Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bishop’s Note: March 24, 2016 – Maundy Thursday

Bishop Eric Menees

Maundy Thursday is a High Holy Day in the church, and is sometimes misunderstood. People often think that the term “Maundy” comes from the root “maudlin,” meaning sorrowful and self-pitying. And it is true that this evening we will hear some sad words from Jesus: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15) A blessed Holy Week to you all! This evening, all across the Diocese of San Joaquin, brothers and sisters will be gathering for their Maundy Thursday liturgies. 

However the word “Maundy” actually comes from the Latin Mandatum Novum, meaning “New Commandment.” It refers to what Jesus says in the gospel of John: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) 

Maundy Thursday is a time to remember that we are called to be different than the world around us. As we recover from the shock of such evil - like that which was recently unleashed in Brussels, Belgium - we as Christians must respond to such hatred with love. While these extremists and terrorists spread hatred and fear, we must spread a sacrificial love that reflects the sacrificial love of Jesus.

It was Jesus who greeted his disciples with a wash-basin and cloths to wash their feet. In humility, he showed love and respect. So too let us pledge that same kind of humility, that same kind of love and respect, so that the world around us will know that we are Christians!

A blessed Holy Week and Easter to you all!

Catechism Questions: 264 - 266

264. How does God prepare you to begin living his Law?
Through faith, repentance and Baptism, God in grace washes away my sin, gives me his Holy Spirit, and makes me a member of Christ, a child of God, and an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Acts 22:16; Titus 3:4-8)

265. How does the Church help you to live out God’s law?
The Church exercises godly authority and discipline over me through the ministry of baptismal sponsors, clergy, and other teachers. (Romans 15:1-7; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; Hebrews 13:7, 17)

266. How does the Lord’s Supper enable you to continue learning and living God’s Law?
In the Lord’s Supper or Holy Eucharist, I hear the Law read, hear God’s good news of forgiveness, recall my baptismal promises, have my faith renewed, and receive grace to follow Jesus in the ways of God’s Laws and in the works of his Commandments.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bishop's Note: March 17th, 2016 Spiritual Disciplines - Spiritual Direction

Bishop Eric Menees

As I write this Bishop's Note I am in Asheville, North Carolina, on retreat with several bishops from around the Anglican Church in North America. Not surprisingly, we are hitting on the subject of our walk with Christ and the importance of being both under Spiritual Direction and serving as a Spiritual Director.  

I was first introduced to the whole concept of Spiritual Direction back in 1979. I was in my first year of college and had just begun my journey with the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis. Fr. Bob Woodfield, the associate priest at All Saints, Long Beach - my home parish - was also a Third Order Franciscan. As an aspirant with the Third Order, one of my tasks was to establish a Franciscan Rule of Life, which included, at the top of the list, meeting monthly with a Spiritual Director. I went to Fr. Woodfield for assistance. "What is a Spiritual Director?" I asked. Fr. Woodfield explained that a Spiritual Director is a mature Christian whose life demonstrates a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ, who is gifted as a compassionate listener, and who has the gift of discernment. Fr. Woodfield explained that normally one meets monthly with their Spiritual Director, who, if a priest, can also be your confessor. However, being a Spiritual Director is not uniquely a priestly gifting. Any mature Christian may be called and gifted to serve as a Spiritual Director. Fr. Woodfield explained that a Spiritual Director helps us discern how Christ is active in our lives, and how we can be more attentive to Him and to the Holy Spirit moving in and among us. Fr. Woodfield also explained that Spiritual Direction is not psychological counseling. There is generally no fee for a Spiritual Director; they don't practice psychoanalysis or psychology, they simply listen attentively, give feedback and direction on how to draw closer to God, and on how to live out our lives as God's adopted Children.

Needless to say, Fr. Woodfield was my first Spiritual Director thirty six years ago, and I've been in Spiritual Direction ever since. What a blessing to have someone who listens to me in a nonjudgmental way, and who has the authority to speak the truth to me in love. I value deeply the mirror that my Director holds up to me and the Grace that he helps me live into.

I wonder if the Lord might be calling you into a relationship with a Spiritual Director? These are men and women whom you trust and who demonstrate a mature Christian life. This Lent, perhaps you could have a conversation with one of your clergy and ask them about Spiritual Direction?

