the blog

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Living Easter


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He Is Risen!

Is is Eastertide! Like Christmas, Christians get more than 1 day, we get 50! Now you’ve probably posted your slew of Easter pics on Facebook but now it’s time to live it!

I don’t have the margin to say much, this is an uber busy bit in the life and times of the Willits family but I wanted to share a couple links and encourage you to live your resurrection joy!

Here are a couple links to learn more about Eastertide and the Easter Octave. Two interesting aspect of the liturgical calendar that don’t get as much love as other parts.

EASTERTIDE
From Dr. Mark Roberts over on Patheos, he usually has pretty solid and informative stuff.
Of course Wiki is also helpful. I haven’t read through it but i’m sure it’s informative.

THE EASTER OCTAVE
I didn’t find a lot on the inter-webs about The Easter Octave. I’ve read a good bit about it over the past year and maybe I’ll post some more about it later, but essentially it includes Easter and the 7 days that follow; keep the party going! There is also a Christmas Octave.
Here is an article from Today’s Catholic News about it.
Wiki link that say a little but not much.

 

HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Live Resurrection!!!

Grace and peace
Erik

 

 

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The Gift of Lent


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The other day I had the privilege of writing a blog for my friends over at The Youth Cartel. They are the good folks who have published my books and continue to get the word out on them. I wrote this post as a way to encourage folks to participate in the great journey of Lent. I thought it might encourage you as well.

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The Gift of Lent

My sons and I like to build Lego projects together. My 7-year-old is into big projects that are intricate and involved—the more pieces, the bigger the accomplishment. My 2-year-old is more into abstract Lego art—a few blocks here and a few there, and boom, it’s a lion, a sword, or whatever you can imagine. But one thing they both enjoy is building a tower, and seeing how high it can get before all the pieces crash to the floor. And inevitably, they do crash. They might not even get the chance to topple on their own because my 2-year-old Soren really enjoys playing the part of a human wrecking ball!

We all spend time constructing lives that are precarious at times. Learning to balance all the layers we pile up throughout the year is like another job. Lent is a season, as I like to say, for addition, subtraction, and introspection. At first glance, Lent seems dark and depressing but I would like to suggest that Lent is a gift, a gift from God to his Church. It’s a gift because it’s a designated time for us to reflect on our lives, giving us space and time to deconstruct the towers we have built, because we all know that if we just keep piling on the layers, they’re bound to crumble, we are bound to crumble.

As we inspect our lives, we give up some of those layers that are distracting us. We might fast from things like meat or sweets, so that in our hunger we will remember we were created to hunger for God. In our desire, we remember that our only satisfaction is found in God. I always hope that some of what I give up will be gone for good, while others things will return and, with God’s grace, be rightly ordered in my life.

While it’s a time of subtraction, Lent is also a time for addition. It’s common to add things like extra time in prayer and scripture study, extra time serving the poor and financially giving to those in need. These additional spiritual disciplines are not supposed to be just another Lego on the every growing tower of our lives. Rather, they are the very things that free us to be with God and not so consumed with ourselves. Adding disciplines during Lent allows God to mold and shape us further into the likeness of his Son.

His son, Jesus. Ever hear that you must begin with the end in mind? I guess there is something to it. Lent is, maybe most importantly, 40 days of preparation for Easter. So yea, Lent is all about Jesus. We start our Lenten journeys with the story of entering into the wilderness with Jesus (Mark 1:12) and end it by participating in his resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11). We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our utter dependence upon him. After all, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, reminds us we are dust and to dust we shall return.

During Lent, then, all we do is a reminder that Jesus is our only hope for the abundant life. He is the one who has entered into our desperate situation and become our hope. That hope of the resurrection is a foundational part of the Christian life. Lent culminates with Easter Sunday, the feast of all feasts for the Christian, and on that day, we celebrate the saving work of Jesus, who has risen, conquering sin and death. Ultimately, the season of Lent is the gift we have been given so that our hearts and minds might be ready to participate in this feast.

Life is hard; it’s full of distractions and busyness, difficulty and temptation. Those of us in ministry know this personally. And we all know students and families who we are keenly aware of this as well. What I’ve found to be one of the most powerful parts of Lent is the space it creates to slow down, evaluate life, confess that it’s hard and full of temptation, subtract some layers that are draining and distracting from Jesus, then add some things that will connect and cultivate my relationship with Jesus and the abundant life he so wants to give. Lent is a gift. This year, I hope we will all take advantage of this gift for ourselves and for our ministries, I hope we will journey together into a Holy Lent.

