Means of Grace, Hope of Glory


With the help of imperfect, self-interested, and narrow-minded persons 

What am I for? To glorify God – to praise, reverence, and serve Him.  How am I to do it? By a consecration of my whole life, not just in nice religious surroundings or by well organized social work, but in the drudgery, the monotony, the rough and tumble of the common life. With the help of imperfect, self-interested, and narrow-minded persons – baffled by hostility and misunderstanding – I am to glorify God in and through all the demands on my love, courage, and patience, all the confusing disillusionment and sufferings that culminate in Gethsemane and the Cross.   From "Inner Grace and Outward Sign" - Evelyn Underhill retreat in 1927


My parish
I love my parish -- prayerful, graceful, progressive, big hearted, kind, and all with incense.


We are also of the left. I'd say we were "the Democratic Party at prayer" but that might suggest we were more conservative than we are. Conservatives and moderates keep a low profile. Our acceptance-challenge isn't about race, class, gender, orientation or immigration status. When our preachers list the sins related to how these groupings are treated, I sometimes think, "Yes, but that's not really our sin."  Of course it is "really our sin" as we share in the history and culture of this society. But there's more.


When the chant goes forth -- "From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity" - "Good Lord, deliver us." -- my guess is that many of us in the parish know what our blindness protects us from; what our "want of charity" is about. Thank God we are not like them -- the "deplorables", the bitter ones, "clinging to guns or religion or an antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment."


If parishes have a Type, we are very much an introverted parish. There is an inner life here. People do say the Office and go to confession. Evelyn Underhill is the third reading at Evening Prayer on Wednesday. I do believe that there are many who "get it" even if we rarely speak of it.


Of the left


When I was in the Young People's Fellowship of my parish Janice and I were the only two whose families were voting for Adlai Stevenson. When I was a sophomore I joined CORE and YPSL (Congress of Racial Equality and the Young People's Socialist League -of the Socialist Party). The "Yipsel" card was a deep red. When it arrived in the mail, my mother, an FDR Democrat, said, "Try to not get hurt."  Later it was SDS and the anti racism movement. Then DSA (Democratic Socialists of America). I mostly went along as much of the left moved into an odd mix of common good-individualism-identity politics. You have to live someplace. Even if it leaves you slightly off balance.

I've often been uncomfortable with my denomination's tendency to take its moral theology from the DPs platform. My being "of the left" was my path, a path that emerged, and was fed, out of prayer, study and civic action. I think I always knew it wasn't "the Truth."  Other Christians, even more prayerful and thoughtful than me, came to other conclusions and acted in other directions. We all see through a glass, darkly. 


My danger

Such thoughts, nurtured in prayer and reflection, have helped me keep some perspective in recent years. I need to be held by a faith that is bigger than my politics and my denomination.

There is also a spiritual danger that comes along with such thoughts.

God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.

I've positioned myself as a moderate, reasonable leftist. And that's true. I don't easily get swept up in the latest fad of the left. I read conservative writers. I change my views as I learn and see other ways. 

All true. There's truth and grace in that. And there's also blindness and "want of charity."

Parish pathologies

When I was doing a lot of consulting, on occasion, after I'd worked with a parish for enough time that some trust existed, I'd use an intervention along these line:

Me: What's your parish pathology?  

Them: Silence (usually)

Me: Okay, but if you had a parish pathology, what would it be?

Them: Oh that. Yes, what we do is ...

They would tell stories about their reserve getting expressed as coldness toward people they didn't like or understand; about a pattern of pushing out of the parish people they were uncomfortable with; about being caught up on a success treadmill that pushed their children too hard; about a legacy of explicit racism, about a tendency toward conflict avoidance that resulted in a denial of justice and truth; and on and on. There's always sin and human limitation. Always. 

It's very difficult for a parish to see its sin and limitations. Hard to acknowledge them. It's never easy to throw ourselves upon the Mercy. 

Evelyn Underhill

So, I invite you to join me and read Blessed Evelyn again -- slowly, in prayer. Bring yourself, and me, my parish and your parish along in your lectio.

