Sacred Spaces of Transformation

Sacred Spaces of Transformation

Friday, December 1, 2017

St. Andrew


St. Andrew is the older brother to St. Peter. According to the New Testament, Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee during the early first century. Much like his younger brother, Simon Peter, Andrew was also a fisherman. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is said Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and saw Andrew and Simon Peter fishing. It is then he asked the two to become disciples and "fishers of men.”

In, the Gospel of John tells a separate story, stating Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist stated, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" It is then that Andrew and another made the decision to follow Jesus.

Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels, but it is believed Andrew was one of the closer disciples to Jesus. It was he who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes, according to John 6:8. When Philip wanted to speak to Jesus about Greeks seeking him, he spoke to Andrew first. Andrew was also present at the last supper.

Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras. He was bound, rather than nailed, to a cross, as is described in the Acts of Andrew. He was crucified on a cross form known as "crux decussata," which is an X-shaped cross or a "saltire." Today this is commonly referred to as "St. Andrew's Cross." His saltire cross is featured on the flag of Scotland and is represented in much of his iconography. (catholic.org)

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

Monday, April 17, 2017


As a community, we rejoice in our Lord’s resurrection.  

We have walked through a sacred time as hopeful people called Christians.   The penitential season of Lent has passed, the profound sacredness of Holy Week is a memory, and we loudly sing the Alleluias of Easter.  What next? 

It is Eastertide; embrace and live the call of following Jesus. 

After the resurrection, Jesus Christ was out on the road.  He was touching, transforming, envisioning, and breaking open new possibilities.  It is Good News for the world.  It is our chance to show His face.  Reveal the face of Christ to those who are seeking, who need reminding or to those do not know Jesus.  What a remarkable opportunity this Eastertide. 

Let us go out and proclaim a way that is unlike the shallow offerings of the world. 

In small groups, in our daily actions, we will step forward and be intentional.   Let us make Christ visible through our lives.   Through prayer, involvement at your church, community service, inviting people to church (or a meal), kindness, generosity, and love, let us bring the message of the resurrection into the world.  Embrace the same hope as the early Christians. 

During this Eastertide, let us make Jesus the Christ visible.  It has been proven time and time again; Jesus lives, moves and breathes.  He changes lives, and He transforms the world. 



Friday, March 3, 2017

Lent 2017


My brothers and sisters, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The season of Lent approaches, and I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts about our journey together. It is my hope that we will all pursue a holy Lent. Lent is a time of preparation; we prepare ourselves as individuals, and as a community of faith, for our journey with Jesus Christ. Nothing is as important as our walk with Jesus. Lent is a time of intentionality and fasting. Our Lenten discipline is a movement away from the temporal satisfaction of the world and toward the eternal heart of Christ. We open our hearts and minds to the presence of God.
I have traveled on the pilgrimage, been present with our laity and clergy, and heard the beauty of your stories, individually and corporately. I have felt the Holy Spirit calling me and us collectively to begin a journey deep into our faith. That calling will be characterized by Prayer, Proclamation, and Peace. We will be the people of God in the Diocese of Pennsylvania dedicated to going deep in prayer, being bold in the proclamation of the Gospel, and committed to bringing peace in our communities.
In preparation to walk with Christ in his obedience and suffering, I am inviting you to participate as a diocese in several ways. First, let's pray. I often hear people say they do not have time to pray or they need to learn how to pray once again. Just speak to God; gaze upon the Lord. Leave everything to God. Speak to God in the car, during those "transition times" when going from meeting to meeting. Pray, pray and then pray again. I have a feeling God wants to hear our voices.
I encourage you to center your life with worship and sacrament by seeking out a midweek or daily Eucharist service to attend regularly during Lent. We know the joy of our Sunday celebrations, and I also know that finding another opportunity to anchor your life to the celebration of Holy Eucharist will sustain you spiritually.
Second, I invite you to explore the practice of contemplative prayer. Specifically, I would like us as a diocese to pray the Jesus Prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner") as a way to center ourselves. To this end, I will make available prayer ropes to those who may want one, as a way of incorporating a significant tactile element to our contemplative life. I would also encourage you to join over 1200 of your brothers and sisters in the Diocese in reading scripture daily through the Bishop's Bible Challenge.
Finally, I invite you to read two books and watch one movie with me. I would like for us all to read and reflect on Fleming Rutledge's book "The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ." The second book is "The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life" by Brother David Steindl-Rast. The movie I encourage us to watch is "Of Gods and Men." A film based on the life of the Cistercian monks of Tibéhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996."
Our spiritual and communal journey is beautiful. The Diocese of Pennsylvania is filled with faithful and hopeful people I am blessed to serve as your servant and shepherd. You are a gift to the church, and we are sharing the Good News of our Savior Jesus Christ. Know you are in my prayers and are deeply loved.
Faithfully yours,

