Sung Evening Prayer during Advent

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn:

All are welcome – please join us!

Originally posted on The Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor:

adventcandlemotionweek1Tonight begins our tradition of Sung Evening Prayer. Please join us – one need not be a parishioner, or to be Catholic. We want to offer a prayerful space where we can join for a short time each week to find peace. We are at 569 Clifton Park Center Road, in Clifton Park. Our service begins at 7PM, and is offered each Tuesday during this season. If you have never been to St. Edward’s, go all the way around the back to find the front door. We look forward to seeing you! Here is some Advent music added to the invitation.

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Bad Religion – An Advent reflection

latest“I think consumerism has become a bad religion itself,” Graffin says. “It breaks my heart to think of families that feel like a failure to their kids because they can’t afford to buy expensive gifts. I think that’s a tragedy. We’ve turned Christmas into a consumerism festival. But on the same token, I don’t think it should go back to being about religious piety.”1

These are the words of Greg Graffin, who if you did not know, and I’m guessing that many of you may not know, is the lead vocalist of LA based punk rock band, Bad Religion. Go to the band’s website at your own risk, as you might have guessed, they are not religion friendly, so some of what you see may offend you.

Bad_Religion_Christmas_Songs_CoverToday I was looking for an unusual version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel on YouTube. When I came across the Bad Religion version, Continue reading

An invitation

act-in-faith-not-fear(This reflection is on the readings for the day before Advent begins, the very last day of the liturgical year, and appears in Give Us This Day. Please see the end of the post for further details.)

Our world seems to run on the fuel of fear. Simply watching or reading the news can fill our tanks with enough anxiety-provoking material to keep us running for days. Work and family concerns, fretfulness over jobs and money, disquiet about health, and apprehension over other things can turn us into nervous wrecks. Constant worry is exhausting, and that exhaustion typically leads to more angst.

Jesus offers a clear warning that might be easy for anxious people to miss. Do we think we’re off the hook because we are not out “carousing” or getting drunk? Not so fast. It seems that the “anxieties of daily life” are on the watch list as well, and that is a net likely to catch many.

It could be easy to take Jesus’ words Continue reading

Well… Thanks

63919875Today’s post is to address the fact that being thankful is not like a switch that is flipped from off to on, and that holidays may be difficult for some of us. Thankfully, that’s not the case here, but things used to be different. For much of my life I was simply miserable. A big part of the problem is that I was thankless. The lens through which I viewed my life was one of what I didn’t have, couldn’t have, wouldn’t have. If something good happened, it was not enough, or not just right, or whatever it took to whip up misery and anger.

Now if you knew me at that time, you might not have been aware of this, but if you knew me well – well then, you know what I’m talking about. In any case, I was always seeing things with my nose pressed up against some glass that seemed to separate me from everything I wanted. Most of the time I was sure that I had (warningbad theology alert) done something that caused God to give me the short shrift. Seriously. Thanks for nothing could have been my personal motto.

Zee54ccdaf6b0732fbe17a81c8f4dc8b8Today, I am grateful to be able to say that I am – well, grateful. It takes very little for me to conjure up gratitude, and I do not say that lightly. It is grace and gift to be sure, I try not to take it for granted. Having said all that, that earlier version of me remains, lurking around the dark underbelly of my psyche, and will pop out unexpectedly like a furious jack-in-the-box. Boy, do I hate when that happens.

Attitude+of+GratitudeThe reason for this is that we are awash in reminders of gratitude and thankfulness at Thanksgiving. This year I noticed more than a few articles stating the benefits of gratitude, as if it were a product to be sold. “Be grateful, science says it’s good for you!” I’m a little sad that gratitude has to be packaged and sold, as if it were a health supplement available at a drugstore in order for people to get with it. Part of me wants to say (warning – bad language alert), “for f*cks sake, drop that gratitude bulls*t!!” Sorry, but that is the truth. The point of all this being – not everyone can jump into that whole be thankful all the time attitude of gratitude thing on demand. 

