Tuesday, March 31, 2009

John Donne

John Donne was the most outstanding of the English Metaphysical Poets and a churchman famous for his spellbinding sermons. His poetry is noted for its ingenious fusion of wit and seriousness and represents a shift from classical models toward a more personal style.

Donne was born in London to a prominent Roman Catholic family but converted to Anglicanism during the 1590s. At the age of 11 he entered the University of Oxford, where he studied for three years. According to some accounts, he spent the next three years at the University of Cambridge but took no degree at either university. He began the study of law at Lincoln's Inn, London, in 1592, and he seemed destined for a legal or diplomatic career. In 1596, Donne joined the naval expedition that Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, led against Cádiz, Spain. On his return to England, Donne was appointed private secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, Keeper of the Great Seal, in 1598. Donne's secret marriage in 1601 to Egerton's niece, Anne More, resulted in his dismissal from this position and in a brief imprisonment. The poet, in a characteristic pun, later summed up the experience: "John Donne, Anne Donne, Undone."

During the next few years Donne made a meager living as a lawyer, serving chiefly as counsel for Thomas Morton, an anti-Roman Catholic pamphleteer. Donne may have collaborated with Morton in writing pamphlets that appeared under Morton's name from 1604 to 1607. Donne's principal literary accomplishments during this period were Divine Poems (1607) and the prose work Biathanatos (c. 1608, posthumously published 1644), a half-serious extenuation of suicides, in which he argued that suicide is not intrinsically sinful. In 1608 a reconciliation was effected between Donne and his father-in-law, and his wife received a much-needed dowry. His next work, Pseudo-Martyr (1610), is a prose treatise maintaining that English Roman Catholics could, without breach of their religious loyalty, pledge an oath of allegiance to James I, king of England. This work won him the favor of the king. Donne became a priest of the Anglican church in 1615 and was appointed royal chaplain later that year. In 1621 was named dean of St. Paul's Cathedral. He attained eminence as a preacher, delivering sermons that are regarded as the most brilliant and eloquent of his time.

Donne's poetry embraces a wide range of secular and religious subjects. He wrote cynical verse about inconstancy (for example, Go and catch a falling star and I can love both fair and brown); poems about true love, such as The Good-Morrow and Sweetest love, I do not go/For weariness of thee; Neoplatonic lyrics on the mystical union of lovers' souls and bodies, such as Air and Angels and The Ecstasy; brilliant satires; hymns and holy sonnets depicting his own spiritual struggles, such as A Hymn to God the Father, Batter my heart, three-personed God, and I am a little world made cunningly, in which he begs God to purge him of sin. The two Anniversaries--An Anatomy of the World (1611) and Of the Progress of the Soul (1612)--are elegies for 15-year-old Elizabeth Drury, whose death epitomized for Donne the decay of the world, physically and morally, and whose entry into heaven heralded its potential regeneration.

It was formerly assumed that Donne's poetry reflected the growth of "Jack Donne" libertine into "Dr. John Donne," the somber dean of St. Paul's; that sensual love poetry typified his youth, while obsessive thoughts of sin and death characterized his later career. Except for the Anniversaries, however, nearly all his poems were published posthumously and cannot be dated. Moreover, whatever the subject, they reveal the same characteristics that typified the work of the metaphysical poets: dazzling wordplay, often explicitly sexual; paradox; subtle argumentation; surprising contrasts; intricate psychological analysis; and striking imagery selected from nontraditional areas such as law, physiology, scholastic philosophy, and mathematics. (A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning contains the famous comparison of lovers' souls to the legs of a compass.) Samuel Johnson disapproved, for "the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together." But T. S. Eliot, who championed the metaphysicals in the 20th century, praised Donne and his followers for achieving a "unification of sensibility."

Donne's prose, almost equally metaphysical, ranks at least as high as his poetry. The Sermons, some 160 in all, are especially memorable for their imaginative explications of biblical passages and for their intense explorations of the themes of divine love and of the decay and resurrection of the body. Paradoxes and Problems (c. 1598) is a collection of playful demonstrations (for example, "A Defence of Women's Inconstancy" and "Why Puritans Make Long Sermons"). In Ignatius His Conclave (c. 1610), satirizing the Jesuits, Loyola is ejected from hell and ordered to colonize the moon, where he will do less harm.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624) is a powerful series of meditations, expostulations, and prayers in which Donne's serious sickness at the time becomes a microcosm wherein can be observed the stages of the world's spiritual disease. The work includes the celebrated reflection on the meaning of a distant funeral bell:

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; …

any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; and therefore

never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

Donne was fully prepared for his own death. Having left his sickbed to deliver his last sermon, fittingly entitled "Death's Duel," he then returned home to pose for his portrait in a funeral shroud. He died a month later.

