"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tagged for Christian Books

Richard of Richard's Ramblings has tagged me to identify the ten Christian books I would take with me onto a desert island. Well, here goes:

1. The Oxford Study Bible in its RSV edition, with Apocrypha.

2. Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th Edition.

3. Irenaeus, Against Heresies

4. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word

5. Augustine, Confessions

6. Anselm, Cur Deus Homo?

7. C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

8. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

9. The Catechism of the Catholic Church

10. Michael D. O'Brien, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

If I were "spotted" my Greek and English Bibles, I think I would replace them with a copy of the Apostolic Fathers (Greek and English) and William Law's A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.

Again, since I have already tagged the folks I would tag this time, I am going to hold off on tagging anyone. I hope this doesn't bring some sort of curse down on me!

PS--On second thought, if Father Peregrinator or Father Nelson cared to comment, I would enjoy seeing their lists. But no official "tag." No pressure, gentlemen.

Monday, February 27, 2006

St. Andrew goes to Greece

From Zenit:

"A Vatican official turned over a relic of the Apostle Andrew to a representative of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens, who had requested it. Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave the relic to Greek Orthodox Bishop Agathangelos on Sunday during a ceremony at Transfiguration Parish in Rome. The donated relic will be taken to Athens this week and displayed for veneration by the faithful in the Orthodox Church of St. Barbara. Since 1208, the relics of the apostle have rested in the crypt of the cathedral of Amalfi. They were taken there from Constantinople.

Archbishop Orazio Soricelli agreed to give a relic as a sign of rapprochement between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches. Cardinal Etchegaray handed over the relic in a case, which Bishop Agathangelos, director general of the Apostoliki Diakonia, kissed and showed to the faithful. In turn, Bishop Agathangelos, who is heading a delegation of Greek students visiting Rome, gave an icon to Cardinal Etchegaray and another depicting the Transfiguration to the rector of the parish church.

The Orthodox bishop said that the Greek delegation had come to Rome "as pilgrims to kneel before the tombs of the Apostles" and added that "in this splendid Church of the Transfiguration we feel the strength of the faith and see the faces of the faithful united with us."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Word Cloud

The image is a "word cloud" generated from this blog. It is a fun idea. This web site scans your blog and generates a "cloud" based on the words most commonly used there. You can modify the computer-generated cloud if you like. I replaced a few words that didn't accurately reflect my interests with words that did (e.g., "pain" was replaced with "aquinas"--though I know a few people who wouldn't see a difference!). In the end, I think the cloud does a pretty fair job of capturing a portrait of my interests. Get your own "word cloud" here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Bishop Duncan on the Future of Orthodox Anglicanism

There has been much speculation as to what the Anglican Communion Network will do at the General Convention of ECUSA next summer. Some of my friends are afraid that there will be a formal break with the national church at the General Convention, while other friends cannot possibly see remaining Anglican if there is NOT a break with national headquarters. Well, I think we may have an answer to the "what are they going to do" question. Network Moderator Bishop Robert Duncan, in an essay reproduced on TitusOneNine today, now has said that in recent discussions with diocesan leaders in Pittsburgh he:

"had shared my sense that the battle in which we are engaged in the Episcopal Church will go on for a very long time, that there were unlikely to be any “quick fixes” or decisive actions either at the General Convention or in the systems of the Anglican Communion, and that our best course forward, remained a relentless and unyielding focus on the mission of our congregations, on our mission together as a diocese and on our missionary partnerships worldwide."

In short, for all the hopes and/or fears about what the Network will do this summer, the answer is apparently--the ACN will do little or nothing differently than it has been doing for the last three years. It remains to be seen what the result of this attempted maintenance of the status quo will be. Kyrie eleison.

P.S.- Bishop Stanton of Dallas has recently delivered a speech which also seems to take a "maintain the status quo" approach, though it is a bit difficult for me to understand exactly what the practical results of his position would be. His statement may be found here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Sermon on the BVM

Andy, our new youth minister at St. Vincent's and the author of All Too Common, has recently re-published a sermon that I preached at the cathedral last August on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You might find the comments made on his post to be of interest, particularly since some of the commentators there come from the very Reformed end of the Christian spectrum. Please drop by and let me know what you think. Those of you who haven't already read it might also find the essay on Mary that I wrote for our church newsletter last August to be of passing interest.

Extensive treatment is given in the sermon to the Hodegetria icon, a version of which is pictured above.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sixteenth Century Theology at St. Vincent's

The evening class for adults that I am presently teaching at St. Vincent's is moving along nicely. We are dealing with the English Reformation now. Tonight we covered the reign of Mary Tudor and the early Elizabethan years, looking at the Protestant Eucharistic doctrine of the "Marian martyrs" and "The Apology for the Church of England" by Bishop John Jewel (1561). If you are located in the western part of the DFW Metroplex, please considering joining us next Thursday night at 7:30 PM in St. Vincent's School library. We will be covering the rise of Puritanism and the ministry and martyrdom of St. Edmund Campion next week. The course concludes in two weeks, with a study of writings by Lancelot Andrewes and Richard Hooker.
The image at top was taken by my father, R.D. Foster, tonight. The image at bottom depicts the burning of Latimer and Ridley at Oxford under Mary I.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Small Personal Note

Just a word of thanks for those friends who have been remembering my vocational discernment process in their prayers. Today I received word that I have been accepted into the summer program in Clinical Pastoral Education at Baylor University Hospital. Their primary location is in Dallas, but they are planning also to offer CPE at one of their hospitals in the western portion of the Metroplex next summer (either Fort Worth's Baylor All Saints or Baylor Med. Center in Irving). It is my hope that I will be receiving my training at one of these "western" sites, as the Irving or Fort Worth locations would mean greatly reduced commuting time from Bedford.

