Friday, December 26, 2008

Her Majesty's Christmas Speech 2008

-- Courtesy SkyNews, the Text of Her Majesty's Speech:

"Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many. Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and, naturally, give rise to feelings of insecurity.

"People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world. Whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be keenly felt at home.

"Once again, many of our service men and women are serving on operations in common cause to bring peace and security to troubled places.

"In this 90th year since the end of the First World War, the last survivors recently commemorated the service and enormous sacrifice of their own generation.

"Their successors in theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan are still to be found in harm's way in the service of others. For their loved ones, the worry will never cease until they are safely home.

"In such times as these we can all learn something from the past. We might begin to see things in a new perspective. And certainly, we begin to ask ourselves where it is that we can find lasting happiness.

"Over the years those who have seemed to me to be the most happy, contented and fulfilled have always been the people who have lived the most outgoing and unselfish lives; the kind of people who are generous with their talents or their time.

"There are those who use their prosperity or good fortune for the benefit of others whether they number among the great philanthropists or are people who, with whatever they have, simply have a desire to help those less fortunate than themselves.

"What they offer comes in the form of what can easily be recognised as service to the nation or service to the wider community.

"As often as not however, their unselfishness is a simply taken-for-granted part of the life of their family or neighbourhood.

"They tend to have some sense that life itself is full of blessings, and is a precious gift for which we should be thankful.

"When life seems hard the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.

"I think we have a huge amount to learn from individuals such as these. And what I believe many of us share with them is a source of strength and peace of mind in our families and friends.

"Indeed, Prince Philip and I can reflect on the blessing, comfort and support we have gained from our own family in this special year for our son, the Prince of Wales. Sixty years ago, he was baptised here in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. As parents and grandparents, we feel great pride in seeing our family make their own unique contributions to society.

"Through his charities, the Prince of Wales has worked to support young people and other causes for the benefit of the wider community.

"At Christmas, we feel very fortunate to have our family around us. But for many of you, this Christmas will mean separation from loved ones and perhaps reflection on the memories of those no longer with us.

"I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life. Countless millions of people around the world continue to celebrate his birthday at Christmas, inspired by his teaching.

"He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.

"We can surely be grateful that, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, so many of us are able to draw inspiration from his life and message, and to find in him a source of strength and courage.

"I hope that the Christmas message will encourage and sustain you too, now and in the coming year.

"I wish you all a very happy Christmas."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Governor-General's Christmas Speech 2008

May I begin with a quotation?
This night bestowed peace on the whole world;
so, let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One -
let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Most Humble One -
let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy -
let us not revenge;
Now is the day of good will -
let us not be mean-spirited.
In this day of peace
let us not be conquered by anger.
Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
so, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we received a gift for which we did not ask;
so let us give alms to those who implore us and beg.
This present day cast open the heavenly door to our prayers;
let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Now the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of humanity,
in order for humanity to be adorned by the seal of Divinity.
-- St. Isaac of Nineveh

The trouble of course comes from the application. To refrain from threats when we ourselves are threatened is no easy task. To refuse to be cruel to those who have defrauded us, that have taken what is rightfully ours by force, is not something simply done. To remember our place before God when we hear the acclaim of men is counter to our nature.

To remember mercy when we could have vengeance is to be seen as week. To repay spite with the kindness requires that we refuse to demand our due. To live peaceably with our neighbors we must control our own anger – for we can not control their actions.

We are all rich in this fair Dominion. We may not all have a feast of meat and bread spread before us, but we do all have at least one gift from the Father of Lights that He wishes us to share. Some of course, do have the great feast ready, we must remember that our Lord said to invite those who could not return the favour, that the favour may be returned at His table. Others may need to share a word of encouragement, or instruction. Some may need to share of themselves with those who have lost hope.

We are called to show the world that we are His by our love.
Let us renew our commitment to answer this call.

As we live out the faith, both we and our neighbor will be better able to enjoy that Happy Christmas we wish each other.

Happy Christmas!

God save the Queen and Her Majesty's Subjects in all Her Realms.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Poet Laureate's Christmas Poem 2008

Aeturnus: The Feast of Ages.

Golden threads of light nurture ancient aether,
Woven dreams playing ‘cross bleak Northern shores;
Glowing in blind-black storms of frosted weather…
A snow-owl thro’ halo’s of heaven soars.

Roar of Boreas: swart screams into bitter cold,
Thro’ limbs of death-dancing hawthorn, greenest pine;
Aurora’s ribbons flowing; lucent on bold blue…
Spectral hues streaming in waves thro’ space and time.

Polaris: stellar regent pearl, in guiding strong,
Thro’ sleep and years, navigating the knowing soul;
Sov’reign Arcticus chants a celestial song…
Willow’s bear revolves ‘round the crown of the pole.

Three flames: Magi charting the brightest star,
Caspar, Melchior, Balthazaar set on sure path;
Compassing desert, mountain, sea and lands afar…
Wisdom in quest for the prophecy of true faith.

Gold frankincense, myrrh: blossoms of Mother’s earth,
Honour-gifts for the divine birth, new hope springs;
Treasure balm: the warm spirit of Heaven’s hearth…
Word of glory revealed: Angel Gabriel sings.

Vibrant echoes thrum deep in a church of stones,
Wicks flicker praise on shadow’d walls: songs lift a veil;
Psalms adore in faith, love’s vision inspiring tones…
Welcome brighter bliss to vales of ghostly pale.

