Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I Got Off Facebook

Fr. Dale Matson
05-26-2011

Unless you are a hermit, friends are a big part of your life. When I initially joined Facebook, I had about 10 friends there. Over time more people wanted to be my friend. One person who I didn’t know wanted to befriend me and was upset that I turned him down. Is Facebook a place to make friends or meet friends or both? I was also bothered by people who did not have a photograph of themselves for their avatar. Some had none while others used a group or pets.

As time went on, more people asked to be my friend. Some were people who wanted to make a professional relationship a personal one. I felt like personal boundaries were being crossed. In fact the idea of intrusion began to come up more and more. I was invited to join causes, play games or buy farm animals. There is a kind of social coercion to this similar to being invited to a party by a friend only to find that it is for Amway.

There was another issue that was eating away at me. I was continually being exposed to the remarks of friends of friends and some of these remarks were downright uncivil. It was like being at a stop light alongside of a car with open windows blasting Hyper Bass Gansta Rap. There are also shorthand codes like LOL or ROFL or OMG. I would rather learn Greek.

People were using Facebook to private mail me. Well, why not just email me? There is one less step. People were asking me to conduct business on Facebook including sending attachments. Again, Outlook is vastly superior.

Part of this is that while I am gregarious, I am also an introvert. When I went over 100 friends, I said to myself, “This seems like a lot of people.” Of the 100, I think I only asked about 5 people to be my friends. How did this get so out of control? It was like someone living in Fresno finding himself on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles during rush hour where it is always rush hour.

There is something virtual and unreal about Facebook relationships. Even with a telephone, there is a sensual quality about the presence of another person. There is a kind of parallel play on Facebook too. Are people talking to one another or alongside of one another? The activities of daily living are shared as if it mattered that Joe went to the store. I don’t even write the mundane things in my personal journal that people post to Facebook.

There is “look at me” narcissism to Facebook that was growing in me too. I was sharing more information than I should and sharing more often than I should. There was no corrective feedback about this that would have come from a friend in a conversation over a shared meal. There was a kind of good dying to leaving Facebook.

“Abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.” Aristotle

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Prayer Of Intercession: Natural Disasters

Fr. Dale Matson
05-24-2011

Lord watch over those who have survived. Comfort the grieving. Orient the lost and confused. Placate the angry and give peace to the frightened. Provide meaning and purpose for the suffering that it may be redemptive and not destructive. May they reach out to others that share a common bond and remember those things that allow them to continue and transcend their current station. Give new roots to the uprooted. Restore the workplace and the economy for the sake of their dignity and independence. Extend Your mercy and Send consolations to the broken and broken hearted.

Protect those who search and administer help, from injury, despair and exhaustion. Give wisdom and courage to those who administer relief. Let them not be overwhelmed. Let them receive mercy as they extend mercy.

Knit together those of us who watch or hear from a distance, with those who weep. Help us to lend our prayers and share our goods. Let us not be overcome, walk by or look away. Show us how to help. May we see You in them and shed tears for those no longer able to do so. Lord our sorrow for them runs so deep, we struggle to breathe.

Give eternal peace and rest to those who perished. May they remain with You forever and may they remain with us, hidden and protected in the innermost sanctuary of our hearts. May we be united in heavenly communion with them here and reunited with them when we depart to be with You in Your Heavenly Kingdom. Amen

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hell

Fr. Dale Matson
05-22-2011

"We must not ask where hell is, but how we are to escape it." St. Chrysostom

The historic view of the major denominations is that Hell is the place of eternal torment. This position is softening and The Church of England Commission on Doctrine (1995) embraced an Annihilationist view. This is the foot in the door for eventual Universalism. The Book Of Common Prayer (1979) seems to have already adopted the Annihilationist view. "By hell, we mean eternal death in our rejection of God." (p.862).

In St. Paul’s 2nd letter to the Church in Corinth (Chapter 12), he stated that fourteen years earlier, he was given a glimpse of heaven. It had such a lasting effect on him he noted in his letter to the Philippian Church (Chapter 1) that he wanted to depart and be with Christ.

I gave my life to Christ when I was eight years old and remember asking God when I was about twelve to take me to heaven then if I would ever fall away. There was also a period of many years where I had fallen away and rejected Christ. I know that if I had died at that time, I would have gone to Hell. I am not an advocate of “once saved always saved”.

I think Christians who fall away do so gradually. Like an anorexic, they are unaware that they are spiritually starving while others can see it. When I came back to Christ and was baptized as an adult, I had a thirst for scripture like a man rescued from the desert has a thirst for water. After receiving a new Thompson Chain Link Reference Bible (KJV) for my Baptism, I had the opportunity to study God’s Word with zeal.