On Monday, February 20th, I will be meeting with Bishop Iker, Dean Ryan Reed (my pastor and my boss at St. Vincent's), and Fr. Hightower of the COM to discuss what further training I will need in order to move forward towards Candidacy. Your continued prayers would be much appreciated.

Finally, my mother is doing quite well after her surgery of two weeks ago. Many thanks to all of you who have prayed for her. God bless.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Tonight at St. Vincent's our evening's worship began with a first-rate, all Bach organ recital by our organist/music director, Barbara Burton, followed by choral Evensong. Our worship concluded with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Driving home I began to wonder--how many Anglican parishes in the US regularly participate in the Benediction? The parish at which I worshipped in Chicago did so periodically (the ultra-high Church of the Ascension on LaSalle Street). But how common is the Benediction at Episcopal parishes? If any of your home parishes, dear readers, offer the Benediction on a regular basis, would you please leave a comment and let me know? If you comment anonymously you will not have to register with Blogger, but do please leave your initials within the comment to let me know who you are if you are a friend of mine, OK? Also, click on the image above to read the order of service we normally use for the Benediction portion of the service. The setting of Tantum ergo/Genitori tonight was by Victoria (and, btw, we normally finish with a rousing rendition of "Holy God, we praise you" from the 1940 Hymnal). Is this order for the Benediction similar to that used at your parish? How similar is this to the order typically used in Roman Catholic parishes in the US today? Thanks much!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Astonishing Court Decision

This case has got to make the short list of the most amazingly poor judicial decisions in American history. Surely the Supreme Court will overturn this one. An Appeals Court has held that it is permissible for a school district to permit the display of a Menorah (Jewish) and Star and Crescent (Islamic) on a public school campus but ban the display of a Nativity Scene! This is beyond belief. Hat tip to the Shrine.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tagged Again

Well, I was tagged yet again, this time by Meam Commemorationem. This questionnaire is one that I have seen several times before, and I fear that most of the people I would tag myself have already posted it. Therefore I will hold off on tagging anyone after me (which probably will bring a curse down on me or something, right?). I'm afraid my answers are not that interesting. I live a quiet life, after all. Any way, here goes:

4 jobs you have had in your life:

T.A. for American History
Oil & gas lawyer
Campus ministry intern
Middle school teacher

4 Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

The Mission
The Seventh Seal
Quo Vadis

4 Places You Have Lived:

Bedford, Texas
Houston, Texas
Midland, Texas
Chicago, Illinois

4 TV Shows You Love To Watch:

Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Desperate Housewives (So sue me--its funny!)
History Detectives (PBS)
The American Experience (PBS)

4 Places You Have Been On Vacation:

Goettingen, Germany
Ephesus, Turkey
Nikko, Japan
Sydney, Australia

4 Websites You Visit Daily:

All Too Common
Worker in the Vineyard
Canterbury Tales

4 Of Your Favorite Foods:

Chicken Fried Steaks
Beef Burritos
Chocolate Fudge
Hamburger Pizza

4 Places You Would Rather Be Right Now:


As I said, not terribly interesting. Ho hum. Have a nice day.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Epiphany

"The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God." From St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Roman Empire of the first century A.D. was an amazingly diverse place culturally. But there was one belief that virtually everyone in the ancient Mediterranean world shared: the conviction that illness, injury and death were as much affairs of the soul and spirit as they were of the body. Pagans had their great healing centers of Asclepius at Epidaurus in Greece and Apollo at Didima in Asia Minor. Greeks and Romans suffering from various ailments flocked to these temples by the thousands, hoping that their chosen god would have mercy on them and heal them. And the Jews of first-century Palestine shared this belief in a supernatural aspect to sickness and health as well. With the exception of the Temple in Jerusalem, for Jews no place on earth was held to display the intersection of the supernatural and the natural more clearly than the sickbed. This presupposition underpins our Scripture lessons today from 2 Kings and the Gospel according to St. Mark.

Indeed, faithful Jews could not see things otherwise in light of the first chapters of Genesis. God had created a good world, a world where suffering and death were unknown. This was the world in which you and I were meant to walk and talk with our Creator in the cool of the evening. As befits creatures that bear the image of the One “in whom all things live, and move, and have their being,” our sustenance was to have included the very fruit of Life itself.

