Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aidan of Lindisfarne: Bishop, Apostle to Northumbria: 31 August 2012




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St. Aidan of Lindisfrarne (??-31 August 651)


Little is known of Aidan’s young life.  It is believed that he was born in Canaught, Ireland, and educated at the Monastery at Leinster.  From there he went to St. David’s monastery in Wales where he studied for a few years.  He returned to Ireland and founded a monastery at Ferns, in Wexford.  It is believed he may have been Bishop of this area.  He eventually made it to the Isle of Iona, which had been the launching spot of Christianity to Scotland. 

Oswald, King of Northumbria requested a Bishop from Iona to Evangelise his Angles.  It is important to note that the Celts were already Christian, it was just the Pagan Invaders who were heathens.  The first bishop sent was Corm├ín, who met with little success.  When he returned to Iona, Aidan suggested that they should first be given the milk of less solid doctrine.  His good advice caused him to be sent to Northumbria, where he arrived in about the year 635.  He made his headquarters on the Isle of Lindisfarne, where he began a strong relationship with the king.  This was good for Aidan as his English wasn’t very well, so King Oswald would translate for him.  Aidan would travel from village to village, mostly converting people one by one.  A number of Scot and Irish monks from Iona also aided him.  He died from an illness, leaning against the buttress of a church in Bamburgh. 

His monks continued his work from Lindisfarne, which became the centre of evangelism of the English of Northern England.  This work continued until the time of the Danish invasions in the 8th century.   The school he founded was of great use in training up English ministers in Celtic Christianity.  Some miracles are attributed to him, but his greatest gift to us is demonstrating persistence, and caring for the poor.  When not teaching he would study the Bible and pray.  He fasted every Wednesday and Friday as did the primitive church, and his main concern was preaching the Gospel.  The venerable Bede said of him: 

"He neither sought nor loved anything of this world, but delighted in distributing immediately to the poor whatever was given him by kings or rich men of the world. He traversed both town and country on foot, never on horseback, unless compelled by some urgent necessity. Wherever on his way he saw any, either rich or poor, he invited them, if pagans, to embrace the mystery of the faith; or if they were believers, he sought to strengthen them in their faith and stir them up by words and actions to alms and good works." 

A note on the icon:  Purple is for a bishop.  The crosier is based on the crosier of Clonmacnoise, and the Gospel is the actual cover of the Lindisfarne Gospel. The horse stands for one given to him by the king, which he gave to a poor begger, and his name is written in Irish Gaelic. 





Psalm 104: 32-35


Isaiah 55:6-12


Romans 12:6-13


John 10:25b-30



Heavenly Father, you raised up your bishop Aidan to restore Christianity to Northumbria, raise up men and women to restore the faith of the United States and Europe.  This we ask through Yeshuah, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)





Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine of Hippo: 28 August 2012




St. Augustine (Nov. 13, 354-August 28, 430) was born in what is now in Algeria, in what was then Roman Africa.  His father was a pagan, and his mother was a Christian and a Berber.  He attended school and at the age of 17 went to Carthage where he studied rhetoric.   Though he was raised as a Christian, he began following the Manichaean religion.  He also fell into a hedonistic lifestyle.  Briefly he taught in Thagaste, his home town and whet on to Carthage to teach rhetoric.  Nine years later, disappointed in his students, he left for Rome, but found the students little improved.  He eventually ended up in Milan where he taught rhetoric.  Dissapointed in Manichaeism, he turned briefly to the New Academy movement, though his mother and Neo-Platonism led him towards Christianity.  Inspired by the life of St. Anthony, he had a vision and was inspired to read Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  Inapired, he accepted Christ and was baptised on the Easter Vigil of 387by Bishop  Ambrose of Milan, who had also inspired him.
In 388 he wrote on the Holiness of the Catholic Church and returned to Africa.  In Africa, he sold most of his patrimony except his fathers house which was converted into a monastery, and was ordained priest in 391.  He was famous for his preaching and fighing Manichaeanism.  In 395, he became coadjutor Bishop of Hippo  and upon the Bishop’s death, the Diocesan Bishop.  He died during an Vandal invasion of Hippo, which was completely destroyed except for the library and cathedral. 

Augustine wrote many works, many against heresies, and also the City  of God inspired by the defeat of Rome, and Confessions.  His writings influenced many theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, and are still important today.

