Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread;
and when he had given thanks,
he brake it, and said,
This is my body, which is for you:
this do in remembrance of me.
In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying,
This cup is the new covenant in my blood:
this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me
1Co 11:23-26
I have a difficult time with memory, or the past. I don't get any pleasure from my own memories, nor anyone else's. I don't like old photographs. Times past are full of regret: in my own case that I didn't do more; in other's that I wasn't there with them. And there is nothing I can do about either.

To me, the past is full of darkness, lies, broken promises, or of times when things were better due to my absence (or things are now worse due to my presence), or things were bad due to my presence. All this makes life very difficult and painful, as our whole existence is based on what has already occurred, and our remembrance is what makes things real. I don't really see a place for me in all of this, past or present.

Memory has become a more tangible since becoming a Christian; since becoming involved in Sacramental worship.

In the Eucharist, we are asked "to do this in remembrance of me," a physical act to remember. The feelings involved in Communion are strong, deep and vivid.

I often think what my younger self would make of me now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Open in case of becoming above oneself

Johan Christoph Weigel

Since last Monday, we have had readings from the Epistle of James at Daily Mass.
I have read the letter before, but not really paid much attention to the su
bstance, or the teaching contained therein. I consider that the hearing of these simple, unpretentious, words, as opposed to solitary reading has intensified the message: Keep your head in.

An oversimplification of course, but during the week or so, that is what I keep hearing.

James is very big on saying and doing:

But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
deluding your own selves.
For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer,
he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror:
for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away,
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
James 1:22-24 RV
To not do what you professes by
faith is empty and meaningless.
Even so faith,
if it have not works,
is dead in itself.
James 2:17 RV
It is very practical. There is no mystical theorising like in 1 John; just how to be.

One of the more subtle points James makes concerns future plans. To plan ahead is possibly arrogant:
Go to now, ye that say,
Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain:
whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.
What is your life?
For ye are a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that.
But now ye glory in your vauntings:
all such glorying is evil.
James 4:13-14 RV

After the above reading at Mass today, walking home, I listened to "Open your Eyes" by Asia.

Open your eyes,
and see the world
that stands before you
A fair enough sentiment I guess, and it fit the reading for the day. At the end of the song, there is an extended ending. Wetton builds a remarkable 4+ part vocal section, Open your eyes.
I have often thought of this bit as bashing into my head; Open your eyes. Like Wetton really wants you to.

Today I heard it as seeing the present.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spirit, delivered by Service

A month ago, I was reading two books:
Lee, The Religious Thought of St. John. (1962)
Howard, Christianity according to St. John. (1943)

I found a quote that I liked, but I didn't have any paper to mark it, or write it down.
It was so good and spot on, and relevant, there was no possible way I was going to forget it.

I forgot what it was. I had read on into other subject matter, and.....
I would look through and find it.
However, because of the two books having a similar subject and layout, finding it was somewhat of a random search.

"man is not a pure spirit,
and that to have full effect,
spiritual teaching must be combined with the visible and material"
Gardner, The Ephesian Gospel, 1915, p. 210
quoted in:
Lee, The Religious Thought of St. John, 1962

I think this means that man needs symbolism (liturgy) and physical (Eucharist) to gain a full understanding of Christianity, or more succinctly in the words of Richard Hooker:
a sacrament is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."

More recently been thinking about mysticism and spiritual development. I believe that any form of true higher spiritual experience is either meaningless, or impossible without a large element of service. Christianity's humanitarianism is also part of it's way toward God, by the example of Jesus.

We know that,
if he shall be manifested,
we shall be like him;
for we shall see him even as he is.
1 John 3:2 RV

Friday, May 16, 2008

The newly appointed shepherd

Johan Christoph Weigel

So when they had broken their fast,
Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John,
lovest thou me more than these?
He saith unto him,
Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.
He saith unto him,
Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John,
lovest thou me?
He saith unto him,
Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.
He saith unto him,
Tend my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John,
lovest thou me?
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time,
Lovest thou me?
And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.
Jesus saith unto him,
Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17 RV
I have had Jesus' threefold commission to Peter in my head since last week, when it was the Gospel reading for the day.

Where the earlier footwashing showed the meaning of leadership and servitude by way of an act, here Jesus informs Peter what he (Peter) will need to do in his ministry:
Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.
The Catholic Church believes this to be the making of Peter into the first Pope. It is read at Pope's Funerals.
While I agree that this is true, I do not think Jesus' words were solely for Peter, and therefore the Papacy. I believe these words are for all leaders within the Church.

Feed in this saying means to spiritually nourish, and lambs refers to young and new followers. The young and new need special attention for spiritual guidance.

Every Monday and Thursday, we hold a playgroup at Church. It runs from 9:30-11:15 and costs $2. About 30 kids under the age of 5, and their Mums come along. the kids have a free playing time, then they go into the Church for a story (this week it was "The Good Shepherd") a song, and a short prayer. Then the kids come back say Grace, then have morning tea. Then they play around a bit. Then craft, where the colour and glue pictures. (This week it was a lamb). Then they have some other songs, then go home.

I guess this fits the bill for both feed and tend.
The standard Church service has nothing for kids. But within this group, they get a Biblical story, prayers they can understand, and songs that are written for them.
They dig it, no more or less than non Christian stuff I suppose.

