Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Kairos Time Again!

Once again, I will be part of a team that will be visiting Jesus in Prison. From April 16th through April 19t, I will be in the Coffield Unit in Texas visiting our Lord and spreading His message of love, reconciliation, and the call to be made new among 42 inmates.

For the people that may read this, I have a request. I know many of you are interested in things concerning the Episcopal Church. There are those who disagree with me and those who agree with me on what should happen in TEC and the Anglican Communion. I am asking that we set these things aside and commit to pray for the 42 inmates at Coffield that will be participating in the Kairos weekend.

If you will pray for the weekend, please leave a comment here with your actual name (first name is suffiient) and the city and country in which you will be praying.

We write the names on strips of paper and then form those strips into a "prayer chain." We wrap that chain around the place where we are holding the weekend as a visible reminder to the team that Prayer is what sustains and upholds us in ministry and to the inmates as a visible reminder that thousands of people from around the world are praying for them.

Please add your name to those who will pray for the men at Coffield.

Phil Snyder

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Break - with music

The last week and a half has been busier than most - thus the lack of blog posts. I had to prepare a Lay Eucharistic Minister (actually a Lay Eucharistic Visitor) retreat, prepare a sermon, do my normal work, get my son prepared for a Weblos Woods campout, gather charitas (letters of encouragement and evidence of prayer) for my Daughter as she went to her first Happening (like Cursillo or Walk to Emmaus, but for High School students).

So, I let the blog posting on the Seven Deadly sins subside for a bit.

In between time (and as a good Lenten break that reminds us that God's Grace is what saves us), I offer this rendition of Amazing Grace.

Phil Snyder

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Deadly Sins - Pride (Part 1)

Perhaps the root of all sin is the sin of Pride. Pride is putting one's self in the place of God. It is making decisions as if you were God or acting as if God's plan and your plan are the same. When I am honest with myself, I will admit that all too often God's voice sounds like my own; God's plan is to make my happy now and God's will is just what I want.

Being the root of all sin; pride is, perhaps, the most deadly of sins. Like all sin, pride brings darkness to our lives and our souls so that we are no longer even aware of the extent of our sins. We may intellectually know of our sins, but we do not know them. We do not own them. We don't really feel that the "memory of them is grevious to us. The burden of them is intollerable."

Following St. Augustine's Prayer Book, Pride is putting yourself in the place of God as the center of our lives (or some part of our lives) or the object of our love. Pride refuses to recognize our status as creatures who are dependent on God for our lives and everything around us. Pride shows itself in several, often subtle, ways

Irreverence - Neglect of woship of God every Sunday in His Church or being content with a perfunctory participation in worship. Disregard of Holy Days or additional opportunities for giving God honor. Failure to thank God or to express our gratitude adequately. Disrespect for God or for holy things by deliberatly treating them (in thought, word, or deed) in profane, contemptous or an overly-familiar manner. Use of holy things for personal advantage or the attempt to bribe or placate God by religious practices or promises.

Sentimentality - Being satisfied with pious feelings and beautiful ceremonies withouth striving to obey God's will.

Presumption - Dependence on self rather than on God. Neglecting the means of Grace - sacraments, prayer, and study. Dispensation of ourselves from ordinary duties on the grounds that we are "above that." Satisfaction or complacency over our spiritual achievements (or even taking credit for our spiritual achievements). Refusal to avoid, when possible, immediate occasions of temptation. Preference for our own will, ideas, or plans. Foolish optimism. Failure to recognize our work as a divine vocation or to offer our work to God. Unwillingness to surrender to Jesus or to abide in him. Failur to offer to intercede for others - especially those who have asked our prayers.

Distrust - Refusal to accept God's wisdome, providence, and love. Worry, anxiety, misgivings, overly scrupulousness or perfectionism. Attempts to discern or control the future through any means. Supersticion is a form of distrust.
Over-sensitiveness. Expectation that otherswill dislike, reject, or mistreat us. Being too quick to take offense at others actions or words.
Timidity in accepting responsibility or cowardice in facing difficulty. Surrendering to feelings of gloom, depression, pessimism, discouragement, self-pity instead of fighting and praying for courage and hope.

When I look at this (partial list), I tremble at my own sin. I see myself far too often in this list. I plead with Paul "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And, I rejoice with him in the answer: "Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ!"

The whole point of an examination of conscience is not to run ourselves down or to feel bad about ourselves, but to know our own sinfulness and then offer that to God and ask for forgivness and amendment of life.