What am I for? To glorify God – to praise, reverence, and serve Him.  How am I to do it? By a consecration of my whole life, not just in nice religious surroundings or by well organized social work, but in the drudgery, the monotony, the rough and tumble of the common life. With the help of imperfect, self-interested, and narrow-minded persons – baffled by hostility and misunderstanding – I am to glorify God in and through all the demands on my love, courage, and patience, all the confusing disillusionment and sufferings that culminate in Gethsemane and the Cross.   From "Inner Grace and Outward Sign" - Evelyn Underhill retreat in 1927 




Thoughts and Prayers: Prayer Shaming

I've found myself annoyed with the assault upon "thoughts and prayers."


I get the need for responsible action to save lives. I understand that our political leaders seem both paralyzed and caught up in self righteous positioning.


Still, the attacks on those calling for prayer are not likely to advance needed action or the need for Americans to talk with one another.


I fear it also confuses and undermines the faith of many in our parishes. Those of a more stable Apostolic and mature faith and practice will be fine. But a large number of people in our parishes are already immature, tentative, and/or occasional practicers. A bit of ascetical guidance might be called for.


I found today's propers helpful:


The reading from Mark 
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.


and from Psalm 25
 Let none who look to you be put to shame


My concern is two fold

I want to be clear about this. 

First, it is pastoral. At times when the broader culture presses a line of thought that is ignorant of the church's understanding regarding the relationship between prayer and action -- it is an opportunity for priests to clarify things within the parish. The most faithful members can use the support and those of a less mature faith need to hear the church's teaching.

And second it is about our civic life. It a time of increased polarization, that is filled with rage and self righteousness, we need to hear the church's call for us to "respect the dignity of every human being" -- especially those we disagree with and have a hard time understanding. That call is also primarily to the baptized. It is however, a responsibility we have in common with many others in our nation.


On the pastoral/ascetical issue:


I'll offer for your reflection three quotes from our tradition -- 


Moral action only flows from doctrinal truth by grace and faith, that is through prayer. - Martain Thornton


If the Church is to speak prophetically in and to the political order, it must do so on the basis of sound theology and profound prayer as well as accurate data and careful analysis. - Kenneth Leech


One’s first duty is adoration, and one’s second duty is awe and only one’s third duty is service. And that for those three things and nothing else, addressed to God and no one else, you and I and all other countless human creatures evolved upon the surface of this planet were created. We observe then that two of the three things for which our souls were made are matters of attitude, of relation: adoration and awe. Unless these two are right, the last of the triad, service, won’t be right. Unless the whole of is a movement of praise and adoration, unless it is instinct with awe, the work which the life produces won’t be much good. - Evelyn Underhill


On the common civic life:


There's a great deal being written about the danger to our democracy as we allow the extreme ends of the discussion to control the conversation. For now I'll point to three resources that may be useful.


You might take a look at Respect First, Then Gun Control by David Brooks. He offers a few ideas for such conversations. He mentions Better Angels, an organization working to reduce polarization and help people talk with one another.


And on the need for for a thoughtful, structured conversation in the parish - see the earlier posting "Guns: And to make a right beginning"  #8.  I believe that these conversations need to be face-to-face not by e-mail or on twitter or on group forums. Face-to-face. Structured to increase the sense of safety and the likelihood that people will hear one another.


The time to say things 


I had to give some thought to whether posting this piece now was the right thing to do. Maybe I should just let the current debate play out. Maybe it wasn't being respectful enough of the feelings involved. Maybe someone would be displeased with me.

I ended up deciding that was all nonsense. On both the left and the right the call that "this isn't the time to talk about it" is used to shut people down. We need to talk with one another when the discussion is going on. We need to do that with as much respect and care as we have in us.


Another helpful reading was by Rabbi Benjamin Blech is a Professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University. He wrote 
"The San Bernardino Massacre And Prayer: Why those who think “God isn’t fixing this” are wrong."  


Below you'll find excerpts from the article and a link to the whole piece.



In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack in San Bernardino a new phrase – prayer shaming – has made its way into the coverage of much of the media. In its own way, it too is an attack on the spiritual values that define our civilized society.

