Showing posts from March, 2013

Easter Day

Preached both Masses at the cathedral, and celebrated at the later one as well. Then we enjoyed the hospitality of some cathedral parishioners for some very classic American comfort food. Eventually, it was home for a nice nap, trying together a few work-related loose ends, and easing into down-time mode. Going dark now in this space until Friday.

Easter Homily

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield After my first year in seminary, in 1987, I spent a long, hot summer working as a chaplain intern at a mental hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. There were five of us sharing this wonderful experience, and we met as a group every weekday morning to, among other things, articulate and process our feelings about our work with patients and staff on the units to which we were assigned. I have, mercifully, forgotten much of what went on that summer, but one thing that our supervisor taught us, over and over again, has stuck with me, because I've found it to have a ring of truth. He said that, even though it may seem as though we experience dozens of different and distinct emotions, they can all be boiled down to only four. These four essential feelings are: happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. I am by no means a psychologist, professional or amateur, but if I were to in any way refine this simple observation, it would be to say that there is o

Holy Saturday

Slept in until around 8. Did NOT do my customary Saturday exercise routine, as I am for the time being forbidden from accelerating my heart rate. Looked at some emails, read the paper, chatted with Brenda. Showered, dressed, and headed in to the cathedral, where I met with the Provost and the Verger and did some on-site tactical planning for tonight's Easter Vigil.  Stayed for some personal quiet time. Did some sermon work and prepared some website content from my recliner during the afternoon hours. Returned to the cathedral complex at 6:30 after a light supper. Read Evening Prayer in my office, then participated in the liturgy rehearsal. The Easter Vigil was at 8pm. It's always so powerful to hear the familiar narratives of God's ever-ingenious and opportunistic project of redeeming us from the power of sin and death. It was a spirited liturgy.

Good Friday

Devotions in the cathedral, some prayer time in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament on the Altar of Repose, and Morning Prayer in the nave. Produced and printed the service leaflets for my brother's funeral next week in the Chicago area. Refined and printed my homily for Easter (Vigil and Sunday morning). Walked the Stations of the Cross as a member of the congregation in the cathedral at 12:15. (Went home for the rest of the afternoon.) Performed a chore having to do with the ordination process. Fine-tuned the fourth of my five retreat addresses in the Diocese of Albany in mid-April. Worked a bit on my homily for Easter VII (May 12 at Christ the King, Normal). Caught up on some email. Took care of some routine personal organization chores. About 5:15 I headed back to the cathedral-office complex: read Evening Prayer, then took part in a rehearsal for the Good Friday liturgy. Presided (while the Provost preached) at the Proper Liturgy for Good Friday. It was done with

Maundy Thursday

Met the morning still feeling traumatized by my hospital stay, from which I was released a midday yesterday.  Surveyed the 52 items on my to-do list for what's left of this week and, exercising some rather ruthless triage, reduced it to 24, trying to observe multiple admonitions from multiple sources to "take things easy." Pared my task list down even further by delegating some to my intrepid Archdeacon, who promises me that I'm not exploiting him.  Read Morning Prayer in the cathedral.  Called my doctor's office, attempting to be faithful to my discharge instructions.  Refined and printed my sermon for tonight's liturgy.  Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Wrote a short opinion piece for the State Journal-Register, in response to a recent article by Tom Erich, a columnist for Religion News Service who happens to be an Episcopal priest. It should run early next week. Got down to the sad but necessary task of planning my own brother's funeral service, w

Sermon for Maundy Thursday

St Paul's Cathedral There probably isn’t a day that goes by in which any of us do not experience a sensation that we would name as hunger. It may be a faint rumbling in the stomach before downing a cheese Danish in the morning, or it may be a feeling of weakness and low energy and stomach rumbling that can be heard across the room! Hunger is an elemental, visceral experience. Only oxygen, immediate personal safety, and water rank as needs more basic than food. When my wife’s 13-year old orange tabby notices that he can see the bottom of his food bowl, even if there’s actually quite a bit of cat chow left in it, he makes everybody in the house aware of his displeasure. He doesn’t want to take the risk that he  might  ever be hungry! But let’s face it—the chances are that everyone in this church tonight is very well fed. A case could be made that few of us even really know what true hunger is. For a good percentage of the world’s population—maybe even half or more—hunger is

Tuesday in Holy Week

A chain of events beginning with shoveling snow yesterday has landed me in the cardiac unit of St John's Hospital. The good news is I did NOT have a heart attack. My coronary arteries are perfectly normal. But my aortic valve, which has had a murmur since birth, is now problematic, and needs to be replaced. This requires open heart surgery, which, from visiting many people in the hospital after such a procedure, I know is not exactly a walk in the park. Not an emergency, so ... sometime next month. I stand amazed by how God has exploited to events of my brother's untimely death by heart attack and a record spring snowfall. Were it not for both circumstances, I would likely not be aware of what a serious medical condition I have, and be on a path toward fixing it.

