Monday, July 24, 2017

Thomas von Kempen

Thomas Hammerken (or Hammerlein -- both mean "little hammer") was born at Kempen (hence the "A Kempis") in the duchy of Cleves in Germany around 1380. He was educated by a religious order called the Brethren of the Common Life, and in due course joined the order, was ordained a priest, became sub-prior of his house (in the low Countries), and died 25 July 1471 (his feast is observed a day early to avoid conflict with that of James bar-Zebedee the Apostle).

Thomas is known almost entirely for composing or compiling a manual of spiritual advice known as The Imitation of Christ, in which he urges the reader to seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to be conformed in all things to His will.


Thomas à Kempis - 24 July - Priest, Monk, and Writer

The Collect.

Heavenly Father, who hast nourished and strengthened thy Church by the writings of thy servant Thomas of Kempen: Grant that we may learn from him to know what we ought to know, to love what we ought to love, to praise what highly pleaseth thee, and always to seek to know and follow thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Epistle - Philippians 4:4-9


The Gospel - St. Luke 6:17-23



Reference and Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_%C3%A0_Kempis
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14661a.htm
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/JEK/07/24.html


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

O GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man's understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - Romans vi. 3.

KNOW ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Gospel - St. Matthew v. 20.

JESUS said unto his disciples, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Birgitta of Sweden


Birgitta (Bridget) Birgerstotter was born in Sweden about 1303, daughter of the governor of the province of Uppland. As a child, she began to have dreams about the suffering of Christ. She was married at 13 to Ulf Gundarsson, son of the governor of the province of West Gotland. They had four offspring. In 1335, she became chief lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Sweden. In 1341, she and her husband made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and on the return trip her husband Ulf Gudmursson fell ill and died soon after.

Birgitta began to live a more ascetic life. Her dreams and visions grew more frequent and vivid, and became more and more the focus of her life. She devoted her life to prayer, to assisting the poor and needy, and to speaking plainly to those in power. She mediated between warring rulers, and warned the Pope at Avignon that it was his duty to return to Rome (see Brigitta in Rome).

In 1351 she founded an order of both monks and nuns, to be governed by an abbess. The order, the Order of the Holy Savior, popularly called the Brigittines, spread through Europe, and was an important educational influence. Today, the Society of St. Birgitta (Birgittastiftelsen) in Sweden is a laypersons' society that seeks to carry on her work.

She is known for her Revelations, which are largely meditations on the Passion of Our Lord.


Birgitta of Sweden - 23 July - Monastic and Mystic

The Collect - 

O Lord, our God, Who through Thine only-begotten Son, didst reveal heavenly secrets to blessed Bridget, grant us, Thy servants, to rejoice and be glad in the revelation of Thine eternal glory. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. Amen.


The Epistle - 1 Timothy 5: 3-10


The Holy Gospel - St. Luke 7: 11-16


+

Apollinaris of Ravenna


According to tradition, he was a native of Antioch in Roman Province of Syria. As the first Bishop of Ravenna, he faced nearly constant persecution. He and his flock were exiled from Ravenna during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source). On his way out of the city he was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured and martyred by being run through with a sword.


Apollinaris of Ravenna - 23 July - Bishop and Martyr

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Apollinaris with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



The Epistle - 2 Esdras 2:42-48.

I ESDRAS saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly. So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these? He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms. Then said I unto the angel. What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands? So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord. Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.



The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22.

BEHOLD, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall he brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.


Reference and Resources:

http://www.commonprayer.org/calend/propers/com_mart.cfm
http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-apollinaris-of-ravenna/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollinaris_of_Ravenna

+

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mary Magdalene

is mentioned in the Gospels as being among the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples, and who was present at His Crucifixion and Burial, and who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to anoint His body. She was the first to see the Risen Lord, and to announce His Resurrection to the apostles. Accordingly, she is referred to in early Christian writings as "the apostle to the apostles."

Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus), and the unnamed penitent woman who anointed Jesus's feet (Luke 7:36-48) are sometimes supposed to be the same woman. From this, plus the statement that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2), has risen the tradition that she had been a prostitute before she met Jesus. Though it would be wiser to assume that they were different women all named Mary.

Because of the assumption that Mary Magdalene had been a spectacular sinner, and also perhaps because she is described as weeping at the tomb of Jesus on the Resurrection morning, she is often portrayed in art as weeping, or with eyes red from having wept. From this appearance we derive the English word "maudlin", meaning "effusively or tearfully sentimental."


Mary Magdalene - 22 July - Witness to Our Lord

The Collect.

O ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son did sanctify Mary Magdalene, and call her to be a witness to his Resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities, and serve thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.


The Epistle - 2 Corinthians 5:14-18.

FOR the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.


The Gospel - St. John 20:1, 11-18.

THE first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.


Reference and Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene
http://www.commonprayer.org/calend/propers/s_mary_m.cfm
http://www.episcopalnet.org/1928bcp/propers/Missal/July22.html
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/JEK/07/22.html

Friday, July 21, 2017

Praxedes

Little is known for about Praxedes, and not all accounts agree. According to Jacobus de Voragine's The Golden Legend, Praxedes was the sister of Saint Pudentiana; their brothers were Saint Donatus and Saint Timothy. During one of the periods of persecution, they buried the bodies of Christians and distributed goods to the poor. De Voragine's brief account states they died in 165, "in the reign of Emperors Marcus and Antoninus II."

Sabine Baring-Gould, in the entry for Saint Novatus, states that the "holy virgin" Praxedes was a daughter of Saint Pudens, sister of Saint Pudentiana, and that her brothers were Saint Novatus and Saint Timothy. Novatus is said to have died in 151.