Confession of St. Augustine is a Genre well known by many evangelicals, but forgotten by others.  The first example of this genre are found in St. Paul’s epistle, where he describes himself as the worst of all sinners, but was saved by God’s grace.  St. Augustine’s Confessions is much the same, the story of a boy raised Christian, but turning his back on Messiah, and living a dissolute life, but coming to the kingdom, and becoming an important member of that kingdom through God’s grace.  Today we can hear similar stories on Unshacked (http://www.unshackled.org/), stories which serve both to bring people to God, and to remind us not to be smug about our own faith.

The City of God, on the other hand is a document showing the constant struggle between good and evil.  The book reflects both the struggles of the church with heresies of the time, and the struggles of the Roman Empire against the barbarian invaders.  The idea of original sin is found in this book, the doctrine that was oriniated by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, indicates that all mankind is contaminated by the sin of Adam, and that because of it, we have no power in and of ourselves to be saved.  We must be called by the Holy Spirit, who changes our hearts and gives us the power to live life as God would have us live it.  
St. Augustine also originates the Christian theory of just war.  Prior to the time of Augustine, the majority of Christians were what we would call extreme pacifists.  The Barbarian invasions made this obvious that this state of affairs could not endure.  Augustine tells us, "The commandment forbidding killing was not broken by those who have waged wars on the authority of God, or those who have imposed the death-penalty on criminals when representing the authority of the state, the justest and most reasonable source of power," and again, in The City of God, “But, say they, the wise man will wage just wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars.”  For more on the development of just war theory, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_war_theory




Collect:
Father, you raised up your bishop, Augustine of Hippo in a time fraught with temporal dangers and hardships to inspire people to seek the City of God.  Help us to be seekers of that eternal city, that we may always know that our true citizenship is in heaven and that we are heaven’s ambassadors here on earth.  This we ask in the name of him whom we represent here on earth, Yeshuah, the true and rightful king.  Amen.  (white)



Monday, August 20, 2012

St. Bernard of Clarveaux: 20 August



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St. Bernard of Clairveaux was born to a noble Burgundian family. He was given a good education, and entered the monatery of Citeaux.  Three years later he left to found a new house which eventually was named Clairveaux.  Conditions at the monastery were austere, to the point of breaking Bernard’s health.  Despite the austerity young men flocked to the monastery, and indeed to such a point that about 93 monasteries were created from the overflow. 

St. Bernard was famous for his preaching and writing.  He helped heal schism in the church by convincing the anti-Pope, Victor to step down.  Following this high point, he preached against heretics, most notably against  Peter Abalard and Henry of Lausanne.  He was also known for preaching up the 3rd Crusade, which failed miserably for various reasons.   

The writings with which he left us include sermons (over 500) treatises, hymns and others.  These writings are still influential amongst all Christians today.



Dear Lord, you gave Bernard of Clairvaux gifts of preaching and teaching to build up the church.  Grant in this and every age men and women who would call the world to follow you in love and understanding.   This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Miriam: 15 August 2012



http://www.coptic.net/pictures/Icon.KingAndQueen.jpg

Actually we know little of Miriam aside from what is told in the Bible.  Legend claims that she was born to her parents Joachim and Anna in their old age.  She was devout and at a young age was betrothed to Yoseph, who became here husband.  While still young, the angel announced to her that she would become the mother of God's child.  She asks how this can happen since she is a virgin.  The angel announces that God's spirit will take care of this, to which Miriam responds, "be it unto me according to your will, expressing great faith that not only will God do this, but that he will protect her from people assuming adultery, which was punishable by death. 

Later at the wedding in Canna, she tells the servants, "To do whatever he tells you," a message which we need to regard as well.  She is also present at the crucifixion, and is one of the 120 present at the first Christian Pentecost, where she and others receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 

While we don't receive an in depth picture of her life, we do see her faith, and our need to imitate it.  According to the Bible and legend, John the Evangelist took her into his home, and she travelled with him to Ephesus, where she died on the 15th of August. 

Readings:


    Isaiah 61:10-11
    Psalm 34 or 34:1-9
    Galatians 4:4-7
    Luke 1:46-55

Heavenly Father, you raised up Miriam to be the Theotokous, the mother of our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach, grant that we like her may say, “be it unto me according to your word,” and to obey her instructions, “do whatever he tells you to do.  In the name of her son, Yeshuah, we pray.  Amen.