Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. MIchael and All The Angels

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio. Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur. Tuque princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Church Discounts...?

South Florida synagogues entice new members with savings


With slow business at his motorcycle store, Michael Levin was unsure if he could afford the $200 ticket to services for the High Holidays, which begin Friday after sundown with Rosh Hashana. Yet, last week, he got tickets to services at Bet Shira Congregation and a year-long membership -- worth up to $2,000 -- for free. ``Nowhere I'd rather be than with my family at the synagogue for the holidays,'' said Levin, 41, of Pinecrest. ``It's tradition . . . you reflect on the year and look forward to what we can do in the one coming up.''

As the economy has taken a toll on families, a handful of South Florida synagogues -- which, unlike churches, rely on annual memberships and fees -- are taking the unprecedented move of advertising free services and even scrapping membership dues altogether. ``We've never done this before,'' said Cantor Mark Kula of Bet Shira, the 664-member Conservative synagogue in Pinecrest where a ``membership marathon'' last week netted 119 of those members. Anybody who showed up during a four-hour window Wednesday got a free one-year membership.

``People were uncomfortable saying `I can't afford it' and may have stayed on the periphery, so we got one step ahead of them and offered the deal ourselves,'' Kula said.
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and services that begin Friday night and continue through Sunday include the blowing of the shofar -- a traditional instrument made from a ram's horn -- extended prayer and a focus on repentence.

The High Holidays, which end Sept. 28 with Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, are also when annual synagogue membership -- $250 to $2,000, depending on a person's age and marital status -- begins its cycle. This year, synagogues are banking on keeping the flock by offering enticing deals.

Well that is an interesting idea...not the discounts but the fees!!! Churches typically provide services at no cost relying on the good will offerings, tithes or pledges of attendees, which often are inadecuate for the expenses.

Maybe there is a bit of wisdom in this interesting practice... If you are interested you pay the membership fees like you do in any other organization whose services and gatherings are of interest or benefit to you. It sure would make budgeting easier every year...

Now if only the vestry would catch the vision....lol! Just think of it discounted tickets to the Christmas Eve Mass and the Easter Vigil, at a mere $50-$150...a boost for the budget!



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fresh from Bishop Frade!

For a long time in the life of the Episcopal Church we have been dealing with the realities of human sexuality. We have wrestled with who’s in and who’s out, who can be ordained and who can’t, which relationships are to be blessed and which are not.

With the passage of Resolution C056 at the 76th General Convention in July, we opened the door a little bit to permit our clergy to respond pastorally to same-sex couples who have been legally married in jurisdictions where such civil marriages are permitted.

Accordingly, I intend to authorize the clergy of this diocese to bless the unions of same-sex couples who have been legally married in states or countries where this is possible. This authorization will not apply to civil unions, domestic partnerships or any other legally recognized status other than marriage; this is no more nor less than we do for heterosexual couples who wish to have their unions blessed by the Church—they must be married.

I would emphasize two points: First, our General Convention did not authorize Episcopal clergy to perform same-sex marriages, and consequently, I am not authorizing any clergy to perform same-sex marriage in this diocese; and second, no priest in this diocese is ever under any obligation to perform any marriage he or she feels is inappropriate.

I have appointed a representative committee of diocesan clergy, chaired by Dean Douglas McCaleb of Trinity Cathedral, to develop some liturgical guidelines for proposed same-sex blessing services. I anticipate that these guidelines will be ready in four to six weeks for any clergy who request them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at bishopfrade@aol.com.

+Leo Frade

This just in from one of the Episcopal Church's few Cuban American Bishops. I wonder how this will play in the home front even as as his diocese's revamps outreach to South Florida's Hispanics who are in general of a conservative bent.

This application of the Episcopal Church's resolution C056 by Bishop Frade seems to be based principle rather than on demand, given the limited scope of those who would benefit and the potential for fueling controversy. Since Florida law does not recognize same sex marriages his pastoral generosity probably goes beyond the intent of C025 which spoke to contexts where same sex marriages and civil unions are a matter of law.

Bishop Frade comes to the Episcopal Church from a from a relatively conservative Methodist background yet has consistently taken progressive positions on social issues, this is no exception. Some in his diocese are sure to see this as a sign of hope and a tribute to charity and justice long denied. Others are sure to be dismayed by what they see as a departure from traditional ideas of family and marriage! It is sure to be an interesting fall season!

Señor cuidanos y guianos en tu camino y enseñanos a hacer tu voluntad! Virgen de la Caridad....pray for us!



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Padre Alberto...What I Did For Love!

Just two months after the tabloids exposed Father Cutié and Ruhama's relationship, the couple wed in the Episcopal church, where Father Cutié is now a priest. "It's a really funny thing that you spend 15 years marrying people, and then all of a sudden you're getting married," he says.

