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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 National Day of Pilgrimage: The Shrine

Outside of the Shrine Church.

The main altar inside.

Another shot of the main altar.

A bishop's tomb.  I'm guessing not a low-churchman either.

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As soon as you open the main doors, this altar greets you.

The Holy House inside the Shrine Church.  This is the actual shrine to OLW.

One of many beautiful side chapels inside the Shrine Church.

In all, I would have to say that I was most impressed with the Shrine Church and the surrounding grounds.  Everything was up-to-date and well maintained.  You certainly could tell that many faithful patrons support the Shrine and devotion to OLW.  

My recommendation would be to go without all the pomp and ceremony of the National Pilgrimage.  It was crazy, but you certainly got to see a lot of high church spikery at its finest.

2009 National Day of Pilgrimage: The Mass

The mass took place on the ancient grounds of the priory at Walsingham.  These grounds, so I am told, are only opened up for this grand occasion.

Everything was done with proper care to churchmanship, sometimes a tad over the top in places.  The weather was exceedingly agreeable and we had a nice spot over on the lawn and there we sat with our children.

My only complaint was that when I took my daughter up to receive Communion at one of the many stations, she put her hand out only to be denied the Body of Our Lord by the priest!  Instead, she received a blessing and then she promptly started crying loudly, "my bread!  I want my bread!"  I encouraged to cry even louder as I was terribly distraught over the out-dated eucharistic theology of this priest.

2009 National Day of Pilgrimage: The Processions

Yesterday, we made the journey down from Mirfield to England's Nazareth, Walsingham. We chartered a private bus along with seminarians from the College of the Resurrection and few monks from the Community of the Resurrection.  

Walsingham is an adorable, quaint English village complete with pubs, bookshops, and plenty of images of Our Lady.  The Shrine and surrounding grounds have recently undergone reconstruction and everything looked brilliant.

The day begins with a procession of the clergy and the actual shrine of OLW from the Shrine Church to the ancient Walsingham priory ruins where the principal mass is to be celebrated.  Along the route stands the protesters, and I'll let their placards speak for themselves.  There, the protesters yelled at us claiming that we worship Mary and that we are idolaters.  They handed out pamphlets trying to save our souls, etc.  I'm reminded what my Systematic Theology Professor says, "if your theology of Mary is off, then you've sure to get your Christology wrong too." 

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Faces of God: God the Sibling

My brother and I are only separated by a year-and-a-half.  My mother loves to remind me that it was my brother who often served as my spokesman when we were little, he somehow could read my mind.  It was my brother who coaxed me into doing things, well, let's say that would provoke my parents just a little.  But, it was my brother whose solo heroism pulled me up out of the hot tub and saved my life as I was drowning.

While in our teenage years we began to grow apart as our interests no longer seemed to collide. I was interested in becoming a Boy Scout and immersing myself into that life.  My brother, perhaps more typically hormonal, was interested in girls and cars.  I learned how to play by myself and I explored a new world of imagination and creativity, but I knew I was alone more and more.  Somehow that seemingly lonely world was busy with games and escapades that kept me very active.  My brother used to pick on me about my weight as kid--he was literally thin as a stick and I was not.

The college years changed everything.  To everyone's surprise (mine too), I chose to attend the same college as my brother.  My last two years of high school were blissful, I had the house and my parents all to myself, and now I wanted to change everything.  My brother was in his junior year as I began as a freshman.  He was of legal drinking age and I was not--you see where this is going.  We quickly rekindled our bonds of affection and I also became very good friends with his friends!  I ended up having more upperclassmen friends than those in my own class, a mistake that would later hurt.  College was fun and it was fun because I had the opportunity to share two years of it with my brother.  The campus world dramatically changed following his graduation, I truly missed him.

Now in our young adult years, my brother and I continue to grow in our relationship.  He tends to be a better communicator than I am, he constantly calls me and my parents.  My brother is the one that comes up with the creative gift ideas for Mother's/Father's day.  Though now, the weight has been reversed and I am guilty of a few jabs to exact my revenge (and I say it all in the most Christian way possible!).  My brother is the one who never lets me go off into my own world of depression and self-pity; it is my brother who has saved my life on more than one occasion.

