From Father Beddingfield: Feasting and Fasting
I love food. I love cooking it, 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 $1,000.00 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 twenty-five 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
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, Arnaldo, deacon, 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 souls of Ann and Polly . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 15: 1967 Nina Gay Dolan, 1973 Dorothy McCormack, 1978 Carrington Raymond; February 16: 1955 Mary Bretman; February 17: 1983 Helen Petersen Harrington.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Jane Daniel Lear’s stepmother, Ann Marshall, died on February 3. Please pray for her, for Jane and for all who mourn.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Rector returns on Monday, February 12 . . . Be sure to check the photo gallery on 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 Solemn Mass . . . Ash Wednesday is February 21. Extra ushers are always appreciated to help greet and direct our many visitors. If you have some spare time, simply come and find one of the ushers, who will help you get an usher tag and get you started . . . The Spirituality and Reading Group will meet on February 18 at 1:00 PM to discuss The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 10, by Father Mead and on Saturday, February 17 by Father Beddingfield . . . Attendance on Candlemas 321, Last Sunday 242.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This Sunday at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Elegy (1968) by Robin Orr (1909-2006). The postlude is Processional (1964) by William Mathias (1934-1992). The setting of the Mass ordinary today is Missa syllabica (1977/1996) by Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). Pärt, whose stark and powerful music has achieved great popularity worldwide, has composed since 1976 in a style he named tintinnabuli (“little bells”). Tintinnabulation, the practice of considering two simultaneous voices as one line (one voice part moves in a stepwise motion, the other outlines notes of the triad in leaps), is what gives Pärt’s music its inimitable sound. The motet at Communion, Pärt’s The Beatitudes (1990/1996), is one of the composer’s best known works . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM is played by Carol Weitner. Robert McCormick
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday evening Bible Study does not meet the evening of February 14 nor on Ash Wednesday, February 21. The class resumes on Wednesday, February 28 with a study on the Last Supper . . . ANGLO-CATHOLICS & MISSION: THE GOOD, THE STRANGE AND THE HOLY (February 11 and 18) . . . What do incense and high worship have to do with justice and social change? We’ll spend two Sunday afternoons looking at some of the people, the places and the ideas that have shaped the way some Anglo-catholics have understood the prayer and liturgy of the Church moving them outward in mission and ministry. Join Father Beddingfield on these two Sunday afternoons after Solemn Mass . . . THE RITES OF HOLY WEEK (February 25) . . . The Reverend Louis Weil, a longtime friend of Saint Mary’s, will present a talk at the adult forum on the First Sunday of Lent. Father Weil will speak about the particular character and meaning of the rites of Holy Week. The presentation will begin with some words about how this particular week developed in the Christian calendar, and will continue with a discussion of the week’s liturgical rites, with special emphasis on the rites of the Triduum Sacrum, the Three Great Days, which culminate the Church’s celebration of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. Father Weil is the Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgy at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California.
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.
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 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
Tuesday Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818
Wednesday Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop, Missionaries, 869, 885
Thursday Thomas Bray, Priest and Missionary, 1730
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Of Our Lady
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