The Rector's Blog
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March 30, 2017, 10:33 AM

The Pilgrimage -


So…what was the pilgrimage like?

NOTE:  The Epistle contains photos, so you'll want to check that out.  

In one word – fantastic!  Yes, I’d been to Canterbury before, on my seminary senior class trip back in 2011, so I knew more or less what to expect in terms of the layout of the place and the scenery, but this trip was even better – perhaps familiarity played a role in this, or maybe it was because of my growth in faith and ministry.  Either way, I felt the presence of God in many moments, especially during worship (you know I’m a sucker for worship, right?).  I posted quite a few photos on my Facebook page, and am sorting and adding some photos to the website as well.  I also am giving thought to offering a presentation of the trip, but of course, right now is the run-up to Holy Week and Easter, and things are a bit … busy. 

So here are a few “snaps” as a “teaser”. 

This gravestone is one of several hundred in a small church yard at St Martin’s parish – an active worshiping community since at least the year 597, when Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine of Canterbury to bring the gospel to the “English” – while the Romans and the Britons were Christians, the Angles and Saxon invaders were not.  Augustine’s mission was to bring them into the fold.  In this he was aided by the fact that the King of Kent, Ethelbert, had married a Christian Frankish princess, Bertha, who insisted as a condition of the marriage that she remain Christian. 

The view from my window was a daily source of inspiration – you can see the tower, called “Bell Harry” that stands above the transept – one gets a fine view of the city environs from the roof, though I didn’t climb it this time around!

We generally attended evensong in the “quire” – at the eastern end of the church, in the raised sanctuary space – and enjoyed the soaring voices of the men-and-boys choir.  Canterbury has recently added a men-and-girls choir as well, and I did get to hear them sing as well.

The Cathedral itself has a Norman-era undercroft (11th-13th century) , while the “upstairs” was extensively reworked in the Gothic period – eventually resulting in a nave built in the so-called “English perpendicular” style. 

The Cathedral is fortunate to have preserved some of the stain glass from the earliest period despite the efforts of the Reformation authorities to destroy all visual art, and the veneration of saints.  Canterbury was the site of the assassination of Thomas Becket in 1170, because he put God and the Church ahead of his friend, King Henry II.  During Henry VIII’s reign and thereafter, the monasteries were closed and the churches stripped.  Many of the windows presented stories of various healings attributed to Thomas’ intercession; others showed the ancestors of Christ and life-events of the Savior; and many were destroyed for that reason.

The site of the martyrdom is adorned with a sculpture of two swords, and the point of a (much larger) third, indicating the means of Thomas’ death.  An annual play recounts the event.


March 3, 2017, 12:00 AM

What will Mother Evelyn do on her Pilgrimage? Mother Evelyn responds:

This past week, I received the schedule for the trip to Canterbury (March 16-21).  A lot of it will consist of attending services at the Cathedral, another chunk will involve visiting sites around the Cathedral close and Canterbury in general, and a third will be private, quiet time for prayer and meditation. 

Way back in the year 597, Pope Gregory (the great) appointed a Benedictine monk by the name of Austin or Augustine as a “missionary to the English,” along with 40 monks, and sent them off to convert the Angles and the Saxons then inhabiting most of the southeast quadrant of what is now England.  He landed off the coast of Kent, and was welcomed by King Aethelberht (Ethelbert) of Kent.  While Aethelberht was a pagan, his wife, Bertha (or Berhta), daughter of Charibert, king of Paris, was a Frankish princess who had continued to follow her Christian faith after her arrival in Kent, worshiping at the tiny St. Martin’s church outside the city walls.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the monks were moderately successful in their conversion work, reportedly baptizing Aethelberht and thousands of his people on Christmas Day 597.  This being reported to Rome, the Pope sent a “pallium” (essentially a blessed, large white cloth) and authorized Augustine to ordain twelve suffragan (assisting) bishops; this had the practical effect of making the Bishop of Canterbury not only an arch-bishop, but also, ultimately, the supreme religious leader in England.[1]  (The arch-bishop of York is subordinate to Canterbury.)

Augustine and his monks founded an abbey named for Sts. Peter and Paul (later changed to St Augustine), the ruins of which are on the tourist route, along with St Matthew’s tiny church.  He also founded a Cathedral, which has a long and complex history.[2]

Our activities will include visits to St. Matthew’s Church, the abbey ruins (and Augustine’s burial place), the ruins of another abbey on the Cathedral grounds, the Cathedral archives and library, and a candlelight tour of the building.  We will hear daily Choral Evensong, and join in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday the 19th.  We will see the site where Thomas Becket was martyred, enjoy an organ concert, and we may even get a chance to climb to the roof for a view of the city and environs.

Do you have a question about why we do the things we do? 
Let Mother Evelyn know!








February 16, 2017, 12:00 AM

Why there has been a gap in blogging...

I don’t have to tell you that the public sphere has taken a real turn toward ugly – we see it on TV, in the news and in the comedy/talk shows, in the paper, on the Internet, even in conversations with our friends and pretty much everywhere.  It’s like a cork has been removed from an anger volcano and the world is blowing up around us!  We seem to have forgotten how to get along.

