The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you Peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

From The November Newsletter

Dominus vobiscum:

Before I began to discern my calling to the priesthood, God introduced me to the most special lady that I had then chanced to meet, nor in the interim have I ever met her equal. God has blessed us with three beautiful, intelligent and wonderful children; all the while setting us on a path that has led us to the place where we are today.

Now, as a parish priest, I recognize that God has additionally called me to serve Him and His people in many wonderful and sometimes challenging ways. It does not mean that my commitment to the vows that I made to Samantha or the commitment that I have made to my children are any less, but it does mean that there is not nearly enough hours in the day to do everything that I would like to do.

Prioritization, therefore, becomes the operative word. On any given day, some of my priorities are going to change based on what may be expected of me or what is on the calendar. Wednesday, for example is a day that is largely consumed with preparation for that night’s Mass and Bible Study. Friday, barring a pastoral need, belongs to my family, and I try to devote that day as much as possible to helping around the house, helping with school, playing with the kids and spending time with my wife. Some days, the plan with which I start barely survives the light of day; that’s just the way life goes.

But as important as my wife, my children and my parish family are to me, there can only be one absolute priority that trumps all else; and by doing so gives everything else its meaning: GOD. By giving God our first attention, we open ourselves to His Grace which makes possible all the things that He has for us to do. He makes it possible to weather the storms of life and to delight in the simple pleasures that can too often pass us by if we are not paying attention.

When we awake in the morning and give thanks to Him for the night just passed and praise to Him for the promise of the day to come; when we seek Him out for strength in the face of a difficult problem or a dreaded task; when we ask for forgiveness and pray for his mercy; when we worship Him to the exclusion of all the distractions and temptations of this world; in these ways do we actively make God the priority in our lives.

To be a bit more specific, Dear Reader, may I suggest that we must commit to spend time with Him every day. In the Anglican tradition we do this in the Daily Office, prayers that are offered to God both morning and evening. To that end, we offer Morning Prayer at Christ Memorial every weekday at 7:30AM in St. Anne’s Chapel. We also spend time with God by reading and studying Holy Scripture, attending Bible study and Sunday School, and by following the examples of the Saints who have come before us.

We must give Him the worship that He has required of us. God set aside the Sabbath so that we would have time to worship Him, and so that we would have time to appreciate the gifts that he has given to us, like our families for example. There are many things that compete for our attention, but on Sunday, our attention should be fixed squarely on God.

We should give thanks to Him for His bounty by dedicating to Him the first fruits of our labor. The tradition and doctrine of the Church recognizes the tithe (10%) as the minimum that each of God’s people should give back to God through His Church. This is not a tax or dues that are owed so that we can be members; rather, it is a recognition that everything we have and everything we are is because of Him and Him alone.

Remember, Dear Reader, that God loved the world enough to send His only Son to die upon the cross for our sins so that we might live. Making Him the priority in our lives seems to be the least that we can do in return.

Fr. Michael+

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Sin of Pride

The beginning of man's pride is to depart from the Lord; his heart has forsaken his Maker.  For the beginning of pride is sin, and the man who clings to it pours out abominations.  Sirach 10: 12-13
Once again, we have words of inspiration from the Book of Sirach that were read at Morning Prayer just a few hours ago.  What did Adam and Eve do that was so wrong?  They disobeyed God and tried to make themselves equal to Him.  That is pride.  They departed from the Lord, and in their pride welcomed sin and death into the world. 

When we believe that we know better than God; when we believe that we are smarter than God; when we believe that we no longer need God; that is when our pride gets the better of us and will certainly destroy us.  In our world today, we think that we can control life at its most fundamental levels.  Modern science has given us the ability to look into the very genetic code of a person and determine whether or not that person will be healthy, disabled or susceptible to disease.  We are becoming so used to playing God that we can decide which child should be allowed to live, or should be aborted because it might not be healthy enough or might not meet the standards of the family or of society.

There are nations around the world, and states right here in the United States, which advocate and facilitate euthanasia for anyone who doesn't feel like living another day.  In our pride, we have forgotten that life is a gift from God, and it is wrong to try to rescind that gift whether the recipient is in the womb, in a hospital bed, depressed or in a nursing home.

And, Dear Reader, I will also go so far as to say that this gift of life extends to those who have by their own actions and their own lack of regard for life sit in a jail cell awaiting their end at the hand of the state.  Life is a gift of God that is given to all people.  Those convicted of heinous crimes may have sacrificed their freedom and their privilege to live in society, and they should pay accordingly for their crimes; but their ultimate punishment shall be meted out by God who is infinitely more up to the task than us.

We are not equal with God.  We cannot do God's job.  If God wanted to take a vacation and needed someone to cover his desk for him for a few days, He would not call one of us.  We live our lives one day at a time, completely dependent on His Love, Grace and Mercy whether we realize it or not.  How much better will our lives be if we acknowledge this, appreciate this, and strive to make ourselves into a people whose hearts are fixed on God, our Maker.

Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Article VI of the 39 Articles of Faith reads in part, “And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine…”. Among the Duetero-canonical books which make up the Apocrypha, we find the book which most Anglicans recognize as Ecclesiasticus, most Roman Catholics recognize as Sirach and which most Reform Churches won’t recognize at all.

Dear Reader, I begin this reflection in this way not to spark a discussion of the validity of the Apocrypha, but rather to introduce a short passage that was read during Morning Prayer this last Monday. It is a section of Scripture that we should all read, study and inwardly digest.

