Tag Archives: saints & holy days

Advent with++KJS Day 5. “Saints in Our Midst”

Once again, the Spirit has played a joke on me. Today’s reading is much-better suited for All Saints All Souls’ Day. But it is Advent & I know there is a seasonal message in this sermonette.

Saints are celebrated in the Church as examples towards Godly, but not perfect living. If you’ve read any biography of any of the men & women that the Church recognizes as saint, you’ll know that saints are just ordinary people who are trying hard to follow the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is Advent, the season when we Christians wait for the earthly birth of a baby in a barn somewhere near Bethlehem. Bt, as Bishop Katharine reminds s, saints are at work every day of the year spreading the Gospel by BEING the hands, feet , eyes & ears of Christ’s Body, the Church.

Bishop Katharine says that “saints” can be found anywhere, but especially in places where people might stay unnoticed. Look around your parish–who are the ” saints” who often work qietly to make sure the more ” visible ministries of the parish continue. Toight, give thanks to God for the quiet saints that live & do God’s work among you in your parish community.

In the Name of the Triune God, Amen.


” When the Saints go marching in…”

Today is All Saints Day.

Let me tell you a funny story. Last year All Saints Day fell on a Sunday. So the processional hymn{ I sang in the chior , this was before I focused my ministry exclusively on Christian Education.} Anyhow, the Pittsburgh Steelers{ MY TEAM} were scheduled to play the New Orleans Saints later that day. Anyhow, it was tough on me to stand tall & sing this hymn on the very day that the Steelers faced the Saints, the local favorite team here on the Gulf Coast. With God’s grace , I made it to my seat in the choir stall & after the opening collect my rector said” Did you notice what hymn we marched in to today? It’s when the SAINTS go marching in. Not when the Steelers go marching in, Sarah.” :O) Ha! :O)

Anyhow, when growing up pretty much in the Presbyterian tradition I knew little  about saints. My Roman Catholic family members sometimes wore medals with certain saint’s pictures depicted on them but I never understood why. After all, my thoroughly Protestant background taught me to pray ONLY to the triune God & that saints should not me ” worshipped”.  In spite of my Calvinistic Christian education during my teen years, I began to research { this was way before the Internet} saints as they * really* fit into the Christian Tradition.  Those of us of the Catholic Christian persuasion do not pray to saints. I repeat: WE DO NOT pray to saints!

It frustrates me when well-meaning but misled Protestant friends belittle the tradition of my Church, including her saints.  Though do not think one ned have  experiential ” I came to Jesus” moment in order to be a Christian, I respect that form of Christianity as much as I respect my own.

For instance, when I contemplate the life of St Catherine of Siena{ one of my patrons} I think about how her life & works set a good example for all Christians, but for me in particular. I also identify with St Benedict of Nursia. Benedict’s life & writings  showed me that a way of  ” radical hospitality” was a way to more closer walk with God. Catherine of Siena taught me that some women, in fact DO have spiritual  gifts for homiletics. To me, a major part of living out St Benedict’s ” radical hospitality” means learning about other faith traditions,including but not limited to other forms of Christianity.

As I continue this pilgrimage of life with my sister & brother Christians I’m appreciating more & more the Tradition of honoring saints on their feast days. { the day of their death…NOT their birthday, as I’d originally believed when I started this Anglican journey} I’ve read several books by saints & commentaries on their lives, works & theology .While some of their works are entirely too deep for my mind to grasp right now, others resonate with me immediately.

Saints were regular people, just as are you & me. They had their foibles, quirks, bad choices, illnesses & some even doubted their own faith. But that did not deter them from accomplishing great works for the Church in the Name of Christ.

If you are so led, research a saint and educate yourself on the life & work of him or her.


Feast of All Saints 2011

One of my patrons: St Catherine of Siena

Lent 4:a tribute to St Anthony of Padua

What has been lost is now found. Amen

Tomorrow will be the fourth Sunday of Lent, 2011. Since I will be busy hanging out with Best Dude tomorrow after Mass, so I am writing this week’s post on Saturday.

You might remember my mentioning that I had lost my red copy of the Book of Common Prayer over one week ago & that I’m getting a new one as an early birthday gift. Well, apparently we did not seek out the lost Prayer Book hard enough, as the teller at my bank gave my red BCP to Dad yesterday & asked him Doesn’t this belong to your daughter?” Even though I had to endure Dad’s funny stare at me when I explained that my red BCP travels EVERYWHERE with me yes–even to the bank!!} I inadvertently removed said BCP from my purse when I went to cash a check.