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Playing Chess instead of Checkers.



We must know spiritual things spiritually. —1 Corinthians 2: 13

This past week a Priest kindly approached me.  “Bishop, can I say something in love, truth, and respect?”  I responded,  “Yes, of course.”  The Priest continued “We love you.  There are many of us who worried that you are working too hard. Great work has been accomplished during your first six months, but we do not want you to be overwhelmed with work and kill yourself.”  

I thanked the Priest, smiled, and we began the conversation.  I described how God has a way of speaking to the heart, continually reaffirming through people and places what I experienced and learned in prayer.  How two events over the last month led me to a healthy, transformative and holy place.  This holy place is the urging to be “Daniel” and live into the question “What is God calling me to do as your Bishop?”

The first sacred event was my time in Albuquerque over Christmas with Suzanne and Jude.  As many of you know, they are in Albuquerque while Jude completes his senior year in high school.  When I boarded the flight, I was tired.  There were numerous instances where I worked 18 days straight.  No weekends or days off.  Hours were from 6:30 am to 9:00 p.m.  I lived in a small apartment in Center City.  I was focused on our work.    

I eagerly awaited the time with my family.  Every moment spent with them is life giving.  I miss them and count the days until we are together. While in New Mexico, I prayed, sat in silence and exercised. Many may not know that I am a contemplative and teach contemplative prayer.   My priesthood and spiritual life have been formed by silence, prayer, monasticism and the sacred mystery.   I need silence with the Lord.  It centers my being and thought.  So, I prayed and listened.

Over Christmas, Suzanne, Jude and I laughed, went fishing, dreamed and enjoyed being with one another.  We checked in, talked about the time apart and how we were going to live into our time in Pennsylvania.   There was also time with old friends, dinners and I allowed myself to breathe.  As one Priest in our Diocese commented; “You can relax because everyone knows the real you.”  

Did I also mention that I prayed, prayed and prayed?  During my prayers, something kept percolating in my thoughts, heart and head. It was reoccurring and quite clear; I needed to listen to that silent voice.  I finally began to set my mind to this awakening.  It felt good and right.  It felt like my call way back when.  There were many questions and reflections as I returned to Pennsylvania. 

During the third week in January, I traveled by train to attend the Episcopal College of Bishops program in Virginia.  Each new Bishop elected is required to participate in this intensive three-year course hosted by mentors and retired Bishops.  It is an extraordinary and invaluable program.  It educates Bishops on all aspects of an Episcopacy;  spiritual, administrative, relational, legal and personal.  In short, it provides many tools to live into my Episcopacy.  

The College allowed for sharing and asking questions.  I had a lot of questions - I have never been a Bishop. The time at the College provides the unique opportunity to bond and form a community with fellow Bishops.  I am blessed with an exceptional class of brothers and sisters  who are faithful, loving and supportive.  We will be together once again in June for a 5 day intensive session, and I look forward to our time together. 

In New Mexico and Virginia, God was present and moving.  What was arising in New Mexico came to fruition in Virginia.  This prayerful awareness is what I would like to share with you.  Over the past six months, I have worked to live into my call.  I did not want to disappoint you or let you down.  However, I came to the slow realization that I must go deeper in prayer, allow time for silence, be prophetic and take the “long view.”   

