Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Not much to report. House arrest continues. The big excitement was perhaps driving to Popeye's to get dinner from the drive-thru (interacting with a masked and gloved employee) Read a good bit, watched some old movies, attended to some routine domestic chores (periodic photo organizing, finances). Significantly, though, Brenda and I again did celebrate the Eucharist together. Here's what I wrote about it on Facebook:
I celebrated a private in-home Mass today for only the third time in my ministry of 30+ years. (The other two times were last Sunday, and Wednesday, which was a major holy day.) Under normal circumstances, that would be self-indulgent. I am not unaware of my privilege; since I'm ordained to do so in general, I *can* do so. But these are not normal circumstances, and I believe it behooves those who are so ordained to do as I have done. Some have suggested that clergy should fast from the Eucharist in solidarity with all the baptized faithful, since they are not similarly privileged. I *could* do that. When walking the Camino in 2016, I was without the sacrament for more than six weeks. I learned the art of spiritual communion, and grace abounded. But, today, I was scheduled to preside at the Eucharist, not in general, but concretely with the people of St George's, Belleville. My celebration at home was not *with* them, save mystically, but it was definitely *for* them, on their behalf, for their sake. That whole community was represented, recapitulated, in our domestic oratory (aka the back bedroom) by my wife and me. Doing so was our work, our "liturgy." We offered the sacrifice that must be offered perpetually, "until he comes." The Mass must go on.

Saturday, March 28, 2020


The productive part of my day was consumed by video-recording, editing, and uploading a homily for Lent V and a special pastoral greeting to St George's, Belleville, which I had been scheduled to visit tomorrow. Technology still tries regularly to gut-punch me, but today I was mostly victorious. The unproductive (though quite enjoyable) part of my day was spent finishing a streaming production of Wagner's Twilight of the Gods, which I began last night, but it has a 4'45" run time! This came from the Met in New York, but was made available via the Chicago Lyric because they had to cancel their much-hyped production of all four segments of the Ring Cycle due to the virus, and this is the one I had not yet seen on stage. I understand that Wagner is possibly an acquired taste, but it's one I have very much acquired, so it was ... sublime. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday (Charles Henry Brent)

Another day under house arrest. They're all starting to feel the same. I had a Skype conversation with an individual who is seeking access to the ordination process. I participated in the recording of another podcast for the Living Church Foundation, this time as one of two guests, along with two hosts. We talked about how the context of the pandemic recontextualizes how we think about the Eucharist. It should be available for public consumption next week. I also opened a sermon file on Easter IV, where the place I won't be delivering it is Emmanuel, Champaign. Wrote a recommendation letter for a seminarian's scholarship application. Weighed in on an ongoing email conversation about the diocese opening a Zoom account. (We clearly need to.) Worked out on the Bowflex, since I'm still not allowed to do any serious walking. In other news, spent about 90 minutes of my life that I'll never get back wrestling with Verizon in an effort to upgrade Brenda's phone; her device is about 110 in cell phone years, and has apparently given up the ghost. Prayed both morning and evening offices. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020


  • Usual early AM weekday routine.
  • Took care of an administrative chore for the Putnam Trust (executing a trade proposal recommendation on the part of U.S. Trust, the fund manager). I've tried to avoid looking too closely at either diocesan or personal stock market holdings lately. I'm pretty confident it will all straighten out, and suspect that money managers probably have a higher level of anxiety than many of their clients.
  • Aside from keeping on top of emails as they arrived, and paying attention to general developments on the pandemic front, I spent the rest of morning, and the early afternoon, immersed in commentaries on Luke and I Peter, toward the end of sermon preparation for Easter III, when the church I won't be visiting is St Thomas', Salem. It's necessary work for a preacher to study a scripture text quite closely, but, for me, it's also a treat, so ... win/win.
  • Shot emails to our three Nashotah House seminarians. The campus is on lockdown, with no communal worship or communal meals and classes conducted remotely. Our student each live alone, so it's a kind of modified solitary confinement. Do hold David Knox, Danté Anglin, and Mark Klamer in your prayer. Took care of some additional business with one of them.
  • Made arrangements for a video interview with someone at the beginning of the ordination discernment process.
  • Took care of a routine personal organization chore, a calendar maintenance task generated by the coming transition from March to April.
  • Spent about 45 minutes with the ongoing basement organization project. It really will never end.
  • Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