Darn it…we’d looked at every other place we’d been that Wednesday…everywhere except the bank. It is my fault, as I’d temporarily forgotten that I did, indeed, take my entire purse into the bank that afternoon. I thought I’d lost my personal copy of the Prayer Book permanently.

At any rate, I am glad I got it back & am * still* anticipating receiving the new, white copy of the BCP.

Among other things, St Anthony of Padua is known to be the patron saint of those seeking lost objects. So, St Anthony came through for me long after I’d given up the quest of retrieving the lost BCP.

Here is the traditional prayer to St Anthony : { courtesy http://www.catholic.org/clife/prayers }”Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints” O Holy Saint Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me [request]. O gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen. ”

So now I have two Prayer Books. :O)

ready set ADVENT!!!


Sunday is the Feast of Christ The King…and then we have four weeks of Advent before Christmas.

Suffice it to say I am feeling overwhelmed. I am trying to maintain an attitude of gratitude while keeping the TRUE meaning of Advent & Christmas is always a challenge for me…especially since I’ve moved to Florida. I miss my godfamily & my extended Pennsylvania Irish-American clan up North but yet these past three years have made me realized how blessed I am with my parish.

I am so NOT ready for Advent & Christmas. Heck, Thanksgiving is one week from today & I still am not ready for that national holiday. Of course much of my hesitation in anticipating the Advent & Thanksgiving season is how BAD last year’s holiday season was for me. Suffice it to say I never want to deal with another Advent like last years. :O( Also, due to unforseen circumstances I ended up stuck in Northwest Florida over Thanksgiving …which was totally not fun. :O( The only thing about last year that totally saved Advent for me were my parish family. We are doing so many cool things differently this year & I’m looking forward to it with more ” gusto” than was last year’s season.

Tomorrow, I am starting the Thanksgiving festivities with a funeral for a dear parishioner. But on a happier note I treated myself with a copy of ++ Katharine’s latest book & so far I am loving it as much as I love her first book. :O) There is even a chapter in the latest book where our Presiding Bishop mentions baptizing an 11-year-old child when she visited All Saints Church in Mobile…and she also discusses her time with the Native American Episcopal parish here near Atmore, Alabama. How cool is that? :O)


College: When I really began to ” Shine”

In honor of the Feast of the Transfiguration, I will dedicate this blog to my West Lib ” Lunch Bunch” friends. They have truly been & continue to be a major part of my life & I am blessed to count them as lifelong friends. Several of us live in the Wheeling/Pittsburgh area but some of us moved far away from West Liberty State College & the general area where most of us spent our childhoods.

Hey, Lunch Bunch, do you all remember:

Zia’s Pizza & the ” special Cheese” { GROSS}

Theatre Apprciation class….the 8 oclock ” study hall” for most of us. Count me among those who never paid attention in that class yet managed to walk away at the end of the semester with an A.

My Musical friends: Dr Mahy’s ” Hour of Power” & private lessons. Dang it: am so * not* an alto!

Snowball fights on the quad & yellow snow.

Midnight { or later} Dennys’ runs followed by wrecking havoc at the St Clairsville Wal-Mart. { and remember that time some of us actually managed to get thrown out of said Wal-Mart? }

That infamous cassette tape which wpould be worth millions by now if we could only remember its location.

Cooking & game nights in Krise Hall.

That Super Bowl party in my room in Krise & watching the Steelers lose to the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve passionately hated the team from Dallas since then, too!

ROAD TRIPS to Pittsburgh, Columbus & Butler.

My unsuccessful attempts at learning to drive a car.

Giving certain professors nicknames…

Homecoming dances & Thursday nights at The Happening.

” The ultimate Curse…..” { It worked}

The ” Tombs of the Unknowns Students” on the Quad. Officially these ugly edifices were supposed to be part of Alumni Park. but they made * great* skateboarding ramps until Campus maintainance decided to erect railings around the sacred pyramids.

VAXA machines & email adresses that were longer than most opening credits in movies.

MULL’S Mini-mart.

Kappa Phi winning * every* Homecoming Queen crown. Wee Hoo!

Campfires & evading the campus police

Ghost hunting & graveyard romping.

Feast of Mary&Martha of & Philly 11

Today we commemorate on the church’s calendar the Feasts of Mary & Martha of Bethany.

Today we also remember the ” Philadelphia 11″ , brave women who were first ordained to te priesthood of The Episcopal Church.

