Sunday Morning at St. Hugh's in Idyllwild, California
Category: General Interest
Items of General Interest about liturgy, the liturgical calendar, church customs and culture, our unique “Episcopal vocabulary,” the intersection of faith and culture, and all other items not fitting into the other categories (or fitting into multiple categories).
A short description of the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit
In the Wednesday Bible Study at St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church in Idyllwild, CA a discussion inspired by the reading of Romans 12:1-8 (appointed to be read on Sunday, August 23, 2020) explored both the Fruit of the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Want to learn more? Read on.
Fruit(s) of the Holy Spirit
These, based on Gal. 5:22 f. (AV, RV), are ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance’, to which the Vulgate text adds ‘modesty, continence, chastity’, making 12 in all. That the correct number of the fruits is 12 is defended on theological grounds by St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol. II. 1, q. 70, a. 3.
AV *Authorized Version [i.e. King James Version, 1611] of the Bible.
RV [English] Revised Version (NT, 1881; OT, 1885; Apocrypha, 1895)
Summa Theol: Summa Theologica or Summa Theologiae.
Source: F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 648.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: Permanent dispositions that make us docile to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The traditional list of seven gifts of the Spirit is derived from Isaiah 11:1–3: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord. (Item 1830 in the CCC)
Source: Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 880.
I encourage you to explore the thinking of Aquinas as presented here. ~Fr. Dan
What is the proper spiritual response to the coronavirus pandemic? Although many Catholics seek to use this period as “a time of renewal,” as one priest put it, a vocal minority are approaching the pandemic with words more suited to culture warriors than to spiritual warfare. Any Catholic who has spent time on social media has probably encountered members of the faithful who are deeply suspicious of public health precautions. They will admit that people who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 are worthy of special protection. But they resist as overzealous government intrusion any precaution that might impede upon their personal right to celebrate the sacraments.
This mentality of suspicion leads some Catholics to deride those who observe public health precautions as cowards who have capitulated to a spirit of fear. To support their uncharitable attacks, they point to Jesus’ teaching (as in Mt 16:26) that the soul is more valuable than the body. Some even go so far as to assert that Catholics who refrain from attending public liturgies out of fear of Covid-19 are lukewarm in their faith.
How, then, to respond to those who claim that Catholics who heed health guidance are giving themselves over to an un-Catholic “slavery…by their fear of death” (Heb 2:15)? I suggest consulting St. Thomas Aquinas. In his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas offers profound observations on fear and the virtue that remedies it, fortitude. Some points he makes are especially relevant to today’s debates.
There is no sin in fearing the needless loss of one’s life or health.A sin is by definition an unreasonable act. But, Aquinas says, “reason dictates that we should shun the evils that we cannot withstand, and the endurance of which profits us nothing. Hence there is no sin in fearing them.”
The answer to fear is not defiance. It is fortitude. Our fear should lead us to ask God for an increase in the cardinal virtue of fortitude. But practicing fortitude does not mean tempting God by being reckless. Rather, Aquinas says, fortitude strengthens us by “curbing fear and moderating daring.”
The words of the Serenity Prayer offer an example of fortitude in action: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” Although the “wisdom to know the difference” comes from the virtue of prudence, which directs the other cardinal virtues, the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change” and “courage to change the things I can” are both aspects of fortitude.
And this brings us to our final point from Aquinas: The principal act of the virtue of fortitude is not aggression. It is endurance. Sometimes it is necessary to attack our fears head-on. A priest I know faces his fear of Covid-19 so that, taking every reasonable precaution, he may bring the sacraments to patients in hospitals who are dying of the virus.
Aquinas grants there are times when one has no other option than “aggression”—taking bold action against that which causes fear. Even so, he takes care to emphasize that “the principal act of fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of dangers rather than to attack them.”
But St. Thomas does not stop there. The Angelic Doctor, who lived at a time when Europe had 19,000 lazarettos—isolation hospitals for victims of leprosy or plague—offers a searing response to those who might protest that the Christian way is to “man up.” He stresses that endurance is not merely more proper to fortitude than is aggression; it is also more manly, in the genuine sense of being more human, than “manning up.”
“Endurance is more difficult than aggression,” Aquinas explains. This makes sense if we consider that when we fight, we attack because we believe we have some power over our opponent. But when we endure, we do so because we believe that our opponent is stronger than we are; “and it is more difficult,” St. Thomas notes, “to contend with a stronger than with a weaker.”
We need, therefore, to ask the Lord for an increase in fortitude so we may have the strength to endure temporary inconveniences, whether great or small, “and persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Heb 12:1). The sacrifices we make in limiting our sacramental participation will not starve us of grace, as the culture warriors claim. God is not bound by the sacraments. “Give,” Jesus says; give to God and neighbor, “and gifts will be given to you” (Lk 6:38).
