December 2011

Our Military Men

Each Sunday at the end of the Divine Liturgy, we pray for several members of the armed forces of our country. The heroic men below are those men.
Robby is from Round Rock and is a friend of the Patton family. He repairs tanks in Afghanistan.
John is another friend of the Patton family. He is from Round Rock also. He is, at this time, in an undisclosed location.
Chris Jr. is Father Steven Davis’s grandson. He is currently stateside but will soon be deployed again – probably to Afghanistan.
Bobby is the grandson of Bob and Irene Harlan. He has served for many years and has had several deployments to the Middle East.
Scott is the nephew of Gaylan DuBose. He is currently in Afghanistan.

We pray for all of them to return home safely soon.

Monasticism: An Overlooked Treasure—Oblates

Glory to the All-Holy Trinity now and forever!

Take my words, O Lord, and make them Thine, to the glory of Thy name and to the re-deification of man. Amen.

What Oblate Novices and Oblates Do
There is perhaps nothing an Oblate Novice or Oblate does that you cannot also do without becoming an Oblate Novice or Oblate. And Oblates and Oblate Novices both “do” the same thing. It is not so much that Oblates gain any knowledge (as in receiving a diploma) or engage in spiritual practices reserved only for the initiated — there is none of that. You become an Oblate by oblation — the offering the gift of yourself to God in a life guided by the ancient Rule of St. Benedict.
Because there are no set course of study to master and no spiritual practices reserved for a special group, and because monastic lifestyles and traditions have 1,800 years of continuous recorded history, and because major elements monastic practices — daily praying the Psalms — has a history of 3,000 years, you can find a monastic tradition that has developed in the past that will fit your spirit today. The variations in Benedictine practices are many even while they all remain true to ancient monastic practices. Moreover, Benedictine spiritual life has many characteristics that can be found in other traditions.
With the above explanations in mind, the following are items that characterize the typical Benedictine Oblate, if there is such a person. But, for Oblates, we do the best we can and follow these practices as our circumstance permit. As an Oblate you have responsibilities that monks and sisters do not have, a child or spouse to care for, bills to pay. And always remember: Be gentle on yourself as you follow your own Benedictine Oblate Monastic path:

PRAY THE DIVINE OFFICE — THE OPUS DEI – (LITURGY OF THE HOURS)

Growing out of the desire to “pray without ceasing” and to have the love for God always flowing from our hearts, Benedictine Oblates pray (and many sing) some form of the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, or Opus Dei — “Work of God”) when they visit a Monastery, or at their home, or in a Benedictine gathering with other people.
The Opus Dei is prayed between one and seven times a day: at Matins or Vigils (after midnight), Lauds (approximately at dawn), Terce (“Third Hour”—midmorning), Sext (“Sixth Hour”—noon), Nones (“Ninth Hour”—midafternoon), Vespers (evening), and Compline (night, last prayer of the day). Although in a Monastery all of these “Hours” would be prayed, an Oblate could pray as follows: a short morning prayer dedicating his/her day to God, then a short Noontime prayer (perhaps even the Angelus or just a Hail Mary), an Evening or Vespers “service” as found in the Orthodox Book of Common Prayer, and Compline at bedtime; and, of course, there must ALWAYS be the “Grace before each meal.” Each of these prayer times should take no more than 15 minutes or even less if it is only a short prayer without Psalms or Readings. At least the Scriptures for the day are highly encouraged in the Evening, with a Morning Prayer, Noontime prayer, and Bedtime prayers. An extremely useful and beautiful book for the Opus Dei is: Benedictine Daily Prayer, A Short Breviary, published by Liturgical Press; this book is very helpful if you wish to do complete readings for the Hours. Be careful, though, since it is a Roman Catholic publication, not an Orthodox one.

BE DEVOTED TO DIVINE READING – (Lectio Divina)
Slow, contemplative Bible reading that lets God speak to your heart and seeks close communion with God by God’s illumination of your soul.
Extensive lectio divina resources. (Lectio divina is pronounced: Lek’-tsee-oh dih-vee’-nuh.)
KEEP AN AMPLE SUPPLY OF SILENCE.

Oblates tend to enjoy silence in their lives and seek it out. Silent contemplation is often a result of praying the Divine Office.
Until we meet again, may God bless us all. Amen.

Please pray for me, Brother John-Thomas.
All biblical references are taken from the Orthodox Study Bible, with Psalms numbered according to the Septuagint. If you are using any other Version, the Psalm number in parentheses is the proper reference.

Miscellany

We had two beautiful observances of the Divine Liturgy on Christmas Eve. Father Gerardo Alberto Galaviz celebrated mass in a bilingual service at 7 in the evening. The service was well attended. After the service Santa Claus visited and handed out gifts to about forty children.
At 10:30 we began a festival of carols. The service began at 11 with our traditional singing of “O come, all ye faithful” with the first verse sung beautifully in Latin. Meletia Davis accompanied the organist and the choir on the flute as all sang “Silent night” after communion. His Eminence Archbishop Thomas David Logue celebrated mass. After the service Santa Claus returned and handed out more gifts to the children present.

It was good to see Brother John-Thomas OSB in attendance at the 11 o’clock celebration. We pray for the continued improvement of his health so that he can return to us. Those of us involved with the choir especially miss him.

The annual parish meeting is, traditionally, held in January after a pot-luck lunch. Be thinking about attending this important meeting. The exact date is to be announced later.

Frank Franklin’s brother, George, who has worshiped with us many times in the past fell at his residence yesterday (December 26). He is in Seton Hospital in Round Rock. Please add him to your prayer list.

A Note of Thanks

Dearest and beloved friends,
Thank you so much for all your love and prayers during my time of recovery. Your gifts were much appreciated, and they have helped us to recover some stability in our budget, which was rocked by my hospital stays. Gene, Ralph and I all appreciate the wonderful spirit of giving that has flowed from the hearts and souls of you all, and wish the happiest of new years to you all.
Almighty Heavenly Father, Who hast taught us to love one another, I thank Thee for all the loving Brothers and Sisters Thou has given to me and to my family. Most especially, I thank Thee for the chance to know and love all Thy children at St. Augustine’s Orthodox Church. Bless them, dear Father; forgive them all their sins, and grant them health, peace, joy, wisdom, all the necessities of life, and every earthly and spiritual good thing. I humbly ask Thee to grant this my petition in the Name of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom, with Thee and the Holy Spirit, I offer all honor and glory.

Amen.

With sincere affection I remain your Brother in Christ Jesu.
John-Thomas McCune.

Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.
Bill Vaughan, Associated Press Columnist
Quoted in The Week

Contributed by Frank Franklin