Friday, March 31, 2006

porn, the crack cocaine of the internet

“One of my colleagues calls internet porn the crack cocaine of the internet,” [Dr Marios] Pierides says. “It would not be unreasonable to call it an epidemic. In the past 12 months, I’ve seen an explosion in the number of people referred to me with issues about it. It has tripled. This is causing real problems.

“I’ve had many wives complaining about it and simply going along with it, and the number of people in offices is startling. It’s now not at all uncommon for me to be consulted by high-flying professionals who fear their addiction will lead to them losing their jobs.”

The psychiatrist’s views find accord in the US. According to Mark Schwartz, the clinical director of the Masters and Johnson Clinic in St Louis, “Pornography is having a dramatic effect on relationships at many different levels and in many different ways - and nobody outside the sexual behaviour field and the psychiatric community is talking about it.”

Read the whole thing here or here. Also (partially) available at T19.


We should all go to confession before Easter. Our tradition does not teach that Confession is necessary, and St. Augustine is often cited as having said about the sacrament of Confession something like "All may, some ought, none must." For my part, I would ammend it to "All may, All ought, none must." "None must," because God has promised forgiveness of sins to "all who truly repent and turn unto Him" in penitence. But have you TRULY repented? Why not be sure? Here's what the BCP says:

"And if, in your preparation, you need help and counsel [who doesn't?], then go and open your grief to a discreet and understanding priest, and confess your sins, that you may receive the benefit of absolution, and spiritual counsel and advice; to the removal of scruple and doubt, the assurance of pardon, and the strengthening of your faith."

Why not use the means ordained by our Lord Himself for the remission of sins, confession to one of the ministers of his Gospel in succession from the Apostles (John 20.23)? The Lord left to his Church assurances of the application of the merits of his Cross and Passion to the particular lives of those who believe in Him and are united to His Body through Baptism. One of these is the sacrament of Confession.

I recently bought a copy of The Manual, Adapted for General Use. Here are some helpful hints from it for when you decide to go to Confession:

Repentance has three parts; 1, Sorrow; 2, Confession; 3, Amendment.

1. Sorrow, or a real grief at having offended God; not the mere fear of hell, but a sorrow with the love of God in it, a sorrow at having returned God's mercies so ungratefully, and brought shame upon His holy Name, when we ought to have been ever praising Him and giving Him glory.

Thoughts to Produce Godly Sorrow.

1. That God is our Father by creation and preservation, having given us everything from our youth up until now.
2. That He is our Father also by adoption, having made us His own children again by Baptism.
3. That He gave His only Son to die for us.
4. That God the Son became man for us, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. That He has prepared Heaven for us.
6. That all our sins went to cross [out] and undo the work of His sufferings; the sins of our hands were against the pirercing of His hands; the sins of our tongues went to undo the thirst of His tongue upon the Cross; our evil thoughts pierced His brow again with thorns.
7. That we are His members [the parts of His Body], and so have brought disgrace upon our Head.
8. That we are temples of the Holy Ghost, Whom we have grieved and resisted.
9. That God has spared us again and again, and called us again and again, but we would not hear.
10. That we have set an ill example to others, and injured the Church.
11. That we have filled our souls with sinful habits, and made it harder than ever to serve God.
12. That we do not love God as we might have done, but that our sins come in between us and Him and spoil our prayers and meditations, and make us fly from the thought of Him, instead of loving his presence.

O Jesu, would that for love of Thee I had never so sinned against Thee.

O God, the King of all, give unto Thy servant true compunction [regret], the pardon of my sins, the amendment of my life, who am deeply sunk in bodily affections, estranged from Thee, and without hope but in Thy saving mercies and great goodness, Almighty Jesus, Saviour and Defender. Amen.

the feast of blessed john donne

It so happens that the feast of the great priest, poet, and dean of St. Paul's, London, John Donne falls on my birthday (today). Ever since I had that revelation, years ago, I have had a special regard for him. This is from one of his poems:

We thinke that Paradise and Calvarie,
Christs Crosse, and Adams tree, stood in one place;
Looke, Lord, and finde both Adams met in me;
As the first Adams sweat surrounds my face
May the last Adams blood my soule embrace.

So, in this purple wrapp'd receive mee Lord,
By these his thrones give me his other Crowne;
And as to others soules I preach'd thy word,
Be this my Text, my Sermon to my owne.
Therefore that he may raise the Lord throws down.

prayer kills!!! (or something)

(NY Times)
. . . . .

In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.

"It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?" Dr. Bethea said.

The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.

One reason the study was so widely anticipated was that it was led by Dr. Benson, who in his work has emphasized the soothing power of personal prayer and meditation.

At least one earlier study found lower complication rates in patients who received intercessory prayers; others found no difference. A 1997 study at the University of New Mexico, involving 40 alcoholics in rehabilitation, found that the men and women who knew they were being prayed for actually fared worse.

Read the whole thing here. Maybe this is why our Lord said to pray for those who persecute us...?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

a meme! a meme!

I've been tagged. What is a meme, the old people ask? Behold!

1. How many bibles are in your home?
2. What rooms are they in?
3. What translations do you have?
4. Do you have a preference?
5. Nominate an interesting verse

1. I count seven in my part of the house. (That doesn't include electronic versions. I think I have every version in an electronic format.)

2. All in my bedroom.

3. Two are RSV, three are NRSV, one is the Latin Vulgate, and one the Greek New Testament. I would like to get an Authorized Version (KJV) and a (New) Jerusalem Bible.

4. RSV. Although I had been enjoying working through the Vulgate, until I didn't feel I had the time.

5. I like John 19.30 in the Vulgate: Cum ergo accepisset Iesus acetum, dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum. I like it because of the rendering of "It is finished" as "Consummatum est." That'll preach.

Is there any point in tagging Canon Harmon? Does he stoop to this level? Worth a try. I'm rather curious.

What about Father Peregrinator?

Or Father Lee?

J-Tron will play. Right, JT?

Rambling Richard?

