Monthly Archives: January 2023

On Saints Peter and Paul, January ’23…

“Two Scholars Disputing” – Saints Peter and Paul – but they mostly worked together… 

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I’ve been remiss in posting lately. December 2022 turned out to be a busy time, what with two family Christmases, one up in Massachusetts. (Which included my driving up there through yet another “storm of the century.”) That’s why my posts went from Advent ’22 to Epiphany ’23 – without much to say about Christmas. (Not to mention having to say “farewell Mi Dulce.”)

But hopefully I can now start getting back up to speed.

On that note, last week’s January 18 was the Feast Day for the Confession of St Peter. This Wednesday, January 25 is the Feast Day for the Conversion of St Paul. I covered these two feast days in Peter confesses, Paul converts, from January 2016. The post started off saying that on June 25 each year we have a feast day for both Apostles together. But in January we remember both men separately. “Or more precisely, we remember how these two ‘Pillars of the Church‘ took two completely different paths to the same destination.” That is, closer to God:

On 18 January we remember how the Apostle Peter was led by God’s grace to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20), and we join with Peter, and with all Christians everywhere, in hailing Jesus as our Lord, God, and Savior.

Put another way, January 18 commemorates Peter as the first apostle to confess Jesus as Messiah. On the other hand, the January 25 Feast Day commemorates how “Saul (or Paul) of Tarsus, formerly an enemy and persecutor of the early Christian Church, was led by God’s grace to become one of its chief spokesmen.”  (See Conversion of St. Paul, emphasis added.)

In other words, Peter came to his position of authority from “inside the church.” On the other hand God pretty much dragged Paul kicking and screaming into his position of authority.

Turning to the Confession of Peter, that refers to this New Testament episode:

[The] Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be Christ – the Messiah. The proclamation is described in the three Synoptic GospelsMatthew 16:13-20Mark 8:27–30 and Luke 9:18–20. The proclamation of Jesus as Christ is fundamental to Christology … and Jesus’ acceptance of the title is a definitive statement for it in the New Testament narrative.

In turn, on January 25 we remember how Paul was once a devout and zealous enemy of early Christians, as told in Galatians 1:13-14. He was “extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers,” persecuting the newly-formed Christian Church and trying to destroy it. But then came his Damascus Road Experience. He was literally struck blind, for three days. Thus the claim that Paul was “pretty much dragged kicking and screaming into his position of authority.”

The Bible also includes his part in the stoning of Stephen, in Acts 7:57-8:3.  (“Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”) So in plain words, Paul’s Damascus Road experience “changed him from a Christ-hating persecutor of Christians to the foremost spokesman for the faith.” But before that could happen, he had to convince those Christians – in Jerusalem especially – that his change of heart was genuine.  Their change of heart came about mostly through the work of Barnabas:

To sum up, if it hadn’t been for Barnabas and his willingness to give Paul a second chance – a second chance for the formerly zealous persecutor of the early Church – he might never have become Christianity’s most important early convert, if not the “Founder of Christianity.”

For more on Paul’s change of heart, see Paul restored – from the Damascus Road, from April 2016, which spoke of the transforming power of Jesus.

Which sums up the theme for the post, that power to be transformed – if you let God into your life and read the Bible with an open mind. As for my not being able to do a post for Christmas ’22, you can see some background details at The 12 days of Christmas, 2018-2019. Which included the thought that If Jesus had been a conservative, we’d all [still] be Jewish!

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Caterpillar to butterfly – what stage are you in, Biblically speaking?

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The upper image is courtesy of Albert Bierstadt Museum: Two Scholars Disputing REMBRANDT.

The Book of Common Prayer. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

“Storm of the century.” See December 2022 North American winter storm – Wikipedia, on the “extratropical cyclone created winter storm conditions, including blizzards, high winds, snowfall, or record cold temperatures across the majority of the United States.” I tried to make the 1000-mile drive in two days, but because of that snow, ice and fog had to stop the second night in Milford PA…

The 12 days of Christmas, 2018-2019.” That post also included a note that the concepts of sinrepentance and confession should be viewed as tools to “help us grow and develop, and are not to be used as a means of social control.”

The lower image is courtesy of Caterpillar To Butterfly – Image Results. See also How Does a Caterpillar Turn into a Butterfly? – Scientific American.

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Epiphany ’23, the end of Christmas and “farewell Mi Dulce…”

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January 11, 2023 – I know should be doing a post on the feast of Epiphany, last January 6, but I just had a big shock. I learned – on Facebook of all places – that the “young” lady I started dating in June 2013 just died. She was a mere 76 years old, as I also just found out. (I never could get a straight answer about her age when we were together.) But she seemed remarkably healthy the last time I talked to her, on December 30, 2022. (We stayed in touch even after the dating.)

During our halcyon days I took to calling her “Mi Dulce,” which roughly translates in Spanish as “My Sweet.” (She was a sucker for such flattery.) And in reviewing my past posts I just did get my memory refreshed about the times I mentioned her in this blog. One post was Returning from a pilgrimage – and the coming holidays, dated November 21, 2014.

That November 2014 post fits in nicely with the idea of Epiphany – January 6 – as marking the end of a long holiday season. That long holiday season – that “old-time winter festival” – actually started back on Halloween and just ended two months later, this past January 6.