Propers for John Donne - Priest and Poet

The Collect.

Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with thy servant John Donne, that whatsoever hath any being is a mirror in which we may behold thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Wisdom 7:24+8:1.

For wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness. Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily: and sweetly doth she order all things.

The Gospel - St. John 5:19-24.

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Reference and Resources:


Innocent of Moscow

Was born in Siberia on August 26, 1797, and was named John Popov. While in seminary at Irkutsk, he spent so much time with Bishop Benjamin that the dean gave him the name "Veniaminov" (son of Benjamin). He married Catherine Sharina in 1817 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1821. The Russian-America Company had requested the bishop to send a priest to the Aleutian Islands. Fr. John heard of this and volunteered. He enthusiastically worked to establish the Church in America and to evangelize the native peoples. Metropolitan Theodosius, in 1997, characterized St. Innocent as a "renaissance man", as he designed churches, sewed his own vestments, built furniture and his own house, while learning the native languages and cultures. He worked with an Aleut leader to devise a written alphabet and grammar for the local Aleut dialect and translated the Gospel of Matthew and liturgical texts. After his wife died in 1839, he entered monastic life and took the name Innocent. He was elected the first resident bishop of Alaska (1840-58). When Alaska was purchased from Russia, he immediately replaced the Russian in the services with English. In 1868, he was appointed Metropolitan of Moscow and founded the Orthodox Missionary Society, primarily to continue to work to establish an American Orthodox Church. He reposed in Moscow on March 31, 1879 and was canonized on October 6, 1977.

Propers for Innocent, Missionary to Alaska and Bishop of Moscow

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Innocent, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of Alaska: Raise up, we pray thee, in this and every land, heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may make known the unsearchable riches of Christ, and may increase with the increase of God; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Acts 1:1-9.

THE former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things. while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

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

AFTER these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor pack, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Reference and Resources:


Monday, March 30, 2009

John Keble

(transfered from 29 March 2009)

(April 25, 1792 – March 29, 1866) was an English churchman, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, and gave his name to Keble College, Oxford (1870).

John Keble, born 1792, ordained Priest in 1816, tutor at Oxford from 1818 to 1823, published in 1827 a book of poems called The Christian Year, containing poems for the Sundays and Feast Days of the Church Year. The book sold many copies, and was highly effective in spreading Keble's devotional and theological views. His style was more popular then than now, but some of his poems are still in use as hymns, such the three beginning:

New every morning is the love
Our waking and uprising prove,
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.
Sun of my soul, thou Savior dear,
It is not night if thou be near.
Oh, may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant's eyes.
Blest are the pure in heart,
for they shall see our God.
The secret of the Lord is theirs;
Their soul is Christ's abode.

He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1831 to 1841, and from 1836 until his death thirty years later he was priest of a small parish in the village of Hursley near Winchester.

On 14 July 1833, he preached the Assize Sermon at Oxford. (This sermon marks the opening of a term of the civil and criminal courts, and is officially addressed to the judges and officers of the court, exhorting them to deal justly.) His sermon was called "National Apostasy," and denounced the Nation for turning away from God, and for regarding the Church as a mere institution of society, rather than as the prophetic voice of God, commissioned by Him to warn and instruct the people. The sermon was a nationwide sensation, and is considered to be the beginning of the religious revival known as the Tractarian Movement (so called because of a series of 90 Tracts, or pamphlets addressed to the public, which largely influenced the course of the movement) or as the Oxford Movement (not to be confused with the Oxford Group -- led by Frank Buchman and also called Moral Re-Armament, or MRA -- which came a century later and was quite different). Because the Tractarians emphasized the importance of the ministry and of the sacraments as God-given ordinances, they were suspected by their opponents of Roman Catholic tendencies, and the suspicion was reinforced when some of their leaders (John Henry Newman being the most conspicuous) did in fact become Roman Catholics. But the movement survived, and has profoundly influenced the religious thinking, practice, and worship of large portions of Christendom. Their insistence, for example, that it was the normal practice for all Christians to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion every Sunday has influenced many Christians who would never call themselves Anglicans, let alone Tractarians. Keble translated the works of Irenaeus of Lyons (28 June 202), and produced an edition of the works of Richard Hooker, a distinguished Anglican theologian (3 Nov 1600). He also wrote more books of poems, and numerous hymn lyrics. Three years after his death, his friends and admirers established Keble College at Oxford.

Propers for John Keble - Priest, Renewer & Churchman

The Collect.

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage that which thou givest us to do, and endure that which thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Romans 12:9-21.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 5:1-12.

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Reference and Resources:


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Passion Sunday

Passion Sunday is a term sometimes used to denote the fifth Sunday of Lent in the Christian liturgical calendar.

In Traditional Catholic and Prayer Book Anglican circles, Passion Sunday continues to refer to the fifth Sunday in Lent; Passion Sunday is sometimes called 1st Sunday of Passion Time, with the 2nd Sunday being Palm Sunday.

Under the old calendar, Passion Sunday was also known as Judica Sunday, after that day's Introit: "Judica me, Deus" ("Judge me, O Lord") from Psalm 42 (43), and was called Black Sunday in Germany. This alternate name originates from the fact that after Passion Sunday, the Judica Psalm was not said again until Easter; the German title comes from the old practice of veiling the crucifixes and statues in the church on that day. (However, purple veils were used for such covers in the pre-Vatican II rite.)

When the term Passion Sunday is applied to the fifth Sunday of Lent, it marks the start of a two-week sub-season often referred to as Passiontide (and the formal name for it in the Roman Catholic calendar was actually the First Sunday of the Passion, in Latin Tempore Passionis).

In Anglican churches that chose to follow the Sarum Rite, crimson vestments are pressed into service on this day - replacing the Lenten array (unbleached muslin cloth) - and vestments remained crimson through Holy Saturday.

Since Passion Sunday has no longer widely been used to mean the fifth Sunday of Lent, crimson has more often been worn during the last week before Easter only.

The entire week beginning with the fifth Sunday of Lent was often called Passion Week prior to the calendar reform, which officially transferred that term to the following week; yet, as in the case of Palm Sunday, most Roman Catholic and Protestant laity alike continue to refer to the last week before Easter by its original name, that of Holy Week.

Propers for The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday.

The Collect.

WE beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Hebrews ix. 11.

CHRIST being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The Gospel - St. John viii. 46.

JESUS said, Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Patristic Quote for the Day

"I have shown that the ideal of the new covenant must be helpful to the life of all nations: the members of its kingdom are to be restricted in no way whatever. Considerations of country, race or locality, or anything else are not to affect them in any way at all. The law and life of our Saviour Jesus Christ shows itself to be such, being a renewal of the ancient pre-Mosaic religion, in which Abraham, the friend of God, and his forefathers are shown to have lived. And if you cared to compare the life of Christians and the worship introduced among all nations by Christ with the lives of the men who with Abraham are witnessed to by Scripture as holy and righteous, you would find cne and the same ideal. For they too turned their backs on the errors of polytheism, they relinquished idolatrous superstition, they looked beyond the whole of the visible creation and deified neither sun nor moon, nor any part of the whole. They raised themselves to the Supreme God, Himself the Highest, the Creator of heaven and earth."

--- Eusebius of Caesarea; The Proof of the Gospel - Book One, Chapter 5

Friday, March 27, 2009

Greasing the Skids

I try to keep political commentary to a minimum on this blog, but when I saw it hit my skeptic button.

Kansas Governor Signs Bill Ensuring Those Seeking Abortions Can See Ultrasound First

TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signs a bill ensuring that women and girls seeking abortions can see ultrasound images before the procedure.

The legislation, signed Friday and taking effect July 1, also ensures that abortion patients can listen to the fetal heartbeat.

Sebelius signed the measure as she awaits U.S. Senate confirmation as federal Health and Human Services secretary. Anti-abortion groups in Washington have criticized her nomination because of her abortion rights stance.

The Kansas governor offered no explanation of why she signed the bill, though she's never targeted such provisions when she's vetoed past abortion measures.

The bill amends a state law requiring doctors to obtain a patient's informed consent before performing an abortion.

Now, maybe some prayers have been answered and Gov. Sebelius has had a change of heart about abortion, but the voice in the back of my head tells me that it is more likely that she is trying to do an image makeover as to appear moderate on the issue as to get through the confirmation process and that if confirmed she will return to her Herodian ways.

Charles Henry Brent

During the Spanish-American War (1898), arising from a dispute over Cuba and Puerto Rico, the United States also acquired Guam and the Philippines. (For a brief note on the subsequent history of these territories, see Kamehameha, 28 November.) In 1902, the Episcopal Church appointed Charles Brent (at that time serving as priest in charge of a slum parish in Boston) as Missionary Bishop of the Philippines. He arrived on the same ship with the American Governor, William H. Taft, and carried with him the unofficial but very real prestige of the American establishment.

Brent could easily have confined himself to providing a kind of ecclesiastical "home away from home" for American officials and others stationed in the Islands. Equally, he could have devoted himself chiefly to efforts to convert the Roman Catholics, both of Spanish and of Filipino ancestry, whom the previous government had left behind. Instead, he directed his efforts toward the non-Christians of his diocese: the pagan Igorots of the mountains of Luzon, the Muslims of the southern islands, the Chinese settlements in Manila, all areas in which he made considerable inroads and established thriving Christian communities.

