Service


OUTREACH


Town Commons in Howell, MI
2 pm Service
Fourth Wednesday of Every Month





† Altar Service †
Opportunities for men (seven and up) to 
"Go unto the Altar of God" (Psalm 43:4)



† Choir †
Opportunities for one and all to
"Come before his presence with a song" (Psalm 100:1) 
& "Exalt him also in the congregation of the people" (Psalm 107:32)




† Altar Guild †
Opportunities for women to gather and serve.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul: O Lord my God, thou art become exceeding glorious; thou art clothed with majesty and honour. Thou deckest thyself with light as it were with a garment, and spreadest out the heavens like a curtain"! Psalm 104:1-2



† Ushers †
Opportunities for men to be of service.
"I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God,
than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness." (Psalm 84:11)


 

† Pray-ers †
All may be of service by assisting the congregation with their prayers. Participate in the "prayer-chain", the Rosary,
or by private devotions.

"Seven times a day do I praise thee;
because of thy righteous judgments." (Psalm 119:164)


A Family at Prayer

By

Fr. Gene Geromel SSC Ph.D.



             I stared at him in bewilderment.  Here I was a priest on a private retreat.  I was taking time away from my parish and my family to spend time alone with Our Lord.  Each day I was given material for a meditation in the morning and one in the afternoon.  This day my retreat leader looked at me and asked if I would meditate on a certain passage with my family in mind.  Noticing that “look”, he told me that since God had called me to marriage, not just the priesthood; it was one of my paths to salvation.

             I hate to admit it but, until then, it wasn’t something I had considered.  My means to salvation was through my marriage?  Then I realized: the priesthood is a vocation, a vocation which leads a man to his salvation.  Why would marriage be any different?  It is a vocation; therefore it, too, is a path to holiness.  Our problem is that most of us consider salvation to be between us and God.  It is ‘me and Jesus’.  But is it?  Shouldn’t a husband and wife go hand in hand to heaven?  If that is true, then our prayer life, our spiritual life, is a joint relationship.  The question becomes how is that relationship manifested?  What are the practical ways it is carried out?

             When I first came to this parish I was asked to do a funeral for a man who had been an Episcopalian, at one time, in the town near us.  The parish church had closed more than a decade before I arrived.  I had never met the man.  They wanted the funeral at the local funeral home.  In spite of my attempts, I never could  develop a relationship with the family.  Years later, I had a call from hospice that the wife was dying.  I visited her every week.  She did not receive communion.  It turned out that she had never been baptized.  I talked to her about baptism but made no headway.  All she wanted was to know that she would have a funeral like her husband.  That was all that was important to her.  I always trust that God is more merciful than any of us deserve, but I couldn’t but wonder what she might discover on the other side?  What would it be like to discover that after fifty years of marriage one of the partners had no relationship with our Lord while the other did?  That isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Perhaps one of the things we need to consider is: what are the barriers to being a family at prayer?

            When I do premarital counseling I talk about the couple praying together.  There is always a sheepish look on their faces.  Yes, they might be willing to say grace together.  But get down on their knees and pray together before going to bed?  That seems to be too much.  What really is occurring is vulnerability.  Will we be laughed at?  Will we look silly?  Aren’t we, and our souls, standing naked before our mate?  I point out that all of the above is true about making love.  Yet, I have never heard anyone say that they won’t try it because they feel vulnerable.  Try family prayer, because it is a different kind of intimacy.  In its own way, it can be just as fulfilling, if not, at certain times, more so.

             Do you remember the faces of the couple who came up to the altar last Sunday for the blessing of their fiftieth anniversary?  Or what your aunt and uncle told you about how their faith got them through his cancer?  Or the couple with the problem daughter who told you that only their faith enabled them survive the crisis?  Do you remember what you felt like when you made your last confession?  How you felt toward your spouse after you were shriven?  Or the time you woke up in the middle of the night and you and your husband said a prayer together? Or the Sunday you left the communion rail and found yourself holding hands?  How do you increase such experiences?

