THE CAT’S MEOW
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope
The 5th Sunday of Easter 10 May 2020
Art & Reflection
Sunday, May 10: Easter 5
Artwork: Interior With Woman In Red (1903).
Félix Vallotton (1865-1925) Oil on canvas. Kunsthaus Zürich (Switzerland).
Reading: John 14.1-14 (printed below)
Jesus said, ’Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always;
trust also in me. 2There are many dwelling-places in my Father’s house; if it were not so I should have told you; for I am going to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also; 4and you know the way I am taking.’ 5Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ 6Jesus replied, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me.
7‘If you knew me you would know my Father too. From now on you
do know him; you have seen him.’ 8Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father; we ask no more.’ 9Jesus answered, ‘Have I been all this time with you, Philip, and still you do not know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. Then how can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? I am not myself the source of the words I speak to you: it is the Father who dwells in me doing his own work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else accept the evidence of the deeds themselves. 12In very truth I tell you, whoever has faith in me will do what I am doing; indeed he will do greater things still because I am going to the Father. 13Anything you ask in my name I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask anything in my name I will do it.
Perhaps due to its association with funerals (at which it is often read), we might presume to interpret this reading’s famous second verse, translated here as, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms,” to mean that in heaven there’s no lack of space. Traditionally many of us have associated death (and this reading) with a destination, a place, where the souls of the righteous are gathered to live permanently. And, indeed, if Jesus speaks here of destination in terms of real estate, then many rooms, dwelling places, or mansions, would be necessary to house these souls. But what if destination and place were understood another way? What if destination and place (rooms, mansions), instead of being interpreted as static future-oriented abodes, were interpreted as stages or spheres of God-consciousness that, far from being static, unfold themselves on a continuum that encompasses present life as well as future existence?
It’s an idea that’s not new; it’s one that has antecedents that reach back into the earliest centuries of the Christian era. The Desert Fathers (200-400 ce), Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-c.1328), Julian of Norwich (1343-c. 1416), and many others into our own time, give expression to an unfolding, through grace, of an interior light. This light gives rise to heightened awareness of the divine in our lives, of God-Consciousness. God-Consciousness gives rise to greater comfort in one’s own skin. Which gives rise to love of others in their own skins (as troubling as we may find them). And these give rise to greater works of love, compassion, and empathy. Each level of increasing God-Consciousness constitutes a “room” that leads ultimately to what Jesus gets at when he says that he and the Father are one. These are not words that describe a relationship of exclusivity. Rather Jesus describes and exemplifies a relationship available to all people. The “way” which Jesus claims he is, is an identity anyone can claim and grow into themselves. It is growth in spirit—movement from room to room—that results ultimately in oneness with the Father. To get us there Jesus prepares a room within us: a room in which dwells our soul—our would-be true self. Dwelling in that room we master the way of that room. Upon mastery of that room’s way, the comfort and stability of that way disappear. At this point our soul may agonized through a bewildering night of faith until the soul begins to appropriate a still newer and truer consciousness of God. And on it goes. Nothing about it is static or future-oriented. It’s not about eternal rest, but about a transformative process that begins in the present.
Perhaps no mystical writer offers greater counsel on the “rooms” in which souls dwell than Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). In her classic work on the subject, The Interior Castle, she describes a soul’s movement towards God as rooted are in this present life. The open door to each new room being prayer and meditation.
We ourselves are the castle; and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already. But you must understand that there are many ways of “being” in a place [and] as far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation.
You must not imagine these mansions (rooms) as arranged in a row, one behind the other, but fix your attention on the centre, the room or palace occupied by the King. Think of a palmito [heart of palm] which has many outer rinds surrounding the savoury part within, all of which must be taken away before the centre can be eaten. [In the same way] around this central room are many more, as there also are above it. In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty; and this can be done without the least exaggeration, for the soul’s capacity is much greater than we can realize, and this Sun, which is in the palace, reaches every part of it.
