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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

1It has been some time since I have posted on my blog.  I have been trying to respond faithfully to the changes life has brought upon me.  In doing to I have had to prioritize and make decisions about what is really important.  So I have taken an absence to my blog.  I am currently working on some content, and should be posting on a more regularly basis.  Until then please enjoy this reflection from St. Clement of Alexandria

The perfect person does not only try to avoid evil.


Nor does he do good for fear of punishment, still less in order to qualify for the hope of a promised reward.

The perfect person does good through love.

His actions are not motivated by desire for personal benefit, so he does not have personal advantage as his aim. 

But as soon as he has realized the beauty of doing good, he does it with all his energies and in all that he does.

He is not interested in fame, or a good reputation, or a human or divine reward.

The rule of life for a perfect person is to be in the image and likeness of God.

St. Clement of Alexandria

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0413-450x600It has been cold here.  The whole city is covered under a thick blanket of ice.  For many the ice and cold is a nightmare.  For me I see it as therapy.  Much needed at that.   I love this weather.  I find the cold calming.  I long for the brutal cold wind of the North.  I long to hear it whip around my house.  The rattle of the windows.  The sting on my face as I work outside.   The cold and ice is gone now.  Still in my heart it remains

The Nativity of our Lord is just around the corner.  I am looking forward to it, and dreading it at the same time.  Physically I am not ready.  My house is not prepared.  Emotionally I am all over the place.  Spiritually I am anxious.  I guess this is a good way to be.

I once was the one with answers.  I was the one people went to for direction.  A pillar in the church.  Now I am none of these things.  Just a shadow.  A phantom of my past.  I hope Nativity will a new beginning.  The start of something beautiful.  At the same time I am ok if this is as good as it gets.

I am no longer the hopeless optimist.  I am not a pessimist either. Whatever is will be.  I am not looking for some sort of false reality.  Or living on hope of something better.  I am trying to live in the present.  To accept it and grow in it.

Lord have mercy on me.  I came into this new place in life very arrogant.   I didn’t see it at the time.  Who am I?  What exactly did I expect? I don’t know if I have any answer.  What I do know is that I am so done.  I am over worrying about what family might think of me.  I am over preconceived ideas of who I am suppose to be.  I just want to live.  Truly live.

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72750_1603573401531_4403968_nDoes the Lord’s command about ceaseless prayer that men ought always to pray (Luke 18:1), apply only to monks or to all Christians in general?

If it applied only to monks, the Apostle Paul would not have written to the Christians in Thessalonica “to pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).

The Apostle repeats the Lord’s command, word for word, and issues it to all Christians without distinction, whether monks or laymen.

St. Gregory Palamas lived a life of asceticism for some time as a young hieromonk in a monastery in Beroea. The elder Job, a well-known ascetic whom everyone respected, lived in that monastery. It happened that, in elder Job’s presence, St. Gregory quoted the Apostle’s words, asserting that ceaseless prayer is the obligation of every Christian and not just for monks.

However, elder Job replied that ceaseless prayer is the obligation of the monk only, and not for every Christian. Gregory, as the younger of the two, yielded and withdrew in silence. When Job returned to his cell and stood at prayer, an angel in great heavenly glory appeared to him and said: “O Elder, do not doubt the truthfulness of Gregory’s words; he spoke correctly and you should think likewise and pass it on to others.”

Thus, both the Apostle and the angel confirmed the commandment that all Christians must pray to God without ceasing.

Not only without ceasing in church, but also without ceasing in every place and at all times, and especially in your heart.

For if God does not for a moment tire of giving us good things, how can we tire of thanking Him for these good things?

When He thinks of us without ceasing, why do we not think of Him without
ceasing?

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candleSo finally I have found what I just want to do with this blog.  I am going back to my original idea.  This blog will mainly be thoughts, reflections, and possibly some humor.

So much has happened in my life over the past few years.  I have ran the the gambit of churches.  I have had dreams of being a missionary, pastor, and a slew of professional carriers.  The only thing that has been consistent since I was 18 is my wife.   Through the bad times, and the good she has stood beside me.  We have survived maturing and growing into adulthood.  She still loves me, and I look forward to growing old with her.

Work has been interesting.  I have worked for the same company for 13 years.  Mainly in the same department the whole time.  Last year I was transferred to a new job.  To keep it short.  It is a good move, and I enjoy it very much.  It has been challenging, but I think that is a good thing.

This year at Christmas my family and I will be received into the Orthodox church.  Finally we are home.  I am finally in the place I always wanted to be.  No more playing around.  I have looked hard at myself, and asked what am I truly looking for.  I always thought it was the Roman Catholic Church.  After much prayer, and visiting many parishes.  I found that in fact this is not the place for me.  I decided to take a long hard look at Eastern Orthodoxy.  In this church I found what it is I was looking for within the Catholic Church, but I also found the monastic / prayer aspect that I was longing for in regular catholic circles.

I am sure I will talk more on all of these things in greater detail in the future.

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I am an Episcopalian. Proud of my Anglican heritage. I believe in the Anglican ideals. I love the Book of Common Prayer. I love our rich liturgy. I love the freedom and love that flows out the doors of our parishes.

What I do not love is the fighting. I do not love the hate within the church. I do not love the moral apathy. One can argue that the Episcopal church is not alone in these problems. That might be true, but the problems within my own church are the ones that directly affect me.

From the get go I have struggled to make sense with many things that seemed so senseless. I found peace in my prayer book. The Book of Common Prayer was my anchor. It was the banks that the living waters of the Episcopal church flows.