Pride hide our sins from us. Pride leads to the dark and damp place in our souls in which sin grows like mold and mildew. Confession is the God's ultraviolate light shining on the mold and bringing it to nothingness. I urge you to make a private confession at least once during this Lent.

Phil Snyder

Monday, March 02, 2009

Deadly Sins - Anger

For the next few days, I plan to discuss each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Because it is first in the list below, I will start with Anger. Note, for each of these sins, I will use, as a base, the Examination of Conscience found in Saint Augustine's Prayer Book (revised edition, 1967). That is the best resource I've found for an examination of conscience.

Many people confuse the sin of Anger with emotional anger and they make two mistakes. The first (and probably the most common) is to dismiss the sin of Anger by saying that you are simply experiencing the emotion and, after all, Jesus got angry and drove the money changers out of the temple. The second mistake is to refuse the emotion of anger and not deal with the causes - whether they are external or internal. This can cause significant emotional harm if done for some length of time. A person will often hide or swallow or ignore the anger and let it build until he lashes out at something rather minor - say getting cut off in traffic or having someone else take the parking spot you were waiting for first.

The sin of Anger is self-focused. It is open rebellion against God or other persons in order to remove obstacles (real or imagined) that come between our selves and our wills. It retaliates to any threat to our security, avenges insults and seeks redress of wrongs - normally in our favor.

There are different types of anger. Resentment is the refusal to discern, accept, or fulfill God's vocation for you. Resentment leads to dissatisfaction with your God-given talents, opportunities, or abilities. It can lead to unwillingness to face up to difficulties or sacrifices required by God to fulfill your vocation. Resentment leads to transferring blame to God, our parents, or families, our bosses or anyone else for the reasons behind our failures. Resentment shows itself in cynicism, profanity, grumbling and a desire to escape from reality.

Pugnacity is an attack upon another in anger. It can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Murder by desire (and remember, that saying "you fool" or "raca" is murder by desire) or deed. Striking another, cursing another, insulting another, or damaging an other's reputation by words and deeds. Arguing, bickering, contradicting others to get your own point across, being rude or snubbing others are all forms of pugnacity. It is more than just hitting another, it is the desire or will to cause harm to others. It can be shown in praying for the ill of another person - even when in the form of praying to help others. One of Satan's favorite tricks with pugnacity is to rub the salt of injuries into your wounds even when you are on your knees. Does this sound familiar to anyone but me? "Dear God, please help XXX see the error of his ways. Let him know how much he hurt me by betraying me and lying to me. Let him seek your forgiveness for his sins."

Another form of Anger is Retaliation. It is vengeance (actual or planned) for wrongs real or imagined. It is giving excessive punishment out of a desire to hurt, not discipline. Hostility, sullenness, and rash judgment. Refusal to forgive or to offer or accept reconciliation. Unwillingness to love your enemies, to seek their good or to pray for them. Retaliation shows itself in ostracising others and getting others to join you in cutting someone off from the group to make you feel better. Putting others down so you can feel better about yourself. Refusing to join in the groups activities simply because you did not get your way. Feeling superior to others.

Now, how can we tell if we are experiencing the emotion of anger or the sin of anger. Close and honest examination is required. Normally if you are angry at a slight you have experienced, you are moving into the sin area. If you are angry at the plight of others, they you are probably not sinning as much.

Anger is a natural (fallen nature, of course, but still natural) emotion. We experience it all the time. What do we do about it? How can we stop at the emotion and not move into the sin?

The key to diminishing our anger is forgiveness. Refusal to take offense at the slights (real or imagined) and forgiving others when they do offend us is the best defense. When I am working in prison and discussing forgiveness with the inmates (and even team members) I always say that forgiveness is the easiest and hardest thing we will ever do. We often don't want to forgive. But God commands us to forgive and we ask to be forgiven in the same way we forgive others. Can you imagine how much trouble we would be in if God answered the Lord's Prayer "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" with "Yes, in the same way your forgive others, I will forgive you."

Forgiveness does not come naturally. It takes work and prayer. But it is also easy. All that God really requires us to do is say: "God, I am very angry at this person. I don't want to forgive him. But You ask me to and I want to be obedient to You. Please, Lord, help be to forgive. Help me to see XXX the same way you see him. Help me to love him as you love me."

During this period of Lent, make a list of all the people who make you angry. Write down their names. Then, pray the prayer above for each of them and offer them to God. Every day, ask for help in forgiving them. Ask God to take your anger and substitute His forgiveness and agape love.

Phil Snyder

The next sin - Pride (part 1)