Lenten Mass at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Week 2

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So, the quest I’ve followed in Christianity’s mystical strains continues in the outward form now. A strange synchronicity happened tonight; I asked the priest at St. Michael’s about Confirmation classes, and his response was that we needed to get started on that tonight because the Bishop was coming next month.

 

There was no struggle, there was no down-talking, nothing; no battle, no worry. Everything just fell into place. I asked, and I received. The priest sent me home with a copy of the Book of Common Prayer and told me which part of it to study (the catechism’s located in the back.) He put the burden on me to read through the catechism, ask questions, start discussions, all such things, basically a kind of one-on-one process.

 

I double-checked to make sure such a short amount of time dealing with the catechism would be okay before Confirmation, and he said that he could tell that I was serious- he had seen Facebook page avowing my Gnosticism, and I said, “Ack, the heretic is caught!”

However, my Facebook will be updated to “Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian mystic” after my Confirmation. So be it; I may be Gnostic in the outward and official sense one day, but as much as I call myself “Gnostic,” I mean that I am a mystic, through and through.

 

I should also note that receiving communion has a substantial effect on me. Sunday’s Mass seemed to strike me as not being as effective, but in the middle of the night, the love appeared inside of me, that love that is both familiar and exotic all at once, the love of Christ.

 

The same, then, will happen tonight when I begin meditating, I’m sure, and so much the better. The power of the Eucharist cannot be underestimated; there is something real and substantial taking place here inside of me that cannot take place without my receiving from the Church.

 

Many people have argued that it’s perfectly possible to do things on one’s own, which is something I really wanted to believe for so long. However, Christ’s love given to me in the Holy Eucharist is absolutely magnificent, a tremendous Mystery and substance that is changing me, uniting me with Him, and for this, I’m glad. I’ve been unable to find or create this love on my own; it is something bigger than myself, it is a grace that is freely given whether or not we have earned it, but it must be accepted, and I do affirm that the Sacraments have a power we can’t begin to understand.

 

Here endeth the rant for the evening.

 

Beaux

 

 

 

 

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Mass at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama

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For the first time in over a year, I attended Mass again, this time at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama.

 

The church is small, quite small, and I went alone; this was a big deal for me, as I had to drive half an hour to get there, and I’m unaccustomed to going places alone.

 

Call me crazy, call me ballsy, call me whatever, but I was bloody-minded enough (read: insanely determined) that I was going to go to this freely available Mass tonight, because I was actually awake and had the chance and all that jazz.

 

I didn’t go for myself, ultimately, either; I went for Christ. I kept reminding myself that I was doing this for Christ and not for me, which helped me more to understand what the Sufis mean about surrendering to the Will of God.

 

The priest, Father Tom, was especially welcoming; especially since I ended up arriving a half-hour early for the service. He asked me normal questions, and then people began showing up; they introduced themselves, and I enjoyed the small congregation of only 12 people tonight.

 

The Mass was actually just the communion part; there was no sermon or singing, praise be to God. I do like hymns, and they do have an organ (a small, electrical one), but getting to the good stuff of the Lord Christ is what makes me a happy panda.

 

I’ve never been to such a welcoming church before. I’ve also never been to a church that kept so many Catholic elements for being such a heavily via media church. (They, in fact, had the prayer candles- the votive candles lit when one says a prayer- and we all said, “Amen” after receiving communion, and everyone crossed themselves. This didn’t happen at St. Mark’s in Troy, where they even had a quite visible Tabernacle!)

 

Of course, I shouldn’t read into that sort of thing, either; the important thing is that I went, and I saw Christ proclaimed magnificently in the Episcopal Church once again with a lovely group of people who are indeed the Body of Christ.

 

Receiving the Eucharist did something for me this time, among these beautiful, loving people, and I know that Christ somehow transformed me within, and that I should go receive communion as often as possible. God has done something amazing, something that I don’t fully understand but can palpably feel inside of me.

 

Maybe I am simply more open to God now. Maybe I have matured somewhere inside of myself. Who knows the why and the how? I am concerned only with the fact that receiving communion has changed me in a way I wasn’t expecting, in that same, real manner that’s true- something that is real just IS.

 

After Mass, we had a soup and salad dinner; naturally, I asked if there was any meat in the soup, and someone checked for me. Turns out it was she-crab soup, and it was absolutely amazing; the salad wasn’t half bad, either, and I had a glass of wonderful sweet tea.

 

Then Father Tom gave a semi-humorous presentation on the Top Ten Failed Evangelism Ideas. People commented and tried to figure out how to best help evangelize in the community; the ultimate idea came back around to Facebook and Youtube.

So, in a way, I suppose I’m doing my part.

 

The Episcopal Church is, in many ways, a mess, yet there is undeniably a statement of truth- they accept everyone, especially this parish. They accept absolutely everyone, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation. (I should note that a gay couple made up part of tonight’s congregation!)

 

A few of my other devoted friends have ended up in the Episcopal Church. True, the mystic in me will never relent from my heresies, but perhaps that’s exactly what will ultimately grant the Episcopal Church its greatest strength- the outcasts who hold a piece of Christ’s Mystery that was never written down and given the Seal of Approval.

St. Michael’s is an openly and avowed gay-friendly church; this is true for the priest and the congregation, as I experienced first-hand tonight. You will feel welcome, no matter who you are!

Praise be to God, and let us proclaim the ultimate Mystery of Christ’s love.

You can visit their Facebook page here.

 

Beaux

 

 

 

 

Ranting about American Culture

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One of the errors of modern American culture is the presumption that if we pay for something, we can do whatever we want with it. This happens to be the line of thought presented by the ignorant redneck (I want to make that “ignorant redneck fuck”) that ended up making me hate him within a short span of time.

 

But no, here’s the reality check: just because you pay for something, just because you own something, does not mean you get to treat it however you want it.

 

Read that again carefully.

 

We don’t get to do whatever we want to whatever we buy; we have the freedom and right to purchase what we want, no matter how terrible or ridiculous it may be, but to waste it, to abuse it, to misuse it, is not something that comes with the territory.

 

Tonight, I went out to eat with friends, and they ordered pizza. Two sets of friends left pizza- parts of a large pizza for which they had paid money they earned working- just sitting there, instead of doing the scrupulous thing and taking the leftovers with them.

 

I’m not suggesting I’ve never wasted food; I have wasted food in my lifetime, but most often, if I do waste food, I’ve done it for good reason, as in, the food has gone bad or something along those lines. I don’t just leave food sitting on my plate or throw away food that I’ve dipped out.

 

But it isn’t just about food; it’s about so many things, it’s about the deeper issue in our culture, and invariably, the deeper issue is the real issue.

Just because you produce kids does not mean you get to treat the kids however you please.

 

Just because you earn money does not mean you get to waste it however you please.

 

Just because something belongs to you doesn’t mean you get to treat it however you please.

 

And I’m sure that will piss people, most notably, Americans, off in a way that you can’t even imagine. “I earned it! I can do whatever I want with it!”

Grow up. No, you can’t. That’s not how life works. And it’s unfortunate that you should be so silly as to think that it does.

 

In the end, we must consider that ultimately, this is God’s world, and that ultimately, no one can own anything, nothing belongs to anyone but God. So that food you waste, those products you waste, that money you waste- that belongs to the Absolute Reality, and what you’re doing may as well be considered an affront.

 

Just a little common sense thrown out in these trying times.

 

Beaux

 

 

 

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