Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Number One 

If you didn't know the name Justin Gray (#1) by now, you will know it tonight. His career high 37 points tonight to help put away the Wisconsin Badgers will certainly be noticed around the ACC, and likely around the NCAA. It is going to be an interesting year for the Deacons, who need to look for strong leadership from Gray, Visser, Strickland, and Williams. I think we've got a serious chance of getting into the sweet sixteen, but we're going to have to work for it, big time. Freshman Harvey Hale is going to need to live up to his hype, and only 4 points in tonight's game is not a good start. Tonight's game was closer than it should have been, and I hope Skip recognizes that and spurs those boys into playing harder. Gray was definitely a leader in tonight's game, going 12-12 from the line in addition to all the points he put up from the paint. He's gonna need to keep that up and everyone else is going to need to rise up to that level if we want to play ball in March this season.

This game also kicked off the basketball watching season for my group of Chicago-Demon Deacons. We went to the Avenue Tavern on Broadway where one of our number works and had a great time, even if Caroline did bring 8 Badgers with her!!


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Monday, November 28, 2005

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle: A Review 

In the past two years I have become a fan of the popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami. If I were to classify his books in a particular genre, I guess I would have to make it as broad as magical realism. In the latest book I read of his, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, he continued his search for meaning in a world that presents itself as very black and white on the surface, but is actually a million shades of grey beneath. I realize that is a bit vague and cliched, but it is a good starting point. This book is apparently considered Murakami's magnum opus, and I can see why: it's physical size is larger than most of his works, and thus it delves deeper into a darker reality, a reality which we all find ourselves in from time to time. But it is when we go deeper into that reality, which is within ourselves, that we make the most realizations about ourself and the world around us. Murakami drives this point blatantly home when his main character finds solace deep within a well upon multiple occasions. On the surface, the tale is one of a young man who is looking for his wife. Early in the book, (after one of the best passages - ch. 2 - describing relationship I've ever read), Okada's wife leaves him mysteriously. And the rest, on the surface, is a story of a man in search of the "why's", and seeking to regain his wife, lover, and best friend. But it is about so much more than that. Murakami's patented "shadow world" makes another appearence - the battleground for the archtypical man versus himself theme personified. An almost separate war story runs alongside the main storyline - a tale where the reader's need for pretty clear lines of good and evil get borne out. But it connects to the main story though its telling and the gift of an empty inheritance seeming to suggest that what we leave people when we die cannot truly be contained in tangible, physical objects. Another of Murakami's favorite foil devices shows up here - the young girl. The full extent of what he is trying to say with his 15-17 year old sidekicks I am not sure. But, in a way, May seems to be the figure of wisdom in innocence that is on the verge of losing itself. The opportunity for the main character to ruin that innocence always presents itself, but the characters never do that - they seem to recognize not only would that be morally wrong, but, (and more to the point of Murakami's thinking I believe) that it would be wrong to ruin that singular source of powerful wisdom. There is a power within them that the protagonist needs to use to reach their goal. What it is, is theirs to discover. The vague way in which Murakami paints the main portion of the second half of the book suggests that what he is trying to say is not found therein, or at least not in the particulars. This frustrates me greatly as I want to know just what exactly was going on in the so-called "hanging house"! No, the real action of the story takes place in the well and in the shadow world(s). The characters of Nutmeg and Cinnamon boggle the mind, but they are also just foils for Okada, pointing the way for him to release whatever energy/power he has within himself. Others can recognize it and benefit from it, but he has no idea what it is he does. Until he figures that out, he will go on searching blindly for his wife, because finding her is ultimately wrapped up in him rediscovering himself.

I really enjoyed the book and I really enjoy Murakami's style of narrative. He makes you think; he is never going to just hand you the story, because life never just hands you the story. And just when you think he has done so, BAM, he writes a whole chapter about seemingly unrelated events in some magical shadow world as if just to poke you in the eyes and say, "Quit looking with these!!" I recommend Murakami to you if you like psychological, metaphysical detective stories about love and finding oneself anew. But, if you've not read Murakami before, I'd suggest starting with another one of his more approachable books, like Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.