“Prayer shaming” describes the reaction of a significant number of commentators in the press and social media to a response to tragedy that in the past would almost certainly have been greeted with respect and reverence. The blazing headline of the NY Daily News illustrated it most starkly. Following a caption in eye-catching red “14 dead in California mass shooting” a super large font screamed the message: “God isn’t fixing this”. That was trailed with these words: “As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.”

... the headline sarcastically adds quotes from four politicians offering prayers on behalf of the victims and their families in order to mock them as archaic and pious sentiments which have no place in the real world confronting evil and terror. ...

...Man needs God – and God wants man. Man becomes truly powerful only when he comprehends his human powerlessness. Prayer is the link between the creator and his creations. Without prayer man thinks he is God – and that unwarranted sense of ego insures his defeat and destruction.

And that is the meaning of faith. Faith is not knowing what the future holds. It is knowing who holds the future.

Prayer defines us. Prayer gives us hope. Prayer puts into words the values we hold most precious, the people we most treasure, the ideals for which we live and for which we are prepared to give up our lives. ...



Guns: And, to make a right beginning

How can we have the necessary conversation? There is so much fear and anger; suspicion and mistrust.


The demagogues of the left and the right are controlling our conversation, our ability to actually save lives. We need a better way.


After the shooting, David Hogg 17-year-old student who had escaped the massacre said,  "We are children, you guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done. ...  We need to do something. We need to get out there and be politically active. Congress needs to get over their political bias with each other and work towards saving children’s lives.“  


How to begin?


How about beginning where you have some ability, however limited, to effect things. Let's start with the parish -- your parish.


What can you do today? This week. Now.


1. Get on Amazon and create a trauma kit.


Once you have the kits -- make sure people know where the supplies are stored. In the kit - CPR mask, tournquet, gauze, stop the bleed bandages


Or buy a kit from Stop the Bleed

2. Arrange for a training session at the church. Inform members of resources in your area.


Stop the Bleed offers free classes at hospitals across the nation.  

Homeland Security, fire and police departments, and others offer active shooter classes

Run, Hide, Fight videos are available on line

Most areas have training available for CPR and AED


3. Parish priests -- sign up for safe handling handgun classes.


The initial training is often about 3 hours. I'd suggest taking additional classes for at least a total of 15 hours of training. Check reviews; some places are better than others. If you have never handled a gun it's time to remove the mystery for yourself. You need to know what guns can do and not do if you are to be heard by people who own guns.


4. Avoid empty symbols



Both sides of the debate are into empty symbols. It's not only that they are ineffective -- they stop the needed conversation. To avoid insulting people you disagree with you will need to learn what shuts them down.

Focusing on the empty symbols does nothing useful while taking our attention away from what may be useful. For example, the "gun free zone" signs. Put one up and some will feel like they "won" and others that they "lost" - but no one who has thought it through will feel safer or be safer. Instead actually work on parish safety and security actions that might make us safer -- electrical wiring and safe storage on the one hand, greeters walking the grounds from time to time and being trained in Stop the Bleed, AED and CPR.

Help people work with the facts. Including those that support the other side. A news article today calling for more gun control made a point about  the FBI data that only 13% of mass shootings (Jan 2009 - July 2015) took place in gun free zone public spaces. Mass shootings defined as an event when at least 4 people are killed by gun fire. Not mentioned in the article was the fact that a number of the larger scale shootings have been in such zones.


5. Priests can make clear to the baptized that there are reasonable moral grounds for deciding to not have a gun and to have a gun.


Also, that as a priest it is not your job to push people to accept your moral conclusion on all the social issues. It is your job to help people live in the pathways of grace, in prayer and the church's teachings, and then to obey their informed conscience. And by all means act on your informed conscience – act for more gun control, act for more gun safety, act to protect the rights of self-defense and gun ownership – inform and obey your conscience.


In Morning Prayer today we said Psalm 31. Verse 18 reads "Let the lying lips to be put to silence that speak against the righteous with arrogance,  distain and contempt."