Grace and Peace
Erik

PS: Be sure to check out the Lent Web Guide in the next few days. I have a beautiful new site that’s just about ready for you!

PSS: If you don’t have a copy of my Lent Devotional book you can pick it up here: Lent Devo Store Envy – It’s also on Amazon if you’re into that sort of thing!  😉

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Holy Week


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I was talking with Andrea the other day and she said, “Holy week at Nashotah is like boot camp.” TRUE THAT! It’s pretty intense around here this week. A lot is going on, for sure!

Last night was our Tenebrae service. A beautiful service of shadows. The light is gradually extinguished and darkness is slowly entered into. The service was pretty intense here at the House, it was long and very still with only the choir singing, chanting and speaking while everyone else was just taking it in. I’ve been to Tenebrae services before that were a bit different, more artistic and more participatory but the drama of the story, the story of Christ’s decent and our participation in that, in all the good and horrific ways, was truly on display last night.

And then the Triduum.
The three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil leading into Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday! Three days that are central to our salvation and life of faith. I’m thankful for a tradition that enables me to enter into this most holy of times in profound ways.

holythursday_15c_rusTonight I will be the thurifer in our Maundy Thursday service. Swinging incense like it’s my job!
Having rehearsed the service I anticipate it being intense and powerful.Having rehearsed the service I anticipate it being intense and powerful.

During the service, we will have foot washings, altar-stripping and we will participate in the Eucharist as a community. There will be extra sacrament consecrated and put on a side altar. This symbolized Christ’s time in the garden and the eventual abandonment by all his friends.  We were asked to sign up for an hour to sit and watch and pray with Jesus, with the blessed sacrament. “Could you not wait with me one hour,” Jesus asks his disciples and so too are we asked to sit and wait with Christ on the night before he is handed over to death for our salvation.

I signed up for a slot and am anticipating this hour of prayer. I’m not sure what it will be like but I trust it will be a significant part of my Holy Week experience.

You can read some great words on this by a fellow from my church. He writes about the great watch and then he writes here about the other services of Holy Week.

We’ll have a Good Friday service here at the House.
Then the weekend culminates with the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, which will be a festive celebration as we proclaim Christ crucified and risen! Then we get to say the “A” word again. I can’t wait!

Our family will also attend the Easter service on Sunday morning with our church community, Christ Redeemer. Excited to be with those fine folks for Easter Sunday!!!

(You can read more about these different services and their significance over at this Blog… christredeemermke.org)

I hope your Holy Week is a deep and sacred time for you. That you experience Christ in his death so that you can experience his resurrection!

Grace and peace
Erik

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Christmastide | 12 Days of living Into Joy


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(this is coming a bit early [usually I do this on Monday] but I want you to be able to enjoy all 12 days!)

Nativity Cosmic IconCollect (Prayer)
The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day December 25

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

(Click here to see a couple more Icons)

The Songs
12 Song, plus a bonus track for dancing purposes!

The Scripture
A Chronological Reading of the Christmas Story
Matt 1:18aLuke 1:26-40Luke 1:56Matt 1:18b Luke 2:1-38Matt 2:1-23Luke 2:39-40

 

Some More Advent and Christmas music for your listening pleasure.
And I’d love for you to add your favorite Christmas song to the list! Let me know if you do!

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Christmastide is here…


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Welcome to Christmastide! Yes, it’s a thing! It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized there were actually 12 days of Christmas on the liturgical calendar. It’s not just the lyrics to a kids’ song.

This is what Joan Chittister, in her book The Liturgical Year says,

“The Christmas season, if we see it as a whole rather than as an isolated event (and, in our age, a totally distorted and even misleading conception of the feast), it can ignite the spark that will lead through the darkness of our own lives every day of the year. It is the light of Christmas within us that will take us, if we have the insight to cling to it, beyond a fairytale rendering of the great truths of the faith to an understanding of what all the dark days of life are about. … Christmas is larger than a baby in a manger. Christmas is the coming of a whole new world. More than that, it is what makes that world possible.”

Merry Christmas!

