From Father Beddingfield: Feasting and Fasting
I love food. I love cooking it and sharing it and eating it. One reason why our Super Bowl party was so much fun last week was because of all the various things people brought to eat. There was chili, salsa and salad, drinks and desserts, and even what someone called, “people chow,” an odd, gravel-looking confection of chocolate and sugar. I continue to enjoy good food and the feasting it provides. But since returning from Honduras a few weeks ago, I’m also aware of some complicated and conflicted feelings I have around food.
Last month our mission team was in Tegucigalpa talking with the priest there about the children’s lunch program. The program continues to run out of money. It costs about $1,000 a month to feed between 100 and 120 children every day but there simply is not enough income around the church to support it. The fact that some of us have plenty and some of us have little is not new information for me. But the reality of knowing people who do not have enough to eat is (for me) a very new thing.
Those who have visited Honduras know the people who eat at the church. We know Abel and Gisel and Josef and Alan and Corelia and all the others. The children who associate themselves with the Church of San Juan Evangelista and its programs are healthier and stronger and smarter. We have watched as teenagers and young adults grow older and leave the village every day for good jobs that might eventually move them out of poverty.
Of course there are hungry people close by, as well. But here, when I know them I can invite them to dinner, buy them groceries, or suggest a plan for ongoing aid. For qualifying families there are Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, the updated version of food stamps. There are soup kitchens and food pantries. But that’s in the United States.
Around the world it is estimated that every day almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That is one child every five seconds. We might be tempted to respond to a statistic like this with the view of Thomas Malthus, the eighteenth century Anglican priest and economist. Malthus argued that population would always outgrow resources, and that death by starvation and disease, while lamentable, is simply God’s way of controlling the population. The problem with this is that Malthus underestimated God’s ability to work through technology. Advances in such things as artificial fertilizers and better machinery have meant that in the last 25 years food production has grown at an annual rate of 2.8%, whereas the population has only grown by 2.0%. There is enough food to go around if we are smart and persistent about helping one another.
We can respond in many ways. Some are called to political action, some to work on policy and some to volunteer. Others use their energy and skills in mission encounters. But as we move toward the season of Lent, I wonder if we all might be called to put a little money aside for those who are hungry.
This is an old idea. Oxfam (which began in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) has long suggested the practice of skipping a meal for world hunger. One is encouraged to skip a meal and then simply contribute what would have been spent on that meal toward the alleviation of hunger. It is an easy thing to do, but it invites mindfulness and reflection. It can become an act of prayer.
As we move through these weeks of “pre-Lent” and approach Ash Wednesday, I invite you to consider fasting. If you are able, (both physically and financially) choose one or two meals each week that you can skip. Save that money and contribute it to the Maundy Thursday offering on April 5. We can then send the money collected to the Weekday Lunch Program at San Juan Evangelista in Honduras.
Saint Augustine asked, “Do you want your prayer to fly to God? Then make two wings for it, fasting and almsgiving.” Our prayer takes on new strength and integrity when it is tied to action. By fasting a few meals and by contributing money toward food for others, our prayers gain wings, wings that will reach Honduras and beyond. John Beddingfield
LITURGICAL NOTES FOR THE WEEK . . . The Blessing of Throats will be given at the 12:10 Mass on Saint Blase’s Day, Saturday, February 3 . . . The regular schedule of services is observed this week . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 3, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, February 10 by Father Mead.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Daniel, Liz, Suzanne, Kevin, Brian, Ana, José, Gert, Harold, Robert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, Joy, William, Gabriela, Eve, Virginia, Mary, William, Gilbert, Rick, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Barron, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher, Timothy and Dennis and for the repose of the soul of May . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 5: 1964 Joseph Alexander Ellis Steele, 1993 Gerald Dennis Bergstrom; February 7: 1954 John H. Von Runneau.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Anthony Jones’s grandmother, May Delle Jones, died on January 26. Please pray for her, for Anthony and for all who mourn.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Rector will be away Monday, February 5, through Sunday, February 11 . . . Be sure and check the photo gallery in the Saint Mary’s website for pictures from the Super Bowl party . . . Holy Baptism will be celebrated on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, February 18, at the 11:00 AM Mass . . . Ash Wednesday is February 21 . . . The Spirituality and Reading Group will be in Saint Benedict’s on February 18 at 1:00 PM to discuss The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini . . . Looking Ahead to 2008: We are most pleased to be able to announce that the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXIII Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for the Easter Triduum in 2008 . . . Attendance on Candlemas , attendance last Sunday .
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Parables Bible Study concludes Wednesday, February 7, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . On Sundays, February 11 & 18, Father Beddingfield will offer a two-part class entitled: Anglo-catholics & Mission: The Good, the Strange and the Holy . . . On Sunday, February 25, the Reverend Louis Weil, professor of liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, will offer a class on The Rites of Holy Week . . . Unless otherwise noted, Sunday classes begin approximately 15 minutes after Solemn Mass concludes.
IN THE GIFT SHOP . . . We have new Lenca clay crosses and porcelain crosses from Honduras . . . Also, just in time for Saint Valentine’s Day we have Father Beddingfield’s biscotti (cranberry-orange blend) for sale. Be sure to eat your sweets now since Lent begins February 21!
LOOKING AHEAD TO LENT . . . The First Day of Lent is Wednesday, February 21. Masses will be offered at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM. Ashes will be imposed from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The Right Reverend C. Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, will be celebrant and preacher for the Solemn Mass at 6:00 PM . . . On Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross is offered at 7:00 PM . . . The ordinary weekdays of Lent are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Traditionally on Fridays in Lent flesh meats are not eaten. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the two fast days of the Church year. (The faithful are reminded that the point of the Christian fast is to be hungry enough to be reminded physically of our hunger for the Lord – it is not to eat so little so as to make anyone sick. Christian fasting for Anglicans is a matter of devotion, not rule.) . . . The Sundays in Lent are not days of abstinence or fasting. This year the Feast of the Annunciation is observed on Monday, March 26. Solemn Mass will be offered at 6:00 PM. Annunciation too is a “Feast of our Lord” and is not to be observed with abstinence or fasting by Episcopalians. S.G.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday The Martyrs of Japan, 1597
Saturday Scholastica, Religious, 543
Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass. The 12:10 Mass on Wednesday is sung.
Saturday: 11:30 AM Confessions, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 4:00 PM Confessions, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass