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Sunday, March 29, 2015

ELIZABETH BELL - REVUE MAGAZINE: Velaciones and Sagrarios During Lent in Antigua Guatemala

Pedro Ruíz Reyes
Shrine of the Cathedral
Milena Palacios
Saint vigil
Hadazul Cruz
Holy vigil of Jesus being buried - San Felipe de Jesus
Festivals, Semana Santa


¨While carpet making has all the glamour for Semana Santa and is the big highlight for many of us, the velaciones before each procession and the Maundy Thursday sagrarios are important parts of Holy Week traditions.

La Antigua Guatemala has the largest celebration in the world for Semana Santa — outdoing Seville

Velaciones, or holy vigils, take place in the churches every Friday for the Sunday processions and many other days in preparation for the larger processions. The processional figure is placed on display in the church, surrounded by ornate decorations created just for that day . These are truly impressive and are all works of art. Biblical presentations are common.


Hadazul Cruz
Holy vigil of Jesus being buried - San Felipe de Jesus
Arrive early. Late morning will afford few crowds; the churches are full after 4 p.m

The most beautiful sawdust carpets are created in front of the sculpture and then the huerto or garden, which represents the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus visited before his crucifixion. The designs for the fruits and vegetables in the “gardens” are exquisite and always include the fragrant pod corozo brought up from the Guatemalan Pacific coast.

Visited by thousands of Guatemalans as one of the true traditions during Lent, the velaciones are open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. We recommend you arrive early. Late morning will afford few crowds; the churches are full after 4 p.m. Professional photographers take pictures/post cards that you may buy for Q5 at the entrance after noon. Some of us collect these as souvenirs. Street food completes the mood with the Semana Santa aromas for the velaciones as does the incense! We advise to perhaps refrain from eating but enjoy the smells. The band, composed of Guatemalan musicians, performs mostly funeral marches after 8 p.m. CDs of the music are often for sale at the church entrance.

The crowds can be overwhelming since La Antigua Guatemala has the largest celebration in the world for Semana Santa — outdoing Seville a few years ago. We all look for that “Semana Santa moment” when we are moved. It could be watching the kids make ornate carpets, or when a procession turns a corner or, perhaps visiting the sagrarios. Dating to 1559 in Rome, sagrarios have the Holy Sacrament on display with lovely decorations.


Pedro Ruíz Reyes
Shrine of the Cathedral
The faithful visit sagrarios in seven churches between 6 p.m. and midnight on Maundy Thursday . This pilgrimage commemorates Jesus’ journey from the Last Supper to crucifixion. These are held at all of the churches, and many Guatemalan families visit more than one that evening. One of my favorites has always been the sagrario inside the ruins of the Cathedral of San José. It is the only time the ruins are open at night... filled with hundreds of candles, it is magical. Local neighbors and friends create the beautiful floral arrangements (thank you, María) and it has offered a nice Semana Santa moment for many of us.¨

See you there!


NOTE:  Please click on link to read the full story with photo placement in the correct order (and more)  Thanks to Elizabeth Bell and Revue Magazine/Guatemala

Read more at: http://www.revuemag.com/posts/lent-in-antigua



Join us at St. Alban Episcopal Mission, Easter Sunday
Casa Convento Concepcion
PLEASE NOTE - FROM FR. FROHMADER, St. Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala

Due to the near paralysis of Antigua caused by processions, I am regretfully cancelling services scheduled for the 22nd and the 29th of March at Saint Alban.

I do plan to come to town on Wednesdays, as usual, and to be ava
ilable at Café Condesa after 10:30 or so.

I look forward to celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord with you on Easter Sunday, April 5th, in Antigua.

Remember that on Saturday April 11th we will hold a parish meeting to discuss many important items. This will be held beginning at 12:30 at Casa Convento Concepción, and will begin with a potluck meal. An agenda will be supplied sooner rather than later.

May God bless and keep each and every one of you. May your Lenten season be spiritually enriching.