             As with any part of our spiritual life, there are a few simple rules.  Don’t try to do too much at first.  When someone returns from a retreat their first inclination is to go overboard.  A young seminarian might say, “I’m going to read all seven offices every day”.  It begins well and then an office is missed, then another, a day’s office is ignored, then hands are thrown up in the air with the statement, “This is impossible.”  If a couple hasn’t prayed together, then starting out with both morning and evening prayer might be expecting too much.  Begin by holding hands and praying the Lord’s Prayer:  Later add another fixed prayer.  Eventually, some extemporaneous prayers can be added.

             At dinner a couple can discuss some element of whatever spiritual reading they are doing that day.  We have no hesitation discussing what is happening in our favorite sport.  We talk about the political events of the day.  Why wouldn’t we discuss a reading which moved our hearts? The same thing is true for Holy Scripture.  Was there a particular passage which was confusing or illuminating?  Who better to share it with than the one with whom you hope to spend eternity?

             Let us go back to the other members of our family - our children.  I don’t know how many times I have heard in my life parents saying, “I believe that Jesus is my Savior, but I want my children to make up their own mind when they are mature.”  Do we allow our children to make up their minds on anything else which is of importance?  Do we say to them, “I believe in brushing my teeth, but you can decide whether or not to brush your teeth when you are eighteen?”  No, we know that, by eighteen, they won’t have any teeth. 

             More importantly, have we not made promises that our children will develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and his church?  Shakespeare reminds us in Henry V that “every man is responsible for his own conscience”.  But what do the marriage vows we make say about all of this?  We have committed ourselves not only to a life-long union, but an eternal one.  But it goes farther than that. “Bestow upon these thy servants, if it be thy will, the gift and heritage of children; and grant that they may see their children brought up in thy faith and fear”. At baptism we promise that we will bring the child to the Bishop for Confirmation and that they shall know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments and all things necessary for Salvation.  This implies that the raising of our children is also an eternal promise.  None of this should come as a surprise.  Yet, it does to so many people. 

             When we say our night prayers with our children is everyone in the family there?  Or does just one of the parents pray with the child?  Should not prayer time be for the whole family?  If children see both parents kneeling before the crucifix praying together, they will be inclined to believe that prayer is central to family life, and that prayer is essential to their own life.

Forward in Christ,  Vol. 3, # 4 September-October

The Importance of Communion:
by: Fr. Gene Geromel

 
Holy Communion

            Near the end of the Holy Eucharist, after everyone has received communion, you will notice the priest cleaning the sacred vessels.  The altar guild will tell you that the corporal, the cloth which communion is celebrated upon, is folded in such a way that no crumbs will fall on the floor.  The priest cleans the chalice and paten so that not a drop of wine is left and any crumbs of the host are consumed.  All this is done because of the sacredness of what occurs at this service.

            The night before our Lord Jesus Christ was handed over to suffering and death, he gave us the Holy Eucharist at the last supper.  It is the New Covenant reminding us of his sacrifice upon Golgotha.  Jesus tell us that unless we eat his body and drink his blood, we have no part in his kingdom (John 6:53-56).  St. Paul tells us “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. “ (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

            On page 236 of the Anglican Service Book, there is an excellent discussion of the Holy Eucharist.  Historically people have received in both kinds, which means we receive  the bread and the wine, both the body and blood of Christ.  In truth, our Lord’s body can not be separated.  And therefore, for many years in the west, people only received the host.

            This brings us to the question, how do we receive?  It is been the tradition since before 314 A.D. (Cyril of Jerusalem) to receive in both kinds, the bread and the wine.  There are two ways in which we receive the host.  You may hold out your hands, with your right hand on top of the left.  Or, you may tilt your head back and the host will be placed on your tongue.   When we drink from the common cup, you may guide it by gently touching the bottom of the chalice. If drinking from the chalice is a problem for you, there are several options.  You may choose only to receive in one kind.  If this is your choice, merely cross your arms on your chest when the chalice is brought to you.  Or, you may hold the host on the palm of your hand and it will be taken from you, dipped in the wine, and placed on your tongue.  All this is so that we may show due reverence to the most Blessed Sacrament.