Garland will play too. Maybe. He's very ascetic now.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

a presentation on the meaning of the eucharist

I gave a somewhat ad hoc presentation on the Eucharist tonight. Here it is, for your edification. There are a few typos. For that I apologize.

The Eucharist is undertaken in obedience to Jesus’ command “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22.19 & 1 Corinthians 11.24). This was one of Jesus’ final commands to the twelve disciples whom he had chosen from among all his followers, to be with him in a special way, and to be sent out to preach and to have authority (Mark 3.14).

As Dom Gregory Dix puts it: “Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done” (The Shape of the Liturgy, p. 700-and-something). Obedience to this command commenced as early as we have any records. Saint Paul, and the Christians he led, were “doing this” in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11) around the year 55. And Bishop Polycarp at Smyrna and Bishop Ignatius at Antioch were “doing this” before the turn of the first century, as well as at Rome (cf. the Letters of Clement of Rome, likely a disciple of St. Peter).

Okay. So Jesus said to “do this,” and we have done it. What exactly is “this”?

We know that the Eucharist involves prayer, but one of the earliest names for the Eucharist is “The Action.” The Eucharist is therefore a combination of words and actions, or ceremonial. It is not only a saying something, but also a doing something.

The word used anciently (and still among the Greek Orthodox) for the primary thing done at the Eucharist is “anaphora” which means offering. Figuratively, the “anaphora” came to refer to what in the BCP is called the “Eucharistic Prayer” – what the priest says after the sursum corda (“lift up your hearts”) and sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts,” etc.), all the way to the “Great Amen” which comes just before the Lord’s Prayer. There are several versions of this anaphora or “Eucharistic Prayer” in the BCP. There are two versions, similar to each other, in traditional language, and there are four versions in more contemporary language, one of which we use every Sunday.

Before the Eucharistic Prayer there is what Anglican’s have traditionally called the “Ante-Communion,” and which was anciently called the “proanaphora,” which consists of the readings, prayers, and instruction (sermon) in preparation for the main action, the Offering itself. The Ante-Communion grew out of a vigil that the earliest Christians kept during the years of persecution, late Saturday night, in preparation for the anaphora, the communion itself, which would take place early in the morning on Sunday. (This part, the proanaphora, or Ante-Communion, is also called the “mass of the catechumens” because early on, non-Christians were asked to leave when it concluded, i.e. before the anaphora, or “mass of the faithful.” )

This too, incidentally, is why churches traditionally face East, and why, when they don’t, the end where the altar is, is referred to as the “east end” anyway. I.e. because the offering is associated with Jesus, whom the early Christians associated with the prophecy from Malachi (4.2): “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.” And also from the prophecy uttered by the priest Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin (cf. Luke 1), who after naming his son “John” prophesied about John and Jesus saying “And thou, child, shalt be called prophet of the Highest, and shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation… through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dayspring from on high hath dawned upon us.” This prophecy became the canticle called Benedictus, and is traditionally sung (or said) at Morning Prayer (BCP p. 50).

But let’s return to the Anaphora, or Eucharistic prayer. We know that it means “offering” and that it is the “this” that is done “in remembrance of me.” But still: what is “this”? Well whatever it is, in order for it to be “this” it must be whatever Jesus did when he said “Do this.” Here is the relevant passage from the Gospel of Luke (22.19-20):

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

There are four discernible elements of “this” anaphora, or offering. (1) “He took bread / wine,” (2) He gave thanks, (3) “He broke it,” and (4) he “gave it to them.” And Saint Paul, years later writing to the Christians at Corinth says that (1 Corinthians 11:23-24) I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

And many years later, we do and say the same thing Sunday by Sunday (BCP p. 362). This is our anaphora. What we do effects a mystical closeness to what Jesus did. This mystical closeness is described when the Church says that the priest, in “doing this” does it “in the person of Christ.” In other words, the closeness that is accomplished by “doing this” in obedience to Jesus’ command, is so close as to be appropriately described as being the very same thing that Jesus did at the last supper. Mystically, it is Jesus that is doing it, offering it, for us and in our midst at the Eucharist. And that is why it is so important not to take it lightly, because of that closeness to what Jesus was doing. And by saying “this is my body,” and “this is my blood,” the Lord was drawing our attention to another mystical closeness, the closeness of this action, the anaphora, the offering of bread and wine, to what would happen the very next day: his body would be offered and his blood poured out on the cross, for us.

Again, Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 makes this point, that in the offering of the Eucharist we come so mystically close to Jesus on the cross that it is dangerous. 1 Corinthians 11:26-29: as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

1. He took bread.

A part of this is the offering we take up. It is an extension of the Lord does through the priest. And the offering is taken up right before the priest literally “takes bread” and is a part of it. In the early Church, bread and wine were brought forward, and what was not used during the Eucharist, was used for the support of the poor in the Church, and for those who served at the altar. That in essence is what still happens with the offering. And we should see it as an extension of the offering of our own selves, which we should offer spiritually, in union with the offering of the bread and cup to God, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

2. He Gave thanks.

“Eucharist” in Greek means “thanksgiving.” In ancient Jewish practice, blessing or consecration was accomplished by a formula of praise and thanksgiving, in which the thing to be blessed or consecrated was set aside as belonging to the Lord. The Eucharistic Prayer in the BCP refers to “our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” And in this way we set aside the bread and wine (and ourselves, “our souls and bodies”) to be God’s in virtue of being united to the Body and Blood of Jesus, which was the most intimate bit of creation ever united to God; united so closely to Him as to be Him.

3. He broke it.

The bread has been taken and united intimately to God by means of “our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” and through the offering of Jesus. Now the bread is broken as a visible sign of the breaking of the Body of Jesus on the cross for our sins. We are to think of ourselves as united to Jesus in this action. And the breaking of Jesus’ body on the Cross was the action which God used to deliver the world from the power of sin and death. So too, our union with Jesus in the breaking of His Body, is the visible sign of our incorporation into God’s action of redemption. In this regard too, we should think of the suffering and evil in the world, and God’s use of us (in union with the sacrifice of the Cross) to apply the benefit of redemption from sin and suffering and death to all humanity. We become God’s instruments by being united to the breaking of the Lord’s Body.