The tender prayer of worth is ever-burning,
In shrines revered; shines eternal in dim-lit night;
Breath of every dawn emerging, each Yule a yearning…
The feast of All-Ages… for The Prince of All-Light.

All Rights Reserved / David John Drew / DBWF 2008.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Charity Among Sisters Sets Example for Us All

It occurs to me that some of you may have known one of the sisters of the Order of St. Helena, Sr. Clare, who turned 101 on Thanksgiving Day. I'm reporting information I received from (the Rev'd Dr) Elizabeth Kaeton, via the HoBD Listsver with her permission.

I have received word from Sr. Ann Prentice, OSH, who writes that "Sr. Clare died this past Sunday morning while her sisters were gathered around the altar for Communion."

I have excerpted some of what Sr. Ann writes of Sr. Clare, which shines as witness to the One who is come to us as The Light of the World.

"The Hospice nurse on duty came to the chapel to get Sr. Elsie to come--Elsie had been Clare's helper for several years, reading to her, helping her dress and move about with her walker. Clare had macular degeneration in both eyes but her mind was fine; Elsie has frontal lobe dementia, but she's very fit and has no problem reading--she reads the lessons in Chapel, and keeps up with our prayer services with no problem. She still makes her famous chocolate chip cookies and puts out breakfast every morning. Elsie is 84 or 85, and is now the oldest sister, chronologically.

"Clare converted to Catholicism in 2000. She never could accept within herself that women should be ordained, but she didn't try to hinder our sisters who are priests (about 1/3 of our Order). She wanted to continue to live with us and to wear her cross and ring, which are the visible symbols of the religious life, and to be buried here in the convent cemetery --a circle of dogwood trees with Easter lilies in the ground-- at the edge of the woods on our property (note: in Augusta, GA). Two other sisters are buried there. She always loved our Chapel here, which is open to the natural surroundings, and, although she said she couldn't sing, she was always present for our four daily Offices, and until 2000 she would receive Communion with us when we had a male priest presiding at the Eucharist.

"Most people did not know she was no longer an OSH Sister (legally she couldn't be when she joined the R.C. church because they are not "in communion with the Episcopal church"), but we included her in every way except that she couldn't vote in our elections. It is the end of an era. The stories we'll be telling should be written down!

"Her two sisters are still living--one 96, the other 92.

"There will be a Requiem Mass for her tomorrow (Thurs) at noon at the Roman Catholic church which she attended up until a week ago, at which we (and others who are not Roman Catholic) will not be able to receive Communion, BUT two of the sisters have been invited to read the Lessons and two other sisters will bring forward to the altar the bread and wine for Communion. It's a first, and a generous acknowledgement of her more than 50 years' vocation as an Episcopal nun.

Please pray for the sisters.

I am covetous of your prayers for Sr. Clare and for her sisters and family who grieve her loss. May they receive the comfort of their faith.

May the gracious, generous spirit of accommodation which marked the life of Sr. Clare, her sisters and her church family inspire us to follow The Wisdom of The Christ, which is, of course, the Antiphon we sing today.

+ May the soul of Sr. Clare, and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory.

Here is the chanted prayer from the Benedictine Sisters of Erie (PA - home of Sr. Joan Chittister)

O Wisdom, flowing from the mouth of the Most High;
reaching far and wide,
disposing of all things sweetly and mightily.
Come teach us the way of prudence.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Governor-General offers condolences on the passing of Alexei II

On the occasion of sudden and untimely passing of His Holiness Alexei II, we ask you to accept, along with all episcopes, clergy, monk orders and believers our sincere condolences. We pray to God for the rest of his noble soul, and to give you the solace in your pain.

May the God of All Comfort be with you in the days ahead, and may you be comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul, to the believer in Christ at ThessalonĂ­ki:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. “

Know that we mourn the passing of His Holiness Alexei II with you.

Bo Register,
Baron Von Servers of Fayette, Marquis of Mobile, GSB
Her Majesty's Governor-General in and for the
Dominion of British West Florida.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

G-G Issues Statement on the Constitutional Crises in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

We note with regret the recent announcement by the Prime Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, that his government would seek a rewording of the constitution. The Parliament of the Grand Duchy is on a collision course with its monarch over his refusal to sign a bill legalising euthanasia. Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy in which the Grand Duke, at the moment, holds executive power and bills only becomes law with his signature. The Prime Minster and Parliament is now moving to alter the constitution to limit Henri’s powers on approving legislation.

The law in question if enacted it would add Luxembourg to a small group of countries allowing euthanasia. His Serene Highness, the Grand Duke made known that he would not sign such legislation in violation of his Conscience and Faith before the bill was passed by His Parliament.

We call upon the Members of Parliament of the Grand Duchy to remember their Oath, their sworn Duty, and the Duties and Rights of each part of the Constitutional Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and to refrain from attempting to modify the constitution.

We call upon the People of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, to make known to their elected Members of Parliament their support for Grand Duke Henri, and the existing Constitution.

We Call upon the Lords of Parliament of the Dominion of British West Florida, the Loyal Subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and advocates of Constitutional Monarchy and Liberty throughout the world to make known to the various Ambassadors, Consuls, and Representatives of the Government of the Grand Duchy your support for the Grand Duke.

Bo Register, Marquess of Mobile, Baron Von Servers of Fayette,
Her Majesty's Governor-General in and for the Dominion of British West Florida
in Service to The Dominion of British West Florida