Funerals

By

Fr. Gene Geromel SSC Ph.D



The Altar on Good Friday

 

One of the priests I served under in seminary taught me that the priest should stand by the grave until everyone leaves. “The priest, the Church, should be the last thing they see as they leave the cemetery.” It cannot always be done for logistical reasons but I try to do it whenever possible. Many years ago I stood by the grave quietly saying prayers next to the casket. A young man in his twenties had died in a car crash, leaving behind a pregnant girl friend whom he was deciding whether or not to marry when his car crashed. Two young men came up and through a bag of marijuana into the vault. Stash for the afterlife. A truly pagan action.

Since then I have noticed that funerals have become more and more pagan. In the last few years I have been at three different Roman Catholic funerals where the Deacon doing the wake service or funeral itself has taken out a spoon or fork as a prop. They then began talking about how it would be placed in the casket because it reminded us that the next life will be better than the previous one. After all, “at the end of meal we always have our dessert fork and everyone knows dessert is the best part of the meal.” Cute perhaps, but what does it say about everlasting life?

Have you noticed in the last few years the things which get placed in a coffin? The most recent one I have gone to had two cans of beer and a golf club in it. I have seen baseballs and mitts. Whatever happened to a cross, crucifix or Rosaries? Which are the symbols of life eternal?

I overheard two of my parishioners speaking about funerals they had been to where the obituary was read. They got to hear which clubs the deceased belonged to. They were reminded of names of their children and grandchildren. They were told who they worked for and for how long. Isn’t this the type of thing we should hear at the wake or funeral dinner? It certainly makes it easy for the pastor. Just print up obituary. No need to seek the appropriate scripture. No commentaries to read. No exegesis to do. Just hit print and pronounce the names of the grandchildren correctly.

Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but when I was in seminary in the last century we were taught that we were never to preach a eulogy. “We don’t want a body lying in the nave and a priest lying in the pulpit.” I was at a wake service where the priest spoke and then asked people to get up and say a few words. When he spoke, he talked about her marriage. He spoke of her gentleness and kindness towards her husband. All her friends, especially the women, burst out laughing. You see this woman was highly outspoken and would frequently say about herself, “what you see is what you get”. The priest, who was new to the parish, is a fine man. How could he know all the five-hundred families in his parish? But he fell into the cultural trap that the funerals emphasis should be on the person in the casket.

Please don’t misunderstand me, it should be personal. We are burying a particular servant of God. The people in the church have lost a loved one. Those left behind are hurting. We are there to minister to them. But is the focus of the service their past - or their future? Will family and friends find comfort and hope in memories or in a promise of Christ?

Historically, we have always had a funeral service with the casket closed. Why? Because we want those present to listen to the promises of the Gospel. We want them to have a vision of the eternal life, not to focus on an empty corpse. In psychological terms, we want closure. How often have you been at a funeral home service where the priest preaches a sermon on eternal life or the Good Shepherd or the love of God and then when the service is over those present file by the casket. The last thing they remember is that “Joe” doesn’t look like “Joe”. Closure is lost. Is that as likely to occur if the casket was closed before the service?

Not long ago there was an article in the paper about a well-known actor who attended a funeral of a friend, an biographer of mass murders. The prison chaplain did the funeral. As the priest preached on the lessons the actor ran up and pushed him aside. 'Excuse me, but this is not about you. It's supposed to be about my friend, and if you can't do that, maybe you should let someone else speak!', the actor screamed and began to talk about his friend. Later, he complained that the priest was talking about God too much, and making people at the funeral uncomfortable.