He began a campaign against the opium traffic, and served on several international commissions devoted to stamping out international traffic in narcotics. During World War I, he was the Senior Chaplain for the American Armed Forces in Europe. He declined three elections to bishoprics in the United States in order to continue his work in the Philippines, but in 1918, he accepted the position of Bishop of Western New York. His experiences in the Philippines had aroused in him a strong concern for the cause of visible Christian unity. He wrote:

The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The world will go limping until Christ's prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell.

He helped to organize the first World Conference on Faith and Order, which met in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1927. He died there in 1929, being 67 years minus 12 days old. The following prayer, written by him, is widely used today:

Lord Jesus Christ, who didst stretch out thine arms of love upon the hard wood of the Cross, that all men everywhere might come within the reach of thy saving embrace: So clothe us with thy Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know thee to the knowledge and love of thee; for the honor of thy Name.

The writer James Thayer Addison called him "a saint of disciplined mental vigor, one whom soldiers were proud to salute and whom children were happy to play with, who could dominate a parliament and minister to an invalid, a priest and bishop who gloried in the heritage of his Church, yet who stood among all Christian brothers as one who served."

Propers for Charles Henry Brent - Missionary Bishop

The Collect.

Heavenly Father, whose Son did pray that we all might be one: deliver us, we beseech thee, from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance, that, following thy servant Charles Henry Brent, we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of thy Son Jesus Christ: who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

The Gospel - St. Matthew 9:35-38.

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Olde Anglican Quote for the Day

"Now they that think they may come to justification by performance of the law, by their own deeds and merits, or by any other mean than is above rehearsed, they go from Christ, they renounce his grace: Evacuati estis a Christo, saith St. Paul, Gal. v., quicunque, in lege, judificamini, a gratia excidistis. They be not partakers of the justice, that he hath procured, or the merciful benefits that be given by him. For St. Paul saith a general rule for all them that will seek such by-paths to obtain justification; those, saith he, which will not knowledge the justness or righteousness which cometh by God, but go about to advance their own righteousness, shall never come to that righteousness which we have by God (Rom. 10:1-4); which is the righteousness of Christ: by whom only all the saints in heaven, and all other that have been saved, have been reputed righteous, and justified. So that to Christ our only Saviour and Redeemer, on whose righteousness both their and our justification doth depend, is to be transcribed all the glory thereof."

--- Thomas Cranmer, Justification

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In the first chapter of Luke we read how the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Christ, and how Mary answered, "Here I am, the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me as you have said." It is reasonable to suppose that Our Lord was conceived immediately after this. Accordingly, since we celebrate His birth on 25 December, we celebrate the Annunciation nine months earlier, on 25 March.

For many centuries most European countries took 25 March, not 1 January, as the day when the number of the year changed, so that 24 March 1201 was followed by 25 March 1202. If you had asked a Christian of that time why the calendar year changed so awkwardly partway through a month, he would have answered: "Today we begin a new year of the Christian era, the era which began X years ago today when God was made man, when He took upon Himself a fleshly body and human nature in the womb of the Virgin."

Propers for The Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary

The Collect.

WE beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Isaiah vii. 10.

MOREOVER the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

Hymn - Magnificat. (St. Luke i. 46.)

MY soul doth magnify the Lord, * and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded * the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; * as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed, for ever.

The Gospel - St. Luke i. 26.

AND in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Hail Mary.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Reference and Resources:


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From Islamic Terrorist to Christian Missionary

Given his background and upbringing, Hicham Chehab makes an unlikely missionary.

A Muslim in Lebanon during the Civil War between Christians and Muslims, his first experiences with Christianity were violent and threatening. He was attacked, and his brother was killed, by Christians.

Trained by a Muslim extremist group, he was taught how to use rocket launchers, mortars and rifles, and was told, "If you want to shoot straight, imagine that there is a Christian in your sights." Eventually, he participated in the Civil War as a sniper.

Today, he is a missionary at Salam Church, located at Peace Lutheran Church in Lombard. The Lutheran Arabic Church, which just celebrated its first full year of existence, is attended by refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Palestine. It is called Salam, the word for peace in Arabic and Persian, because, he said, only the Prince of Peace, Jesus, can bring reconciliation to the hearts of people in the Middle East.

Covered in a white robe, a cross hanging from his neck, Chehab spoke Sunday morning to parishioners at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Barrington, tracing his unusual path to Jesus.