Tend is to look after, and the manner in which to do so is mentioned a letter attributed to Peter:

Tend the flock of God which is among you,
exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according unto God;
nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you,
but making yourselves examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:2-3 RV
Tend in this circumstance is to provide for human needs.

I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.
John 10:11 RV
Jesus then tells Peter that he is to feed them.
To feed is a separate function from tend.
The spiritual nature needs to be more than satisfied; it needs to be in a state ongoing growth.

Tending is important, a community is involved.
It is interesting that Peter separates Feed and Tend for the sheep. Are they different jobs? Are they done at different times? And why not tend the young?

I believe Jesus is telling Peter that as a leader, not to neglect the spiritual teaching of his flock. While tending is important, the whole flock will be a part of this for each other. Peter explained the role of a leader as "oversight" .

I think the role of spiritual guidance is the distinct role of the leader within the Church.
A Priest may organise some construction within the Parish buildings; he won't design the building, or lay the bricks.
He will be the one who will lead the worship in the finished building, not the architect, or the bricklayer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tongues of Fire


I took this photo on Monday.
I have noticed before the way the 12 o'clock sun goes through a section of the stained glass,
a red hits the door that is so vibrant and glowing. I noticed on Friday during the service, but it had disappeared by the end. I used my phone camera.

When I started to work with the photo at home, the above came out quite quickly, but the red has lost it's vibrance, but it has gained shape. The surrounding lights only appeared after I darkened the image.

Here is the unaltered photo:

12 pm Monday 9th May 2008
Chapel, St John the Evangelist, Dee Why

It wasn't until I looked at this again that I noticed the hooded figure in red with arms outstretched in the bottom left corner. Wow!
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder,
like as of fire;
and it sat upon each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:2-4 RV

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wonderous Stories

Going for the One

Here is the video and lyrics for Wonderous Stories by Yes.

What a wonderful song.
I remember at the age of 15 first hearing it. I really liked it, it was a song that would end up on comp tapes for my walkman.
I certainly understood it as being a spiritual song, although I had no idea what it was really about.
Listening now, I can feel that young idealism, and it makes me think of what I thought it would be possible to achieve.
As he spoke my spirit climbed into the sky
I have always understood it as spiritual, but I now hear (know here) it as Christian. Nothing overt: there is no mention of Jesus or even God in the song. I guess that my interpretation of how the song feels is based on whereabouts I am.

Music is an amazing restorer of unknown memories. A song listened to with definite repetition, then ignored for years, then relistened, will give the previous listening period a significance that one could not have been aware of at the time. It is like getting a non intellectual chance at remembering something.

I also like the fact that Jon misspelled "wondrous".

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

St John and Julian of Norwich

Portret van een Vrouw
Rogier van der Weyden

IN this same time our Lord shewed me a spiritual sight of His homely loving.
I saw
that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us:
He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us,
claspeth us,
and all encloseth us for tender love,
that He may never leave us;
being to us all-thing that is good,
as to mine understanding.

Julian of Norwich
Revelations of Divine Love
Revelation One; Chapter 5

I recorded some music to commemorate Julian's day in the Anglican Calendar.
The pieces are a slighter rawer than my two earlier this year. I wanted to treat them more, but they wanted to stay clear; hence the sound is a bit sharper and closer. There are a few more background noises: clicks, clunks, birds, crickets, cars. I think it suits Julian that the sound is a bit more rustic.

Anyway, you can hear the pieces here.

We had a reading of her work at Mass today, from which the above is taken.

Although I had read the above before, today I heard it read aloud; a very different experience to that of last year.
I understood it as an expansion on:

God is love;
and he that remains in love
remains in God,
and God remains in him.
1 John 4:16
Where John says "love", Julian says: "everything that is good and comfortable for us". She describes it almost in terms of sensation. She then goes on to describe God's love for us in terms of a hug:

Wrappeth us,
claspeth us,
and all encloseth us
It is an eternal hug:
He may never leave us
John at the end of his first letter informs us
This is the true God, and eternal life
1 John 5:20
I know my above writing is a bit shallow, that it seems rather obvious, and probably pointless for me to point out. But sometimes things can be other thought and over writ.

Monday, May 5, 2008

An hour or so with Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich recieved her vision on May 8th 1373.

Last year, I read the short text of her Revelations in one sitting. It is not long, only 30 0r so pages. This was able to be done. I kneeled upright, holding the book, a single candle for light.

I took this photo earlier that week.

It took me 90 minutes to read the text. After each chapter I said a prayer. At times my knees hurt and my calves ached. My lower arms became tense. It would become difficult to read the words due to the lack of light. Sentences had to be re-read often. My mind drifted, and I allowed this happen; once I became aware I had drifted, I would resume reading.

When I completed the text, I made a cup of tea, and sat outside in the sun.

I was completely aware of how different I felt. I knew I had been through something. What exactly, I do not know; so how valuable the experience was is open to debate. However, It is a day I will not forget, and I am certain it was a furthering of my spiritual development.

I started to read many books about Julian of Norwich, wanting to make sense of what I had read, wanting to find out about her. Although these were of great help in terms of interpreting her work, my odd 90 minutes seemed to have imprinted a deep sense of love within me; a sensation that rises, however gently, whenever I read her text.

This week I am taking my time, and reading the long text. Already, pleasant wisps of last year are returning; gentle and elusive.