Monday, March 22, 2010
Gregory the Illuminator was born in about 257 in Armenia. After his father assassinated the King of Armenia, Gregory was taken to Caesarea to avoid being killed and was raises as a Christian. Gregory eventually returned to Armenia, where he was imprisoned by the King, Tiridates III for around fourteen years. He was called forth from the pit to pray for the King’s healing (the King had become insane). After Tiridates III was healed, he became a Christian in 301 and the nobles soon followed, followed by the peasants. The King also declared Armenia to be a Christian country in the year 301 making Armenia the first Christian nation. Gregory built his cathedral at Echmiadzin, which is still the principal church of the Armenian church.
Although several apostles had visited Armenia and converted some Armenians, it was under Gregory’s leadership that the country truly became Christian. Gregory set up a hereditary office of Catholicos, or chief Bishop (his son, Aristaces, became Bishop after his retirement.) In addition to preaching in Armenia, Gregory also baptised the Kings of Albania, Georgia, and Lazes.
Gregory retired to live in the wilderness with a small group of monks, where he remained until his death on the 23rd of March 331.
Heavenly Father, you raised up Gregory to proclaim the Gospel in Armenia and to light up central Asia. Grant us o Lord, people willing to go to the ends of the world for the sake of the Gospel. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I apologise that I have not had a chance to write about Thomas. You can read some about him at the following link:
My object here is to present the lives of Saints from the Bible, persons whose lives show Christian virtues, and most of all people who were important in the life and development of the Christian Church. Thomas Cranmer was such a person. It was he who helped Henry the VIII tale the church of England from beneath the jurisdiction of Rome. More importantly, he was a wonderful translator who took some of the best of the best in liturgical developments of his time and turned it into the 1549 and 1552 Books of Common Prayer. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer was little changed from the 1552 Book up until recently the prayer book used officially in the Church of England, and until recently the inspiration for the prayer books used by the various churches of the Anglican Communion up until today. Parts of this book can also be found in use by many other denominations to this day in English.
Interestingly enough, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is not only important in its religious influence, but in its effect on the English language. An amazing number of expressions used in the English language even today go back to the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and Shakespeare.
Towards the end of his life, Cranmer had troubles making up his mind. He believe in the divine right of kings, and while King Henry VII and Edward VI ruled there was no problem. He tried to submit to Queen Mary, but tore up the documents several times. The last time he signed the document recanting the Protestant faith but he recanted just before being burned at the stake.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Psalm 104: 32-35
Collect: Father, you called Cuthbert from being a shepherd of sheep to being a shepherd of persons. Grant that as we was willing to spread the Gospel in remote and dangerous places, that we too may be willing to proclaim the Gospel in areas of which we might fear and to people of whom we may be afraid. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
We know little of the life of St. Joseph. We know, from the offering at the temple that he was a poor man, and we are told by the Bible that he was an honourable man, who did not wish to see his betrothed disgraced (The penalty would have been stoning for her). We do know that he was a man who obeyed the Lord. Each time God spoke to him in dreams, Joseph immediately followed through. As he is not mentioned much in the New Testament, it is believed that he died before Jesus began his public ministry. We do believe that he must have been a very special man to have been given the job of being Jesus’ step father. We pray that we would be like him, obeying the Lord.
Psalm 89:1-29 or 89:1-4,26-29;
2 Samuel 7:4,8-16;
Collect: Heavenly Father, you raised up Yosef to be a step Father to our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach. Grant that every father would be as faithful as Yosef in his sacred responsibility of modeling your fatherhood to us. This we ask through the same Yeshuah haMoshiach our Lord, who called Yosef, “father.” Amen. (white)
Cyril was born in Jerusalem in about the year 315 and became bishop in about 349. He lived in tumultuous times, and was exiled three times, once by the Athanasians and twice by the Arians. He attended the Council of Constantinople in 381 and supported the Athanasian view of the Trinity.