At the College of Bishops, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that what I thought was unusual, different or troubling was normal.  I was reminded that transformation is often difficult and spiritual diocesan endeavors are at times challenging.  I was affirmed by experienced Bishops the relational work in which we are engaging is, in fact, healthy and transformative. 

I found I did not have to do or know everything.  I was reminded that I am learning to be a Bishop and we are learning to live with one another.  More importantly I was encouraged to ask questions, seek answers, support, and direction.  This understanding was both a relief and empowering.  I found that I am not alone in learning.

I discovered that I did not have to overwork myself.  I was encouraged not to rush, or to feel the need to accomplish every goal within a limited amount of time.  We, (as a diocesan family), have time to plant and nurture the seeds of our collective labor.   It was emphasized that many goals or initiatives in any Diocese usually will take 4-6 years.  We have time; we have faith, prayer, hope and one another.  

Through prayer, I came to the awareness that my call as Bishop is beginning to unfold.  I am being led, (with your help and the blessing of God), to form my Episcopacy around prayer, proclamation, and peace.  (More on that in the months to come).  I want to continue to know you on a deeper level.   To listen, learn, discover and love.  To understand our collective joys, hopes, and prayers.   In the process, I hope you will come to know me as this faithful Hispano priest from New Mexico who feels incredibly blessed to serve as your Bishop. 

I will seek to take the long and balanced view and make every effort to model a life of prayer, and work. I want to set an example for our clergy.   Instead of rushing to the office at 7 in the morning.  I now take the time to sit in contemplative prayer, read scripture, exercise, and pray.  I now arrive with the rest of the staff, and we enjoy daily Eucharist.

Where previously I answered emails within 2 minutes of landing in my inbox, I wait until the next morning to respond.  I will be intentional to assure I am not over scheduled and will take my days off.  There may be some instances where we must say “no” to some events (I ask for your forgiveness in advance). We will allow some extra time on the pilgrimage.  Nine months instead of six months.  

I will endeavor to be present, reflective and place emphasis on wisdom and gratitude.  While I will watch over the financial and administrative aspects of the Diocese, we will empower the staff and allow them to be creative and resourceful.  The office will continue to be accountable, responsive and faithful.  However, we will also overlay everything in prayer and live in the sacred present.   

I will seek to live into being healthy, thoughtful and a faithful apprentice of Jesus Christ.  I know I will be clumsy and stumble in the process.   I will continue working to let go of ego, hurriedness, impatience.   More importantly, we will go deeper in love, outreach, congregational growth, community and into the heart of Jesus Christ.   I need your help and prayers, but I know we will prayerfully build up the Kingdom of God. 

We have had a remarkable time in our six months together.  We are building a community based on relationships, trust, transparency and community.  The pilgrimages have been extraordinary, and I have come to know you in profound and holy ways.  Through this process of reflection and discovery, I found I am surrounded by a loving community in Pennsylvania who has supported my call, embraced my journey, and welcomed me with a heartfelt embrace.  Thank you.  

Together we will build up the Kingdom of God so we can invite all of God’s beloved to “Come and See” this sacred place where no one is excluded and Jesus Christ is present. We have an amazing future and I have this glowing hope.  This is a sacred space of transformation.  I pray I will be a Pastor to the Clergy and a Shepherd to all in our Diocese.  May God bless you and those you love, this day and forevermore. 


(PS.  The Priest mentioned in the opening was pleased by our conversation.  The questions was asked:  “This is wonderful news, how will you tell the diocese about this prayer, outlook, and journey”  I responded, “I guess by individual conversations.”  The Priest replied - “put it on your blog.”  Ahhh, thank you for sage advice.)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Connected



Jude and I have a father and son activity that we have enjoyed since he was a toddler - fishing.  Part of our fishing tradition is to eat breakfast at an old truck stop cafe on our way to the lake.  It is a classic, western, cafe.  We sat in the vinyl-backed chairs, ordered coffee, breakfast and talked about the fish we were going to catch.

