Showing posts from 2015

Wednesday (St Thomas Becket, transferred)

After another night that might well be described as "bad" (very atypical for me), the highlight of which was the appearance of a strange cat in our family room around 5:30am, I indulged in a bit of a late and lazy getting up process. Met the AT&T repairman (our service has been wonky) just as I was heading out for a 9:30 appointment with my eye doctor (clearing up detritus from last month's exam and new glasses). Stopped back at home to get a report on our technology infrastructure (all well for the moment) before moving on to the office, arriving around 11:00. Prepared and printed the readings for the feast of Thomas Becket, and otherwise got ready for the 12:15 Mass. As part of responsibility as a board member of Forward Movement, I read through the current week's meditations on the ubiquitous Forward Day by Day, just to keep a finger on the quality pulse. Presided and preached at the Mass. More leftovers for lunch at home, after which I devoted some time to get

Holy Innocents

As the saying goes, I "came down with something" during the night, mostly resembling an upper respiratory infection trying to get traction. I bombard such things with zinc capsules, which usually seems to have an ameliorating affect. Throat still sore as I write late in the evening, however. Anyway, I took it easy getting going for the date, trying to give my body a break. Morning Prayer at home. Rolled in at the office around 10:30. Since this is the week between Christmas and New Year's, we're short staffed, so it was relatively quiet. I consulted with the Archdeacon on a couple of things. Took a lengthy phone call from the treasurer of one of our Eucharistic Communities about an emerging and developing issue. Got a few ducks in a row regarding next actions as pertain to one of our individuals in the ordination process. Attended a bit to my social media footprint. Attended the 12:15 Mass in the cathedral chapel in celebration of Holy Innocents Day. Lunch at home--le

First Sunday after Christmas

Said goodbye to such members of my progeny and their progeny who were awake by 8:15 before pointing the YFNBmobile in a southerly direction. Presided, preached, and confirmed three young people at the regular 10:30 Eucharist at St Thomas', Glen Carbon, under the loving leadership of Fr Tony Clavier. Returned home at 1:30 to a "normal" household--just Brenda and her cat. It was a joy to have a houseful for a few days.

Sermon for Christmas I

Christmas I      (2015)                                                                               John 1:1-18 St Thomas', Glen Carbon Most of you are at least somewhat familiar with the British scholar and writer of the last century, C.S. Lewis.  If nothing else, you may have read or seen the movie version of his children's series,  The Chronicles of Narnia.  One of the most popular of Lewis's works is a short and deceptively comical book—I say deceptively because it's really deadly serious— The Screwtape Letters.   It's a collection of correspondence between Screwtape, a senior demon in Satan's army, and his nephew Wormwood, a junior devil, who has been assigned to “win back” to the cause of “Our Father Below” a man who has recently become a believing and practicing Christian.  Screwtape offers Wormwood the wisdom of his experience in dealing with such difficult situations. In his preface, Lewis declares, “I have no intention of explaining how th


Mostly hunkering down at home with extended family--children, spouses, and grandchildren. It's a rare treat. I emerged last night to preach at the early liturgy at St Paul's Cathedral and preach/preside at the later one. Both were well attended, by recent standards, and contained multiple elements of sweetness. I was very grateful. Today has been equally sweet at home. Blessings abound.

Christmas Homily

Christmas-- Springfield Cathedral                                                                   Luke 2:7 "And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." We live in an age of incessant surveys and opinion polls. You name the subject, and somebody has the latest polling data on it. I can’t spend a night in a hotel or take a ride on an airplane without being asked to complete an online survey about two days later. Only earlier this week a survey-taker approached me in an airport terminal and wanted to ask me my opinions about … the terminal. An airport terminal, no less! Our theological opinions and religious practices, while perhaps not as interesting to pollsters as our sexual attitudes and habits, are nevertheless frequently surveyed. The data, in recent years, are trending in some rather interesting way. The vast majority of Americans, somewhere over 80%,

Wednesday (O Emmanuel)

Yes, I realize I've been AWOL from this venue since the weekend. I've been traveling under circumstances that were simply not conducive to my usual routine of late evening posting. I've been about the business of the Communion Partners group of bishops, about which it would not be prudent for me to say anything substantive at this moment. Anyway, I'm back in harness locally. Today I refined and printed sermons for Christmas Eve and this coming Sunday, and preached/celebrated the cathedral's midday Mass. Now we have a houseful--with all three of our grown children, two spouses, and three grandchildren (one still in utero).

