Blessing the Animals

Originally sent 10/3

Today is the actual feast day of St. Francis. It is a “Movable Feast,” and so will be celebrated by many churches–including St. Paul’s–this Sunday.

Having just returned from some hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I can appreciate Francis’ belief that nature is “the mirror of God.”

Francis considered all of the animals to be his “brothers” and “sisters,” and even preached to the birds! Because of his deep love for the earth and all its creatures, Francis embraced everyone, believing he could not call himself a Christian if he did not love all for whom Jesus died.

On his deathbed Francis even thanked his donkey for graciously carrying his burdens, and legend tells us his donkey wept.

God bless us all, as did St. Francis,

Mother Candace+

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Memories of 9/11

As is always the case the week of 9/11, many memories were shared over the last few days…
Larry Neeb told me he had just that day returned home from quadruple bypass surgery, and the first thing he saw on T.V. was the  plane hitting the second tower.  That was a moment for all of us–the moment we knew it was not an accident.
On our Facebook Page Kerri Haack wrote that she remembered: “Hugging Mike when he got to my office after I thought I’d lost him.”
Kyle Smith wrote:  ”My sisters neighbor, John Daniel Marshall, was one of the heroes lost that day. He was a NYC firefighter. When my sister moved in her house, I met him her 1st day there – because he was the kind of neighbor who welcomed a new neighbor – and I remember feeling so comforted that my baby sister was in good hands on Westview Avenue. Dan left behind a 3 year old daughter, and a 9 month old son. May he, and all who perished, rest in eternal peace.
And Amanda Olsen shares from Vet school in St. Kitts:  ”I was 11 years old sitting in science class when another teacher ran in and turned on the tv in time to see the second plane hit the towers. I remember making my parents’ anniversary dinner that I had planned for days and my parents trying to enjoy it even though no one was in the mood for celebrations. And I remember thinking that a day that should have been one of joyous memories for my family had become one of terror and confusion.
There are more memories of 9/11 on our facebook page We’d love to hear yours too!
Have a blessed week!  Mother Candace+
To read the St. Paul’s Messenger in its entirety, please send an email to vicar@stpaulschester.org

How to Declutter Your Life

A month ago John proposed we throw out one thing every day.  It was a great idea. In the process I had a real Holy Spirit moment when I tackled an old pile of papers and uncovered a little pamphlet near the bottom titled, “Decluttering as a Spiritual Exercise.”  It was prophetic. 
 
Throwing out (or giving away) at least one thing a day has not only decluttered our home, but uncovered many lost memories: old family photos, interesting old “to-do” lists, books I wanted to read, TWO pairs of glasses I thought were lost forever, a notebook full of dreams, etc. etc. ETC.!  
 
Throwing out/giving away at least one thing a day has led to old places and new, old goals and new, old thoughts and new. It has indeed become a wonderfully refreshing spiritual exercise, which I highly recommend.
 
Want to share your spiritual experience of decluttering? Go to our facebook page and join the community discussion.   
Have a blessed week!  Mother Candace+ 
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Declaring Our Independence

 Today we celebrate our declaration of  independence, which freed us from English government, but also  inadvertently led to a break with the Church of England (“Ecclesia Anglicana”). Because Church  of England clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch, and the clergy in America were not willing to do so, the Episcopal Church was formed. It became the first of many “Anglican Provinces” outside the British Isles, which eventually formed the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
With approximately 80 million members around the globe, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian Church in the world, after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches
Some churches in the Anglican Communion are known as “Anglican,” such as the Anglican Church of Canada.  Others, like our church and the Scottish church, use the name “Episcopal,” which literally means “having bishops.” Regardless of their name, all of the churches  in the Worldwide Anglican Communion are in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Happy Independence Day!  Mother Candace+ 

Same Sex Marriage

Bishop Dietsche’s Statement 

on Yesterday’s Supreme Court Ruling

June 26, 2013

As all the world now knows, today the Supreme Court made two historic decisions related to the legal rights and standing of those in the LGBT community, by striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and by dismissing the appeal against the lower court decision in California which makes provision for same sex marriage in that state. In the annals of the struggle for civil and human rights, and for the recognition of the equality of all people, today will be remembered as a milestone of justice and righteousness. On behalf of the Diocese of New York, I join with those who have worked so hard for so long to guarantee rights for gay and lesbian couples in celebration of these important decisions and what they will mean. I am confident that the day is coming when marriage equality will become the law everywhere in America, and I am sure that the events of this day, our day, will further the pursuit of those just ends.

Certainly, for same sex couples in our own state and diocese, the abolition of DOMA opens the way for the breaking down of the final barriers to full equality and freedom for same-sex couples. I am proud that in various ways this diocese has made its witness that such equality is truly of God, and speak for our whole community in offering our thanks today to the United States Supreme Court, and to those who have tirelessly pressed the case before that court, and we offer our congratulations and best wishes to all those whose lives will be enlarged and blessed by the events of this day.

 

The Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche

Bishop of New York

 

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Finally! The Trinity explained!

Andrew’s mom, Amy, sent this picture of his block version of “The Trinity.” Andrew explained the three crosses as “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…the tallest one is the Holy Spirit.”

andrew

I have noted several times during our monthly Children’s Sermon that we have some “budding theologians” in our midst–and this certainly seems to prove it! Despite years and years of debate at the Council of Nicea, I honestly don’t think the Greeks ended up describing the Trinity any better. The term they ultimately settled on in our Creed for the “three in one” aspect of Father/Son/Spirit is “homoousia,” which translates “one being,” or “one substance.”