"There's nothing worse than hiding something that's good. And if God is love and God calls us to love and the best life you can live is to live a life full of love, why hide it?"

As a married man, Father Cutié says he can now serve God in a different way. "My vocation to priesthood and the fact that I'm now married are not two different things. I think they complement each other," he says.

"God is a big boy. When we face him, when we look at him face-to-face, the question he's going to ask is, 'Did you do it out of love?' ... And I believe I did everything I've done out of love. "

Many blessings to Fr. Cutie and Rohama.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divine Revelation.... or Seeking Attention?

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- A 44-year-old former drug addict and alcoholic who now works as a minister was the sole person responsible for the brief hijacking Wednesday of a commercial jetliner, a Mexican official said.

The suspect, Josmar Flores Pereira, told authorities he hijacked the jet on Wednesday because the date -- September 9, 2009, or 9/9/9 and 666 reversed -- held some significance for him, said Genaro Garcia Luna, the secretary for public safety. "He said that because of that divine reference, he wanted to alert Mexico City of an earthquake," Flanked by two police officers, the suspect was paraded in front of the news media wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. Chewing gum, he smiled. "Christ is coming soon," he told reporters before being escorted off.

Flores' wife, speaking with CNN by telephone from their home in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca, said her husband had been looking for a way to get his message about God to the news media. "He never wanted to hurt anyone," said Elisa Melgar, 38, the mother of their three sons and his wife of 18 years. "As his wife, I support him," she said, adding that her husband had not touched alcohol or drugs for the past 17 years. "He's a man who was transformed by the power of God

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Bishop in Jacksonville

Neil Lebhar will lead 5,000 conservative Anglicans in the area.
By Jeff Brumley

“….A Jacksonville priest who led thousands from the Episcopal Church has been elected the first bishop of a new diocese that will oversee about 5,000 conservative Anglicans in North Florida and South Georgia. The Rev. Neil Lebhar was elected Saturday by clergy and lay leaders in what will be called the Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America.

The Anglican Church in North America itself is a new American denomination, having been formed in June largely by those who left the Episcopal Church after an openly gay priest became bishop in New Hampshire in 2003. Lebhar said he's eager to lead but also glad the position has a seven-year term limit.

"I think the greatest impact for the kingdom takes place through the ministry of local Christian communities," Lebhar said. "So my heart has been, and always will be, for the parish." Lebhar was elected by the new diocese's clergy and lay leaders, who chose him over the Rev. Jim Hobby of Thomasville, Ga….”

My congratulations to the Rev. Neil Lehbar on his election to the episcopate. He is by all accounts a committed Christian and an accomplished clergyman. For the Episcopal diocese of Florida and the Anglican family of Christians in the region, it adds a new page to a rather complicated history.

A few weeks ago, at the ordination of a friend, two very dear people tried to explain to a mutual acquaintance about their church affiliation. One proudly stated she was an Anglican, the other with a confused look in her face said, “…so am I , aren’t you Episcopalian? Episcopalians have always been Anglican!...” . It was an awkward moment between two very fine ladies who now find themselves on what seem opposite sides of the fence.

For me, as a new Episcopalian, the divide here is a bit difficult to understand. I absolutely agree with bishop elect Lebhar in his conviction that; “…the greatest impact for the kingdom takes place in the local Christian community…”. It was in part that conviction that led me and others into the diocese of Florida, despite the controversies within the Episcopal Church.

So far, it has not been my impression that this local expression of the church has been a hotbed of liberalism! There are dedicated clergy and lay leaders, inspiring and boring preachers, faithful parishioners, Christmas and Easter folks, the very holy as well sinners in need of love and redemption, Charismatics, Evangelicals, the frozen chosen, a love of Christ, the Church and sacraments, apathy and fervor…no different from any other church I have had the privilege of attending! I have encountered a diversity of political ideologies and opinions on a host of topics, but overall, around here, there seems to be very little difference between my Episcopalian friends, and the new non-Episcopalian Anglicans.

Though others see it differently, to me, it feels like one of those family disagreements that come to hurtful division and separation; a sad affair! There are friendships that have been strained, bonds broken and relationships long in the making been put to the test; not a good scenario in our own families, much less the family of God!

I would hope that Bishop elect Lebhar, now charged to guard the unity of the church, would be a voice for reconciliation and understanding among disaffected Christians in this diocese! After all, beyond denominations and ideologies, past conflicts and hurts, we are inescapably bound to one another if we are Christians. We have been baptized into one body, have been given to drink of the same Spirit, and are members of the body of Christ!

As for my Anglican and Episcopalian friends, they seemed to get past the moment! The evening saw them “eat of the same bread…drink of the same cup” and later share stories over coffee and flan! Hope springs eternal….