Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Directions
This blog will be undergoing a transition, as I go from being a parish priest in Woodinville, WA, to being a chaplain in the US Navy! I'll be trying to think of a new name for my blog other than 'Anglican Parish Priest' : any suggestions would be welcome! Please comment if you have an idea.

I fondly wish the folks of Saint Bartholomew's well as they go forward and search for my successor as Rector. I have made many wonderful friends at Saint Bartholomew's, not to mention the godparents of my two daughters who I baptized there. Some of my professional dreams as a parish priest also came to fruition for the first time at Saint Bartholomew's, such as: the reading of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Church as a daily public worship Service; an ongoing Scripture Study utilizing patristic commentary and Anglican divines; an annual Parish Retreat; a Parish Newsletter; a seasonal Supper/Evensong/Educational Series; an Acolyte program. My special contribution to Saint Bartholomew's (and the most fun!) was an afterschool program for vested Choir. This had been the subject of my doctoral dissertation at the University of California (Santa Barbara), and I was able to implement it to some degree at Saint Bartholomew's, where my wife and I worked with 15 boy and girl choristers over almost 4 years. We had an annual Choir Camp each Summer, and regular rehearsals throughout the school year, utilizing the RSCM training scheme. The Choir's performances included a monthly Service of Choral Holy Communion, and a Choral Evensong about once a quarter. The kids learned a lot of repertoire during that time, and hopefully learned choral singing skills that will bring them joy for a lifetime. For a small parish that was spread out over a large geographical area, that was all we could manage, but I am thankful for some very supportive parents who helped make the endeavor possible.

For my family and I, the road ahead definitely looks exciting. I am presently at Naval Station Newport, R. I., where I will undergo 5 weeks of training at Officer Development School followed by 7 weeks at Navy Chaplain School. Newport is a beautiful spot! My wife and family are staying with the grandparents, getting to know them better over the Summer. When we are reunited as a family, it will be at our ultimate duty station, at Camp Pendleton in North San Diego County. We look forward to serving our country in the Navy and Marine Corps.

What I am going to call this blog now is an open question : once again, any suggestions would be appreciated. I hope to keep blogging. Many Thanks, and Joy in Christ to all, Fr. Daniel McGrath

Sunday, February 22, 2009

All shall be well

When I learned that I was going on our Province's Lenten Retreat at St. Dorothy's Rest, and that we would be reading the Showings of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, I felt inspired to bring this great English mystic "home" to our parish as well.

Hence, the Parish Lenten Reading I have selected for this year is A 40-Day Journey with Julian of Norwich, edited and arranged by Lisa Dahill. This book consists of material from Julian's Showings, as well as passages of scripture to meditate upon and prayers to be said, for each day [of Lent].

I really look forward to going on our Retreat, and hearing what Canon David Rodier has to say on Julian of Norwich. I think I might know a couple of reasons why she was selected for us to read at this time. She recieved her revelations of Divine Love while looking at the crucifix. Thus, the focal point of Showings of Divine Love is our Lord's Passion, and that is great for us to mediate on during these weeks leading up to Easter. There is another reason it is appropriate to read Julian right now, and that is that she lived, as we do, during a time of social upheaval, plague, war, economic recession, and...(you guessed it!)...climate change. Northern Europe had a spell of very cold winters and very short, rainy Summers in the mid-1300's. This devastated the agrarian economy, caused widespread malnuitrition, and paved the way for the Black Death, which subsequently destroyed anywhere from 30%-60% of the population of Europe.

Given these grim statistics, it is amazing that our Lord's revelations to Julian consisted of such words of hope and comfort for her, for her contemporaries: the revelations can basically be summarized as "Behold, how much I love you", and "All shall be well".

Here is a brief statement from Julian's Showings, a passage made famous by T. S. Elliot in his Four Quartets. I think it is a 'Showing' if you will, of the deep Love of the Most Holy Trinity, and that it is much needed in a society which is wracked with sickness, division and anxiety:
All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Proverbs
During Epiphany Season, our Scripture Study class is studying The Proverbs from the Holy Bible: a collection of aphorisms by Solomon and others.

I encouraged the class to do some Bible Memory work. Here's mine (if I can do it from memory) from the 3rd Chapter:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him; and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy winepresses shall burst out with new wine.

Ok, I had a little trouble with the "navel" part, because that's a little different. Otherwise, learning Proverbs is really easy because of the parallel structure of each verse. Try it?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Rejoice in Christ's Birth Throughout the Twelve Days, December 25 - January 6. Here are some scenes from Saint Bartholomew's, taken over the past week.

I finally had the driveway and parking lot plowed on Dec. 27, and the snow is melting. It's wonderful to hear the sound of dripping!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The weather sure can change everything here. In one week, I went from a teaching/preaching/visiting/choir-training/administrative-task-completing, parish priest, to ... [quite simply] ... a snow-shoveling parish priest. Each successive snow storm has come through and blasted our area, adding new layers. The snow shovel and I have become very well acquainted. I shovel the snow for the sakes of whomever might show up at Church, first of all so they can get up the driveway, and secondly so they don't have to tramp through snow drifts from the car to the Church. As it turns out, there have been very few, hardy souls, to take advantage of my new line of work. We just don't deal with snow that well here in Seattle, and most people stay home except for pressing emergencies. On a positive note, we did not get the horrendous windstorm that was being forecast last evening. Had the storm come to fruition, there would have been days & days of no power, lights or heat, as the Fir Trees toppled onto power lines everywhere throughout the region.