I had been fascinated by the book of Revelation since childhood. When I was a child, It was fearful reading. All of a sudden I had this idea that it would be me that would make sense of Revelation. I would decode the deeper mysteries. As I began to study Revelation it began to dawn on me that all of Revelation had already come to pass. All those who would go to Heaven were already there.

There is a qualitative difference between gradually pulling away from God and a sudden awareness that there is permanent gulf between me and God with no hope of crossing the chasm. I cannot describe how despondent, filled with despair, hopeless and alone I was at that moment. I was in Hell.

During the next few days, I thought about people like Billy Graham and my spiritual mentor Jim Bolling. Surely God would not allow people like that to be in Hell? My dear Christian mother was still living. I clung to John 3:16 for dear life. Eventually the passage, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2, NASB) offered me comfort where there was none previously. And then the final passages from Romans 8 came to mind. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASB). Like St. Paul’s glimpse of Heaven, God had given me a glimpse of what Hell was like. Hell is real and I don’t want to go there.

“And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.” (From the Creed of St. Athanasius).

Friday, May 20, 2011

Without Faith Works Is Dead

Fr. Dale Matson
05-20-2011

You are probably thinking, Fr. Dale, you must have meant to say, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:17, NASB). Well, I did not intend to say that but it is true also.

I am actually more concerned that the contemporary church is replete with works but the works are devoid of faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NASB).

Faith requires an object and for Christians, this is Jesus the Christ. Historic Heresies are continually reintroduced into the church and are fashionable again today. The central issue of Christian faith hinges on the person of Christ, who for Christians is the object and center of their faith. Many heresies attempt to dehumanize Him on one side and strip Him of His divinity on the other. He came to reveal the Father and if we lose sight of Him, we lose sight of the Father also.

There is one work in particular that concerns me and that work is Justice. “What should we say, then? That the gentiles, although they were not looking for saving justice, found it, and this was the saving justice that comes of faith; while Israel, looking for saving justice by law-keeping, did not succeed in fulfilling the Law. And why? Because they were trying to find it in actions and not in faith, and so they stumbled over the stumbling-stone-“(Romans 9:30-32 NJB).

If our faith is not connected to Christ, we do not even understand justice. Justice is considered one of the four cardinal virtues of the church. Justice does not begin with what we believe our rights are. It begins with what the rights of God are and what God has declared that we deserve. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). God has determined that we deserve damnation in Hell for eternity. That is where justice begins for us and it is difficult to hear. A grace disconnected from this understanding of justice does not appreciate the mercy of God nor does it comprehend the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Justice first and foremost respects the rights of God; of what He is worthy to receive because He is God. We are to love Him before our neighbor or ourselves. Justice centered only on the rights of humans becomes relative, situational and confused.

“Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’” (Matthew 7:22-23, NASB). Amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Prayer of Petition

Fr. Dale Matson
05-18-2011

Lord Jesus come into my heart. Come into my life. Give me Your precious life. Bring the Father with You. Bring the Spirit with You.

Bring Your peace that I may cast my cares upon You. Bring Your life that I may never thirst again. Bring Your heart so my thoughts may be pure before You. Bring the oil of gladness and the balm of Gilead too. Bring Your wisdom that I may avoid wrong actions. Share Your innocence to cleanse my intentions. Bring Your thoughts that my mind will be transformed. Lend Your will that mine may be the same.

Bring Your joy that my sadness will depart from me. Bring Your love that I may see You in others. Bring Your humility that my pride will fall away. Bring Your compassion that I will forget about myself. Bring Your faith that mountains will be removed. Bring Your hope to run the race before me.

Bring Your garments that I may be clothed in righteousness. Bring Your brokenness that I may be made whole. Amen

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Interview With The Bishop Of The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin John-David Schofield

Fr. Dale Matson

The following is an excerpt from a two hour DVD available by contacting Fr. Dale Matson Ph.D. at the St. James Cathedral, 4147 E. Dakota, Fresno, CA 93727. The DVD may be ordered for a donation of $10.00 (check only). The proceeds beyond production costs will go to the Bishop’s discretionary fund. I conducted this interview with Bishop Schofield for a number of reasons.

John-David Schofield will be retiring in October of this year and there is a need to provide a video archive of his life and service to the Anglican Church and the Diocese of San Joaquin. It is also important to see, hear and understand the man that has helped shape the future of Anglicanism in North America. It is also recorded as a tribute and affirmation of a Bishop who remained true to his conscience at the cost of leaving a church in which he was baptized and loved. He had no prior knowledge of the questions and his answers have not been edited. He is candid, articulate and himself in this video.

