Interesting article on a Japanese way to view the world. I found this intriguing and so very similar to the Eastern Christian Orthodox way of thinking, especially as it relates to perfectionism.
So often as Christians we struggle with what Jesus said and reaffirmed by the apostles in the New Testament “…be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 KJV)
Here are two quotes to pique your interest and give you food for thought:
“…the term ‘perfect’, which stems from the Latin perfectus, meaning complete, has been placed on an undeserved pedestal in many cultures, especially the West. Prioritising flawlessness and infallibility, the ideal of perfection creates not only unachievable standards, but misguided ones. In Taoism, since no further growth or development can take place, perfection is considered equivalent to death. While we strive to create perfect things and then struggle to preserve them, we deny their very purpose and subsequently lose the joys of change and growth.”
“The dents and scratches we bear are all reminders of experience, and to erase them would be to ignore the complexities of life. By retaining the imperfect, repairing the broken and learning to find beauty in flaws – rather than in spite of them – Japan’s ability to cope with the natural disasters it so often faces is strengthened.”
My heart is saddened by “Christians” who are buying into a mentality of “getting back to normal” at the expense of exposing the “weak” & sacrificing them to die. It is as if Christians have been hypnotized into believing that somehow this is right or good. As the prophet warns, “beware of those who call evil, good…”
When the culture rejects the “Sanctity of Human Life” ethic concerning the unborn and those survivors of late-term abortion are left to die, and people actually advocating for infanticide & “right to die”, euthanasia… it is no wonder that as a society as a world, it comes down to survival of the fittest.
It is a slippery slope downward with all the “logical” reasoning of sacrificing “the one” for the benefit of the many. Sadly this echoing mantra of the “humanist manifesto” is fast becoming the new reality – whereby the individual is sacrificed for the benefit of the collective whole.
Those who are arguing for “opening the economy” by touting the survival of the fittest will be sorely dismayed when they discover that they – or their family members – or deer friends – are not among the fittest & are “selected” to die. Reminds me of “Future World” or living “under the dome”, with an implant that changes colors as you age so that the collective whole can cull the herd.
Many people including Christians are being sucked into the blame game of who is at fault. Christians arguing back and forth about which country is at fault, which political leaders didn’t “do enough”. Topics such as: deep state conspiracies; government control; freedoms; not enough supplies; and more abound.
We ALL are caught up in the drama and hype with myself included. But really… what does it matter which country is at fault? Or who cares at this point who should’ve done what when? It’s here NOW & how are we as Christians should we respond, live & love God, others, even enemies. Should we spew hatred, slander & accusations? Is this how Christians should act or talk?
Let’s be honest & face it, as American Christians we really have NOT truly suffered.
Those who compare this with the Spanish Flu in 1917-1918 or those who compare it to the Great Depression are comparing apples to oranges. We have so much more than those previous generations. We actually have advanced so much further in medicine, technology, government programs that give us things like unemployment insurance, social security, retirement accounts, business loans, not being evicted, the ability to work or have school at home & the lists goes on that those previous generations did not have!
As Americans we feel like we’re suffering because we can’t go to a sports event, the movies, the beach, or the mall. And so we whine!
As Christians we are whiners even more so because of all the above inconveniences and we whine because we can’t go to church. When often many of us might have skipped church because we had something else “important” to do.
Perhaps this pandemic is a wake up call to what is truly important… relationships with family, friends, neighbors, God. (How many are actually getting to know who their neighbors are? Are we checking in on the neighbor who lives alone, or the struggling single mom, & who else may need a hand?)
I think of our brothers and sisters around the world, many living in real poverty, in refugee camps, in hiding, in slavery, with persecution and in some places unable to even have a Bible. They don’t have access to internet, computers, and sometimes not even a radio.
We are SO BLESSED & SO SPOILED! We have access to many television & radio programming, online Christian music, bible teachings, church services, etc.
We have access to all the entertainment & games we could ask for. We can have food delivered or we can still go shopping for all kinds of stuff & not just essentials! You can still get Starbucks, In-n-Out, McDonalds!
AND YET… we talk about the economy and how awful it is as if MONEY is the most important thing in our lives. It’s so important that we are willing to let the weak suffer and die from a virus that we don’t have an immunity to, no cure, no vaccination, no quick fix. Some would say just have the old & sickly stay home & let everyone else return to normal. No need to wear masks, gloves, or take precautions.
Okay… how many of you realize you have family members that you could bring home unknowingly the virus & expose your parents, your child, your immune compromised friend.
When did Christians value money, entertainment, sports, concerts, beaches, etc., more than one human life? When did the almighty dollar replace the eternal value of Almighty God & His children?