Would someone please "upload me" to Hawaii, right now?
Family Photo
This photo was part of an Advent project undertaken by Bill and Nancy. They have been working to take shots of every household during Coffee Hour, and to put them up on the "Our Parish Family" Bulletin Board in the Narthex. The photos we did have were out of date. Hopefully these new photos will help newcomers get to know names/faces in our Parish more readily. What you see here is (left to right) myself, Mary Eve & Danny (standing on the piano bench), and Josephine holding Gloria Christi. (...and, uh, Gloria reaching out for Mary.) I think these are going to be made available to the families, as prints.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It gets very dark in the Pacific NW during Winter! By this time of year, it starts getting dark around 4pm and stays dark until around 7am: that's 15 hours of darkness, and 9 hours of wan, horizontal sunlight, each day. Most days the little sunlight we receive has to pierce a cloud layer, and then penetrate the long shadows of the Douglas Firs and Cedars. It is beautiful here, don't get me wrong, but the darkness can get to you, especially if you've lived in California for 5 years before moving here, as I did!
This year, however, I gained a new appreciation for the dark : it is absolutely perfect for Christmas lighting displays! The lights look so beautiful and cheerful, glowing in the inky blackness. I felt inspired to go to Target and purchase some lights for our family. It was a big source of excitement for the children that day, and it still as, as we plug in the lights each evening.
One house in my neighborhood is particularly brilliant and well-covered with lights and displays of various kinds. I look forward to driving by every evening, and getting inspired by the Season. By the way, I've learned in the course of my studies that the word "NOEL" is an old French word (not a modern French word, but an old French word) meaning "news". The "news" is of course the "good news" that the angels sang over the hills of Bethlehem (You know, as in the carol, "The first nowell, the angel did say..."). So, NOEL is actually a synonym to GOSPEL, for both refer to the Good News of Christ's Incarnation.
Advent Series
Each Advent Season, I select a book for parishioners to read as they prepare to celebrate Christmas. This year it is Advent and Christmas Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton. This book is published by The Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis and Friends. It is divided into a course of daily readings and prayers for Advent and Christmastide. Each day the reader is provided with a quotation from Chesterton, a corresponding verse of Scripture, a prayer written for the day, and an "Advent Action" (which is something to do or to think about).

On Wednesday evenings we meet at Church for 6:30 Evensong, Supper and a Discussion of the daily readings. I typically begin the discussion with a short presentation. The first was on Chesterton himself and the second on his close associate, Hillaire Belloc. For the second year in a row, N. J. has prepared a delicious soup & salad supper : the supper alone makes it worth being there! It has been very gratifying to have a good group of parishioners participate. Even though they have full days during this busy holiday season, they have graciously made time to gather at the Church for these Advent evenings. I hope the whole experience will be of value in helping prepare them for Christmas, and to deepen their faith!

Friday, November 28, 2008

P. K.
My 10-month-old daughter Gloria Christi got marooned at Church with me this evening, which means she got to attend Evensong, practice her stair-climbing techniques going from the Parish Hall to the Nave, chomp on cookies left over from the Holiday Bazaar, visit the Nursery, investigate lots of nooks and crannies here and there, and observe me doing the endless parish admin work. It worked pretty well (she is the most patient child I have ever seen) but it was good when Mom, Danny & Mary Eve came back from shopping. Poor little preacher's kid: usually she's at home, cozy and snug.
Eve of Thanksgiving - Choral Evensong, and Visitor Gift Bags

It was almost like being in an English Cathedral in one sense : a well-trained, vested choir, singing Evensong to a mostly empty nave! (The idea of Thanksgiving is still catching on here.)

But no matter : we had such a good time doing the Service. It was an altogether beautiful evening because of all the love that was poured into it by the Choir and dedicated volunteers from the Parish. It was a real sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, offered to Almighty God on the Eve of Thanksgiving.
The music performed was the Evening Service (Mag & Nunc) in E-flat, by Sir Edward Bairstow; Psalm 98 to a double Anglican Chant setting of G. M. Garrett; the Responses were plainsong; the Anthem was "A Gaelic Blessing" by John Rutter; the Hymns included "The day thou gavest...", "O Brightness of the immortal Father's face..." (Office Hymn for the lighting of the candles), and "All people that on earth do dwell...". On the last verse of the last hymn, which is to the tune Old Hundredth, Dr. Josephine played a grand alternate organ accompaniment by Bairstow.

Deirdre, Kathy and Claire collaborated on putting together some gift bags for visitors: each bag contained a card, some things to read, and a fresh-baked loaf of Hallah bread (baked by Kathy). Another nice touch was that Claire provided some authentic, spiced cider in the Narthex to warm our hearts after Service. I've never had anything like this at an English Cathedral!

Then, at Matins & Communion, Thanksgiving Day, Drew preached an altogether fine sermon. It was a real treat - we're going to hear more from him, I am sure.