4. He gave it to them.

By being given the Elements (the bread and wine) of the Eucharist, united as it is to the broken Body and shed Blood of the Lord, and united as that was to God’s own essence, by receiving and consuming these Elements, our union (our communion) with Jesus is consummated. He said this on the Cross, his last words before his death on the cross, before he “breathed his last,” were “It is finished” – in Latin, consummatum est. That is, Jesus is totally broken, totally poured out, totally given for us. And taking and eating the consecrated elements, we totally receive Him in his total gift. By this union with Him (this communion with Him), we are empowered by His life, which we receive, to serve God in union with the service of God that Jesus accomplished on the Cross, a service that delivers humankind from what was previously the absolute tyranny of death.

This is the climax of the Eucharist. After it we have only a brief prayer of thanksgiving for what we have received, and a blessing by the priest in the Name of God. And the whole action is finished. There is nothing left but for us to “God in peace to love and serve the Lord,” because we have been empowered to do this through our union with the Son of God, who loved Him and served Him perfectly.

Some helpful hints, corresponding to the fourfold Action:

1. He took.

We offer ourselves to God, he takes our offering and makes us his own. During this action, offer yourself in prayer to God, in union with the money that is taken up, and especially in union with Bread and Wine that will become the Body and Blood of the Lord, by being offered to God in union with Jesus’ sacrifice.

2. He gave thanks.

During the consecration of the bread and wine, permit yourself spiritually also to be consecrated to the service of God, again in union with the prayer and ritual taking place at the altar, and through it in union with the Lord on the Cross.

3. He broke.

During “the fraction” (when the priest breaks the consecrated Host), will yourself to be united to the broken Body and shed Blood of Jesus on the cross, to be used by Him in whatever way He wants. Open yourself to the accomplishment of God’s plan of redemption.

4. He gave.

As you come up and receive communion, give yourself totally to Jesus, as He gives Himself totally to you in this Mystery. And know that you are thereby empowered to go out in peace, to Love and serve God.

abdul rahman arrives in italy (ny times)

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 29 — The Christian convert who had faced a death penalty in Afghanistan for abandoning Islam has left the country and arrived in Italy, where he is being offered the protection of the government.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy told reporters in Rome: "He asked for asylum and it's been granted. He's already in Italy. I think he arrived during the night."
. . . .

Just hours before his departure from Afghanistan was reported the Afghan Parliament was insisting that he not be allowed to leave the country.

The Parliament views the release of the Mr. Rahman, 41, as being contrary to the "dominant laws" of the country, parliamentarians said today.

Read the whole thing here. The sickness is indeed deep, but praise God that Rahman has been given asylum.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

from a message in the anglican breviary discussion group

A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics
(tune: Aurelia: The Church's One Foundation)

Our church is mighty spikey with smells and bells and chants,
And Palestrina masses that vex the Protestants.
O happy ones and holy who fall upon their knees
For solemn Benediction and mid-week Rosaries.

Though with a scornful wonder men see our clergy, dressed
In rich brocaded vestments as slowly they process;
Yet saints their watch are keeping lest souls be set alight
Not by the Holy Spirit, but incense taking flight.

Now we on earth have union with Lambeth, not with Rome,
Although the wags and cynics may question our true home;
But folk masses and bingo can't possibly depose
The works of Byrd and Tallis, or Cranmer's stately prose.

(Here shall the organist modulate)

So let the organ thunder, sound fanfares "en chamade";
Rejoice, for we are treading where many saints have trod;
Let peals ring from the spire, sing descants to high C,
Just don't let your elation disrupt the liturgy.

Sean Reed

abdul rahman released (for real this time) (nytimes)

KABUL, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 28 — The justice minister announced Tuesday that a jailed Afghan man who faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity has been released.

The man, Abdul Rahman, who had been accused of apostasy for abandoning Islam, had been in custody for weeks but had not been formally charged.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

v for very facile

Went to see V for Vendetta. It was overblown and tumid, anti-Bush / Republican propaganda. Not that I am a ravenous Bush supporter... But this movie was retarded. A real triumph of superficial half-wittedness.

There was an amusing scene in the end where "V" (the Guy Fawkes / Ninja protagonist) slaughters the Karl Rove character and his henchmen and blows up the Enlgish parliament in an ocean of blood and fireballs.

Apart from that, I give it six thumbs down.

abdul rahman clarification


Apparently he has NOT been "released." What I read was that he had been "freed." This is apparently so. But he has not actually been released yet. This explains the situation better. This is the pertinent bit that I mentioned recently:

Now ignoring all the biased, loaded language in this report, what it comes down to is this -- Rahman is to be freed based not upon a human rights violation, not upon the principle that every person has the right to choose his or her own religion free of state ceoercion, but based upon technical questions about the evidence and insinuations about his sanity. This is therefore NOT a victory for human rights or religious freedom -- it is a strategic retreat on the part of the Afghan government.

This is the key point. No one has changed his mind about the desirability of beheading converts to Christianity in general. Its just that there are some in the Afghani government who have changed their minds about the desirability of killing THIS convert to Christianity. The principle (death to infidels and the apostate!) is still firmly in place, as evidenced by the protests at the news that Rahman was to be released.

Thanks to Tex for clearing up my confusion.

in the day of judgment, good lord deliver us

When congregants receive Communion at the church of San Romero de Las Americas on the upper West Side, the altar looks like any other - except for a glass bowl full of condoms sitting next to the wine and bread.The church’s pastor, the Rev. Luis Barrios, sees a sacred duty in promoting safe sex among his congregants.

Read more here. Still more here. I saw it first here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

abdul rahman released

The Afghani man who converted to from Islam to Christianity and was sentenced to death for theat "crime" has been freed, thanks be to God. There is still a problem though....

Abdul Rahman and others like him still face the possibility of being charged with apostasy for converting out of Islam, an offense that carries a penalty of death unless they renounce their new faith. While Afghanistan's constitution embraces international human rights conventions that guarantee freedom of worship, it also codifies the role of Islamic Sharia law -- under which Abdul Rahman was charged.