He gestured violently as he told St. Matthew worshipers how a Christian boy attacked him when he was just 7 with a piece of wood with a protruding nail. He still bears on his forehead a scar from the attack.

He also recalled how his brother, his only sibling, a captain in a Muslim militia, was killed by a Christian militia while trying to negotiate a truce. In reaction, Chehab, at the time a student at the American University in Beirut, bought two pistols and a silencer to campus, intending to ambush his Christian enemies.

But his studies led him to the teachings of Jesus, particularly The Sermon on the Mount, with its exhortation to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

"I who was stalking my enemies with a gun and a silencer at night heard for the first time, 'love your enemy.' I felt this was superhuman or ridiculous. My enemy was somebody who killed my only brother, my only sibling, the shoulder I used to cry on."

He devoted himself to making peace between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon. Eventually, a meeting with a Lutheran pastor led him to join the People of the Book Lutheran Outreach and continue his work in the United States.

Chehab's presentation made a strong impression on parishioners. Barrington resident Bill Hartman said, "I thought it was terrific. I have a couple of Muslim friends, one from Iran and one from Pakistan. We often talk religion, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can about Islam. Hicham's life story is just incredible. A guy with this experience should travel the United States and the world and spread his message."

Reference and Resources:


Patristic Quote for the Day

"Now this world is encompassed by seven heavens, in which dwell powers and angels and archangels, doing service to God, the Almighty and Maker of all things: not as though He was in need, but that they may not be idle and unprofitable and ineffectual. Wherefore also the Spirit of God is manifold in (His) indwelling, and in seven forms of service is He reckoned by the prophet Isaiah, as resting on the Son of God, that is the Word, in His coming as man. The Spirit of God, he says, shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, (the Spirit of knowledge) and of godliness; the Spirit of the fear of God shall fill him. Now the heaven which is first from above, and encompasses the rest, is (that of) wisdom; and the second from it, of understanding; and the third, of counsel; and the fourth, reckoned from above, (is that) of might; and the fifth, of knowledge; and the sixth, of godliness; and the seventh, this firmament of ours, is full of the fear of that Spirit which gives light to the heavens. For, as the pattern (of this), Moses received the seven-branched candlestick, that shined continually in the holy place; for as a pattern of the heavens he received this service, according to that which the Word spake unto him: Thou shalt make (it) according to all the pattern of the things which thou hast seen in the mount."

--- Irenaeus: The Proof of the Apostolic Preaching

Monday, March 23, 2009

St. Gregory the Illuminator

The ancient kingdom of Armenia was the first country to become Christian, and it recognizes Gregory as its apostle. Armenia was a buffer state between the powerful empires of Rome and Parthia (Persia), and both of them sought to control it. Gregory was born about 257. When he was still an infant, his father assassinated the King of Parthia, and friends of the family carried Gregory away for protection to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he was reared as a Christian. About 280 he returned to Armenia, where he was at first treated severely, but eventually by his preaching and example brought both King Tiridates and a majority of his people to the Christian faith. About 300, Gregory was consecrated the first bishop of Armenia. He died about 332. Armenian Christians to this day remember him with honor and gratitude.

Propers for St. Gregory the Illuminator - Apostle to Armenia

The Collect.

Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy saints, and didst raise up thy servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth thy praise, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Acts 17:22-31.

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 5:11-16.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Reference and Resources:


James de Koven

(transfered from 22 March 2009)

James de Koven was born in Connecticut in 1831, ordained to the priesthood in 1855, and promptly became a professor of Church history at at Nashotah House, a seminary of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. In 1859 he became Warden of Racine College, an Episcopal college in Racine, Wisconsin. Nashotah House was from its inception dedicated to an increased emphasis on the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and on the use of ritual practices that recognized and honored that presence. This met opposition from other Christians who were suspicious (1) of anything that suggested Roman Catholicism, (2) of anything that seemed fancy and pretentious, as opposed to the plain, blunt, simplicity that was considered to be an American virtue as well as a virtue of the New Testament Church, and (3) of anything that varied from the practices they had become used to as children.

In the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, de Koven became the chief spokesman for the "ritualists," defending the use of candles, incense, bowing and kneeling, and the like. He reminded his hearers of the numerous assertions by prominent Anglican theologians from the Reformation on down who had taught, and the ecclesiastical courts which when the question came up had ruled, that it is Anglican belief, shared not only with Romans but with Lutherans and East Orthodox, that the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament is a real and objective presence. However, he was eloquent and firm in saying: "The gestures and practices by which we recognize the presence of Christ do not matter. Only Christ matters."

In 1874 he was elected Bishop of Wisconsin, and in 1875 Bishop of Illinois, but because he was "controversial" he failed both times to have his election ratified by a majority of Bishops and a majority of Standing Committees of Dioceses, as required by canon law.

