TODAY, March 25

Feast of the

Low Mass 6:30 p.m.

See technical details and disclaimers below.

Ascension's Annunciation window (detail), Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock Studios, 1925

Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Luke 1:38
The Fifth Sunday In Lent
March 29, 2020
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A mass will be live-streamed from the rectory at 9:00 a.m. Sunday. See more details below and check our website home page or Facebook for more information.
Raising of Lazarus, Juan de Flanders, ca. 1514-1519, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Praying: Apart and Together

"A number of years ago I had some experience with being alone. For two succeeding years I was alone each winter for eight months at a stretch in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Lake Tahoe. I was the caretaker on a summer estate during the winter months when it was snowed in. And I made some observations then. As time went on I found that my reactions thickened. Ordinarily I am a whistler. I stopped whistling. I stopped conversing with my dogs, and I believe that the subtleties of feeling began to disappear until finally I was on a pleasure-pain basis. Then it occurred to me that the delicate shades of feeling, of reaction, are the result of communication, and without such communication they tend to disappear."
-from Travels with Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck, 1962

"The peace of God be with all of you."
-from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans (8:33)

Dear People of Ascension,
   We are only in our first days of isolation. My sample of contacts with you suggests that some of us are doing OK while others are already in some distress.
Being 'OK' as I use it here relies on a) health, for the time being b) financial viability, for the time being, and c) comfort, so far, with solitude.
Distress, on the other hand, may be arising for those who are a) ill or fearing for our health, b) unemployed or underemployed or fearing a layoff and/or c) troubled by isolation.
Factors I omitted from the equations above but also critical are those related to our faith. I kept these out of the mix because those of us who are distressed or fearful or both should not be led to think that it's due to a flaw in our faith.
On the other hand, the whole enterprise of our Christian faith assumes that we who believe in and follow Christ also believe that we are called and/or equipped by God in the Spirit to be more resilient and hopeful. We don't deny the ' valley of the shadow of death ,' but we claim that it's the place where ' thou art with me .'
Sustaining our faith also relies on the kind and quality of connections that in faith we call fellowship. Most of what we have all taken for granted as normal fellowship is presently verboten and may continue to be so for some time .
My principal aim in the remainder of this newsletter is to identify ways that we may (continue to) sustain our fellowship. Yes, as we do so, we will recognize many inevitable limitations, learning curves and even failures. Is it possible that we may also grow to better value one another? Is it possible that along the way we may recognize and give thanks for new and new kinds of fellowship one with another?
Thanks as always for your patience, prayers and suggestions ... and for your fellowship in absentia .

The Rectory Chapel?
The Ascension Rectory has no formal chapel. Due to Bishop Lee's March 20 mandate that all (including clergy) refrain from entering church buildings for now, I am following the lead of other clergy and will attempt to celebrate live-streamed masses at home, starting with this evening's 6:30 p.m. mass for the Feast of the Annunciation. With any luck (and God's help), the Facebook Live stream will not be sideways, as was the case for the mass we shared last Saturday (eve of the Fourth Sunday in Lent).
Above, left: the location in the rectory living room where I propose saying masses.
Above, center: The massive sliding pocket doors close, providing, a sensible neutral backdrop.
Above, right: Unfortunately the sliding doors are prone to drifting open (could be a distraction to worshipers)
... but a bungee cord helps.

Below, left: I brought from the church the table seasonally used at the font in the narthex for displaying the creche and altar of repose.
Below, center: unfortunately the table is used on a step, so two legs are five inches shorter. No problem! I made some extensions.
Below, right: as far as I've gone, makeshift 'altar' in place. Will I really be able to do this? Tune in later.
Other Resources for Worshiping Apart/Together

+ I am working on technology to allow sharing in the Daily Office (Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Compline), and I regret that it's taking so long, but I do believe I am close to a positive solution that will allow for those of you who are interested and able to share in leading. Look for more information in one of my Apart & Together updates in the next few days. Meanwhile ...

Br. Michael-Francis Smith, OSB , has asked me to invite you to his home altar and chapel for the Daily Office, and in particular Morning Prayer. You may  link to the House of Initia Nova - Chicago Facebook live feed by clicking here. (I still intend to figure out a link from Ascension's Facebook page.)

Take some time on this Feast of the Annunciation to hear a lovely recording of the Magnificat! Below are a few I found on Youtube, all WOW!, two traditional, two modern. Go ahead, though, and find your own ...

I will offer more resources for worship and fellowship as I learn of them and/or as we develop them here at/for Ascension. I welcome your thoughts.

