Daily Readings, Week of 19 Trinity

The Daily offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon, as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate together with other devotional material. For other material, see the Book of Common Prayer as published by Lancelot Andrewes Press.

  • Saturday – Dedication of the Basilica of St Saviour (St Theodore Tyro, M) – MPEPMartyrology
  • XIX Sunday after Trinity / 20 Pentecost (St Typhon, Respicius & Nympha, Mm) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Monday  St Martin of Tours, BC (St Mennas M, Theodore the Studite, M) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Tuesday – Feria (St Martin I of Rome, PM) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Wednesday – Feria (St Britius of Tours, BC) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Thursday – Feria (Gregory Palamas, BC) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Friday – Feria – MPEPMartyrology
  • Saturday – BVMMP – EP – Martyrology

Sine Nomine

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Daily Readings, Christ the King

The Daily Readings for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon, as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate together with other devotional material. For other material, see the Book of Common Prayer as published by Lancelot Andrewes Press.

Hedonic Choice

That definition is a key phrase, “considered in terms of pleasant sensations” and it provides us with a logical course for the second image:

There are many reasons this may be of concern to a Christian, but I want to lay aside the first one: Hedonism is not only about anti-Christian moral choices.  Once can find intrinsic pleasure in long periods of silence, luxurious polyphony, Gregorian or Byzantine Chant, religious art is all kinds of expensive and collectible, religious garb is pricier than even the most expensive of bespoke hipster clothing, one can enjoy the health benefits of a feast/fast cycle, and there are even fetish clubs celebrating celibacy and enforced chastity.  One can be a Christian for purely self-interested, hedonic reasons.  There are a lot of “Church Shoppers” who make very hedonistic choices in their churches: better music, better choirs, better sermons, better people, better coffee hours, better Sunday Schools, better parking, better service times… I rarely hear “better theology” as a reason but when I do hear bout theology it’s most often “I’m XYZ and I need a church that won’t judge me for that.”  Churches are “shopped” for hedonism all the time.

We make the same choices in clothes, sex, food, housing, bank accounts…

Choice is the problem, really; and freedom of it.

Christianity asks us to make a choice – any choice – for another reason: St Paul asks us to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling”.  Every choice we make is part of that. This homeless person in front of me now? This argument with my spouse? This supper with my parents? This meeting at the office? This random flirtation on  the subway?: This invitation to a Christmas party? This job interview? This customer service phone call?  This customer call me at work? This is the tool God has given me right now for working out my salvation here and now.  The choices I make will echo through eternity as either steps forward or backwards.

Which shall it be?

Hedonic choices would have us decide based on what makes me feel good. Christianity asks (compels?) us to make choices based on what is true.  Additionally, Christianity posits Truth not on doctrinal points or moral regulations but on relationship: Truth is a person, Jesus Christ.  Any action of His is True, and any true action on our part is His. Since Jesus Christ is God, is Love: Truth is Love, not an offensive or defensive proposition or exclusive fence, but an embracing, engaging Divine Person. Mind you, I’m not saying that ordering the steak over the pasta is a choice for or against salvation.  But why did you decide to go out at all?

One of my own personal struggles is acceptance of what’s in front of me.  A daily morning prayer has us ask God for the grace to accept what he sends but how many times do we just go out looking for something else?  When Jay and Sean-Franc got me a new phone for Christmas last year how long was it before I was looking for something new?  When the house is full of food, why do I go out to eat? Because there’s nothing here I want right now.

Clothes?  Why do I have so many clothes above and beyond what I need to wear: because they look nice, they make me look nice and because they make me feel good about myself.  Clothes let me do that? Yup. I don’t think I really know what is going on on my brain – beside hedonism – when I turn to clothes to make me feel good about myself.

