Happy Birthday!

21 12 2008

Today, December 21st,  is the 200th anniversary of the founding of my parish, Grace Church in New York. She is, for lack of a better phrase, a “spin-off” of Trinity Wall Street in lower Manhattan.  Back in the early 1800’s, Trinity’s pews were all rented, so they built the first Grace Church on the corner of Broadway and Rector.  Less than fifty years later, the congregation moved to its current location at 10th Street and Broadway, just south of Union Square.

Here’s a picture.


Grace is a bit of an anomaly in that her prinipal service on Sundays is Rite I, Morning Prayer.  On the first Sunday of the month and for special occasions or major feasts, we will have Rite I Eucharist.  Its other services during the week are Rite II Eucharists.

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It Finally Happened

16 12 2008

I found two gray hairs in my beard this morning.

I have no fear or dread about getting older, but couldn’t this have waited until I was forty at least?


Update: Thanks to Fr Robert Thomas in the comments for reminding me that I should be grateful that while I have started the graying process, nothing is falling out or thinning yet.

Holiday Eating Tips

15 12 2008

1.  Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit.  in fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2.  Drink as much eggnog as you can.  And quickly.  It’s rare.  You cannot find it any other time of year but now.  So drink up!  Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip?  It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something.  It’s a treat.  Enjoy it.  Have one for me.  Have two.  It’s later than you think.  It’s almost Christmas!!

3.  If something comes with gravy, use it.  That’s the whole point of gravy.  Gravy does not stand alone.  Pour it on.  Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes.  Fill it with gravy.  Eat the volcano.  Repeat.

4.  As for the mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk.  If it’s skim, pass.  Why bother?  It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5.  Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating.  The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free.  Lots of it.  Hello?!?

6.  Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Years.  You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do.  This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog (see point 2).

7.  If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of a Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge.  Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention.  They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes.  If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8.  Same for pies.  Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat.  Have a slice of each.  Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin.  Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert?  Labour Day?

9.  Did someone mention fruitcake?  Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all costs.  I mean, have some standards.

10.  One final tip:  If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention.  Re-read tips:  start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Quadruple Win

11 12 2008

My roommate notified me this morning that he would be out of town on a ski trip starting tomorrow morning through Sunday night, so I get the whole apartment to myself.

My therapist called and said I could come in 90 minutes earlier, thus freeing up my evening.

My boss is out the rest of the afternoon and tomorrow.

Blowoff, a roving dance party based out of Washington, DC will be in NYC tomorrow night.   Always a lot of fun!

Now if I can just kick the sniffles ….

Of Saints West and East

10 12 2008

Today we celebrate the feast day of Thomas Merton, and the Eastern Church commemorates the departure of  St. Peter El-Rahawy, Bishop of Gaza.

Thanks to James Keefer and the folks over at Mission St Clare for providing this information.  They have more information on Merton, including some quotations and a list of works.  Emphasis mine.

Thomas Merton was born in 1915 in France, of American parents. His early education was in France (Lycee de Montauban 1927-8) and England (Oakham School, 1929-32; Clare College, Cambridge, 1933-4). He came to America and attended Columbia University, graduated in English in 1938, worked there one year as a teaching assistant, and got his MA in 1939. In 1939 he joined the Roman Catholic Church, and taught at St Bonaventure for the next two years. In 1941 he entered the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani near Louisville, Kentucky. The Trappists, called more formally Cistercians of the Strict Observance, are (or were before Vatican II) an extremely strict Roman Catholic monastic order, devoted to communal prayer (they spend at least four hours a day in chapel, chanting the praises of God), to private prayer and contemplation, to study, and to manual labor. Except for those whose special duties require otherwise, they are vowed not to speak except in praise of God. Thus, when not singing in chapel, they are silent. [RB note:  fun!]

Toward the end of his life, Merton developed an interest in Buddhist and other Far Eastern approaches to mysticism and contemplation, and their relation to Christian approaches. He was attending an international conference on Christian and Buddhist monasticism in Bangkok, Thailand, when he was accidentally electrocuted on 10 December 1968.

O God, who by your Holy Spirit give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith: We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Thomas Merton, and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And here is the story of St Peter El-Rahawy.  Again, emphasis mine.  Stories from the Eastern Church always seem to have the stuff of mystery and legend about them!

On this day, we commemorate the departure of St. Peter El-Rahawy, Bishop of Gaza. He was born to a noble family in the beginning of the third century in the City of Raha. When he was twenty years old, his parents took him to Emperor Theodosius II to be in his company. Yet, because Peter had forsaken the world and its glory, he practiced an austere life while living in the King’s palace. He also used to carry the bodies of the holy martyrs of Persia and bury them.

He left the Royal Court and became a monk in one of the monasteries. After a short while, they ordained him – against his wish – the Bishop of Gaza and its surroundings. It was said that when he celebrated his first Liturgy as a bishop, lots of blood flowed from the Holy Body and filled the paten.

It happened that Marcianus, the Chalcedonian Emperor, started to persecute the Orthodox Bishops. At that time, the body of St. James the Mangled [RB note:  Fa Real?] was moved to one of the monasteries in the City of Raha. St. Peter came to Egypt, took the body of St. James the Mangled with him and dwelt in one of the monasteries in the City of El-Bahnasa. There he met St. Isaiah the Egyptian.

When the reign of Emperor Marcianus ended, St. Peter returned to the land of Palestine and continued to confirm the believers in the faith. One day while he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, some noble people present in the church were busy talking to each other in worldly affairs and the saint did not reprove them. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and reproached him because he did not admonish those who were talking in the church.

Emperor Zeno heard of him and longed to see him, but St. Peter did not fulfil the Emperor’s wish because he did not like the glory of this world. He left the City of Raha to an area called Gawer in Palestine between Jerusalem and Damascus.

On the feast day of Abba Peter the Pope of Alexandria, while St. Peter was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, Abba Peter appeared to him and told him, “The Lord Jesus has called you to be with Him.” St. Peter called his people and commanded them to be firm in their Orthodox faith. He then stretched out his hands and delivered up his soul.