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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving 

One of the things for which I am thankful is the time and opportunity to read for pleasure. Yes, Susie, I know you think I'm crazy. So far, since I have been home I have

finished what was already started:
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami);

read completely:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the First - The Bad Beginning (Lemony Snicket)
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Second - The Reptile Room (ibid.);

Ilium (Dan Simmons);

and checked out from the library:
The Golden Age (John C. Wright)

I hope everyone one of you faithful readers enjoyed your Thanksgiving, eat too much turkey, and enjoyed some leisure time curled up in a chair with a good book, or five.


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Monday, November 21, 2005


So, here I am in S Fort Myers, and it is a rainy day - the effects of TS Gamma to the South of us. Of course, I could not completely miss the storm season, right?!

It is pleasant being home and I have already had a wonderful evening out with an old friend of mine from high school, whom I have not seen or really even talked to since then. It was really cool to go hang out and get caught up. She doesn't look a day different, but if I had to say one thing that seemed different about her it is only that she matured in her beauty. She was always pretty, but, now, oh wow. We had a couple of drinks and talked about old times, what we both did in college, religion, movies, books, the future, etc. And before we knew it, it was 1am and high time to go home. We made some plans to hang out again over Christmas break and hopefully with some other folks whom we have not seen in forever in a day either.

I intend to relax while I am home and so do not intend to blog again until I get back to Chicago. Unless something extraordinary happens, and then I'll think about it. So, until then faithful readers, have a Rum Runner and think of me.


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Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Weather Update 

For all of October and the better part of the first half of November, we have had rather temperate weather here in the Windy City. Late last week that began to change as winter began getting anxious for its turn. As the temperature began to drop, I went to my thermostat and turned on my heat. But, it never came on. I assumed the building's heat had not been turned on yet because of the nice weather. Well, when I woke up Monday morning frozen, I called the landlord. He said the heat was turned on. Uh-oh. They came out and inspected and sure enough, something wasn't right. The maintenance man worked on it most of the day, but when I got home from school it was still cold. Tuesday it was still cold. So, I called this morning after thawing out and he said they were coming back today, but needed a part which was ordered and should arrive today. When I returned home from school late at night, the heat was still not on. But, I had a voicemail. He said in his message that the part would be here tomorrow and they'd have me fixed up. Meanwhile, they were good enough to leave me a couple of electric radiators. So, with those going (after I figured out how to have them both on at the same time and not short circuit theboard) and my long underwear on, I fully plan on being cozy tonight and waking up both warm and without a runny nose!


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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Kingdom of Heaven is like... 

I preached the sermon I mentioned in the last post today and I thought it went off pretty well. I was really excited about it, actually, going into it, and I was pleased by how well it went. It was one of those preaching without notes kinda sermons, too! Afterwards, in the sacristy, my priest said to me, "Have you committed that to paper?" Now, this was a new remark for her. Usually she said something like, "Well that was edifying, thank you." I said I had not committed it to paper. She said, "May I implore you to do so sooner rather than later. It was an excellent sermon and would make a great kernel for an Ember Day letter or given to someone who needs to hear it." I was honored, I must admit. So, I have come home and done as was asked. I present to you now, the sermon. As I wrote it down after delivering it, it may not be exactly as delivered, but it's pretty darn close.

St. Margaret of Scotland
Wednesday, November 16, 2005 · Matt. 13: 44-52

I grew up in Fort Myers, Florida, a coastal town, and so I loved to go to the beach as a boy. I loved to play in the sand and build sand castles. And I loved to get on my boogie board and ride the waves, such as they were in Florida before this massive cycle of hurricanes anyway. Whenever I would go to the beach I would always see a particular kind of person. This kind of person came in all shapes and sizes, young and old, male and female. But, they always had one particular feature about them – they always wore a head set connected to long metal pole at the end of which was a metal disk. They would sweep this disk back and forth across the sand as they walked. Treasure hunters. Metal detectors. I would always get excited when I would see them for the prospect of finding buried treasure really excited me. I would get even more excited when the treasure hunters would stop near me, take off their headset, get out their trowel (which inevitably hung from their belt) and begin to dig in the sand. They would dig, and dig, getting more excited as they went (or maybe that was just me). Then they would reach into the hole and proudly pull out…a bottle cap. How disappointing! I had visions of gold doubloons and great piles of gems, but what they always found was a bottle cap. I would go back to playing in the sand or riding the waves and soon forget about the treasure hunter.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hunter who stops sweeping their metal detector across the sand, takes off their headset, and sees the sun rise for the first time.