But because of the disobedience of our first parents—a disobedience in which you and I participate every day--all of that changed. In some mysterious way the very fabric of the Universe has been altered by the rebellion of our race. In his letter to the Romans St. Paul teaches that “the creation itself is [now]… in bondage to decay.” With the Fall of Man the world begin to disintegrate, both physically and spiritually. Pain and toil entered God’s good world, the by-products of a spiritual separation from our Creator that contradicts our very nature. You and I were made to abide in God’s presence, sustained by the fount of all Being. But in turning away from Him in self-vaunting defiance, we have become vulnerable to the spiritual forces of wickedness that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God. And Satan and his minions are quick to exploit our physical and psychological weaknesses for their spiritual gain. If you have ever stood at the bedside of a loved one dying from a lingering illness, you know what I mean. The presence of evil is almost tangible, but God can seem so very far away.

In striving to be like God, we have tasted the bitter fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and we shall surely now die. For fallen humanity the path to the tree of Life is now blocked by “a flaming sword that turns every way.” All of us here this morning have felt the sting of that searing blade. Every ache and pain, every graveside tear shed by the human race since a dispossessed Adam and Eve settled on the stony ground east of Eden are that fiery sword’s handiwork. The blazing steel edge of disease and death turns every way and cuts down everyone, without exception.

When Jesus entered the home of his new disciple Simon Peter, he discovered the flaming blade had struck Peter’s mother-in-law. She was burning up with fever. In the ancient world fever was greatly feared. Archeologists have recovered from the sands of Egypt hundreds of amulets designed to ward off the demons that cause fever. The Roman world did not have our knowledge of microbiology, but they did know that fever tended to spread and, if unchecked, to kill. Terrible epidemics swept through the ancient Mediterranean world every few decades. So as Jesus and his companions stood at the woman’s bedside they knew that this fever was serious, not only for her but for all of Capernaum. Vulnerability to such diseases had been the common lot of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve for countless millennia. And the demons rejoiced in it. But on that day in Capernaum things would be different, for the New Adam had finally come and a new world was dawning. The terrible defeat that ancient serpent, the Devil, had inflicted so long ago was about to be avenged.

“The Time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent,” Jesus pleads, “and believe the Good News!.” Once again God has drawn near mankind, walking among us as He had intended in the Garden of Eden. Only this time the Lord of Creation does so as one of us! And the demons that afflict the human race recognize the God-man immediately: “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” they cry. The forces of darkness now understand that the best weapons in their arsenal—the despair of sickness and infirmity, the inevitability of sin and death—are powerless against the Savior.

Notice that our Lord makes a two-pronged attack—He heals both physical illness and demonic possession during His stay in Capernaum. In St. Luke’s version of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law Jesus rebukes her fever as a possessing demon, making no distinction between the bodily and the spiritual. For unlike the people of our spiritually near-sighted age, Christ understands that the demon and the fever are two sides of the same coin. Disease and death are perversions of God’s intent for the human race, as surely as are angels who forsake their duty to the Creator in order to serve His enemy. These forms of corruption have no place in the Kingdom of God. Fevers and paralysis and blindness and every other affliction the human race presently endures are destined to join the Beast and his lackeys in the Pit. With the healings and exorcisms of His earthly ministry our Lord Jesus gave them all, disease and demon alike, a foretaste of their eternal fate.

It is God’s will that His children be well and whole, free to worship Him without fear. And yet the suffering of this present age continues, even for those who have turned to Christ in faith and been baptized into His Body. I cannot tell you why we still get sick and hurt and die, or why spiritual powers of darkness still roam at large in the world. We shall have to wait for the End of Days to understand that mystery. But two things I can tell you with certainty.

First, however you or I might suffer in this present life, know that Jesus Christ has already redeemed that suffering on His cross. This is not just a cliché. Christ does in truth know our pain. As our Lord was lifted up at Calvary He carried not only the sins of the world but its wounds as well. He bore the scars of the entire human race in His own flesh. And with His Ascension He took those scars—our scars—into the Godhead Itself along with His divinized humanity. Satan is a fool to believe that he will derive any benefit from our sufferings, for God now carries them within Himself.

Secondly, I remind you that we have not been left as orphans in our suffering. Within Christ’s Holy Church we have the companionship of our fellow Christians, the consolations of Holy Scriptures, and the sacraments of unction and reconciliation. But above all, we have been given the Blessed Sacrament of the altar for our healing. The Body of Jesus, the second Adam, was broken at the Place of the Skull, once for all, so that the effects of the first Adam’s Fall might be negated. Christ’s cross and empty tomb have reopened the path to the Tree of Life. Our Lord’s eternal sacrifice of Himself will now be re-presented here in the breaking of the Bread and the prayers. We shall at last partake of a food uniquely appropriate for creatures made in the image and likeness of God. We will hold leaves from the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem on our tongues; leaves that St. John says are “given for the healing of the nations.” From the silver chalice we shall drink the Living Water that wells up to eternal life. The powers of sin and sickness and death will prove an illusion as the Source of Life Himself infuses our bodies. So mortals will eat the bread of angels, and the demons of Hell will wail as they realize that we are lost to them forever!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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