Frankly, I have simply been trying to figure out what to say that will help us all cope.  I am mostly stressing the fact that whatever our own differences may be within our own church community: we ARE a community; we ARE the church; we ARE called together to be together and to live and work together as we follow the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Together.

Change is always hard, but some change is harder for some, and other change is harder for others.  I think we forgot to listen, somewhere along the line; we as a people got lazy about paying attention to those who are in different circumstances.  We should have paid more attention when the Tea Party started gaining ground, as they voiced distrust and distress.  As a progressive, I must admit that I did not take their complaints kindly.  That’s my bad.

As an historian, I know, at least in theory, that there have always been some deep and bitter divides between and among “demographic groups” – however defined.  Back in the Colonial days, not everyone thought that a revolution was a good idea – it was bad for business!  The merchant class was mostly opposed; many religious leaders with feet in the Church of England were downright horrified.  Any number of folks – including some of my own ancestors – moved to Canada to avoid it.  And that’s just the beginning of the story of our country!

As a scientist, I cringe at the idea that science has become anathema – whether it’s evolution or climate change or plant genetics or vaccines, or whatever.  Science is built on observation, theorizing, testing, and disproving.  But now, we hear that science is biased and wrong.

As a lawyer, I am dismayed that basic Constitutional principles are now disposable – the right of protest, the right to practice, or not, any given religious faith, and the proper roles of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches are all up for grabs.

As a theologian, I am distressed at the idea that the God I love with all my heart is being used as some kind of weapon against political opponents, the poor, the outcast, the alien, and the sick, not to mention people of differing sexual and gender identities and expression, of differing religious beliefs, or of a different race or background.

Over and over we see in the Bible that God appeals to people and rulers alike to stop oppressing the poor and weak, and to start loving God with all they have and are, and their neighbors as themselves.    

This is what I always come back to.  This is my conviction, and it convicts me when I fail.  It comforts me when I feel afflicted, and afflicts me when I feel comfortable. 

As we work on that loving God, loving neighbor thing, let’s start with a concerted effort to look for the good around us – because it is still around us.  Those who have eyes, let them see; those who have ears, let them hear!   I pray blessings for all of you.

January 19, 2017, 12:00 AM

The Inauguration

It’s been a while since I wrote to you!  I was able to meet my cousin’s granddaughter Francesca Gail (“Frankie”) over my post-Christmas holiday, which was wonderful.  Like all babies, she is the most beautiful in all the world! 

Friday the 20th is the inauguration of the new president.  I know that some of you have voted one way, and others another, so not everyone is likely to be happy with the change, and many feel that the changes to come are going to be substantial, and perhaps not all will be welcome.  I can only assure you that God loves us all, and will give us the strength to persevere through any difficulties. 

Please remember that we are a community, called together by God, to be together and to care for one another as best we can.  We have all taken vows to “strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being, with God’s help.”  We all love our country, and want our country to be the best it can be. 

Be active in our towns and cities, be in touch with our local, state, and federal representatives, and, above all, PRAY for God’s will to be made known and to prevail.  In mutual regard and respect, we will be able to do what needs to be done.  Let us pray for one another.  May God’s blessing be with you each day.                                    

Love to all, Evelyn+

December 22, 2016, 1:12 PM

A Franciscan Christmas Blessing

Thank you for the Rector’s Gift!!   It will definitely make my winter vacation, visiting my cousins back East, more enjoyable!

The following may not be the most comfortable Christmas message we’ve ever heard, but I find it a helpful reminder of what God has empowered us to do, by giving us hearts that love, minds that think, and a spirit that reaches out to those in need.

A Franciscan Christmas Blessing for Justice and Peace

by: Education for Justice

May God bless you with discomfort...
at easy answers, hard hearts, 
half-truths, and superficial relationships. 
May God bless you
so that you may live 
from deep within your heart
where God's Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger...
at injustice, oppression, 
and exploitation of people.
May God bless you
so that you may 
work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears...
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war.
May God bless you so that you
may reach out your hand 
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

 And may God bless you with 
enough foolishness to believe
that you can make a difference 
in this world, in your neighborhood, 
so that you will courageously try 
what you don't think you can do,
but, in Jesus Christ,
you'll have all the strength necessary.

May God bless you to fearlessly
speak out about injustice, 
unjust laws, corrupt politicians,
unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners, and senseless wars, 
genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.

May God bless you that you remember we are all called
to continue God's redemptive work
of love and healing 
in God's place,
in and through God's name,
in God's Spirit,
continually creating
and breathing new life and grace
into everything and
everyone we touch.

Source: "Troubadour: A Missionary Magazine," published by the Franciscan Missionary Society, Liverpool, UK: Spring 2005.

And, finally, I wish you all a most Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!  May your days be bright and your nights restorative.  Give thanks for those around you, for those who love you, and for those whom you love.  May the Christ Child bring you joy!

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