Margaret of Scotland, whom we commemorate today, died in 1093. Hers was an extraordinary life and she was an incredible woman. We know of her husband, Malcolm, thanks to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but it is Margaret the church remembers. She took the Gospel to heart and stood up to the clergy of her day, insisting that the Lord’s Day be used solely for prayer and for doing good works. She was adamant in her resolve to get the clergy to begin Lent actually on Ash Wednesday instead of the following Monday, which, for unknown reasons, seemed more convenient to them. She used her influence as the Queen, and more importantly, she influenced her husband by her resolve to put the Gospel to work! She founded schools, hospitals, and shelters for those who needed them. She tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get the clansmen of the highlands to stop their bitter wars. For a woman in the 11th century, these were remarkable accomplishments, and they all stemmed from her love of and devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Queen, who defies the conventions of her day to accomplish wonderful things in the name of the Lord.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is Scripture and how we read it, how we interpret it, and if we believe it. Yes, it’s true, a seminarian sometimes has trouble believing the Bible. I heard a quote the other week by Dr. Edward Pusey, a famous high churchman of the 19th century, that went something like this: “In order to call yourself a Catholic, you have to believe Jonah was spat out by the whale.” Oh, come on! The ole Jonah and the Whale story?! That’s pretty far fetched, don’t you think. I mean, really, a man gets swallowed by a whale for three days, get spit out, and is not only alive but in good enough shape to be disgruntled about it?! Pretty far fetched indeed! Well, is it any more far fetched than the story of a religious zealot who gets crucified for stirring up too much trouble, only to rise three days later, as He foretold, and to ascend into Heaven on high thereby redeeming us from our sin and saving us from everlasting damnation? That’s pretty far fetched too, but we believe it. We believe it and we celebrate it today and every Sunday, some 2,000 years after the fact. So, what grounds, on the basis of faith, do I have for disbelieving the Jonah story if I believe the Jesus story? I’m having a hard time coming up with any. Oh, you can talk to me about historical criticism, form criticism, and satirical writing till you’re blue in the face. But, I’m talking about the grounds of faith.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a third year seminarian who spends thousands of dollars and countless hours learning how to disbelieve the Bible, only to realize late in the game that he had inadvertently forgotten the premise: that it is the Word of God and that it is true!

I imagine, if we could have watched Jesus teaching his disciples these parables of the Kingdom, we would have heard Jesus ask them, “Have you understood all this,” and we would have heard the disciples saying, “yes,” but we would have seen them shaking their heads, “no.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a disciple who is trying hard to get it, but doesn’t, only to realize later that he really did, but was afraid of the answer.


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Monday, November 14, 2005

Preaching a Series of Parables 

I'm preaching this Wednesday and the Gospel lesson is one that does not easily yield up its winkel, or meaning and kernel of truth. Matthew 13:44-52. I've been thinking about a few things. The Kingdom of Heaven is like...a poor farmer finding an oil resovoir in a vacant field...a early saturday morning riser finding a priceless pearl at a garage sale...a fisherman who caught a whole bunch of pinfish at the same time he caught a few snook.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like someone who is looking for something else and upon finding it, gets rid of everything they thought was it but was not.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a servant who becomes a master.

The Kingdom of Heaven is someone who finds worth is both new treasure and old.

I imagine, if we could see the Gospel being played out as it was taking place, that when Jesus asked the apostles if they understood what he was saying, we'd hear them saying, "Yes," but see them shaking their heads no.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like an Apostle who is trying hard to get it, but doesn't, only to realize later that he really did, but was afraid of the answer.