The real question at that funeral was not how well the priest knew the deceased, but did the deceased know our Lord? Our current world, dare I say pagan, is only concerned about momentary feelings. It makes us feel good to get up and tell the story about “Joe” and his college days. What does it matter if his children hear about his drinking bouts and frat parties? Didn’t everyone have fun? We read a poem that makes us feel happy even though it says nothing about Christ, forgiveness and eternal life. After all, doesn’t everyone believe in reincarnation?

Certainly, after a death we need time in which we share good memories. It should be a time in which we shed tears. There should be time to share laugher. But is the funeral itself the appropriate time for such things? If friends and relative want to speak about their friend and loved one can it not be done at the funeral home at the Wake Service? Will there not be time at the funeral dinner to remember the good and the bad times. Should not the funeral be a time to remember and proclaim the Glory of God and his eternal kingdom?

Forward in Christ Vol. 4 No. 1 March-April 2011


Christian Burial

by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC

Diocese of the Holy Cross

 

Prepare for death


Darkened Sanctuary During Passiontide

 

“Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; that I may be certified how long I have to live.”  (Psalm 39: 5)  The Fathers encouraged us often to remembrance of death as a way of quickening prayer in us, and holy fear, and dependence on God.  “Prepare yourself constantly for death, casting aside all fear.”[1]   Life is short, and “here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13: 14)  Pray for a holy and prepared death, in words such as these:

            O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered; Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness, all our days:  that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favour with thee our God, and in perfect charity with the world.  All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.[2]

The first thing to do is settle down quietly in God’s presence, and seek His guidance in the preparation, or the re-drafting, of a will.  Some people think that by postponing their wills they are postponing their deaths.  That is not the case.  “The Minister is ordered, from time to time, to advise the People, whilst they are in health, to make Wills arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, and, when of ability, to leave Bequests for religious and charitable uses.”[3]

The Biblical concept for all giving is the tithe, and tithing applies to wills. One should take ten percent off the top and give it “for religious and charitable uses.”  For most of us that means our parish church, but our diocese, a seminary, a campus ministry, a religious order, a pro-life group or a charity may be factored in.  And there are other ways of giving to the church through life insurance, charitable remainder trusts and other creative instruments that can bring significant tax relief.

Another aspect of preparation for death is determining whether power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney, should be delegated to someone you trust.

Remembrance of death should not be morbid.  By rising from the dead, Jesus turned death into a passage, a passover, into the light and joy of the Kingdom.  In Him, death is our heavenly birthday, our birthday into eternity.  St. Paul said “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…”  (Philippians 1: 21)

Finally, if you have never made your confession before, ask a priest for help in preparing for your first confession.  The time to go to confession is now.  Learn now the ineffable blessing of absolution.  “…Now it is high time to awake out of sleep:  for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand:  let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”  (Romans 13: 11-12)  Being a penitent now means that on your deathbed it will be natural for you to make your confession.  You will have already threaded the needle.  You will go to the Lord, confident and joyful, knowing to plead the Blood, and walk toward the Light.  You will give a powerful witness to your family, and the Church, of the risen Lord.  Your last words will be memorable, and edify many:  words of praise and gratitude to our loving heavenly Father.  It is said that St. Nicholas’ last words were the Nunc dimittis, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…”  (Luke 2: 29ff)  St. Catherine of Siena is said to have exclaimed, “My God, I thank thee for having creating me.”  St. Therese of Lisieux said, “My God, how I love you!”

