Feast of All Saints – Br. Robert L’Esperance

Today, we observe All Saints Day. Of course, today really isn’t All Saints Day. It’s the Eve of All Saints, All Hallows Eve, or what we have come to know as Halloween. But, because All Saints is a Solemnity, the highest order of feasts accorded by the Church in its liturgical calendar, we are observing it on the Sunday closest to its occurrence.

The origin of this feast in the Western Church dates back to the seventh century when Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all martyrs. Like so many Christian holidays there were connections between dates chosen for Christian observance and earlier non-Christian practice. Earliest observances of All Saints Day occurred in May connecting it with the Roman festival of Lemuria. Only, later was November 1 chosen for All Saints to mark the occasion when the pope presided over the transfer of holy relics in the city of Rome and what was memorialized as a general commemoration “of the holy apostles and all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”1

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Discernment in Prayer: Discovering Vocation – Br. David Vryhof

Discovering Vocation

How do I find mine?

Discovering, or “discerning” your vocation is a process.  You won’t finish it today.  The good news is that you already have everything you need to begin, because the best place to begin is with yourself:

·     What do you already know about yourself?

·     What are your interests?

·     Is there something you’re particularly good at, or that you especially enjoy doing?

·     What kind of personality or temperament do you have?

·     What are you passionate about?

·     What has your past experience taught you— through success or failure?

·     What particular gifts do others recognize in you?

·     What activities have you been affirmed in by others?

·     What activities have made you feel most fulfilled?

Answering these questions helps us scout out our inner typography, to know who and what we are. Discerning vocation is a process of self-discovery.  As you go deep into your past and present desires, you’ll begin to get a portrait of yourself, which is the first step toward discovering your vocation.

Take some time to think deeply on these questions. Start gathering data. Examine your past choices, and consider what they reveal about you. Ask your parents and friends what they see in you. You might journal about the answers you discover, to give focus to your thoughts.  As you do this, ask God to teach and direct you.

God wants to be part of this process, because God wants us to become the people we were created to be. It’s not that God has a pre-determined, set plan in mind that we must discover and accept, whether we like it or not. It’s more that God has a deep yearning for our well-being that arises out of God’s great love for us. In this, God is like a good parent. Good parents don’t dictate the particular path their children must follow; rather, they hope that their children will find work that is meaningful and worthwhile, that they will use their gifts for the cause of good, and that they will experience happiness and fulfillment – no matter what particular path they choose. So too, God’s chief concern is not whether we live in Poughkeepsie or Des Moines, whether we practice law or run a business, or whether we marry or remain single. God’s chief concern is that we discover life – the life we were created to live – and that we live that life as fully and as completely as we can.

Take some time to reflect on the questions above.  Next week, we’ll talk about how to know if, in our answers, we’re responding to God’s yearning or ours.

Thank God I’m Not Like Them – Br. David Vryhof

Luke 18:9-14

When I was a boy I looked down on my Episcopalian neighbors – mostly because they played outside and watched television on Sunday and we didn’t. They didn’t go to church nearly as often as we did – and sometimes there was beer in their refrigerator. Their boys received a quarter every time they rehearsed or sang with the children’s choir at their church; we did it for free. They went to public schools; we went to Christian schools. Yes, there was a lot to be proud of, plenty of evidence that we were a notch above them on God’s scale.

But even as a boy I could see myself in this parable. The contrast between the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is so stark and so dramatic that even children have a hard time missing the point. I knew my feelings of religious superiority were wrong.

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Discernment in Prayer: Vocation – Br. David Vryhof

Vocation

What is it and do I have one?

Another word for vocation is calling, and every person has one. Each of us has a purpose for being in the world that relates to the purposes of God. We often think of vocation too narrowly, imagining that only those called to ordained ministry in the Church have a vocation from God. In truth, everyone has a vocation, some particular work that God is calling them to do. A vocation could be any work or service we do that furthers God’s work of helping, healing, reconciling and restoring the created order.

Not only does every person have a calling from God, in fact, most of us have several callings! For example, one person may be called to be a teacher and a parent and a member of a political party and a member of a parish church who visits the sick and advocates for the homeless. And this person may experience in each of these things a sense of vocation. Your particular vocation can be carried out only by you. It is unique to you; no one else can do it quite the way that you can. Thus your vocation will always be rooted in who you are; it will reflect your gifts, your temperament, your personality, your interests. Resist the temptation to compare yourself with others and find a vocation that fits you. Better yet, discover the vocation that is already calling out from within you.

Next week we’ll talk more specifically about how you discern the vocation God is calling you to.

Worship at Your Own Risk – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Exodus 3:1-6
Hebrews 10: 19-25
John 11: 1-44

Well, here we are. Another week – another place of worship! It’s a journey – a journey that gets us deeply in touch with our Abrahamic roots — his nomadic journey from Haran to Canaan, pitching his tent for the night, and then moving on the next day – following the God who calls and leads.

Scripture is filled with great journeys. Jacob’s flight from his brother Esau, Joseph sold into slavery, and his journey into Egypt. The great journey of the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. The journey of the wise men to see Jesus. Jesus’ journey into the wilderness. Paul’s journey from Jerusalem to Damascus. It seems that God loves to invite us to make journeys. Because through the journey God teaches us, forms us, invites us to grow and change into the person God longs for us to be. To become fully who we were created to be.

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Temple – Br. Mark Brown

Hosea 6:1-6; Psalm 51:10-19; 1 Peter 2:4-10; John 2:13-22

A few weeks ago I watched a fascinating program on television about the crocodile god of ancient Egypt. The fishermen and farmers along the Nile lived in constant fear of being eaten by enormous and hungry crocodiles. And so temples were built and homage paid to the crocodile god. They made offerings to persuade the god to eat fish instead of fishermen.

That’s the basic idea of temple in the ancient world: a place to appease a god, a place to influence the actions of a god. Although it’s a big theological shift to the temple in ancient Jerusalem, the idea is pretty much the same. Animal sacrifices were made by the thousands year after year to worship the one true God, to influence his decisions, to flatter him with praise and thanksgiving, and to appease his anger at the misbehavior of human beings.

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