A day of prayer and fasting

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Pope Francis has called Catholics and invited other Christians and all people of faith to a day of prayer and fasting today for Syria.

#fast4syria #prayforpeace

Will you join with your brothers and sisters, your friends and your enemies to pray for peace in a world that always seems bent on violent resolution, bent towards eternal conflict?

Resources for Syria

The Mennonite Central Committee (US), has put together a webpage for resources related to the Syrian conflict.

Check it out here.

God of Compassion,

Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.

God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,

Amen 

Homily: Humility is not Humiliation

I was supposed to deliver this homily tomorrow at a rehab hospital in north Toronto, but I’ve been bumped. So, here it is for you to read and feel blessed 😉

The reading was Luke 14:1,7-14

——-

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Humility. Being humble. Some of us are, some of us – maybe, most of us are not. Some people even tell me how humble they are, a rather strange thing to say indeed. And some people don’t have to tell me because they live it. Humbleness of heart is something you are, something you live, not something you proclaim for yourself.

In our reading today we get a sense of how important Jesus thinks it is for us to be humble. He’s sitting down teaching and he’s noticing that everyone is jockeying for position. They all want to sit in the place of honour. They all want to be first. In Matthew’s Gospel we read about how Jesus’ very own disciples ask who will be greatest in heaven. Jesus points to a child and says “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

It is interesting to me that today’s reading comes from the Gospel of St. Luke. Luke, was a Doctor, a well educated man, able to read and write and knowledgeable in the ways of medicine, such as it was back then. Now, I hope all of you have good humble Doctors while you’re here. In our society we tend to place Doctors on a pedestal as knowledgeable, caring healers. So, it’s interesting that God chose a Doctor to be the only Gospel writer to tell us of this story. It’s a Doctor who tells us of Jesus words to the crowd that they should not seek honour, but rather, we should seek to be humble before the Lord and in turn he promises that the Lord will elevate us and give us honour at the proper time.

Proverbs 25:6-7 says
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

We do not demand honour from the mighty King, our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather He has come to us and invited us into His love because his love is an all consuming fire that brings us into his presence to share in his divine love.

It is important to remember that humility is not the same as humiliation. In fact, in today’s teaching Jesus is telling us that to seek after honour will result in humiliation, but to humble ourselves before the cross is to be made worthy of honour.

The letter of James reminds us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Why doesn’t God give grace to the proud? Because the proud think they either deserve it or don’t need it, so what would they do with it?

So, first you humble yourself before the cross of Christ because of what he’s done for you. Then, as more and more grace is poured out over your life, it leads you to become more thankful – giving that thanks to God and in response, Grace increases, making you more thankful, and on and on and on.

Listen to these simple words of St. Peter who said: Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

You are all here because you have faced trial, physical and perhaps emotional pain. Take heart, there is a God who loves you and will give you the grace to live through the trials. Our job is to act like a people who have received grace and grace abundantly. Humble yourself before the God of love and receive the fullness of life that only He can offer.

In the words of St. Paul I say “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Amen.

The Orthodox Position on War

Banner priest 

A great article outlining the Orthodox Church perspective on war in general in light of current events:

Four great pericope’s from this article [emphasis added]:

In his book Contemporary Moral Issues Facing Orthodox Christians, Fr. Stanley Harakas says, “the Church as a whole and its ethical teaching is opposed to war, which it sees as a most terrible evil which nations inflict upon each other. In the strict sense of the word, there is no good war.” From an Orthodox perspective there is no possibility of a just war, as all war is evil and therefore cannot be justified for any reason.

The entirety of the Orthodox Spiritual life requires humanity to be at peace with itself and with one another. The Great Litany is used each time the Orthodox gather for worship. The litany begins with the words, “In peace let us pray to the Lord,” and the word peace appears three more times in that litany alone. During the services of the Orthodox Church the faithful continually pray for peace so that we may live out our spiritual lives in harmony with all of humanity. We are to share God’s peace with those around us and in doing so we imitate the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and we participate in His work.

From an Orthodox perspective there is no justification for war; even a war of defense is a lesser evil but is still an evil. The Orthodox Church, by faith and practice, believes that peace is normal and just. Therefore, war would be not only evil but it would be non-normative. We are to seek peace in each and every situation. The Greek Fathers wrote about peace in all situations and as such there would be no Orthodox Just War Theory as exists in Western Theological thought.

It is a result of our fallen human nature that there is evil in this world and sometimes violence is necessary to overcome that evil. It is my prayer that a peaceful solution can be found to end this horrific situation in Syria and in Egypt but if peace does not work that hostilities are kept to a minimum.

Anabaptists will share a deep resonance with our Orthodox brothers and sisters on this issue. Though, it should be noted that even in the Latin Church (Catholic), both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI (and I would be shocked if not Francis) posited that it is simply not possible to meet the criteria for a just war anymore, given the weapons available today.

Read the rest of the article here.

St. Augustine on War seeking Peace

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I found this quote from St. Augustine in a collection of his Political Writings (pp. 9-11):

Everyone who has observed the conduct of men’s affairs and common human nature will agree with me in this: that just as there is no man who does not long for joy, so there is no man who does not long for peace. Even those who want war, want it really only for victory’s sake: that is, they want to attain a glorious peace by fighting. For what is victory if not the subjugation of those who resist us? And when this is done, peace follows.