I’m grateful (really) to not lose track Continue reading

An Advent invitation

0e1144359_blog-the-season-of-adventGreetings to all! This is from my parish blog, and I wanted to share it here for a few reasons. One is that if you are in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy-Saratoga Springs area, please consider yourself invited to join us for Evening Prayer in Advent at St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park.

This is our 6th or 7th year of offering sung evening prayer during Advent, and it is most beautiful thanks to our music ministry at St Ed’s, and thanks to the many who join us in song and prayer. For less than an hour your busyness and stress will melt away thanks to a sublime environment and prayerful music, all held in communion and love.  Prayer is every Tuesday prior to Christmas at 7PM. And as the post below says – one need not be Catholic or a parishioner, all are truly welcome. If I have not met you before, please introduce yourself to me! On the first Tuesday, December 1, I will offer a brief scriptural reflection during prayer.

Also, at St Edward’s we have a tradition of offering reflections on as many days of Advent as we can. They are written by parishioners and others and will begin this coming weekend. I will publish any reflections that I write here, but you may want to check out the parish blog for a variety of voices. If you would like to submit a date for your own reflection to run, please get in touch with me. At St Edward’s we cannot say it enough – all are truly and joyfully welcomed!  Read on, and thank you!

EVENING PRAYER: On Tuesday, December 1 – and on every Tuesday in Advent, the Roman Catholic Community of St Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park will offer sung evening prayer at 7pm. Admission is free and all are welcome. Please consider joining us, as we said, all are welcome. One need not be a parishioner, or a Roman Catholic.

Perhaps this will be the one time a week that you can get away from the busyness of life and find time to wait for the Lord through prayer and song. If you have questions, please let me know in the comments. We await the opportunity to welcome you with great joy on December 1, and on every Tuesday during the season.

advent_0ADVENT BLOG REFLECTIONS: Sunday, November 29, 2015, is the First Sunday of Advent. With that, our Advent reflections will return. Our reflections are offered by parishioners and others who simply wish to share their faithful insights with us in this space.

Please join us by reading the reflections and praying with us. If you are moved to write a reflection, which can be one sentence or up to about 1200 words, please let us know. And no worries about your word count, if you have something to say, let us explore the possibilities as we wait in joyful hope. Again, all are welcome, one does not need to be a parishioner or Catholic. All editorial rights are reserved by the parish, but so far we have turned away no one. We hope you will be reading and praying with us.

Feel free to share this post widely on social media, through email, or simply through word of mouth. Thank you and God bless you!

What kind of king?

What-kind-of-king-willA good friend who is a college professor called me recently; she expressed frustration about issues around plagiarism and cheating. As she described the scenario to me, I heard two things; the student appeared to be somewhat defensive, and my friend was ready to lay down the law, hard. Curious about the power dynamics, I asked her about what might happen if, instead of starting with force, what if she began with a question.  If nothing else, my friend would gain the element of surprise, as the student was likely geared for a fight. Skeptical, but open, she agreed.

A few days later she texted me, reporting that the meeting went Continue reading

Be bold, fear not

hqdefaultSir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding manLuke 19:20-21

God has given all of us treasure to watch over. What do you do with ours? Do we find ways to put that treasure into the world, so that it may multiply? Or do we hold on to it out of fear of doing something incorrect with it?

Our treasure can come in the form of riches, talent or ability, or simply time.  Do we do nothing, or very little, because we are we afraid of displeasing God more than we are invested in serving God?

Today’s Gospel has a simple message enfolded in the words of the parable… Be bold, fear not. Use what God has left in our care, make it multiply. This is not meant to be taken in a literal way, suggesting that it is simply about money. This goes deeper, much deeper. It is about the depths of our hearts.

Maybe the real message is this. Go into the world today. Be bold, fear not. How can we do this in our world full of fear and terror? Or perhaps the better question is this – how can we not do this in our world full of fear and terror.

Let us all pray to discern and make good choices today, even if they seem to be in the smallest of steps. Be bold in Jesus’ name, fear not. It is only in this way the treasure multiplies, always in, and through, and for God.