Author: Michael Heidt

FIFNA Awards Scholarships


The following seminarians have been awarded Forward in Faith Scholarships, funded by the Swartz Trust:

The Rev. Dcn Charles J. Arturo, Missionary Diocese of All Saints Attending Nashotah House.

Mr. Luke A. Childs, Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Attending Nashotah House.

Mr. Andrew Hurt, Diocese of Mid-America (REC) Attending Cramner Theological House.

Mr. David A. Peterson III, Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin Attending Nashotah House.

Mr. Jared M Wensyel, Diocese of Mid-America, REC, Attending Cramner Theological House.

The Swartz Trust was established: “…specifically for the purpose of training male seminarians for the priesthood and furthering the education of priests in evangelism.” Scholarships are for $2,500.

To apply for this financial assistance, click on the Scholarship link on this website or apply by email to Fr. John Himes:

A Holy Wednesday Reflection — Light From Darkness

It is out of that uttermost gloom of My God, my God, why have you forsaken me that the light breaks. The light does not merely shine upon the gloom and so dispel it; it is the gloom itself transformed into light. For that same crucifixion of our Lord which was, and for ever is, the utmost effort of evil, is itself the means by which God conquers evil and unites us to himself in the redeeming love there manifested.

Judas and Caiaphas and Pilate have set themselves in their several ways to oppose and to crush the purpose of Christ, and yet despite themselves they became ministers. They sent Christ to the cross; by the cross he completed his atoning work; from the cross he reigns over mankind. God in Christ has not merely defeated evil, but has made it the occasion of his own supremest glory.

Never was conquest so complete; never was triumph so stupendous. The completeness of the victory is due to the completeness of the evil over which it was won. It is the very darkness which enshrouds the cross that makes so glorious the light proceeding from it. Had there been no despair, no sense of desolation and defeat, but merely the onward march of irresistible power to the achievement of its end, evil might have been beaten, but not bound in captivity for ever. God in Christ endured defeat, and out of the very stuff of defeat he wrought his victory and his achievement.

Archbishop William Temple (1881-1944), Mens Creatrix.

Palms in Liturgy: Lessons for Prayer and the Christian Life

By Lawrence Bausch

One of the things we will miss this Sunday by being unable to gather for Mass is the distribution of palms.  After their use during a joyful Procession, we typically take them home and put them in a visible place, where they will remain until we take them back to church to be burned to make the ashes which will be distributed on Ash Wednesday.  Since we are unable to come together this week, it might be helpful to meditate on the mystery and meaning of palms as we use them in our Church.

In the Old Testament, palm branches are mentioned regarding their use in constructing booths for the annual Feast of Booths (Sukkot). This practice recalls the 40 years of the Exodus, when the Jews had left their homes to trustingly follow God (Leviticus 23:40; Nehemiah 8:15).   In the New Testament, John’s Gospel singles out palm branches as those to be laid before Jesus’ path as he entered Jerusalem (John 12:13). They are mentioned one more time in a fascinating scene in Revelation where, after a vision of the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel, the seer saw “a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10).  In the context of these references, we can say that palm branches were used as a sign of trust in God’s providential guidance (OT), to praise Jesus as he entered the Holy City (John), and will be used to worship him eternally in his eternal Kingdom (Revelation).

Ashes are found in two primary contexts in the Old Testament.  One type of occurrence concerns sacrifices or ‘burnt offerings’.  Animal sacrifices began when God provided Abraham with a ram to offer in place of his son Isaac (Genesis 22). In general, sacrifices of any kind are representative of the person or people making the offering. Throughout the Old Testament we read about ‘burnt offerings’ being offered, and many later became ritualized for use in the Temple.  Included among many instructions regarding these sacrifices are guidelines pertaining to what to do with the ashes which result from them (cf. Leviticus 4:12). 

The earliest and most frequent use of ashes in Scripture pertains to penance and humility.   When Abraham appealed to God for mercy upon Sodom, he acknowledges that he is “but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). After God appeared to Job and questioned him concerning his demand for an explanation regarding his horrific suffering, he prayed, “therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).  Jesus uses this same image, quoted in Matthew and Luke: “Woe to you, Chora’zin! Woe to you, Bethsa’ida! For it the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in dust and ashes (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13).” In Matthew, he says these words in the context of the debate about the mission and role of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-24), while in Luke it follows his commissioning of the 70 (Luke 10:1-16). 

Palm branches are offered in praise; ashes are received in penance.  We receive palms in the context of praise (many churches sing “All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King!” during the palm procession); we receive their ashes in the context of penitence (as they are placed on our forehead we are told, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return”).  These separate practices are united by the common use of palms.  This link may be useful as we consider our life in Christ this Holy Week.  How are our praises of God and submission to his will for daily living limited by our “unruly wills and affections”? As many have pointed out, our Liturgical link on Palm Sunday between the Triumphal Procession and the subsequent reading of the Passion Gospel, the crowd crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” probably included some who, days later, were shouting “Crucify him!” We intuitively recognize this possibility because of the inconsistency of devotion in our own lives.  At the same time, our ability to praise and serve our Lord beyond our sinfulness can encourage us to see that God accepts even our stumbling steps towards him as we respond to his grace.  God does not scold us for our stumbles any more than a parent does when their young child is learning to walk.

This strange season of physical separation can be a graceful time to invite the Lord to come more intimately into our lives and reveal those elements in our lives that need his graceful help, as well as those upon which we can see his joy.  We can use this time in deep intercession: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:14-15).

Fr. Lawrence Bausch is President of FIFNA

Statement by the President of Forward in Faith North America, Fr. Lawrence Bausch

As each of us discern how to live out our faith during these strange and isolating times, we face an ever-changing landscape of limitations.  Many of us are unable to attend Mass or gather for any corporate prayer. 
Some are able to observe worship via the internet, from their local parish or other churches, while others are urged to pray the Daily Office or Family Prayer from the BCP or Spiritual Communion from the St. Augustine’s Prayer Book or another source (remember that the Daily Office is Corporate Worship even when done while alone).
Whatever we do, I encourage us to do so both to the glory of God and also as intercession for others, especially those ill with the virus. 
Many of us will recall learning about the “Sacrament of the Present Moment”, the awareness that each moment in time connects with the eternal, and is indeed the only “time” in which we encounter God.  While we are mostly isolated in our homes, this can be a good season for us to “practice the Presence of God” by way of intention.  Whether we are doing housework, working remotely, exercising, reading, watching TV, listening to music, we can consecrate these activities by offering them to God’s glory, sharing each with Him. 
We can pray that our wholesome activities may allow for others to be blessed, as what happens to one member of the Body affects all.  Also, we can be praying for our Lord to show us when and how to reach out to others.  While we cannot be with them physically, we can take the opportunities at our disposal to connect with others, especially those we know who are isolated.
No moment separates us from God, and we can respond to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus in ways which both honor our Lord and serve to  benefit others in his name.   
Blessings,  Fr. Lawrence Bausch
                  President, FIFNA