Too bad Andrew wasn’t around in 325 to help the Greek Fathers–as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Have a blessed week! Mother Candace+

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Childhood Mystical Experiences

It is a common practice in the Episcopal Church to call the children forward to witness a Baptism at close range, as we will do this Sunday.  I still remember the first Baptism I witnessed as a child of four or five–or at least I remember one moment of that Baptism when I looked around and realized I was surrounded by the most beautiful stained glass and marble, and the air seemed suddenly charged with an energy I had never experienced.  In some amazing and terrifying way everything seemed to be connected to everything in that moment.
Of course I was too little–or too awestruck–to articulate that experience to anyone at the time, but it has remained with me all my life. To this day I believe it to be my first experience of God.
Maybe you had what some would call a “mystical experience” as a child–what the great Anglican writer Evelyn Underhill describes as “a sense of the oneness of all being.”  It is actually not uncommon for children to have such experiences, though they seldom articulate them until much later in life. You may or may not have related such an experience to God, but it’s something to consider…and I’d love to hear about it sometime!
Yours in Christ, Mother Candace+
To see this email in its entirety, please send an email to vicar@stpaulschester.org

The Bishop on Anti-gay Hate Crimes in NYC

May 31, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I know that I speak for all New Yorkers, as I certainly do for my brother and sister bishops, in expressing our sorrow and outrage at the murder of Mark Carson on the eighteenth of May. This killing was clearly an anti-gay hate crime, and is being treated as such by the police commissioner of New York City. Hate crimes teach the whole community that every person identified with an historically oppressed group may at any time be victimized for the sake of the fears, hatreds, biases, weakness and pathologies of others. But even more than that, every word and action, every sentiment, that seeks to divide people from people or puts one people above another feeds a climate in which such violence can be seen by some as acceptable or excusable or even as the fault of the victim his- or herself. This is the insidious power of hate crimes, and it is why such crimes are treated differently by our laws and courts. We grieve that Mark Carson, who did nothing to provoke such an attack, and who did not deserve to lose his life, has fallen victim to these corrosive prejudices and this awful aggression. We grieve also for our cities and towns and for those forces active among us which work to rob people of their dignity, their freedom, their safety and even their lives. We grieve for the dehumanizing consequence of such violence that touches every one of us, and we grieve for the Body of Christ, into which the forces of violence and hatred continue to drive nails.

The murder of Mark Carson received great media attention. Less known is that the attack on him was only one of nine criminal acts of violence against people in Manhattan during May which were precipitated entirely because the victims were gay. Everyone needs to know this. Nothing could be more destructive to our common life or more grievous to God than such a pattern built upon a foundation of real evil, of unbridled hatred.

The Episcopal Diocese of New York has worked and continues to work to identify, recognize and eliminate the last vestiges of anti-gay bias in our structures and polity. This work is not finished. But we have labored to remove every barrier to the full inclusion of and participation by the LGBT community in our church in the whole of our life, including access to ordination and all diocesan and parochial leadership. Most recently we have broadened our understanding of and teaching regarding marriage to include same sex couples, and have happily embraced sacramental marriage equality as an expression of the fullness of our common life, and as a grateful response to the myriad ways in which the love of God is expressed through all of our lives. This holy work, and the fruits of it, are part of the way we hope to live out our baptismal imperative to “strive for justice and peace,” and to “respect the dignity of every human being,” and as a witness to the love we receive from God and have for one another. We believe and are convinced that this is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow is June, during which our communities will observe Pride Month. We will take into this month the still-fresh memory of these victims of anti-gay hate-crime violence, and most especially our brother Mark Carson. The LGBT Pride March in Manhattan will take place on Sunday afternoon, June 30. I will again be on the diocesan float. All are invited to come and join your fellow Episcopalians who will ride that float or accompany it on its way.

There are many voices in our culture which insist that homosexuality is incompatible with the Christian life. We emphatically do not believe that. So do find a way in these coming weeks to grieve the fallen, to make your witness to the love of Jesus, to engage our godly call to justice, and to let the world see and know that there are countless faithful Episcopalians in the LGBT community, and that they are loved, embraced and respected by the larger body of the Church of which they are and have always been a part.

The Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche

Bishop of New York

To read this email in its entirety, please email vicar@stpaulschester.org

Ever Feel Unworthy?

This week’s Gospel about the 1st century Roman Centurion considers the question of “unworthiness,” a feeling not uncommon to our own time.  
It has been said that we can know something is a profound truth if it’s opposite is also a profound truth.  In that regard we could say that feeling unworthy alienates us from God.  But the opposite can also be true:  feeling unworthy draws us and binds us to God.  
Want to hear more? Come hear this Sunday’s sermon!  Mother Candace+ 
To see this email in its entirety, please email vicar@stpaulschester.org

Who do you pray to?

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday and across the nation Christian clergy will try to answer the complex theological question, “What is the Trinity”? But perhaps there is a better question. Instead of asking “What is the Trinity?” we might ask: “To whom do you address your prayers; Father, Son, Holy Spirit, or all three?” In other words, how we pray reveals what we think. Anglican theologians refer to this as “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” which can be translated:  ”What we pray is what we believe.” What is hard to articulate intellectually can often be clearly seen in how we pray.  

 Perhaps you pray to the Father, perhaps the Son, or perhaps, like St. Paul, you let the Spirit sigh and groan in you with words too deep to say. Or perhaps, like me, you feel it’s not always clear which one you’re praying to–it feels more like a combination of all three, yet one.  

 Take a moment this week and think about who you are conversing with when you pray. God? Jesus? the Holy Spirit? All three? You have your own understanding of the Trinity already formed in you, which is revealed in the way you pray. “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” what you pray is what you believe.

 “May the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you for ever. Amen.”   Mother Candace+  

To see this email in its entirety, email vicar@stpaulschester.org