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alban

Today marks our parish’s patronal day.  We are privileged to have under our altar a stone from the road at Verulamum, and, it is reputed, a relic of the first class in the mensa (altar stone).  The paver from the road trod by the saint on his way to martyrdom was a gift from St. Alban’s Abbey which our family visited just a year ago last week and from which the text below is “borrowed”.  The photographs are ours.

St Alban’s story and this place built in his honour takes us back to the beginning of the Christian faith in Britain.

Alban is believed to have been a Romano-British citizen of the third century in the Roman city of Verulamium, in the valley below the present Cathedral. The earliest versions of his history say that he gave shelter to a stranger fleeing from persecution. This was a Christian priest, originally un-named but later called Amphibalus in the re-telling of the story. Alban was so moved by the priest’s faith and courage that he asked to be taught more about Christianity, then still a forbidden religion.

Before long the authorities came to arrest the fugitive priest. But Alban, inspired by his new-found faith, exchanged clothes with Amphibalus, allowing him to escape. Instead Alban was arrested and brought before the city magistrate. Alban refused to sacrifice to the emperor and the Roman gods. When asked to identify himself he declared: ‘I am called Alban and I worship and adore the true and living God, who created all things’.

The magistrate ordered that Alban should receive the punishment due to the priest. He was brought out of the town and up the hillside to the site of execution where he was beheaded. Despite escaping, Amphibalus too was later arrested and martyred at Redbourn, a few miles away.

Alban was probably buried in the Roman cemetery now located by modern archaeological digs to the south of the present Cathedral. Alban is honoured as the first British martyr, and his grave on this hillside quickly became a place of pilgrimage.

The first churches here were probably simple structures over Alban’s grave, making this the oldest continuous site of Christian worship in Great Britain. Recent finds suggest an early basilica over the spot and in 429 St Germanus recorded his visit to this church. In the early eighth century the historian Bede told the story of St Alban and described ‘a beautiful church, worthy of his martyrdom’.

Matthew Paris, the celebrated medieval historian and most famous of the Abbey’s monks, produced a beautifully illustrated Life of St Alban in the 13th century. This is now at Trinity College in Dublin.

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The shrine of St Alban can be seen here today. Its Purbeck marble base of 1308 supports a modern red and gold canopy under which rests a shoulder-blade said to come from the original relics of the saint’s body. The canopy is embroidered with English wildflowers, commemorating Bede’s description of Alban as ascending a hill “adorned with wild flowers of every kind.” The red rose, in particular has come to be a special symbol of the saint reflecting the words of an ancient prayer: ‘Among the roses of the martyrs, brightly shines Saint Alban.’

DSCN2248Watching Gallery Above the Shrine

Alban is a saint of the undivided church, a saint for all Christians. His welcome to a persecuted stranger was a powerful example of courage, compassion and hospitality. St Alban is still with us in the Communion of Saints, and in this sacred place we worship God with him and ask his prayers.

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England

In the wake of the attacks this afternoon in London, special prayers and a Rosary following Evening Prayer will be said at St. Alban’s at 5:00 p.m. today.

In Time of Calamity.

O GOD, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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supreme-humility

Shortly after coming to St. Alban’s nearly seven years ago, I built a small chapel in an unused classroom on the far side of the building.  Over the years it has been used as a penance chapel as it has our confessional, as well as a tabernacle for the Reserved Sacrament (Altar of Repose) during Holy Week.  Otherwise, it has gone largely unnoticed.

Several weeks ago, Fr. Seraphim came from St. Simeon’s skete in Kentucky to lead our pre-Advent retreat for the diocese here at St. Alban’s.  He brought to us the powerful teachings of the Remnant Rosary. Information about this teaching, which is at once a devotion, meditation and spiritual discipline, can be found on the pages of the  Nazareth House Apostolate, of which the skete is the physical part.  It is a must visit site, and I urge all who follow the like to carefully read all of the pages and then make a generous contribution to this extraordinary work of Christ.

Now, that I have gotten the advertisement past, I want to note that a number of the retreat participants already have adopted the Remnant Rosary into their spiritual practice.  It is not easy at first to do so, but nothing that really builds one up is.  Surely, the prayers of the beads are not hard to learn, but the difficulty comes in their convicting nature.  In this upcoming season of Advent, the enormity of the Incarnation is not easy to face if taken seriously, and the Remnant Rosary calls those who sincerely pray it squarely into the sheer power of the event and of the race that Jesus would run for us-a race that led up Calvary to the Cross and beyond the grave.