There’s more about that long holiday season later on, but first here are some notes from an earlier post that year, On the “Infinite Frog.” (From July 2014, that mentions Dulce.)

That summer I took a two-week trip to New York City and Montreal. At the same time Mi Dulce took a two-week trip up to her home town, Cleveland. As I drove home – on I-81 through Virginia – I called her on the phone and we had a nice chat. But then she started talking about some “infinite frog, infinite frog.” Which made me wonder, “What the heck is an Infinite Frog?” It turned out she was talking about getting back her Infant of Prague doll – like the one at left – which she’d somehow lost track of as she grew up.

Which gives a flavor of how our conversations often went.

Later that year, on August 10, 2014, I did a post on St. Michael and All Angels.  

There’s a church in Stone Mountain –  St. Michael & All Angels’ Episcopal –  that Yours Truly and his Dulce passed the other day while leaving Stone Mountain Park. That led to the question, “Who the heck is this St. Michael guy?” 

Which just goes to show you can advance a spirit-pilgrimage even driving past Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta. I came to learn that the Archangel Michael is the one who reach[es down] to save souls in purgatory.” To which I said, “Hey, I’ll take all the help I can get!

Skipping ahead – to May 2015 – I mentioned Dulce again in On “Job the not patient” – REDUX. In it I noted that I spent a lot of time driving, and that much of that driving back then was spent “visiting Mi Dulce, who lives three counties over.” (Close to 60 miles each way.*)

To pass the time driving I got the habit of listening to lectures on CD. One lecture was Hebrews, Greeks and Romans:  Foundations of Western Civilization, by Professor Timothy Shutt. Through that lecture I learned that at the end of the Book of Job, “Job realizes divine omnipotence and understands the folly or trying to penetrate God’s plan and purposes with the limited mind of a human being.” Put another way, we are just not up to the task of fully understanding God:

We are simply not up to the task, not wired for such an overload. We are no more prepared to comprehend an answer than – to make use of a memorable example – cats are prepared to study calculus. It’s just not in our nature

Which is something I wouldn’t have learned without driving over to visit Ms. Dulce. (And come to think of it, I never managed to figure out – to fully understand – her mind either…)

Put another way, too many humans limit the majesty and power of God to their limited brain-power. So they tend re-make God’s mind to be more like their mind. They don’t do what God wants them to do. They don’t expand their minds or their horizons. And they never come close to eventually doing greater miracles than Jesus. (John 14:12.)  

All of which is not a bad set of lessons to learn driving over the visit Mi Dulce.

And now back to Epiphany. The post mentioning the lady that is most relevant to Epiphany is Returning from a pilgrimage – and the coming holidays. Posted in November 2014, it talked about my return from an eight-day canoe trip out in the Gulf of Mexico, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi. It also talked about Epiphany as “the end of Christmas,” noted in the title:

Christmas ends the season of Advent and begins the 12 days of Christmas. Those 12 Days end on 12th Night, which marks the start of The Epiphany. “12th Night” … is the evening of January 5, also called the Eve of 12th Day. It’s also called the Eve of Epiphany, and was formerly known as the last day of the Christmas season, “observed [also] as a time of merrymaking.” Note also that in medieval times, 12th Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve – now called Halloween – back on October 31.

There was a note – in the Notes – “regarding the title of Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night.” In parentheses I added, “courtesy of ‘Mi Dulce,'” and I think that was because I had to explain to her either the play or the concept of Epiphany. But as they say, “in teaching you will learn.” And through the lady in question I learned that there actually are websites for Infinite Frogs.

For more information on Epiphany, the end of 12 days of Christmas and the long liturgical season starting last October 31, check the links above. But it’s been exhausting trying to process this emotional jolt, so I’ll sign off for now. Here’s hoping the rest of the year turns out better.

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There actually IS a website for “infinite frogs. . .”

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The upper image is courtesy of Image Rest In Peace – Image Results.

“Mi Dulce.” See also, ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian (or actually an Independent), from my companion blog. I posted that on November 8, 2016:

Mi Dulce is Spanish for “My Sweet.” That’s what I call the lady I’ve been “dating” some time now. (Since the start of the relationship, [when] I started saying she had me “wrapped around her little finger…”) Also since then she’s broken up with me at least 10 times.

And that was just in the three years since we first met in June 2013. Therein I also wrote about her using the “8-track tape mode of political discourse.” The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped, they used a “continuous loop” system, and no rewind. “As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.”  

“Infant of Prague.” The full cite is e Infant Jesus of Prague – Wikipedia, referring to the 16th-century wax-coated wooden statue of the Child Jesus holding a globus cruciger of Spanish origin, now located in the Discalced CarmeliteChurch of Our Lady of Victories in Malá StranaPragueCzech Republic. First appearing in 1556, pious legends claim that the statue once belonged to Teresa of Ávila and was consequently donated to the Carmelite friars by Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1628.” See also Infant of Prague Doll – Etsy.

On that note, the “Infant doll” image is courtesy of Wikipedia, with the caption, “A German copy of the statue, with a white wig instead of the traditional blonde hair, circa. 1870.”

“Three counties over.” From Peachtree City to Conyers. Google Maps says its 60 miles using the interstates up to and through Atlanta, but traffic that way is always congested, if not stopped completely. So I usually took the back roads, which meant a drive of an hour and a half to two hours each way.

The lower image is courtesy of Infinite Frogs | Are We Full Yet? 

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