Praxedes of Rome - 21 July

The Collect.

O GOD, who hast brought us near to an innumerable company of Angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect: Grant us during our pilgrimage to abide in their fellowship, and in our Country to become partakers of their joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - Hebrews 12:1-2.

SEEING we also are compassed about with so great a of cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.


The Gospel - St. Matthew 25:31-40.

WHEN the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Reference and Resources:

http://www.commonprayer.org/calend/propers/common.cfm
http://saints.sqpn.com/saintp2r.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praxedes


+

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Margaret of Antioch


Virgin and martyr; also called Marina; belonged to Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor, where her father was a pagan priest. Her mother dying soon after her birth, Margaret was nursed by a pious woman five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father and adopted by her nurse.

While she was one day engaged in watching the flocks of her mistress, a lustful Roman prefect named Olybrius caught sight of her, and attracted by her great beauty sought to make her his concubine or wife. When neither cajolery nor threats of punishment could succeed in moving her to yield to his desires, he had her brought before him in public trial at Antioch. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, the holy virgin refused to adore the gods of the empire and an attempt was made to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unhurt. She was then bound hand and foot and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but at her prayer her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured. Finally the prefect ordered her to be beheaded.

Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged.


Margaret of Antioch - 20 July - Virgin, Confessor, & Martyr

The Collect.

O Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Margaret of Antioch, boldness to confess the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of the same our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Epistle - Ecclesiasticus 51:9-12.

Then lifted I up my supplications from the earth, and prayed for deliverance from death. I called upon the Lord, the Father of my Lord, that he would not leave me in the days of my trouble, and in the time of the proud, when there was no help. I will praise thy name continually, and will sing praises with thanksgiving; and so my prayer was heard: For thou savedst me from destruction, and deliveredst me from the evil time: therefore will I give thanks, and praise thee, and bless they name, O Lord.


The Gospel - St Matthew 13:44-52.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.


Reference and Resources:

http://www.episcopalnet.org/1928bcp/propers/Missal/July20.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_of_Antioch
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/St._Margaret

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Macrina the Younger

was born at Caesarea, Cappadocia. Her parents were Basil the Elder and Emmelia, and her grandmother was Macrina the Elder. Among her nine siblings were two of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, as well as Peter of Sebaste. Her father arranged for her to marry but her fiancé died before the wedding. She devoted herself to her religion, becoming a nun.

She became well known as a holy woman and instructed many young women religiously. For this she is honored as one of the most prominent nuns of the Eastern Church. She had a profound influence upon her brothers with her adherence to an ascetic ideal. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a work entitled Life of Macrina in which he describes her sanctity throughout her life. In 379, Macrina died at her family's estate in Pontus, which with the help of her younger brother Peter she had turned into a monastery and convent. Her brother Gregory composed a "Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection" (peri psyches kai anastaseos), entitled ta Makrinia (P.G. XLVI, 12 sq.), to commemorate Macrina.


Macrina the Younger - 19 July - Monastic and Teacher

The Collect.

Merciful God, who didst call thy servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of thy grace and truth: Mercifully grant that we, following her example, may seek after thy wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Epistle - Ecclesiasticus 51:13-22

The Gospel - St. Matthew 11:27-30


Reference and Resources:

http://baptistbard.blogspot.com/2008/07/july-19-st-macrina-devoted-sister.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrina_the_Younger
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/JEK/07/19.html

The Philippian Jailer

Many Bible scholars believe that the Jailor was a retired veteran Roman soldier. The city of Philippi was a major city that had been chartered as a "Roman Colonial City". Old soldiers sought retirement in these cities. The position of Jailer was most suitable for a veteran, and a fit soldier would have been the likely choice of the Roman officials. I suspect that this was not an elected position, but an appointed one. Who would have been better suited for the job, than a man who had commanded in combat and proved his ability with men and the sword in the face of Rome's enemies, and lived to tell of it?

An understanding of the Philippi will help us to understand the Jailer more. In 360 B.C. colonists from Thasos established "Krenides" The people were threatened by the Thacians in 356, and asked King Philip II for support. Philip conquered it, fortified it, and named it after himself (Philippi). It became the capital city for a while of Macedonia. The capital later moved to Pella. In 336 Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was assassinated in at his daughter's wedding.

In 42 BC the armies of Marcus Antonious and Octavian joined to defeat the rebels who had assassinated Julius Caesar at the Battle of Philippi. Brutus and Cassius committed suicide there. The historian Appian of Alexander wrote and execellent account of the battle in second century After the battle, the two victors spent a fortune on the city and granted it the status of "Roman Colony" the ruins of which can be seen this day.

This was the first European city to have accepted Christianity, and it became a metropolis of Christianity. Its location on the Via Egnatia made it important to travelers and trade, and more especially, for the spread of the Gospel. Virtually all land traffic from the Middle East to Europe went through Philippi along this Roman road. A common route was the one that Paul took, landing at the port of Neopolis, and traveling 12 miles north to Philippi and the Via Egnatia. It is certain that Paul used it for his second and third missionary journeys. It is, I believe, more that just coincidence that Pax Romana played a significant role in the spread of early Christianity through: a common language (Greek from Alexander's conquests); superior network of roads, shipping, communications and the most advanced level of trade ever known; and a code of Roman Law backed by the best professional army the world had known - which also acted as a channel for the Good News within the ranks of the Legionaries. The news of Salvation by belief on the Lord Jesus Christ, often known as the Roman Road to Salvation.


