts that the effect of these various violations resulted in “chilling” their right to freedom of religion.

Specifically, the complaint states that Bishop Smith, and those in concert with him, fraudulently charged the six clergy with “abandonment of communion,” which is not only a misuse of the canon but also denies them the due process of ecclesiastical trials. The suit contends that these charges were made with the intent “to defraud the Plaintiff-Parishes of their assets.” In addition, there are allegations that Bishop Smith and other defendants interfered with the fiduciary relationship between three of the parishes and entities holding investment accounts, unlawfully preventing disbursement of funds as requested by Bishop Seabury Church, Christ Church, and Christ & the Epiphany Church. The complaint outlines numerous counts of fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty, actions which violate the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).

The suit also lists unlawful actions against St. John’s Church, Bristol, including: trespass, seizing church property, fraudulently claiming ownership of the church and all its assets, and appointing a parish administrator and priest-in-charge, thereby usurping legal and canonical rights of the wardens and vestry. The charges include seizing private and confidential parish records, actions violating privacy laws; committing assault and battery against the parish secretary; and using tactics of harassment and intimidation against church staff and vestry members. The suit declares that the defendants changed locks in order to deny access to the church staff, wardens, vestry and congregation, preventing them from conducting both business and worship. In addition, defendants are accused of disabling the parish website, redirecting it to the diocese’s website, and then transferring the domain name. The complaint also says that Bishop Smith’s agents falsely represented his authority and that the bishop is preventing the congregation’s access to their bank accounts and post office box.

The complaint asserts that Bishop Griswold “aided and abetted” the Diocese of Connecticut by refusing to intervene when notified of the false “abandonment of communion” charges and the illegal seizure of St. John’s, noting that his failure to respond constitutes an endorsement of Smith’s alleged misconduct. Further, the suit states that the Presiding Bishop “provided support and resources” for Smith.

The plaintiffs seek relief and judgment in a jury trial on all matters cited in the complaint as well as punitive damages.

Read the whole thing here. Via T19.

Oh Beloved, this is absolutely awful. I'm not saying that it is not necessary. Perhaps it is; I don't know all the facts of the case. But even if it is necessary, its necessity is itself awful. Baleful repentance is called for. From everyone. If the unchurched see anything, they see this bickering. What an atrocious witness to the gospel of our Lord. What sinfulness. What dereliction.

exceptions make the no-gays rule

THE forthcoming Vatican document on gays in seminaries will unleash a wrenching debate about Catholicism and homosexuality, but one thing it is certain not to mean is that in the future there will be no gays in the priesthood. The continued presence of gays in the priesthood will be the product not just of difficulties in enforcement, or the dishonesty of potential candidates, but also of design.

Although this is a difficult point for many Anglo-Saxons to grasp, when the Vatican makes statements like "no gays in the priesthood," it doesn't actually mean "no gays in the priesthood." It means, "As a general rule, this is not a good idea, but we all know there will be exceptions."


On background, some such officials have said that the point of the forthcoming document is to challenge the conventional wisdom in the church, which holds that as long as a prospective priest is capable of celibacy, it doesn't matter whether he's gay or straight. Vatican policymakers and some American bishops believe that's naïve. In an all-male environment, they contend, a candidate whose sexual orientation is toward men faces greater temptations and hence a greater cause for concern.

Read the whole thing here. I'm not sure how accurate this all is, but one hopes that it is accurate-ish. There certainly should be pastoral concern for gays living in close quarters in an all male environment. But I reiiterate my view that homosexuality is like any other sexual sin, and I doubt anyone out there is immune from sexual temptations of one sort or another. If its true that homosexuality should not be viewed as especially problematical, and that we are all tempted sexually in various ways, then that one is prone to temptaion (of any sort) ought not, of itself, bar one from the priesthood.

Monday, September 26, 2005

father matthew fox should be excommunicated

Thanks to J-Tron for bringing Matthew Fox's "95 Theses" and commentary to us. Its so cool that Anglicanism allows such people to go around teaching with the Church's authority.

Why is Jack Spong still taking his place in the councils of the Church? Why is he not excommunicated? In what sense are these people Christians?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

new vatican rule said to bar gays as new priests

ROME, Sept. 21 - Homosexuals, even those who are celibate, will be barred from becoming Roman Catholic priests, a church official said Wednesday, under stricter rules soon to be released on one of the most sensitive issues facing the church.