Ricardo+

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Reverend Ricardo Frohmader: HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT - ¨Sir, we wish to see Jesus¨



(Because of  traffic, preached only at Saint James, Guatemala City)
           
                                                                                                    March 22, 2015, Antigua, Sacatepequez, Guatemala
HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-113; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12: 20-3
 “Sir, we wish to see Jesus”. This is said to Phillip by some Greeks who have come up to Jerusalem. Phillip tells Andrew, and together they tell Jesus. Who are these Greeks? No doubt they are Greeks from the Eastern Rim of the Mediterranean. Why have they come up to Jerusalem? They come because they wish to celebrate the Passover. We call them God-fearers because they are searching for truth and are attracted to the monotheism of Judaism as well as to its ethical content. The Passover celebrates the liberation of Israel from bondage in Egypt. For Christians the Passover just before the crucifixion of Jesus is the threshold of our liberation from bondage to sin and death.
Why do these Greeks want to see Jesus? Have they heard that he is the Messiah who will free Israel from Roman captivity? Or have they heard that he has worked great miracles or signs as they are called in this Gospel? He has restored the sight of a man blind from birth, and he has revived Lazarus who had been four days dead. It may be that they have heard both versions and wish to satisfy their curiosity. Or it may be that the moment is coming in which the death of Jesus will have portentous meaning for non-Jews as well as Jews. In any case these Greeks admire and love the content of Judaism, although the requirement that converts be circumcised is a stumbling block to the expansion of the Jewish faith. The time is at hand when the Gentiles will be drawn to a new paradigm of this faith. A new Covenant is about to be made manifest.
I think this is what Jesus means when he says to Andrew and Phillip “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” Jesus will be glorified by his death on the cross. That death will lead to life, not only in terms of the resurrection of Jesus himself but in the vanquishing of death and sin. “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit”. That single grain of wheat will be re-born as a wheat plant, and that plant will bear much fruit. Here again he reiterates what he has said before: “Those who love their life lose it, but those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also”. Jesus appears to understand that his death is the preamble to something much better.
Jesus is not going gladly or lightly to his death. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-Father save me from this hour? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour”. If you contrast this with Jesus’ prayers in the garden of Gethsemane, we see in the latter a much greater struggle and reluctance to embrace the Father’s will for him. In this same vein the Epistle reading from the Letter to the Hebrews says: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission”. I think that the foreknowledge of his coming suffering and death was terrifying for Jesus. He did not go breezily to the cross. Yet he obeyed..
Jesus understands that the world is on the brink of being judged; “Now is the judgement of this world, now the ruler of this world will be driven out”. Jesus sees that what he is about to undergo will have a radical effect on this world. The ruler we can assume easily is Satan, but I think we can say that death can also be considered the ruler, since all are condemned to die. Jesus’ death on the cross will free us from that bondage to death. Finally there is the statement “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to me”. This concept is stated much more strongly in last Sunday’s Gospel, also from the Gospel According to  John: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life”. Jesus’ death will make it possible for humanity to be reconciled and reconnected to God. It will open the way for us to eternal life.
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus”. Don´t we all wish to see Jesus? Where are we to see Jesus? I don´t think we see him in representations of his death on the cross, or in sculptures of Jesus on the cross that adorn some churches. Our cross is an empty cross because the resurrection of Jesus is more important to us than his suffering and death. Yes, suffering and death lead to resurrection and eternal life; but these last transcend the first two. So where do we find Jesus? Where do we see him? Jesus tells us where we will find him in Matthew 25;34-41  in the parable of the king and his subjects “And the king will answer them:” “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,   I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’   Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?   And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?   And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  This is the face of Jesus in the world, and this is our invitation to honor Jesus in the poor, the humble, the sick, the prisoners. If we wish to see Jesus, this is where we will find him.
AMEN
Ricardo+
Join us at St. Alban Episcopal Mission, Easter Sunday
Casa Convento Concepcion
PLEASE NOTE - FROM FR. FROHMADER, St. Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala
Due to the near paralysis of Antigua caused by processions, I am regretfully cancelling services scheduled for the 22nd and the 29th of March at Saint Alban.

