Saturday, January 17, 2015

Memorial for Lillith Cat - January 10, 2015

Lillith Cat

Today, my companion animal Lillith passed away. The vet said she had eye cancer and probably started to suffer some pain this last week. She had stopped eating the last few days, and I did not want her to suffer, so I had the vet put her to sleep. 

Lillith was 15 years old, I had her since she was a kitten. Lillith, whom I also called affectionately, Lillith Cat, was a very clever smart kitty, and very affectionate. 

About 12 years ago, I had an angioplasty for my heart from an arythmia caused by hyperthyroid. When I was home recovering, Lillith would jump on the couch or bed and lie right over the left side of my chest. How smart was that? 

In one of the apartments I lived in there were double folding doors in one of the entrance ways. Lillith would jump up on top of the doors when they were folded open, and perch herself there, surveying the apartment like it was her queendom. 

Lillith was a very affectionate cat. would often wake me up for no other reason to but to be petted. She loved to sleep on the bed or couch with the lights and TV on. She would be in her glory. 

When I would sit and say my daily office, she would often jump on the bed or couch with me and lay her head on my lap. I would say, "wanna say prayers with daddy?"

The idea that animals have no souls, spirits or personalities, as is usually taught in traditional Christianity, has never sat well with me. I find it hard to believe that one can look in the eyes of their companion animal and not see personhood, on some level, even if not on the same level as humans. I believe not only do animals have spirits, but have existence beyond death, just like we do. 

I like that the vet in her calming voice today, was telling  Lillith she would be in heaven soon. I believe she will, and I offer this memorial for her. 
Lillith Cat, 1999-2014


Liturgy for a Dead or Dying Pet

Leader     Let us sing to the Lord a new song;
All            a song for all the creatures of the earth.
Leader     Let us rejoice in the goodness of God
All            shown in the beauty of all things.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (8:18-21)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory
about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of
the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by
the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from
its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

A Reading from our holy father, St. Isaac of Syria
What is a merciful heart? It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for human beings, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures.

A Reading from the Revelation to John (Rev. 21:1, 4-5a, 6)
I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed
away. And he shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things
are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new. I
am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
                  The Word of the Lord
All              Thanks be to God.

Let us pray.
This we know: every living thing is yours and returns to you. As we ponder this mystery
we give you thanks for the life of Lillith, and we now commit her into your loving
hands. Gentle God: fragile is your world, delicate are your creatures, and costly is your
love which bears and redeems us all.

Holy Creator, give us eyes to see and ears to hear how every living thing speaks to us of
your love. Let us be awestruck at your creation and daily sing your praises. Especially,
create within us a spirit of gratitude for the life of this beloved pet who has lived among
us and given us freely of his/her love. Even in our sorrow we have cause for joy for we
know that all creatures who died on earth shall live again in your new creation. Amen.


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Source: St, Margaret's Episcopal Church 

Daddy & Lillith Cat


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

EPIPHANY: THE OFFERING OF THE GENTILES

Bede Griffiths offering the Holy Qurbono
In the Western Church, the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. The Epiphany calls into remembrance the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Christ’s Messiahship and Divinity is revealed to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, bring Him gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The Gold represents Christ’s Divinity, the Frankincense His priestly ministry, and Myrrh, for His burial, represents His sacrifice. I would like to meditate on a couple of Bible passages assigned in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for the Epiphany Season.


The Magi represent the Gentile priests. The Prophet Malachi speaks of the Eucharistic Sacrifice that will be offered by the Gentiles:


For from the rising of the sun to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of Host.” - Malachi 1.11 MEV


Three of the earliest witnesses outside of the New Testament, Ignatius of Antioch, the Didache, and Justin Martyr, all identify this passage with the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist.


Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles, “in the priestly service of God,” is to help the Gentiles to offer an acceptable Sacrifice:


I have written even more boldly to you on some points, to remind you, because of the grace that is given to me from God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 15.15-16 MEV


Jesus is a Jewish Messiah, but He is also a Cosmic Christ. The message of the Gospel is that all humanity is in Christ.


In 1955, Dom Bede Griffiths, a Roman Catholic Benedictine from In England, moved to India “to find the other half of [his] soul.” Rather than importing a Western Culture to India, he sought to incarnate Christ in Indian culture. He switched from the Roman to the Syro-Malabar Rite, and offered the Holy Eucharist, using symbolism familiar to Hindus, in his Christian Ashram. He promoted interfaith dialogue, and sought to find the common ground between East and West.


