Thursday, July 31, 2008

St. Joseph of Arimathea

The Gospels tell us that after the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, wealthy, a member of the Council, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and buried it with honor in the tomb he had intended for himself. This is our only information about him from writers of his own century.

Since the 2nd century a mass of legendary detail has accumulated around the figure of Joseph of Arimathea in addition to the New Testament references. Joseph is referenced in apocryphal and non-canonical accounts such as the Acts of Pilate, given the medieval title Gospel of Nicodemus and The Narrative of Joseph, and in early church historians such as Irenaeus (125 – 189), Hippolytus (170 – 236), Tertullian (155 – 222), and Eusebius (260 – 340), who added details not in the canonical accounts. Hilary of Poitiers (300 – 367) enriched the legend, and Saint John Chrysostom (347 – 407), the Patriarch of Constantinople, was the first to write[2] that Joseph was one of the Seventy Apostles appointed in St. Luke 10.

During the late 12th century, Joseph became connected with the Arthurian cycle as the first keeper of the Holy Grail. This idea first appears in Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie, in which Joseph receives the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Britain. This theme is elaborated upon in Boron's sequels and in later Arthurian works. Later retellings of the story contend that Joseph of Arimathea himself traveled to Britain and became the first Christian bishop in the Isles.

Propers for St. Joseph of Arimathea

The Collect -

O MERCIFUL God, by whose servant Joseph the body of our Lord and Saviour was committed to the grave with reverence and godly fear: Grant, we beseech thee, to thy faithful people grace and courage to serve and love Jesus with unfeigned devotion all the days of their life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Proverbs 4:10-18.

The Gospel - St. Luke 23:50-56.

Reference and Resources

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

William Wilberforce

(24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780 and became the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785 he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787 he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Lord Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade until the eventual passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality, and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, the introduction of Christianity to India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.

In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt.

Propers for William Wilberforce - Layman, Renewer, Reformer and Abolitionist

The Collect -

Let thy continual mercy, O Lord, enkindle in thy Church the never-failing gift of charity, that, following the example of thy servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the children, the poor, the lost and the oppressed and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Galatians 3:23-29.

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

Reference and Resources

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

St. Martha

The Collect -

O GOD, who bestowest divers gifts and graces upon thy saints: We give thee humble thanks for the examples of thy servant Martha, a friend and helper of our Saviour Jesus Christ; and we pray thee to give us grace to love and serve thee and others for his sake, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle - Proverbs 31:10, 26-31.

WHO can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, And eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, But thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: But a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; And let her own works praise her in the gates.

The Gospel - St. Luke 10:38-42.

NOW it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art concerned and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Reference and Resources

Monday, July 28, 2008

J. S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach, widely regarded as the greatest of all composers of music for Christian worship, was born in 1685 in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany, into a family of distinguished musicians. In 1708, shortly after marrying his cousin, Maria Barbara Bach, he became court organist to the Duke of Weimar, where he wrote his principal compositions for the organ. In 1717 he became music director (Kapellmeister) to Prince Leopold of Coethen. In 1720, his wife died, and in 1721 he married Anna Magdalena Wuelcken, for whom he composed a famous set of keyboard pieces. From 1723 until his death in 1750 he was at Leipzig, where he taught, conducted, sang, played, and composed. He had 20 children, of whom nine survived him, four of whom are also remembered as composers.

Prayer -

Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness, who hast taught us in Holy Scripture to sing thy praises, and who hast given to thy servant Johann Sebastian Bach grace to show forth thy glory in music: Be with all thy servants who write and make music for thy people, that with joy we on earth may glimpse thy beauty, and at length may know the inexhaustible richness of thy new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reference and Resources

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect -

LET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - 1 Corinthians xii. 1.

CONCERNING spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

The Gospel - St. Luke xix. 41.