St. Thomas would say that those who urge Catholics to push the boundaries of appropriate precautions are promoting a spirit of recklessness that is the antithesis of authentic virtue. If we are to be reasonable about the threat from Covid-19 threat, we must recognize that we can survive the virus only if we meet it on its terms, not ours.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says that we will be judged on the care we provide to others. When loving our neighbor means forgoing a normal ecclesial life—as Catholics have had to do during countless disasters, plagues and persecutions—we can trust that the Lord will continue to feed us with his Spirit until the time comes when we can celebrate together again.
The readings for Proper 13A Track 2 in the Revised Common Lectionary
Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.
Listen. What do YOU hear the Spirit saying in these readings?
Collect for Proper 13 (August 2, 2020)
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.~BCP 232
Isaiah 55:1-5 NRSV
In this reading we hear how the return from exile will be a time of prosperity and abundance when God’s covenant will be renewed. The prophet pictures the great day: for a people who have been near death there will be food and drink without cost. God’s covenant with David is to be extended to all Israel, and other nations will come to see her glory.
1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
Romans 9:1-5 NRSV
In this reading Paul expresses his anguish and sorrow that so many of the children of Israel, the people especially favored by God, have not found the Lord’s promise. To them belong the covenants, the law, and so much else. From their nation Christ himself came. Paul would go to great lengths, even see himself an outcast, if such would help Israel to know its salvation. Later in this letter Paul tries to explain how this all may be part of God’s plan of redemption, which in the end will include Israel with the Gentiles.
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5 to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Matthew 14:13-21 NRSV
Our gospel is the story of Jesus’ feeding of over five thousand persons. After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus seeks a time of retreat. The crowds, however, follow him, and he has compassion on them. The narrative suggests many levels of meaning. It recalls Old Testament stories, especially God’s feeding of the Israelites with manna in the wilderness, and points forward to the legendary banquet at the end of time where Christ the King will preside. The abundant miracle illustrates Jesus’ lordship; he is intimate with the powers of creation. Other themes associated with the Eucharist are close at hand.
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Psalm 145:8-9, 15-22 BCP 802
A hymn of praise to the Lord, who is mighty in deeds yet tender and compassionate.
8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, * slow to anger and of great kindness.
9 The Lord is loving to everyone * and his compassion is over all his works.
15 The Lord upholds all those who fall; * he lifts up those who are bowed down.
16 The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, * and you give them their food in due season.
17 You open wide your hand * and satisfy the needs of every living creature.
18 The Lord is righteous in all his ways * and loving in all his works.
19 The Lord is near to those who call upon him, * to all who call upon him faithfully.
20 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; * he hears their cry and helps them.
21 The Lord preserves all those who love him, * but he destroys all the wicked.
22 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; * let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for Proper 11, Book of Common Prayer, 1979, p. 231
This is a short meditation on the Collect for Proper 11 (July 19, 2020). It is my invitation to you to take the names and descriptions of God as your own prayer-starter or meditation. Listen also to our requests of God: “… have compassion on our weakness … mercifully give us (good, useful, helpful, wise gifts) those things which for our unworthiness (what does that admission do to you?) we dare not ask, and for our blindness (what are you not seeing?) cannot ask.”
Wind Chimes is being reborn as Wind in the Chimes.
In the time of the coronavirus it seems opportune to revisit and rename Wind Chimes—for a short time it was a regular feature of this Blog.
In the original post I wrote:
When a wind chime catches the wind (even the whisper of a wind) it makes music, it interprets the wind in ways that are always the same and always changing. In regular posts I will share links to news (religion news), reflections and meditations (related to our Sunday readings as often as possible), prayers or prayer starters, resources to help you keep learning and growing (spiritually), and whatever else I come across.
Wind Chimes posted September 25, 2012 on Hear what the Spirit is saying
Renamed “Wind in the Chimes” the intent remains the same: to help you and to help me better hear what the Spirit is saying.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And then the Lord commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:15-17
Often in the past, the period after the fall of the Roman Empire was referred to as the “Dark Ages.” This assessment was based on a mistaken belief that without a central government, civilization was at a standstill. After the fall, there was a period of uncertainty initially, nevertheless, monasteries continued to function as centers of learning. When Charlemagne became king of the Franks, he initiated a cultural revival that was continued after he unified Europe and formed the Holy Roman Empire in AD 800. Two centuries later, the spirit of the Carolingian Renaissance remained a presence in Europe. When Otto III went to Rome in AD 996 to be crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim was there and attended the coronation. While in Rome, Bernward was impressed with several large doors that he saw on churches, and upon his return to Hildesheim, he commissioned doors for St. Michael’s Cathedral.