+ I am of course concerned for those with no technology or with limited technology or inadequate adeptness for taking part in online opportunities. We all know of at least some of these souls. May I ask you to make one phone call to someone you know in this situation. You may be their best chance to stay in touch and feel their belonging in the Body of Christ.

+ Below is an image that I trust warms your heart! You may click on it to be taken to the 24/7 live feed webcam image of our nave and sanctuary.
My apologies to Br. Jonathan Wheat, CMJ, who last week shared with me a link to an Annunciation Novena. Even if eight days late (!), you may view it here and thank you, Brother Jonathan. And thank you, Sisters of the Mother of Divine Grace, Port Sanilac, MI.
+ A roll of toilet paper hardly seems like an appropriate image for a church newsletter – in any ordinary time – but we all know it’s become scarce for some or many. Please let me know if you are not able to acquire some basic need or need someone to run a basic but essential errand. I will do what I can to find the product or someone to be of help. 
+ We aim to keep the food pantry ministry going.” That’s the word I heard in a recent phone call from Deacon Charles Farrell. The Vestry is supportive, subject to health/safety precautions, still being worded out. Please contact Deacon Charles directly if you are not on his pantry volunteer mailing list and would like to help. Cash contributions to the pantry or to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund could also be a big help at this time. In the memo line of your check, write ‘Food Pantry’ or ‘Discretionary Fund,’ and thank you.
Survey Fail! (Sort of) and another opportunity
On two occasions last week I shared a survey with you and asked for your participation. My thanks to those of you who responded. Your responses were genuinely helpful. Also, I was heartened to see a good cross-section of those who take part at Ascension -- longtime members and newcomers, older and younger, men and women.
Unfortunately, I was unaware that the free version of 'Survey Monkey' that I used capped responses at 40. Ugh. My apologies to those of you who may have tried or wanted to take part but were unable. I still wish to hear from you! I believe at this point the best way to proceed will involve welcoming you to contact me
  • to share any immediate needs in your household.
  • to let me/us know that you'd like contact or can be of help by contacting others.
  • to share thoughts about online worship or related resources.
  • to share any thoughts or questions about our present unusual circumstances.
+ And what about your mortality? Sorry to mention it, but if you haven’t recently thought about it, you haven’t been paying attention. A document called Five Wishes is a great starting point, or an excellent feature of a thoughtful and comprehensive estate plan. You may find, fill out and print a Five wishes document (for a small fee, I think) by linking here to the Five Wishes website or you may ask us at the church to mail a paper copy of the document to you. I have at least a dozen of them and will be glad if I need to order more. 
Please remember these people in your daily prayers
Charley Taylor, August 'Augie' Alonzo, Ted Long, Jim Berger, Ethel Martin, Yuka Asai, Dean Pineda, Carnola Malone, Charlene MacDougal, Jack Johnston, Patricia Johnston, Stewart Marks, Char Yurema, Bob Sparacio, Canon Edgar Wells, Nicholas Carl, Joshua, Ellie, Catriana Patriarca, Carmen Castro, Mary Drell, Jim Lo Bello, Judy Cook, Steve Waltz, Lillian Alexander, Mary Lou Devens, Marty Stenson

During this time of transition , the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Chicago asks for prayers for the church, our diocese, our clergy and lay leaders, our retiring bishop, and those who may be discerning a call to become the Thirteenth Bishop of Chicago.

P rayers for the departed
Geoffrey Wainwright, Theologian ( To read the Wikipedia entry on Dr. Wainwright click here )
Denise Gordon, wife of Mary Jane Kowalski's cousin.
John Mulcare, longtime Ascension member, died March 17.
Ted Jennings, godfather of Kuni Sakai, died early this morning, March 25.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
T wo features for today's Last Word ...

First, my new favorite Annunciation image. I'm rather indiscriminate in my tastes and appreciate diversity in media, interpretation and more when it comes to Annunciation artworks. The mural shown below was painted on the wall of a Franciscan friary in Pittsburgh in 2017 as part of a community-wide art festival.

Second, below the mural image is a bit of secular comic relief -- a BBC reporter doing his best to look professional whilst streaming live from home, only to be interrupted by family ... I'm sharing the added commentary (non-political in this case) by Ellen Degeneres. Amidst such uncertainty, I appreciate a few lighter moments and trust that some of you will, too.

- Fr. Raymond +
Click on the image below to see the short Youtube feature ...
Ellen Dissects the Kid-Interrupted BBC Interview
The Very Rev. Patrick Raymond, Rector

Susan Schlough, Treasurer

Br. Nathanael Deward Rahm BSG, Parish Office