For from the rising of the sun to its setting (from East to West), [the Lord’s Name] will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to [Lord’s name], and a pure offering.


- Lance

January 6 The Theophany in the Eastern Church- the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Christ Revealed

In the Western Church, today is the Epiphany, but in the Eastern Church, it is the Theophany. Both Feasts have to do with the revelation of Christ's Divinity.  The reading from Titus 2.13 was considered by the Church Fathers a landmark statement of the divinity of Christ.

The Theophany marks the occasion of Christ's Baptism in the Jordan, when the Holy Trinity was revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father's voice is heard from heaven, the Son is baptized in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit alights on him. Christ shares our humanity and so is baptized in solidarity with us.

St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches that by His baptism, Christ sanctifies water (Ign. Eph. 18), and water therefore becomes the means of our salvation (see 1 Peter 3.21). Baptism is mentioned in the passage from Titus as the "washing of regeneration (Titus 3.5)."

The Orthodox Church teaches that what is assumed is deified, and that when Christ was baptized, He re-created the whole Cosmos. Saint Gregory of Nyssa  says, “Jesus enters the filthy [sinful] waters of the world and when He comes out, brings up [purifies] the entire world with Him.”

Christians should have a green ethic and honor Creation, because Christ has sanctified it and made it holy. Christians should be concerned about climate change and pollution, if we seek to honor God and His Creation.

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Troparion:
At your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, worship of the Trinity was revealed;
 for the Father's voice bore witness to you, calling you his beloved Son,
 and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words.
 O Christ God, you appeared and enlightened the world. Glory to you!

Titus 2:11-14, 3.4-7, New King James Version (NKJV)
Trained by Saving Grace
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,  5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,  6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Matthew 3:13-17New King James Version (NKJV)
John Baptizes Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[a] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Monday, January 5, 2015

Epiphany: He Will Crush the Oppressor

The Manifestion of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Gentiles
German, W├╝rzburg, about 1240 (Getty Museum)

O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- Collect for the Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.


Give the king your justice, O God,
   and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
   and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
   and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
   give deliverance to the needy,
   and crush the oppressor.

For he delivers the needy when they call,
   the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
   and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
   and precious is their blood in his sight.

Psalm 72.1-4, 12-14, NRSV, from the Daily Office Readings for the Epiphany.   

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Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. In today's Gospel, the Magi  from the East, probably astrologers from Persia, follow a Star and reach the Christ Child in Bethlehem. They present him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts symbolize Christ's role as King, Priest, and Prophet respectively.

Today I was struck by Psalm 72, the Morning Psalm appointed in the Daily Office from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer for the Feast of the Epiphany. Psalm 72 is a Messianic Psalm, prophetic of Christ's rule. In the Psalm, the Messiah-King is portrayed as a Liberator, a dispenser of Justice. He not only will hear the cries of the poor and oppressed, but he will "crush the oppressor."

The commentary for Psalm 72 in the Oxford Study Bible-Revised English Bible, which I was using this morning for my office readings, is quite illuminating. The commentary explains that "the absolute kings of the near east often shed blood with little remorse." One thinks of King Herod and the Holy Innocents. But the commentary points out that the Messianic King "redeems his people from oppression." In commenting on the verse 4 of Psalm 72, the Oxford Study Bible explains that to judge in this Psalm means to "vindicate the poor and to relieve suffering."

If we believe that Psalm 72 is prophetic of Christ, we should accept that God does take sides with the poor and oppressed, against the oppressor.

Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus for the Syrian Orthodox Church in India, counts Psalm 72 as his favorite Psalm. Mar Osthathios has spoken eloquently on the liberationist message of the Bible.

Christianity should not be a domesticated religion, but a prophetic one. Authentic Christianity "rebukes the oppressor (Isaiah 1.17, NKJV)." True Christianity is a force for liberation and justice, not a defender of the status quo. It is not an other-wordly religion. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has remarked that Christianity is a "materialist religion."

In the Epiphany, God is revealed to the Gentiles. God is revealed as a Liberator in today's Psalm. If we accept Christ as our Lord and God, we must accept Him as a Liberator, for He has revealed Himself as such. We can rejoice that Christ is against Oppression. Followers of Christ should resonate with this prayer for social justice from the Book of Common Prayer:

ALMIGHTY God, who hast created man in thine own image; Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice among men and nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.