I do plan to come to town on Wednesdays, as usual, and to be available at Café Condesa after 10:30 or so.

I look forward to celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord with you on Easter Sunday, April 5th, in Antigua.

Remember that on Saturday April 11th we will hold a parish meeting to discuss many important items. This will be held beginning at 12:30 at Casa Convento Concepción, and will begin with a potluck meal. An agenda will be supplied sooner rather than later.

May God bless and keep each and every one of you. May your Lenten season be spiritually enriching.

Ricardo+

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LAY ANGLICANA: Intercessions for Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B: 22 March 2015

WLA_ima_Landscape_at_St_Remy
What can a person do when he thinks of all the things he cannot understand, but look at the fields of wheat. . . . We, who live by bread, are we not ourselves very much like wheat . . . to be reaped when we are ripe. . . . -Vincent van Gogh, 1889

The Collect

Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Jeremiah 31.31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt – a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Psalm 51.1-13

Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; * according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences.
Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness * and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults * and my sin is ever before me.
Against you only have I sinned * and done what is evil in your sight,
So that you are justified in your sentence * and righteous in your judgement.
I have been wicked even from my birth, * a sinner when my mother conceived me.
Behold, you desire truth deep within me * and shall make me understand wisdom in the depths of my heart.
Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; * wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear of joy and gladness, * that the bones you have broken may rejoice.
Turn your face from my sins * and blot out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God, *and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence * and take not your holy spirit from me.
Give me again the joy of your salvation * and sustain me with your gracious spirit;

Second Reading: Hebrews 5.5-10

Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’; as he says also in another place, ‘You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek.’ In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Thanks to Lay Anglicana, sidebar
Thanks to Laura Sykes
http://www.layanglicana.org/blog/2015/03/17/intercessions-for-fifth-sunday-of-lent-year-b-22-march-2015/



PLEASE NOTE - FROM FR. FROHMADER, St. Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala


Due to the near paralysis of Antigua caused by processions, I am regretfully cancelling services scheduled for the 22nd and the 29th of March at Saint Alban. I do plan to come to town on Wednesdays, as usual, and to be available at Café Condesa after 10:30 or so.

I look forward to celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord with you on Easter Sunday, April 5th, in Antigua.

Remember that on Saturday April 11th we will hold a parish meeting to discuss many important items. This will be held beginning at 12:30 at Casa Convento Concepción, and will begin with a potluck meal. An agenda will be supplied sooner rather than later.

May God bless and keep each and every one of you. May your Lenten season be spiritually enriching.

Ricardo+



Thursday, March 19, 2015

BREAKING ANGLICAN/EPISCOPAL NEWS: Cuban synod votes to return to Episcopal Church, U.S.A.

Cuban synod votes to return to Episcopal Church

BY LEIGH ANNE WILLIAMS ON MARCH, 16 2015, Thanks to Anglican Journal
   
(Ret.) Bishop Antonio Ramos of the Episcopal diocese of Costa Rica (left) translates for Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, (right) during the synod of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. Photo: Andrea Mann