Do not refrain from speaking at the crucial time, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom is known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river, nor show partiality to a ruler. Strive even to death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you. Sirach 4: 23-28
God gave each and every one of us the gift of reason and intelligence, not so that we could merely decipher the secrets of His Creation (although he would not have shown us those secrets or given us the ability to think and the desire to explore if He had not wanted us to see and feel the magnificence of all that He created) but rather so that we could, through the majesty of His Creation, come to recognize that there is a God, and through the revelation of Himself to us by His presence among His people and through His Holy Word, come to know Him.

I believe that wisdom is reason built upon the unshakable foundation of Holy Writ. We are smart enough to figure out how to describe and even break open the atom; we are smart enough to send man into outer space; we are smart enough decode the very building blocks of human genetics; but are we wise enough to make proper use those discoveries; and, possibly more importantly, are we wise enough not to use them?

“Do not refrain from speaking at the crucial time, and do not hide your wisdom.” Sirach tells us that we will have those opportunities to use the gifts that God has given to us, and that we are to use them for His purposes. He also warns, “Never speak against the truth, but be mindful of your ignorance.” Someone once told me that the true measure of one’s intelligence is knowing when you know nothing and then being willing to admit it. We find the unvarnished, unmistakable and eternal Truth in the words of Holy Scripture. The Truth of God’s Love, His Grace, His Judgment and His Mercy are right there in black and white.

However, just as one must work to amass the knowledge that allows one to comprehend and appreciate Creation, one must also spend the time reading, studying and praying over Scripture in order to develop the wisdom that allows one to: “Strive even to death for the truth.”

To my original thesis: wisdom is reason built upon the unshakable foundation of Holy Writ, I supply but, one important addendum. For wisdom to take its full and proper place in the Truth, it must be guided by the tradition of the Church. For two thousand years and beyond, the Church through her bishops, priests, theologians and teachers have studied Scripture and have developed the traditions, the dogma and the doctrines of our Faith. We may not always agree with those interpretations and teachings, but we discard the wisdom of the Church at great cost to ourselves and to the generations who depend on us to teach them the Truth. The Truth being that , so that they can know the root of their salvation, Jesus Christ.

Dear Reader, we look to God’s Holy Word. We do so using the intelligence that God has given us. We rely on the traditional voice and teaching of the Church to direct us. What more can we do?

Fr. Michael+

Monday, October 18, 2010

Big News

Dominus vobiscum:

For those of you who were not at church on Sunday (tsk...tsk...tsk), I present to you a few items that you might find interesting:

1.  There will be an LSU / Auburn football party beginning at 1:30pm on Saturday, October 23 in the Parish House.  The church will provide the soft drinks, so all you need to bring is some form of snack, appetizer or finger food to share with the other hungry Tiger (purple and gold ones, of course) fans.  The kids can play on our new playground and a good time can be had by all.

2.  On October 30, which is the Saturday before Hallowe'en, we will have a party at the church to celebrate the Feast of All Hallows Eve.  There will be food, fun and, I am led to believe, entertainment in the form of an age appropriate scary movie.  Come one, come all; and bring a guest with you.  Invite a friend or a co-worker or a family member to come to the party and then to come to church on Sunday.  Let's show Mansfield what a great place Christ Memorial is for families and people of all ages.

3.  The Diocese of Western Louisiana held its annual Convention in Alexandria this past weekend, and there are a couple of interesting developments.  First, Christ Memorial will have two people going to Indianapolis in 2012 to represent the Diocese at General Convention.  Karen Nash was elected to serve as a Lay Deputy and I was elected to serve as a Deputy from the Clergy Order.  It is a great honor to serve, and also a lot of work, so both Karen and I will need and greatly appreciate your prayers.  Second, because of the great bounty that God as given to the Diocese through the oil and gas revenues produced from the Garland Scout Camp property right here in DeSoto Parish, the Bishop announced in his address to Convention that he was granting a waiver for every parish 4th quarter asking.  This means that we will not have to make our final contribution to the diocese this year.  This is a one time benefit, and by the Grace of God, we now have that money that we can use for the spread of the Gospel and the furthering of God's Kingdom right here in Mansfield.

4.  Another item from Convention deserves some attention as well.  The Bishop, again in his address to Convention, alluded several times to an upcoming period of change in the diocese.  He was referring to his impending retirement as our Diocesan Bishop due to the achievement of the 72nd anniversary of his birth.  This will happen in mid-summer of 2012.  Therefore, the Bishop announced that he would be calling for the election of the IV Bishop of the Diocese of Western Louisiana some time in the Spring of next year.  The process of electing a bishop is a long and complex one.  If it does indeed begin in the Spring of 2011, then, and I believe this is the Bishop's desire, our new Diocesan would be elected, consented and installed prior to General Convention (July 2012).  Bishop MacPherson is a gift of God to this diocese, and we should all give thanks to Him for that gift.  Bishop MacPherson has worked tirelessly to be a good steward for this diocese and to be a true Defender of the Faith in the face of sometimes daunting opposition.  He is a loyal man of God, a believer of the first order, and I will miss not having him safely ensconced at Diocesan House (or Hoose, depending on from what side of the border one comes).  I am asking everyone who reads this blog post to begin now to pray fervently for God's guidance and protection as we seek to follow His Will in selecting a new bishop.  This will be a decision of the utmost importance.

Fr.  Michael+

Monday, October 4, 2010

Morning Prayer Offered at CMEC

We kicked off the month of October with a prayer this morning.  At 7:30AM, the Angelus was rung on the Chapel bell, calling the faithful to the Daily Office of Morning Prayer.  Everyone is invited to stop by the Chapel each weekday morning at 7:30AM to participate in this most Anglican form of worshiping God.

Fr. Michael+