Contemplation

A Season of Waiting

A handle being lit in the darkness

Every year it’s the same. Once Thanksgiving and Halloween have passed, retailers and advertisers are intent that the world should think “Christmas” (and shopping). Suddenly the festive décor is up, carols are heard everywhere, and strangers greet one another with seasonal cheer. To many of us these are welcome changes, no matter how early they appear. What believer wouldn’t prefer to see wholesome ads featuring families by firelight, rather than images that appeal to baser desires? But in the rushRead more

October 20, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 18

What are you leaving out? Have you ever prayed the Litany? Traditional churches often say it twice annually, but not too long ago it was common to pray the Litany every week. This fell out of fashion around the same time that churches became wary of focusing on spiritual realities that might be perceived as “negative.” Well, if the Litany is not part of your church experience you may well be wondering what I’m going on about. The Litany isRead more

October 18: Luke the Evangelist

“Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin” by Rogier van der Weyden, c. 1435

(The BCP Readings for this Feast Day can be found here) The Gospel according to the Doctor The four Gospel accounts tell us the story of how Jesus entered human history. Four very different men were inspired by the Holy Spirit to each write an account of what they’d seen and heard. Their names were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and their written accounts are found in our Bible’s New Testament. Together these Gospels form a rich, layered narrative thatRead more

October 13: Harvest Thanksgiving

"The Harvest of Hay in Eragny" by Camille Pissarro, 1887

More than a holiday: What we usually think of as “Thanksgiving” is a holiday peculiar to the U.S. and Canada. It calls to mind the gratitude of Protestant colonizers for the blessings of the harvest as they forged new lives in a new land. But there is more to the heart of the holiday than a full belly. Thanksgiving acknowledges that we are dependent on the land to yield food. But it further acknowledges that God is sovereign over theRead more

Four Prayers for Advent

A road through evergreen trees in winter, seen from above

Four Collects for Advent from The Book of Common Prayer: The Collect for Advent 1: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead,Read more

Lo! He comes with clouds descending

Mist and clouds at daybreak - listen

During the season of Advent, we think not only about the first coming of Christ, but about his second coming. This moving hymn calls us to anticipate that glorious day. (Text by John Cennick, Charles Wesley). Lo! He comes with clouds descending Lo! He comes with clouds descending, Once for favoured sinners slain; Thousand thousand saints attending Swell the triumph of his train: Alleluia! God appears, on earth to reign. Every eye shall now behold him Robed in dreadful majesty;Read more

October 6, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 16

The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity: (The BCP Readings for today can be found here). What comes to mind for you when someone begins to speak about the Church? Do you think of a joyous experience of spiritual community? Or are you reminded of the fragmentation and confusion that seem so common in the Christian world? Perhaps both are true for you. They are both certainly true for me. I think you’ll agree that the collect for Trinity 16 is asRead more

The Song of Simeon

A depiction of baby Jesus presented at the temple by William Brassey Hole (detail)

The first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel include four hymns of praise that connect the New Testament with the Old Testament. They are: the song of Mary, the song of Zechariah, the song of the angel choir, and the song of Simeon. Each of these songs is an expression of praise to God that he has fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament by sending Jesus. The Song of Simeon, also called “Nunc Dimittis” (from the Latin for “Now youRead more

October 4: Francis of Assisi

“Saint Francis in the Desert,” Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430-1516)

The following is taken from the Prayer Book Society of Canada’s “622” study lesson on Francis of Assisi (#29). You can see the complete lesson series here. Francis of Assisi: Setting Aside Every Distraction: “You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13) The Christian world had never forgotten the Islamic attacks of the seventh and eighth centuries which had laid claim toRead more

Leaving the Bunker

A bunker interior with ladder ascending into open air and blue sky

A time to flee: In the times when we feel most threatened by a hostile world, retreat is a natural, even necessary, response. We seek a place of safety: a place where we can think, speak and live in accordance with our beliefs. We may even conclude that this can only be done by removing ourselves from, and shutting out, the hostility of the culture around us. So we surround ourselves with those things and people that are healthful toRead more

God knows what is best for me

A curving path through mature trees. Source: Pixabay

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a theologian, priest and poet. He was a devout Anglican and a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, before he converted to Roman Catholicism in his forties. Though you may not agree with him in certain things, perhaps you can appreciate what it’s like to search for a believing community where your faith can thrive and you feel free to worship God “in spirit and in truth.” Here’s an excerpt from John Henry Newman’s “MeditationsRead more

September 29: Michael and All Angels

“St. Michael,” by Raphael, c. 1505

Michaelmas: Spiritual corrective for the modern world: If you didn’t grow up in a liturgical tradition you may have heard of “Michaelmas” but never known to what it referred. It is, of course, the day in the Christian calendar on which we celebrate “Michael and All Angels”: September 29. C. S. Lewis once wrote that, “there are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other isRead more

On Petty Irritations

Monk Choir Singing (19th century art)

Thomas Merton (1915–1968) was a Trappist monk, well known for his contemplative writings. But his journals share not only his moments of spiritual insight, but his very relatable moments of petty irritability. This humourous excerpt is found in the second volume of his journals (“Entering the Silence“): In my interior life there is a small area of raw and inflamed and infected thought and emotion, and it concerns the choir and the head cantor. The pitch-pipe blows and the cantorRead more

September 22, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 14

The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity: (The BCP Readings for today can be found here). The collect for today, reads like this: Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. The lovely command “Make us to love that which thou dost command”: Isn’t that an interesting phrase? A love forRead more

September 21: Matthew the Evangelist

“The Calling of Matthew,” Vittore Carpaccio, 1465-1526

(The BCP Readings for this Feast Day can be found here) Eyewitness accounts: The miracle of Jesus entering human history is recorded for us in the four Gospels authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each of these men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote an eyewitness (or eyewitness-based) account of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord. Each of these accounts was written from a different perspective and originally intended for a different audience. But together theirRead more

Be still, my soul

A tranquil lake - listen

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (KJV) “Be still, my soul” by Katharina von Schlegel (1752), trans. Jane Laurie Borthwick (1855): Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He, faithful, will remain. Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. Be still, my soul:Read more