HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! On this day we give thanks to God for the gift of fatherhood. Fathers formed in the Anglican faith are called to lead and model their family life to fully live out the truth and the mercy of Christ in a balanced and loving way. They nurture their spiritual life having a deep sustaining devotion to know Jesus Christ.They call their family to prayer, to the reading and study of holy scripture, to embrace and live the sacramental life of the ancient faith, and to study and to study more this faith that is ours in Christ Jesus. Father’s must lead their family in acts of mercy to serve those in need. A father’s wealth is in loving and practicing the Christian faith that is ancient but ever new and to build lasting and strong bonds of brotherhood with other fathers in his parish, helping one another to build up one’s faith and morals. For those men that seek this way of life, be not afraid, God is with you! AMEN
Parents of Level II Atrium students,
By now, your student has probably brought home a wall hanging depicting the five Kingdom Parables they have studied. In our synopses and discussions of these parables, we discovered the qualities of beauty, growth, and transformation in God’s Kingdom. Ask them to tell you about the parables–I think they’ll be happy to share what they’ve pondered on in the atrium!
Following the liturgical calendar, we’ll be, of course, examining the Pascal narratives this month. The children listened carefully to the story of the Wolf and the Hireling on Sunday, and they had lots of opinions about the behavior of the hired hand. They drew conclusions beautifully about the Good Shepherd giving his life for the sheep; they talked about the wolf and the differences between Satan and evil. We were all saddened to discuss that we, as humans, have evil within us, and we talked about how to make that evil as small as we can.
They’ll revisit the Cenacle and hear about the Last Supper, and they’ll look at a map of Jerusalem and identify important places pertinent to Holy Week. The week after Easter Sunday, we’ll read the scriptures telling of the empty tomb, and remind ourselves that Easter is not just one Sunday, but seven!
Parents of Level II Atrium students,
My apologies for not getting a January note to you…I think I may have catching up on sleep missed during the Christmas season!
Your children continued to learn about Jesus as an infant with presentations of The Adoration of the Magi and The Presentation in the Temple. They had very mixed reactions to the smells of frankincense and myrrh! We had a very interesting conversation about the presumed magical abilities of the Magi, after we established that these three kings were not lizards. (Charissa and I were working very hard not to giggle that day!) I feel certain that they have the facts all straightened out now!
The story of Jesus’s presentation at the temple was not as well known to the children, and they had lots of questions about the legal practices of presenting one’s firstborn son in biblical times. Since then, we have been talking about the parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of God: the Mustard Seed, the Merchant and the Pearl, the Growing Seed, the Leaven, and the Hidden Treasure. On the 21st of February, we’ll finish up with a synthesis of all five parables. The 28th will be a free work day, where the students can finish up any art works they may have started, or have some time to contemplate the works they want to revisit.
They have a new classmate! Aiden, who is Sara and Tom Ward’s grandson, has joined us in the Level II Atrium. We are delighted to have him. They are still a singing bunch of kids…one day, after a presentation, they were all over the atrium: one at the altar, one tracing a picture from the parable, one placing flags in the map of Israel, two working on the books of the Bible, and one child began singing a song we had learned at Christmas, just softly (in an atrium voice), and the others joined in, still working independently. The atrium is indeed a place of prayer–individual AND communal. Praise be to God!
The cross of ashes, traced upon the forehead of each Christian, is not only a reminder of death but inevitably (though tacitly) a pledge of resurrection. The ashes of a Christian are no longer mere ashes. The body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and though it is fated to see death, it will return again to life in glory. The cross, with which the ashes are traced upon us, is the sign of Christ’s victory over death. The words, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and that to dust thou shalt return,” are not to be taken as the quasi-form of a kind of “sacrament of death” (as if such a thing were possible). It might be good stoicism to receive a mere reminder of our condemnation to die, but it is not Christianity. The declaration that the body must fall temporarily into dust is a challenge to spiritual combat, that our burial may be “in Christ” and that we may rise with him to “live unto God.”
Thomas Merton, Ash Wednesday, Spiritual Medicine
On the first Sunday of Lent, Feb 14th at St. John’s we will pray the “Great Litany.” For 472 years Anglicans have prayed with deep faith this litany during penitential times and in times of discernment, distress, war and disaster. The Great Litany (BCP: 148-53) was written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and first published in 1544. It was the first “liturgical service” made available in the English language and has been included in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer since 1549. The Great Litany is a time-honored text in the Anglican liturgical patrimony.
This Litany is composed of 42 petitions. It begins with the invocation of the blessed and glorious Trinity, one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The petitioner asks the Lord, that in spite of one’s sins, in mercy apply the saving mysteries of His Incarnation, Nativity, and submission to the Law, Baptism, Fasting, Temptation, Agony, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Coming of the Holy Ghost to heal the mortal soul and mind.
God applies each of these saving actions to deliver us from evil and wickedness, from the lies of the devil and from everlasting damnation. They deliver us from blindness of heart, pride, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, and malice; from all inordinate and sinful affections, and the deceit found in the world. Christ may now find in us our “lamps lit” (Lk 12:35) so in the hour of our death and in the day of our judgment we may attain God’s heavenly Kingdom as our eternal home.
We pray for the Church through-out the world, for her ministry and for Christians who suffer for their faith and conscience, for Christians who have wandered away from the faith that they may return, for all civil authorities, peace, and for all in need.
The petitioner’s primary identity is that of a penitent. He seeks earnest forgiveness and amendment of life. He prays for his enemies. He prays for justice and for his triumph over every evil, and for eternal life and peace, and with all the saints he prays for the repose of the dead in Christ.
Anglicans understand the power of prayer. Prayer brings us in line with the way of truth; it can give us a heart to love and a desire to live after God’s commandments. Prayer can inspire, purify, preserve, protect and comfort. It can strengthen the weak-hearted, raise up the fallen, and beat down Satan who always lurks at the Christian’s door.
With all these prayers and intentions in mind the Great Litany concludes with the Agnus Dei, the Kyrie eleison, the Lord’s Prayer and a concluding collect asking that we may obtain what we have prayed for.