Sermon for Advent IV

Springfield Cathedral -- Hebrews 10:5-10 , Luke 1:39-49 So, here we are on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Christmas is almost here. Three weeks ago, our liturgical attention was consumed by visions of Last Things, the second coming of Christ for the purpose of judging the living and the dead. Over the last couple of weeks, the emphasis has shifted to a rather odd combination of warning and comfort: John the Baptist has crudely and rudely called us—we who are in his estimation a “brood of vipers”—to repent, to turn from our wicked way. But this in-your-face warning has come in a context of promise and hope, a vision of a restored human community, reconciled with God and one another, living in joy and peace. Now the focus shifts again. We read from Luke’s gospel, but not the familiar story of the Annunciation—that’s reserved to Year B, and this is Year C in our lectionary cycle—but, rather, the visit of pregnant Mary to pregnant Elizabeth, both of them gestating within their own b

Saturday (O Radix Jesse)

Leisurely morning at home ... domestic chores ... exercise. At 2:30 we loaded up and headed west to Trinity, Jacksonville to preside at the Requiem for Fr Bill Malottke, who discovered the Christian faith in that parish during his student days at Illinois College and eventually served as its longtime rector. I believe we gave him a good sendoff, with a homily by the Bishop of West Virginia, who benefited from the rich campus ministry of Fr Bill and Carla Malottke during his own days as an Illinois College student. Following the liturgy, Brenda and I joined a group of family and friends for dinner on the campus of that very college.

Friday (O Adonai)

Overslept a bit (something I never do, but apparently turned the alarm off rather than snoozing it) and got tied up a bit while trying to get my day organized. Morning Prayer in the car while driving to the office. Conferred with the Archdeacon over exigent concerns in two of our Eucharistic Communities. Reviewed Christmas homilies from prior years, selected one, then performed major surgery--excising some material and inserting other new material, and moving some parts around--emerging with a rough draft of a sermon that I will refine next week and, God willing, deliver at the cathedral at both Christmas Eve liturgies. Lunch at home. Leftovers. Reviewed my January visitations and made appropriate notes, set up reminders, etc. Reviewed an electronic draft of the service program for Sunday week (the 27th) at St Thomas', Glen Carbon. Drafted, printed, and arranged to send a letter to the vestry of one of our Eucharistic Communities, in response to theirs to me. Processed a sh


Early morning weights and treadmill. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Dealt via email to two thorny (which is to say, for delicate and difficult) pastoral/administrative matters. This took a while. In preparation to preach on the Sunday after Christmas (St Thomas', Glen Carbon), I identified a homily for that occasion from a prior year, and began the process of doing the sort of plastic surgery that is necessary to ensure that it is fresh and appropriate. Attended to some urgent and important Communion Partners business. Lunch from the prepared foods section at HyVee, eaten at home. Took a careful look at my Discretionary Fund to determine my capacity for generosity in response to a handful of gift requests from various entities that had been piling up. Like the Shunemite widow's containers of oil and flour, there always seems to be enough, for which I am very grateful. Made rail travel reservations for next month' Provincial House of Bishops meeting in Chicago. Re


Usual AM routine: task planning at home, MP in the cathedral.  Prepared to preside and preach at the midday Mass.  Attended to a small chore related to the next pre-Lenten clergy retreat.  Began to close in on some concrete sabbatical-planning arrangements.  Took time with Brenda to execute our basic end-of-life documents (will, financial and healthcare POA), while they were witnessed and notarized by the Administrator and the Archdeacon.  Met with a potential candidate for ordained ministry--initial get-acquainted interview.  Presided and preached at the cathedral Mass, observing an Advent feria.  Lunch from Popeye's, eaten at home.  Spent some more time with the sabbatical planning project.  Worked with the Administrator on some ... what else? ... administrative issues.  Spent some quality time with several commentaries on the Cana wedding miracle in John's gospel, preparing to preach on that text on the Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Christ the King, Normal on


Weekly task planning and some email processing at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Quickly but assertively attended to a pastoral/administrative matter. Less quickly and assertively took care of another pastoral/administrative matter. Prepared, mentally and otherwise, for an afternoon Nashotah House Board of Director's conference call. Worked toward refining and printing a working script for this Sunday's homily (which, it turns out, will be at St Paul's Cathedral and not Christ Church, due to a communications and scheduling snafu). Lunch at home--leftovers. Finished up work on the aforementioned sermon. Presided over a 90-minute conference call meeting of the Nashotah House Board of Directors. Followed up with an email. Wrote a fairly long Ad Clerum (letter to the clergy), which is ready to be sent out tomorrow. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

Third Sunday of Advent

Sitting here at O'Hare waiting for a delayed flight to Springfield. My weekend in Providence, Rhode Island (with lunch today in Massachusetts) was just plain fun. I was warmly received by the clergy and faithful of S. Stephen's Church, and am particularly grateful for the sumptuous organ and choral music.