Members of synod for the Episcopal Church of Cuba narrowly voted in favour of returning to the church’s former affiliation with The Episcopal Church at their recent meeting last month in Cardenas, Cuba.
The move came two months after the historic decision by the United States and Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations after a 54-year hiatus. The Cuban church had been part of a province in The Episcopal Church until the 1959 revolution, which made travel and communication between the two churches difficult. The Metropolitan Council of Cuba (MCC)—which includes primates of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Province of West Indies and The Episcopal Church—was subsequently created to provide support and oversight.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary, attended the synod—which ran from Feb. 19 to 22—as representatives of the MCC.
Hiltz said the vote on that resolution, which was 39 in favour and 33 against, showed that the synod was divided on the issue. “When the results of the vote were announced, there was just absolute silence,” he said. “There were some people that were feeling a sense of victory and others who were feeling a real sense of loss.”
He explained that the diocesan council had prepared another resolution for synod that would have established a commission to study the future relationship of the diocese of Cuba with a province in the Anglican Communion (without specifying any particular province) and that also made reference to a diocesan-wide consultation on the matter and to the role of the MCC.
But before that resolution could be put before the synod, a substitute resolution, which called for a return to The Episcopal Church, was presented, and according to the chancellor’s interpretation of the rules of order, the substitute resolution was the one that was to be dealt with first.
With the bishop’s permission, Hiltz said he spoke to the synod before the vote to point out the differences between the two resolutions, noting that the one from council “opened all kinds of doors,” including considering a return to The Episcopal Church, while the other closed doors to other options and to a diocesan-wide consultation. Hiltz said he also mentioned that a resolution from diocesan council would normally be dealt with first. "I said what I could. I'm not the chair of their synod. I'm just there to represent the MCC and provide a bit of guidance.
"On Sunday, before his sermon was read in Spanish, Hiltz addressed synod members to say he was sorry they were divided on the issue and that this was "a particularly difficult moment for [Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio] because she has to minister to everyone." When contacted by the Anglican Journal, Bishop Delgado del Carpio declined to comment on the matter at this time.
The Journal also contacted the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was not able to comment at press time but said that she would soon.
Hiltz said that the MCC hopes to meet face-to-face in April and to hear from Bishop Delgado at that time about how the diocesan council is handling the resolution that passed.
Hiltz went on to explain that one of the significant factors behind the drafting of the substitute resolution is “the frustration of a number of people in the church in Cuba with the fact that since the break with The Episcopal Church and the political situation between Cuba and U.S., the pension fund for clergy has just basically been frozen [in the U.S.].” Clergy who were contributing to a pension fund before the political split 50 years ago are able to get their pension via an arrangement with the Anglican Church of Canada, but younger clergy have not had any fund to which they can contribute.
He noted that the 2009 General Convention of The Episcopal Church passed a resolution to build up a pension fund for Cuban clergy, but that the fund has not materialized yet. The MCC has also discussed what it could do to create a separate pension fund, he said, but the council does not have any funds of its own, only what belongs to its respective provinces.
Hiltz said although the resolution calls for the diocese to take steps to return to The Episcopal Church, “this is not something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time for further conversation within the diocesan council, further conversation with the Metropolitan Council.
”Other news from the synod came from the bishop’s charge, in which Hiltz said she reported good progress toward the goals set out in the diocese’s 2014 to 2016 strategic plan, particularly in leadership training. Regional gatherings have attracted good participation from lay people interested in subjects such as Christian education, pastoral care and outreach projects in the community.
Among the things Delgado was really excited about, Hiltz said, was that about 28 lay people have taken extension courses through the seminary in Matanzas.
The development office, established and funded for three years through a shared arrangement between the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund and Episcopal Relief and Development, also has 22 projects underway across the diocese, including the restoration of properties and some socio-ecclesial projects focused on the vulnerable. “The bishop is saying [that] the church’s commitment to really work with the community at large is what’s attracting young people to stay engaged with church. They can see the difference the church is making in this community through that farm project or that outreach to provide daycare or this ministry to seniors who are living basically in poverty,” said Hiltz.
He noted that for the first time in his experience, the Metropolitan Council’s report was read to the synod in Spanish. “It made a huge difference in terms of people’s regard for the work of the council, their understanding of the work of the council, because they heard it in their own language.” The report discussed the diocese’s need for money, said Hiltz. An additional $20,000 to $30,000 would allow it to achieve much of its goals, he said. “In some respects, that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it is a huge amount of money there, so one of the things the Metropolitan Council has committed to...is exploring a number of funding sources for the church in Cuba.”

