Friday, October 31, 2008

Danse Macabre: THe Dance of Death

Bernt Notke,1440-1509- Danse Macabre, St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn

Saint-Saƫns : Danse Macabre

Jose Posada Dance of Death

Goethe's Totentanz

Liturgy Planning for Sunday after All Saints


Revelation 7:9-17

After this I, John, looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
"Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,singing,
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from? "I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows. " Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Psalm 34:1-10, 22 Page 627, BCP
Benedicam Dominum

I will bless the LORD at all times; *his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the LORD; *let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD; *let us exalt his Name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me *and delivered me out of all my terror.
Look upon him and be radiant, *and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me *and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him, *and he will deliver them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; *happy are they who trust in him!
Fear the LORD, you that are his saints, *for those who fear him lack nothing.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger, *but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.
The LORD ransoms the life of his servants, *and none will be punished who trust in him.

1 John 3:1-3

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Hymn Suggestions:

from The 1982 Hymnal

231 and 232 By All Your Saints Still Striving
275 Hark the Sound of Holy Voices
276 For Thy Blest Saints, a Noble Throng
279 For Thy Dear Saints, O Lord
280 God of Saints, to Whom the Number
286 Who Are These Like Stars Appearing
287 For All the Saints
450 and 451 All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
526 Let Saints on Earth in Concert Sing
545 Lo! What a Cloud of Witnesses
558 Faith of our Fathers*
560 Remember Your Servants Lord
618 Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
619 Sing Alleluia Forth in Duteous Praise
623 O What Their Joy and Glory Must Be
624 Jerusalem the Golden

Other Hymns and Anthems

For All Your Saints Still Active (Hymns Old and New)
How Shall I Sing that Majesty (John Mason)
My Soul there is a Country (Henry Vaughn)
Sing with All the Saints in Glory (United Methodist Hymnal 702)
Come Let Us Join Our Friends Above (United Methodist Hymnal 709)
Beati voi poveri (Taize)
We Adore You, Lord Jesus Christ (Taize)
O Quam Gloriosum (Philip Moore)
O Quam Gloriosum (Tomas Luis de Victoria)

De Tus Santos en la Tierra (El Himnario 194)
Te Loamos, Dios Clemente (El Himnario 198)

Other Notes:

This is a wonderful time to use Prayer D in the 1979 Prayer Book, and of course one must chant the Mozarabic setting.

The dignity of this feast also allows for a solemn Te Deum, either as a "separate liturgy" after the Mass, or after Matins or Evensong. Incense may be used, but the altar should not be censed. If after the Mass, the celebrant should remove the chasuble and replace it with a cope.

If there is an Evensong on this feast day, it may be followed by a Solemn Benediction

If it is desired to introduce this devotion in places where it is not observed, one could begin with a simpler service of Devotions before the Blessed Sacrament, (p. 157 in Dennis Michno's A Priest's Handbook.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween.... The Night of the Damned

Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve, is currently celebrated as an amalgamation of rituals and practices for festivals of the dead from the various immigrant communities who have made up the fabric the American nation. Much of the customs associated with the day come from the "christianized" Samhein celebrations of the pre-reformation Christians in England, Scotland, and Ireland. On this night in pre-reformation England, Scotland, and Ireland, bonfires and lanterns would be set ablaze in order to scare off the evil spirits believed to emerge from hell at midnight. From this practice we get the jack-o-lantern.

Although Peter,Paul, and Mary sing A Soulin' as a Christmas Song, it is actually a Halloween Song- a carol sang by children in pre-reformation times as they wandered from door to door asking for soul cakes for the dead. (of course herein lie some of the roots of trick-or-treating).

Soul, Soul, a soul cake!I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,three for Him what made us all!''
Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a plum, a peach, or a cherry,
anything good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, one for Paul, & three for Him who made us all.

In time the night became associated with the damned souls in hell. Rituals evolved which both inculcated a fear of hell and provided a means of making light of the horrors of hell. I remember as a child my home parish would sponsor a Haunted Forest on Halloween Night. It was all a lot of fun- although I remember literally having the hell scared out of me- which I think was probably the point. It has recently become my custom to read scary stories to my son. One of our favorites is:

Little Orphant Annie
By James Whitcomb Riley

Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits YOU
Ef you

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
Watch ..

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git YOU
Ef you

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git YOU
Ef you

Of course at the end of the night, after trick-or-treating and pallin' around with gobblins and ghosties, I remind my son that God's love is stronger than Evil, and that in the end God's Love will win. We bless ourselves with holy water, make the sign of the cross, pray that Michael and all the angels will be near through the night... and then pray one of my favorite Scottish prayers...

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!


With many of the Church Fathers, I am not convinced that the souls in hell can be tormented forever, given a loving God, who in Jesus Christ is reconciling all things to Himself. (I'll post some quotes below, but a fuller discussion will have to wait for another time and space). So, on this day, I pray for those who may be suffering in hell- and in personal hells in their daily lives on earth. I pray that the mercy of God may bring them redemption, and an end to their sufferings. I pray that the love of God may find its way into the deepest places of their souls. I remember a few years ago when my son was younger when he asked: "Daddy, people don't really go to hell, do they? I mean if they for some reason went there, wouldn't Jesus fly down and take them away?"

I think he basically sums it up.

Quotes from the Fathers on hell:

We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer to redeem, to rescue, to discipline in his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life. –Clement of Alexandria

In the end and consummation of the Universe all are to be restored into their original harmonious state, and we all shall be made one body and be united once more into a perfect man and the prayer of our Savior shall be fulfilled that all may be one. --St. Jerome, 331-420

For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetural, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them...the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be showed to them. --Diodore of Tarsus, 320-394 A.D.

And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but as it were, by a kind of banishement, cast him out of paradise in order that, having punishment expiated within an appointed time, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled...just as a vessel, when one being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For he is broken up by force, that in the resurrection he may be found whole; I mean spotless, righteous and immortal. --Theophilus of Antioch (168 A.D.)

Friedrich Pacher- Christ Releasing the Souls from Limbo- 1460

Sacred Harp: the Sacred Choral Tradition of the South

Sacred Harp refers to the sacred choral tradition that took root in the South in the shape-note singing tradition. There is something about this music that touches a deep place in my soul- take a few moments and listen to these songs of deep faith and let them resonate in the quiet places of your own heart. For more information on Sacred Harp, go here

Mary Help of All Christians, patroness of China

I'm not normally a fan of cartoonish-style art, but there is something that really speaks to me in this image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy child, Jesus. I think it's the same thing that speaks to me in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: that universal compassion that enables the holiness of Mary and Jesus to be known and seen in the faces of all the peoples of the earth: that catholic message that we are all loved and called to be joined to God in Christ, and that in each other we see the image of God, and in each other we are able to seek and serve Christ.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

luz oracion

Geez- there are more candles there than in the sacristy at Smokey Mary's!!!

photo taken by Larry- a friend of mine from NC while traveling in Chicago

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Holy Saint Jude, Apostle and Martyr, Great in virtue and rich in miracles, Near kinsman of Jesus Christ, Faithful intercessor of all Who invoke your special patronage in time of need. To you I have recourse from the depths of my heart And humbly beg to whom God has given such great power To come to my assistance. Help me in my present and urgent petition, In return I promise to make your name known And cause you to be invoked. Saint Jude pray for me and all those who invoke your aid. Amen."

Saint Jude

Today is the feast of SS Simon and Jude.

St Jude is invoked as the patron of lost causes because if his admonition to endure through times of distress. It is also possible, since many mistook him for Judas Isacriot who betrayed Jesus, that many were afraid to pray to him for intercessions, and only turned to him when they felt desperate. In any case, his prayers continue to be invoked by the helpless, destitute, and hopeless. "Saint Jude, Help of the helpless, pray for me."

prayer to St Jude

Help of the helpless
Defender of the needy
Voice of the silenced
Refuge of all who lose hope
Hear our cry, and pray for us.

New blog

For a while I blogged at a priest's musings on the journey, but then the inspiration to write there left me, and I have left it fallow for several months. I will continue to post an occassional sermon or commentary there, butI am refocusing my energy on a new blog: creavit.

Here I will share some of my poetry, short stories, paintings, and the music and art of friends as well as favorite pieces of mine. Thanks for stopping by and checking this space out. I hope the writings and images here will aid you in your quiet times and in your prayer times.