 

Plan the Liturgy

Now comes the matter of planning for the Liturgy, and writing out instructions for it, in consultation with your priest, so that he and you, and a family member, can keep the instructions in a file, ready-to-hand.  The Liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, supplemented by the Missals and the 1940 Hymnal, is a world-class masterpiece.  Use it as it stands.  Introducing trendy or idiosyncratic  elements sentimentalizes and trivializes the grandeur of our Liturgy.  We begin, for example, with no organ prelude.  There is complete silence.  The first words we hear are our Lord’s, from St. John’s Gospel, majestically proclaimed by the priest as he leads the casket down the aisle, “I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord:  he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die…”[4]

So begins the Burial Office, which is the old Mattins for the Dead.  Two things have already been assumed, and both are important.  (i)  That the body is present, in a closed casket, which is covered by either a pall, or, in the case of a Veteran, by an American Flag.  It is necessary to leave word with your undertaker, and in your written instructions to the family, that you want your body brought into the church this one last time.  If you plan to be cremated, the cremation can wait until after the Liturgy.  Undertakers are happy to comply with this, but they need to be told ahead of time.  If this costs a little extra, it is worth it.  Because we are not gnostics, for whom the body does not matter.  The body does matter.  That is the witness of all of Scripture.  This body is what was, from Baptism onwards, the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  This body is what will be raised up again at the last day.  This body we now bring into church one last time, to reveal these great truths of our Faith.  Your body is returned to the church, to the gathered faithful, among whom you were first baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection, so that the faithful can gather ‘round one last time and the priest can absolve your body one last time.  Having your body at the Liturgy brings closure to your life in Christ on earth, and helps your loved ones face your death head-on, so that their grief, more fully drawn out now, can be more fully healed, in the Liturgy, with the living hope it proclaims.

(ii)  The second assumption already made is that the Liturgy be in your parish church, if at all possible.  The second choice is to have the Liturgy in another church.  But your parish church is the place where, Sunday by Sunday, in the Eucharist, you knew earth to be united with heaven, and heaven with earth, in the Communion of Saints.  Your parish church is where your fellow members of the Body gathered with you to receive the holy mysteries, and be revealed as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.         

Many of our parishes use black for hangings, vestments and the pall that goes over the casket upon entrance into the church.  Violet is often substituted.  Both violet and black are penitential colors.  We approach God in penitence for the holy progress of a soul which will probably need some further purgation and preparation for heaven.  Also, black, or violet, helps people to release more of their grief.  These colors have an almost shocking effect, which brings us up smartly to the harsh reality of death, and what our Lord saved us from.  If black of violet are used, the whole tone of the Liturgy is penitential, and so no hymns with the word “alleluia” are used.

Using white vestments and hangings is the post-Vatican II emphasis on our Lord’s resurrection, and what He saved us for.  The theme is more from the book of Revelation:  the saved wear robes, washed white in the Blood of the Lamb.[5]   With white, hymns with the word “alleluia” may be used, because Easter sets the tone for the Liturgy.  Whether the Liturgy uses black, violet or white, there are to be no flowers on or near the Altar.

Regarding music, it is good to pick out hymns that you would like used, if there are to be hymns.  As mentioned above, the color used for the Liturgy will influence the choice of hymns.  If the Requiem Mass is to be sung, the organist, or Rector, or you yourself, may have an idea of what Mass setting you would like, or whether you want a choir.

The Burial Office and Mass for the Dead may never be offered on Sunday, this being the day of our Lord’s Resurrection.  Sunday is not a day for commemorating the dead, but the day for our living Lord.    

Eulogies should only be given at a reception and never during the Liturgy.  It is appropriate that the priest give a homily on our Lord’s resurrection.  And since the worship of the Church is offered to Almighty God, and not to the deceased, it is not appropriate to have pictures of the deceased in the front of the church.  Pictures are not appropriate for the same reason eulogies are not.  The focus is not on the deceased, but on God. 