The fourth panel from the top of the left door is a depiction of God arriving to accuse Adam and Eve of eating the forbidden fruit, prior to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden (Panel 5 on the left side of the door) after they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The forward-leaning figure of God seems angry as He points to Adam and accuses him of disobeying God. In a familiar human reaction, both Adam and Eve try to shift the blame. Adam is embarrassed, is feeling guilt, and senses that he is without clothes. He tries to cover himself and points to Eve in an effort to blame her. Eve, in turn, tries to cover herself and points to the serpent to blame it.
Instead of casting separate panels for each scene, Bishop Bernward’s artists chose to cast each door as one unified piece. First, relief figures of each panel – eight on each door – were created in wax. Sprues of wax were added; after burnout they would serve as funnels into which the molten bronze would be poured. Also wax rods were attached; they would become vents through which gases would escape when the piece was being cast. After the wax pattern – with sprues and vents attached – was completed, foundry workers encased it in a plaster-like substance called investment and placed it in a furnace where the wax was melted and burned out completely (hence the term, “lost wax process”). This burnout created a clean hollow space into which molten bronze was poured to replace everything that was at one time, wax. When the bronze was cool, the investment was chipped off to reveal the doors. Sprues and vents were removed and the doors of St. Michael’s were cleaned and installed.
The panels on the left door depict images from the Book of Genesis and the panels on the right show events from the life of Christ.
The figures in these doors are not anatomically correct and the perspective is not accurate yet, the images are direct and intense. It was not until the Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth century that perspective and foreshortening became known. The figures on the doors at Hildesheim are primitive by Renaissance standards, yet they are expressive and filled with emotional depth.
Every year, the Last Sunday After Epiphany is also the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Glory and the Cross for our contemplation.
Transfiguration, fresco, 11th Century, unknown artist of Cappadocia
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking to him.” (Matt. 17:1-3)
When the western part of the Roman Empire collapsed the eastern portion thrived and in time became the Byzantine Empire which extended eastward from Constantinople into Asia Minor. In a region known as Cappadocia, Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians often required protection from invaders and found it in rock formations created by volcanic eruptions. By carving into the soft rock, Christians created spaces that gave them shelter from the elements and made invasions by outside forces difficult.
In this setting, a monastic compound known as the “Dark Church,” was carved and its interior walls and ceilings were covered with frescos. Among the paintings is The Transfiguration. In it, Moses and Elijah are with Jesus in an event interpreted as a revelation that Christ is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. Moses represents the law and in paintings he often is shown holding the Torah or a stone tablet. Elijah represents the prophets. In this fresco, neither Moses nor Elijah has been given an identifying symbol but we can assume the gray-haired bearded man on the right is Moses and the un-bearded figure on the left is Elijah.
Mt. Tabor is the traditional site of the transfiguration but other places have been proposed. One of the sites that have been suggested is Mt. Hermon which has three distinct peaks. Often in paintings of the transfiguration, as in this painting from the Dark Church, three peaks are shown. In this painting,, Christ is standing on the center peak. Moses is standing on the right peak and Elijah is on the left. Below them are the disciples kneeling and crouching. At the bottom left is Peter with white hair and a beard. He is pointing upward toward Christ. The disciple John is depicted in the center as a beardless youth (his face is partially obscured by damage) and James is to the right with brown hair and a beard. Linear rays indicate there is a direct connection between Jesus and each of the disciples.
Note: The “Dark Church” is so named because it has only a small opening (oculus) for light, thus the interior is dim.
Dark Church is at the left side of photo.
Among the various people of ancient Cappadocia were the Armenians who were known then as being horse breeders. “Cappadocia,” the historic name for this region is believed to have been derived from “Kapatuka,” an Old Persian term meaning, “Land of beautiful horses.” The Crusaders referred to the region as Terra Hermeniorum: “Land of the Armenians.”
According to tradition, Byzas, a Greek colonist founded the ancient city, Byzantium, in BC 667. Later, Byzantium, along with eastward lands became part of the Roman Empire. In AD 330, when Constantine moved the capital of Rome to Byzantium, the city’s name was changed to Constantinople. After the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, its name was changed to Istambol (Turkish: “City of Islam”), and in 1930 it was changed again and is now, Istanbul.