So it was, over these last two weeks, I sort of “fiddled about” with the beads that Fr. Seraphim had given me and the small booklet that accompanied them.  One can “breeze” through a regular Rosary in a way that can become quite wrote and perfunctory. (One should not, of course, but familiarity can result in laxity.)  However, the Remnant Rosary invites the person that prays it into a deeply personal entry in to the Holy Mysteries.  One is called to internalize the Mysteries and to “take in” Jesus in a way that is quite profound-Eucharistic in a very meaningful way.  It is that sort of intimacy, I believe many people are uncomfortable with even though Christ invites us into that level of relationship.  One need only to examine how many people receive the Sacrament in a perfunctory manner to get my point here. (Here, I invite you to think about the “receive and run” folks who don’t even wait for the Benediction to head for the parking lot.  If, however, this describes you, stop it!)

So, after Matins, I felt sufficiently prepared to take on and engage the Remnant Rosary, and, for some reason, was drawn to the little chapel for a first attempt.  If you already pray the Rosary, the Mysteries are familiar.  The depth of the meditations, though, are not.  Taken seriously, this combination of prayer and meditation moves one swiftly from chronos (actual time) to kairos, (God time), just as the Remnant Rosary book notes.  To borrow from Fr. Seraphim, “Ultimately [this] Rosary has no goal, only depth.  The mysteries are a shoreless ocean, we are a wave ant the Rosary is the current rooted in the depths….Here we ‘see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep’ (Ps. 107:24).”

As I prayed the Joyful Mysteries, I happened to glance at the icon of Supreme Humility and that sense of depth cane home with incredible force.  It is a sense that the shadow of the Cross hangs across the Christmas crib, and both bind Heaven and earth together in the life of Christ.  Advent heralds Good Friday which, in torn, anticipates the Resurrection, all bound up in the life of the Master expressed throughout in Supreme Humility.

This Advent, I would invite you either to “try out” Remnant Rosary or to pray the familiar Rosary with a new attention to its depth.  Include short meditations on each bead, rather than breeze through the devoting to rest satisfied in the fact that you simply have “gotten through” another set of Mysteries.  Personalize each bead, and take in the enormity of each event.  Any worry of time spent (which should not be a concern in prayer) will simply disappear when you let down your spiritual net into the depths for a draught.  And always keep before you the vision of the Supreme Humility that has redeemed the world.

 

 

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REMINDER-On Sunday, June 21 there will be a single service at 10:00 am. Bp. Lerow will be visiting the parish for Confirmations. A lunch will follow the service. Please plan to bring a dish and join us for a wonderful Sunday.
In Christ,
Canon Nalls

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December 24th
Nine Lessons and Carols-4:00 p.m. This service will include the blessing of the Christmas Crib. Our thanks to Mr. Bernard Riley, the choir and musicians who have been working so hard to help us lift our voices in a welcome to our Lord!
Christmas Vigil-10:00 p.m.-Sung Mass.
December 25th
Sung Matins-8:00 a.m.
Feast of the Nativity-10:00 a.m.-Sung Mass of Christmas Day
December 26th
Sung Matins-8:00 a.m.
Feast of St. Stephen-12:00 Noon-Said Mass
December 27th
Sung Matins-8:00 a.m.
Feast of St. John-12:00 Noon-Said Mass
December 28th
Morning Prayer-8:30 a.m.
Bible Study-9:30 a.m.-Study of the Gospel of St. Mathew
Holy Eucharist-11:00 a.m. (Hospitality follows in Parish Hall)

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I am away from the parish this week and am just in from the opening of the first In Defense of Christians Summit www.idcsummit.org in Washington, D.C., where I am attending as the Canon Law Institute’s representative and occasional executive director.  As the incredibly brave Canon Andrew White (aka the Vicar of Baghdad) was taken ill, I might have been the only Anglican about.  I was honored to have been one of the six priests selected to bear the torches to lead the procession into the joint prayer service.

The service, which used ancient forms, was the first joint Catholic-Orthodox-Coptic (and an Anglo-Catholic) since 1987.  Dedicated to Our Lady, it was a remarkable moment pf penitance and prayer as the incense ascended before her holy icon. It was very powerful to have all of these groups and evangelical Protestant Christians in worship together.  It was a little bit of heaven

I had a chance to speak with some remarkable men of the Church Universal, albeit too briefly, as we prepared for the procession.  Cardinal Wuerl was very gracious and even remembered a wandering priest who was way out of his depth.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft was in good form, referring to the conflict between Islam and Christianity as one of liberty against forced religion.  A good, middle weight speech that didn’t fire things up.  Yet, it caused me to miss having an honest, Christian A-G who was not an Alinsky-Marxist.