Read more here. This illustrates the concerns that I have expressed before that Islam, as it is practiced by a vast swath of the Islamic population of the Middle East, as well as in many Western emigrant communities, is simply incompatible with Western Liberalism. And the fact that Afghanistan affirms international human rights conventions (i.e. codifications of Western Liberal ideology) and yet still setences people to death for conversion from Islam... this is the problem we face. How can we affirm their prerogatives of self government, when those prerogatives include a (democratically expressed) preference for killing infidels and those who apostasize?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

diocese of albany elects orthodox bishop

From an email from a priest friend:

today's election for the new
Bishop Coadjutor-elect for the diocese of Albany is
over -- winner is the Very Rev. William H. Love. You
can find picture, bio, info, etc. on the Diocesewebsite. He's soundly orthodox and a leader in our
healing ministry, and led our delegation to GC03.
This is a victory for othodoxy in the diocese and a
sign that charismatic renewal and the healing ministry
are here to stay.... There was one candidate --
Hunter --who was opposed to the ordination of women.
...but [after the first round of voting] was clearly not a contender...
Love apparantly spoke up during GC 03 against the
consecration of Robinson: his election is a sign that
the diocese wants firm, outspoken orthodox leadership.

Update: more information (picture of Father Love, vote tallies, etc.) can be found here.

happy feast!

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin. Over at Richard's Ramblings, Richard has rambled about his favorite image of the Annunciation, and it is a striking one indeed. The one above is one of my favorites. If you look closely, you can see a little tiny Word of God flying through the window towards our Lady's blessed womb (Luke 11.27). The candle on the table has been snuffed out (by the movement of the Holy Spirit?). Our Lady sits reading her Office Book, just as you and I do morning and evening (right?). the angel is vested as a deacon, in his role as messenger and servant of God. Last (and least), there seem to be four tiny monkies on the arms of the bench against which our Lady is leaning.

Today is a terrific day to say the Angelus:

The Angel of the Lord announced unto Mary,
And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary....

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord.
Be it unto me according to thy Word.

Hail Mary...

And the Word was made flesh,
And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary...

Pray for us o Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

We beseech thee, O Lord,
pour thy grace into our hearts;
that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ
by the message of an angel,
so by his cross + and passion
we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

that i-cal liturgical calendar...

Some of you may remember that I offered to you (free!) some time ago a liturgical calendar with all of the readings, liturgical colors, etc. of both Lesser Feasts and Fasts, as well as Sundays and Holy Days (of obligation). Well, I realized today that the latter, at least, was defective. For some reason, whoever created it left off a number of feasts. I realized that today, as it is the Feast of the Annunciation. Most feasts of our Lady are left off, along with (for example) the feasts of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Nativity of John Baptist, and a couple of others. Very odd. At any rate, I have fixed it by adding in the missing feasts, and the liturgical information that goes along with them. If I sent you a calendar previously and you would like a proper one, with all the right information for the rest of the year, please leave a comment with your email address (in the format: such-and-such [at] so-and-so [dot] com, so as to foil the plots of spammer robots) and I will send it to you. Also, if you never asked for the calendar, but now see your error in not asking, or have seen your error and purchased a Mac and now have and use i-cal, also leave a comment with your address, and Father WB, who does not see in secret, will reward you anyway... with the said calendars. Understand? Good.

Friday, March 24, 2006

solemn evensong and benediction

I just returned from Solemn Evensong and Benediction. "First Vespers" of the Annunciation. Hoozah. What a glorious thing is Solemn Evensong. Definitely one of the things (along with the tippet) worth salvaging from Anglicanism if / when she goes definitively down. And Benediction... glorious, as usual.

Anyhow... ruminating, as I often do, on the condition of the Church, and of the theological innovations being promulgated, the second verse of Hymn 278 was striking. It is striking apart from such ruminations, so that all may appreciate it. Here are the first two verses:

Sing we of the blessed Mother
Who received the angel's word,
And obedient to the summons,
Bore in love the infant Lord;
Sing we of the joys of Mary
At whose breast the child was fed
Who is Son of God eternal
And the everlasting Bread.

Sing we, too, of Mary's sorrows,
Of the sword that pierced her through,
When beneath the cross of Jesus
She his weight of suffering knew,
Looked upon her Son and Savior
reigning from the awful tree,
Saw the price of our redemption
Paid to set the sinner free.

Meditate on that: the Blessed Mother standing at the foot of the cross on which her Son and Savior was struggling for air, so that we could be freed from the penalty of our sin. What sorrow! Do we not scorn the agony of that Son, and the fathomless sorrow of that Mother, do we not deny the desperate necessity of that agony and that sorrow, by denying the mortal reality of our sins? By refusing to admit the applicability of that precious death and that holy sorrow to certain corners of our lives?

his grace to visit his holiness

LONDON, MARCH 23, 2006 ( The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, plans to visit Benedict XVI in Rome sometime later this year, says the Anglican Communion News Service.

The visit will mark the 40th anniversary of the Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey's meeting with Pope Paul VI in 1966 and the founding of the Anglican Center in Rome that same year.

Archbishop Williams met Pope John Paul II in the autumn of 2003. The Anglican leader also attended the funeral of John Paul II and the inaugural Mass of Benedict XVI. The Anglican and the new Pope met briefly the following day.

Archbishop Williams said: "Forty years ago today Archbishop Ramsey met Pope Paul VI in what was a historic and groundbreaking visit to the Vatican. They exchanged fraternal greetings and gave thanks to God for the 'new atmosphere of fellowship' between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. …

"My visit this autumn is an opportunity to continue that rich tradition of visits between Canterbury and Rome, to reflect on the achievements of the last 40 years and on the future of those relations."

Further details of the visit will be announced later.

