Summer greetings to you all! It is good to be back. I was down on the Oregon coast and even made it to see the Redwoods in Northern California, all I’ll say is wow! Yes, I was rendered speechless!

This week saw the end of the food drive for the Greater Vancouver Food bank and today a dozen boxes were collected by the Food Bank to be taken to their new location in Burnaby and distributed to those who rely on it. Thank you for your enthusiasm and generous donations over the past six weeks.

Looking forward it is 129 days until Christmas (assuming you’re reading this on Sunday). Before we go getting carried away with the countdown, let’s talk about Fall! There is a potential book study in the works, and also some bible studies coming up in September to help us gather ourselves as people arrive home from summer vacations and children and grandchildren head back to school.

I’ll be using the info we gathered on the map downstairs to hold some of these studies in the places where we live, to give everyone the opportunity to attend.

In the present, this Sunday we will be observing the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast and its associated doctrine was put in place by Pope Pius XII and teaches that “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” No one knows for sure what actually happened, but since, as Christians we believe in the resurrection of the body, it’s not a massive stretch.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday and as you return from your holidays.

Mother Lucy

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18)

These verses set quite a challenge: how can we always be at prayer? The monastic pattern provides a brief service (office) of psalms and bible verses at different times to sanctify the day, in addition to the daily Mass. Our Anglican tradition offers Morning and Evening Prayer, and sometimes Compline.

Last week I wrote about the Angelus, traditionally said three times a day to help us focus on the presence of God-with-us.

The Eastern Orthodox “Jesus Prayer” is another way of regular, focused prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of the living God,) have mercy (on me, a sinner).”

The practice is to repeat this over a period of time, perhaps breathing in with the first phrase, and out with the second. To still the body, prayer beads may be used too. The intention is for the heart to become stilled and focused on Christ. As recitation of the prayer continues, intercession and thanksgiving for particular people or situations may be offered. Attuning this prayer to our breathing gives it a rhythm: the prayer becomes a natural part of our pattern of life.

This is explored beautifully in The Way of a Pilgrim, a 19th century Russian spiritual classic, which recounts a pilgrim’s inner journey after being moved upon hearing these words of Paul to “pray without ceasing.” He visits churches and monasteries to try and understand how to do this. His travels lead him to a starets (a spiritual father) who teaches him the Jesus Prayer—”Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me”—and gives him practical advice on how to recite the prayer uninterruptedly, as a type of mantra. The book details the gradual spiritual development and struggles of the narrator, and the effect the narrator’s spirituality has on those around him. There is a sequel entitled The Pilgrim Continues his Way.

Fr. Kevin