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ADVENT WEEK #4 | Leaping with excitement & magnifying the Lord


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credit as "Photography: Philip Fortune" Fortune Works Photo 5 Saint Andrews Road, Bloomfield CT 06002 860-724-0170 pf@fortuneworks.com http://www.fortuneworks.com

Collect (Prayer)
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

The Song

The Scripture | Read It

Luke 1:39-55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

[And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”]

 

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Advent Week #3 | The Right Questions -R- Filled with Expectation


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Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.30.22 AMCollect (Prayer)
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

 

The Song(s)

 

The Scripture | Read it

Luke 3:7-18

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

The First Song of Isaiah — Ecco Deus
Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

 

And in case you want to watch. The Brilliance are always worth watching!

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Advent Week #2 | Out of the Woods “Salvation is on the Way”


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The Collect (PRAYER)
Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.46.53 AMMerciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

The Song


The Scripture | Read it

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, 
make his paths straight. 
Every valley shall be filled, 
and every mountain and hill shall be made low, 
and the crooked shall be made straight, 
and the rough ways made smooth; 
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
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Advent Week #1 | The Darkness is in Trouble


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My hope is to post a little Advent ditty every Monday (I’m already late). This monk seminary life has proven to make blogging even more challenging than it usually is for me. But I’ll do it!
And the plan is to give the week a theme and to post a collect (a prayer), a song, and a scripture for the week!

Advent is upon!
May we wait, watch, and long for the salvation born unto us, flesh and blood, water and bone—Jesus, the infant King!

ADVENT WEEK #1 | The Darkness is in Trouble

The Collect (PRAYER) 
Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.30.12 AMAlmighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

The Song | Watch it

 

The Scripture | Read it
Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

 

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Today & St. Martin, Bishop of Tours


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tumblr_mdt8114ntB1rz3pvdIn morning prayer today the homily shared connected our lectionary passage and the story of St. Martin of Tours (read a bit more about it). The story was about him cutting of a piece of him military cape and giving it to a homeless beggar. He had a dream that night of a Jesus wearing half of his cape and awoke realizing what he should have done. Essentially to give everything to Jesus and to his neighbor!

It’s veterans day. I really appreciate the lectionary passage from Matthew 25:34-40 (the I was sick, I was in prison, I was a stranger, I was naked… and you took care of me passage). That connected to the commemoration of St. Marin of Tours, a military general who encountered Christ, gave his all to Jesus and became a force for peace and charity in the world, eventually being elected bishop. A great way to frame the day I do believe.

I’m seen by some as disrespectful of veterans and a poor excuse for an American or something like that. This is mainly because I hold to convictions of non-violence and am skeptical of political systems and violent means of progress. I rather seek to pledge my allegiance to God and God’s kingdom, making Jesus my King and his teachings my rule of life and the constitution of my home.

But with all sincerity, I don’t want to be disrespectful to veterans and those who have served and sacrificed for this country and other countries. As a friend and mentor once said to my wife and I, “honor what is honorable.” I want to do that. So thank you women and men who have served and sacrificed. I’m sorry you had to do that, I long for the coming of God’s kingdom, where all will be new and there will be no tears or separation, strife or death. Rather, there will be shalom—everything in it’s right place and in right relationship with all people and things. I struggle with language that gives credit for my wellbeing, safety and freedom to anyone other then my God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So I long for this, for the veteran and for the farmer, for those who might be called enemy and for those who I call friends… I long for all of creation to be at peace because of the knowledge of Jesus, sacrificed for all, for the redemption of sin and the hope of life everlasting. I pray come Lord Jesus, come. Come this day and in all days, until you come one day to make all things new.

My response is to try and live into the already of God’s kingdom rather then excepting the not yet of it. This is not without its faults because of my failure and lack of faith but don’t mistake it for non-action. Despite the sinful sloth I all to often sit in my prayer is that the video of freedom and peace we find in the scripture would lead me, would lead the church to radical action. I pray I and we would have the imagination for this Jesus kinda of action.

I pray God will give me the vision and the courage to live and a disciple of Jesus, acting for peace and reconciliation, for justice and truth, for unity and charity… all with the example of Jesus, the one I follow before me!

Just some thoughts.

12232839_972607742778353_1999867474744436856_oOur Collect for the day…

Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

PS: to my friend who my raise an eyebrow at the “Pray for us” line. Just look at it like you’re asking a brother or friend to pray for you. The idea is that all are alive in Christ, a communion of saints or a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) you might say. Alexander Schmemann explain this best for me, I can’t remember ware, maybe in his book Great Lent: Journey into Pascha book or For the Life of the World… can’t remember but he’s awesome and helped me to be a little less squeamish when it come to this aspect of the faith that has long been practiced.

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