Cyril is important to us chiefly for three things. It is believed that he was the author of the precursor to the Nicene Creed we use today. Secondly, he organized activities for pilgrims and much of what we do during Holy Week comes from what was done in Jerusalem during his Episcopate. (An account by a Spanish nun is available here: http://www.ccel.org/m/mcclure/etheria/etheria.htm) Thirdly, he is the author of a series of lectures (18 for Lent and five for Easter) given to candidates for baptism and the newly baptised. These probably do not exist in the original form, but he is the original author. (They can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0913836397/bookofcommonprayA/ or viewed here: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_author/4/St._Cyril_of_Jerusalem.html)
Collect: Heavenly Father, you raised up Cyril as Patriarch of Yerushalayim to guide Bishops and Presbyters in their calling to be teachers and ministers of the sacraments. Raise up in this and every generation Bishops and Presbyters who will faithfully instruct your people in practical Christian faith and living. This we ask through the author and perfecter of our faith, Yeshuah haMoshiach our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
St. Patrick is the most well known of the Irish saints, a true hero of the church. Sadly his day has become more known for revelry and green beer than truly celebrating what he did.
The exact time and place of his birth is unknown. Guesses range from Wales to Kilpatrick, Scotland. What is know is that his father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. They were according to various sources either Romans, or Romanised Celts.
At the age of 14, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates (common at the time) and taken to Ireland where he herded sheep as a slave. During his captivity his prayer life grew, and at about the age of 20, guided by a dream, he found a ship willing to carry him and made his escape. (I find it appropriate that we celebrate another man guided by dreams ((St. Joseph)) in two days.
He studied to be a presbyter, and eventually was ordained as Bishop. Guided once again by dreams, these expressing the need of the Irish for his presence, he traveled back to Ireland to proclaim the Gospel. Patrick successfully preached the Gospel, aided by disciples he made in Ireland.
Of the legends attributed to him, he used the clover to preach the Gospel. When explaining the trinity he would pluck a clover and ask, is it one leaf or three (botanically speaking it is actually one leaf), and ask the Irish whether it was one or three. Easter at one point fell the same night as a Celtic festival, but Patrick beat them to the draw by lighting a bonfire first. Apparently the king’s men were unable to put it out. Several songs are attributed to Patrick, the most famous being his Lorica or the Deer Cry. It is said when one of the kings was out to capture Patrick, he and his disciples sang this song, and the king’s men only saw deer as they passed by them.
The true miracle behind Patrick’s life though is his great forgiveness. Anyone who can serve as a slave for some 6 years and return to the people who enslaved him to tell them about Jesus shows the true power of forgiveness. Would that we were all so eager to forgive those who sin against us, and to proclaim the Gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12
Collect: : Heavenly Father; who gave Patrick the strength to persevere and power to forgive his enemies, give us the strength and ability to forgive those who wrong us, and willingness of heart to tell them of the great love of Yeshuah. This we ask in his name, who lives and governs with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
The Deer Cry
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Friday, March 12, 2010
St. Gregory, Bishop of Rome
Little is know of Gregory’s younger years, except that Italy was in turbulence from Goth invasions. He had three sisters who were nuns, and after the death of his parents converted the house into a monastery. He was ordained deacon, and later served as Papal delegate to Constantinople. He was elected Pope in 590, and immediately set down that he was not claiming St. Peter’s throne, and pr\ised the life of the monks (he was the first Monastic bishop of Rome).
Gregory is most know for sending missionaries to northern Europe in a time in which the Pope had little authority over Italy, Britain or Spain. Most famous of his missions was sending Augustine to England to proclaim the Gospel to the Anglo Saxon peoples, leading to some conflict with the Celtic church, but eventually leading to a missionary movement spreading form England to the north of Europe and extending as far east as Kiev.
Liturgically, plain song chant, or Gregorian chant is often attributed to him, and more factually the liturgy of the pre-sanctified which is used by the Eastern Orthodox church until this day for Lent and Holy Week. Private penance is also attributed to him.
Alms were important to him, but most of the money received by the church went immediately to the service of the poor.
Collect: Lord, you raised up Gregory of Rome to be a servant to the servants of God, and inspired him to send missionaries to England. Raise up in this and every generation Bishops who will truly serve their people in imitation of Messiah, and who are willing to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Monday, March 8, 2010
Gregory, with his brother Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus is considered to be on the Cappadocian fathers. He was born in Turkey and made Bishop by his brother Basil so as to have an ally in the area. He is known chiefly for helping develop the idea of the Trinity and the infinity of God.
He was deposed twoice by the Aryans, but continued to be a strong defender against their teaching.