Clergy need to say aloud, "The righteous include people who own and carry guns and people who would like to see more restriction on gun ownership." 


6. Encourage citizen action on the part of the baptized.


The church sometimes seems to get carried away with hearing itself talk. There's a shooting and bishops flock to the cameras. That won't stop.


At the parish level we can persist in the church's tradition. Each of the baptized, as a citizen, has a voice to offer. Act upon your informed conscience. We might help members of the Body live within the Church's Rule rooted in Thornton’s thinking in Pastoral Theology: 'Moral action only flows from doctrinal truth by grace and faith, that is through prayer.'
7. Help members have the data and understand what the concerns and interests are of people they disagree with.
Here are two reports: America's Complex Relationship with Guns ( Pew Report) and Majority of Americans Hold Incorrect Assumptions about Guns (NPR report)   Resources on Active Shooter situations: FBI, A Study of Active Shooter Incidents, there are also many reports on line on specific cases (Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, etc)


For example:

  • 42% live in a household with a gun
  • Gun owners and non gun owners agree that children need to be talked with about gun safety; that guns should be kept in a locked place; that gun owners should take gun safety courses; that mentally ill and people on the no fly list should be stopped from having guns; and that background checks should include gun shows.
  • 30% of adults own a gun and another 36% could see owning one in the future. About 70% have fired a gun. One in six gun owners have used the gun for self defense. Seven in ten owners have taken a safety course.
  • 64% of Americans say that most people should be able to own a gun.
  • Most Americans would tighten up gun control laws
  • No one with a concealed carry permit has stopped a large mass shooting yet. There are incidents almost weekly where a person doing concealed carry has saved someone else's life.


If people are to have the needed conversation they need to have access to the facts. That may help ground the discussion in reality instead of illusions.  People are going to have guns in this country. That's not going away anytime soon. Talk about how the Court's judgement on the 2nd Amendment is mistaken goes no where. You might begin with establishing ground upon which just about all will stand together -- schools should be safe places; the amount of gun violence is far too high; we share feelings of grief and horror after each of these large scale shootings.


8. Begin to plan for a thoughtful, structured conversation in the parish


You might start with those able and willing to have such a conversation. An open meeting isn't likely to go well. Have some norms: we are hear to listen to one another; we will listen with open hearts and respect; the priest will ring a bell to call us into stillness and silence from time to time and whenever the priest believes we are shutting down our listening, and so on.


Consider conversations such as:
  • Where are the places that some agreement across lines may be possible? We will now set aside our perfect answers to the problem. 
  • In an active shooter situation it will take between 5 and 15 minutes before the first responders arrive (depending on where you live). Most of these shootings are over in three minutes. People with arterial bleeding can die before help arrives. What are your thoughts and feelings regarding someone in the congregation who was carrying a concealed gun and engaged the shooter? How prepared would the church be to render first aid in the the time before help arrives? 
  • We'll read a report on a real case. The conversation will begin with -- what surprised you? what did you learn? What in the report suggests things we should do as a parish (if anything)?
  • What shuts down the ability of people on both sides to hear one another? What are the trigger words and expressions? There was an article recently in the Federalist that included this sentence -- "Stop bickering, virtue-signaling, and trying to figure out conspiracy theories and details."  How do the people on "my side" engage in this things?
  • How can we talk with our children about these situations? A Newshour segment 
  • What about teachers with guns? Texas story  CO story  Detroit story   Debate  Sen. Chris Murphy & Education Secretary Betsy DeVos   Giffords Law Center  Educators take firearms training 
  • Then shift the conversation from "teachers" to "resource officers/security." Would it be okay for them to have concealed handguns? How about if they had to receive as much formal gun training as police officers (40 - 60 hours).?

You might take a look at Respect First, Then Gun Control by David Brooks. He offers a few ideas for such conversations. He mentions Better Angels, an organization working to reduce polarization and help people talk with one another.

If people are uninformed about how American democratic politics works -- Have a couple of classes on the basics. Use some examples -- The closest you can get at the moment may be the work of the Common Sense Coalition on immigration reform. The group has met in Senator Susan Collins office trying to find a solution to the DACA situation. 