We want to include sex in the envelope of love, but is it?  Remember Truth is relationship and Love: not lust, not the grinding need to get off that allows us to use another person as a toy.  Our society floats something called “Sex Positive” attitudes.  Certainly sex-negative attitudes provoke judgmentalism, but promoting sex as a positive and always good – because it feels good – is equally abusive to the most intimate relationship into which we can enter.  But what happens when the person in front of me is there for these sexual reasons? Do I turn him or her away out of charity or out of judgement?  Do I deny any intimacy because it might lead to sex, rather than learning to walk the moral tightrope?  Do I cave in to “it feels good” or do I run away and hurt others?  Both propositions seem damaging to my soul and to others.  That same prayer I cited earlier asks God for the ability to “act firmly and wisely without embittering or embarrassing others”.  So often it is far easier to embitter and embarrass others and feel just a little bit superior at the same time in an act I like to think of as eremitic masturbation.  It’s just as hedonistic as if you had jumped in the sack together: it feels that good.

I prefer to eat green, organic, locally produced, vegetarian fed, everything.  Farm-fresh food, veggies hand-harvest and raw, beer locally brewed with hops grown in the back yard of hippies I love and pigs slaughtered after being pre-mourned by the children of Farmers I watched grow up. There’s honey grown in hives fed on flowers hand-watered by the ladies up the street and Meyer lemons rolling down the walk way in my garden along with bitter oranges that make for excellent marmalade for topping the local artisan bread raised up on the native yeasts of the Bay Area.  Life is good, especially at dinner time.

The thing is: picking the thing that feels good is usually the easiest!  We are so focused on here, now, make me feel good, that we forget the long term effect.  Just today I heard a podcast daring Urban Activists to stop focusing on smaller is better and realize that combining more people in sustainable ways in large cities is greener than letting the population run wild everywhere: but that might mean my housing prices collapse!  Al Gore admits Ethanol is a bad idea, but that the time getting Iowa farmers behind him seemed like a better presidential option.

It feels good now, but it’s gonna suck later always seems like the better option over it sucks now.

I hear a lot of talk among the conservative folks about sex.  Increasingly, though, I think the sex issue, the divorce issue, the abortion issues, the gay marriage issue: these are all symptoms of the same thing that keeps us fat, that addicts us to drugs of all kinds from caffeine to adrenaline and endorphins, from pot, alcohol to scary movies and roller coasters (which are, admit it, rather like publicly acceptable porn).  We wear immodest clothing because it makes us feel good – even when we are chilly.  Seems we have built a society designed to satisfy our every desire – for good or ill.  You know how easy it is to care for the poor? You never even have to see them.

Reverse Identity Theft



XKCD totally gets it! I am an early adopter. I joined and paid for Blogger when Ev was still in an apartment on Judah St. My Twitter number is only 6 digits. I’ve had an Amazon account since 1998 or so. I’ve had my gMail account only a tiny bit less: certainly it was this millenium, but it was before 9/11.  I can still see the office I was sitting in the day I got my invite – and sent out a few to friends who asked.  Back in those days you could still do cool things like hold raffles on your website:  “I’ve got some more gMail invites, the first ten of you to write and post a Haiku about how awesome Cherry iMacs are (and link to me) will get one…”  The cool thing is that I was in so very early that I managed to get my first initial and last name at gmail.com with no numbers or other qualifiers at all.  



I’ve got a common last name.  You’d may not be surprised how many people think their email address is mine.  Over the years – including once whilst writing this article – I’ve very politely written back to a number of parties and said, “I think you’ve sent this to the wrong address.”  Other parties have registered my email address assumedly by mistake, or else used my email address to avoid spam in their real address.  There are a lot of my first initials out there.  There would be my real name, eg, Huw, then Hugh, Henry, Hyrum, Harry, Harold, Halley, Heather, Henrietta, Haighlea, Harley etc, and then because it’s gMail and the punctuation doesn’t matter, there’s h. and h- and h_ in all of its possible permutations.  Then there’s typos – as the most recent one was (evidently the party left out a middle initial in the address).  