AND when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Anne and Joachim, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Collect -

ALMIGHTY God, heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We thankfully remember before thee this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we humbly entrust to thy never-failing care the homes in which thy people dwell; that we may be made very members of the heavenly family of thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle - Proverbs 31:10-31

The Gospel - St. Matthew 13:44-52

Reference and Resources

Friday, July 25, 2008

Saint James the Apostle

Saint James, son of Zebedee (d. AD 44) or Yaakov Ben-Zebdi/Bar-Zebdi, was one of the disciples of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the Evangelist. He is called Saint James the Greater to distinguish him from the other apostle named James (James, son of Alphaeus) (also known as James the Lesser). James is described as one of the first disciples to join Jesus. The Synoptic Gospels state that James and John were with their father by the seashore when Jesus called them to follow him. According to Mark, James and John were called Boanerges, or the "Sons of Thunder". James was one of only three apostles whom Jesus selected to bear witness to his Transfiguration. The Acts of the Apostles 12:1-2 records that King Herod had James executed by sword, making him the first of the Twelve Apostles to be martyred.

Propers for Saint James the Apostle

The Collect -

GRANT, O merciful God, that, as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Acts xi. 27, and part of Chap. xii. -

IN these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also.

The Gospel - St. Matthew xx. 20 -

THEN came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Reference and Resources

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thomas à Kempis

Propers for Thomas à Kempis - Priest, Monk, and Writer

The Collect -

Holy Father, who hast nourished and strengthened thy Church by the writings of thy servant Thomas a Kempis: 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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

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 founded on the Greek model on 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.

Propers for Anthony of Kiev - 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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mary Magdalene

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.

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."

Propers for St Mary Magdalene

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

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect -

GRANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - 1 Corinthians x. 1.

BRETHREN, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

The Gospel - St. Luke xv. 11.

JESUS said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Macrina the Younger

was born at Caesarea, Cappadocia. Her parents were Basil the Elder and Emmelia, and her grandmother was Saint Macrina the Elder. Among her nine siblings were two of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Basil the Great and Saint 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.

Propers for Macrina the Younger - 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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bartolome de Las Casas

O.P. (August 24, 1484 – July 17, 1566), was a 16th century Spanish Dominican priest, missionary to Native Americans and the first resident Bishop of Chiapas.

Las Casas became well-known for his advocacy of the rights of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, whose cultures he described with care. His descriptions of the caciques (chiefs or princes), bohiques (shamans or clerics), ni-taínos (noblemen), and naborias (common folk) in the Caribbean clearly showed a feudal structure. He was a mentor of Taíno rebel Enriquillo in his early age, being later a conciliator between him and the conquistadors. His book A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (original title in Spanish: Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias), published in 1552, gave a vivid description of the atrocities committed by the conquistadors in the Americas – most particularly, the Caribbean, Central America, and what is now Mexico – including many events to which he was a witness, as well as some events he reprints from others' eyewitness accounts.

Las Casas' "Doctrine of Self Determination" maintained that all power derives from the people; power is delegated to rulers in order that they may serve their people; and all important governmental acts require popular consultation and approval. “No state, king, or emperor can alienate territories, or change their political system, without the express approval of their inhabitants,” he wrote. This doctrine had an obvious influence on later thinkers including those of the enlightenment and the Founding Fathers.

In one of his last works, De thesauris in Peru, he vigorously defended the rights of the natives of Peru against enslavement by the early Spanish Conquest. The work also questioned Spain's right to take the treasures derived from Atahualpa ransom during the Inca Conquest, as well as those valuables found and taken from the burial sites of the Indian population.

The book was dedicated to King Philip II of Spain. Las Casas explained that he had supported the Spanish conquest when he first arrived in the New World, but that he soon became convinced that it would eventually lead to the collapse of Spain itself in an act of Divine retribution. According to Las Casas, it was the responsibility of the Spanish to convert the Indians, who would then be loyal subjects of Spain, rather than to kill them. To address the labor needs of the Spanish colonists, Las Casas proposed that Africans be brought to America instead, though he later changed his mind about this when he saw the effects of slavery on Africans. Largely due to his efforts, New Laws were adopted in 1542 to protect American Indians in the colonies.