From Zenit. I think it is amusing that the article refers to ++Williams as "The Anglican." Meanwhile, here is what Lord Carey has had to say:
"It is true that we are living in an ecumenical winter. It has got even icier since the American church's decision to consecrate Gene Robinson which goes completely against the Catholic position and the historic position of the Anglican Communion as well. Rowan's personal contact and commitment is going to be the key thing. All we can hope for is that he keeps the fire burning."
Read more here.

his holiness makes new cardinals

Here's what the NY Times had to say about it....

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI installed his first group of cardinals on Friday, placing crimson hats on their heads in a ceremony Friday on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica that added 15 more prelates to the elite club that will choose his successor.

Applause rang out from the thousands spread out in the square before the 15 new ''princes'' of the church.

Benedict opened the ceremony by reading out each of the new cardinals' names in Latin, drawing more applause after he pronounced each one. The crowd cheered again as the pope gave each a crimson ''biretta,'' a four-sided hat with three distinct ridges on its upper side.


Dr Williams also defended his approach to homosexuality in the Church, saying he had been given a responsibility to care for the Church as a whole. “It really is wrong for an archbishop to be the leader of a party; in a polarised and deeply divided Church it’s particularly important, I think, not to be someone pursuing an agenda that isn’t the agenda of the whole. ”

Mr Rusbridger asked him about his being criticised for not being true to his beliefs. “Yes, I understand that and hear it repeatedly.” He said that moral leadership did not always equate with pronouncing strongly on one issue or another.

Read the whole thing here, and thank God that the Archbishop understands his role as the guardian of catholic faith and doctrine (catholic = kata holos: with respect to the whole), which comes to him and belongs to him only as mediated by the Church Universal, and is not subject to sectarian whims and vicissitudes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

radical islam and the violent clash of worldviews

The third anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq has focused attention on postwar planning, the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and the possibilities of civil war. Commentator Joe Loconte says these issues shouldn't distract our attention from the horrifying vision of radical Islam.

Listen to the whole thing here. One of the most thoughtful, and sobering, pieces I've heard in awhile. And from NPR, of all places.

choose this day whom you will serve

Watch the video Choose this Day. It was, apparently, watched this week by the bishops at Kanuga not once but twice.

It really illustrates the fact of abject lay ignorance in ECUSA. And the ignorance of the laity about Anglicanism and the wider Church in general, is a vacuum that would suit the clergy, as it is a vacuum they may then fill with whatever they like: gospel as social action, feminism, catholic piety, whatever.

I imagine that liberals among you, my readers, will find the video very annoying. It expresses my views pretty well. Not with 100% accuracy or thoroughness, but pretty well.

episcopal elections

There are episcopal elections going on in a number of dioceses, prayers for which can be found at Lent and Beyond and news of which can be found at Titusonenine. There is seemingly much at stake in these elections. Prayer is needed. I urge you to pray.

And he went up on the mountain, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him. And he apponited twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority... (from Mark 3)

O Holy Father, your Son called the Apostles to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and to have authority. Raise up, we humbly pray, godly heirs to those His holy Apostles, to lead your Church into all righteousness, and into paths of peace. Give the spirit of wisdom and of discernment to those who will vote; let their wills be submitted to Your perfect will, that your Son's gospel may be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, and that your name may be glorified by all people. Through the same Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

saint george

And here is the triptych of Saint George that was brought to me by another friend returning from Israel. I like it a lot too.

devotional objects

As you can see from the picture, friends, my devotional accountrements are cocked and primed. I recently fired up the little censor that I got last year (I had run out of charcoal). And there, too, is the picture of the all compassionate Mother of God that was brought to me as a belated ordination gift from a friend returning from Bethlehem. The icon was actually painted (or "written" or whatever you say) at Mt. Athos, though it came to me by way of Bethlehem. I like it a lot.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

stalwart leadership

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said the Ohio meeting should be seen as “as a vast field of exploration [beyond good and evil] rather than a moment of decision” that might be construed by some as a make-or-break moment in the history of the Communion.

In 20 years, he predicted, the church will be talking about something else.

Read the whole thing here. And read / join the discussion at T19. Noteworthy among the comments there, was this prophetic voice:

Griswold says we will be talking about something else in 20 years, and he’s probably right. A few prognostications as to what we (sorry, they) will be discussing:

- Blessing polygamous “marriages” (though that probably will take 10 years, not 20).
- The latest report from the Standing Committee on Mission sounding a note of “caution” as ASA sinks below 250,000; the Committee will make the recommendation that rap music be introduced for all processionals to stem the tide.
- Into the fifth year of a “listening process” with Wiccans, GC will add an official shrub-worshipping rite to the Alternative Book of Services. The American Anglican Synod of America, representing a few churches in Fort Worth, will threaten a schism if the service is not removed by Lambeth 2028.
- “Open-Creation Communion,” in which pets are invited to receive the organic-wheat bread and fair-trade white grape juice at all ECUSA churches along with all humans so as not to be “anthro-centric."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

saint benedict, abbot

Today, in the Breviary, it is the feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia, who holds a special place in my heart.

Here is the Breviary collect:

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Benedict may commend us unto thee: that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, may by his advocacy find favour in thy sight. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


–The number of young men being ordained [in ECUSA] has plummeted more than 90%–from an average of 278 a year in the 1960s to 25 a year since 2000, while the number of older men is fairly steady.


–Women over 35 filled the ranks in substantial numbers after ordination for women was approved in 1976, averting a critical shortfall in qualified clergy.”

By how much has ECUSA membership declined in the same period? Half? Read the whole thing here.

lent and beyond

The blog, Lent and Beyond, has really ramped up for Lent. It is a great source of Lenten materials. Yesterday was my turn in their Lenten meditation collaboration. You can read my meditation here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

the episcopal diocese of michigan

...And [ECUSA] man said "Let us make God in our own image, after our likeness" ... So [ECUSA] man created God in his own image, in the image of [ECUSA] man created he him; male and female created he him.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

in case you missed it...