You might say to the old, the immune-compromised, the diabetic, the asthmatic, the sick — “just trust in God, don’t walk in fear, we’re all going to die some day.”
Those of us who are in the category of “you should stay home”, have a question for you… why don’t you “just trust God to provide for your money? Don’t walk in fear of the economy. We’re all going to not be able to work someday, we’re all going to die.”
Easier said than done.
You see many of us because we already have faced the challenges of health & as a result loss of income, are already ahead in that learning curve of trusting God. We’ve learned the hard way, what is valuable & important.
You can’t put a price tag on the life of even ONE person. Many Christians are outraged about abortion & espouse the value of an unborn child, yet out of the same mouth are willing to sacrifice others for the sake of things that will turn to dust or rust!
Yes, the stress of the pandemic & a downward spiral of the economy can cause depression, anxiety, suicide, domestic violence and a host of other problems, but so did the many California fires, the Midwest tornadoes & the coastal hurricanes and floods.
Will getting us “back to normal” really solve those problems. Those problems already existed before the pandemic & if the pandemic was a tipping point, then we as Christians need to be part of the solution for those problems. Getting “back to normal” will NOT fix those problems but only bury them once again only to resurface in some other crisis.
The difference with those problems and the pandemic is there are answers, solutions, help for those problems but we don’t have answers or solutions for the pandemic. What we CAN DO is actively LOVE others by caring enough to sacrifice some freedoms and luxuries for the sake of others. This is an ethic of truly valuing each life.
Ask yourself… “What does this matter in light of eternity?” “How do my actions weigh in the eternal scheme of things?”
As American Christians, in general, we have not suffered. Jesus promised “peace I give to you, in this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” We are guaranteed tribulations and we are promised His peace, His presence. Jesus also said, “in as much as you’ve gone it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me. Come you blessed of my Father, enter into the joy of the Lord.”
Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Venerable St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland so I thought I’d post some background information and some of her hagiography I have found along with a variety of icons I’ve collected in my photos.
I enjoyed reading the following quote that came in one of my email newsletters/blogs I subscribe to mentioning her feast day.
Her Feast Day is most commonly celebrated around the world on February 1st. However in some Eastern Orthodox Churches which follow the Old Julian Calendar, her Feast Day is celebrated on February 14th.
The tradition of making Saint Brigid’s crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong. (More on St. Brigid’s Cross is below).
She is also venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.
St. Brigid is the Patron Saint of: Ireland, poets, brewers, blacksmiths, dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, fugitives, and newborn babies.
She was born in 451 a.d., and died in 525 a.d.
Saint Brigid’s likeness is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crozier, or a lamp.
Saint Brigid, “the Mary of the Gael,” was born around 450 in Faughart, about two miles from Dundalk in County Louth. According to Tradition, her father was a pagan named Dubthach, and her mother was Brocessa (Broiseach), one of his slaves.
Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father’s possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king’s court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father’s sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, “I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap.”
Saint Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of Saint Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Soon after this, she established a monastery on land given to her by the King of Leinster. The land was called Cill Dara (Kildare), or “the church of the oak.” This was the beginning of women’s cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.
The miracles performed by Saint Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. Saint Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara’s eyes. All at once, the blind nun’s eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to Saint Brigid and said, “Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul.” Saint Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.
Saint Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 after receiving Holy Communion from Saint Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with Saint Patrick (March 17) and Saint Columba of Iona (June 9).
Late in the thirteenth century, her head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar, about three miles from Lisbon. Portions of the relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in a new church of Saint Brigid in Dublin.
The relics of Saint Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the sixteenth century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.
Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.
There is much debate over her birthparents, but it is widely believed her mother was Brocca, a Christian baptized by Saint Patrick, and her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. Brocca was a slave, therefore Brigid was born into slavery.
When Dubthach’s wife discovered Brocca was pregnant, she was sold to a Druid landowner. It is not clear if Brocca was unable to produce milk or was not present to care for Brigid, but legend states Brigid vomited any food the druid attempted to feed her, as he was impure, so a white cow with red ears sustained her instead.
Many stories of Brigid’s purity followed her childhood. She was unable to keep from feeding the poor and healing them.
One story says Brigid once gave her mother’s entire store of butter, that was later replenished after Brigid prayed.
When she was about ten-years-old, Brigid was returned to her father’s home, as he was her legal master. Her charity did not end when she left her mother, and she donated his possessions to anyone who asked.
Eventually, Dubthach became tired of her charitably nature and took her to the king of Leinster, with the intention of selling her. As he spoke to the king, Brigid gave his jeweled sword to a beggar so he could barter it for food for his family. When the king, who was a Christian, saw this, he recognized her heart and convinced Dubthach to grant her freedom by saying, “Her merit before God is greater than ours.”
