A Prayer of St. Aelred

Lord I sometimes wander away from you, not because I am deliberately turning my back on you, but because of the inconstancy of my mind. I weaken in my intention to give my whole self to you. I fall back into thinking of myself as my own master. When I wander from you, my life becomes a burden, and within me I find nothing but darkness fear and anxiety. So I come back to you and confess that I have sinned. Forgive me Lord. — St. Aelred of Rivaux
saint aelred
I wandered into Church this afternoon to pray, and picked up one of the Advent booklets we’re giving out, and opened it up to read this beautiful prayer from St. Aelred. He’s renowned for his treatise on Spiritual Friendship, a brief summary of which can be found here, and a pdf version can be found here.

Aelred speaks about spiritual friendship – a relationship which helps us grow in love: love of each other and love of God. In fact, for him friendship is a sacrament of God’s love. In an earlier book he says that just as there is a continuous dialogue and interchange of love berween the three persons of the Trinity, so human beings – the rational creatures made in the image and likeness of this Trinity of Persons – are called to relationships based on mutual dialogue, exchange, sharing and self-giving. This is the theological foundation for all spiritual relationships. In fact, through the experience of spiritual friendship we come to experience something of God’s love. He refers to this friendship as a very holy sort of charity.

But his prayer (rather than his treatise, although it did come to mind,) struck me so peacefully as I knelt in Church and prayed and felt God’s grace working in my life, healing my spirit and bringing a sense of understanding to the quasi-complex, more than likely semi-pelagian issues of the last weeks. Also, this is the start of Advent Confessions, and tomorrow is First Friday (which will bring an abundance of Confessions…) so I realized the need for a more thorough examination of conscience. I have issues, man.

God’s grace…. It’s only by God’s grace we get to heaven.

Groundbreaking News

Today I was asked to take part in the Groundbreaking Ceremonies for St. Andrew’s Village (this being the Feast of St. Andrew, and all.)

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Fr. Bill Billinski was there; he helps with Confessions for a lot of the “God’s Special Children” Masses and knows many of the founders present.

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Sen. Mary Landrieu gave the Keynote Speech, which was a fun take on what had to happen behind the scenes legislatively for this huge project to come to pass.

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We listend to all of the local dignitaries giving speeches which were well thought out and brief. Then a handful of us piled into a Limo Bus and headed out to the woods about 5 minutes away where this project will be built. Fr. Mike Mitchell has done a lot of work with the Gods Special Children Masses, and so has his buddy Fr. Frank Candalisa.

Readying the Shovels

We all had to wear hardhats.

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It was a fun event to be a part of; everyone was in a great mood and the day was beautiful.

“St. Andrew’s Village will be a faith-based, mixed-use Village community where both adults with developmental disabilities and non-disabled individuals can live, work, worship, and socialize throughout their lifelong journey.

“Born of a partnership between parents and community members to provide for adults with special needs, St. Andrew’s Village will be the first community of its kind in the state of Louisiana.”

Glad to support them, and glad they’re finding a home at long, long last.

Faceplants on the Path

I have issues, man.  And every now and again I take a faceplant on the path to holiness.

See, every now and again I’m reminded that I need to head to Confession.  Priests are only human; those to whom much is given… etc.  The burden of conscience is higher since we’re trained in such issues to begin with and go through years of ‘formation’ so that when anything which might cause us to fall into sin, (be it mortal, venial, whatever) — anger, pride, envy, lust, gluttony… is experienced, we have the experience and tools necessary to manage and cope with the stresses which lead to that.

Theoretically.

In reality we live in the community of believers, and often have to rely on them for insights and help when things get sketchy. As King David wrote (and for all the Biblical scholars out there who debate whether or not it was David who actually wrote the Psalms, I can only say that it doesn’t matter, and  you don’t know, )  “I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.”

Practically, sometimes we just fall into the trap of worldliness.  And while some things may not be sin for others, when you have an informed conscience and know better, you just join the ranks of sinners and fall into line for the Confessional.

Concupiscence

The Catholic Encyclopedia has some great writing on concupiscence, (noting as well that it does not refer to simply lust, in case you’re wondering what area of sin we’re talking about here, which is really none of your business, but moreso not germane to the point.)   Basically, it sums up what Paul writes to us in his Letter to the Romans — that I don’t do the good that I want to do, I do the evil that I do not want to do.   Try this on for size, from the Knox translation of Romans 7:15-23:

“My own actions bewilder me; what I do is not what I wish to do, but something which I hate. 16 Why then, if what I do is something I have no wish to do, I thereby admit that the law is worthy of all honour; 17 meanwhile, my action does not come from me, but from the sinful principle that dwells in me. 18 Of this I am certain, that no principle of good dwells in me, that is, in my natural self; praiseworthy intentions are always ready to hand, but I cannot find my way to the performance of them; 19 it is not the good my will prefers, but the evil my will disapproves, that I find myself doing. 20 And if what I do is something I have not the will to do, it cannot be I that bring it about, it must be the sinful principle that dwells in me. 21 This, then, is what I find about the law, that evil is close at my side, when my will is to do what is praiseworthy.[3] 22 Inwardly, I applaud God’s disposition, 23 but I observe another disposition in my lower self, which raises war against the disposition of my conscience, and so I am handed over as a captive to that disposition towards sin which my lower self contains.

This is my life, people!

Or if not my life, at least a part of it.  But if the Apostle went through the same experiences, I can’t be in bad company when I strive for holiness and intend to live victoriously over sin.

Advent, starting this evening, is a great time to root out the things in our lives tempting us to sin, in whatever form it takes in our lives.  We’re all tempted and give in to sin in various ways, yet the struggle for holiness is what we’re given grace to accomplish.  Pray for me, I’m certainly praying for you… whoever you are.

On Another Stormy Afternoon

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A brief bike ride as Isaac fell apart, and this is the memorable pic. It’s right there by the bike path all the time, I just haven’t had my camera with me until the hurricane hit.

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And this.

It’s what happens during hurricanes, since they last forever and a day. And then they go on and on and on.

One moment everything’s grand. Eventually, you’re napping on a sofa, cooking on a camp stove, sleeping on a chaise lounge in a dining room, or photographing water as it pools on the lawn.

And then you’re exhausted, and need to sleep.

Lord Jesus Christ, send your holy angels to watch over us as we sleep. Help us to be victorious in the battles we accept in your name. Help us to know you, and to help bring healing and wholesome, abundant living wherever we are. Amen.

Pentecost

Travis Clark Preaches
The Rev. Mr. Travis Clark ~ Newly Ordained Deacon

Here at Mary Magdalen, we were truly blessed to have Deacon Travis Clark preach for us this weekend. You can read all about his ordination over at the Clarion Herald’s site.

The good Deacon grew up in this Parish, and everyone just loves him. I was impressed that he used no notes for his Homily, as I usually have, well…. some printed materials and an outline with me, to put it mildly.

Leading up to Pentecost I was doing some Scriptural meditations on a life in the spirit, vs, a life in the flesh. Here are just a few of them, to help focus our minds more clearly

Romans 8

For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.a

For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do, this God has done: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.

The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.

For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

RULES FOR THE NEW LIFE

Ephesian 4: 30

Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger,and do not leave room for the devil.

The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need.

No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.

And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.

All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.

[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

What is “Living in The World” vs. “Living in The Spirit”

“For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.”

And finally…

1 Corinthians 6:9

“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes* nor sodomites.”

Galatians 5

Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies,
and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Pentecost Flowers