So for the humorous, yes, one party put my email address on her bridal registry:  I do hope she liked all the avocado green place settings.  I couldn’t resist.  There were travel documents – one airline with whom I was already registered kindly assuming that anyone using my address must actually be me – I could have cancelled them, at least they didn’t ask me to pay for the tickets to Europe!  Magazines constantly send offers to me thinking they are reaching more appropriate folks.  One party in England used my address to register at a couple of very posh eateries of the sort that bother to write personal emails to invite you to come back to dinner.  One party in LA uses my address, still, for just about everything – and her parents don’t seem to remember me every time I have to write and say “I’m not your daughter.”


Honestly, I only get annoyed when they keep contacting me after I’ve clicked unsubscribe or when I’ve contacted them once to say “Not me”.  The only thing more annoying is the woman who owned my phone number before I got it and bounced a lot of checks.  After eleven years with this phone number I still get calls from claims investigators looking for this scofflaw from North Carolina.


The security aspect, however, wasn’t quite clear to me until one party registered his first initial and last name at gmail.com (my email, that is) as his email on his SAT.


With no way to turn it off until it was too late, the SAT sent his score and my email address to just about every college in the known universe.  I was able to tell the SAT they had the wrong address with one click, but the report had been sent out already.  At my address, he was offered scholarships, invitations for visits and telephone interviews if he couldn’t show up.  I heard about visiting days, advanced programs and work-study options.  Most of these had “unsubscribe” links at the bottom and since I couldn’t be bothered to track any of this I did, just as a matter of course, click unsubscribe on everything.  Those that didn’t have unsubscribe were blocked as spam (thank you, gmail for an excellent filter) and, after a couple of months, it all stopped.  But as the next admission cycled rolled around, a few colleges decided to try again.


After clicking unsubscribe one morning, suddenly I was staring at the home address of my erstwhile kin! One college, a tiny school in Missouri, didn’t unsubscribe, but rather invited someone to “confirm their account settings.”  I tried it again, yup: his home address and phone. No, I didn’t call him and say, “Hey, I’m the reason you never got your SAT scores or that scholarship to Harvard.”  Instead I contacted the college admissions office and said, “This may be a FERPA violation.  You’d better check.” Of course it wasn’t their fault – but it seems kind of odd to reveal so much information based on an unverified email.


Since that time, I’ve had more shocking events.  People often send the most revealing photos to the wrong address.  The email today was a photograph of handwritten account information, including phone numbers and, one assumes, some kind of UK personal ID number.  I was most horrified at the Real Estate agent in Ontario that kept sending me loan documents for a family (that had given the wrong email) even after I asked for her to stop.  My assumption is that she called the family to confirm the email address and that they, again, gave the wrong email.  But really, when you get email from an address, that’s about all you need. Loan documents…. with a lot of info on them. Just imagine that for a minute: with whom would you want to accidentally share your banking information?


This is what happens when you either mistype the intended email address or else give the wrong email address: you share personal information. Full stop.  It’s not “Reverse Identity Theft” so much as “Free Identity Give-away”. You’ve created a security leak on your own: and how much of one depends entirely on the company with whom you’re doing business.


You may share it with someone  who is kind-hearted and who will write you back and say ”you’ve reached the wrong address” or you may not.   You may reach someone who changes the color of your place settings, or you may share payment information or banking information in a way that can put you at risk!


After more than two decades in customer service of one form or another, I no longer think that most of these are mere mistakes.  I’ve worked for ISPs and websites. I’ve managed customer files for employment agencies and for IT departments in colleges.  Over and over people do not know their email address.  That’s not a mistake: that’s stupid.  “Ma’am, that address is not in our database. Sir, there is no account with that address.”  I have no idea how they manage to do this.  To me it’s like not knowing your own phone number.  Yes, certainly, it may be hard in a given moment to remember your own number – I never dial it, you know!  But after a moment you remember it and go “Ah, yes”.  And yes, certainly, people have multiple email addresses – I’ve got 7 or 8!  But again, it’s like your work phone and your home phone, or, better, your land line, your cell phone and your work phone and the fax number at the office – all of these are usually within easy reach of whatever passes for the remainder of my memory.