After being freed, Brigid returned to the Druid and her mother, who was in charge of the Druid’s dairy. Brigid took over and often gave away milk, but the dairy prospered despite the charitable practice, and the Druid eventually freed Brocca.
Brigid then returned to Dubthach, who had arranged for her to marry a bard. She refused and made a vow to always be chaste.
Legend has it Brigid prayed that her beauty be taken so no one would want to marry her, and the prayer was granted. It was not until after she made her final vows that her beauty was restored.
Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he accidentally used the form for ordaining priests. When the error was brought to his attention, he simply replied, “So be it, my son, she is destined for great things.”
Little is known about Saint Brigid’s life after she entered the Church, but in 480 she founded a monastery in Kildare, called the Church of the Oak. It was built above a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, which was beneath a large oak tree.
Brigid and seven friends organized communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland and she founded two monastic institutions, one for men and one for women. Brigid invited a hermit called Conleth to help her in Kildare as a spiritual pastor.
Her biographer reported that Brigid chose Saint Conleth “to govern the church along with herself.”
She later founded a school of art that included metalwork and illumination, which Conleth led as well. It was at this school that the Book of Kildare, which the Gerald of Wales praised as “the work of angelic, and not human skill,” was beautifully illuminated, but was lost three centuries ago.
There is evidence that Brigid was a good friend of Saint Patrick’s and that the Trias Thaumaturga claimed, “Between St. Patrick and Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works.”
Saint Brigid helped many people in her lifetime, but on February 1, 525, she passed away of natural causes. Her body was initially kept to the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, with a tomb “adorned with gems and precious stones and crowns of gold and silver,” but in 878, during the Scandinavian raids, her relics were moved to the tomb of Patrick and Columba.
In 1185, John de Courcy had her remains relocated in Down Cathedral. Today, Saint Brigid’s skull can be found in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Lumiar, Portugal. The tomb in which it is kept bears the inscription, “Here in these three tombs lie the three Irish knights who brought the head of St. Brigid, Virgin, a native of Ireland, whose relic is preserved in this chapel. In memory of which, the officials of the Altar of the same Saint caused this to be done in January AD 1283.”
A portion of the skull was relocated to St. Bridget’s Church and another was sent to the Bishop of Lisbon in St. Brigid’s church in Killester.
Troparions and Kontakions chanted in Eastern Orthodox Churches:
Troparion, Tone 1:
O holy Brigid, thou didst become sublime through thy humility, and didst fly on the wings of thy longing for God. When thou didst arrive in the Eternal City and appear before thy Divine Spouse, wearing the crown of virginity, thou didst keep thy promise to remember those who have recourse to thee. Thou dost shower grace upon the world, and dost multiply miracles. Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.
Another Troparion, Tone 4:
Instructed by the words of Holy Pádraig, thou didst journey far to the west, proclaiming the Orient which has visited us from on high. Wherefore we bless thee, Venerable Mother Brigid, and we cry out to thee: Pray in behalf of our souls.
Kontakion, Tone 6:
Rejecting thy noble rank, and loving the godly monastic life, from the wood of the oak didst thou raise up a convent, the first in thy land and having there united a multitude of nuns to God, thou didst teach the surrounding lands to cry to the Lord: Have mercy on us!
Another Kontakion, Tone 4:
The holy virgin Brigid full of divine wisdom, went with joy along the way of evangelical childhood, and with the grace of God attained in this way the summit of virtue. Wherefore she now bestoweth blessings upon those who come to her with faith. O holy Virgin, intercede with Christ our God that He may have mercy on our souls.
From the Old Sarum Rite Missal (c) 1998 St. Hilarion Press, Austin, Texas
Collect for the Feast of St. Brigid of Ireland:
O Creator and Governor of the heavens and the earthly regions, Almighty God, in Thy fatherly love help Thy people praying to Thee: and grant that we who carry out the solemn feast of this day in honour of the holy Brigid may by her interceding prayers inherit the glory which hath no end. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God through all the ages of ages. Amen.
A Christian symbol, usually made from rushes or, less often, straw. It comprises a woven square in the centre and four radials tied at the ends. Bridget’s crosses are traditionally made on February 1st, which in the Irish language is called Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St Bridget’s feast day), the day of her liturgical celebration. Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses. It was traditionally believed that a Bridget’s Cross protects the house from fire and evil. It is hung in many Irish and Irish-American kitchens for this purpose.
St. Bridget and her cross are linked together by a story about her weaving this form of cross at the death-bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptized. One version goes as follows:
A pagan chieftain from the neighbourhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Bridget to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived, the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Bridget sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Bridget stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.