The Philippian Jailer - 19 July

The Collect

O God, who didst burst the bands of Paul and Silas as they praised thee in prison by thy mighty hand, and didst spare the life of the Philippian Jailer to serve thee by thy divine mercy; we beseech thee to protect us and let thy mercy be upon us; so that we, and our households, may join with the Jailer and all thy saints, in perfect assurance of salvation, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.


The Lesson - Acts 16: 23-40


The Holy Gospel - St. John 3:16-18


+

http://orderofcenturions.org/jailer_philippi.html

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Elisabeth Hesse Romanov

was born Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Louise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine on 1 November 1864. She was the second child of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by Rhine and British Princess Alice. Through her mother, she was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Alice chose the name Elisabeth for her daughter after visiting the shrine of Elizabeth of Hungary, ancestress of the House of Hesse, in Marburg. Alice so admired St. Elizabeth that she decided to name her new daughter after her. Elizabeth was known as "Ella" within her family.

She married Grand Duke Sergei Romanov 15 June 1884 in the Chapel of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, gaining the title Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. The couple settled in the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace in St. Petersburg; after Sergei was appointed Governor-General of Moscow in 1892, they resided in one of the Kremlin palaces. During the summer, they stayed at Il’yinskoe, an estate outside Moscow that Sergei had inherited from his mother.

The couple never had children of their own, but their Il’yinskoye estate was usually filled with parties that Elizabeth organized especially for children. They eventually became the foster parents of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Sergei’s niece and nephew.

Although Elizabeth was not legally required to convert to Russian Orthodoxy from her native Lutheranism, she voluntarily chose to do so in 1891. Although some members of her family questioned her motives, her conversion appears to have been sincere.

On 18 February 1905, Sergei was assassinated in the Kremlin by the Socialist-Revolutionary, Ivan Kalyayev. Elisabeth remained calm, yet distant to visitors that came to call and seemed to be fixed on a focal point, possibly trying to contain her grief.

After Sergei’s death, Elizabeth wore mourning clothes and became a vegetarian. In 1909, she sold off her magnificent collection of jewels and sold her other luxurious possessions; even her wedding ring was not spared. With the proceeds she opened the Convent of Sts. Martha and Mary and became its abbess. She soon opened a hospital, a chapel, a pharmacy and an orphanage on its grounds. Elizabeth and her nuns worked tirelessly among the poor and the sick of Moscow. She often visited Moscow’s worst slums and did all she could to help alleviate the suffering of the poor.

Following the Russian Revolution Elizabeth and other members of Russian Royal Family were arrested and relocated to more remote parts of the country and were eventually taken to an abandoned mine in Siniachikha. The Cheka beat all the prisoners before throwing their victims into a pit, Elizabeth being the first. Hand grenades were then hurled down the shaft, but only one victim, Feodor Remez, died as a result of the grenades.

According to the personal account of Vassili Ryabov, one of their killers, Elizabeth, and the others survived the initial fall into the mine, prompting Ryabov to toss in a grenade after them. Following the explosion, he claimed to hear Elizabeth and the others singing a Russian hymn from the bottom of the shaft. Unnerved, Ryabov threw down a second grenade, but the singing continued. Finally, a large quantity of brushwood was shoved into the opening and set alight, upon which Ryabov posted a guard over the site and departed.

Early on 18 July 1918, the head of the Alapaevsk Cheka, Abramov, and the head of the Yekaterinburg Regional Soviet, Beloborodov, who had been involved in the murders of the Imperial Family, exchanged a number of telegrams in a pre-arranged plan saying that the school had been attacked by an "unidentified gang". A month later, Alapaevsk fell to the White Army.

On 8 October 1918, the Whites discovered the remains of Elizabeth and her companions, still within the shaft where they had been murdered. Elizabeth had died of wounds sustained in her fall into the mine but had still found strength to bandage the head of the dying Prince Ioann. Her remains were removed and ultimately taken to Jerusalem, where they lie today in the Church of Maria Magdalene.

She is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London, England.


Elisabeth Hesse Romanov - 18 July - Princess, Monastic, and Martyr

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Elizabeth with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - 2 Esdras 2:42-48.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22.


Reference and Resources:

http://patristic-anglican.blogspot.com/2010/07/elizabeth-of-russia.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Elisabeth_of_Hesse_and_by_Rhine
http://www.commonprayer.org/calend/propers/com_mart.cfm

Paul Schneider

Schneider was born in Pferdsfeld, Germany in 1897, the second of three sons born to Gustav-Adolf Schneider and Elisabeth Schnorr. He had a strong love for his mother and a great respect for his father, who was a pastor and an ardent patriot. Following military service in World War I,
Schneider began his theological studies and was ordained in Hochelheim in 1925. The following year, he married Margarete Dieterich, the daughter of a pastor. In 1927, the couple had their first son, followed by a daughter and four more sons.

When President Paul von Hindenburg named Adolf Hitler Chancellor in 1933, Schneider was the pastor of the Hochelheim congregation, having succeeded his father who died in 1926. Initially, Pastor Schneider believed that the new Chancellor, with the help of divine guidance, would lead Germany into a bright future. It did not take long for him to perceive the true character of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. Schneider did not stand by idly as Nazi leaders ridiculed the morality of the Church. In writing and in preaching, he protested against the vitriol directed against the Church by Nazi officials. Pastor Schneider received no backing from his consistory of the old-Prussian Ecclesiastical Province of the Rhineland, then seated in Koblenz. On the contrary, in order to placate Nazi officials who complained about Pastor Schneider, the consistory transferred him to a remote region of Germany.