About the Author

Leigh Anne Williams

Leigh Anne Williams

Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax HeraldThe Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull

FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH: ¨One thing we know about Joseph is that he was obedient; even when he had his doubts about the marriage and his young bride, when angels would appear to him in his dreams and give him instructions, he would follow them....¨ Padre Mickey

Feast of St. Joseph


As is usually the situation with the members of Jesus' family, we know very little about Joseph. The gospel texts tell us that he was a carpenter, that he was a descendant of David the king, and we know that he had to go to Bethlehem for the census. We know that he was betrothed to Mary and wasn't too sure about things when he learned that she was with child, and we also know that he was still around when Jesus was twelve years old. Everything else is a guess and is usually something someone made up for a theological or dogmatic reason.

One thing we know about Joseph is that he was obedient; even when he had his doubts about the marriage and his young bride, when angels would appear to him in his dreams and give him instructions, he would follow them. He married Mary even though she was pregnant, and he took his young wife and baby son to Egypt when instructed by an angel in order to save them from the wrath of Herod. We know that Joseph was a devout Jew and that he brought his family to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the Temple. These are the only stories we have from the Bible. But many traditions sprang up involving Joseph over the centuries. There is a tradition that Joseph was an elderly man when he wed Mary. This tradition was probably invented as a means of preventing some from thinking that Joseph was the biological father of Jesus. If Joseph was an elderly man then he probably had lost all interest in sex by the time he and Mary were wed, so he couldn't possibly be Jesus' biological father; plus Mary could remain ever-virgin! There is another tradition that Joseph was a widower and that his marriage to the Blessed Virgin Mary was his second marriage. This idea may have been developed as a means of explaining all those brothers and sisters of Jesus; if Mary was ever-virgin, those other kids must be step-children. Personally, I don't accept those stories; I thin that Joseph was probably in his twenties when he married Mary, and I think that they had at least four sons together and several daughters, too. He isn't mentioned in the texts after the visit of Jesus to his home town because he was no longer important to the story. The Gospels are not histories in the same sense as a book about the building of the Canal is a history; the purpose of the Gospels is to tell the Good News and they are theological documents serving a theological purpose, not an accurate history as we modern people expect in a historic document.

Today's Gospel reading gives us the only story from a canonical source on the childhood of Jesus. There are several non-canonical sources on his childhood and we call theminfancy gospels. This story from Luke's gospel is the only story as such in the Bible. In this story Jesus is very precocious, telling his family that he must be about his Father's business. When I head this story as a child, I always liked it because the child Jesus showed-up all the adults, but as a father I have a lot of sympathy for Joseph and Mary, as I know what it is like to raise a precocious child. Raising precocious children can be difficult, but imagine how difficult it must have been to raise the Incarnation! In this story Joseph and Mary noticed that Jesus was missing, they've gone all the way back to Jerusalem to find him sitting in the Temple teaching the Scribes and Pharisees and Teachers, and he doesn't even feel bad about worrying his parents. When his mother scolds him, he says, "Why were you searching for me? Don't you know that I must be in my Father's house?" In the infancy gospels little Jesus turns children who make fun of him into goats and he even raises a child from the dead to clear himself from the accusation that he had pushed the boy off a tower. Raising little Jesus must have been quite a task! Actually, I think that Jesus was probably more like all the other children in the neighborhood; I doubt that he was turning other children into goats and I'm sure he didn't spend his time doing magic tricks. He probably helped his father and learned about carpentry, and he probably helped his mother take care of his younger brothers and sisters. I'm sure that the family of Joseph and Mary and Jesus and his siblings was as normal as all the other families living in Nazareth, a rather typical Galilean family.

Joseph is very important because he gave Jesus and James and Judas and the other children the fatherly influence that they needed to grow up to be the adults God wanted them to be. Joseph must have been a good, loving father, because the image of the father in Jesus' teachings is that of a loving, caring person. There are many people in the world who do not have good fathers; their fathers are uncaring and abusive, and this affects a person's perception of a father and it makes the name "Father" for God a problem, because when these people hear the word "father," they experience fear or loathing. But Jesus understood the word "father" to be a positive word. For Jesus the image of a father is that of a loving, caring, welcoming person and I'm sure that this image had a lot to do with his experience of his earthly father, Joseph.