He died at his college in Racine, Wisconsin, on 22 March 1879.

Propers for James De Koven - Priest and Churchman

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast enriched thy Church with the singular learning and holiness of thy servant James De Koven: Grant us to hold fast the true doctrine of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, and to fashion our lives according to the same, to the glory of thy great Name and the benefit of thy holy Church; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Wisdom 7:7-14.

I CALLED upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them. I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.

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

AS thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Reference and Resources:


Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Fourth Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday)

Propers for The Fourth Sunday in Lent

The Collect.

GRANT, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of Thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Epistle - Galatians iv. 21.

TELL me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

The Gospel - St. John vi. 1.

JESUS went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet. that should come into the world.

Reference and Resources:


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thomas Cranmer

(2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. He helped build a favourable case for Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon which resulted in the separation of the English Church from union with the Church of Rome. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of Royal Supremacy, in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm.

During Cranmer's tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the Church of England. Under Henry's rule, Cranmer did not make many radical changes in the Church, due to power struggles between religious conservatives and reformers. However, he succeeded in publishing the first officially authorised vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany.

When Edward came to the throne, Cranmer was able to promote major reforms. He wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church. With the assistance of several Continental reformers to whom he gave refuge, he developed new doctrinal standards in areas such as the Eucharist, clerical celibacy, the role of images in places of worship, and the veneration of saints. Cranmer promulgated the new doctrines through the Prayer Book, the Homilies and other publications.

Cranmer was tried for treason and heresy when the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I came to the throne. Imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from the Church authorities, he made several recantations and reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic faith. However, on the day of his execution, he dramatically withdrew his recantations and died a martyr of the Reformation. His legacy lives on within the Church of England and Anglicanism through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.

Most commemorate the martyrdom of Lord Cranmer on 16 October as part of the Oxford Martyrs, but I beleive due to his status as the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and his work in bringing about the Book of Common Prayer, plus his heavenly birth 5 months after Ridley and Latimer, he deserves his own rememberance on 21 March.

Propers for Thomas Cranmer - Archbishop, Reformer & Martyr

The Collect.

Father of all mercies, who through the work of thy servant Thomas Cranmer didst renew the worship of thy Church and through his death didst reveal thy strength in human weakness: strengthen us by thy grace so to worship thee in spirit and in truth that we may come to the joys of thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Epistle - 1 Corinthians 3:9-14.

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

The Gospel - St. John 10:11-16.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Reference and Resources:

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/collects/trad/tradmarch.html http://ohioanglican.blogspot.com/2008/10/oxford-martyrs.html

Thomas Ken

Thomas Ken in the course of his lifetime was both rewarded and punished for his firm adherence to principle. He was born in 1637 and reared by his half-sister Anne and her husband the well-known angler Izaak Walton. He became a clergyman and served for a year at the Hague as chaplain to Mary, Princess of England and Queen of Holland, niece of King Charles II of England and wife of the Dutch King William of Orange. During this year he publicly rebuked King William for his treatment of his wife the said Mary, which may be why he was chaplain there for only a year. Upon his return to England, he was made Royal Chaplain to King Charles. The King had a mistress, Nell Gwyn, and for his convenience wished to lodge her in his chaplain's residence. Thomas sent the King a sharp refusal, saying that it was not suitable that the Royal Chaplain should double as the Royal Pimp. Charles admired his honesty and bluntness, and when the bishopric of Bath and Wells became available soon after, he declared, "None shall have it but that little man who refused lodging to poor Nellie!" Ken was accordingly made a bishop. When Charles was on his deathbed, it was Ken whom he asked to be with him and prepare him for death.

Under the next king, James II, brother of Charles, matters were different. James converted to Roman Catholicism, the religion of his mother, and political turmoil followed. James issued a decree known as the Declaration of Indulgence, which decreed that various public offices formerly open only to Anglicans, should thereafter be open to all persons. It was feared that the King would appoint large numbers of Roman Catholics to positions of power, and eventually transfer to them the control of the government. When the King commanded the bishops to proclaim the Declaration of Indulgence, seven of them refused to do so and were by the King's command imprisoned in the Tower of London. The people of London rioted, and the bishops were freed and carried in triumph through the streets of the city. Soon after, Parliament offered the crown to the King's daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange (see above) and James fled into exile.

William and Mary naturally began their reign by demanding oaths of allegiance from all persons holding public positions, including the bishops. Thomas Ken and others (known as the Non-Jurors -- the older meaning of "juror" is "one who takes an oath," hence "perjurer" as "one who swears falsely") refused to take the oath, on the grounds that they had sworn allegiance to James, and could not during his lifetime swear allegiance to another monarch without making such oaths a mockery. They were accordingly put out of office.