I took a moment to look around the cafe and began to notice the people around me.  A young Hispanic woman was cutting the food for her five-year-old daughter.  They sat together, and the mother had a tired look in her eyes, yet she looked at her daughter with pure love.  Directly behind us was a family of 12 smiling, laughing, and pointing at the menu.  One son wore a t-shirt from a local synagogue, and the other wore a Santa's hat. 

Next to our table a Native American family of 7 was talking.  They had that graceful presence found in native people.  One of their grandchildren was running around the table poking his small finger into the back of his grandfather and laughing.  The grandmother wore her hair in the classic style.  She warmed the coffee cup with her slender hands and smiled a soft smile.  

Off in the other room, a bunch of old Anglo cowboys slapping one another on the back.  One was attempting to text on his phone, and another was scratching his head while studying the eggs on his plate.  All of them trying to tell bad jokes to the waitress.  The waitress was slinging coffee around.  She was in her 70’s and had dyed her hair a bright orange.  

I sat in this old cafe surrounded by people of all races and colors.   All of them are miraculous and stunning. All extraordinary children of God and they are my brothers and sisters.  My beautiful family in God and we are connected.  

I pointed this out to Jude, and he looked around, and we both sat in silence for a few moments and smiled.  As we begin this new year, let us look upon one another as beautiful, magnificent family members.   We are brothers and sisters who are blessed to share this place called earth for a short time.  Let us pray to embody this in our hearts and lives.  We need one another and let us seek to connect with one another.   


You are in my prayers as we end this year and begin a hopeful year in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Feast Of Holy Innocents


The feast of the Holy Innocents,

Today in our liturgical calendar, we hold in our heart the feast of the Holy Innocents.  The children who are put to death by the ego, greed, fear, and cruelty of King Herod.  He wanted to get rid of Jesus from his life.  Mothers were wailing, fathers were distraught, and a community was devastated.

In our prayers of reflection, let us remember the Holy Innocents of our community.  Those children who are being destroyed because of hunger, violence, bullying, societal pressure, poverty, drugs, neglect, abuse, and those acts of cruelty inflicted by society.  We can either lament or carry Jesus into what I call “sacred spaces of transformation.”

In the next year, and the years to come, we shall have a voice in the community.  Our sacred spaces of transformation will be carrying the love of Christ into those places where our community is being destroyed.  In those sacred spaces of transformation, we can change lives in His name.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Another tragedy

50 people killed and more than 50 wounded.  This story transcends tragedy.  Our minds cannot seem to rationalize or make sense of the horrific violence.  It prompts outrage, shock, and despair.  It's hard to find the Kingdom of God today.  Do we live in a world filled with such hate?  

To paraphrase the words:  “If hate such as this is accepted, then love has no place in the world. It may be so; it may be so. But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that.” It may be so; it may be so. I do not want it to be so. I pray that it is not so.  Beautiful lives ripped from our arms in Orlando Florida.  

We cannot keep silent.  We cannot accept this as normal. We must not give life to the darkness of hate, marginalization, violence, political rhetoric and discrimination.  We cannot be enraged for the moment, today, or the next week.  We cannot sit silently until the next mass murder.   We discussed the necessity of assault rifles after children were murdered at Sandy Hook and nothing changed.  We argue over the senselessness of violence and lives are taken on the streets of Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Washington DC and Chicago.  Brothers and sisters brutalized daily, and we deliberate whether hate and discrimination exists. 

Through our tears, pain, bewilderment and sadness we must envision something new.  It has to begin today, and it must start with us.   I believe in the goodness of humanity. We have seen it time and time again.   Hopeful people whose lives express a deep and abiding love for all creation. A world where forgiveness is stronger than revenge, where empathy abounds over hate, acceptance mightier than exclusion and that the light of love and life is shining brighter than the darkness of hate and death.  


We must find our voice.  It must begin in our churches and we must take it to the powerful. We can make a difference.   It is the only path we have in a world that has a tendency to slip into the darkness.  May we all believe in the transformative power of hope, peace, goodness and love.  May we bring the healing and love of Jesus Christ to this world. This is the world we envision. May it be so, may it be so.  I pray for those affected by today.  May the Lord hold us close.