Early in 1934, Schneider and his family moved to Dickenschied, where he became a pastor to the Dickenschied and Womrath congregations. That same year, Pastor Schneider became a member of the Confessing Church, a Protestant organization that opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. On one occasion at the funeral of a Hitler youth boy a Nazi official said in his speech that the deceased would now be a member of the heavenly storm of Horst Wessel. Pastor Schneider responded that he would not know if a heavenly storm of Horst Wessel existed but the Lord would bless the boy and take him into his realm. After this, the Nazi leader came forward and repeated his words. Pastor Schneider then responded sharply that he would not allow God's word to be adulterated during a Christian ceremony. As a result, he was arrested for one week in June 1934.

In March 1935, Nazi officials took Pastor Schneider into “protective custody” (Schutzhaft), a Nazi euphemism for “arrest” without any judicial warrant. They held him for a few days because he insisted on reading from the pulpit the synodal criticism of the government’s policy toward the Church.

Local Nazi officials summoned Schneider for interrogations twelve times during the winter of 1935/1936. He continued to speak his mind and follow the dictates of his conscience. Some of his friends pleaded with him to avoid confrontation with the Nazis. He responded that he did not seek martyrdom, but that he had to follow his Lord. His primary responsibility was to prepare his family for eternal life – not to ensure their material well-being.

In spring 1937, with the support of members of his presbytery, Pastor Schneider began the process of excommunicating parishioners who, because of their allegiance to the Nazi Party, engaged in conduct which violated congregational discipline. Complaints to Nazi officials by the censured led to the arrest of Pastor Schneider. Following two months in the Koblenz prison, officials released him with the warning not to return to the Rhineland, where his home and parish were located. Pastor Schneider knew that, if he returned to his flock, it would mean imprisonment in a concentration camp. Yet, the night before his release, he read in his Bible the story concerning the crisis confronted by Deborah. When Deborah summoned the twelve tribes together to confront the common enemy, only Naphtali and Zebulun responded. Pastor Schneider saw in this Old Testament story [Judges 5:18] a parallel to the crisis which the Church confronted in Nazi Germany, and he concluded that even if his was a minority voice, he must act in harmony with his conscience, and protest.

Following his release from prison, Pastor Schneider spent two months with his wife and a few family members and friends in Baden-Baden and in Eschbach. He and Margarete returned home for Harvest Thanksgiving (German: Erntedankfest) on October 3, 1937. Pastor Schneider was able to celebrate this occasion with his Dickenschied congregation, but local police arrested him as he journeyed to Womrath for an evening worship service.

Schneider was incarcerated in Buchenwald, near Weimar, on November 27, 1937, just a few months after the camp opened. In the labor commandos, Pastor Schneider watched out for his fellow inmates. After being sentenced to solitary confinement, he preached the good news of the Gospel from the window of his prison cell. He was moved to the cell when he refused to remove his beret in honour of Hitler on the Führer's birthday, April 20, 1938, and to salute the swastika flag. He explained his behaviour by saying "I cannot salute this criminal symbol". He also refused, as he had done earlier, the Hitler salute, saying that "you can only receive salvation (Heil) from the Lord and not from a human being". From his cell, Schneider accused his captors and encouraged his fellow inmates. On one occasion on Easter Sunday, when thousands of prisoners were assembled for mustering, despite being severely handicapped by the previous torture he climbed to the cell window and shouted: "Comrades, listen to me. This is Pastor Schneider. People are tortured and murdered here. So the Lord says, 'I am the resurrection and the life!'" His speech was interrupted by his tormentors. As others had pleaded years earlier, the man who mopped the floors in the solitary confinement building begged Schneider, "Please stop provoking the SS against you... They will beat you to death if you continue preaching from your cell window".

On July 18, 1939, Schneider was murdered with a lethal injection of strophanthin in the camp infirmary. Camp officials notified Margarete Schneider of her husband’s death and she made the long journey from Dickenschied to retrieve his body in a sealed coffin. Despite Gestapo surveillance, hundreds of people and around two hundred fellow pastors attended Pastor Schneider’s funeral, including many members of the Confessing Church. One of the pastors preached at the graveside, “May God grant that the witness of your shepherd, our brother, remain with you and continue to impact on future generations and that it remain vital and bear fruit in the entire Christian Church”.


Paul Schneider - 18 July - Pastor, Confessor, Martyr

The Collect

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr Paul Schneider, triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Lesson - Revelation 7:1317


The Holy Gospel - St. Luke 12:212


+

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tsar Nicholas and The Royal Martyrs of Russia


Born on 17 May 1868, the day of the Holy Job the Long-Suffering, Nicholas was the eldest son of Crown Prince Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Alexander III) and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorvna (the future Empress). He received an excellent education under the supervision of his father, speaking fluently Russian, English, French, German, and Italian, and learning Russian and world history, Russian literature, and the art of warfare.

In 1884, Nicholas met the future Empress Alexandra, then Princess Alice Victoria Helen Louise Beatrix von Hessen-Darmstadt, at the wedding of the latter's sister, Grand Duches-Martyr Elizabeth Fyodorovna with the Emperor's uncle, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich. Princess Alice was a daughter of Prince Ludwig von Hessen-Darmstadt and Princess Alice and a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England. The two became good friends, a friendship that later grew into love. In 1894, Nicholas received a blessing from his father to wed Princess Alice on the condition that she become Orthodox. On October 20, 1894, Emperor Alexander III died at the imperial palace in Livadia, Crimea. On the next day, Princess Alice was received into the Orthodox faith and given the name Alexandra Feodorovna. The two were married in a low-key ceremony on November 14, 1894.