9. Prayer and worship must be protected as our common ground


In many parishes during the Vietnam War the Prayers of the People became a battleground. Someone would pray for "national repentance for our pursuit of this unjust war" and someone would respond with "for an increase in true patriotism within the parish."


Use the Prayer Book. Invite people to live in the Rule of the Church (Eucharist, Office, and Reflection/Personal Devotions that fit their temperament and circumstances); let members know that when there is a large scale mass shooting the church will be open for reflection and prayer.

Do not manipulate ascetical practice to fit your political views. Let the practices remain accessible for all. So no “give up guns for Lent.” That’s no better than “learn to shoot for Lent."

Intercession and thanksgiving: The lives lost


If the Church is to speak prophetically in and to the political order, it must do so on the basis of sound theology and profound prayer as well as accurate data and careful analysis. Kenneth Leech


Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8




The wholly silly and solemn joy

It's Lent again. 


A time to sort out the wholly silly from solemn joy.


Solemn joy
My day so far has been Morning Prayer using the Church of England's Common Worship book for the daily office.


For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:10 - 11 -- I'm using the RSV, a Christmas gift from my parents in 1963; the year of USMC training, civil rights activity, the assassination of JFK, and my decision to offer myself for ordination -- busy year)


This Lent I'm doing the morning office alongside some spiritual reading -- Evelyn Underhil's "Inner Grace and Outward Sign." It's a retreat she offered in 1927 in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. 


I'm doing Underhill slowly. A few paragraphs at a time. Today's included this.


What am I for? Just what this place (the crypt, the cathedral) which has taken us into its heart is for: to express in my life something of the glory, power, and unchanging beauty of God by my very existence, by my love and my actions.

Later I'll attend Evening Prayer and Mass at Saint Paul's, Seattle.  I always feel a bit "off" receiving the ashes at days end. 


Wholly Silly: Lent, Trenton Thunder, and Pork Roll


Episcopal New Service helped me sort out Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day


Ashes to Ashes, Dust to dust; In Jesus' Love, We put our trust


Yes, really!


There was also the article about "drive through ashes." I assume "Ashes to go" will show up shortly.


On the First Things web site George Weigel did a tongue in cheek piece -- "Pork Roll, Lent, and Catholic Identity." It caught my attention. I went to a few Trenton Thunder games. I know the only store in Seattle that sells Taylor Pork Roll. 


Here's a bit of Weigel's posting.


"A few weeks before Ash Wednesday, an Associated Press squib with Lenten implications appeared in the Washington Post sports section:
YANKEES: New York’s Class AA affiliate in Trenton, N.J., will change its name from the Thunder to the Pork Roll on Fridays this season. The pork roll is a New Jersey staple, served on breakfast sandwiches and as a burger topping.

For those unfortunates who didn’t grow up in the I-95 corridor between the Holland Tunnel and the southern outskirts of Baltimore, I venture to explain.

“Taylor Pork Roll,” also known as “Taylor Ham” south and west of the Delaware River, is a compound of the ground-up and sugar-cured bits of a pig of which the pig has no cause to be proud, tightly encased in a canvas wrapper. Fried or grilled, it’s salty and greasy and a lot of other wonderful things frowned on by the food police. ... But only the perfidious Yankees—“the Yanqui enemy of mankind,” as the Sandinista national anthem in 1980s Nicaragua neatly put it—would have a farm team that changed its name to “Trenton Pork Roll” on Fridays.

Ad primum, pork roll was always consumed as a post-Mass treat on Sundays, and rigorously avoided on Fridays. Ad secundum, flaunting pork roll in the face of devout Catholics by emblazoning it on jerseys at Arm & Hammer Park on Fridays is an invitation to the divine wrath, to which the Thunder/Pork Roll is already vulnerable because of its major league affiliation.

So in solidarity with fellow Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton, I propose that we all continue the Lenten practice of Friday abstinence from meat, which commences on February 16 this year, until such time as the Thunder/Pork Roll’s management acknowledges its miscue and switches the name-switch to Sundays. (If the Thunder wish to become the Trenton Fish Fry on Fridays, fine by me, although as a marketing tool that would likely work better in Wisconsin.)"