Las Casas also wrote Historia de las Indias and was the editor of Christopher Columbus' published journal. He was instrumental, on his repeated return trips to Spain, in gaining the temporary repeal of the encomienda regulations that established virtual slave labor gangs in Spanish America. In 1547, De Las Casas initiated theological debates with the priest Sepulveda en Salamanca. Las Casas returned to Spain and was eventually able to bring about the great debate of 1550 in Valladolid between himself and the advocate for the settlers, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. Though the encomienda system triumphed, championed by the colonial Spanish classes who were profiting from it, the writings of Las Casas were translated and republished across Europe. His published accounts are important primary sources on Spanish colonial atrocities. They influenced the essayist Montaigne's views of the New World.

Propers for Bartolome de Las Casas - Missionary, Teacher, Bishop and Humanitarian

The Collect -

Let thy continual mercy, O Lord, enkindle in thy Church the never-failing gift of charity, that, following the example of thy servant Bartolome de Las Casas, we may have grace to defend the children of the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Philippians 3:7-15.

The Gospel - St. John 17:18-23.

Reference and Resources

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Saint Swithun was Bishop of Winchester from October 30, 852 to his death on July 2, 862. However, he is scarcely mentioned in any document of his own time. His death is entered in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 861; and his signature is appended to several charters in Kemble's Codex diplomaticus. Of these charters three belong to 833, 838, 860-862. In the first the saint signs as Swithunus presbyter regis Egberti, in the second as Swithunus diaconus, and in the third as Swithunus episcopus This means that if the second charter is genuine, the first must be wrong, and it is so marked in Kemble.

Under Ethelwulf, Swithun was appointed bishop of Winchester, to which see he was consecrated by Archbishop Ceolnoth. In his new office he was known for his piety and his zeal in building new churches or restoring old ones. At his request Ethelwulf gave the tenth of his royal lands to the Church. Swithun made his diocesan journeys on foot; when he gave a banquet he invited the poor and not the rich. His best known miracle was his restoration on a bridge of a basket of eggs that workmen had maliciously broken. He died on 2 July 862, and gave orders that he was not to be buried within the church, but outside in a vile and unworthy place.

More than a hundred years later, when Dunstan and Æthelwold of Winchester were inaugurating their church reform, Saint Swithun was adopted as patron of the restored church at Winchester, formerly dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. His body was transferred from its almost forgotten grave to Ethelwolds new basilica on 15th July 971, and according to contemporary writers, numerous miracles preceded and followed the move.

Propers for St Swithun, Bishop of Winchester

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast made this day honourable for us by the translation of blessed Swithun, thy Confessor and Bishop: Grant thy Church joy in this feast, that we who reverently celebrate his memory on earth may by his prayers be lifted up to heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Hebrews 12:1-2.

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

Reference and Resources

Monday, July 14, 2008

St. Bonaventure

Saint Bonaventure was born in Tuscany, Italy, of a noble family. He became a Franciscan friar, a bishop and later a cardinal. His call to the monastic life was initiated by a miraculous cure received through the intercession of Saint Francis. As a Franciscan, his intellectual talents were soon discovered and led him to teach and later to assume the job of Master of the Franciscan School at Paris. Bonaventure was a contemporary of Thomas Aquinas; however, his theological writings offer a different perspective. His thought contributed greatly to the Church Council at Lyons, during which he died. His most systematic and extensive work is his "Commentary on the Sentences" of Peter Lombard.

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.

Propers for St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor.

The Collect.

O GOD, who didst make Saint 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

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

O GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Romans viii. 12.

BRETHREN, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

The Gospel - St. Matthew vii. 15.