Sermon for Advent III

St Stephen's, Providence (RI) -- Luke 3:7-18 Have you ever been, as the song says, "Late for a very important date?" Maybe you forgot to set your alarm and overslept. Maybe the gates went down at the railroad crossing just as you got there. Maybe there was a wreck on the highway that backed up traffic for a mile and a half. Or maybe you were just forgetful, or, worse than that, just inattentive to the passage of time or to how long it would actually take you to get from point A to point B. (More than once have I almost missed a plane for that very reason!) And now you're late to an appointment with an important client, or to a crucial job interview, or to pick up your child who's waiting in the rain outside a deserted school, or to the beginning of a play or a concert or a movie. I know that when I find myself in a situation like this, I can almost physically feel the waves of fear and shame and anger wash over me:  fear at the prospect of an opportunity squa

Saturday (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Picked up from my hotel in Providence in time to be at St Stephen's for Morning Prayer and Mass beginning at 9am. Then continental breakfast with the group of 25 or so who showed up for the Advent Quiet Day. Between 10:30 and 2:00, I delivered three meditations/addresses on themes inspired by the General Thanksgiving: the Redemption of the World, the Means of Grace, and the Hope of Glory. After being taken back to the hotel around 3:00, I enjoyed a nap, a walk, and a massage--in that order! Dinner was with Fr Alexander, Fr Yost (his assistant), and Phoebe Pettingill, one of their parishioners. A good day.


An uneventful day of travel. Up and out in time to catch the 10:30 flight from Springfield to Chicago, and the 1:50 flight from Chicago to Providence. Picked up at the airport by Fr John Alexander, rector of St Stephen's. Got settled in at the Providence Biltmore, then a lovely dinner with Fr Alexander and his wife Elizabeth. Looking forward to tomorrow's Quiet Day.


Early morning weights and treadmill. Task planning and some email over breakfast. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent some time preparing for a scheduled afternoon conference call. Checked in by phone with a cleric of this diocese who was at the very moment receiving a chemotherapy treatment. Fleshed out and refined the third of my three Quiet Day addresses for this weekend at St Stephen's, Providence (RI). Turned all three addresses into hard copy to take with me. Responded to an inquiry from one of our parish clergy on how I would advise explaining the meaning of confirmation as it pertains to baptized adults who come to one of our parishes from another tradition. Here's the nub of what I said: " I t's all about 'coming under the hands of a bishop.' Why? Because a bishop is a walking symbol (a 'wormhole' if you want to get all sci-fi) of the entire rest of the Church Catholic beyond the local parish--the nexus between the local and the unive


Organized tasks and responded to several emails before leaving the house ... later than usual. (There were some techno-issues as well.) Morning Prayer (short form in the car). Devotions and intercessions in the cathedral. Prepared for the midday Mass. Made some notes--some mental and some electronic--in preparation for two meetings on my calendar. Finished preparing the second of my three addresses this Saturday at the Advent Quiet Day at St Stephen's, Providence, RI. Met with (transitional) Deacon David Wells to discuss plans configured toward his ordination to the priesthood. Presided and preached the the regular 12:15 liturgy, keeping an Advent feria. Lunch at home--leftovers. Participated in a long and occasionally delicate but eventually productive video conference call with some key Nashotah House stakeholders. Caught up with an avalanche of email that had arrived during the video conference. Seriously, an avalanche. For various reasons finding myself a bit behind

Tuesday (Immaculate Conception)

Weekly task organization over breakfast at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Did some rough culling and sorting of the accumulated hard-copy detritus on my desk that reflected my absence from the office all last week. Substantive phone conversation with the Dean of Nashotah House. Finalized the transfer of funds for the purchase of a new automobile by the Diocese of Tabora, for use by their bishop, thanks to the magnificent and exemplary generosity of one of our endowed parishes. This involved several emails and a trip to Illinois National Bank to arrange the wire transfer. Refined and printed the working script of my homily for this Sunday (at St Stephen's in Providence, RI, where I am set to give their Advent Quiet Day on Saturday). Checked in pastorally by phone with Deacon Ann Alley, whose husband Bob died rather unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day. Attended the midday Mass in the cathedral chapel. Lunch at home--leftovers. Substantive phone conversation with Fr Mru

Second Sunday of Advent

Out the door with Brenda bright and early at 7:30, headed for points south. Pulled into the parking lot at Trinity, Mt Vernon right on the usual 30-minutes-before-service-time target (service time in this case being 10:30). It was a good turnout by the standards of that parish and we duly kept the Second Sunday of Advent. The way home included a roughly one-hour stop in Nashville for a confab with a priest of the diocese (no, we don't have a parish in Nashville, so it was a matter of geographic convenience) to discuss of range of issues. Home in the neighborhood of 4:30.

Sermon for Advent II

Trinity, Mt Vernon -- Luke 3:1-6, Baruch 5:1-9,  Psalm 126, Philippians 1:1-11 Some of you may have heard me tell stories in various contexts about the period in my life—actually, it seems like a different lifetime—when I was a salesman. I was not, by any reckoning, a very good salesman, but whenever I point that out, someone invariably comes back with the quip, “But what do you call what you’re doing now?!”—the implication being that, even though I’m not paid on commission, what my ministry is about is, in effect, selling the gospel, or Christ, or the Church, or my vision for the diocese, or something along those lines. Well…whatever. This much I know: Making a sale involves the buyer coming to the conclusion that there is some advantage to him or her in making the purchase. The first essential question that must be answered in any sales process is “What’s in it for me?” Now, if I’m going to have to listen to anyone call me a salesman for what I do, I’m just going to hold up