I think I'll wear my hat to the Eucharist tonight. 


Back to solemn joy
As I'm writing this the news is about the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They don't have a count yet.


"It's a horrific situation. It's just a horrible day for us" said Broward County Public Schools Supt. Robert Runcie 


I'm stepping aside from offering any moral guidance -- posting signs that this is a "no gun zone" or arranging gun safety classes for teachers. I guess I'm tired of all the self righteousness. It seems that much of the way in which the nation and the Episcopal Church deals with moral guidance is a contribution to our inability to talk with each other and our failures to find a way forward.


Maybe ascetical practice and guidance might be useful.


Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.


So, I return to Underhill - A reminder of what each of us and our parish churches are for --

What am I for? Just what this place which has taken us into its heart is for: to express in my life something of the glory, power, and unchanging beauty of God by my very existence, by my love and my actions. I am here to add to the praise offered by the world, to fit into God's scheme, and to translate something of His spiritual reality into the terms of human life. For this I must accept discipline, submit my will, use my talents, kill all self-interest, and cooperate with my fellow human beings.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent

I'm your priest: Pathways of grace

I'm your priest. I'm with you to point you toward, to train and coach you in the ways of, and to administer the sacraments of, the pathways of grace. 

Last week Michelle Heyne and I lead the Parish Development Clinic. There were four participants. Each was the rector of a parish -- in Georgia, Kentucky, and Arizona; ranging in size, one had an average attendance of 71 another of 400; city, rural, suburban. 

A rather minor piece of what we did was to offer two short statements. Each a bit of self-definition rooted in Anglican ascetical theology and practice. Both included a phrase: "the pathways of grace."


The pathways of grace

I've used the expression for decades. I have no idea whether I picked it up from someone else or it came to me on its own. I Goggled it a few minutes ago -- 1,4800,000 results. I guess I'm adding one more. The top results all seemed a bit new age or fundie to me. Off-putting for me. But I like the phrase.

The way I use it is to guide the baptized as they accept increased responsibly for their spiritual life as members of the Body of Christ. I also use it to stress the way in which a priest might function effectively and faithfully.  

We don't save ourselves. We don't resolve the polarity of individual identity and being part of a community by our own will. 

But what we can do is give ourselves to the spiritual practices that offer us grace and health. We can live in the practices and ways of our ancient wisdom. 

At Morning Prayer each day the second reading was from one of Evelyn Underhill's retreats for priests. 

For the real saint is neither a special creation nor a spiritual freak. He is just a human being in whom has been fulfilled the great aspiration of St. Augustine – “My life shall be a real life, being wholly full of Thee.” And as that real life, the interior union with God grows, so too does the saints’ self-­identification with humanity grow. They do not stand aside wrapped in delightful prayers and feeling pure and agreeable to God. They go right down into the mess; and there, right down in the mess, they are able to radiate God because they possess Him. And that, above all else, is the priestly work that wins and heals souls.  From Concerning the Inner Life, Evelyn Underhill. 

How do we get to that "real life?"  Or in the words of today's collect how is it that we are "changed into his likeness from glory to glory?"  We know, of course, that we get there by grace and faith, by what Underhill called the work of the Divine Charity. 

And there is a part we are to play. We are to give ourselves to the pathways of grace. We are to invest ourselves in what Bruce Reed called "reliable sources of extra-dependence." He meant things such as the Scriptures, the Body of Christ, the sacraments, the traditional spiritual practices and the priest.

At one point we brainstormed the pathways that came first to mind. We were just trying to identify a few examples, so we stopped with the one page. Here it is:


So, one of the statements we offered was for a baptized person, especially one ready to grow in the inner life:

Your task is to place yourself in the pathways of grace. Begin with the Rule of the Church - Sunday Eucharist, Daily Office, and personal devotions/reflection that fit your temperament and circumstances. These are things you can give yourself to. They are of the church's ancient wisdom. They are a reliable means of grace.