Collect: : Heavenly Father, you raised up your servant Gregory of Nyssa to proclaim the Christian faith of one God in trinity of persons. Strengthen us, that like him we may continue steadfast in proclaiming the truth faith. This we ask through Yeshuah HaMoshiach, our Lord and Saviour who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Thomas was born in about 1225 in the Kingdom of Sicily. AS a younger son, his parents placed him in religious life, assuming because of family connections, that he would be abbot some day. He was placed in Monte Casino Monastery at the age of five, and later studied at the University of Naples after war caused problems for Monte Casino. After having spent all this time in a Benedictine house, Thomas resolved to become a Dominican. His parents were very much against this, and the Dominicans attempted to spirit him away to Paris, but he was kidnapped by his brothers, and held as a prisoner by his mother for two years. They even sent a prostitute to him to break his resolve, but he kept his resolve and his celibacy, being strengthened by God to resist. His mother, giving up, arranged to leave a window open so he could “escape” and she could save face.
He travelled to Naples, then to Rome to meet the head of the Order, and was sent to Paris to study. He followed his master, Albertus Magnus to Cologne (declining the abbacy of Monte Casino) where he continued his studies. Because of his quietness and size he was given the name of dumb ox. In 1525 he returned to Paris to finish his studies and began his writing. IN 1261 he was back in Naples to tutor those unable to attend the University, and was assigned to Rome in a teaching position. He continued his writing and wrote a new Liturgy for the new feast of Corpus Christi.
One thousand two hundred and sixty-eight found him once again as regent at the University of Paris, where he had a tumultuous time due to the rising of Averroism. In 1272 he left Rome and was given permission to found a new school where ever he pleased, which was Naples. During this time he worked on the third part of Summa Theologica. During Eucharist at the feast of St. Nicholas, he stopped everything, telling his companions that everything he had done was as straw.
He did recover somewhat and was called to the second council of Lyon in 1274. On the way he was injured and fell ill. He died on 7 March 1274 while giving commentary on the Song of Songs.His writings have continued to affect the church and guide her in the ensuing centuries. Thomas was also known for his hymns, “O Saving Victim” and “Now my tongue the Mystery Telling.” St. Thomas Aquinas was the greatest theologian of the High Middle ages, and is counted by some as the second greatest theologian in Western Christianity.
Because of the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works, Thomas asserted that reason and faith are in basic harmony. “Grace is not the denial of nature, but the perfection of it.” Thomas accomplished this synthesis in his greatest workd, Summa Theologia and Summa Contra Gentiles which continue to influence Christian thought and philosophy today. He was considered a radical in his time, and some of his thoughts were regarded as heretical by his contemporaries.
Thomas understood that when God revealed his name to Moshe, “I am who I am” to mean that God is being, the ultimate reality form which everything else derives its being. The difference between God and the universe, is that God’s essence is to exist, wherefore everything else derives its being from God. God is reflected in his creation, and therefore can be partially understood through the creation. Therefore human reason can demonstrate the existence of God. Distinctive truths about God, though must come through revelation. It is important to note that much of western philosophy today is based on reflection of his thought.
Collect: Lord, as you raised Thomas Aquinus as a theologian in your church, grant wisdom as grace that your church may always have teachers to expound the truth and guide us in faith and knowledge of you, that our faith would not be blind, but based on understanding. This we ask through our great teacher Yeshuah, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Friday, March 5, 2010
It is said that St. Helena, the mother of Constantine discovered a portion of the true cross in 326 on this day,. (St. Helena discovered the true sites of many events, guided by dream, a fiend of mine calls her the patron St. of Travel Agents), and while there might be questions about some of the sites, there is a certain amount of archaeological evidence showing that the location of the church of Holy Sepulchre is accurate. The church was dedicated on the 13th of September 335. The following day, the cross was taken out to the hill top believed to be Calvary and venerated.
This day, for us a day of fasting, we remember the cross as the instrument of our salvation. Red vestments are worn.
