THE CAT’S MEOW
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope
Trinity Sunday 7 June 2020
From Fr Randy
Alignment and Seasons of Disillusion in the Spiritual Life.
“The choice to live a genuinely examined life in the knowing and loving presence of God is a challenge, but it is also full of meaning and joy. Seasons of disillusionment are sure signs that God is leading us deeper in. When we are led into a healthy acceptance of its inevitability, we’re not far from accepting its blessings as a gift. When a human will and God’s will are brought into harmonious alignment, that person comes to value growth in Christ over all else, and the basic impulse to embrace whatever promotes that growth becomes a home base. Seasons of disillusionment are sure signs that we are not finished growing. Perhaps we are only really beginning.” — Brother Keith Nelson, SSJE
This quote was printed on a postcard I received from the Society of St. John the Evangelist. And although it is entitled Alignment, when I read it I was more drawn to the word disillusionment, found in the second line. I thought I knew what the word meant. But I looked it up anyway to see if I was missing anything. The first definition I found confirmed what I thought disillusionment meant: “The condition of being dissatisfied or defeated in expectation or hope.” I kept looking and found another definition. This one too confirmed my original thought, but was phrased in a more straightforward, less dictionary-ish way: “A feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.”
Not yet ready to put the dictionaries aside, I decided to break the word down. So I looked up the word illusion. Those results were interesting too: “A thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.” “Something that is not really what it seems to be.” “A misleading image presented to the vision.”
In the context of the quote by Br. Keith a season of disillusionment is a period in one’s spiritual life in which spiritual perception and understanding undergo transition. This transition may be experienced as jarring, disorienting, or to use the dictionary definition above, “exposing something to be not as good as one believed it to be.” I qualify that definition for our purpose as “exposing something to be not as good as one believed it to be, because it is actually better than we believed it to be.” I’ve used the word liminal often in my preaching and writing, and it’s a term that once again is applicable here. A season of disillusionment is a season of liminality, a threshold season in which the spiritual supports of our past no longer seem to sustain us. Or if they do sustain us, they seem to be changing under our feet, prompting us to question the overall direction of our spiritual lives or the life of the Church as a whole. But whatever our particular situation is, the season of disillusionment is a natural progression of the spiritual life. It is a Spirit-led season whose purpose is to bring “a human will and God’s will into harmonious alignment.”
And doing that is not a simple thing to do. The work that God does within us may be experienced as bewildering indeed. While incremental alignment in seasons of disillusionment progresses we may feel disappointed and defeated, even sad or fearful. In one person tears may manifest dismay and confusion. In another, anger may indicate that one is in such a season. Often some combination of these is present. When one finds one’s self in the midst of the season, one may be first inclined to change those things over which one has control, but more is going on than can be turned around by re-arranging a few things in the parish: a different hymn selection or the arrival of a different priest. Both things may be good for one reason or another, but they won’t end a season of disillusionment, they will not satisfy our longing. No, what is going on is more fundamental; it is a shifting of faith’s tectonic plates, one’s priorities, even one’s theological viewpoint. These are part and parcel of what it is to be dis-illusioned: to have one’s spiritual eyesight brought into harmonious alignment with God’s even while we delude ourselves into thinking they can’t be that far apart to begin with. In a season of disillusionment, one’s spiritual vision undergoes the process of being cleared of the many all-too-human images, concepts, and desires that we—both consciously and unconsciously—over-identify with as means of security. Thomas Keating calls them “emotional programs for happiness,” and may include attachments to unhealthy personal relationships, political causes and perspectives, status-seeking, or undue adherence to a religious institution. Again, it is important to keep in mind that the effects of our emotional programs for happiness run deep; we may be consciously aware of only a small portion of their effect on us. The rest is unconscious.