Uncharitably, either the vast majority of users are so very dense as to be unable to find their hometown on a map, or else  – with a bit more charity – they are just making up stuff to avoid giving out personal information over the internet.  “I’ll just say my email address is bilbo at baggins dot com and it will all be ok”. But that is just as stupid. Someplace Bilbo is waiting to get the next email and he may have nefarious plans on your precious information.


Right now I’m dealing with a very annoying case: a party used my email to register her B&N Nook.  Now, I’m greatly astonished that there was never a validation email: click here to validate your account. Sure, I never had to validate my Kindle – but I’ve had the same address on my Amazon account for over a decade: that address was validated back then. I’m equally astonished that it took several weeks of conversation with B&N to get someone to contact their customer and asked her for a proper email address.  I’ve even called B&N and they won’t talk to me about the account because I can’t validate it!  But I could reset the password. Why would a customer do this?  Why would a company not want to correct it?  Who knows.

Again, when you either mistype the intended email address or else wilfully give the wrong email address you share personal information. Full stop.  

All Saints’ Day

milltown.jpg
TIZ THAT Time of the year again when accusations will fly: you stole our holidays!  You’re being Satanic! We will be bombarded with bad history and bad social science and bad theology. I won’t even bother to link to the most common Christian “proof sheet” that takes the Irish name of the holiday (Samhain) and makes it into a god’s name – a god to whom human sacrifices were offered. This deity never existed. Samhain is simply Irish gaelic meaning “End of Summer”. It is stidthe name of the Month of November in the Irish language. I will also not bother to link to sources produced by Modern Neopagans who get their history all wrong, too. This holiday was not stolen by the Church from them. Firstly because their patterns are modern – based on a Christian culture – so their patterns are not the “real, ancient practice” of any people. Secondly because their ancient feasts were not celebrated on fixed calendars. After ten-plus years as a pagan and twenty plus years as a Christian I’m just annoyed by all the politically-biased claims out there.
A good deal of the modern evangelical and fundamentalist (and Orthodox covert) complaints about Halloween are just badly disguised ultra-Protestant Anti-Roman Catholicism. In some cases (Jack Chick comes to mind) it’s not very thinly disguised at all. Other sects often succumb to such uber-frummery, too. When I was first Chrismated as Orthodox my only reply was “it’s not my holiday”. In this I was following my priest – Fr J – although, truth be told, he bought into all the Satanic myths too. Of course, considering the Orthodox Western Rite celebrates All Saints day with the Christian West we must admit that, in fact, some Orthodox do celebrate All Hallows’ Eve. So also do Roman Catholics, Anglicans and some (most?) Lutherans. In other words a majority of Christians around the world have this day on their liturgical calendar.
We are, therefore, going to have to define some terms. “A Christian Holiday” in this conversation means that it is part of the Christian liturgical calendar.  In East and West, being on the calendar may mean various liturgical functions – and east and west do it differently.  But both East and West treat their most important feast days the same: there’s a Eucharistic liturgy (communion service) and there is something of a complex evening prayer the night before.  All Saints Day fits this pattern: there is a communion service on the day of, and a complex evening prayer service on the vigil, the “Eve”.  It’s this “Eve” that is “Hallowe’en”.

A pagan holiday is one that is non-Christian, or Pre-Christian and, usually, localized: there was no pre-Christian religious tradition that was pan-European.  There were Celts and Romans and Greeks, there were Scythians, Gauls, Goths, Visigoths, Egyptians, etc. Each one of these ethnic groups would have had pagan holidays.

Stealing our holiday means exactly that: moving in, remaking and rewriting it until it matches our pattern not yours.

