Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Joseph of Arimathea

The Gospels tell us that after the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy 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:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

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:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

St. Martha

Martha is the sister of Mary and of Lazarus, and the hostess of Our Lord when he visited their home in Bethany. Martha was also a witness to the raising of her brother Lazarus from the dead. She had faith that Our Lord could perform such a miracle.

Martha's life reminds us that while we need to be diligent in our several callings, we should take time each day to meditate, pray and give glory to God so that our hearts might stay fixed on the love of God revealed in His Son.

Propers for St. Martha - Witness and Hostess of Our Lord

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:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

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:

Monday, July 27, 2009

William Reed Huntington

(1838–1909) was an American Anglican priest and author

Huntington was born in Lowell, Mass. He graduated at Harvard in 1859 and in 1859–1860 was an instructor in chemistry there. Entering the Episcopal ministry, he was rector of All Saints Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1862–1883 and of Grace Church, New York from 1883 until his death. Dr. Huntington always took a prominent part in public affairs. He was active in the movement for liturgical revisions and was long chairman of the Prayer-Book Revisions Committee, and editor with Dr. Samuel Hart of the Standard Prayer-Book of 1892.

In his book The Church Idea (1870), Huntington undertook to discuss the basis of Christian unity, and he formulated the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, a statement adopted first by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in 1886 and then, with slight modifications, by the Bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion assembled at Lambeth in 1888. The statement set forth four principles which Anglicans regard as essential, and offer as a basis for discussion of union with other Christian bodies.

Despite his involvement in the national affairs of the Church, Huntington was foremost a parish priest, for 21 years (1862-1883) as All Saints' Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, and for 26 years (1883-1909) at Grace Church, New York City. He died 26 July 1909.

Propers for William Reed Huntigton - Priest, Poet, Author and Churchman

The Collect.

O Lord our God, we thank thee for instilling in the heart of thy servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for thy Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in thy promises, we may make known to all peoples thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle - Ephesians 4:11-16.

The Gospel - St. John 17:20-26.

Reference and Resources:

Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(transfered from 26 July 2009)

The Scriptures tell us nothing about the parents of the Virgin Mother, not even their names. An early but unreliable document, known as the Proto-Gospel (or Proto-Evangelion) of James, calls them Ann and Joachim, by which names they are customarily known. Our only real information about them, however, is an inference from the kind of daughter they reared.

Propers for 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:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

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 6:19-23.

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 8:1-9.

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.

Sermon: Father Robert Hart

Saturday, July 25, 2009

St. James the Apostle

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:

Friday, July 24, 2009

North Korea Publicly Executes Christian Woman for Distributing Bible

Friday, July 24, 2009
The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman last month for distributing the Bible, which is banned in the communist nation, South Korean activists said Friday.

Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and organizing dissidents. She was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon near the border with China on June 16, according to a report from an alliance of several dozen anti-North Korea groups.

Ri's parents, husband and three children were sent to a political prison camp in the northeastern city of Hoeryong the following day, the report said, citing unidentified documents it says were obtained from North Korea. It showed a copy of Ri's North Korean government-issued photo ID. It is virtually impossible to verify such reports about secretive North Korea, where the government tightly controls the lives of its citizens and does not allow dissent.

On Thursday, an annual report from a state-run South Korean think tank on human rights in the North said that public executions, though dropping in number in recent years, were still carried out for crimes ranging from murder to circulating foreign movies.

North Korea claims to guarantee freedom of religion for its 24 million people but in reality severely restricts religious observances. The cult of personality surrounding national founder Kim Il Sung and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, is a virtual state religion.

The government has authorized four state churches, one Catholic, two Protestant and one Russian Orthodox, but they cater to foreigners and ordinary North Koreans cannot attend. However, defectors and activists say more than 30,000 North Koreans are believed to practice Christianity secretly.

The U.S. State Department reported last year that "genuine religious freedom does not exist" in North Korea.

"North Korea appears to have judged that Christian forces could pose a threat to its regime," Do Hee-youn, a leading activist, told reporters, claiming public executions, arrest and detention of North Koreans are prevalent.

Please pray for the soul of this Christian Martyr and for the people of North Korea to be freed from tyranny.

Thomas à Kempis

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

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

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:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Anthony of Kiev

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

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:

Monday, July 20, 2009

St. Margaret of Antioch

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

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

Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant.

Propers for Margaret of Antioch - Virgin, Confessor & Martyr

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Margaret 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 - Ecclesiasticus 51:9-12.

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

The Gospel - St Matthew 13:44-52.

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

Reference and Resources:

St. Macrina the Younger

(transfered from 19 July 2009)

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:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

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

The Epistle - Romans vi. 3.