Sermon for Palm Sunday

St Paul's Cathedral, Springfield I always feel a little awkward as I begin to preach on Palm Sunday, because a sermon seems like such an anti-climax after the dramatic reading of the Passion. In a way, I would almost rather just sit down with you and have a discussion about our thoughts and feelings in the light of such a powerful experience. In particular, I would want to know how you felt when you had to speak the lines assigned to the crowd: “Crucify him! Crucify him!” My guess is that it would affect each of you in a slightly different way. Perhaps you’re just apathetic about it; it didn’t move you any more than reading the ingredient list on a jar of peanut butter. If Jesus is just an abstraction to you, just a historical figure, if you don’t have a personal relationship with him, then apathy is a quite understandable response to the reading of the Passion. Then again, perhaps it caused you sorrow or sadness. You sympathized with an innocent man being tried in a


Up and out in the usual weekday pattern; a busy Saturday was in the chute. Morning Prayer in the cathedral, along with making last-minute preparations for the Chrism Mass. Greeted clergy, spouses, and various others as they began to arrive on the scene. Banged the gavel on the February meeting of the Diocesan Council--delayed a month by snow a month ago--precisely at 10am. We got accomplished what needed to get accomplished in about 30 minutes. Presided at the Mass of Chrism, with the new cathedral Provost, Fr Keith Roderick doing a fine job as the preacher. It was a lovely liturgy. Joined clergy and spouses in the Great Hall for a delicious catered lunch. Surprised Fr Bill Malottke with the announcement that he is being made an honorary canon of St Paul's Cathedral, in recognition of his long service to the diocese (he's our senior living priest, having been ordained by Bishop Clough, my predecessor four times removed). Met with Fr Scanlon, wearing his hat as Ecumenical

Friday (James DeKoven)

Still minding the menagerie in the Zookeeper's absence, which, if nothing else, means I rack up a few more steps on the pedometer each day. At the Cathedral-Roundhouse complex at a decent hour, but instead of praying the morning office, I got distracted by consultations with the Provost and the Verger  over physical preparations for tomorrow's Chrism Mass. The rest of the morning was consumed by various iterations of administrivia. Lunch at home (leftover chili--one of the few things that gets better with age in the refrigerator). Most of the afternoon was spent producing a first draft of a homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (April 7 at St Andrew's, Edwardsville). Did a fruitful  lectio divina  on Jeremiah 29. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Thursday (Thomas Ken)

Up at the regular hour, but with the Zookeeper I live with visiting New York, I have extra pet care duties in the morning. Customary Thursday exercise, breakfast at home, in at the office around 9:15. Devotions in the cathedral, but Morning Prayer fell victim to the distraction of new Archbishop of Canterbury's enthronement, live-streaming on the BBC website. Processed several emails (while viewing the Canterbury livestream, so the processing was not particularly efficient). Met with Kathy Moore, our Youth Department chair. Lunch (and dog-walking) at home. Re-engaged my sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter (May 12 in Normal), arriving at a main message point. Took some actions in preparation for a June 1 Clergy Day. Took some actions in anticipation of a couple of potential ordinations in May. Fleshed out and solidified the third of my five retreat addresses in Albany next month. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. Spent some time preparing for my role in tonight's

Wednesday (St Cuthbert)

Arrived at the Cathedral-Roundhouse complex at my usual time, but instead of heading in for Morning Prayer, I was diverted into assisting with the move of an unused baby grand piano out of the cathedral and the altar we retrieved several weeks ago from St Andrew's, Paris in to be used as a chancel altar at this Saturday's Chrism Mass. It will look quite handsome. Devoted most of the rest of the morning to preparing for tonight's Lenten teaching presentation in Bloomington. Took phone calls from two priests of the diocese over sundry matters. Made one pastoral check-in phone call to another. Worked on a draft of my Easter homily. Lunch at home--leftovers. Stayed home the rest of the afternoon. Attended to some chores related to the ordination process. Took care of some Nashotah House-related business. Assisted with getting Brenda to the Amtrak station. She caught a train to Chicago tonight in advance of a very early AM flight to NYC in the morning. Hit the road to