I’ll admit that I know next to nothing about these women. But, according to the official site of The Episcopal Church, here are the names of these 11 priests & the bishops who stepped out on a HUGE leap of faith to ordain them into the priesthood.

Philadelphia 11:
Merrill Bittner
Alison Cheek
Alla Bozarth (Campell)
Emily C Hewitt
Carter Heyward
Suzanne R. Hiatt (deceased 2002)
Marie Moorefield
Jeanette Piccard (deceased 1981)
Betty Bone Schiess
Katrina Welles Swanson (deceased 2006)
Nancy Hatch Witting

Ordaining Bishops:
+Daniel Corrigan
+Robert L DeWitt
+Edward R Welles
Assisting: +Antonio Ramos

But the validity of these womens’ ordinations was challenged & charges brought against the bishops who dared to ordain them. According to the article posted on the web site of TEC, it was not until September, 1976 that General Convention passed a resolution making it legal for bishops in our Church to ordain women.

In September , 1976 I was but a wee baby. While it is true that I am a convert, the fact that women in The Episcopal Church have * only* been validly ordained since I’ve been alive puts me in awe. We’ve come a long way in those 34 years but the fight for equality is far from over. The Roman Catholic Church still won’t even consider ordaining women to he priesthood & many of our Protestant Christian sisters & brothers won’t hear of women as clergy. This is * really* sad, y’all. My hope & prayer is that All Christian women & girls might have the doors of ordination open to them some day.

As a woman, an active & PROUD Episcopalian Christian & a feminist I know that this monumental event in the history of the western Church did not come without a bitter fight. I am eternally grateful to these women & the bishops who ordained them, because these people” paved the way” for ALL women & girls on our Church to consider discerning a call to Holy Orders.

My life has is so very blessed by priests of the female gender & thanks to Facebook , I’ve ” met” several other priests who happen to be women. Y’all know who you are & THANK YOU! The priests I know & count as dear friends whojust ” happen” to be female are not only amazing priests but some of the most gifted & Spirit filled individuals I know.

Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, has been quoted as saying that she does not want t her gender & the fact that she IS the first Anglican Archbishop & the only woman to hold such a title in Christendom to be the focus of what God wants her to do as an archbishop. But, we cannot ignore the fact that her election IS historic.

My ” 10 Reasons to be a Episcopalian” t shirt says, among other reasons :



Homily for St Benedict’s Day{ Transferred}

Homily for Feast Day of St Benedict of Nursia
{ Transferred}
July 14 2010

My priest honored my request to move the Feast Day of St Benedict of Nursia, which was Monday, to today. Not only is St Benedict one of my two patron saints, but he has a place in the history of modern Christian monasticism.

Benedict was born in Nursia, the son of a Roman nobleman in the year 480 . He has a sister, Scholastic, who is also among the saints we recognize.

Benedict is most known for writing a literary work known as The Rule of St Benedict . It is important to note that “ rule” in this usage of the word, , does not mean laws or mores. In this sense, the word “ rule” traces its meaning back to the Latin word which loosely means” to measure”. Benedict wrote his rule as a literary measuring stick with which Christian laypeople can aspire towards.

Although Benedictines have used The Rule as a guide to their communal way of life for centuries, Benedict himself did not wish to start an order of monastic’s. His Rule ‘s original audience were laypeople.

I first came across the saint years ago when my Presbyterian minister at the time let me borrow a copy of Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk. This is a story of one thoroughly Protestant woman’s account of her extended stay with Benedictine monks in the western United States. Ms Norris’ book captivated my attention & led me to further investigate a core principle of Benedictine life: radical hospitality.

No, hospitality in the Christian sense isn’t about using the correct salad fork at the potluck. Benedictine hospitality is so much more than anything we can learn from Emily Post’s etiquette column.

In the fourth chapter of his Rule, Benedict writes” The First of all things is to love the LORD God with your whole heart & soul & strength and then to love your neighbor as you do yourself.” Does this sound familiar? Radical hospitality is nothing more than following the first & greatest commandment.

Radical hospitality isn’t easy & I’m the first to admit that it is much easier to love “ neighbors” who act, believe, look & think as I do. But Benedictine hospitality calls us to step away from our comfort zones to embrace the stranger.

St Augustine’s’ does a pretty good job of welcoming guests who find themselves among us on a Sunday or Wednesday worship. But lets face it: al of us are guilty of preferring to associate with people who are very similar to us & our loved ones. We are wary of the stranger who might show some sort of outward “ difference”.