In February 1917, during the February Revolution, Nicholas reluctantly abdicated the throne, hoping that doing so might save the nation some violence. After the Bolshevik (October) revolution, he and his family were exiled to Siberia, where they were detained under house-arrest. On July 16, 1918, the family was lined up in the basement and shot. The bodies were buried in an unmarked grave.

In 1991, in Yekaterinburg, Sibera, their bodies were exhumed. DNA testing confirmed that they were indeed the Romanovs.

The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in the Catherine Side Chapel of the Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Propers for Tsar Nicholas and The Royal Martyrs of Russia - 17 July

The Collect

Gracious Lord, who hast in every age sent men and women who have given their lives for the message of thy love: Inspire us, we beseech thee, with the memory of those martyrs of the Gospel; like thy servants Nicholas and the Royal Family of Russia, whose faithfulness led them in the way of the cross; and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to thy Son's victory over sin and death; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Lesson - Jeremiah 15:15-21


The Holy Gospel - St. Mark 8:34-38


+

Martyrs of Compiègne


The Martyrs of Compiègne were the 16 members of the Carmel of Compiègne, France: 11 Discalced Carmelite nuns, three lay sisters, and two externs (tertiaries of the Order, who would handle the community's needs outside the monastery). During the French Revolution, they refused to obey the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary government, which mandated the suppression of their monastery. They were guillotined on 17 July 1794, during the Reign of Terror and buried in a mass grave at Picpus Cemetery.

During the anti-clericalism of the Revolution, the monasteries and convents were suppressed. Consequently, the nuns were arrested in June 1794, during the Reign of Terror. They were initially imprisoned in Cambrai, along with a community of English Benedictine nuns, who had established a monastery for women of their nation there, since monastic life had been banned in England since the Reign of Henry VIII. Learning that the Carmelites were daily offering themselves as victims to God for the restoration of peace to France and the Church, the Benedictines regarded them as saintly.

The Carmelite community was transported to Paris, where they were condemned as a group as traitors and sentenced to death. They were sent to the guillotine on 17 July 1794. They were notable in the manner of their deaths, as, at the foot of the scaffold, the community jointly renewed their vows and began to chant the Veni Creator Spiritus, the hymn sung at the ceremony for the profession of vows. They continued their singing as, one by one, they mounted the scaffold to meet their death. The novice of the community, Sister Constance, was the first to die, then the lay Sisters and externs, and so on, ending with the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, O.C.D.

When the Reign of Terror ended only days after their martyrdom, the English nuns credited the Carmelites with stopping the Revolution's bloodbath and with saving the Benedictines from annihilation. The nuns of Cambrai preserved with devotion, as the holy relics of martyrs, the secular clothes the Carmelites had been required to wear before their arrest, and which the jailer forced on the English nuns after the Carmelites had been killed. The Benedictines were still wearing them when, on 2 May 1795, they were at last allowed to return to their homeland, where they became the community of Stanbrook Abbey.


The Martyrs of Compiègne - 17 July

The Collect

Almighty and Everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy holy martyrs of Compiègne: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Lesson - Jeremiah 15:15-21


The Holy Gospel - St. Mark 8:34-38


+

William White


Before the American Revolution, there were no bishops in the colonies (partly because the British government was reluctant to give the colonies the kind of autonomy that this would have implied, and partly because many of the colonists were violently opposed to their presence). After the Revolution, the establishment of an American episcopate became imperative. Samuel Seabury was the first American to be consecrated, in 1784 (see 14 Nov), and in 1787 William White and Samuel Provoost, having been elected to the bishoprics of Pennsylvania and New York respectively, sailed to England and were consecrated bishops on 14 February by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Bishop of Peterborough.


William White was born in Philadelphia in 1747, went to England in 1770 to be ordained deacon and priest, returned in 1772 and became first an assistant and then the rector of the Church of Christ and Saint Peter in Philadelphia. He served as Chaplain of the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1789, and then as Chaplain of the Senate.

Bishop White died at his home after a lingering illness, retaining his full mental faculties until the end. He was buried in the family vault at Christ Church Burial Ground on July 20, 1836, next to his brother-in-law, Robert Morris. On December 23, 1870 his remains were re-interred in the chancel of Christ Church.


William White - 17 January - Bishop

The Collect.

O Lord, who in a time of turmoil and confusion didst raise up thy servant William White, and didst endow him with wisdom, patience, and a reconciling temper, that he might lead thy Church into ways of stability and peace: Hear our prayer, we beseech thee, and give us wise and faithful leaders, that through their ministry thy people may be blessed and thy will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Lesson - Jeremiah 1:4-10.


Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.


The Gospel - St. John 21:15-17.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep


Reference and Resources:


+

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity



The Collect.

GRANT, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - 1 St. Peter iii. 8.

BE ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.


The Gospel - St. Luke 5: 1-11.

IT came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Ivan Vasilyevich Moiseyev

The son of Baptist peasant farmers, Ivan “Vanya” Moiseyev entered the army at eighteen to perform two years of required military training and service. Because he spoke openly of God, which was forbidden in the atheistic regime, Vanya was persecuted by his military supervisors.