Dear Lord, as the church to venerate the true cross was dedicated this say, so may we dedicate our lives to you that we would be willing to take up our cross and follow, no matter where you lead. This we ask through our Lord and Saviour Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (red)
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
John and Charles Wesley are counted to be founders of the Methodist church. Their father was a presbyter in the Church of England and they grew up with a Christian education. In October of 1735 they travelled to Georgia, and came into contact with the Moravians, and were inspired by the Moravian’s faith in God during a storm. Upon arriving in Georgia, the brother had hoped to be witnessing to the Amerindians, but were foiled in their attempts. In 1838, John had a conversion experience at a Moravian Church in Aldersgate, and went to study at Herrenhut, the center of the Moravian movement. John Wesley under George Whitfields’s influence began his open air preaching in 1739. He was unhappy about this as he wished no break with the Church of England, but the poor were not being reached and not going to church, and many of the clergy of the church of England closed their doors to him. As sinner were being saved, John began appointing lay preachers and began setting up rules for chapels and itinerant circuit preachers. Up until 1746, he would not baptize nor serve Holy Communion without approval of the Bishop. In 1748 his ideas on the Episcopate started changing, an by 1784 was ordaining presbyters and overseers for the church in the US, Scotland and England, though opposed by his brother Charles in this. After many years of preaching, he died March 2, 1791.
It was Charles that originally founded the Oxford Methodist group at Oxford, where his brother became leader. We note in passing, that part of the Method of the group was receiving the Holy Communion weekly and studying the Bible. Charles, while know mostly for his hymns (he wrote more than six thousand, was also a powerful preacher, and refused to break with the church of England.
The influence of John and Charles is tremendous. We still have many of Charles’s hymns and John’s sermons. Many believe that the Methodist revival helped change English society and helped prevent revolution. It is certain that their message not only transformed the lives of the poor, who were often forgotten by the Church of England, but also the rich, and led in various movements in which the rich began lending aid to the poor, including the construction of schools and orphanages.
The Methodist, Wesleyan, and many Pentecostal and Holiness churches trace their spiritual roots to Johns and Charles Wesley and the teaching of sanctification, somewhat similar to the Orthodox idea of theosis.
Readings: Psalm 103:1-4,13-18
Collect: Dear Lord, you gave John and Charles Wesley zeal and gifts of preaching and songwriting. Raise up today preachers who truly are worried for the lost, the poor and the helpless, that we once again would be a community of true faithful proclaiming your word to those whom the world despises. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who livers and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Monday, March 1, 2010
Chad and his brother Cedd were students of St. Aiden at Lindisfarne, where he became acquainted with Celtic Spirituality. Two other brothers were also active in the Anglo-Saxon church. Before being ordained as a priest, he traveled to Ireland with St. Egbert to study there. Apparently the custom was not to ordain to the priesthood until about thirty years old, being the age at which Christ began his ministry.
Chad and his brothers were very influenced by Celtic Spirituality which emphasized austerity, Biblical exegesis, and led to a consciousness and focus on the end times.
We find Chad taking his brother Cedd’s place as abbot at Lastingham after Cedd died in the plague, in 663.
Whenever a gale would spring up, Chad would call on god to have pity on humanity. IF it intensified he would prostrate himself in prayer, and if it grew worse go to the chapel and sing psalms till the storm abated. When asked by his companions, he explained that storms were sent by God to remind humans of the day of judgement and to humble their pride.
Chad was selected Bishop of York (and Northumbria) by king Oswiu. He had to travel to Wessex where he was ordained by the Bishop of Wessex and two Welsh bishops (as the plague had decimated the number of Bishops, and three Bishops were required for ordination.
Chad was faithful in his call traveling to all the towns and villages, baptizing and confirming, following the Celtic role of Bishop as prophet and missionary. As the king had appointed two bishops for York, and the first one had finally returned, Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury asked Chad to step down, which he did. Surprised by Chad’s humility, Archbishop Theodore had Chad consecrated as Bishop of the Mercia. Land was donated for the monastery of Lichtfield, and Chad took up residence, and began his work as Bishop in similar vein to before, confirming baptizing, and guiding the people. Chad refused to ride horseback, as Jesus had not done so. He has a dispute with Archbishop Theodore over this who manually lifted him into the saddle. Chad died March 2, 672 after encouraging his monks to persevere.
For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad_of_Mercia
Collect: : Dear Lord who raised up Chad to be Bishop of Lichtfield, and gave him humility to cheerfully to relinquish his honours. Grant in this and every generation that we would seek only your honour and glory. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who livers and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.