Although Ken wrote much poetry, besides his hymns, he cannot be called a great poet; but he had that fine combination of spiritual insight and feeling with poetic taste which marks all great hymnwriters. As a hymnwriter he has had few equals in England; it can scarcely be said that even John Keble, though possessed of much rarer poetic gifts, surpassed him in his own sphere. In his own day he took high rank as a pulpit orator, and even royalty had to beg for a seat amongst his audiences; but his sermons are now forgotten. He lives in history, apart from his three hymns, mainly as a man of unstained purity and invincible fidelity, to conscience, weak only in a certain narrowness of view which is a frequent attribute of the intense character which he possessed. As an ecclesiastic he was a High Churchman of the old school.

Propers for Thomas Ken - Bishop and Non-Juror

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we give thee thanks for the purity and strength with which thou didst endow thy servant Thomas Ken; 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 - Philippians 4:4-9.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

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

And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

Reference and Resources:


Friday, March 20, 2009

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Cuthbert was born in Northumbria in northern England about 625. One night, while tending a herd of sheep, he saw lights in the sky which he interpreted as a soul being escorted heavenward by a band of angels. Later, he learned that Aidan of Lindisfarne (31 August 651) had died that night, and he resolved to enter the monastic life. He was a monk at Melrose Abbey from 651 to 664, and when the Abbot, Eata, became abbot and bishop at Lindisfarne, Cuthbert accompanied him and was Prior there until 676.

Although he had been brought up in the Celtic customs, he accepted the decrees of the Synod of Whitby in 663, which committed the English Church to following instead the Roman customs that had been introduced into Canterbury by Augustine, and so he helped to minimize contention over the decision.

Although his real preference was for the solitary life of a hermit, he recognized a duty to minister to the needs of the people about him. Year after year he made long journeys, on horseback and on foot, to Durham and throughout Northumbria, and in the regions of Berwick and Galloway, preaching to the scattered population in remote and sparsely settled areas, instructing them in the faith and encouraging them in the practice of it, urging them in times of sickness not to rely on charms or amulets, but to pray to God and put their trust in His mercy and love. Like Francis of Assisi, he had a remarkable rapport with animals, both wild and domestic.

Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made Cuthbert Bishop of Hexham, but he was a solitary by nature, and promptly exchanged bishoprics with Eata so as to remain at Lindisfarne. After two years, he retired to the neighboring island of Farne as a hermit, and died there the following year.

Propers for Cuthbert - Bishop of Lindisfarne

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Cuthbert: Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in his triumph, we may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Wisdom 7:7-14.

I CALLED upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them. I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.

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

AS thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Reference and Resources:


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joseph, Guardian of Our Lord

All that we know of Joseph we learn from the first two chapters of Matthew and of Luke. Otherwise he is mentioned only in passing in Luke 3:23; John 1:45; John 6:42 as the supposed father of Jesus. (Mark does not mention him at all.)

In the face of circumstances where a man of lesser character might have reacted very differently, Joseph graciously assumed the role of Jesus' father. He is well remembered in Christian tradition for the love he showed to the boy Jesus, and for his tender affection and care for Mary, during the twelve years and more that he was their protector.

Propers for St. Joseph - Guardian of Our Lord

The Collect.

O GOD, who didst call blessed Joseph to be the faithful guardian of thine only-begotten Son, and the spouse of his virgin Mother: Give us grace to follow his example in constant worship of thee and obedience to thy commands, that our homes may be sanctified by thy presence, and our children nurtured in thy fear and love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Isaiah 63:7-9, 16.

I WILL mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, 0 LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 1:18-25.

NOW the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Reference and Resources:


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prayer Book Baptists

In one of my earliest posts I mentioned Prayer Book Baptists and I had people tell me that they had never heard of such a thing. Skeptics thought that I was a loon and probably saw these PBBs with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Well, here is evidence........Way of a Pilgrim.

Pastor Randy has a very thoughtful and structured prayer blog, tailored for personal use or for non-Anglicans (removing the Absolution following the General Confession, with a Declaration of Forgiveness using a passage from the Bible - ex. 1 John 2:1-2) and in 10 Reasons I Love the Book of Common Prayer, he gives us another (or lost if you prefer) perspective to why the BCP helps us in our daily life as Christians.

I hope you will drop by Way of a Pilgrim and support Pastor Randy in his Blogging, Ministry and Witness.

St. Edward the Martyr

(c. 962–18 March 978) was king of England from 975 until he was murdered in 978. Edward is thought to have been the son of King Edgar and Æthelflæd. His succession to the throne was contested by supporters of his half-brother Æthelred, but with Dunstan's support, Edward was acknowledged by the Witan and crowned king by Dunstan and Oswald of Worcester.