At the age of 20, Ivan knew that the communists would kill him. On July 11, 1972, he wrote his parents, “You will not see me anymore.” He then described a vision of angels and heaven which God had sent to strengthen him for the last trial. A few days later, a coffin arrived at his parents' home, welded shut. Vanya's mother insisted it be opened. A brother, who belonged to the Communist party resisted, but the rest of the family prevailed. Vanya was barely recognizable. Witnesses, Christian and non-Christian alike, signed a statement which declared that his chest had been burned. His face and body were lumped and bruised. Heel marks marred his body. His heart was punctured in six places. Vanya had been beaten and stabbed six times on the chest, and then drowned.

His family did not know about all the things which happened to Vanya, but his letters and the testimonies of the other witnesses completed the puzzle and made the story of Vanya known.
Colonel Malsin, his commander, said, “Moiseyev died with difficulty. He fought with death, but he died as a Christian.”


Ivan Vasilyevich Moiseyev - 16 July - Soldier and Martyr


The Collect

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr Vanya triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Lesson - Ecclesiasticus 51:1-12


The Holy Gospel - St. Luke 12:2-12


+

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vladimir The Great

Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь Old Norse as Valdamarr Sveinaldsson, Russian: Влади́мир, Vladimir, Ukrainian: Володимир, Volodymyr, (c. 958 near Pskov – 15 July 1015, Berestovo) was a Varangian (Viking) grand prince of Kiev.

Vladimir's father was the Varangian prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty. After the death of his father in 972, Vladimir, who was then prince of Novgorod, was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 after his brother Yaropolk had murdered his other brother Oleg and conquered Rus. In Sweden with the help from his relative Ladejarl Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, assembled a Varangian army and reconquered Novgorod from Yaropolk.

By 980 Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from modern day Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarian, Baltic, and Eastern nomads. Originally a pagan, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988, and proceeded to have all of Kievan Rus baptized.


Vladimir the Great - 15 July - King of Rus

The Collect.

Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant Vladimir , may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with him attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Epistle - Micah 6:6-8.

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


The Gospel - St. Matthew 25:31-40

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Reference and Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_I_of_Kiev
http://anglicangradual.stsams.org/FTP/Acrobat/3511-CmS1.pdf

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bonaventure

He was born at Bagnoregio in Latium, not far from Viterbo. Almost nothing is known of his childhood, other than the names of his parents, Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritella.

He entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris, possibly under Alexander of Hales, and certainly under Alexander's successor, John of Rochelle. In 1253 he held the Franciscan chair at Paris and was proceeded as Master of Theology. Unfortunately for Bonaventure, a dispute between seculars and mendicants delayed his reception as Master until 1257, where his degree was taken in company with Thomas Aquinas. Three years earlier his fame had earned him the position of lecturer on the The Four Books of Sentences—a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the twelfth century—and in 1255 he received the degree of master, the medieval equivalent of doctor.

After having successfully defended his order against the reproaches of the anti-mendicant party, he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order. On 24 November 1265, he was selected for the post of Archbishop of York; however, he was never consecrated and resigned the appointment in October 1266. It was by his order that Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar himself, was interdicted from lecturing at Oxford and compelled to put himself under the surveillance of the order at Paris.

Bonaventure denied the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and championed the knowledge given by God to Christians, as being far superior to all forms of mere human wisdom.

Bonaventure was instrumental in procuring the election of Pope Gregory X, who rewarded him with the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and insisted on his presence at the great Council of Lyon in 1274. There, after his significant contributions led to a union of the Greek and Latin churches, Bonaventure died suddenly and in suspicious circumstances. The Catholic Encyclopedia has citations which suggest he was poisoned. The only extant relic of the saint is the arm and hand with which he wrote his Commentary on the Sentences, which is now conserved at Bagnoregio, in the parish church of St. Nicholas.


Bonaventure - 14 July - Bishop and Doctor.


The Collect.

O GOD, who didst make Bonaventure to shine and to burn as a Bishop and Doctor in thy Church; Grant that we may be so inwardly touched by his heavenly doctrine, that we may be filled with the sweetness of the love that dwelt in him; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - 2 Timothy 4:1-8

The Gospel - St Matthew 5:13-20


Reference and Resources:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02648c.htm

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nathan Söderblom

Lars Olof Jonathan Söderblom (15 January 1866 – 12 July 1931) was a Swedish clergyman, Archbishop of Uppsala in the Church of Sweden, and recipient of the 1930 Nobel Peace Prize. He is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on July 12.

Söderblom was born on a farm called Trönö, today Söderhamn Municipality, Gävleborg County. His father was a priest and a devoted Christian with a strong personal faith.

He enrolled at Uppsala University in 1883. Although not initially convinced what he wanted to study, he eventually decided to follow in his father's footsteps. On returning from a journey to the U.S., he was ordained priest in 1893.

During the years 1892 and 1893, Söderblom was first vice president and the president of the Uppsala Student Union.

In 1912, he became a professor of Religious studies at Leipzig University. But already in 1914, he was chosen to become Archbishop of Uppsala and Primate of the Church of Sweden.

Söderblom, a Lutheran in a church that had retained the historic episcopate, valued the liturgy and devotional tradition of traditional Catholic worship, while seeing much of worth in the writings of liberal Protestant scholars. He believed it his duty to work for a united Christendom, both catholic and evangelical, and saw practical cooperation on social issues as a promising first step. During World War I, he worked tirelessly to alleviate the conditions of prisoners of war and refugees. For this and his subsequent work for Church unity and world peace, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930. At Stockholm in 1925, he organized the Universal Christian Council on Life and Work. Meanwhile, a chiefly Anglican group had formed an inter-denominational Conference on Faith and Order.

His leadership of the Christian "Life and Work" movement in the 1920s has led him to be recognized as one of the principal founders of the ecumenical movement, and he was a close friend of the English ecumenist George Bell.