It is my assertion that the celebration of All Hallows eve is Christian; that is was never Pagan; and that it is, in fact, the Pagans who are stealing holidays.

Let’s first take a look at three parts: the Eastern Christian, the Western Christian and the Non-Christian.

The East
In the east, St John Chrysostom (4th Century) set a celebration in memory of all the “other” saints on the Sunday after Pentecost. Since he did not (nor does his successor) have universal jurisdiction, this holiday would have, of course, only applied to those dioceses and parishes under his patriarchate. Since it was a good idea, however, the tradition spread among the other Orthodox. Additionally, in some places the second Sunday after Pentecost is observed as All local Saints. Thus in the Russian Churches, this is All Saints of Russia. In the Orthodox Church in America, that Sunday is “All Saints of America” but it is not so named among the various non-Autocephalous or “self-ruled” groups in the US.
This celebration was not commanded to those churches under the Patriarchate of Rome although the tradition began spreading there, as well.
The West
In AD 609 or 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the ancient Roman Pantheon as a Christian Church.  The new name was St Mary and All Martyrs and the anniversary of the consecration, 13 May, was a feast celebrated in all the western Church. This was the beginning of All Saints’ Day in the West. It’s important to note two things: (a) this happens after the coming of St Augustine to Canterbury in 587; and (b) it doesn’t happen on 1 November. These are important because of the claim (sometimes offered in error on these pages as well) that Augustine merely baptised a pagan feast day he found in England and that it came back to Rome. Nope. Sorry.
About 100 years later another Pope, Gregory III, dedicated another All Saints’ chapel – this one in St Peter’s – on 1 November and began to commemorate the feast on that day. The next Pope Gregory made that feast (on 1 November) of universal practice.
The Roman Martyrology, still read daily in monastic orders, tells the story this way:

Festívitas ómnium Sanctórum, quam in honórem beátæ Dei Genitrícis Vírginis Maríæ et sanctórum Mártyrum Bonifátius Papa Quartus, cum templum Pántheon tértio Idus Maji dedicásset, célebrem et generálem instítuit agi quotánnis in urbe Roma. Sed Gregórius item Quartus póstmodum decrévit, eándem festivitátem, quæ váriis modis jam in divérsis Ecclésiis celebrabátur, in honórem ómnium Sanctórum solémniter hac die ab univérsa Ecclésia perpétuo observári. 

The Festival of All Saints, which Pope Boniface IV, after the dedication of the Pantheon, ordained to be kept generally and solemnly every year on the 13th of May, in the city of Rome, in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy martyrs. It was afterwards decreed by Gregory IV that this feast, which was then celebrated in many dioceses, but at different times, should be on this day kept by the whole Church in honour of all the saints.
(From the Internet Archive.)

All of these Christian dates are very important because these dates mean the festival of All Saints (and thus the Vigil the night before) is a feast of the pre-Schism Patriarchate of Rome. It’s Orthodox. 31 October/1 November is not a Pagan festival.
3 The Real Pagan Stuff
The real Pagan strand is harder to trace. As noted, there is no pan-European culture or religion.  Not every Pagan European culture had a festival here.  To find any festival at all at this point of the year, we have to leave the Roman Empire and go to the edge of the known world: Ireland. There was a festival in ancient Ireland as the Sun reach halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. The bards report this feast was celebrated on the Hill of Tara with the Ard Rí – the High King. Should one visit Tara today one will see a “passage grave” on the hill. In the back of the grave are small spirals carved into the wall. Once a year – around November 7th on the modern Gregorian calendar – as the sun passes the half-way point between the Equinox and the Solstice, a shaft of light penetrates the cave and strikes the spirals. Does this indicated the feast of Tara? Don’t know. But it does show that the astronomical point – not a calendar date, per se – was marked at Tara. To be certain the Pagans in the only part of Europe not conquered by Rome didn’t use the Roman Calendar – and so wouldn’t have known what 31 October was. The passage on Tara shoes that (in modern terms) it was the Sun at 15 Degrees of Scorpio that was celebrated – not a specific day.
Bonfires were lit that night, but we know no more of the festival at all.  We don’t know that the Irish even had anything to say about the dead on this night.  Anthropologically it would make sense for this festival to be a harvest festival and it would be likely that the dead might be invoked or appease at harvest time… but that’s it. We don’t know.
Would the Church have adopted the pagan practice of a remote tribe from the hinterlands and commanded it to the whole of the western world? Unlikely.