The official, said the question was not "if it will be published, but when," referring to the new ruling about homosexuality in Catholic seminaries, a topic that has stirred much recent rumor and worry in the church. The official, who has authoritative knowledge of the new rules, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the church's policy of not commenting on unpublished reports.

Read the whole thing here. I think this is terrible. I think this is a scapegoating overreaction, and I pray it doesn't come to pass as they are saying it will.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

blessed wal-mart

If you mention the Red Cross or FEMA to people in Slidell, you hear rants about help that didn’t arrive and phone lines that are always busy. If you mention state or national politicians, you hear obscenities.

But if you visit the Wal-Mart and the Sam’s Club stores here, you hear shoppers who have been without power for weeks marveling that there are still generators in stock (and priced at $304.04). You hear about the trucks that rolled in right after the hurricane and the stuff the stores gave away: chain saws and boots for rescue workers, sheets and clothes for shelters, water and ice for the public.

“This was the only place we could find water those first days,” said Rashan Smith, who was shopping with her three children at Wal-Mart on Saturday. “I still haven’t managed to get through to FEMA. It’s hard to say, but you get more justice at Wal-Mart.”

That’s the same assessment you hear from public officials in Louisiana, and there’s even been talk of letting Wal-Mart take over FEMA’s job. The company already has its own emergency operations center, where dozens of people began preparing for the hurricane the week before it hit by moving supplies and trucks into position.

Read the whole thing here. Via T19. I remember reading in an article in the campus newspaper a few years ago how criticism of the faceless, greedy maw of Wal-Mart can overlook one important fact: they provide a lot of (relatively) high quality stuff, really, really cheaply. That's a boon to poor people. This story is a case in point.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Oh God, my God,
What the sound of a sparrow falling?
And How do you pronounce my name?
How do my hands look today?
What do I think, anyway?

And what to rejoice in the joy of a servant?
…to send the fumbling astray?
What to hear ‘Lord’ from those who accuse you?
What the sight of body breaking?
What the site of repose in smoke,
What the sound of bad hymns singing?
What the relief of your man’s extending, ‘your sins are put away?’

What the princely approaching of your glorious Son,
The adoration of His Mother,
The willed awaiting of His Bride?
What the sound of baptismal waters rushing,
First Communion taking,
Novel dedicating,
Sinners found lamenting,
Lovers’ best uniting,
Priesthood-souls marking,
Death’s dying abetting?
Oh God, my God, I want to know.

(A Poem for WB)

Monday, September 19, 2005

'let me go to the house of the father'

ROME, Sept. 18 - The Vatican has published a meticulous account of Pope John Paul II's final days, vividly describing his last hours and providing an official chronology of his death.


A Mass was offered in his room on the morning of his death, April 2, At 3:30 that afternoon, "with a very weak voice and mumbled words, in the Polish language, the holy father asked 'let me go to the house of the Father.' " Just before 7:00 p.m. he slipped into a coma, and "according to a Polish tradition, a small lighted candle illuminated the gloom of the room, where the pope was expiring," the report said.

Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz said a final Mass, and at 9:37 p.m., the 84-year-old pope died while a crowd of thousands prayed for him outside in St. Peter's Square. John Paul's doctor ran an electrocardiogram for 20 minutes to verify his death, the report said.

From today's NY Times. Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

more from flickr

WB's priesting
Originally uploaded by gwbrark.
Hoozah. Come browse.

flickr rss photo stream

Hopefully this will work. Still more forthcoming. BTW, blogger seems to be acting up for some reasons. Its become extremely difficult to post with Firefox. I'm not sure what's going on.

But here is the address for the Flickr RSS ordination stuff:


some ordination photos

More to follow soon. I hope.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

this doesn't fill father with hope

The Church of Nigeria is changing its constitution. Read it all at T1:9 (

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

some highlights of the ordination and thoughts on the priesthood

As I have said, the ordination was a profound joy. One of the greatest things was having so many people whom I love there for me. The ordination was on Friday evening at 7:00. During the liturgy, I would characterize my feeling and temperment as a consciousness of being the object of deep love. My father chanted the Litany, with the invocation of saints (Mary, Joseph, John Baptist, Peter, Paul, George, Augustine, King Charles, John Donne, Constance and the Martyrs of Memphis, Benedict and Scholastica, all the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Monks, Hermits, and all the holy Cloud of Witnesses) as I lay prostrate before the altar. My mother and grandmother placed on me a stole and chasuble.