Consider Vallotton’s painting in this context. One parallel, at least, is obvious: four adjoining rooms with an open door between them. A woman in a red dressing gown emerges. Is she standing, looking into the next room, or walking towards it? We cannot see her expression, but depending on whether we see a standing or walking woman, we can imagine what her expression might be. Like the untold story behind Jesus’ many rooms, Vallotton—known as a painter of disquiet—doesn’t present a picture whose story is complete. There are questions to ask. Clothes strewn on the furniture, three steps, the fact that while the rooms are full of light no windows are shown. As I have said before about other paintings in relation to the readings of the day, this painting is not a representation of the scriptural story under consideration. But regardless of that fact, what might we take from this painting to help us move beyond—or add to—our perhaps conventional understanding of Jesus’ discussion of the many rooms, where Christ goes to prepare a place for us? What makes this painting one that expands Jesus’ words today, from ones that pertain not to the dead alone, but to us who live? Does Jesus not speak here for the living as well? Are not Jesus’ words one’s that pertain to lives of strewn clothes, baffling plays of light and dark, and drawn back curtains? In other words, imperfect lives made perfect in the turmoil and disarray of daily living? In closing, reflect on the following prayer for the dead, based on Psalm 84.7. How might it also be a prayer for us who live? RM+
Remember thy servant, O Lord, according to the favour which thou bearest unto thy people; and grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, he may go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Choral Evensong Sunday, May 10, 2020
This week’s service leaflet is at the end of The Cat’s Meow – the service features chorister Abbey Yates, with Fr Randy leading the prayers. Abbey first sang for me when she was in Grade 2, and she has given great vocal leadership for us at St Mark’s for a few years now. When viewing, you may wish to check the Settings icon, at the bottom right of the Youtube view, and change to 720p, to improve the quality.
Last week’s video, featuring Ellen Torrie’s wonderful singing, has been very popular, with over 335 views on YouTube, nearly 90 ‘Likes’ on various Facebook pages and 20 favorable comments and 13 shares.
‘Hilda’ commented on that Evensong video: Loved this service, took me back many years to a little church in England, where I was born 86 years ago. The young singer had the voice of an angel. Many thanks and stay safe.
The Flowers this week We will print the dedications for flowers that would have been placed in the church each Sunday. May 10: In memory of Winn and Hector Sadler, Ted and Winn Harwood and Margaret and Jens Madsen from Bonnie Brereton. In memory of Lilly Kedwell from Peter Kedwell.
This Week’s Readings Should you wish to follow the Lectionary at home, here are the readings: Acts 7: 55-60; 1 Peter 2: 2-10; John 14: 1-14; Psalm 31
Prayers Through The Cat’s Meow we can gather in the names of those who are suffering in body, mind or spirit at this time and for whom you have a special concern and we can each undertake to lift them up in prayer before God. Let us have names by next Friday and they will be included in the next issue.
Pentecost Jacob’s Ladder
Pentecost falls on May 31, 2020. Although it is likely that we will not be able to meet face-to-face by that time, it would be good to share your thoughts and lockdown experiences in Jacob’s Ladder. Please drop articles off at the church mailbox or electronically to email@example.com by May25.
Information for “Among Friends” can be provided directly to Claire Mowat (905 885 6695) or I will print your email and drop it in her letter slot.
FINANCES The bills keep coming in, even though we are shut. If you usually use your envelopes to give, please consider mailing in your donation or putting it in the mail box by the parish hall door.Better still, change to PAR and avoid having to remember each month. It’s so easy!
A GIFT FOR FATHER RANDY
You are invited to consider making a donation in celebration of Fr Randy’s incumbency at St. Mark’s to either of the following charities:
Doctors without Borders
551 Adelaide St. West
Toronto, ON M5V 0N8
Nature Conservancy of Canada
245 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 410
Toronto, ON M4P 3J1
CAROL POSTE says: Mark May 30th on your calendar! You will receive an email next week with details!
The installation of Sr. Elizabeth as Reverend Mother
Sister Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas was installed as Reverend Mother of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine (SSJD) on St. John’s Day, May 6. A photo gallery of the installation is available on the SSJD website.
On Friday, May 8th, St. Mark’s bell was rung 75 times by Anne, Peter, Doug, David and Dougie to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
The Cat’s Meow: For inclusion, contact Marion Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday morning. 905-885-0787
Provided pro bono to St. Mark’s by:
Jim Corkery at.Corkery + Co.
The Fourth Sunday after Easter
May 10, 2020
Presider: Fr Randy D. Murray,
Cantor: Abbey Yates (officiant)
Welcome and Opening Sentence
The Preces Smith of Durham
Psalm 136 Tone V.3
First Lesson – Acts 7.55-60
Magnificat Tone VIII.2
Second Lesson – John 14.1-14
Nunc Dimittis Tone I.4
Then shall be said the Confession of the Faith, called the Apostles’ Creed
I BELIEVE in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.
And after the Creed, further prayers will be sung, then:
OUR Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hymn 205 The Day of Resurrection
1 The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
the passover of gladness,
the passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
from earth unto the sky,
our Christ hath brought us over,
with hymns of victory.
2 Our hearts be pure from evil,
that we may see aright
the Lord in rays eternal
of resurrection light;
and listening to his accents,
may hear, so calm and plain,
his own “All hail!” and, hearing,
may raise the victor strain.
3 Now let the heavens be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
The round world keep high triumph,
and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
their notes in gladness blend,
for Christ the Lord hath risen,
our joy that hath no end.
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.