Bad Victorian Mythology

Costumes? Trick or Treat? Pumpkins? Mostly bad Victorian-era Scholarship – and that mostly American, not European at all. Like us moderns, the Americans of the Victorian era had a penchant for things that “feel ancient” and, like us, they tended to make stuff up when they didn’t know the answer. They just call it “ancient tradition”. Americans feel guilty sometimes that most countries have indoor plumbing older than our culture.
Our American custom was, until recently, to becostume ourselves and trick-or-treat on Thanksgiving! In fact this may go back to a Roman Catholic custom on St Martins day: and and this custom was moved to Halloween in the early 20th Century and, as things happen it is the “American Style” Halloween that is only now being imported into Europe. It’s our American customs, superimposed on All Hallows Eve that we now deck out as “ancient” and then call pagan.
Everything else we claim to know about the holiday is from this final strand of Bad American Victorian Scholarship. So we like to blame wearing masks on the ancient Celts. We claim the sweets should be offered to the Ghosts. The Jack O’Lantern is a candle lit to show the dead how to get back to their homes. All of this is without proof of course – positive or negative. The ancient religions were not literate. They didn’t write it down in guidebooks on How to Be a Druid. Almost all of these later inventions have to do with Protestant ideas of the all the departed commemorated on 1 & 2 November. Romans say they are saints – but Protestants know there are no Catholics in heaven so all their “saints” must really be spectres and ghouls. Having made up a pretty fun holiday (admit it!) it caught on! Even Europeans now like this idea.
31 October is Not Pagan.
Modern Neopagans take up this theme – using American Christian customs! – when they say “Christians stole our holiday”. In fact, 1 November was never their holiday – it was, however, the closest Christian party to their own historical party at 15 Degrees Scorpio. So they moved their gew-gaws and froo-froo a week over or so and stopped counting days by small spirals carved on walls and tried this new Roman invention – the Fixed Calendar. They did this so as not to be continually persecuted by the Christians – they wanted to blend in. I’m clear on that – and Christians need to be honest about our persecution of other religions throughout our history. We see the same traditions in Yoruban cultures where their Afro-Caribbean and South American cultures adopt Catholicism as a cover for their African Gods. In like manner, albeit, a thousand years earlier, the Celtic tribes covered up their pagan traditions with a Catholic overlay.
We might better say that the Pagans, to avoid persecution, stole a Christian Holiday. Certainly the idea of the Western All Saints being stolen from the Celtic “day of the dead” is not at all historic.  Since the ancient religions did not write stuff down, we have no way of knowing from Pagan sources if the Festival of Tara was anything to do specifically with the dead or the “Veil between the worlds” getting thin. We don’t even know it was “new year” for them – we just made that up too. Like other pagan festivals some of this stuff may have carried over: the “bonfire holidays” in England are mostly pagan festivals that were transferred to Christian days. This is especially clear on St John’s day in the Summer when they light the midsummer bonfires. This tradition of moving traditions to the biggest party continued through history: now the Mid-Autumn bonfires are not lit on Halloween, but rather on Guy Fawkes Night (Nov 5) which is coincidentally much closer to 15 Degrees Scorpio.
The Aztecs?
Since I’m now in California, it’s worth talking about the Day of the Dead, Dìa de los Muertos, one of my favourite times of the year to switch cultures – we have no idea at all what the ancient Celts did, where as the Day of the Dead is a living tradition. Some Protestant commentaries are quick to point out that this is Pagan Catholicism. Of course it is. But it is Catholicism – not paganism – that rules the day.
The Aztec (Ancient Mexican) Calendar had almost 30 days dedicated to the dead in or around the Gregorian month of August. These were dedicated to the “Little Dead” (children) and the Adult Dead. Within a few decades of the Spanish conquest all the traditions of these festivals had been transferred to the WR feasts of All Saints and All Souls. The Church didn’t move them there – nor did she “take over” the Aztec feasts. Instead – as in the case of the Celts and the other pagans – local traditions were, effectively, baptised and brought in. They were seen as way-pointers on the way to Christ who is The Truth and therefore all things true point to him. There is nothing to be afraid of in the truth: nothing at all. And anything that really is True is Christ.
Now does any of this mean that the modern, Non-Christian silliness that goes on in Schools is really-Christian or even Anti-Christian? No. No more than singing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is an act of Christian piety although I know some who would file a law suit nonetheless.

Most of the secular holidays that happen now  – from Christmas to Easter to Halloween – are decidedly not Christian and should be avoided.  The revelries that happen on this night are lewd, crude and are often designed to mock Christianity.  That is Satanic.  But bobbing for apples, trick or treating – or using this day and season to commemorate the dead and the departed are not Satanic at all.  In fact, it’s an Orthodox practice that is so evidently healthy that even the pagans took it over: All Saints Day (and the vigil) and All Souls Day and the whole month of November.  Should the kids be allowed to have that fun? Well, that’s up to the parents. 

Beingness

What do you think it might mean to “be” something?

In Irish when one is greatly wanting food, one says “Ta ocras orm.”  In English we say “I am hungry” but the Irish say “there is hunger upon me.”  The English seems to say “I have become this thing in my being.”  We use the same form in discussing just about everything: religion, politics, sex, race, sexuality. We do say “I have a cold”, but we go right back to beingness in our jobs, our marriages… Divorces.  Just noticed that we say “I am divorced” but not “I am broken up.” (Of course, we do say ‘I’m all broken up’ in another context that is also a good example of what I’m thinking about.)

So, why is it that, consciously or not, we put our being, our very being, into such a linguistic change cycle every time we enter into description?

What do these statements have in common?   How is it possible that we use the same words for these things?  Do we mean the same thing?

I am married.
I am Republican.
I am Black.
I am English.
I am gay.
I am baptized.
I am drunk.
I am hungry.
I am somebody.

From one angle, of course, we’re using shorthand: “I am Republican” is short for “I am a registered member of a specific party.” But we don’t say that.  What we say is that “In the same way that God self-referentially said, ‘I am what I am’ I refer externally to something other than myself to say ‘I am a Communist’.”

But is that what we mean?

I note that this is different from saying “I am doing something”.  I am running means that the being I – whatever that is – is involved in this process of whatever it might be.  Only in the most vague newage spiritual language would we ever say “I am batting’, meaning ‘I have become batting in my being,  as we “unify” the self with the sport.  We usually only mean “I am batting.” I am walking.

The Abrahamic Hindu and Buddhist teach teach very important doctrines about the being of the person and while they have only the sketchiest of common threads, they do rather insist on the being as an ontological closed point, at least as part of the path towards whatever. English ignores all that and says the being has no being but rather fluctuates between this state and that state and this other state where what “I am” today is not what “I am” tomorrow.

How can this possibly be?

Bosses’ Day

I have been lucky to have some very awesome Bosses, from Constancio and Mark and Br. James and Pat at the Church Center, Joan L at Borders, Jeff at Gay.com and Vern, Tom and Jim at Swain, John in Buffalo and Eric, Thomas, Sejal and Phil here at Zoosk…

My bosses challenge me, encourage me and force me to grow.