Saturday morning I said my first mass (of the Holy Spirit), with a group of about fifteen or so friends and family, with Deacon Thorpus (a sometime commentor here) serving. Also on Saturday, I gave my grandmother, who is ill, Unction, and I baptized four of my cousins. Sunday I celebrated and preached at both of the parish Eucharists, with Deacon Grubbs serving at the 11:00 Eucharist. Then I flew out Sunday afternoon, arriving home exhausted. Monday I slept till noon.

Some have asked for some thoughts on the priesthood. First, I believe in the "priesthood of all believers". Now before you shreak and faint, I also believe in a sacrificing ministerial priesthood. But the ministerial priesthood I see as a priesthood for the priests, i.e. the (ordained) priest is there to serve the (baptized) priest, and to equip him by means of ritual sacrifice for his work of helping to save the unbaptized world, again through offering the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart in union with the one perfect and sufficient oblation of the Lord Jesus. Blessed Michael Ramsey notes that in Mark chapter 3, the apostles are described as having been called from among a larger group of those called by Jesus. And those 12 were called for two things: 1) to be with Jesus, and 2) to be sent. ("He appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out...") I see the ministerial priesthood as being for the equiping of the saints, the members of the Church, all those called by the Lord Jesus. Equiping them for their work of saving and sanctifying the world by their union, through the Holy Spirit, with the Lord Jesus in his singular and salvific sacrifice to the Father.

Lastly, I see the priests as being tools, more or less inanimate (or animated -- qua priest -- only by the High Priesthood of the Lord Jesus) tools in the hand of the Church. Ronald Knox (in a post below, taken from Pontifications) gets at the heart of this when he talks about the ordinand lying on the floor during the Litany: lying, as it were, prone, inert, more as an object than as an active agency, than as a man. The priests hands have become hands at the disposal of the Church. Annointed hands to be utilized by all the faithful, hands that offer the Holy Sacrifice, hands to be raised in Absolution and Benediction. Hands, in short, to serve in sanctifying the Church, and equiping the saints for proclaiming, to the unbaptized, the gospel of our Lord, and him crucified.

Monday, September 12, 2005

father wb is back

My dear friends, this is just to say that I have been made a priest in a glorious service at the parish in which I grew up, in Georgia. It was a tremendous blessing, and I felt very loved. There were many little miracles. I will write more as soon as I have a chance -- after catching up on paying bills and course work and what not. Thank you all for your prayers.

The picture above is of a painting that was given to me by a dear friend as an ordination gift.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

pray for the peace of jerusalem -- and other towns in the holy land

Muslims Ransack Christian Village

The attack on the village of 1,500 was triggered by the murder of a Muslim woman from the nearby village of Deir Jarir earlier this week. The 30-year-old woman, according to PA security sources, was apparently murdered by members of her family for having had a romance with a Christian man from Taiba.

"When her family discovered that she had been involved in a forbidden relationship with a Christian, they apparently forced her to drink poison," said one source. "Then they buried her without reporting her death to the relevant authorities."


With the exception of large numbers of PA policemen, the streets of Taiba were completely deserted on Sunday as the residents remained indoors. Many torched cars littered the streets. At least 16 houses had been gutted by fire and the assailants also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Read the whole thing here. It doesn't seem that there will ever be peace... not without the Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Friends: My priesting is -- please God -- on Friday at 7:00 p.m. I leave tomorrow and so will continue to be on blogging hiatus. Please pray for me.

My retreat was good. Peaceful and quiet. I read a lot (mainly Jeremy Taylor, George Herbert, and the Bible). I also prayed a lot, mostly in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I felt that the Lord "gave me" (pardon the Evangelicalism) Psalm 43:

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people;
from deceitful and unjust men
deliver me!

For thou art the God in whom I take refuge;
why hast thou cast me off?
Why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh send out thy light and thy truth;
let them lead me,
let them bring me to thy holy hill
and to thy dwelling!

Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise thee with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Which you may compare with my own translation from the Vulgate -- one of my spiritual exercises while on retreat:

Judge me, God, and discern my cause from an unholy nation,
From an iniquitous man and from the deceitful, root me out.

Since you are my courage, O God,
Wherefore have you spurned me?
And wherefore do I march along so sorrowful,
while the enemy weakens me?

Send out your light and your truth,
that those same may entice me,
And induce me into the midst of your holy mountain,
and into your tabernacle,

And I will go up to the altar of God,
To God who delights my youthfulness.
I will confess to you on the guitar,
O God, my God.

Why are you sad, O my soul?
And why do you confuse me?
Trust in God, because up till now I have confessed that One,
The salvation of my face, and my God.


Beloved, if you haven't already done so, please donate something to the hurricane reliek effort.

One thing ECUSA does really well (as far as I can tell) is to direct its considerable resources toward the needy via Episcopal Relief and Development. Donate to ERD here.

Donate to the Red Cross here.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

a message from ++frank griswold

August 31, 2005

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

I am sending this message by email to our bishops, clergy and congregations – insofar as is possible – so that it might be shared and that we might be a community united in prayer and service during this time.

During these past days I have been contacting bishops in the areas affected by hurricane Katrina and have spoken to the bishops of Alabama, the Central Gulf Coast, Louisiana and Mississippi. As you would imagine, they are ministering to their communities the very best they can under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Communication is tenuous, and in some cases impossible. As hour by hour the almost unimaginable ravages of the hurricane become more fully known we are continuing to learn of further losses of life, houses, churches, and other familiar points of reference, including the destruction of whole communities.

At this time let us be exceedingly mindful that bearing one another’s burdens and sharing one another’s suffering is integral to being members of Christ’s body. I call upon every member of our church to reach out in prayer and tangible support to our brothers and sisters as they live through these overwhelming days of loss and begin to face the difficult challenges of the future.

Episcopal Relief and Development has been in contact with all the dioceses in the Gulf Coast area touched by the hurricane and will be working with them long after the television cameras have left. Funds have already been sent to the dioceses of Central Gulf Coast, Mississippi and Louisiana. I ask you to donate funds to the work of ERD such that our brothers and sisters in Christ will have the resources needed for the monumental task of reconstruction and rebuilding. Donations to ERD can be made as follows with an indication that they are designated for hurricane relief: via ERD’s website at 24 hours a day; by calling ERD at 800/334-7626, extension 5129 Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard time; by sending a check payable to Episcopal Relief and Development, Box 12043, Newark, New Jersey 07101-5043.

The Rt. Rev. George Packard, Suffragan Bishop for Chaplaincies, has been in contact with bishops in the Gulf Coast area. Bishop Packard is working such that a network of chaplains – police, fire, civil defense and military chaplains – is providing information to the bishops about what is happening in areas of their dioceses they have not been able to reach. The next stage of his work will be setting up training for clergy and others in dealing with the trauma so many have experienced.

Episcopal Migration Ministries is also responding and Richard Parkins, the Director of EMM, is investigating the possibilities of resettlement for people who are temporarily homeless.

Life affords us very few securities and yet deep within us, often revealed in the midst of profound vulnerability and loss, springs up a hope that contradicts the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Such hope emerges from the depths of despair as pure and unexpected gift. This is the way in which Christ accompanies us and seeks to share our burdens. May Christ so be with those of us who are enduring the effects of the hurricane, and may each one of us be a minister of hope to others in these dark and tragic days.

May we together pray:

God of mercy and compassion, be in our midst and bind us together in your Spirit as a community of love and service to bear one another’s burdens in these days as we face the ravages of storm and sea. This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord from whom alone comes our hope.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA


Beloved, I am going on retreat for the next few days in preparation for -- please God -- my being made a priest next week. Please pray for me if you think of it. I will be going to a place where there are relics of St. Edmund Rich, 40th archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1240 in Soissy France, after having judged the English Church to be intractable, and departing for Rome. Read about him here.

...he used every night to sign his forehead with the words "Jesus of Nazareth", a custom he recommended to others.

I am very much looking forward to it. I hope to read the Vulgate, spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, write a sermon about the priesthood, and mull over Blessed Michael Ramsey's book, The Christian Priest Today.