St Joseph

This was a fairly productive day, but it was mostly in the category of "administrivia," though I did work on my homily for Maundy Thursday and made a pastoral check-in phone call to one of our clergy who has recently undergone a fairly serious surgical procedure. The highlight of the day was presiding and preaching at the regular 12:15 Mass in the cathedral chapel, this being St Joseph's Day, and St Joseph's Day being the second anniversary of my consecration. Of course, everything is under a bit of an emotional cloud, given the news I received Sunday of my brother's sudden death. I'm not quite firing on all cylinders.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

No post from yesterday, as the wi-fi connection at Todd Hall got really wonky. But we had an energetic retreat time with about 30 women from the diocesan ECW. It was my privilege to walk them through the "epistle of joy"--St Paul to the Philippians. We got home around 3:30, and as I was still unloading the car, the kind of phone call that we all dread came. My (younger) brother Phil ... did not wake up this morning. We knew he had heart disease, so we are not shocked, but, nonetheless, surprised. He lived in Florida with our mother, and had three children and five grandchildren in the Seattle area. Please hold us all in your prayers as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Sermon for Lent V

ECW Retreat, Toddhall Retreat Center -- Philippians 3:8-14,  Isaiah 43:16-21,  Psalm 126,  Luke 20:9-19 Have you ever stopped and thought about how crazy it is that we’re here at this moment doing what we’re doing? We’re not at work, directly contributing to the economy. We’re not at leisure, being entertained. We’re not getting any chores or projects done around the house. We’ve given up precious time—time for which we could easily think of a number of different uses—we’ve given up valuable time to gather in this rather odd building that has little or no practical or functional use, and participate in rituals and ceremonies that don’t feed a single hungry person or educate one illiterate immigrant or add one dime to the gross domestic product. Some of us are even dressed in costumes that haven’t been fashionable since the Roman Empire. What could we possibly be thinking? What we’re thinking, of course, is that “the Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.”


Usual AM routine; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Preliminary planning and plotting for a June 1 clergy day, which will focus on the "Marks of Discipleship." Took (surprise) delivery of a re-conditioned antique monstrance. I rescued it from a cupboard at Redeemer, Cairo some months ago and engaged Catholic Church Supply of St Louis to repair and replate it, and fabricate a new luna. It looks splendid, and will be put to use in a very special endeavor of prayer and spiritual renewal in the diocese. Weeded out the snail mail (periodicals, form letters, etc.) that had arrived while I was away at House of Bishops. Lunch at TG, eaten at home, where I remained for the afternoon. Did some important ancillary work in connection with the priests retreat that I will lead next month in the Diocese of Albany. Packed and headed south with Brenda for Toddhall Retreat Center in Columbia (a ministry of St George's, Belleville), stopping in Litchfield for dinner at our favorite &


After a week away from the office, it was "one of those days." Lots of things to catch up on with staff, and lots of emails to process. Met with the Provost, Verger, and Altar Guild Directress of the cathedral in order finalize plans for the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. Tightened up my addresses and sermon for the ECW retreat that begins tomorrow evening. Journeyed to Havana in the late afternoon with the Archdeacon for a 6pm meeting with the priest and Bishop's Committee at St Barnabas. Other than all that, I was consumed with technology issues. There's evidently a step in the process of downloading and editing video files from a camcorder that I have forgotten, because I've done it twice successfully, and today nothing works. Grrrr.


This was mostly a travel day. I packed, had breakfast, and caught the 9am shuttle run from Kanuga to the airport in Asheville, ahead of a 10:30 flight to Atlanta. There were about a dozen bishops on that flight, and it was only a regional jet. My layover in Atlanta was three and half hours, so I was grateful to be invited to join the Bishop of Northern Indiana, Ed Little, as his guest in the Delta Sky Club, which has a rather more commodious ambience than the general concourse. It was there that we saw the white smoke billow from the Sistine Chapel and sat on the edge of our chairs for the next hour. Right before I had to report to my boarding gate, the identity of the new Pope was announced. There was an audible buzz in the lounge at that moment; it was almost like being in a sports bar when a home run it hit or a touchdown scored. So I got on a plane to Bloomington, where we landed right at 5pm, just in time for me to get to St Matthew's for my Lenten series presentation. Home (s