The Reverend Dr. Eric Menees was elected as the 5th Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin at a special convention on 05-14-2011. Bishop Schofield gave his permission to release the video, filmed in November of 2010 following the election of his successor. I believe he will find this video useful also as he begins a new chapter in the history of our Diocese.

My thanks go out to the Bishop, and JD Teleproductions. The video was produced and directed by Catherine Downing. The cameras, lighting, sound and video editing were by John Downing.

In His Service,
Dale Matson+

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peace And Lucas McCain

Fr. Dale Matson
05-13-2011

“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” (Romans 14:19, NASB).

Mad Magazine performed wonderful parodies of popular culture starting at ten cents an issue in the 1950s. I didn’t start collecting Mad Magazines until they were 25 cents an issue. During this time there was also a popular TV western in the late 1950s to the early 1960s called “The Rifleman” starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain with Johnny Crawford as his son Mark. It seemed like lots of people were killed by the custom rifle of Lukas McCain every week all in the name of justice and peace.

I am reminded of a Mad Magazine takeoff on The Rifleman called “The Rifle, Man”. Here Lucas went into town to be greeted by a fellow citizen. "Howdy Lucas, who you going to kill this time?" the man called. "You, you loud mouth troublemaker!" Lucas answered just before gunning the man down. "You shot him because you wanted things nice and peaceful, huh, Pa?" asked Mark. "Yeah, son," replied Lucas as he walked away. "Just look at him lying there. There isn’t anything more peaceful than a dead man."

Today, I read in the paper that the U.S. and NATO had bombed more targets in Libya to protect the rebels. Is this preemptive justice? In past weeks Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son and 3 grandchildren were killed in a NATO airstrike. I am saddened and bothered by this. How can we consider ourselves a humane country when we target civilians; when we murder children? I understand that we are conducting a war on terror and have no doubt that terrorists will attempt to strike here in the U.S. again. However, there is something very troubling about how quickly we seem to be drawn into new conflicts that have ill-defined goals and inevitable mission creep. We have been a nation of peace and even renamed our “Department of War” the “Department of Defense” following World War II.

Professional soldiers and drones distance us from what we are doing in other countries; to the killing of other human beings. I was a draftee and you can be certain, when draftees were killed in Viet Nam, it was reported every night on the news. Stop all of this killing. We are better than this.

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4).

God’s Omnipresence

Fr. Dale Matson
05-11-2011

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.” (Psalm 139:7-10, NASB)

A mysterious quality of God is His omnipresence and it is of great comfort to me as I better understand how God is ever present. While His presence and involvement in our lives is not always evident at the time, upon reflection we can see in the rear view mirror of faith how God was orchestrating a host of seemingly unrelated events toward an obtained goal we may not have even striven for.

Increasingly I see the manna laid daily before me. It is not difficult to see the incremental aspect to professional progress. Look at any curriculum vitae and you can see how the educational and experiential history is directed toward a particular career. It is also not difficult to see the incremental aspect of training to run a marathon. No runner attempts a marathon without the perfunctory races at shorter distances. It is the career counselor or coach who can see the goal of a career or a marathon more clearly than the individual caught up in the activities of daily living. God the Holy Spirit is our coach and counselor.

It is in knowing that God is in it with us and that He is willing to share His perspective with us. He has the long view in mind; the eternal view. He is underneath all of those things we do; all of those things that happen to us. So much of what we are doing in a life committed to the will of God requires reflection on how the activities are leading in a particular direction or toward a particular goal. God is in this. God is orchestrating this for us.

Prophesy is as much about a better understanding what has gone before as it is about the future. I now know that God always was and is present in my life and this knowledge has positively reconstructed negative memories and provided consolations. It also makes suffering in the present tolerable and provides meaning for this life lived in a world hell bent on destroying itself.

God is a master builder. Reexamine what you have done over the last five years. Are there incremental aspects, seemingly unrelated that when assembled, are a goal accomplished that you had not even considered? As an example of this, I had always wanted to write a book and knew that there was a book inside of me. One day I was reviewing many of the blog articles I had written over the last two years and realized that if combined, they would constitute a book. Additionally, they factored into two groupings. They had to do with comfort and exhortation. What a revelation that was for me in and of itself.

There is a famous story about a single set of footprints on a beach. The individual complains that God is not with her only to be told by God that the single set of footprints is when He had carried the individual.