BEWARE of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

(the observance of St. Silas set aside)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

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.

Propers for - Nathan Söderblom, 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:

Friday, July 11, 2008

St. Benedict on Prayer

The Holy Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 20: Of Reverence at Prayer

If we do not venture to approach men who are in power, except with humility and reverence, when we wish to ask a favor, how much must we beseech the Lord God of all things with all humility and purity of devotion? And let us be assured that it is not in many words, but in the purity of heart and tears of compunction that we are heard. For this reason prayer ought to be short and pure, unless, perhaps it is lengthened by the inspiration of divine grace. At the community exercises, however, let the prayer always be short, and the sign having been given by the Superior, let all rise together.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Olde Anglican Quote for the Day

"On this point some may think it is needless to say anything: they assume that everyone knows the value of freedom, and that to dwell on it is merely a waste of time. I don’t agree with such people at all. I believe that millions of our countrymen know nothing of the blessings which they enjoy in their own land: they have grown up from infancy to manhood in the midst of freedom. They don’t have the slightest idea of the state of things in other countries: they are ignorant of the two worst kinds of tyranny--the crushing tyranny of a cruel military dictator, and the intolerant tyranny of an unreasoning mob. In short, many of us know nothing of the value of liberty, just because we have been born in the middle of it, and have never been without it for a moment.

I call on every one of you to remember that liberty is one of the greatest earthly blessings that we can have on this side of the grave."

--- J.C. Ryle; Freedom

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Aquila and Priscilla

When Paul came to Corinth (probably in the year 50), he met Priscilla (or Prisca) and her husband Aquila, tentmakers by trade like Paul, Jewish, and just arrived from Rome, from which city the Emperor Claudius had recently expelled the Jewish community. (The Roman historian Suetonius tells us that Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because they were rioting on account of someone named Chrestus -- presumably referring to disputes between Christian and non-Christian Jews.) It is not clear whether Aquila and Priscilla were already Christians before meeting Paul, or were converted by his preaching. After eighteen months, the three of them went together to Ephesus, where Priscilla and Aquila remained while Paul continued to Antioch. Soon after, a man named Apollos came to Ephesus, who had heard and believed a portion of the Christian message, and was promoting that belief with eloquent preaching, based on a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Aquila and Priscilla befriended him and explained the Gospel to him more fully, after which he continued to preach with even greater effectiveness.

Priscilla and Aquila were apparently in Rome when Paul wrote to that congregation, and in Ephesus with Timothy when Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus, he joined their greetings with his own. Clearly they were dear to Paul, and were earnest and effective in spreading the Good News of Christ and His saving work. Altogether, Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times in the New Testament (Acts 18:2,18,26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19).

Propers for Aquila and Priscilla - Companions of the Apostle Paul

The Collect.

God of grace and might, we praise thee for thy servants Priscilla and Aquila, whom thou didst plenteously endow with gifts of zeal and eloquence to make known the truth of the Gospel. Raise up, we pray thee, in every country, evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson - Acts 1:1-9.

The Gospel - St. Luke 10:1-9.

Reference and Resources

Monday, July 7, 2008

Prayer for the Day

During the month of July I have added some prayers from the BCP to my recitation of the Daily Offices.

The prayers are for our nation and for our people with the intent of asking for God's help in restoring our national character of faith, industry, charity, of manners and self-sufficiency, to free us from the grip of sin that tightens about us and the lust for worldly possessions that drives us in this age.

Lord Have Mercy.

For a Blessing on the Families of the Land.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families; We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vain-glory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh; turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we be evermore kindly affectioned with brotherly love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Jan Hus

was born in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) in about 1371. He received a master's degree from Charles University in Prague in 1396, became a professor of theology in 1398, was ordained to the priesthood in 1400, was made rector of the University in 1402, and in 1404 received a bachelor's degree in theology (presumably a more advanced degree than the term suggests today).

