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Update: Matt Petersen points in the comments to a series of podcasts on Lent from the folks at “Trinity Talks” that are a much more balanced Protestant perspective on Lent, which I’m happy to hear. You can find them here, here and here.

Since I’m making an attempt at reinvigorating the old blog, here’s a thought I had during Lent that seems particularly appropriate since we’re currently in another season of fasting for the Eastern Churches, the Apostles’ Fast which runs from the second Monday after Pentecost till the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul.

I was happy to observe that this Lent, many Reformed pastors with blogs took up the subject of the Church’s foremost penitential season. But most of their thoughts were filled with trepidation about the practice of fasting.

Posts like Steve Wilkins’ here and Doug Wilson’s here and here are more open than usual to the idea of observing Lent and Advent, but the idea of their communities actually setting those seasons aside for actual physical fasting from food seems to fill them with fear. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Pharisee and the Publican (Thanks Father Stephen)So Lent is coming early this year. I’m not sure I quite understand why, but apparently it is. In the Eastern Churches we have three preparatory weeks before Lent starts to get our act together and our hearts in the right place.

They recall the Pharisee and the Publican, the Prodigal Son, and the Expulsion of our First Parents from Paradise. This week obviously reminds us that we can fast till we are blue in the face, but if it’s not accompanied by metanoia it’s worthless.

I got to thinking about the publican and the pharisee today. I wonder if there’s an implicit irony in the parable. Cause, if we hear that parable and go “Oh, yeah, that pharisee sure is a jerk. I’m sure glad God didn’t make me like…” Hey! Wait a minute!

It’s almost like there’s another layer of meaning to the parable all wrapped up in how you respond to the character of the pharisee. Shoot man, you don’t know what’s up with that guy. Maybe he’s going through some stuff you don’t even understand. Quit making him out to be the villain all the time.

Catholic moms have a bunch of sayings that, as a protestant without Catholic friends, I was never exposed to. Among them is, when a kid is acting self-righteous in relation to another person, “Just remember, they could go to heaven and you could go to hell.”

We’re preparing for a season of repentance. So repent, Pascha is at hand. And give the pharisee a break. He could be in heaven and you could end up in hell.

unexpected_joy.gifRemy has, wrapping up two of our differences into one package which he feels to be most clever, referred on this blog and elsewhere to the use of holy images in prayer as “prayer condoms”. He believes they place something artificial that need not be there between God and the supplicant, as condoms place something artificial that need not be there between the couple in their conjugal act (is that word related to conjugating a verb, by the by?).

I will, as I have in the past, magnanimously ignore what amounts to something like 2nd degree blasphemy in Remy’s speaking of holy images that way, but that aside, I was thinking about Remy’s analogy today and found it wanting, here’s why: While it’s true that condoms do put a barrier between the couple, that’ not necessarily the inherent problem.

After all, you could enjoy the marital embrace with your shirt on and not do any damage to the nature of the act. The problem with condoms is that they place a barrier where life is transmitted. Read the rest of this entry »

Synaxis of the ArchangelsToday is the Synaxis of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. These Holy Servants of the Most High have played an amazing role in the salvation of mankind, and today we praise God in His for all He has done through His faithful messengers and warriors.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host – by the Divine Power of God – cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living.

Amen.

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

*EDIT*

My good friend Renee had some thoughts on the feast as well right over here.