Tuesday (St Gregory of Rome)

The morning's retreat address was provided by Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, on "godly leadership in the midst of personal loss." (Bishop Bruno has battled significant health issues over the last few years, most recently a rather miraculous recovery from leukemia.) His testimony was powerful. After lunch, we gathered for a meeting styled as as a Town Hall. Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer at the national church office gave us a lengthy briefing on the life and work of the staff there. Various other bishops had other items--some long, some concise--that took us to a planned 3:00 break time. After the break we convened in a formal business session--Roberts' Rules, the PB in the chair. There really wasn't much to do. We recognized bishops new to the house, those who have died, and those in transition to retirement or other assignments. The session lasted about 15 minutes. We returned to Town Hall mode for a few more items, adjourning around 4:30.


It rained steadily today, so no unnecessary walking. The morning retreat meditation was from John Tarrant, Bishop of South Dakota, speaking on godly leadership in the midst of emotional loss. He was able to draw on his experience working among Native American Episcopalians in his diocese. Some of the stories are heart-breaking. He reminded us of the importance of simply "showing up" where there is suffering, not so much to  do  as to just  be . After lunch, the Communion Partners bishops met for a couple of hours. We had a great deal to discuss as we attempt to coordinate effective witness to an understanding of Anglican identity that is grounded organically in our tradition.  The evening meeting was an Executive Session ... which means I can't say very much, if anything at all. But you can use your imagination, and surmise that we finally got to what I believe are the actual substantial issues that should have had a lot more time and attention devoted to them t

Fourth Sunday in Lent

The only scheduled items on the agenda were the celebration of the Eucharist at 10am and an event known as a "Fireside Chat" at 7.  The preacher at the Eucharist was the Bishop Suffragan of Haiti, where they surely know something about leadership in a time of loss. Oge Beauvoir wisely reminded us that "communities rise and fall on the quality of their leadership." Mealtimes, of course, are wonderful occasions for conversing and connecting. Unlike parish clergy, most of whom are able to sustain relationships with nearby peers, bishops mostly work in isolation from others who share the same challenges. So the opportunity just to be together is life-giving. After lunch, I took a brisk hour-long walk by myself. Since I'm away from my treadmill, I'm grateful for every opportunity to exercise. After a bit of a nap (had to get that hour of sleep lost in the time change back!) I toted my laptop to a lounge area and worked on a  blog post regarding the

Saturday (St Gregory of Nyssa)

This was a day for low-key connecting. The meditation at Morning Prayer was given by George Councell, Bishop of New Jersey, his theme being "godly leadership in the wake of natural disaster" (Superstorm Sandy battered the area of his diocese late last year). It was a moving and profound reflection, culminating in  this stunning poem  by R.S. Thomas. Also memorable was how he began his remarks expressing gratitude for "doing what I love for the One I love with the people I love." My sentiments exactly. I then took a two-miles leisurely walk around the lake with my long-time friend and colleague Ed Little, Bishop of Northern Indiana. Right before lunch we gathered back at our table groups to ponder together the theme of Bishop Councell's reflection. During lunch, we met sat together by Province, so I was with my colleagues in Province V. After lunch, it was another walk around the lake, this time with Bill Love, Bishop of Albany, who serves as my three-ye


Day One of spring 2013 House of Bishops. Morning Prayer at our tables, with a retreat-style address from Laura Ahrens, Suffragan of Connecticut, in the spot where the homily would go. She integrated her experience in Sandy Hook on December 14 with the overall retreat theme of "godly leadership in a time of loss." "Check in" with table groups (i.e. "This is what's going on in my life..."). Table groups are re-assigned at the meeting following General Convention every three years. This time I'm with the bishops of Western Michigan (about to retire), Western North Carolina, El Camino Real, and Missouri (not yet here). We then discussed some pre-assigned questions regarding godly leadership. This session broke up around 10:30, and we were unscheduled until lunch.  After lunch, a group photo. With the 120 or so bishops who here, this is not an uncomplicated event.  The afternoon session was devoted to the subject of gun violence. We heard from a

Thursday (Ss Perpetua & Felicity)

Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. Did the fine finish work on the second of five retreat meditations I will deliver in the Diocese of Albany next month. Made air travel arrangements to visit, along with Fr Mark Evans and Sandy Moore, our companion diocese of Peru in late April. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Packed, then hit the road for Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington at 2:15. Boarded on schedule for a 4:30 departure, but then sat on the runway for an hour while a traffic overload in Detroit was cleared out. Made my connection to Asheville just in the nick of time. Now ensconced at Kanuga, an Episcopal retreat and conference center in the mountains of western North Carolina. The semi-annual meeting of the House of Bishops begins tomorrow.


Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon on a couple of ongoing administrative matters. Completed preparations for next week's Lenten series presentation in Bloomington (since I'll be tied up with House of Bishops between now and then). Reviewed the Mission Strategy Master Plan and made a few notes for followup actions. Laid down the broad strokes of a sermon for Maundy Thursday. Made a phone call in connection with someone in the ordination process. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Dental hygiene appointment. Bought an extra SD card for the video camera (having lost one in the mail). Back at home, plotted the main moves of my homily for Easter II (St Andrew's, Edwardsville). Hit the road for Bloomington at 4:15, ate with the folks at St Matthews, then made my teaching presentation. Back in the car by 7:20 and home at 8:35. Pretty tired.


Usual Tuesday routine: weekly task planning and making a dent in the emails at home, MP in the cathedral. Stopped by the cathedral office to greet Fr Keith Roderick, the new provost, on only his second weekday in the position. We touched on some practicalities related to the Chrism Mass and Holy Week. Resumed email processing, which generated a couple of substantive phone calls. Got to work on revising the Chrism Mass bulletin. We are moving it to a Saturday this year in the hope that more lay people will attend. (March 23, 11am, at the cathedral), By a few minutes past noon, the office was deserted, as it was snowing hard and the predictions for the afternoon were grim. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. Resumed working on the Chrism Mass bulletin and sent it off electronically to the cathedral office. Roughed out my Lenten series presentation in Bloomington for next week (3/13), since I'm going to be out of town most of the time between now and then. Produced a rough draft o

Third Sunday in Lent

Augmented my scheduled visit to St Bartholomew's, Granite City with an unscheduled appearance at St Thomas', Glen Carbon given that Fr Tony Clavier, who serves both missions, was on doctor-ordered rest for a bronchial infection. Left home at 6:45, got back at 12:45. Had a good hard nap. Then, channeling the Puritan forebears I must surely have somewhere, I got back to work, processing emails, adding some content to the diocesan website, and working on the "aspirational" liturgical customary for the diocese that is slowly taking shape. I promise I will take tomorrow completely off.

Homily for Lent III

St Bartholomew's, Granite City -- Luke 13:1-9 In many churches, Lenten worship, at one time or another involves a prayer text called the Great Litany. Whenever I pray the Great Litany, it seems like a different petition glows more brightly for me than any of the others. Most recently, it’s been, “From dying suddenly and unprepared: Good Lord, deliver us.” We all have to die; that much we know. But there are, I think most of us would agree, good ways to die and not-so-good ways to die. We all know our mortality—in our minds, at least—and many of us are at relative peace with the idea of having died. It’s actually dying—the process of dying, the act of dying—that we’re not so sure about, because there are various ways of getting to that destination, and a lot of those ways are particularly more frightening than the others, “suddenly and unprepared” being one of them. If I were to describe what I consider the ideal death, a holy death, it would look something like this: It t

Saturday (St Chad)

With the morning devoted to relaxation and my normal workout routine, I was fairly productive in the afternoon, processing several emails, making flight arrangements for my trip to upstate New York in April, attending to some administrative details regarding the ordination process, and doing some personal organization scheduled maintenance. I also embraced the learning curve of Apple's iMovie software, the (imperfect) fruits of which you can see here and here . I expect to become more adept at this in due course.

Friday (St David)

This day got eaten by technology. First on my task list was to prepare for next Wednesday's Lenten series presentation in Bloomington. An implied part of this was to download the video of this week's presentation from the camcorder and process it to a point where it can be uploaded onto YouTube. There's this wonderful app called iMovie that is designed to make this easy--which it does after one has mastered the learning curve. So today was an investment in the learning curve. In the ideal world of my plans, this is something I would delegate. But I learned last night that the SD card I had mailed to our unofficial diocesan videographer got eaten by the USPS en route. Fortunately, I had downloaded it from the camera last week and uploaded to YouTube unedited, so it's not lost. But it made me wary of putting a second SD card in the mail.  So I got it done, but that's pretty much all I did, save for spending an enjoyable couple of hours in the afternoon with my good