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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another Legendary Weekend 

When I was in high school, my best friend drove us to school in his 1971 baby blue Volkswagen Beatle, named Lady Blue. Now, Lady Blue had one unique property. See, we drove from our neighborhood to another friend's neighborhood to pick him up. We made this trip in about 12 minutes. From the third friend's house to school was about another 10 minutes. When we left our neighborhood it was approximately 6:45am, which would mean we should arrive at the third friend's house at 6:57am, take one minute to pick him up (6:58), and then drive to school, theoretically arriving at 7:08am. However, this is where Lady Blue's magical property kicked in; see, she could cut time in twain. We did all this driving and typically arrived at school just at 7am, giving us 20 minutes before the start of classes. This is impossible, but it happened. Well, now I think Lady Blue has rubbed off on me. I have had yet another legendary weekend and done more stuff in one 48 hour period that should be humanly possible. Here's a breakdown of my weekend:

Now, I'm tired all over again from typing all those silly {li} lines...


[This just in, 10:08pm: Add to that - jerryrig a running toilet until the landlord can get out here with a new part.]

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

You Made It 

My youngest brother, Brennan, is today 18 years of age. Happy Birthday, bro! And if you really feel you must exercise your right, buy a pack of ciragettes, but for goodness' sake, don't light them!


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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Faith and Belief 

I have been thinking some recently about the issues of faith and belief, particularly in relation to a quote I ran across in my Anglican Worship class (I think it was that class). The quote, which I cannot seem to find right now, was by Edward Pusey, a prominent figure of the Oxford Movement. He said something to the effect of 'in order to be catholic, you have to believe the whale spit Jonah out.'

So, I'm thinking, well, now, honestly E.B., that's a pretty fantastic story! I mean, really, a big fish eats a guy, holds him down there for some days, and then spits him back out again and he's fine (aside from still being disgruntled with God)? Pretty far-fetched. But then I thought about it from this angle: a religious zealot who teaches like no one else teaches gets executed by the authorities for stirring up too much trouble. Only, three days later that zealot is Resurrected, visits a few folks, and the Ascends to Heaven, thereby effecting the redemption of the world! Ok, that's a pretty far fetched story, too! But, I believe it. So, what grounds then, from the perspective of faith, do I have to say I disbelieve the Jonah and the Big Fish story? I'm not sure I have any. What do you think?


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Sunday, November 06, 2005


Important G.O.E. Preparation Material

Here are two links that will help you in your preparation and taking of the General Ordination Exams. If you are at Seabury, I will get these to you at our next prep session as well.

FR. WEJUS' LINKS OF INTEREST TO ANGLICAN STUDIES - this page is a compendium of mostly useful links to websites that will be of invaluable use to us. Neatly divided up by category.

VTS GOE PREP PAGE - The Virginia Theological Seminary Class of '06 has this highly informative and useful website set up for GOE takers. It's got some links, but most importantly has SAMPLE QUESTIONS and GENERALLY RECOMMENDED BOOKS.

GOE ADVICE - From the VTS page, but worthy of a separate link. Excellent advice for pre-GOE preparation and helpful tips for managing anxiety during the test.

Let me know if anyone finds anything else!


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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Thinking About War, part 2 

I usually like to check the cnn.com quick poll of the day to see what they're interested in. Today's question seemed to stem from the riots in Paris and the violence surrounding the Summit. The question was, "Do you think violent protests get results?" Part of the reason why I love these questions/polls so much is how vague they are. Of course violent protests get results! It may not be the result you want, or even the best result possible, but causes do have effects. And violent protests often do lead to the result thought. Maybe it's not the best way to get there, in fact, it almost certainly is not, but it is a way. As a member of the Church, I find myself condemning the use of violence, but in no way does that or should that make me blind to the fact that violence is one way to get things done.

Do violent protests get results? Yes, of course they do. I'm thinking in particular of a little protest started a while ago that kicked off formally with the opening words, "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another..."