Nathan Söderblom - 13 July - Bishop and Primate of Sweden

The Collect.

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Nathan Söderblom a special concern for the unity of thy Church and the welfare of thy people: grant that by the power of thy Holy Ghost we may be moved to seek an end to the barriers that divide Christian from Christian, and may show forth thy love to all the world in deeds of generosity, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The Epistle - Hebrews 12:1-2.

The Gospel - St. Luke 6:17-23.


Reference and Resources:

http://www.commonprayer.org/calend/propers/common.cfm
http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/JEK/07/12.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_S%C3%B6derblom

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bo Giertz

(31 August 1905 in Räpplinge, Öland – 12 July 1998 in Gothenburg), was a Swedish Confessional Lutheran bishop and Christian novelist.

Giertz embraced the faith while studying medicine at the University of Uppsala and switched to theology. Ordained a priest in 1934, Giertz first served in youth work, then as an Associate Pastor (komminister) at Torpa (1938-1949). Largely due to his popular writings, such as The Hammer of God (in Swedish, Stengrunden), Giertz became the Bishop of the Göteborg (Gothenburg) Diocese in the Church of Sweden (1949-1970). This was a shock, due both to his young age (44) and position in the rural Torpa parish, as Swedish Bishops were routinely selected from among Cathedral Deans and University Chairmen of Theology.

Giertz' characteristic combination of the pietistic type of care of souls with his High Church Lutheran theology, which can also be noticed in his novels, made him listened beyond boundaries. It also made his novels as well as non-fictional books about Christian faith popular in all Scandinavia.

Most famous of his novels is The Hammer of God (Stengrunden, 1941). (Translated by Clifford Ansgar Nelson and Hans O. Andrae. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005. Also appeared in 1960 and 1973).

After the Swedish parliament's and the Church Assembly's decision on the ordination of women in the Church of Sweden, Giertz became a leader of the opposition and took the initiative to form an organization called the Church Coalition for the Bible and Confession.

Giertz was a pioneer on advocating regular celebration of the Mass on Sundays, something that was not usual in the Church of Sweden at that time. He also strongly recommended ministers to regular prayer according to the Divine office; something he unerringly applied in his own devotional life.


Bo Harald Giertz - Novelist, Bishop, and Confessor

The Collect.

Almighty God who didst turn the heart of thy servant Bo Giertz from the pursuits of this world to the service of thy Church and to confess the name of thine only begotten Son, we beseech thee to grant unto us similar focus and strength to serve thee, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Epistle - Hebrews 7:23-27.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 25:14-23.


Reference and Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_Giertz
http://pastorzip.blogspot.com/2009/07/bo-harald-giertz-bishop-and-confessor.html
http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/giertz/biography.php

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Benedict of Nursia

(c. 480 AD – 543 AD) was born at Nursia (Norcia) Italy to a wealthy Roman family, making him liberiori genere, ‘of good birth.' Tradition gives him a twin sister, Scholastica.

Benedict’s Italy was an unstable province of a collapsing Roman Empire, and throughout the fifth century, waves of invaders weakened the peninsula. First Goth warriors marched along the Via Flaminia and into Rome, sacking it in 410. Others soon followed. Into this fragile, violent world, Benedict (or ‘Bennet’) was born among the Apennine valleys and mountains of central Italy. St. Benedict was married to a young woman, her name is not available, but she had dark brown hair and black eyes with white skin. St. Benedict was not supposed to be married but was any way in 522.

Benedict founded twelve monasteries, the best known of which was his first monastery at Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. The monastery at Monte Cassino was the first Benedictine monastery (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine Order). Benedict wrote a set of rules governing his monks, the Rule of Saint Benedict, which was heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian. The Benedictine Rule, one of the more influential documents in Western Civilization, was adopted by most monasteries founded throughout the Middle Ages. Because of this, Benedict is often called "the founder of western Christian monasticism." Benedict was canonized a saint in 1220.


Benedict of Nursia - 11 July - Monastic Father

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we give thee thanks for the purity and strength with which thou didst endow thy servant Benedict; and we pray that by thy grace we may have a like power to hallow and conform our souls and bodies to the purpose of thy most holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - Acts 2:44-47.

AND all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people.


The Gospel - St. Luke 14:26-33.

IF any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.


Reference and Resources:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02467b.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_of_Nursia
http://www.episcopalnet.org/1928bcp/propers/Missal/Mar21.html
http://baptistbard.blogspot.com/2009/07/july-11-benedict-of-nursia-monastic.html


Monday, July 10, 2017

Anthony of Kiev


(c. 983-1073) was a monk and the founder of the monastic tradition in the Kievan Rus'. Also called Anthony of the Caves (Russian: Антоний Печерский, Ukrainian: Антоній Печерський) he, together with Theodosius of Kiev, co-founded Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves).

He was born in Lyubech in Chernigov Principality and was baptized with the name "Antipas". He was drawn to the spiritual life from an early age, and, when he was of age, left for the Greek Orthodox Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos to live as a hermit. He lived in a secluded cave there overlooking the sea, which is still shown to visitors. In 1051, the abbot gave Anthony the job of expanding monasticism in his native Kiev, which had only recently begun its conversion to Christianity.

Anthony returned to Kiev, and found several monasteries based on the Greek model by order of local princes. These monasteries were not as austere as Anthony was used to from his time on Mount Athos. He instead chose to live in a small four-yard cave which had been dug by the presbyter Hilarion.