Joseph was willing to take Mary as his wife even though her condition could bring scandal upon his name. Joseph was willing to pick-up and head for Egypt for a few years in order to protect his wife and infant son. He returned to Galilee, to Nazareth, and there he raised a family and worked as a carpenter and was a model of fatherhood for Jesus and his brothers and sisters. Joseph is a model of dedication and obedience; obedience to God and dedication to his family, and that is why we honor his memory today.

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thanks to Padre Mickey
http://padremickey.blogspot.com/2015/03/feast-of-st-joseph.html

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thanks to Padre Mickey: Feast of Patrick, Missionary to Ireland

Feast of Patrick, Missionary to Ireland



Almighty God, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today is the Feast of St. Patrick, which is a huge celebration in the U.S.A., with parades and speeches and people wearing green and, from what I remember from elementary school, lots of pinching. I think the celebration of St. Patrick's Day has more to do with the pride of those of Irish heritage in the land of their ancestors than with the actual St. Patrick; leprechauns and green beer and getting plastered have nothing to do with the saint, and such celebrations do not take place in Ireland. Today we are going to remember Patrick as a missionary and bishop, and as the man who helped spread Christianity throughout Ireland.

Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland; there were Christians in Ireland in the fourth century, probably as a result of contact between the British, who had first heard the Gospel with the arrival of missionaries in the second century. The Celtic Church was different from the Roman Church; they kept a different date for Easter and their spirituality was different than that of the Western or Roman church.

Patricus was probably born in the year 390 in Britain. Patrick's family were Christians; his grandfather was a priest and his father was a deacon. His father, Calpornius, was also an important official in the Roman imperial government in Britain. Yet even though he came from a Christian family, Patrick, like many young people, didn't really concern himself with the faith or with his education. He regretted his lack of education for the rest of his life. When he was sixteen years of age, his village, Bannavem Taburniae, was raided by Irish pirates or slave-raiders, and he and many other people were captured and taken away. Here is how he tells the story in his ConfessionI was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people---and deservedly so, because we turned away from God and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.

And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.




Patrick was forced to work as a shepherd, and he spent a lot of his time in repentance and prayer. He also had a vision which told him that he would return home: But after I came to Ireland---everyday I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed---the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me---as now I see, because the spirit within me was then fervent. And there one night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: "It is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country." And again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: "See, your ship is ready." And it was not near, but at a distance of perhaps two hundred miles, and I had never been there, nor did I know a living soul there; and then I took to flight, and I left the man whith whom I had stayed for six years. And I went in the strength of God who directed my way to my good, and I feared nothing until I came to that ship.

When he first came and asked the captain for work on the ship, the captain was angry and said, "There is no room and it is no use for you to ask to go along with us." Patrick, discouraged, turned away and started walking down the path. He was praying that God would guide him safely back to his hut, but before he even ended his prayer he heard a sailor calling: "Come, hurry, we shall take you on in good faith; make friends with us in whatever way you like." Patrick thanked God and hoped to bring them all to Christ, as they were all Pagans. Three days later they arrived on the coast of Britain. They left the boat and began traveling by foot. Patrick writes: . . . for twenty-eight days we traveled through deserted country. And they lacked food, and hunger overcame them; and the next day the captain said to me, "Tell me, Christian, you say that your God is great and all-powerful; why, then, do you not pray for us? As you can see, we are suffering from hunger; it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see a human being again." I said to them full of confidence: "Be truly converted with all your heart to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for Him, that this day He may send you food on your way until you be satisfied; for He has abundance everywhere." And, with the help of God, so it came to pass: suddenly a herd of pigs appeared on the road before our eyes, and they killed many of them; and there they stopped for two nights and fully recovered their strength, and their hounds received their fill for many of them had grown weak and were half-dead along the way. And from that day they had plenty of food.