Over at my favorite blog, there was a recent post about a friend of mine and his wife, who have done something pretty amazing. Hoozah Father Matthew and Janna! Hoozah MM for reporting it!

the terms of discourse

Here is what I have been doing today instead of school work. (Though actually, it bears pretty directly on my thesis.) Over at the Propaganda Box, J-Tron has started a very interesting discussion which he (a progressive) and I (a fuddy duddy) agree gets at the heart of the contemporary turmoil over human sexuality. Here is an enticing snipit. I hope I don't sound too didactic (though of course I think I am right):

Father WB says:

“Gay and lesbian people are told that they are filled with sinful impulses, that they are in some way or another malformed, that their humanity is incomplete or disordered.”

That is exactly my position. But that is my position not just about gays and lesbians, but about EVERYONE. And I put myself at the top of the list [a list which has all of our names on it] of the (sexually) sinful, the malformed, the incomplete and the disordered.

Human love does not require sexual expression, otherwise celibates would be incapable of human love. And they’re not incapable. Ergo, etc.

What do you tell a gay or lesbian Christian who has forsaken sexual activity for the sake of the call of Christ that they discern in the Church’s moral strictures? That THEY are disordered? I have several friends who fall into this category, and they see their “equal treatment” in the Church as constitutive of their obedience to the Church’s call to a particular expression of continence, just like everyone else. Do they slip up? I don’t know. Probably. When they do, they should go to confession, just like everyone else.

I just don’t see why gay and lesbian Christians should get this special treatment. Why can’t the Church condone MY innate inclinations to sexual sin? Why is there no one lobbying for exemptions to the moral code conforming to MY sexual inclinations? Its not fair.

The incompleteness and disorder of all of humanity — of every human in his particularity — is a central element of the Christian devotional tradition. You cannot make sense of great swaths of Christian theology unless you admit that humanity (including gay and lesbian humanity) is in fact incomplete and disordered. And the primary locus of this incompleteness and disorder is the passions or the appetites — especially the sexual appetites. The fathers, East and West, are very clear and very consistent on this point.

This is why holy virginity is so prized by our tradition, from our Lord and St. Paul onward. It is only through ascetic struggle and openess to grace through prayer that Christians can attain the passionless serenity that is the material condition of deification.

The notion that the Church was not aware, historically, of our categories of sexual identity is the heart of the matter to me; and I balk at this notion. I.e. that we have something to teach the mind of Christ as it is enunciated in his Body (and that is the ONLY way it is enunciated in space and time). We don’t. We are called to total conformity to the mind of Christ, which of course includes conformity in terms of our notions of sexual identity. The Church is not called to submit her understanding of holiness to the terms of enlightenement or post-enlightenement sexual psychology.

The Church never had an understanding of LGBTQQ sexual identity because it does not admit of sexual identity at all. It admits of human identity in Christ on the one hand, and damnation (however it is construed) on the other hand. Men having sex with men has never been licit in the Church, whether homosexual men having sex with men or heterosexual men having sex with men. (Same with women.) The Church was not aware of those categories, as you say, so it could only forbid the sex, and not sex with reference to a sexual identity (of which it was not cognizant).

I balk at the inadequacy of the Tradition’s anthropology from your perspective. What the Church has sanctioned is the dichotomy of identity in Christ and identity not-in Christ. And the human activities (including sexual activities) that are consistent with each category have been exhaustively explicated. It seems very presumptuous to me for us to come along and say “Hold on a minute; you didn’t realize that there is actually homosexual identity in Christ, homosexual ideneity not-in Christ, and heterosexual identity in Christ, and heterosexual identity not-in Christ.”

I agree with GK-S on this point. You seem to be trying to force a particular essentialism on the Church, an essentialism around the axis of the location of the identity relation obtaining between a person and his / her sexuality, the exclusion of which essentialism is entailed by the Body of Christ’s inclusion of precisely (and exclusively) two natures: the divine and the human. We are invited to check the rest of our baggage, sexual or otherwise, at the door.

J-Tron says:


Now we are getting somewhere! What you have written here drives at what I think is probably the crux of our disagreement and I want to consider it carefully before making a response.

The one thing I’d like to ask for clarification on, however, is this bit:

You seem to be trying to force a particular essentialism on the Church, an essentialism around the axis of the location of the identity relation obtaining between a person and his / her sexuality, the exclusion of which essentialism is entailed by the Body of Christ’s inclusion of precisely (and exclusively) two natures: the divine and the human.

I have read this sentence at least five times now and I still have no idea what you’re saying here. I’m a step away from trying to graph it out. I apologize for being so daft. Could you break this down into manageable chunks for my feeble brain?

Father WB says:

JT —

I’m glad you appreciate it.

The “identity relation” in philosophy is that relation which every thing bears to itself. “Essentialism” is the science of essences, and in feminist theory (at least) has something to do with the philosophical idea that all of the properties a thing has, it has essentially. I.e. were it to lose one of those properties, it would cease to be that thing. For example, a triangle has, essentially, three sides. If some thing is a triangle, then that thing has three sides. Always and everywhere. If a triangle stops having three sides, it stops being a triangle.

Now, as far as I can tell, the common conceit in queer theory often called “sexual identity” is wrapped around the notion that a person’s sexuality is theirs essentially. If they lose that sexuality (for example, through brainwashing, or through some power structure’s forcing them to behave in ways counter to that sexuality, or forbidding them from behaving in ways consonant with that sexuality), then they cease to be who they are, essentially. And that is why, as far as I can tell, heternormativity is thought to be so insidious and destructive, because it chips away at the very identity of gays and lesbians, that relation they bear uniquely to themselves. It is corrosive of who they are.

But the Church doesn’t buy that. There are, we are told, two natures in the Body of Christ. He was perfect God and perfect human. And the Christian calling is a living-into that life — the life of the perfectly God and the perfectly human (in which there are no other essences or identities, Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free - and in which there is no sexuality, no giving or being-given in marriage). This is life eschatologically perfected in Christ, a life toward which we are oriented on this side of eternity.