Edward's reign was short and disturbed by factional strife. He was killed at Corfe Castle by servants of his stepmother the Queen Dowager Ælfthryth (Elfrida) on 18 March 978. Edward became known as "the Martyr" because of his violent end, the fact that the party opposed to him had been irreligious, and the fact that he himself had always acted as a defender of the Church. Within a short time he was regarded as a saint and his cult was established at Shaftesbury Abbey where he had been reburied circa 980. Many miracles were reported at the tomb of St Edward, including the healing of lepers and the blind. He is recognized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglican Communion.

Propers for Edward of Wessex - King and Martyr

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Edward of Wessex 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.

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Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril was born in Jerusalem around 315, and became bishop of that city in about 349. The years between the Council of Nicea (325) and the Council of Constantinople (381) were troubled years, in which the Church, having committed itself at Nicea, over the strenuous protests of the Arians, to the proposition that the Son is "one in being" (homo-ousios) with the Father, began to backtrack and consider whether there was some other formula that would adequately express the Lordship of Christ but not be "divisive." Experience with other ways of stating what Christians believed about the Son and his relation to the Father finally led the Church to conclude that the Nicene formulation was the only way of safeguarding the doctrine that Thomas spoke truly (John 20:28) when he said to Jesus, "My Lord and My God!" But this was not obvious from the beginning, and Cyril was among those who looked for a way of expressing the doctrine that would be acceptable to all parties. As a result, he was exiled from his bishopric three times, for a total of sixteen years, once by the Athanasians and twice by the Arians. He eventually came to the conclusion, as did most other Christians of the time, that there was no alternative to the Nicene formula, and in 381 he attended the Council of Constantinople and voted for that position.

Cyril is author of the Catecheses, or Catechetical Lectures on the Christian Faith. These consist of an introductory lecture, then eighteen lectures on the Christian Faith to be delivered during Lent to those about to be baptized at Easter, and then five lectures on the Sacraments to be delivered after Easter to the newly baptized. These have been translated into English (F L Cross, 1951), and are the oldest such lectures surviving. (It is thought that they were used over and over by Cyril and his successors, and that they may have undergone some revision in the process.)

Every year, thousands of Christian pilgrims came to Jerusalem, especially for Holy Week. It is probably Cyril who instituted the liturgical forms for that week as they were observed in Jerusalem at the pilgrimage sites, were spread to other churches by returning pilgrims, and have come down to us today, with the procession with palms on Palm Sunday, and the services for the following days, culminating in the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. We have a detailed account of Holy Week observances in Jerusalem in the fourth century, thanks to a a Spanish nun named Egeria who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and kept a journal which is a historian's delight.

Propers for Cyril of Jerusalem - Bishop & Theologian

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast enriched thy Church with the singular learning and holiness of thy servant Cyril: Grant us to hold fast the true doctrine of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, and to fashion our lives according to the same, to the glory of thy great Name and the benefit of thy holy Church; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

The Epistle - Wisdom 7:7-14.

I CALLED upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them. I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.

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

AS thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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Alexander of Jerusalem

Was the first Bishop of Cappadocia and was afterwards associated as coadjutor with the Bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Narcissus, who was then 116 years old. Alexander had been imprisoned for his faith in the time of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus and on being released came to Jerusalem, where he was compelled by the aged bishop to remain, and assist him in the government of that see. This arrangement, however, was entered into with the consent of all the bishops of Palestine (Syria Palaestina). It was Alexander who permitted Origen, although only a layman, to speak in the churches. For this concession he was taken to task, but he defended himself by examples of other permissions of the same kind given even to Origen himself elsewhere, although then quite young. Alban Butler says that they had studied together in the great Christian school of Alexandria. Alexander ordained him a priest.

Alexander is praised for the library he built at Jerusalem.

Finally, in spite of his years, he, with several other bishops, was carried off a prisoner to Caesarea, and as the historians say, "The glory of his white hairs and great sanctity formed a double crown for him in captivity". His vita states that he suffered many tortures, but survived them all. When the wild beasts were brought to devour him, some licked his feet, and others their impress on the sand of the arena. Worn out by his sufferings, he died in prison. This was in the year 251.

Propers for Alexander of Jerusalem - Bishop and Martyr

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed Bishop and Martyr Alexander of Jerusalem 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 - St. James i. 12.

DEARLY beloved: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted : I am tempted of God : for God cannot be tempted with evil : neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin : and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variable ness neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The Gospel - St. Luke 14. 25.

At that time: Jesus said unto the multitudes: 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.

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