And yet, according to the cnn.com poll today, at least when I checked it, over 60% of the people voting think that violent protests get no results whatsover. Again, we may not like that method, as I do not, but we cannot help but acknowledge the law of cause and effect. To not do so makes us little better than the ostrich.


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Friday, November 04, 2005

Tonight, I Raise a Glass 

Beyond November 4

I look up to the night sky
And see one more star that was not
There before.

I look at the latest picture of friends,
All gathered, and wish I saw
One more.

Seeing their faces in all of life’s mirrors,
I wonder why, at this tender age, they’re so
Stained with tears.

All who were once so strong, now robbed
And somehow less complete, our bodies wracked
By sobs.

We stand tight together now, but how I wish,
O God, how I so wish it were not
For this!

We laugh as all the old stories are retold,
Pleasantly surprised by what our
Memories can hold.

But grow sad to think that now they hold this,
Remembrance of a moment shared, a hug,
Or a kiss.

As hard as it is to accept you are gone,
We know we’ll join you again, when our new
Life sees its dawn.

So go with God now, you are home, you are safe,
And we will carry on through this life at
Our own pace.

There will be moments when we will be sad, or cry,
But then we’ll thank God for our blessings and
No longer question why.

We’ll smile at your name and not wonder how,
Though that hour seems far off for us today.
So, for now,

I hope there’s room enough in Heaven
Because this earth was just too small.
And I pray you God, for comfort
Because Drew went when he heard You call.
A man can only be so strong,
Can only hold back his tears for so long,
When our lives, like this, are rocked to the core,
When our very hearts and souls feel so sore.
Help us to turn to You, O God, I pray
And help us to echo Drew’s song as we say
That “even strangers must agree
To set me free.”

And as friends, we must stand together,
Strong and proud,
Looking back at the times we shared
And all the laughter loud.
Wiping away our tears, we learn
Something of value from this trial of pain –
That in our loss, there is gain.
So, let us wake each morn
And together say,
“Thank you God, for this,
one more day.”

4 Years ago, this night; a rainy day, an oily patch on the road, a moment at the wrong time, in the wrong place, a truck, and souls changed forever - May your soul rest in peace this day, Drew, and rise in glory at the new dawn!


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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blessed Richard Hooker, Speak to Us 

I am reminded that one year ago today, I was preaching on the Feast day of Blessed Richard Hooker in the chapel at St. Thomas, Medina, WA, while I was on my plunge. It seems so long ago now. Hooker is a man whom I wish would come back and help us out a bit in our current struggles to remain together in the Anglican Communion. What would he have to say about us? The majority of the fight of his day was over styles of worship; those of the reformed tradition saw ceremonial as an unnecessary impediment to worship and those of the more catholic position argued that ceremonial aided our worship by giving us something beautiful to offer to God. That controversy, while still important today, seems to have little to do with the fight over human sexuality and the authority of scripture. But, I can't imagine that Hooker's ideas of via media don't have anything to say to us. I just don't know what it might be. The via media was a way to keep the best parts of both the reform and catholic traditions as one, rather than fighting and losing what was excellent about each. So, might via media be able to say to us today, "From the more liberal minded Christians, take a sense of radical inclusion, which is the message of Christ. From the more conservative minded Christians, take the strong sense of the authority of scripture as it is written, which has the power to unify, not divide." Maybe. Maybe it would have something else to say. In doing some thinking on this the other day, I came up with a maxim that is helpful for me: in the practice of our Christian faith, we, the members, must conform our lives, beliefs, and actions to Christ and to the Church as Christ's body in the world, not try to force Christ and the Church to conform to our wants and desires. Even the parts we don't like.

A friend of mine, Micah Jackson, has started a cool project called Communion of the Saints. He is posting a podcast (audio) of short meditations on the saints as they appear in our Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Richard Hooker is the inaugural podcast, so go check it out at St. Jerome's Chapel, and consider for yourself Hooker's ideas as you listen.


[Later: As if on cue, I just read that the Archbishop of Canterbury met with the Bishop of New Hampshire this morning. Read about it, albeit briefly, here.]