  • Regular weekday early AM routine (personal devotions, intercessions, Morning Prayer, tea, breakfast, Facebook, crossword, task organizing).
  • Exchanged a couple of email with Hannah about various things that we've got going.
  • Prepped for and recording a weekly video greeting to the diocese.
  • Participated in a video meeting of the Province V bishops, which looks to become a weekly thing during this extraordinary season.
  • Worked on editing my video greeting (with a little help from my son upstairs), got it uploaded to Vimeo, and handed it off to Hannah. (It's now on the website.)
  • Celebrated Mass for the feast day with Brenda in our domestic oratory (which I'm going to have to settle on a proper name for, I think), which included, of course, a recitation of the Lord's Prayer, in keeping with the request of the Pope, the Presiding Bishop, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • Lunched on leftovers, slightly on the late side.
  • Conferred by phone with Canon Evans over a few things.
  • Wrestled with my exegetical notes on the readings for II Easter and arrived at homiletical message statement that, barring a miracle, I won't be able to deliver at St Paul's, Pekin.
  • Too advantage of a beautiful early spring afternoon and, doing an end run around my foot doctor's orders, took a modest walk with Brenda around the neighborhood. The boot I have to wear actually makes me dial back my cruising speed to her natural pace.
  • Worked on developing a promised reading list for a postulant to the diaconate.
  • Evening Prayer fell through the cracks, as I got caught up in making chicken enchiladas for the other family members who live in our building, which we all ate together in our dining room.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday (Oscar Romero)

As bizarrely abnormal as all days are now, today felt at one level like a return to normal. Last week was hijacked by the pandemic and my need to keep responding to it pastorally. Most everything else got lost in the shuffle--at least mentally and emotionally, if not actually. So now we're all hunkering down at home--well, I work from home at least three days each week anyway, which accounts for why it feels "normal" to be organizing tasks and making my way through the list. Of course, like I said, the situation is not normal at all; it just feels that way to me on one level. Today I spent a lot of time *communicating* with the Communicator, toward the end of some special responses to our newly straitened circumstances. The Living Church Institute has begun a podcast, and YFNB is the first presenter--on the subject how to think about the Eucharist during a time of pandemic. It went live this afternoon. I also spent a chunk of time preparing a Palm Sunday homily, just as if I were actually going to be at St Paul's Cathedral to deliver. I will, instead, deliver it by video from our domestic oratory. It's important that we still, as far as we are able, do the things we do. Sadly, one of the things *I* do, as you know, is walk, but my foot injury from a week ago finds my right foot in a boot and instructions to avoid any unnecessary walking. I did make a foray to the grocery store nearby for some essentials, taking all due precautions, but even that made my adult children all squirrelly. They would prefer I stay indoors, or venture no further than the alley to put the trash out. Apparently, I am a man under authority.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fourth Sunday in Lent

This has been the strangest Sunday I have ever spent, and, while I fear there will be many, many more like it, I can guarantee that it will never cease to feel strange. Brenda and I celebrated the Eucharist together in our domestic oratory. It seemed meet and right to begin with the Great Litany, and many of its petitions leapt off the page at me like they never have before.  The other accomplishment was doing the exegetical work on a homily for the Second Sunday of Easter. Of course, it won't be delivered in the context where it was initially intended, but I've determined to keep up with all the sermon preparation work that I'd planned, even if only to produce a video. This is all really hard, and while I understand that my cabin fever will soon get unbearable, I expect to bear it anyway, knowing that there are tens of thousands of people whose lots in this is very much worse than mine.