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

The Gospel - St. Matthew v. 20.

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

Friday, July 17, 2009

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:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

St. 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 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:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

St. Bonaventure

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:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bo Giertz

(transfered from 12 July 2009)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Propers for Bo Harald Giertz - Novelist, Bishop and Confessor

The Collect.

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

The Epistle - Hebrews 7:23-27.

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

Reference and Resources:

Nathan Söderblom

(transfered from 12 July 2009)

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:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

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

The Epistle - 1 St. Peter iii. 8.

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

The Gospel - St. Luke v. 1.

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

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Benedict of Nursia

(c. 480 AD – 543 AD) was born at Nursia (Norcia) Italy to a wealthy Roman family, making him liberiori genere, ‘of good birth.' Tradition gives him a twin sister, Scholastica. St. Benedict’s Italy was an unstable province of a collapsing Roman Empire, and throughout the fifth century, waves of invaders weakened the peninsula. First Goth warriors marched along the Via Flaminia and into Rome, sacking it in 410. Others soon followed. Into this fragile, violent world, Benedict (or ‘Bennet’) was born among the Apennine valleys and mountains of central Italy. St. Benedict was married to a young woman, her name is not available, but she had dark brown hair and black eyes with white skin. St. Benedict was not supposed to be married but was any way in 522.

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

Propers for Benedict of Nursia - Monastic Father

The Collect.

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

The Epistle - Acts 2:44-47.

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

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

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

Reference and Resources:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Olde Anglican Quote for the Day

"In like way as to deeds of Grace. It is well, as people's devotions now are, if many who would wish to account themselves Christians, really prayed, morning by morning, to GOD, to carry them through the temptations and trials of the day, as really believing that for this they needed the special aid of GOD. For what must one think of very many so-called Christians? Will not very many who are now Christians, confess it perhaps of many of their younger years, that if they prayed at all or thought at all, they hoped that they should somehow do right or escape what was very wrong, almost through the very wish and intention of doing it, that it is enough to call upon GOD in some general way, and that then, (they think not how,) things will not be much amiss with them. GOD is indeed more ready to hear than we to pray; but where has He told us that He will hear such prayers as these? It is to be feared that deeds done amid such prayers as these, are deeds of nature, not deeds of Grace; deeds such as a good heathen might have done, many not so good as many heathen deeds, being done with perhaps as little thought of the Grace of CHRIST as those of the very heathen"

---E. B. Pusey; Do All to the Lord Jesus

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where to Find a Copy of the 1928 BCP

The subject comes-up now and again of where to find a copy or copies of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (US edition), here are a few suggestions.

Electronic Versions:

Print Versions:

Anglican Parish Association

Anglican Market Place

Amazon Books

Various Sellers on Google

Oxford University Press


Also, some may be found at eBay, book sales, garage sales, flea markets and the like. If some of you look hard enough, you may find some stored in the basement or storage room of a TEC parish that had left them for flotsam after 1979. If someone does come across a large cache of them please rescue them and find a mission, chaplaincy or parish that can use them or contact me and I will find them a new home.

The Martyrs of China

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

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

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

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

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

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

Propers for the Martyrs of China

The Collect.

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

The Epistle - Wisdom 5:15-19.

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

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

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

Reference and Resources:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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 Epistle - Acts 1:1-9.

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

Reference and Resources:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

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:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sexburga of Ely

Sexburga was the eldest daughter of King Anna of East Anglia and his second wife, Saewara: one of four saintly sisters. She married King Erconbert of Kent and became mother of the future Kings Egbert I and Hlothere, as well as SS. Ermengilda and Ercongota. Further holy relatives included her grandchildren: St. Werburga of Chester, St. Wulfade & St. Rufinus. Within her husband's lifetime, Sexburga began to build a religious house at Sheppey, in that kingdom, where holy virgins might attend divine service for her, day and night. Erconbert died of the "yellow plague" that desolated England in AD 664 and, in widowhood, Sexburga was regent, for a time, on behalf of her son, Egbert I. When he had no further need of her, she retired to her nunnery and assembled seventy-four nuns there. However, hearing of the great sanctity of her sister, Etheldreda of Ely, and desiring to live in more obscurity than she could enjoy as head of her own monastery, she chose to became a nun under the latter (before AD 679). Eventually, she succeeded her as Abbess of Ely and, during her rule, she translated her sister's body into an old Roman sarcophagus brought from nearby Grantchester. She lived to a considerable age, dying on 6th July around AD 700.

Propers for Sexburga - Queen of Kent & Abbess of Ely

The Collect.

O GOD, by whose grace the blessed Sexburga 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: