C h ro n i c l e The The
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church
In this issue...
A Forgiven Life, from the Rector A Boy’s Life at the Bishop Walker School The Monk of Columbia Road Forums and Book Groups for Lent
Letter from the Rector
2 Letter from the Rector
By the Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister
3 Parishioner Profile: Kate Smart 4 Lent 2013 Events: Violence and Redemption 6 The Monk of Columbia Road
Beloved in Christ, A few months ago, I read a letter by a woman who had decided to get a tattoo. The tattoo was placed on her wrist and it consisted of one word: Forgiven. She explained that she had gotten it because her father had killed himself. “I put it there because I wanted to explain it, and I have, over and over. People often ask, ‘What’s your tattoo?’I wish I could tell them that grief comes out in strange ways. I wish I could explain that I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget—not the tragedy, but my decision to let it go. Every day the word inked on my wrist catches my eye. I’m still working on making it true.”1 The woman did not explain whom she was trying to forgive: her father or herself.
7 After Sackcloth and Ashes 8 A Boy’s Life: BWS Photo Essay 10 Take Your Christianity Off the Mat
11 Praying the Daily Office
Cover photo by John Thorne: Bishop Walker School boys join the cast of St. Alban’s 2013 production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Diana V. Morgan, Editor Monica Welch, Jo Turner, Copy Editors
A few weeks later, The New York Times also ran a piece on tattoos.2 It was about the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who were choosing to be tattooed with the serial numbers that had been etched into their grandparents’ flesh in concentration camps. The descendants were concerned that the generation of survivors was dying out, that there would soon be no witness to what had been done and what had been overcome, and so they chose to take upon themselves the task of witness, to become living reminders of that story. They did not explain whether they were witnessing to the horror or to the survival, or both. What does it mean to live as one who has been forgiven? What does it mean to bear witness to what has been done? At its best, forgiveness should give us strength to gaze upon hard truths, knowing that the damage we have endured has already been subsumed in the quiet deeps of the mercy of God. Anne Lamott writes, “We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll just be rearranging the furniture in rooms you’ve already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words--not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues.”3 What Lamott says of writers is true also of Christians. At the very start of our journey, when the priest dips his or her thumb in oil and traces a cross on our foreheads, we are branded as people who have been pardoned. We live from that assurance of forgiveness, and when we live into it, it imparts a peculiar kind of courage. Courage to take risks for what is right, knowing that failure will be swallowed up in grace. Courage to poke into the closed doors of our own soul, to look ourselves in the face, good and bad, knowing that what has been done cannot overcome the mercy of God. That’s what Lent is for: inhabiting ourselves more deeply. Too often, it can feel like a false polishing-up, making ourselves look better than we are in the hope of fooling ourselves, our neighbors and our God. But God invites us to look at what is written in our flesh and bone: at the things we cannot yet forgive, (continued next page)
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Parishioner Profile: Kate Smart By Elizabeth Campbell St. Alban’s is blessed with many teenagers! It is hard to miss them as they serve as ushers and acolytes, sell Christmas wreaths after services, flip pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, or burst into song during announcements in support of their many causes. Kate Smart, however, is one of the few with the opportunity to go behind the scenes and serve invisibly. Kate Kate Smart was elected by the Senior Youth last September to represent their interests on St. Alban’s vestry. “I think it’s important to convey to vestry members what is going on with the youth groups and whether I think there are ways to strengthen youth programs,” says Kate, who is a junior at National Cathedral School. And since Kate gets to go to vestry meetings, she sees a whole new side of the church. “I have met a lot of very smart people who are passionate about St. Alban’s and their work here, and I’m able to see what goes into keeping St. Alban’s running, which I find very interesting,” Kate says. While she is not allowed to cast votes at the meetings, she offers a chance for the voice of youth to be heard. As part of the group that went to Taiwan two years ago, Kate has been involved in the youth program for many years, and it has had a powerful impact on her. “Ever since I came to St. Alban’s, the Sunday School program has been a huge part of my experience,” Kate says. “All the leaders and my peers quickly included me when I was a new member.” Kate says that Sunday School has been much more than just a social group; it really addresses topics that have helped her. “I usually find that the topics we cover are applicable to what is going on in my own life,” she observes. “I think one of the most interesting and relatable topics we’ve covered is ethics, and how it relates to our lives, and to our spirituality and Christianity.” When talking with other vestry members, Kate has a strong sense of what matters to youth. She hopes to get more youth involved in vestry activities and to increase the adult-to-youth interaction at St. Alban’s. “I think that more youth should serve on committees,” states Kate. “It’s a great opportunity for us to meet new people and take an active role in the church,”
Forgiven... (Rector’s Letter continued) and to offer them up for mercy. For God’s mercy, if we cannot yet grant them ours. At the beginning of the people of God, Abraham took his son up a mountain and bound him and laid him on wood and prepared to offer him as a sacrifice. I have always wondered how they went on from there, either of them. How do you look at one another again after that kind of betrayal? What do you say, or leave unsaid? When Abraham saw the ram that was caught in the thicket, did he fold himself onto the ground and weep and weep in his shame and his relief and his pain? When Isaac was unbound, did he embrace his father or turn away? I do know this: After the Resurrection, the disciples knew Christ by his scars, the ones he had allowed us to etch in his hands and his feet. I suspect that, if we gaze on our own, we will find him there, waiting for us. Waiting to welcome us home. Grace and blessings,
Deborah 1. Christine S. The Sun (September 2012), p. 34. 2. Jodi Ruoren, “Proudly Bearing Elders’ Scars,” September 30, 2012. 3. Bird by Bird, p. 198.
St. Alban’s Clergy The Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister, Rector The Rev. Jim Quigley, Associate Rector The Rev. Matthew R. Hanisian, Associate Rector The Rev. Loren. B. Mead, Priest Associate The Rev. Canon Simón Bautista, Diocesan Latino Missioner Mary Bea Sullivan, Seminarian
Lent 2013 Events Just before Christmas, the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, forced us all to consider the issue of violence in our nation and to experience the ways our faith can help us respond to violence. This Lent, we are invited to engage in a structured study of violence, sacrifice, forgiveness and redemption. We may participate in any a number of ways, including attending Sunday Forums, reading Lenten books and experiencing the liturgies of Passiontide (or Holy Week), which walk us step by step through the suffering of Christ and the redemption of his Passion. We hope that, by studying together, we will become better agents of God’s forgiveness and grace. Lenten Books: Violence, Sacrifice and Redemption This year’s Lenten book study pairs two books, very different in style and tone, which examine violence, forgiveness and redemption in Christian practice. Both are available for sale at church. Facilitated groups will be offered for those who wish to talk about these books with one another; those who can make time for group discussions will find them a blessing. Amish Grace, by Donald Kraybill et. al., is an accessible and engaging look at the Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, school shooting and at the Amish response of forgiveness and reconciliation. After recounting what happened in that community, the authors examine the ways in which Amish understandings of Christian faith, community and practice enabled them to counter violence in Christ-like ways. The book invites all of us to consider how our own faith prepares us to respond to the evil we encounter. The second book, Rene Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, offers a theological and anthropological look at the imagery and practice of sacrificial violence, central to many religious faiths. Girard examines the ways in which Christian Scripture engages those themes. While the book is challenging, it is actively shaping the Christianity of our time. We will read chapters one, two and nine through fourteen (although the rest is rich, if you’ve got the time). The initial chapters set up Girard’s understanding of self and the other, and explore the ways our assumptions underpin violent impulses. The latter chapters explore how Christ’s willing sacrifice sets us free from the cycle of violence and opens the possibility of a different way of interacting with one another. Groups meet over five weeks. For information about joining a group, email email@example.com. St. Alban’s Lenten Book Groups Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. St. Columba Room Leader: Bob Sellery Begins February 23 Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. St. Columba Room Leader: Anton Vanterpool Begins February 20
Tuesdays, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. 4021 Fordham Road Leader: Alex Netchvolodft Begins February 19
Wednesdays, 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. (Amish Grace only) St. Columba Room Leader: Diane Adams Begins February 20
Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Rectory Dining Room Leader: Bob Woolfolk Begins February 20
Another resource for deepening our prayer life during Lent is Elizabeth O’Connor’s Search for Silence, which provides clear and gentle teaching on how to engage with contemplative prayer. O’Connor also provides material to help us connect with our own spirituality and personal history through contemplation, prayer or journaling. We will not be discussing this book together, but quiet study at home can be rewarding. Lenten Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery West Park, N.Y.: February 22-24 Registration Full To add your name to a waiting list contact the rector at (202) 363-8286 ext. 201. Or sign up when we return for Lent 2014.
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Lent 2013 Events
Sunday Forums A Die So Real – Sunday Adult Forum series for Lent Eight forums co-lead by Rector Deborah Meister and Associate Rector Jim Quigley, February 3, 10, 17, 24, March 3, 10, 17 and April 7, Nourse Hall. The Way of the Cross (a devotional liturgy from The Book of Occasional Services) invites the faithful to enter with joy the contemplation of God’s mighty acts that have given us life and immortality. Please join us for an extended Lenten Forum series based upon the liturgy of The Way of the Cross and co-led by the Rev. Jim Quigley and the Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister. This unique adult education offering will utilize eight paintings from the Stations of the Cross, created by Jim Quigley, as a starting point from which to contemplate our Lord’s passion and death. Similar to the manner in which these images were created, this series will, in part, utilize a form of Bible study known as Ignatian contemplation. Participants will be asked to use their imagination to place themselves as characters within (or witnesses to) the Lord’s Passion. The title of the series comes from an observation made by one who viewed the image depicting the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing. Reflecting on this painting, the observer proclaimed: “The die is so real I am tempted to roll it myself!” We hope this engaging format will connect us more closely to the events leading to the death of Jesus and, paradoxically, to God’s enduring grace. Because this is an eight-part series and the forum time is limited, A Die So Real will take place in Nourse Hall beginning February 3 rather than the first Sunday in Lent. We will view and discuss one image each week, adding images as the series continues on February 10, 17 and 24, March 3, 10 and 17 and concluding on April 7. The paintings will remain in Nourse Hall during this entire time so viewers can return to the images on their own. You may also use them as starting points for walking the labyrinth on Fridays during Lent. Other Lenten Offerings Praying with Icons Saturday, March 9, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This half-day seminar with Father Mefodii, an Orthodox abbot and master iconographer, will introduce us to the rich tradition of Christian icons. Father Mefodii will provide key images, help us understand their symbolism and spiritual depth, and teach us to begin to pray with them. To enroll, please contact the Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister at firstname.lastname@example.org. St. Alban’s Young Adults Interactive Lenten Devotional Series Mondays in Lent, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., St. Columba Room Join St. Alban’s Young Adults in a Lenten study of Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World. This interactive Lenten devotional will be facilitated by Mary Bea Sullivan, St. Alban’s seminarian. The series starts Monday, February 18. All who consider themselves to be “young adults at heart,” are welcome. For more information please contact Julie Clements at email@example.com. The Labyrinth: One Step at a Time Fridays during Lent, Nourse Hall, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. During the last two Lenten seasons, with thanks to the Rev. Carol Flett, we set up a canvas labyrinth and invited people to walk the labyrinth as part of their Lenten practice. Carol has retired but her labyrinth remains. Many labor under the misconception that a labyrinth is a maze and a tricky thing to navigate. Its path indeed winds and curves back on itself many times, but there are no decisions to make and no false steps possible. We walk it quietly, one step at a time, winding our way into the center and, after pausing there for however long we care to, we trace our steps back to the beginning. We invite you to come make your Lenten pilgrimage on our labyrinth in Nourse Hall any Friday afternoon during Lent. And, if you'd like to sit as a quiet companion to those walking, please call Sally Craig at (202) 494-7953.
The Monk of Columbia Road By Diana V. Morgan Paul Deonaraine has been living at Christ House in Adams Morgan for almost three years. He moved there after he lost his toes during the District’s Snowmageddon of 2010. Paul’s toes were amputated for many reasons, including frostbite, but mainly because one bad thing led to another and he lost control of what otherwise was a pretty good life. Paul, 53, grew up in Guyana, the small South American country famous for the 1978 massacre of 918 people, mostly Americans, at Jim Jones’ People’s Temple. Paul was a member of the Guyana army troop sent to clean up the mess. He remembers the moment he fell into alcoholism, setting in motion the events that put him in a wheelchair in a homeless shelter in D.C. “I saw so many murdered people, I threw up,” he says. “Six months later, I couldn’t get rid of the children’s faces and I started to drink.” Christ House and its Kairos program have become important to the St. Alban’s Parish community. Paul Deonaraine
Photo credit: Christ House.
“St. Alban’s financial support provides a meal, usually of baked chicken, veggies, whole wheat bread and applesauce or fresh fruit,” says Anne-Louise Oliphant, who has been cooking for Christ House every other Friday for three years.
Paul grew up in a stable household headed by his Seventh Day Adventist grandmother. He joined the army to help support his five sisters. Eventually the family moved to Queens, N.Y., his grandmother’s hometown. With a new green card in his pocket, Paul took the bus to D.C. to live with his sister and her husband in the Petworth neighborhood. He got a job as a manager at a CVS, but one day he came home to discover his sister had changed the locks and moved. He holed up in a local garage and tried to hold on to his job. “I drank to keep myself warm,” Paul says. “Someone called an ambulance during the blizzard and, when my feet warmed up, they pulled the toenails off with my socks. When my surgeon came into my hospital room, he said I would never walk again.” Paul’s doctor sent him to recuperate at Christ House, an organization on 17th Street and Columbia Road that provides comprehensive healthcare to the District’s sick, homeless men and women. Paul eventually joined the Kairos Program, a community of people who are committed to their own recovery. Kairos calls itself a “spiritual recovery program.” Its goal, says Sarah Katz, Director of Development, is “to break the cycle of homelessness.” Enrolled in the Kairos program are 52 men who live in Christ House apartments nearby. They are required to volunteer at Christ House and to take part in rigorous self-examination and religious training. They are unable to work full time due to their chronic illness, and many are in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions, according to Katz. About 90 percent of the people who enter Kairos Program stay sober, says Katz. In many ways, Kairos is like a modern-day monastery, and Paul is like a 21st century urban monk. Who among us has not fallen? How many of us have gotten back up? Each day of the week at Christ House Paul either participates in or leads several hours of religious reflection and worship. On Sundays he meets with his pastor for a Bible class, and on Wednesdays he takes part in a meditation and prayer group at both 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Four days a week he meets with his Alcoholics Anonymous group. “When I drank, all my problems went away, but when I woke up they were still there.” Paul doesn’t drink anymore, he says. “I pray to God and God has taken away my cravings. Each day I take a personal inventory of my soul.” Each day he tries to give back through his extensive commitment of volunteer work at Christ House for the new life that has been (continued, next page) given to him. He has also experienced his own private miracle.
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After Sackcloth and Ashes By the Rev. Jim Quigley During her visit to the parish on the Third Sunday of Advent last year, Bishop Mariann Budde met with the St. Alban’s leadership. After a shared meal, she began a collective conversation with a simple request: “Say your name and tell me what you are passionate about.” That was my third Sunday at St. Alban’s and, when it was my turn to speak, I said, “My name is Jim Quigley and my passion is learning everyone’s name.” People laughed. In retrospect, I might have answered differently, or at least more honestly. But the question lingered with me for days. What am I passionate about? As Christians, one way to delve deeper into the question of what we are passionate about might be to ask, “For whom or for what am I willing to suffer?” Or, “Who benefits the most, and the least, from the sacrifices I make?” The former asks us about the nature of our Christian commitment, while the latter might lead us to ponder what we consider to be sacrificial in our lives. During Lent, we move toward repentance by pondering The Passion. We follow Jesus on his journey to the place of the skull and we are compelled into regret and remorse through a liturgy that enables us to recollect with honesty the multitude of our transgressions, both personal and corporate. We recognize, in the light of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice, our misguided passions and with the psalmist we cry out for forgiveness: “Miserere mei, Deus.” We cover ourselves with sackcloth and ashes. This is a moment when, as poet Mary Oliver writes in Thirst, the best we can conjure about our nature is “the goodness we do not have.” But we aren’t meant to stay in that place long; if we are to find our way to resurrection we must move on, lest the entirety of Lent be a remembrance that we are dust—the substance of a grave. After the sackcloth and ashes we redirect our loyalties to nobler passions as we hope and pray our way into a new kind of life. But what does new life look like? How do we find it? In his book Violence Unveiled, author Gill Bailie recalls his conversation with the American theologian Howard Thurman. As Bailie was talking about what needed to be done in the world, Thurman interrupted and said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Thurman’s admonition led Bailie on a 20-year journey of exploring what excited him most—to new friendships and knowledge and to the completion of an extraordinary book. In a wonderful chapter called “Seeing” in Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she describes a moment of revelation with a compelling description of herself as a bell: “I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.” After we engage in Lent’s necessary repentance and remove the sackcloth and Wednesday’s ashes from our foreheads, let’s spend some time pondering the needs of the world and how we might make the right sacrifices in order to respond to them. Let’s also ask what makes us come alive, and go do that. We are God’s bells, waiting to be lifted and struck, and the world needs to hear us ring.
The Monk of Columbia Road (continued from previous page) His Sibley Hospital doctors outfitted him with a wheelchair, in which he expected to spend the rest of his life. Sometime after his surgery, he was preparing food for group snack time when he got up to do something. “I forgot I couldn’t walk.” He’s now back on his feet and he’s not looking back. Christ House welcomes all St. Alban’s volunteers. For more information go to http://christhouse.org/volunteer/index.html. To join the Friday cooking gang at St. Alban’s, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Boy’s Life at the Bishop T. Walker School By James Woody, Executive Director of the Bishop T. Walker School
The Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys has the distinction of being the only Episcopal diocesan school in Washington, D.C. Located in the Congress Heights section of D.C.’s Ward 8, the school was conceived as a vehicle to provide boys from low-income families a quality Episcopal education without regard to their ability to pay. Begun in 2008 with a single class of pre-K students, the school has grown through the addition of a new grade level each year, supported by the diocese, its parishes and members. Now serving boys in grades pre-K through third grade our vision is to continue this growth model through grade 8. Jordan, below, joined us three years ago when he was four years old. Life at BWS can be seen through the his eyes in these photographs.
I learned to write my name at BWS! BWS is a tuition-free Episcopal school. (Jordan in kindergarten)
This focus “stuff” is really hard, but I know it’ll be worth it. BWS serves boys in grades junior kindergarten (4-year-olds) through third grade. Classes have a maximum size of 16. The student/teacher is ratio is 8:1. (Jordan in junior kindergarten)
I’m learning to march to the beat of my own drum. (Performing in the Black History month program in first grade) BWS offers dynamic art, music and athletic programming. Rather than merely memorizing facts and figures, our boys learn how to think, problem-solve, and apply knowledge to the challenges of the world around them.
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A Boy’s Life at the Bishop T. Walker School
Now I’ve met Desmond Tutu AND Yo-Yo Ma! How cool is that? (Desmond Tutu – junior kindergarten, Yo-Yo Ma – second grade)
Lacrosse is way more fun than I thought! BWS boys play lacrosse every spring with the help of St. Albans School and Winners Lacrosse. (Jordan in first grade.)
Does everybody learn how to ride horses at school? Horseback riding at Blacks Hills Stables, owned by BWS supporters Chip and Sharon Molster. Boys have recess twice a day. They also share breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. (Jordan in first grade.)
The Bishop T. Walker School has an important place in the heart and work of St. Alban’s Parish. St. Alban’s recent presentation of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” in collaboration with BWS, raised a third of the cost of educating one boy for a year. Financial support is necessary to keep this east-of-the river miracle growing because the school provides an extraordinary free educatio to these children of God. To get involved with BWS, email James Woody at email@example.com.
Christianity Off the Matix By Diana V. Morgan During my childhood my parents considered Christian rituals like fish on Fridays or self-denial at Lent to be quaintly anachronistic. Friday evenings when I was 11 or 12, my mom, emboldened by a moonlit air, was more likely to turn up the radio and dance in her purple jumpsuit than to meditate or pray. She and my father were not given to spiritual selfdiscipline. They didn’t understand that Lent done right is not a restraint but a spiritual dance. Lent meant more to me once I began to practice yoga. Yoga is about doing poses, but it is also about how you live your life. As a yoga teacher I tell my students to live their yoga “off the mat.” Some practice breathing exercises in elevators and chant Om in the car. Lent provides an opportunity to practice Christianity off the mat; to take our church religion home for the entire month. We may be called to renunciation, to service to others, or to opening up a poem each morning. We live with our Christianity off the mat to make it our own. Lent takes place during the 40 days prior to Easter, representing the period toward the end of Jesus’ life when he retreated to the desert to pray and meditate. Jesus prepared himself for his final sacrifice with no food or companion other than the barren cliffs of the Judean Desert and the temptations of Satan. In the past I have fasted during Lent by avoiding meat. I want to suffer to a small degree the sting of Jesus’ sacrifice. I am likely to stop dead in my tracks when I encounter the aroma of a co-worker’s warm ham panini. During these few seconds of longing I know myself better - I sniff out my human desires and connect to Jesus’ torment or the joined sacrifice of other Christians during Lent. Hunger reminds me to refocus and connect with God. During the non-Lent part of the year, I snuggle up to my iPad under the bed covers and watch TV shows on Hulu, the online-TV service, until late at night. Last year for Lent I gave up watching Hulu. I was miserable. From Ash Wednesday to Easter my mind was like a dog on the scent of a rabbit. I thought about Hulu as soon as I woke up and when I went to bed. I calculated the number of days until the next installment of Modern Family—and sighed at missing the Dunphys family as if the characters themselves had kicked me out.
Yoga has given me a better handle on Lent because it teaches me to still my mind. I quiet my mind through the practice of physical poses and through nonattachment to things like missing episodes of Modern Family. I also pray each morning. I sit in bed and try to come into a place of stillness. There are many techniques for achieving stillness such as meditating, walking or painting, but yoga and prayer work for me. The Anglican poet T.S. Eliot believed that yoga’s still point is also the place of Christian grace. “At the still point, there the dance is, …. Neither movement from nor towards Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. (Four Quartets) Union with God is a dance. The mind’s stillness is the dance floor. Lent provides the dance partner, the suffering Christ. In the still point, connection with God is the ecstasy. It is a fission of the soul—formed and directed by prayer. The discipline of prayer draws me into contact with the divine, like a contained nuclear explosion or like a dance with Christ. Taking your Christianity home with you during Lent isn’t easy. Saint Paul knew how tough it is to live Christianity off the mat. In the years following Jesus’ death, he wrote to Christian converts living among pagans in Rome. He told them they should avoid distracting influences, however attractive: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ( Rom. 12:2) (continued next page)
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Praying the Daily Office Have you considered taking up a daily prayer practice during Lent? During St. Alban’s Benedictine Wisdom series last autumn, parishioner Mark Vandersluis began to pray the morning and evening Daily Offices. His observations might encourage you to begin your own Lenten prayer practice. The morning Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer typically includes a number of psalms and readings from the Old Testament, the Epistles and the Gospel, as well as a collect of the day, a prayer for mission and numerous canticles. The evening office is similar but has fewer readings. You may read as little or as much as you like. See a list of resources at the end of this article. St. Alban’s parishioner Mark Vandersluis shares his experience: The Daily Office approach is well suited to a beginner. The active use of books (Book of Common Prayer and Bible) exploits— positively—one of my fondest weaknesses. The structured nature of the discipline makes the new practice less intimidating. I do the readings from the Daily Office lectionary, a nice way to ease into the “free prayer” section of the Office, which is more difficult for me. Inclusion of the Lord’s Prayer also ensures that at least something has been done “right,” whatever the difficulties of free prayer. It is interesting to note the soft redaction of problematic passages by the lectionary; some are listed as optional, others omitted entirely. Daily contact with Scripture is a rediscovered joy in itself, something forgotten since a spate of Bible reading in my twenties and a Lenten exercise of reading the psalms a few years ago. Between the Office and St. Benedict’s rule, I have become aware for the first time of the centrality of the psalms in our codified practice, if not always in our actual practice. The frequency of prayer removes some of the problems I’ve had in the past. For example, praying for others tended to become an exercise in making sure nobody was missed, with diminishing sincerity and enthusiasm along the way. Now I pray for those who come to mind, knowing that anybody or anything missed has a good chance of being tended to in 12 or so hours, when I’m at it again. Also, this more relaxed attitude brings on serendipitous thoughts, such as thankfulness for people who might more ordinarily be noticed by some failing rather than their blessing in my life. Resources: Daily Office: Contains the Office, Psalter, Prayers and Collects, as well as the texts of the readings for both years in the Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures. Two volumes. Get the morning and evening Daily Office emailed to your cell phone or iPad at http://dailyoffice.org/ The Book of Common Prayer: Start at Daily Morning Prayer on page 75. You will also need a Bible for the daily readings. I am actually using the Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families, based on the Daily Office, starting on page 136 of the BCP. I find this more suitable for my individual practice than the actual Daily Office.
Christianity Off the Mat (Continued from page 10) He told the Roman Christians to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rom. 12:1) Not eating the panini during Lent and not watching Hulu shows are my sacrifice and worship. In that still point, something wonderful occurs. When I pray in the morning and when I give up my attachments to things like Hulu, I become aware of a humble craving for God. This is the gift of Lent. On the other side of desire, in the point of stillness, is where God waits for you. He has your dance card. This Lent put on your purple jumpsuit. Pray madly. Practice your Christianity off the mat.
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church 3001 Wisconsin Ave., NW Washington, DC 20016 Return Service Requested
Lenten and Upcoming Activities
Holy Week Services March 24 Palm Sunday 7:30 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 5:30 p.m. March 25-26 Monday and Tuesday Holy Eucharist 7:30 a.m. Lay preachers Holy Eucharist 7:30 p.m. Clergy preaching March 27 Wednesday Holy Eucharist, 7:30 a.m. Lay preachers Tenebrae Service, 7:30 p.m. Chant, candlelight and reflection March 28 Maundy Thursday Light supper, 6:30 p.m. Holy Eucharist, 7:30 p.m. Foot washing and stripping of the altar March 29 Good Friday Noon to 3:00 p.m. Stations of The Cross, music, Good Friday Office March 30
Holy Saturday Office 10:00 a.m. Great Vigil 8:00 p.m.
March 31 Easter Sunday 7:30 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 5:30 p.m.
Arts@Midday Songs that Tell Stories Friday, February 8, 12:15 p.m. Sunday Morning Forums A Die so Real: Experiencing the Way of the Cross February 3 through April 7 Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper February 12, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday: Holy Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes February 13, 7:30 a.m., 12:00 noon, 7:30 p.m. Book Groups Week of February19 through week of March 18 Arts@Midday Mary’s Journey: Concert Friday, March 8, 12:15 p.m. Icon Workshop Saturday March 9, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Labyrinth Fridays in Lent, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Arts@Midday Mark Jaster Friday, April 12, 12:15 p.m. Parish Gala Dinner Saturday, April 20 Flower Mart May 3, 4, 5, Cathedral Grounds