Years now I have been serving, praying, and working alongside some of the best Christians I have ever had the pleasure to be in contact with. I love them with my whole heart. I see the gospel being brought forth with truth and love.

Recently some things were voted on at general convention. I was aware of them, and for the most part was unmoved by them. It was not until the passing of these ideas that I started to really struggle. Now mind you I don’t think my problem rests in these decisions alone. It is something much larger.

I started look look at the world we live in. Looking honestly at my church and the church as a whole. I find myself less and less happy with how things are going. More often then not my family feels out of touch. My children especially are feeling this. They struggle to make friends. Between the minimal amount of children at our parish, and the type of children in our neighborhood. They are limited on having quality friendships. My oldest who is a teenager feels this the most I think. She longs for other friends.

So what is one to do? We could find a larger Episcopal church. Maybe one that is more conservative. We could stay at our parish, and try to find outlets for our kids to make friends. In the end I am still stuck struggling with my overall moral differences. I will leave my struggle with the governance of the ECUSA out of this.

I do not know what we are going to do. I have talked to my Abbot and my Priest. They have encouraged me, and bless whatever decision we decide to make. So if you read this please keep us in your prayers. We have never thought about leaving a parish and it be a bitter sweat deal.

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Through our baptism we are called to be ministers in Christ’s church. Some are called to be Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Religious, and the most noble of all orders, the Laity from which all orders come. We are all called to a holy vocation, a royal priesthood. No office or position is greater. We all serve Christ’s church on our path to salvation.

There are various types of Religious. The Holy Spirit gives each Order a specific charism so that the church may be served and strengthened. For some time I have felt a call to monasticism. You might be curious as to what exactly monasticism is or Monastic Life. In a monastic vocation an individual feels called to renounce worldly pursuits and to devote ones self to spiritual work. The craft of the monastic can vary from Science to crafting beer. Yet, for Benedictines their core work is prayer. Following a moderate rule of life monastic’s pray the Liturgy of the hours, sometimes called the Work of God.

The Church for centuries has recognized the importance of monastic prayer and have called their work the “prayer engine of the church.” While many people attention is directed to things of this world, the monastic’s offer up prayers for the world. They are the beacons of light that shine in an often dark world. Monasteries are set like a city on the hill; offering refuge, healing, and direction to a sick and dying world. Through the centuries many have forgotten about Religious life, this is especially true in the Anglican/Episcopal Church. Religious life disappeared after King Henry VIII banished Religious life from England when he broke away from Rome to secure an another wife. Benedictine life did not return to England until 1904 and in the United States until about 65 years ago.

The Church says only about 4% of Christians are called to Religious life. Through spiritual discernment I was drawn to a Benedictine community. I have been in relationship with the Abbot for about 2 and a half years. The Abbot and I believe that the Holy Spirit is calling me to be part of that 4%. It is a path to salvation that is built on structure, discipline, and prayer; of dying to self and becoming the man God called me to be at my baptism. Like all of us conversion is a work in progress. Mine will just be a bit more visible.

This past May I entered the religious community of The House of Initia Nova (New Beginnings). It is a Benedictine Community whose Mother House is in Houston Texas. They have lay members and religious all over the world. They also have a few who live in community at the Genesis Abbey.

I am currently in my postulancy. In this time I get to try on this life, and see if it fits. At the Abbey I was figuratively stripped of my garments, and clothed in the tunic of a monk. My name was changed to signify a new life in Christ. My new name and the black clothing is a continuing symbol of the renunciation to the world, and a new continuation in my life with Christ. For many my name change has been somewhat a struggle. To many I will always be Kirk, to other Kirkus, and that is ok.

After my postulancy I will enter the novitiate and from there into Professed life. Each step requires commitment and inward change. Some of the steps will be represented by some exterior change, an external symbol of an internal grace. It is my prayer and hope that over time my life and the symbol of my monastic life will become a blessing for me and for you. It is something that will be a slow progression in our life together. I do not want to be a distraction from our worship life together. Praying the daily office, and serving at the altar of our Lord I will continue as I always have.

If you have any questions regarding religious life, lay orders, or my call please feel free to ask. Thank you all for your continued support, love, and prayer.

Pax

Br. John-Paul, p/OSB (Kirk Broyles)

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Tomorrow the Bishop is coming to my parish. We have I believe 15 people being confirmed, one re-affirmation, and one baptism. I am so very excited for everyone. Especially those being confirmed. Some of them I know it has been a struggle coming to this point. I am excited to see them grow, and to see them find their place in ministry in the church.

For me tomorrow is a special day. It is a day that for so long was elusive. It will be a day that I find some sort of belonging. I will be on the receiving end of a sacrament that has been given to so many for centuries. Public declarations of my faith will be heard. Then the Bishop will lay hands on me. Filling me with the Holy Spirit. I will be transformed. Forever will I be a child of God. A servant to his Church.

Although externally nothing really is going to change. My duties at the parish will continue as they are. Most likely the Monday after will be very much like the Saturday before. Yet they will be different. Only because I will be different. My journey to find Christ does not end at this point. I have not attained holiness or some form of perfection.

I will continue on a path that so many have traveled before me, and will continue when I am dead and gone. This “yes” on my part will publicly unite me to a faith that I have so desperately sought after for many years. Uniting me to Christs church.

I have no idea what the future holds for me. Maybe I will discern to be a priest. Look into various forms of mission work. Kari and I have a strong passion and desire to work in missions either in the US or abroad. Or to be part of the faithful doing the work of the Lord in my parish. In time all things in this life are revealed. I joyfully welcome the pursuit.

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