Should there be a Requiem Mass?[6]   Most certainly.  A Requiem can be a low Mass, a Sung Mass, a Sung Mass with incense, or a Solemn High Mass.  There is no better way to finish one’s course on earth than to have the Lord’s own Service.  We are never closer to our loved ones in heaven or in purgatory than when we celebrate the Eucharist.  The whole Church, militant, expectant and triumphant, sings the Sanctus together, with the angels and archangels.  The Church intends the Eucharist to be celebrated at every turning point and important event in life, to reveal to us the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of passing over from death to life, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

And so, the full Liturgy for the Dead is, in order:  (i) the Burial Office (pp. 324 – 332), the Requiem Mass (pp. 67 – 84 and pp. 268 – 269), (iii) the Absolution of the Body and (iv) the Service at the Grave (pp. 332 – 336)

Some other notes for the file are:

-- whether to write your obituary in advance, or to leave with your family some notes on what you would like in it.      

-- the kind  of  visitation you wish to have, (at your home, or at the Funeral Director’s)

-- where you would like to be buried, or have your ashes interred.  Normally the Service at the Grave, and the burial, take place right after the Service that was held in the church.  An interment of ashes may be deferred to a later time.

-- you may indicate preferences for the Psalms in the Burial Office (pp. 324 – 328) or you may want them all to be used.  So too with the readings (pp. 328 – 331).  Three are given, and you may indicate your preference for one of them.  It is usually best if the readings are left to the clergy.  At the Requiem Mass, the Epistle should be read by a sub-deacon or one of the clergy, and the Gospel read by a deacon or the priest.  It is never appropriate to have readings that are not from Holy Scripture.

-- Hymns must be chosen from The Hymnal, 1940, or from hymnals approved by the Rector.  Secular and unseemly music is to be suppressed.

-- whether to have an organist (who must be paid) and a choir (which usually must be paid) and how much the choir should sing (the Psalms in the Burial Office can, for example, be chanted, as well the Ordinary of the Mass (the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei) and the Propers (Introit, Gradual/Sequence Hymn, Offertory and Communion Verse).    

-- whether to have incense at the Requiem Mass.  Incense is always used at a Solemn High Mass, and may be used at a sung Mass.  Incense is used at the Absolution of the Body, when the casket is sprinkled with holy water and censed, while saying the Lord’s Prayer.  After prayers for God’s mercy for the deceased, the priest leads the casket out of the Church while he says, or the choir sings, the Paradisium,

“May the angels lead thee into Paradise; and the Martyrs receive thee at thy coming and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem.  May the choirs of Angels receive thee, and mayest thou, with Lazarus once poor, have everlasting rest.”


 


[1]  St. Theognostos, The Philokalia, Vol. 2, p. 377

[2]   Book of Common Prayer, p. 316

[3]  Book of Common Prayer, p. 320

[4]  Book of Common Prayer, p. 324

[5]  Revelation 7: 14

[6]  Book of Common Prayer, pp. 268 - 269

 

ST. BART'S CELEBRATES 50th

ANNIVERSARY

 

    On Sunday, June 7, the parishioners of St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church held a potluck dinner to recognize 50 years of catholic worship and Biblical teaching here in Swartz Creek. In 1959, a group of Episcopalians met together for worship in a one-room schoolhouse not far from the present site of St. Bartholomew's. The mission was called The Church of the Holy Cross. In 1960, the congregation became a mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, downtown Flint. Charles Barth, one of the early founders of General Motors, gave the money for the present building. Not surprisingly, the new church was consecrated in the name of Saint Bartholomew.

In the year 2000, the parish voted to leave the Episcopal Church and become an independent Anglican church. The Diocese of Eastern Michigan sold the buildings to the congregation. Since they had already paid off the original loan, the people of St. Bartholomew's thus paid for their building and land twice over. This is an indication of the devotion and piety of these fine people.

    The congregation also took the opportunity on Sunday to celebrate their rector, Fr. Gene Geromel's, 25th anniversary as their pastor and his 35th anniversary as a priest. A solemn high mass was celebrated with Fr. David Sprunk and the Rev. Deacon Steven Maas as assistants.

    After the meal, the congregation paid a special tribute to Mrs. Alicia Geromel for the work she does with the youth and the Christian education program. An especially touching moment was when Fr. Geromel said that God had chosen him this wife because she would be a good helpmate.

 

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