It is therefore with desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle. And hence, it is obvious that peace is the end sought for war. For every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. For even they who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish tit changed into a peace that suits them better. They do not, therefore, wish to have no peace, but only one more to their mind . . .

. . . And thus all men desire to have peace with their own circle whom they wish to govern as suits themselves. For even those whom they make ar against they wish to make their own, and impose on them the laws of their own peace.

Given the great tendency towards war that we have experience in the 20th and 21st Century, what do you make of St. Augustine’s thoughts?

Source: The Political Writings, Gateway Edition, 0-89526-704-7

What do we own?

038 038 Christ Ordaining The Apostles

For those who are on up their Catholic networks, we have a network in Canada called Salt and Light Media (similar to EWTN in the US). I picked up a free copy of their magazine today; it was a special issue to commemorate the election of Pope Francis earlier this year. I was reading the article about where Francis came from before his election, etc. One pericope caught my attention in particular:

. . . the Pope is Peter’s successor, the Church’s shepherd and a living example of charity, the guardian of a treasure that does not belong to him: the depositum fidei which it is responsibility to pass on to others . . . 

I thought this was such a great description, that I rewrote it to make it apply more generally to all Christians:

Christians are called to be living examples of charity, guardians of a treasure that does not belong to them: the depositum fidei (deposit of the faith) which it is their responsibility to pass on to others.

That’s a fantastic description of our responsibility and a wonderful reminder that the Gospel we hold so dear, that is so precious, is not ours to hold onto, but it is a gift to be shared, given away; it is the greatest responsibility we can ever take upon ourselves.

Mennonites part of faith leaders’ appeal regarding crisis in Syria

MENNONITES PART OF FAITH LEADERS’ APPEAL REGARDING CRISIS IN SYRIA

We urge you to refrain from the provision of military assistance to forces involved in the conflict in Syria. Military involvement will only further escalate an already brutal war and will, in fact, undermine the prospect of negotiations to ensure a just and sustainable future for all Syrians. Rather, the U.S. should call for all parties to cease all military activities in Syria and work urgently to de-escalate the crisis, together with other actors in the region and beyond.
We harbor no illusions as to the difficulties such a process will entail. But we believe it is the path the United States, along with the international community, must pursue if we seek the welfare of all Syrians. We pray for wisdom for you and for all of us as we seek to respond to this difficult and heartbreaking crisis.

Read the whole letter here. There’s a link to the full PDF at the bottom of the letter.

Metamorphosis

Welding

Things are a changin’ again.

Some of you know that I have been trying to maintain two blogs: this one, and one to cover my other interest in fitness, writing, movies, etc. It’s simply too much to maintain the two as separate blogs and add value to both. So, I’ve decided to weld both my blogs together and see what happens. Realistically, over time this will cause a metamorphosis in what SN is all about. I suspect it will become more well rounded and much more personal. I think you’ll get a better idea of who I am as a person. I’m not just a one dimensional “theology” guy. I like a lot of other things as well and figure some of you might too.

So, I’ll eventually move stuff over to this blog over time, but I’ll try to space it out so your RSS feed isn’t inundated with new stuff all at once.

Thanks for being with me this far, and I hope you enjoy what we will become.

Andrew

totus tuus.

Problems happen: UnManaging life change

Microsoft problems

NOTE: Some of you know that I maintain a second blog over here.
I’ve decided to meld the two together, because I just can’t keep up with maintaining both.
So, here’s the first crossover  post.

I know, I know, there are no problems, only “opportunities”.

Most of the time I actually do believe that, but this week I’m having trouble. On the good side, I start a new job next week. It’s an awesome with a great team doing something I can be passionate about. The downside is that its Monday to Friday 9-5 (with exceptions). I haven’t worked a 9-5 since I was 20 years old (I’m now 35). I’ve always worked shift work or just part time.

This poses a problem for my training. I mean, I can adjust my training to either to do it early in the morning or late at night (I will likely have to swim at night because of pool hours). I know it’s what most of you do, but transitioning to it is going to be tough and it’s a bit overwhelming. Learning a new job, during the busiest time for the office, adjusting to a new schedule, and keep training on top of that is overwhelming me.

My race is in 16 days and I don’t feel prepared for it at all and now I don’t want to train. I’ve got a lot to do before I start work and I know exercise will help me stay focussed, lower my stress, etc, etc… but it’s the last thing I want to do.

I don’t want to go to the race just to find out I did as well as I did last time; and that wasn’t very good. I know there’s value in starting the race, but I’ve done that 3 or 4 times before. I’m in the phase of wanting to do better and improve.

So, I really don’t know if I should take it easy or over the next few weeks and just make adjusting to the job priority #1 and forget about the race, or if I should try to keep the training load up and still go to the race.

Anyway, I’m supposed to Bike 40 / Run 20 today and it’s really muggy out. I really don’t want to and don’t know if I will.

I hate being in this mental space. Crap.