The keynote by Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Oriental Churches, was disappointingly bureaucratic and rife with “social justice” metaphor.  With apologies to his Eminence, ISIS is not a problem rooted in “economic disparity” and “disproportionate wealth” as his speech seemed to suggest. As well, quotes from the documents of Vatican II and appeals to the U.N. weren’t seeming to resonate with the Orthodox side of the house or some of the uniates who have folks on the ground.

I think it might be difficult to appeal to the international ecclesiastical or legal bureaucracy when the “junior varsity” is sawing the heads off the faithful.  It appears that the church’s bureaucrats in Rome and those of  secular Washington are similarly detached from the reality of Islam.  Of course, he just might have been being cautious to keep more heads from rolling, although the Neville Chamberlain method doesn’t seem to work with ISIS any more than with Herr Hitler.  The post-opening reception was extraordinary-an embarassment of food and drink in the face of the sufferings of those say, on a mountainside in Iraq waiting for airdropped food.  But, gang, this is Washington, and you have to make a splash to get attention.  I just pray that I am not witnessing the birth of yet another faith-based lobbying group to employ out of work political science majors.  Too darned many of them already.

More to come after the first big session tomorrow.  Meantime, pray for Christians persecuted throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East.

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If you can’t be in DC, please pray along with us wherever you are! Please forward to your friends and family!

 

 

 

 

MY PEOPLE   PRAY -A Day of Christian Prayer and Praise

Order of Prayer–September 15, 2012

TIME ACTIVITY
10:00 am Opening Music, Worship Time – Unity Worship Band

 

Welcome– Kelly Cunningham, Moderator, My People     Pray 2012

 

The Lord’s Prayer, Canon Charles Nalls, St.     Alban’s Anglican Church, Richmond, VA

10:30 am Prayer of Adoration and Praise
Annie Roberson – Park Cities Presbyterian Church & Mercy Street     Ministry, Dallas, TX

Unity Worship Band

11:00 am Prayer of Confession & Repentance
Canon Charles Nalls- St. Alban’s Anglican Church, Richmond, VA

 

Unity Worship Band

11:30 am Prayer for the Church
Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune – D.C. Baptist Convention, Washington DC

 

Hymn for the Church

12:00 noon Prayer for Families
Bernie Beall – Great Commission Families, Founder, Brunswick, MD

 

Stephanie Boddie  – “The Lord’s Prayer” by     Albert Hay Malotte

12:30 pm Prayer for the Lost and Missions
Charles Debter – East West International Ministries, Missionary, Plano,     TX

 

Gracias et Paz Praise Band

1:00 pm Prayer for Our Nation and World
Dr. Ron Jones – Something Good Radio, President & Teacher, Fairfax     Station, VA

 

Gracias et Paz Praise Band

1:30 pm Prayer for Leaders & Military
Lee Bennett – Associate Director, Christian Embassy, Arlington, VA

 

Instrumental by Alysha Tagert “With Us” by Ben Doggett

2:00 pm Prayer for Righteousness in Business
Bob Novotny- Business Leader & Entrepreneur, Windows On Washington     Ltd.,  Washington, DC

 

Craig     Montgomery “Lead Me On” (Brother Are You Drawn & Weary) Montgomery

 

 

 

2:30 pm

Prayer for Education & Teachers
Anne Doggett – Instructor, Fairfax County Schools; Christ Our Shepherd     Church, Washington, DC

 

Children of the Light Dancers – “We Are” by     Kari Jobe

3:00 pm Prayer for Media, Entertainment & Sports
Doug Folsom – Hollywood Prayer Network, Filmmaker & Anglican Pastor

 

Craig     Montgomery  “We Shall All Be Reunited” by B. Bateman, Alfred     G. Karnes

3:30 pm Prayer for Reconciliation, Healing & Peace
Dr. Bernard T. Fuller – New Song Bible Fellowship Church, Bowie, MD

 

Fred Gamble & Faith Tabernacle Gospel Choir

4:00 pm Prayer for Revival
Bill Dotson – Founder and President, Abiding Fathers Ministry, Dallas, TX

 

Fred Gamble & Faith Tabernacle Gospel Choir

4:30 pm Silent Prayer and Intercessions
Prayer Leaders on Stage

 

Fred Gamble & Faith Tabernacle Gospel Choir

5:00 pm Prayer for Christ’s Kingdom to Come
Leader to be identified

 

Fred Gamble & Faith Tabernacle Gospel Choir

5:30 pm Benediction and Concert of Praise                                                                                                  Prayer     Leaders and     Assembly

Fred Gamble & Faith Tabernacle Gospel Choir

 

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