On Sunday (June 18th, 2019), was Pentecost according to the Eastern Orthodox Church. (It was Pentecost the previous Sunday in the Catholic & Protestant Churches). Pentecost was the day the Church was born; the day the Holy Spirit descended like tongues of fire & empowered the followers of Jesus to preach & spread the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus and His healing, redemptive work. (Acts 2:1-11)
As this special Sunday came closer in the days that had followed Easter/Pascha, I began to remember and reflect on a message I had heard at a conference a few years ago, (October 4th, 2015) by speaker/preacher Micah Bournes.
In this message, Micah addresses racism, cultural diversity, and unity in a very thoughtful and compelling manner full of respect, humility, humor and sensitivity. It is also a message that is very challenging and from a perspective unlike others I had heard before.
So I emailed Micah and inquired if there was any video or audio recordings of this message, based on the Biblical text of the story of the building of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
I felt as I did then, this message is desperately needed and necessary even more so than just a few years ago.
Please take the time to listen to this message and ask God what He might say to you personally.
Micah Bournes is from Long Beach California.He is also a graduate of The Moody BibleInstitute. Ever since I encountered Micah’s unique talents, I have followed and enjoyed his unique methods of sharing what God has placed in his heart to offer to others.
Micah is a creative man of faith. In addition to performing poetry, the “Spoken Word” and music, he often speaks and teaches on creative writing, pursuing justice, and the way of Jesus. Micah has been able to share his passions and gifts all over the world.
I’ve been overwhelmed with grief this week & especially yesterday. Now that decisions were made & death is “done”… a sense of relief has come. But… the depths and cycles and seasons of grief continue. My dearest friend lost her father on Wednesday, September 19th. Then we put to sleep our dear sweet cat, Misty Rose on Saturday, September 22nd.
I remember after losing my brother (he was 26yrs. old) suddenly from a drunk driver in August 1995 and going to church between his death and funeral, a friend not knowing what occurred made an innocent comment, “why do you look so down, it’s not as if someone has died.” I was cut to the core by the insensitive statement. Later, she apologized profusely.
I once went to a conference just a few weeks after the death of my mother after a prolonged time in hospice care from cancer in September 1999. I attended one of the many workshops offered between the main sessions. It was entitled something along the lines of “Dealing with Death, Grief & Loss”. Granted, my emotions were raw, and why I chose this over others were mixed. However, I was completely unprepared for the opening remarks of the speaker, “I don’t know which is worse, the sudden death of a loved one or the gradual dying and death of a loved one. Having not experienced either one, I can only imagine what that might be like.” I remember promptly standing up in the middle of approximately 50-100 people and saying something like, “then what qualifies you to speak at all.” Then not waiting for an answer I walked out, sat down in an isolated corner and wept. Some friends came and silently comforted me.
I had experienced both kinds of deaths. Sudden unexpected ones, prolonged ones, and ones of elderly family members.
I had before and after that time lost others close to me, friends, family and my dear pets.
Recently, during this week of “death”, a friend mentioned “they would call and nothing would get in the way short of someone dying”. Unknown to them my dear friend’s dad was on death’s door and our cat was very ill.
I only bring these three examples to our attention because we often say things jokingly, sarcastically, or as “just a phrase or manner of speaking”. But often are “innocent” comments hurt deeply.
We should choose our words wisely and only speak truth in love. In the case of deep sorrow, even the words, “I understand” or “I know how you feel ” followed by “because I’ve been there.” Can cause intense pain and/or anger.
To be truthfully honest we truly do NOT understand nor do we know how another feels. Each death is uniquely different from every other one or other person’s perception of it.
Each person is uniquely different and each relationship with the loss of the loved one was uniquely different – this is true within families, this is true with each pet. The loss of a person or pet is felt differently and because we all process death in our own way, no two deaths will ever be the same.
Having said this, there are behavioral and psychological studies that show similarities about death – mainly that there are cycles of grief and loss that we can identify: Shock, Anger, Relief, Depression, Denial, Acceptance, etc. AND it’s not like it goes through “steps”, rather each phase can jump from one to another and then back again and then on to another.
Because grief is a process we need to be patient, kind, caring and compassionate providing comfort, a listening ear, even if memories or details are repeated. The same can be said of ourselves going through the grief: be kind, caring, compassionate and patient with ourself.
So as I grieve, I am doing one thing, giving myself permission to grieve and not “have it all together”.
I do grieve as one who has hope… my hope is in the Lord! He is the One, who truly understands ALL things, sees things so entirely clear, and can give comfort, healing and catch every tear in a bottle of remembrance. I look forward to that day, where there will be no more sorrow, death is destroyed, and every tear will be wiped away.