In 1015 his peaceful austerity was interrupted by the death of Vladimir I of Kiev, and the subsequent fratricidal war for the throne between Vladimir's sons Yaroslav and Sviatopolk, and Anthony returned to Mount Athos. When the conflict ended, the abbot sent Anthony back to Kiev, prophesying that many monks would join him on his return.

On his return, Anthony found a small 4-yard cave which Hilarion had dug before his elevation as the first native Metropolitan of Kiev. Anthony became well known in the area for his strict asceticism. He ate rye bread every other day and drank only a little water. His fame soon spread beyond Kiev, and several people began to ask for his spiritual guidance or blessing. Soon, some people even offered to join him. Eventually, Anthony accepted the company of a few of them. The first was a priest named Nikon. The second was Theodosius of Kiev.

The new monastery enjoyed royal favor almost from the beginning, although there were occasional problems. When Iziaslav I of Kiev demanded that the son of a wealthy boyar and one of his own retainers be told to leave the monastery, Nikon said he could not take soldiers away from the King of Heaven. This did nothing to placate Iziaslav's anger, and Anthony decided that it might be expedient for him to leave. Anthony returned after Iziaslav's wife requested his return.

Shortly thereafter Anthony had gained 12 disciples. Anthony, devoted to the model of the solitary hermit set by his namesake Anthony the Great, left his cave for a nearby mountain so he could continue to live the solitary life. There, he dug another cave for himself and lived in seclusion there. This cave became the first of what would later be known as the Far Caves.

In time, the first official abbot of the monastery, Barlaam of Kiev, was called by Iziaslav to head a new monastery, St. Demetrios, which had been built at the gates of the city. The monks requested Anthony to name the replacement, and he named Theodosius.

As the number of monks grew and crowding became a problem, Anthony requested that Iziaslav give them the hill in which the caves were located. He did so, and the monks built a wooden church and some cells there, encircling the area with a wooden fence. Theodosius continued to consult Anthony in the guidance of the community, and, as the monastery grew, so did Anthony's reputation.

When Iziaslav and his brothers were facing a popular uprising involving the Cumans, they came to Anthony for his blessing. They did not get it. Anthony foretold that because of their sins they would be defeated, and that the brothers would be buried in a church they would build. Shortly thereafter Iziaslav left because of the rebellion. He suspected Anthony of sympathizing with the opposition, and arranged to banish Anthony upon his return. Before he could do so, Iziaslav's brother, Sviatoslav, arranged for Anthony to be secretly taken to Chernigov. Anthony dug himself a cave there. The Eletsky Monastery there is said by some to be built on the site of Anthony's cave. Eventually Iziaslav was again reconciled to Anthony, and asked that he return to Kiev.

On his return, Anthony and Theodosius decided to build a larger stone church, to accommodate the ever increasing number of monks. Anthony himself did not live to see the church complete. He died in 1073, shortly after blessing the foundation of the new church, at 90 years old. Shortly before his death, he called the monks together and consoled them about his coming death. He also asked them that his remains be hidden away forever. The monks carried out his request. He was reportedly buried in his cave, but no relics have ever been found. Many however have subsequently come to the cave to pray, and many of them have reported being healed there.


Anthony of Kiev - 10 July - Abbot, Founder of Russian Monasticism

The Collect.

O GOD, by whose grace the blessed (abbot) Anthony of Kiev enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we may be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love, and ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - Philippians 3:7-15.


The Gospel - St. Luke 12:22-37.


Reference and Resources:

http://www.commonprayer.org/calend/propers/com_mona.cfm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_of_the_Caves

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Epistle - Romans 8:18-23.

I RECKON that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.


The Gospel - St. Luke 6:36-42.

BE ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

The Martyrs of China

Today we commemorate the martyrdom of Christian believers from all traditions in China through the centuries.

On 15 January 1648, the Manchu Tartars, having invaded the region of Fujian and shown themselves hostile to the Christian religion, killed St Francis Fernández de Capillas, a Dominican priest. After having imprisoned and tortured him, they beheaded him while he recited with others the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. St Francis Fernández de Capillas has been recognized as the Protomartyr of China.

Christianity continued to grow in China through the 18th and 19th centuries as trade with the west increased. During this time many missionaries where martyred all over China along with many Chinese who had converted to Christianity. Many where killed either because of rural superstitions or Chinese nationalism, which viewed Christians as the agents of western aggression.

Things came to a head during the Boxer War when Chinese secret societies hostile to foreign expansion murdered as many Christians (men, women and children) as they could find (an exact number is not known). Tales of the survivors make for some heart-wrenching reading.

Persecution of Christians slowed during the first half of the 20th century until the take-over by the Communists. During the early years of the Communist era all foreign missionaries had been expelled and it is uncertain how many Chinese Christians may have been murdered during subsequent purges.

Today there is still persecution of Christians in China (except in the government controlled Churches)though it is less frequent and violent, yet Christians are still martyred for their faith.


The Martyrs of China - 9 July

The Collect.

Almighty God who hast brought glory unto thy holy martyrs, we thank thee for the growth of the Church in China as it was bought with their faith and blood and seek the strengthening and protection of all those who profess the name of Jesus Christ in the face of persecution and martyrdom. This we ask in the name of thy only begotten Son, who with thee and the Holy Ghost reigneth now and forever. Amen.


The Epistle - Wisdom 5:15-19.

But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them. He shall take to him his jealousy for complete armour, and make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies. He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and true judgment instead of an helmet. He shall take holiness for an invincible shield.


The Gospel - St. Matthew 24: 3-13.

(Jesus) sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.


Reference and Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Martyrs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyr_Saints_of_China
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_China
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Martyrs_of_1900