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I Guess I'm an Anchor 

I came across the following quote in an interesting little book I'm reading that I picked up at Nashotah, while there for the Lavabo Bowl. It is called Anglo-Catholic Customs, and in an introduction to anglo-catholic theology and practice, including signs and symbols. Chapter 2 takes the form of a testimonial of sorts from the author, on why he chooses to self-identify as an anglo-catholic. The quote is a part of that chapter.

It is partly because of its general progressivism that I feel the Anglican Communion is basically faithful to its Founder. The Church needs at every moment to keep one foot planted solidly in historic faith and practice; while with the other it steps forward into the future. If both feet are planted in the past, antiquarianism and sentimentality result. Yet no walker can without disaster plant two feet simultaneously in the future. One must be the anchor while the other is advancing.


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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

To Cross or Not to Cross 

I found out a little bit more about the tradition of priests crossing their stoles in the front. In discussion with my higher church minded theology professor today, she said it was a designation of order. Deacons wear their stole diagonal, priests crossed, and bishops hanging straight down. She also said it was likely a "tradition in search of a theology". But, when I mentioned to her what my Rector Emeritus had said about the Bishop being the only person with the strength to wear the stole straight down, it seemed to resonate with her. She said that made sense because the vesting prayer for putting on the stole mentions the yoke of Christ. She also said that when there is a Bishop present, she crosses her stole, but generally leaves it uncrossed otherwise. Since the spirituality of vesting is one of the subsections of my learning goals for field-ed, I went to the site that talked about vesting prayers. There are two forms, traditional and contemporary. In most cases, it is like the contemporary and traditional forms of the Lord's Prayer: they say essentially the same thing but in different words. In the case of the stole prayer, they are different, however. It also included some "rubrics" about crossing.

(Kiss the cross at the center of the stole. Priests cross in the middle). Restore to me, O Lord, the state of immortality which was lost to me by my first parents, and although unworthy to approach Thy sacred mysteries, grant me nevertheless eternal joy. (As a sign of his full priestly powers the bishop does not cross the stole in front.)

(Kiss the cross at the center of the stole). You said, 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light,' grant that I might bear your blessing to all the world.

So, there you have that. The discussion with my theology professor led to a side discussion about how she wishes we would bring back the maniple! Furthermore, she wishes we would be able to do an Anglican Missal service at school one day! As excited as I was to hear that, I told her I already tried to get that approved but the head liturgist said, "I would prefer we stick to the authorized liturgical texts." Then, my prof. and I hatched a plan involving a "Rite III" service that used the Anglican Missal texts as its text...hmmm...


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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Crossing the Stole 

Ok, here's a question I'll throw out there to y'all. I've been reflecting a lot on my churchmanship and its development and in so doing I've been trying to recall the way the Liturgy was celebrated at my home church growing up, in detail. One of the points I remember is that the Celebrant (Presider) always crossed his stole in the front of his alb, rather than wearing it with both ends hanging equally straight down. The assisting priest usually wore his stole hanging striaght down and so growing up, I thought this was to symbolically designate who was the celebrant and who was the assistant. Then, last year, I was back home visiting and had a chance to serve at the Altar with the Rector Emeritus who was taking the 7:30am service that day. He was explaining a great deal to me in the Sacristy as we prepared for the Mass. One of the things he said, as he was vesting, was that the priest always crosses the stole in front, that only the Bishop has the strength to wear the stole hanging straight down. I was taking in so much information at that time that I just let everything wash over me. Now, I have grown curious about that point again.

Why is this done? Why do some priests cross their stole over their chests? I have looked it up. The Episcopal Church's website acknowledged the practice but did not comment on reasoning. A Roman Catholic website addressed the issue from the perspective of "legality" and acknowledged that traditionally only those with the privilege of wearing pectoral crosses could have their stole uncrossed. But I can't find a succinct reason why this practice developed and then fell into disuse except among more traditional clergy. Anyone out there want to hazard an opinion or a definitive answer?


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