My favorite charge while growing up as a Protestant has echoes of St Benedict’s radical Hospitality It is from chapter 12 of Paul’s letter to the Romans ”…let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good…Rejoice in hope be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, Contribute to he needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
May this be true for you & me. Amen.

Feast of St Benedict ’10


One of my patron saints

Today is the Feast Day of one of my patron saints, St Benedict of Nursia. I am, in case I didn’t already mention, a Benedictine Oblate with the order of monks at St Leo Abbey in St Leo, FL.

I was first introduced to Benedictine spirituality years ago when a Presbyterian minister I had here in Florida  suggested that I read Kathleen Norris’ book_ The Cloister Walk_.  Few books have impacted my life as much as that one has: as this was my introduction to Benedictines & their rich spirituality of “ora et labora”

Norris, a totally Protestant , married woman, spends several long periods of time with the monks of a community in Minnesota. The book is basically a chronicle of her time with them, interspersed with stories of her time away from the monks between  visits to the abbey. The book also taught me a lot about what life is like for one monastic community, since I’ve pretty much grown up as a Presbyterian, monks & nuns seemed foreign to me.  Norris’ book taught me that monks{ and nuns, too} are just as human as we non-cloistered Christians. 

One of my favorite parts of” The Cloister Walk_ is when Norris recounts conversation she had with specific monks about  such topics as acacia, celibacy, ect.  By the end of the book I felt like I not only knew Norris better, but also the community about which she writes for this volume. Although _ Cloister_ is nonfiction, Norris’ easy prose flows like a novel & is a pleasure to read.

 One of the most attractive aspects of Benedictine spirituality for me is the concept of ” radical hospitality”. Benedict wrote in his Rule{ which, by the way, is not a rule as we 21st century folks think of it, but more of a set of guidelines by which to live.} Benedict tells his monks & nuns to welcome all as though  she or he{ meaning the stranger/newcomer were Christ himself.  This is a practical theology  that I try very hard to live out daily & I admit that it is so much easier to welcome others with open hearts who are similar to me & the people in my own community.

When I was on vacation in western Pennsylvanian I visited an ” Anglican church. { you know, one of ” those” churches who broke away from TEC} It was hard, but I said a prayer to God on the way to Mass & God * did* open my mind & heart enough so that I felt the presence of our LORD in  that place amongst people who think very differently from me. While they were no the most welcominng of church communities, I do not hold their attitudes against them. We are * all* fallen creatures & it is by God’s Grace that we are adopted into God’s Household.

Off the radar….Til 29 June

I’ll be on vacation & therefore ” off the radar from tomorrow until 29 June. I’ll have limited Internet access, but for one whole week I’ll have no cell phone & ” very* limited Internet access at the Lake. I’m actually looking forward to a relatively technology-free vacation: I can relax & enjoy Austin Lake without worrying about oil spills,  the bad economy , ect as I tend to do in my  normal life in Florida.

Wait a minute…my life is not normal…I am not normal! Anyhow, y’all know what I mean. It does a body &  soul some good to get away from the  daily grind. I don’t travel well by airplane , so I don’t travel often., but when I do travel I find it  rejuvenating.

Austin Lake is my own personal Walden Pond & each year I go back here to  renew & refresh my soul.  Most of my best memories of  my teen years are from Austin Lake.

My priest, in one of his Wednesday homilies, talked about St Columba & ” thin places.  What is a ” thin place”?  According to St Columba,  one’s ” thin place”  is a place where one feels  closest to God.   One of my ” thin places ” is & always has ben the peaceful valley that is Austin Lake. 

{Facebook friends, don’t despair: I’ll post pictures & updates to my Facebook  while I’m away as I can. }

Where is your ” thin place”?

50 Days with ++ KJS: Day 6

” Saints Among Us”

 {Numbers 11:16}

I’d written a sermon years ago about saints & prophets.

Our Church recogizes many saints  in our  calendar but Bishop Katharine challenges us to discover the  living ” saints” in the communiity where we llive, work, worship & play. 

She says” …there are plenty of prophets out there &  they’re busy speaking for the LORD….Each one speaks for God in the camp where he or she labors, as well as in the Sunday tent of meeting.”

  Most of the time the wisdom of these everyday prophets goes unrecognized, as did the  messeges of the Old Testement prophets.  We learned in Year One of EfM that  generally, prophets are  not popular with their contemporaries.  But perhaps this is intentional , as we also learned in EFM that God chose the prophets of ancient times  from individuals who, for the most part, were not up to the task of being God’s mouthpiece.

Who are the living “saints” in your parish, workplace, social club, or other area of daily life?