Thursday, November 20, 2014

From the upcoming Newsletter of St. Benedict's

I decided to share these thoughts with readers of The Continuum.

Advent Christmas Epiphany 2014-15
From the Rector’s Desk
Every year, at this time, I am acutely aware of the difference between how the commercial world views this season, and how we should view it. To the department stores and shopping malls “Christmas” runs from – what? Maybe the fourth of July? - until December 25, when they are grudgingly forced to close for a whole day. They think it is all over at 12:01 AM December 26. Suddenly, when the twelve-day season of Christmas is just beginning, they have ended their season. Some stores advertise what they now call “the twelve days of Christmas,” by which they mean the last twelve days of Advent, the “shopping days” leading up to the unfortunate day in which they cannot make anymore money.
But to us, the twelve days of Christmas begin with the Feast of the Nativity on December 25, and end just in time for the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. Beginning, this year, on November 30, we enter the season of Advent, beginning a new church year.
Now, I say all this because the world has converted our holy days and liturgical seasons into something unrecognizable, and the secular “Christmas” has a way of applying pressure of its own that can, if we let it, drown out the true meaning for us. To some degree that is unavoidable; so just remember not to let it spoil your joy in Christ. To those who will be celebrating His Nativity on the day we call Christmas (Christ Mass), a blessed, holy and merry Christmas. To those who do not, well…May they have a nice December 25.

Daily Office

As we enter Advent, the beginning of the church year, a penitential season, you might want to begin using, if you have not already begun, the practice of Daily Morning and Evening Prayer. The season opens with Messianic words of the Prophet Isaiah, included in the scheduled readings from the Bible. This marvelous Rule (Regula) of Life is one of the great gifts of our Anglican heritage in the Book of Common Prayer. I will be glad to help any of you who want to practice it, and who may have questions about how to use the Book of Common Prayer. 


AFS1970 said...

The world of retail thinks that Christmas ends on 12/26 not 12/25. The day folks rush to return gifts for something better is a very high traffic day.

That doesn't make things any more spiritual but having worked in retail loss prevention, I know the season isn't over until the day after the jolly fat guy sings.

Anonymous said...

Fr.Hart, I hope all is well. We miss your sermons on Sunday mornings. We have to drive 1 1/2 hours to church and we only attend once a month. On other Sundays, we pray Morning Prayer and read your sermon aloud. Thank you.

Vincent said...

Father Hart, can an Anglican agree with the following view of the final judgement at the end of the world? It is from the current pope.

Finally, a word on the passage of the final judgement, that describes the second coming of the Lord, when He will judge all humans, living and dead (cf. Mt 25:31-46). The image used by the Evangelist is that of the Shepherd separating sheep from goats. On the right are those who acted according to the will of God, helping their neighbor who was hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned, thus following the Lord himself; while on the left are those who haven't come to the aid of their neighbour. This tells us that we will be judged by God on charity, on how we loved him in our brothers, especially the weakest and neediest. Of course, we must always keep in mind that we are justified, we are saved by grace, by an act of God's gratuitous love which always precedes us; we alone can do nothing. Faith is first of all a gift that we have received. But to bear fruit, God's grace always requires our openness, our free and concrete response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of God who saves. We are asked to trust him, to match the gift of his love with a good life, with actions animated by faith and love.

Dear brothers and sisters, may we never be afraid to look to the final judgment; may it push us rather to live better lives. God gives us with mercy and patience this time so that we may learn every day to recognize him in the poor and in the little ones, may we strive for good and we are vigilant in prayer and love. May the Lord, at the end of our existence and history, may recognize us as good and faithful servants. Thank you!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I should certainly say so. It appears to be commentary on the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matt. 25.