“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What is our Daily Bread?

Fr. Dale Matson
05-28-2011

In our Lectionary Gospel Lesson for Wednesday in the third week of Easter Christ states, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35, NASB). “Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:49-51)

What is our daily bread? In Luther’s catechism speaking on our Lord’s Prayer, Luther defines it thus:

What is meant by daily bread?--Answer. Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

I believe it is here that Luther misunderstands what Jesus is teaching us in the Lord’s Prayer by understanding our daily bread as support for the body. That is the kingdom of this world. Luther is interpreting our daily bread in the sense of the Old Testament wilderness experience of the manna God provided daily for sustenance for the Israelites. That is not however what Christ is referring to.

In Matthew chapter 6, Christ provides both His prayer and the context for understanding our daily bread. Following his presentation of the prayer (6:9-13), He then discusses the unnecessary and material concerns of the world in verses 19-32. “So, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. These are the material concerns that Luther incorrectly refers to as our daily bread. In verse 6:33 Christ states, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The daily bread Christ is referring to is the daily bread required for sustenance in the Kingdom of God. He is referring to Himself.

“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." (John 6:57-58).

My brothers and sisters, there is no purer gospel than this. Christ has brought us back into the Garden of Eden. We again may partake of the tree of life. He continues to feed His people the church with His body and blood and has done so for two thousand years. In the Eucharist, we are given the bread with these words spoken, “The body of Christ; the bread of heaven.” When we are given the chalice, we are told, “The blood of Christ; the cup of salvation.” In Him we have eternal life and in Him we are more than conquerors. Just as Yahweh provided daily manna in the wilderness to the Israelites, Christ offers himself as our bread daily in the Kingdom of God. Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Amen

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Naps

Fr. Dale Matson
05-07-2011

“For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Psalm 127:2b)

For some reason, the need to sleep is viewed by many as a weakness. My grandchildren resist sleep until they are overtaken by it. The diagnosis for cranky children is that they are tired and the prescription is that they need a nap. My late father used to deny that he had fallen asleep reading the paper. “I was only resting my eyes.”

I am here to confess that in addition to 8 hours of sleep at night, I also take naps almost daily. There, I’ve said it and if you think I am weak then so be it. Those who claim that they never nap like to rub it in with a large dose of guilt. They exclaim, “I could never find the time to nap. My day is so busy.” I also arise at 4am in the morning and retire at 8pm in the evening. It has been this way for the last twenty five years or so. Friends and relatives so enjoy saying to Sharon, “Oh, it’s 8pm, Dale must simply be exhausted.” Wink, Wink.

When I tell others that I take naps and look forward to them, I get looks of puzzlement or pity or discomfort like I had just admitted to watching professional wrestling on a regular basis. These same people tell me that they only sleep about 5 or 6 hours a night and never nap. Well, I guess they are real grownups and don’t need that much sleep.

My naps tend to be of two kinds. The hard naps are about 45 minutes to an hour. These are the naps I awaken from and wonder what day it is. Someone who is closely related to me but will remain nameless has been known to take 3-4 hour naps on occasion. She rarely naps intentionally. My favorite nap is on Sunday afternoon following a sermon at two services. I’ve earned that nap and there is absolutely no prior guilt. (Some of our parishioners have chosen to nap during my sermons).

There is also a short nap that can be of 10-15 minutes duration. It is unbelievable how restorative these short naps can be. As an ultra-runner, I used to train a lot on the trails of Yosemite. During the drive home, the endorphins would combine with the fatigue to gradually overpower my sense of alertness. I could feel myself falling asleep. The Wawona Store parking lot was my short nap midpoint refuge. Following a mere 15 minute nap, the remaining 64 miles back to Fresno was easy.

Here is the point of my confession without contrition. Go ahead and take a nap and by His authority committed to me, I absolve you of your guilt.

“Sweet sleep that knits the ravell’d sleeves of care” (Macbeth)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Church of Fresno

Fr. Dale Matson
05-03-2010

I seem to live a life of contrasts. Last weekend we were in San Francisco for the wedding of our youngest son. It is a beautiful city with world class views, top drawer hotels and great places to dine. The air is good in this white collar town but this is not about San Francisco.

This is my 20th year in Fresno, a city of half a million people. When I first arrived from the Midwest, two things were immediately apparent. Most of the homes had burglar alarms and graffiti was pervasive. Things seemed to turn around when an ecumenical group of clergy who named themselves, “The No Name Fellowship” gathered together to regularly pray for Fresno. There is also an annual clergy prayer summit. Some clergy even took up residence in some of the worst areas in the city. In the year 2,000 Fresno was named an “All American City.” Fresno is a city of faith. When so much is said about the post Christian society and Godless government, Fresno is a city of prayer. Fresno’s clergy and parishioners have gathered together regularly to pray for their city. It is a church city. It is the Church of Fresno.