It often seems that we need to run into a brick wall, spiritually speaking, in order to realize that it is by dependence on God’s will alone that we are lead out of the season of disillusionment. We cultivate our dependence and progress in this all-important awareness in the practice of contemplation—of silent prayer—Centering Prayer or Christian Meditation. This is prayer that doesn’t act to preserve and guard our egos and emotional programs for happiness (a sometimes unhelpful consequence of using words), but gives consent for God to act within us as God sees fit. For people whose lifetime understanding of prayer is that it is made up of words, this may be a leap. But we are all mystics, we are all contemplatives. There is no elite coterie of worthies or chosen ones or those who can “do it” who alone pray in this way. We cannot fight our way out of seasons of disillusionment and bring our will into harmonious alignment with God’s will on our own. To do that we need to consent to the presence and action of God within. This can only truly be done when one places one’s self in God’s presence, letting go of (though not actively suppressing) one’s thoughts and desires.
It is as Julian of Norwich puts it:
“I am the one who makes you to love;
I am the one who makes you to long;
I am the one, the endless fulfilling
Of all true desires.”
FLOWERS THIS WEEK
We will print the dedications for flowers that would have been placed in the church each Sunday.
June 7: In memory of Sister Eileen and Sister Anna from Ron and Pat Paddon.
In memory of the Peacock Family from the Chancel Guild
Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2020
Here is the Youtube link for this week’s Evensong:
The video will also be shared on St Mark’s facebook page.
This week’s service leaflet link is below – the service features cantor Abbey Yates, with Fr Randy leading the prayers. The service closes with a setting of the Te Deum – We praise thee, O God – using a plainsong chant.
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.
For all who are feeling anxious or stressed in this time of COVID-19.
Let us have names by next Friday and they will be included in the next issue.
THIS WEEK’S READINGS
Should you wish to follow the Lectionary at home, here are the readings:
Gen 1:1 – 2:4a; Ps 8; 2 Cor 13:11-13;
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
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!
Despite the Jubilee relief granted by the Diocese for April, May, and June, out overall financial picture is tenuous at best and we mustn’t become complacent about the real costs of keeping St. Mark’s open as a living faith community, physically and spiritually. Like it or not, we continue to pay for utilities and services of all kinds that keep us in good shape behind the scenes and our givings are simply not keeping up. Give from the heart!
St. Mark’s Annual FaithWorks Campaign Has Begun
FaithWorks is the annual appeal of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. FaithWorks has been active since 1996. Ministry Partners provide help and hope to thousands of individuals and families caught up in the seemingly overwhelming challenges of homelessness, domestic violence, terminal illness, or the enormous pressures facing today’s youth, all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Information packages will be hand-delivered to your home. Please prayerfully consider your ability to help. Thank you!
Some news from Gwen Duck:
Local restaurateur, Cameron Green, is making and delivering ice cream to door steps in our area. Orders and product descriptions can be found on his website https://cameronalex.com/ice-cream. We have found the service and ice cream to be excellent. Gwen
Grant me the ability to be alone,
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day,
among the trees and grasses,
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.
–Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav
Yoga students picked up their mats from parish hall storage this week from instructor Jenni. With no date in sight for opening the parish hall the class is now being conducted by ZOOM. A number of the students also visited the labyrinth and plan on returning for meditative walks.
And from Peter Kedwell:
Attic Treasures & Basement Bargains. Because St. Mark’s is not expected to be open for general public use by August 15th, this sale cannot take place as was hoped. Thank you for your understanding.
Trinity Sunday – June 7, 2020
St Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope, Ontario
Presider: Fr Randy D. Murray,
Cantor: Abbey Yates
Welcome and Opening Sentence
The Preces Smith of Durham
Psalm 150 Tone VIII.2
First Lesson Genesis 1.1-2.4
Magnificat Giles Bryant in F
Second Lesson John 3.14-17
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 560 God, Whose Almighty Word
- God, whose almighty word Chaos and darkness heard And took their flight:
Hear us, we humbly pray, And where the Gospel day Sheds not its glorious ray, Let there be light!
- Saviour, who came to bring, On your redeeming wing, Healing and sight, Health to the sick in mind, Sight to the inly blind: Now for all humankind Let there be light!
- Spirit of truth and love, Life giving, holy dove, Speed on your flight;
Move on the water’s face, Bearing the lamp of grace, And in earth’s darkest place Let there be light!
- Gracious and holy three, Glorious Trinity, Wisdom, love, might!
Boundless as ocean’s tide, Rolling in fullest pride, Through the world, far and wide, Let there be light!
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.
Te Deum laudamus We praise thee, O God BCP p.7 Tone V.1