In his day, there was a crisis of authority in the Western Church. In 1305, under pressure from the King of France, the seat of the Popes was moved from Rome to Avignon in France, where it remained for 70 years. (This period is called the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, suggesting the 70 years that Jerusalem lay desolate after the Jews were deported to Babylon.) In 1376, the then pope returned to Rome. When he died soon after, the cardinals, mostly French, were disposed to elect a French Pope, but the people of Rome objected, fearing that a French Pope would move the Papacy back to France. The cardinals therefore elected an Italian Pope, and then fled elsewhere, where they elected a French Pope and said that the first election had been under duress, and was void. Thus there were two (later three) claimants for the Papal Office. The Council of Constance was called to settle the matter. One claimant recognized the Council and then abdicated. The Council responded by proclaiming that he had been the true Pope. It then deposed the other two, and elected a new Pope, thus healing the schism.

Meanwhile, Huss had begun to denounce various church abuses in his sermons. His disputes with authority did not concern basic theological issues, but rather matters of church discipline and practice. The custom had arisen, at celebrations of the Lord's Supper, of distributing the consecrated bread to all Christians in good standing who desired to receive it, but restricting the chalice to the celebrant alone. Huss denounced this restriction as contrary to Holy Scripture and to the ancient tradition of the Church. He also held that Church officials ought to exercise spiritual powers only, and not be earthly governors. In 1412 his archbishop excommunicated him, not for heresy, but for insubordination. (The real problem was that Huss supported one papal claimant and the archbishop another. Huss's candidate was ultimately declared to be the true pope.) Matters came to a head when one papal claimant (later declared unfit) proclaimed a sale of indulgences to raise money for a war against his rivals. Huss was horrified at the idea of selling spiritual benefits to finance a war between two claimants to the title "Servant of the Servants of God," and said so.

In 1414 he was summoned to the Council of Constance, with the Emperor guaranteeing his personal safety even if found guilty. He was tried, and ordered to recant certain heretical doctrines. He replied that he had never held or taught the doctrines in question, and was willing to declare the doctrines false, but not willing to declare on oath that he had once taught them. The one point on which Huss could be said to have a doctrinal difference with the Council was that he taught that the office of the pope did not exist by Divine command, but was established by the Church that things might be done in an orderly fashion (a view that he shared with Thomas More). The Council, having just narrowly succeeded in uniting Western Christendom under a single pope after years of chaos, was not about to have its work undone. It accordingly found him guilty of heresy, and he was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415.

After his death, his followers continued to insist on the importance of administering the Holy Communion in both kinds, and defeated several armies sent against them. In 1436 a pact was signed, by which the Church in Bohemia was authorized to administer Chalice as well as Host to all communicants. The followers of John Huss and his fellow martyr Jerome of Prague became known as the Czech Brethren and later as the Moravians. The Moravian Church survives to this day, and has had a considerable influence on the Lutheran movement. When Luther suddenly became famous after the publication of his 95 Theses, cartoons and graffiti began to appear implying that Luther was the spiritual heir of John Huss. When Luther encountered the Pope's representative Johannes Eck, in a crucial debate, Eck sidestepped the questions of indulgences and of justification by faith, and instead asked Luther whether the Church had been right to condemn Huss. When Luther, after thinking it over, said that Huss had been unjustly condemned, the whole question of the authority of Popes and Councils was raised.

Propers for Jan Hus - Priest, Reformer and Martyr

The Collect.

O Almighty God, who didst give to thy servants Jan Hus boldness to confess the Name of our Savior 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 - 2 Esdras 2:42-48.

The Gospel - St. John 17:18-23.

Reference and Resources

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Romans vi. 19.

I SPEAK after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gospel - St. Mark viii. 1.

IN those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

The Collect.

O ETERNAL God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Deuteronomy x. 17.

THE LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.

The Gospel - St. Matthew v. 43.

JESUS said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.