Sermon: Thomas à Kempis

Information regarding the image: Title – Thomas à Kempis on Mount Saint Agnes – (1569). In the Our Lady’s Basilica in Zwolle there is a painting on which Thomas van Kempen is pictured, with in the background the building complex of the Agnietenberg monastery. Also on the painting Arnold Waeyer (1606-1692), the archipelago of Salland can be seen. He led an important part of the church life of the Zwolle Catholics in the shelter period. The painting contains a comprehensive Latin text.

If the text is reliable, the painting would date from 1569 and be painted on behalf of Johannes Cuperinus, the last prior of the Agnietenberg monastery. He said, adding the text and self-portrait in 1654. In the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle, a virtually identical painting hangs. (source)  I’ve tried to locate the Latin text, but have not been successful.


The library at Nashotah House is something to behold. Two stories and a basement, wall-to-wall books and periodicals, almost all of which pertain to God and the Church. In addition, in the basement along one wall is a must visit at least once per week section. This is where they have the books that they are giving away. Duplicates, out of date, a bit to worn, etc. copies. It wasn’t every week that you will find one, but occasionally you will come across a gem. And I believe it was in my Junior year that I came across this one: My Imitation of Christ, published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood. It is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. Continue reading “Sermon: Thomas à Kempis”

Sermon: Proper 11 – “EYE17”

The following is my lead-in to the sermon preached by Sophie Fosmire, a member of our youth who attended EYE17 as a delegate.


The Episcopal Church loves it meetings. We have all sorts of local meetings of various committees and we have our vestry meetings, the vestry being the governing body of St. Matthew’s. On the Diocesan level, we have even more meetings. Commission on Ministry, Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, etc. Then there is what we call the National Church, our Presiding Bishop is the head. The National Church also has meetings, with the grand Episcopal Church meeting being the General Convention, which is held every three years. The last one was held in Salt Lake City in 2015. Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 11 – “EYE17””

Sermon: Mary Magdalene

The Book of Judith can be found in the apocrypha, which means, according to Article 6 of the 39 Articles, “the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.” Which is kind of interesting, given that, in the end, Judith beheads her enemies and is celebrated as a hero, but I’m getting ahead of the story.

The book begins, “It was the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh,” which rabbinical scholars state is the equivalent of, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” In other words, it is historical fiction. That said… Continue reading “Sermon: Mary Magdalene”

Sermon: Proper 10 RCL A – “Imitate”

In 1915, the king of the silent movies was “The Tramp” – Charlie Chaplin. He wore his baggy pants, tight fitting jacket, bowler hat, oversize shoes and carried a cane. His pale skin and mustache were also a part of his trademark, but you could always tell it was him by his walk. He was so popular that communities began to have Charlie Chaplin lookalike contests, the goal to not only look like Chaplin, but to be one who had mastered, who could imitate that iconic walk.

San Francisco was one town that joined in the fun. They were line up around the block to participate. It worked by having several elimination rounds leading up to the finals. Many were cut in that first round, but finally the winner was named. Sounds like fun; however, what made it so comical was the fact that the real Charlie Chaplin had also entered the contest and had been eliminated before the final round.

It is reported, following the competition, that Chaplin was “tempted to give lessons in the Chaplin walk, out of pity as well as in the desire to see the thing done correctly.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 10 RCL A – “Imitate””

Sermon: St. Benedict of Nursia

In our reading to the Philippians, Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” So, if I was to ask you, how would you say that you are working out your salvation?

Some may have a pretty good plan, while others take the Hail Mary approach. Not the Hail Mary prayer, but the Hail Mary play in football, when you are at the end of the game and behind, so you make one last play and hope you come down with a score. I suspect most fall somewhere in-between, but it was Benedict of Nursia who worked out his salvation with a very specific Rule. You know it as the Rule of St. Benedict, which was written about the year 530 a.d. Continue reading “Sermon: St. Benedict of Nursia”

Sermon: Proper 7 RCL A – “Allegiance”

John Kenneth Galbraith was an economist and diplomat serving under four different presidents. In his book, Name-Dropping: From F.D.R. on, Galbraith speaks about the loyalty of Emily Gloria Wilson, his housekeeper of forty years. It had been a wearying day and he had an evening engagement, and had asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while he had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. It was President Lyndon Johnson calling from the White House. It was the president’s custom to make most of his own calls.

“Lyndon Johnson here. Get me Ken Galbraith. I want to talk to him.”

Emily responded, “He’s resting, Mr. President.”

“Well, get him up. I need to talk to him.”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t. I work for him, not for you, Mr. President.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 7 RCL A – “Allegiance””

Sermon: Edward, King and Martyr

Early sources state that St. Edward “was a young man of great devotion and excellent conduct. He was completely Orthodox, good and of holy life. Moreover, he loved above all things God and the Church. He was generous to the poor, a haven to the good, a champion of the Faith of Christ, a vessel full of every virtuous grace.” He was martyred for good old fashioned greed. Greed of power and greed of wealth.

Around 963 Edgar the Peaceable was King of England. Prior to the birth of his first son, he had a dream which was interpreted for him: “After your death the Church of God will be attacked. You will have two sons. The supporters of the second will kill the first, and while the second will rule on earth the first will rule in heaven.” The first son was Edward, but the queen died shortly after giving birth. Edgar married again and gave birth to the second son, Ethelred, and Ethelred’s mother had great ambitions for her son. Citing some technicalities in the birth of Edward, she claimed that her son should be heir to the thrown, which set off divisions throughout the kingdom. Continue reading “Sermon: Edward, King and Martyr”

Sermon: Proper 6 RCL A – “Called and Obedient”

In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery. “Your Majesty,” said Prior Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”

“I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”

“Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.” When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 6 RCL A – “Called and Obedient””

Sermon: The First Book of Common Prayer (1549)

I confess, I love reading Stephen King, enough so that when I’m not satisfied with other things that I’ve been reading, I’ll go pick up one of his books that I haven’t read for awhile and read it again. I also like reading about how he writes and what sparks the ideas for his stories and books. In several of these stories, he actually writes about a writer, and in the case of the short story, The Body (the movie Stand by Me is based on the story), he writes about Gordie LaChance, an author who is telling the story of when he was twelve. On writing, Gordie says, “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear.” Continue reading “Sermon: The First Book of Common Prayer (1549)”