That night Patrick had a dream that Satan was holding him down, and he called out to God and was saved from Satan's grasp, and he realized from that moment on that the Spirit of God would speak and work through him. He eventually left this gang and returned to his family. He also as educated as a Christian and took on Holy Orders, being ordained deacon, priest, and eventually, bishop. All during this time back home he had visions calling him back to the land of his captivity: And there I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter, which were "The voice of the Irish;" and as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice---they were those beside the Wood of Covlut, with is near the Western Sea---and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: "We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more." And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I woke up. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them according to their cry. And another night---whether within me or beside me, I know not, God knows---they called me most unmistakably with words which I heard but could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer He spoke thus: "He that has laid down His life for thee, it is He that speaketh in thee;" and so I awoke full of joy.

Patrick decided to answer this call and return to Ireland, but he was opposed by other bishops and he also suffered a serious illness. Patrick decided that this was for his own good and that he was being purged by the Lord. He finally returned to Ireland in the year 432, arriving not far from the area where he had been a shepherd. He set-up a church in Armagh, which served as his head-quarters, and he traveled throughout Ireland, preaching and baptizing. He usually preached to the chiefs of clans and with their conversion the entire tribe would convert. He also Christianized the old religion, building churches over former Druid holy sites, carving crosses on druidic pillars, and putting sacred wells and springs under the protection of Christian Saints. His conversion of the three High Kings of Ireland put Ireland on the road to becoming a Christian nation. He educated the sons of the chiefs and kings, he established monasteries throughout the land, he ordained clergy and he instituted monks and nuns. The monasteries of Ireland became incredible powerhouses of education and spirituality. He stayed in Ireland for the rest of his life, and probably died around the year 461. We don't know the date of his death, but the celebration of March 17 dates to the seventh century. I doubt that he chased the snakes from Ireland, or that he used shamrocks to explain the concept of the Trinity, and most of the other miracles attributed to him were invented over the centuries. We doknow that he was a faithful bishop and loved the people of Ireland.



I will close with the ending paragraphs of Patrick'sConfession:Wherfore may God never permit it to happen to me that I should lose His people with He purchases in the utmost parts of the world. I pray to God to give me perseverance and to deign that I be a faithful witness to Him to the end of my life for my God.

And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for His name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild beasts, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign.

For His sun which we see rises daily for us because He commands so, but it will never reign, nor will its splendor last; what is more, those wretches who adore it will be miserably punished. Not so we, who believe in, and worship, the True Sun---Christ---who will never perish, nor will he who doeth His will; but he will abide for ever as Christ abideth for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and the Holy Spirit before time, and now, and in all eternity.

Behold, again and again would I set forth the words of my confession. I testify in truth and in joy of heart before God and His holy angels that I never had any reason except the Gospel and its promises why I should ever return to the people from whom once before I barely escaped.

I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God's good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that---as is the perfect truth---it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.


Patrick was creative in his evangelism, he understood that incorporating what was familiar would do much more to further the message of the Gospel rather than trying to force the Irish into some concept of The Faith Once Delivered. He understood the importance of education and the intellect in Christianity. He was faithful to God and faithful to the Irish. He is an example of a missionary who loved and served the people to whom he had been sent. And that is why we remember him today.

Thanks to Padre Mickeys Dance Party, sidebar
http://padremickey.blogspot.com/2015/03/feast-of-patrick-missionary-to-ireland.html
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission, Antigua, Guatemala



You are invited to join us for English services every Sunday at Noon.

Casa Convento Concepcion, Antigua Guatemala, All are welcome.

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St. Alban English Mission, Antigua, Guatemala is an outreach project of The St. James English parish, Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala, IARCA


Bishop Armando Guerra Soria,  Rector of St. Alban Mission, Bishop of Guatemala and Primate Emeritus of Central America


The Rev. Ricardo Frohmader
Associate Minister
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua Guatemala

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