But serving the end of that (eternal) life in Christ, there is instituted a temporal life in the Body of Christ, in the Church. THIS life is an icon of THAT life, but is yet cognizant of the pull not only of sin, but of finitude as well and is instituted precisely for our transcendence of this life (as Wittgenstein put it, the ladder is thrown away once it has been ascended). And the sacramental and devotional life of the Body of Christ with its two natures, human and divine, sanctions a pattern of living that serves the transcendence of this (merely human) life, with all its myriad false identities, all its malformations, incompletions, and distortions (as you put it), and which serves our union with Christ, who is the perfection of human essence by being united to divine essence, perfectly formed, complete, undistorted.

And this temporal life, mystically within the the Body of Christ with its dual natures (or essences), is the content of the radicality of orthodoxy. Because it seeks dispassionate serenity, and “detachment from the world.” It holds up such things as celibacy, poverty, slavery, and death, as the avenues to intimacy, riches, freedom, and life.

The Church has instituted certain patterns of behavior that look forward to their own being-transcended, but which in the meantime are conduits through which we are elevated by degrees above our sin, above our passions, above our finitude, elevated to union with Christ. Eucharist looks forward to the transcendence of itself in the marriage supper of the Lamb, and in the meantime bears the grace of that eternal marriage supper to us in time and among our passions. Confession looks forward to the transcendence of itself in our moral perfection and eternal passionless serenity, and in the meantime imparts the grace of moral perfection to us in the very midst of our imperfection. Marriage looks forward to our subsumption in the consummation of Christ and his Bride, in which subsumption we do not marry. And the finite and provisional difference between male and female is sanctified as an icon of the paradoxical union between the eternally different human and divine natures in the person of Christ, and is a conduit of that eternal grace into our temporality.

But the Church sanctions THIS pattern of life and no other. And our conformity to this pattern of life, we are assured, leads to the transcendence of finite life altogether. It leads, in other words, to eternal life in union with Christ, the perfection of human nature in a gracious union with God. This is characterized as passionless serenity, or eternal contemplation. If we augment or change this pattern of life to accomodate our passions, we are going off on our own, back into our human nature apart from Christ.

To suggest that the Tradition has missed something in its consideratio of human nature (e.g. that the Tradition was not cognizant of LGBTQQ identity), is tantamount to suggesting that God has made a grammatical mistake: either in the language of creation, or (more probably) in the liturgical language he has revealed in the Body of Christ. It is like saying “You forgot to sanctify THIS!” No. There are no grammatical mistakes. There are no fissures in the surface. In the Incarnation of the Word, human nature, in every modality, was [is] united to divine nature in the person of Jesus, and an iconic, gracious, and singular pattern of life was divinely instituted among humanity that is fully capable of imparting salvation. Nothing was missed. No emendations are necessary. The grammar is impeccable, because it is the grammar of the eternal Word. The life is perfect, because it is Christ’s.

Monday, March 13, 2006

the libertine

Last night I went to see The Libertine, a chronicle of the life of John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, a Restoration poet, wit, rake, courtier to Charles II, and notorious atheist. The movie was to my mind a very subtle and articulate metaphorical account (apology? critique?) of contemporary art and intellectualism. It stars Johnny Depp as John Wilmot, John Malkovich as (an excellent) Charles II, Samantha Morton as Elizabeth Barry, and Rosamund Pike as Elizabeth Malet.

The film shows, I think, the groundwork for the late shift toward "the interesting" as the primary category of aesthetic evaluation. Wilmot remarks, through the enactment of a little parable early on in the film that any "experience of interest will be carved out at your own expense." And this seems an apt moral for the film's Wilmot, though overall the film leaves it somewhat ambiguous as to whether it ought to be regarded as a critique of this notion, or an apology for it. I tend to think the latter, as after Wilmot's grotesque and syphalitic death at the age of 33 (wink, wink) in the film -- during the course of which death he mocks a priest by having him recite the Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah 53 -- Wilmot is resurrected for an epilogue aside, explaining his own death as a travesty of redemption, in which he was shown "our suffering Lord" and at the sight of him, climbed up the cross and took the nails for his own palms. All, presumably, in the service of "the interesting."

Echoes of Nietzsche and (perhaps) of Heidegger, though I am quite certain I do not understand the latter. It is all a very helpful and trenchant critique of idolatrous Christianity, after the manner of Kierkegaard, but the conclusions it draws are as horrific as the syphilis that ate up both Wilmot and Nietzsche. That is to say, when culture has been evacuated of any fundamental significance, the best one can do is to create something amusing. And the inevitable suffering of the artist is in proportion to the greatness of his art. This is Kierkegaard's category of the Aesthetic. The Kierkegaardian Aesthete can have, for example, no real friends, as real friendship always ceases merely to amuse, and he is merely after amusement. But praise God for the teleological suspension of the Aesthetic (and of the Ethical) into the Religious. And one is reminded in The Libertine of the relative closeness of the aestetical and the religious, despite the interposition of the ethical between them. E.g. Isaiah 53 DOES, in fact, apply remarkably well to Wilmot. But in the end he dies horribly, his only resurrection that of a dramatic aside in the film's epilogue.

The Libertine is very advisedly rated R for some violence, and loads of lurid sexual language and imagery. But like the film's cinematoraphy and music (both excellent, by the way), the lurid sexuality is saved from gratuitousness by its fittingness within the context of the film's moral (or of Wilmot's moral, depending on whether the film is ironical).

I give it four stars, two thumbs up, &c. But my addulations come with caution about the sexual content. Be aware.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

yet something else i have in common with the pope

In addition to being staunch opponents of heresy and schism, the Holy Father and I are also both proud owners of ipods, though his is a 2 gb Nano, and mine is the 60 gb large one. Apparently, our ipods are even loaded with some of the same stuff.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

let's particularize

Just to illustrate that I am fully blogger AND fully man, here is a picture of the place where all my thinking / blogging / writing happens. Or doesn't happen, depending on the day.

I often find it very interesting to see personal stuff from other people I only know through the mediation of the internet (and our Lord, of course). So I thought some of you might find it interesting to see a picture of my desk. Here it is.