At the time artist, Max Beckmann volunteered to serve in the German army’s medical corps during World War I (1914-1818), the nations of Europe had not been in an all-encompassing conflict for almost a century. During those years the industrial revolution changed not only the way people lived but it changed the way wars would be fought. Humans were up against tanks, machine guns, mortar shells, and airplanes. As a member of the medical corps, Beckmann was unnerved completely by the carnage he saw. This led to a breakdown and subsequent discharge from the military.
After its defeat, Germany was in disarray and the aftermath of war left people without direction or purpose. An uncertain future and relaxed social values during the Weimar Republic aided the onset of moral decay, and many Germans were living for the moment. Entertainment and self-indulgence was available in popular cabarets that offered escape into a world of drinking, dancing and shows featuring lewd performances, nudity and bawdy songs. Prostitution was commonplace and to Beckman, this was all a continuation of an abhorrent world.
Despite social conditions, Beckmann’s reputation in the art world grew immensely during the 1920s and many awards were received. He also was awarded a teaching position at the Frankfort School of Art. With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s, however, Hitler determined that modern trends in art and music were unacceptable and Beckmann was dismissed from his teaching assignment. In his youth, Hitler himself sought a career in art and believed he was an excellent judge of value. Beckmann’s art was among works that he called, “degenerate.” When World War II appeared to be inevitable, Beckmann left Germany to live in Amsterdam. A degree of peace finally came to him when he arrived in America in 1947 and taught at George Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
The parable of The Prodigal Son was given by Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of Luke but when Beckmann depicted a portion of the story, his imagery was based on conditions he witnessed in Weimar during the 1920s. The parable’s older son’s complaint that his wastrel brother had been living among harlots was a description that brought up images of a seamy reality that Beckmann knew.
In Beckmann’s painting, the prodigal son is in a brothel surrounded by three coarse, tawdry and partially clad women with claw-like hands; all are under the watchful eye of a Madam. The unsmiling bare-breasted blonde has wrapped her arms around the prodigal son while the woman wearing a blue hat and blue-corset is holding a drink and looking on with a vacant smile. None of the figures seem to be enjoying themselves and the young man looks “wasted.” His hands prop up his head as he remains without expression. Perhaps he is realizing the attractive fantasies of his youth were not based on reality.
The Prodigal Son is not painted in a “realistic” style but it reflects a reality that Beckmann observed. The painting’s style, like its subject matter is raw, harsh, and visually abrupt. It is not “pretty.” The black smudges throughout its surface add to an effect of something unclean. Though some would prefer art to be an escape to a lovely place, this painting’s subject matter and style reflects Beckmann’s thoughts and experiences during difficult times.
And [Jesus] cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. ~Mark 1:34
The Race Track (Death on a Pale Horse) oil on canvas, c.1886-1908
Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1847-1917
Commentary by Hovak Najarian
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, America was engaged in rapid growth in the areas of manufacturing, commerce, and the building of railroads. The arts were not a priority. Serious artists were likely to go to Paris to absorb the culture and milieu during an era that brought great changes in the arts of Europe. Artists who remained in America often studied in New York City and then lived there, or nearby, as they built careers and established reputations.
Like the bohemian life in Paris, artists in New York’s Greenwich Village lived in a place where they could work, socialize, and be unencumbered by the expectations and values of society at large. For most of his adult life, Albert Pinkham Ryder, lived in The Village and was dedicated to painting. He had no desire to pursue fame, or accumulate material wealth. While his contemporaries in France, the Impressionists, were going outside to paint the effects of sunlight, Ryder stayed indoors and most of his images developed from within himself. An exception was TheRace Track that he painted as the result of a direct experience.
Ryder often dined at a hotel in The Village where his brother was the proprietor. In a conversation one evening, he learned that his waiter gambled on horses and was excited about a much publicized race that would be held the following day. The waiter was going to place his entire savings on a horse that he believed would win. On the day after the race, Ryder returned to the hotel but the waiter was not there. When he inquired, he was told the favored horse came in third and the man lost his entire savings. He was unable to cope with his loss and took his own life.
Ryder’s painting, The Race Track, also known as, Death on a Pale Horse, depicts a lone skeleton-like figure on horseback carrying a scythe and circling the race track in a reverse direction. The track’s fence is broken in two places and the landscape is barren except for a lone dead tree. The race track, a metaphor for life, circles endlessly. In the foreground, a snake represents symbolically Satan, temptation, and betrayal. The man that took his life was possessed with gambling and to Ryder, the race track was, in effect, his death. As in the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, Ryder has placed the figure of death on a pale horse.
Posting to resume in the Season of Epiphany (2018).
With determination (and hope) posts will again appear on our Hear the Spirit site as the Season of Epiphany (2018) begins. We invite you to come, read, and comment as you “Keep Learning” and growing in Christian maturity.