I would also bid your prayers as we establish, within the Diocese, the Schofield Institute for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care. It is our prayer that in the next eighteen months we can call and fund a director, set aside a space, and establish a curriculum to train men and women across the diocese and across the country to become Spiritual Directors.
Please join me in prayer... "Almighty God, father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for the gift of your son and His example of leading people to recognize the Kingdom of God in their midst. We thank you for the men and women throughout the centuries who have picked up this ministry and faithfully served the church. We pray that you will raise up in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin men and women who are willing and able to pick up the torch and serve you by becoming Spiritual Directors. This we humbly ask in the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen."

Catechism Questions: 260 - 263

260. What is our Lord Jesus Christ’s understanding of these Commandments?
Jesus summed them up positively by saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40; see also John 15:7-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

261. Why can you not do this perfectly?
While God made mankind to love him perfectly, sin has corrupted our nature, leading me to resist him, to ignore his will, and to care more for myself than for my neighbors. (Psalm 14:1; Romans 3:9-23; 7:21-25; 1 Corinthians 2:14)

262. When will you love God perfectly?
I will only love God perfectly when he completes his work of grace in me at the end of the age. (Philippians 1:6; 1 John 3:2-3)

263. Why then do you learn God’s Law now?
I learn God’s Law now so that, having died to sin in Christ, I might love him as I ought, delight in his will as he heals my nature, and live for his glory. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:89-104; Romans 6:1-4,11; 1 John 3:23-24; 4:7-9, 19; 5:1-3)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bishop’s Note: March 10th, 2016 Spiritual Disciplines – Renewal of Vows

Bishop Eric Menees

Today as you read your Bishop’s Note, the clergy of the diocese and I will be gathering in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents to pray together, celebrate Holy Communion together, AND to renew our Ordinal Vows – those vows we took at our ordination. We will recommit ourselves to God and one another, under authority, to dedicate ourselves to the prayer, study, and faithful preaching of the Word of God and the administration of the sacraments, in order to bring people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

I have to tell you what an honor it is for me to serve with these men and women, your priests and deacons.  They so freely give of themselves in the service of the Lord and in loving God’s people – I am daily amazed and blessed to be counted their bishop.

In addition to our renewal of vows, I will bless the Holy Oils that we use in the church. Below is an explanation on those oils and their uses.  
I pray you all a truly blessed Lent.

The Three Blessed Oils Used in the Early Christian Churches, East and West Intended for Printing with The Holy Week Rites Olive oil is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments on numerous occasions. Besides its benefits as both a food and a cooking oil, it was valued for its soothing and soaking properties, such as in salves for bruises and as the binder for perfumes and medicines. It became the sign of having the power of God being poured upon a prophet or a king (Samuel anointing David to be King over Israel), as well as the power of God entering into the body of a sick person (Epistle of James).

The early Christians used blessed olive oil for three different purposes. Oil was blessed by a bishop to be used for the expulsion of evil, for the healing of the sick, and for the bestowal of the Holy Spirit.  The Oil of Exorcism was used to expel the Devil or his minions in someone who was possessed or oppressed and in need of release from spiritual bondage. It was also used for those who were preparing to be baptized (Catechumens) to both keep them safe from the wiles of the Devil and just before they were baptized to ensure that they totally belonged to Christ. In the ancient baptismal liturgy the bishop asks the candidates to renounce the Devil and all his works and then were anointed with the Oil of Exorcism before they entered the baptismal pool. This is why this same oil is also known as the Oil of Catechumens.

The oil blessed by a bishop for the purposes of physical healing was called the Oil of Unction (Healing). Its original purpose was lost in the later medieval Church when it came to be seen as a preparation for death in what were called the Last Rites. Its misuse at the time of the Reformation was the reason that the Reformers eliminated it as a “superstition.”

The bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon an individual for their empowerment for ministry within the Church was the foundational reason for the Oil of Chrism. The bishop blessed this oil for those who had been baptized to represent that God now bestowed upon them the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It was also used in the ordination rites for presbyters and bishops, to empower them with the spiritual gifts appropriate to their functions in the Church. [Taken from:]

Catechism Questions: 256 - 259
256. Why did God give the Ten Commandments?
God’s holy Law is a light to show me his character, a mirror to show me myself, a tutor to lead me to Christ, and a guide to help me love God and others as I should. (Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Psalms 19; 119:97-104; Romans 7:7-12; 13:8-10; Galatians 3:19-26; James 1:21-25; 2:8-13)

257. When did God give the Ten Commandments?
After saving his people Israel from slavery in Egypt through the Ten Plagues, the Passover sacrifice, and crossing of the Red Sea, God gave them the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai as covenant obligations. (Exodus 6:1-8; 13:3; 14:26-31; 19:1-6; 20:1-2; Deuteronomy 5:1-5)

258. How did God give the Ten Commandments?
God gave them to Moses audibly and awesomely, from the midst of the cloud, thus revealing his holiness, and afterward writing them on stone tablets. (Exodus 19; 32:15-16)

259. How should you understand the Commandments?

There are four guiding principles: though stated negatively, each commandment calls for positive action, forbids whatever hinders its keeping, calls for loving, God-glorifying obedience, and requires that I urge others to be governed by it, as I am myself.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Anglican Diocese Of San Joaquin Mass Of Chrism 2016

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
 Bishop's Prayer

 Reading Of The Gospel
 Bishop's Homily
 Bishop Blessing The Oils

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bishop's Note: March 03, 2016 Spiritual Disciplines - Repentance

Bishop Eric Menees

As we continue our examination of Spiritual Disciplines, I'd like to share with you something from one of the Church Fathers - St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople - on Repentance.

The Five Paths of Repentance of St. John Chrysostom (349-407) [emphasis added]:
"Shall I list the paths of repentance? There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.

The first path is the path of condemnation of sins. As Isaiah says, Tell your sins, and you will be acquitted. And the Psalmist adds: I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. So you, too must condemn the sins you have committed. Condemn them, and that condemnation will excuse you in front of the Lord, since whoever condemns the sins he has committed will be slower to commit them next time. Stir up your own conscience to be your accuser – so that when you come before the judgement-seat of the Lord no-one will rise up to accuse you.

This is the first path of repentance but the second is in no way inferior to it in excellence. It is to forget the harm done to us by our enemies, to master our anger, to forgive the sins of those who are slaves together with us. As much as we do this, so much will our own sins against the Lord be forgiven. So this is the second path to the expiation of our sins. As the Lord says, Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.

Would you like to know the third path of repentance? It is prayer: fervent prayer, sincere and focused prayer, prayer coming from the depths of the heart.

If you want to know the fourth path, I will tell you it is the giving of alms. It has great power.

And finally, if someone acts with modesty and humility, that path is no less effective as a way to deprive sin of its substance. Look at the publican, who had no good deeds to speak of. In place of good deeds he offered humility, and the huge burden of his sins fell away.

So now I have shown you the five paths of repentance. First, condemnation of sins.  Second, forgiving the sins of those near us.  Third, prayer.  Fourth, almsgiving. Fifth, humility.

So do not be idle, but every day advance along all these paths at once. They are not hard paths to follow. Poverty is no excuse for not setting out on the journey. Even if you are destitute you can do all these things: put aside anger, carry humility in front of you, pray hard, condemn your sins. Poverty is no obstacle – not even to that path of penitence that demands money: that is, almsgiving. Remember the story of the widow’s mite.

Now we have learnt the right way to heal our wounds, let us apply these remedies. Let us regain true health and confidently receive the blessings of Holy Communion. Thus we may come, filled with glory, to the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and receive its eternal joys through the grace, mercy and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I pray you all a blessed Lent!

Catechism Questions: 251 - 255

251. What is a rule of life?
A rule of life is a devotional discipline in which I commit to grow in grace as I resist sin and temptation, and to order my worship, work, and leisure as a pleasing sacrifice to God. (Romans 12:1-2)

252. Why do you need a rule of life?
I need a rule of life because my fallen nature is disordered, distracted, and self-centered. Because bad habits often rule my life, I need to establish godly habits that form Christ-like character.

253. What is the Anglican rule of life?
The Church invites me to its life of Common Prayer as a rule of life. That rule is a key part of a life of witness, service, and devotion of my time, money and possessions to God.

254. What prayers should you memorize as a part of your rule of life?
After memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, I should aim to memorize the liturgy, Psalms, and other prayers and collects.

255. How can you cultivate a fruitful life of prayer?
I can cultivate a fruitful prayer life by following the ancient three-fold rule: weekly Communion, Daily Offices, and private devotions. This rule teaches me when to pray, how to pray, and for what to pray, so that I may grow to love and glorify God more fully.