God as my brother?  Related by blood?  Would God call me fat?  Would God purchase beer for me as a college freshman?  Would God annoyingly call and check in with me whenever I was at a low point in my life?  

The thought that keeps emerging is the parallel between my brother's relationship and my relationship with God.  God does serve as our ultimate spokesman and God gives us the sort of curiosity that would lead a 13 year old to play with firecrackers.  I feel extremely fortunate to have the present relationship with my brother.  Though it's not often perfect, but I find that my brother is often much more forgiving than I am and he seems willing to hang in there no matter what.  My brother is without exception an old-school romantic, searching the horizon for the perfect sunset.  I envy that in him as well as his genuine goodness.

So the parallel:  my brother and I were close, grew apart, and then grew close again and continue to develop a mature brotherly relationship.  With God lies the same pattern.  Does God will the separation?  No.  Does God give us the tools we need to survive alone and help us find our way back?  Yes.  

I struggle a little with this imagery of God as Sibling, not because I don't have a saint-like brother, but because I know I have to expand the many faces that God lives.  I can and do see the image, though it's not one that seems to wrench my heart like the others.  What do you think?


Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Faces of God: God the Child

Being a parent of two, very active toddlers has been both a tremendous joy as well as a tremendous challenge.  My oldest, Caroline, is full of life and personality.  Ordinarily, she knows right from wrong, and even boasts a smile just before she embarks on something destined to cause her Daddy some trouble!  My youngest, Tucker, is starting to talk and generally points and grunts to things that he wants.  I have now only begun to master the art of this communication after two years of stumbling.  

There are, of course, many tender moments with them:  seeing my son curled up in his Mommy's arms; Caroline sitting on my shoulders while she sings a song with words that only God knows; and my personal favorite, watching them both run up to greet me when I come home after a long day at the seminary.  Affection is everywhere in our house, but looming in the hallway is the dreaded "time out" corner.  Love is the fullness of being able to caress with one hand and firmly correct with the other; when this balance is not realized children will develop various sorts of behavior or personality problems.  Achieving this balance has been hard for me as a parent, especially now that I have a more developed relationship with my daughter as she grows.  I know it's her smile that melts my parental anger into a deep well of compassion when she does something wrong.

Can I image the face of God to be in my toddlers?  Without a doubt, yes!  From changing diapers to bath time, each moment is deeply rooted in the love between a parent and a child.  Children, much like I imagine God to be, have no sense of our boundaries, no sense of the baggage and limitations that we take on in our lives.  Whenever I hold my son up, he likes to rip off my eyeglasses and smack me on the face.  I can imagine God doing this too, saying to me, "Chad, here I am!  Look at me and pay attention!"  God as the child reminds me to see what I hold in the center of my life and focus on the real needs at hand.

God, just like my children, has no boundaries to maintain.  God is everywhere, sometimes smacking me on the face to get my attention whenever I stray.  The image of God the child does not offend me in the least as I feel the connectedness of relationship--God needing us just as we need God.  I would have never imagined that I would need a child in my life, but as I have experienced the awesome power of human birth I know that I need my children just as they need me.  Those needs--both mine and theirs--are organic and take many shapes and colors, and I am keenly aware of how my behavior and attitude towards my children will affect their development and future lives.  So too, my relationship with God, as it grows and matures, will reveal insights into the heart of God as well as my own.    

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Kingdom Prism: A May Day Poem

The Kingdom Prism:  A May Day Poem
by Chad M. Krouse

Red, the color of love, the color of blood, the color of revolution.  
The blood of the martyrs, shed for Him.
The blood of our Lord, shed for us.
Red, the longest wavelength discernible to the human eye.

Who are these?  These are those who passed through the great ordeal
and have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb.
Red refracted through the Kingdom prism begets pure white.

You, God, have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth.
"This is my blood which is shed for you, so that every sin may be forgiven."  Red on earth makes white in heaven; 
so fight for the poor,
the widow,
the hungry,
the naked,
and the marginalized.

Truly, let justice roll down like a torrent of red transformed into heavenly white, for God's Divine Commonwealth is among us. 


This poem has been published on the Anglo-Catholic Socialism website.  Click on this link to view the poem there.