Maybe not. Its up to you. What does your desk look like? Blog it!

st. athanasius

Because I am reading Athanasius right now, here is a pertinent quote:

He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those others His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occured, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death's defeat. Therefore it is also, that he neither endured the death of John, who was beheaded, nor was He sawn asunder, like Isaiah: even in death He preserved his body whole and undivided, so that there should be no excuse hereafter for those who would divide the Church.

-On the Incarnation, Chapter IV

Thursday, March 02, 2006

great lenten link collections

The CaNN Blog has a great huge link list. Loads of helpful stuff.

Also try Lent and Beyond. A terrific blog, which is really kicking into high gear again this year during Lent. See especially the All Lenten Posts section to make sure you don't miss anything.

But while all this stuff is helpful, I've noticed a tendancy in my own devotional life to collect around myself the accoutrements of devotion (prayer books, rosaries, icons, etc.) as a substitute for actual devotion. So read, read, read. Explore the Christian blogosphere, which really seems to ripen during Lent. But don't forget to get on with the business of Retirement, Prayer, Fasting, Repentance, and Almsgiving.

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence, but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life..."

(Philippians 2)

keeping a holy lent -- part ii: practice

Lent is for the purpose of our growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Peter 3.18). Always keep this in mind. Lent isn’t about the disciplines. The disciplines serve the end of intimacy and communion with the Lord. The discipline is about driving the detritus of sin and distraction out of your heart and thereby making room for grace. So don’t forget that the whole point of Lent is growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord.

There are traditionally five Lenten tools for growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord:

1) Retirement
2) Prayer
3) Fasting
4) Repentance
5) Almsgiving

Retirement serves prayer. Go into your closet and shut the door and pray in secret (Matthew 6.6). It may seem silly even to mention, but nevertheless: it is a great help actually to remember to set aside time every day, preferably in the morning and in the evening, to be by yourself with God. This means going into your bedroom, or some place where you can be undisturbed and alone, closing the door, and praying.

Fasting, again, serves the end of growth in knowledge and love of the Lord. Let’s be honest: one aspect of life in time and space, an aspect, in other words, of being a human in the world, is that we are surrounded by all kinds of other created things. And those things are not bad. We don’t need to go far in the world, though, before we run into trouble. We are after growing in knowledge of the Lord. But we humans get easily overwhelmed by STUFF. And knowledge of STUFF can (and does) distract us from knowledge of the Creator of Stuff. Because our intellects are finite, we cannot hold everything there at once. And the danger is that we forget God by constantly remembering this and that. This is what St. Paul was talking about when he said of those whose minds became darkened that they changed the truth about God into a lie and served the creature rather than the creator (Romans 1.25). The great danger is that we become so attached to the STUFF around us that it becomes our master and our god. Then we are no better than pagan idolaters.

The provenance of idolatry is not pagan antiquity. It is life in space and time. Idolatry is just as much a danger to the 21st century Christian. And this is the point of fasting. We force STUFF out of our lives (whether it be food or television or whatever), and thereby create a space in our consciousness for the grace of God. Let’s face it: while you are gratifying your appetite (whether it be by eating another donut or by watching MTV), you are not praying. That’s a fact.

Repentance is our acknowledgement before God of the above facts: that we HAVE forgotten him, over and over and over again. And one of the chief avenues of our forgetfulness of him is the gratifying of our sinful appetites. We serve the creature rather than the creator, and we do it over and over again, every day, year in, year out. And the fact that our very existence in this world is geared toward this forgetfulness, that the deck is stacked against us because we are surrounded by so many tantalizing distractions, and in some cases we are even genetically predisposed to acquiesce to them (think of alcoholism) -- this fact is original sin: those things about the world which, through no fault of our own, nevertheless seek to trap us and mire us down in sin. This is the fallenness of the world, and we sin without even realizing it. So once we have fasted, forced some particular attachment out of our lives and out of our consciousness, and once we have gone into our room and shut the door, and once we have spoken to God in prayer, it is time to acknowledge our situation to him. This is repentance. To come to God on his own terms, to acknowledge what he knows too well: quia peccavi, that I have sinned.

Almsgiving is about our being not merely a repository of God’s grace, but also its conduit. Think in this regard of the Blessed Virgin. She was indeed “full of grace” (Luke 1.28). But though the grace of God most certainly flowed into Mary it did not merely pool up inside of her. It was not just for her benefit. It was given to her and stayed with her in an intimate and exclusive way for nine months, but then (O then!) it issued forth from her. Then it was given to the world in the most ecstatic and total way. The grace of God flowed through Mary; and some thirty-three years after flowing through her, it was poured out utterly for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2).

So once you have made a space in your heart for God’s grace, through retirement, prayer, fasting, and repentance, do something for others. Share something of what God has given you -- and he has given you everything you have -- with your fellow creatures, that they might come to grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord as you have -- and you have.

benedict no longer 'patriarch of the west'?

The is from Shrine of the Holy Whapping, quoting Vatican Watcher.
...the task to consider for the future will be to distinguish again and more clearly between the proper function of the successor of Peter and the patriarchal office and, where necessary, to create new patriarchates and to detach them from the Latin church.
It seems that Benedict is dropping the traditional papal title "Patriarch of the West," with a view to shifting the Church in the West towards a more Eastern model of more local autonomy.
The Shrine cites one of the chief benefits of this move:
It will make the structure of the current Latin Church much more like that of the Eastern Church, with various regional centers of authority. This will ease Eastern Orthodox concerns that the Papacy, by nature, desires to usurp those functions proper to patriarchs, promoting the possibility for East-West unity. (It also indicates a change of attitude which would ease the creation of an Anglican Rite.)
Hoozah! That would be terrific. One only hopes that they will speed things along, rather than running on the more typical, ecclesiastico-geological time-frame. And of course they would need to guard against the tendency that lays the Orthodox open to the perennial charge that theirs is an "ethnic" Church. I.e. if there were more local patriarchates in the West, they would need to ensure that they not be distinguished merely by ethnicity. Balancing this with a geographical distinction would be challenging.

At any rate, it sounds hopeful.