I was at the annual memorial ceremony for fallen peace officers in Courthouse Park today. As a civilian member of our Fresno County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, our twenty six blaze orange shirts stood out against the dress uniforms of other departments around the state of California. It was a small town event in a large California city.

It began with a helicopter fly over and a drum and bagpipe group that preceded the state and national flags. Our hands were on our hearts as the flags went by. A school choir sang the National Anthem, an Episcopal Hymn, “Author of Majesty, Love and Grace” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. There were also two solos by peace officers, “To Make You Feel My Love” and “Believe”. Two Judges gave brief speeches honoring the families followed by the Roll Call of Fallen Officers. There was a prayer from the chaplain for the Sheriff’s Department who concluded with, “…. in the name of Jesus Christ”. Then “Amazing Grace”, a 21 gun salute and “Taps”. All of the participants, families and guests were invited to a buffet following the event.

This was not really a Memorial Ceremony. It was more of a church service, in the center of a city in the center of California. Our Mayor, Police Chief, and County Sheriff are Christians. They don’t make a big show of it but they don’t hide it either. Fresno is a city that is not ashamed of Christ. It is diverse as any California city but the churches here are attended by a great many of its citizens and respected by most of those who don’t attend.

This is where a mix of agrarian, blue collar and white collar Christianity still thrives alongside of each other and cynicism, postmodernism, and relativism have not taken root. Our Sikh volunteer officer Nick was at my right shoulder with his hand over his heart as our flag went by and his head was bowed as we prayed. Fresno is a place of compassion, mercy and hope. May God continue to bless His Church of Fresno. Amen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Alcatraz and Anchorites


Fr. Dale Matson




I had an opportunity to take a tour of Alcatraz this past weekend and realized that confinement is mainly a state of mind. As I walked through the cell blocks it dawned on me that prison life is a form of monasticism. There are the prisoners who take temporary vows and ones that take on permanent vows based on their past life and the strength of their convictions.

Alcatraz was a kind of monastery situated high on a rocky island surrounded by the San Francisco Bay, which is connected to the Pacific Ocean. There is a barrenness and bleakness to the main structure from which it was reputed that there was no escape. The wind was constant and the cold sea surrounding it eternally formed a moat that discouraged the prisoners from escaping. Even with the prisoners no longer there, I could sense the hopelessness and desperate effort to cling to their humanity in this place. Their names had become numbers.


I visited Mont Saint-Michel on the coast of France a few years ago and Alcatraz reminded me of it by its setting and structure. It too is an island fortress but intended to keep people out. There was a monastic community within these walls also and their warden was an abbot. They were a community of men who lived and died within the walls of Mont St. Michael. There was however a different sense about this place. As I walked around the drafty heights I could visualize monks occupied by the task of illuminating manuscripts, prayer and the daily office. Their life was routine, confined and dedicated to poverty chastity and obedience. Their life had purpose and meaning and their vocation sought after holiness. They took on new names in accord with their station.

In Alcatraz, the solitary confinement cells 9-14 in “D” Block were considered the harshest living conditions for those who refused to obey the rules of the order of prisoners. Their cells were carved out of the wall of the prison which forms the back of their cell. They were only allowed out of their cells for a weekly shower. Their vows were similar to the monks but imposed on them for a similar reason by the prison warden. The rules are for conversion of manners also. Those in solitary confinement lived the contemplative life with opportunity for visions. Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz" Stroud was probably the most famous of the unrepentant residents of D Block.

Anchorites lived in a cell formed from part of a monastery wall. The door to the cell was permanently sealed with bricks and they lived in this cell until they died. Their bodily waste was removed by a chamber pot and they were brought food and fed though a small opening in a common wall. My wife and I visited a church in Ireland that had a cell in the sanctuary wall for an anchorite. St. Julian of Norwich was an anchoress in the medieval period that led a contemplative life and experienced visions. An anchorite was considered a source of spiritual advice and counsel to abbots.


Some monastics eventually leave the order because they find the life too limiting. Some prisoners return to prison because they find freedom too confining. Each of us lives much of our daily life in a cell of similar dimensions without walls, sometimes with partitions. Are you in prison or are you free? “To know You is eternal life and to serve You is perfect freedom.” (Book of Common Prayer, from "A Collect for Peace” p. 99). Amen