Friday, March 22, 2013

St. patrick: 22 March 2013 (transferred from Sunday)

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.  He was also the first bishop of the Catholic church to denounce slavery, and it is probably through his efforts that slavery disappeared from 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. 
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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop, Reformer, Martyr: 21 March 2013

Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556)

Born 1489 in Nottinghamshire, Cranmer followed a typical career of younger brother. Since his brother John inherited the family estate, Cranmer and his younger brother were prepared for lives as clerics.  Fourteen years old, he came to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took some eight years to earn his Bachelor of Arts.  In 1515 he received his MA and became a fellow of Jesus College.  He lost his fellowship after marrying, but regained it after his wife died.  He received his Doctorate in Divinity in 1526, having gained Holy Orders in 1520.  In June 1527 he met the king, whom he described as the kindest of princes. 

From 1527 he became involved with the King’s divorce.  During these proceedings, he met some of the continental reformers in 1531.  In 1532 he was appointed ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire, and in travelling with the Emperor from area to area was able to see the reformation in action.  In addition to meeting several reformers, he ended up marrying Ossiander’s niece.  Sadly for him, he was unable to convince the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles to support King Henry’s annulment from Catherine (Catherine was Charles’ aunt). 

In 1532, he was notified that he would be the next Archbishop of Canterbury and was so consecrated on   the 30th of March of 1532.  He continued to work on the king’s divorce, with the affair becoming more complicate due to Anne Bolyn’s pregnancy and her secret marriage to Henry VIII.  Cranmer declared Henry’s marriage void, and the Pope excommunicated Henry and his advisors.  Life was difficult for Cranmer as many of his bishops did not support him in this new role.  His life also continued to be made difficult because of the King’s urgent desire for a male heir.  He was also not particularly astute in dealing with the bishops. 

Fifteen thirty six saw the publishing of the 10 Articles of religion which pleased and annoyed both sides of the debate.  The Institution of a Christian Man was printed in response, but the king insisted on changes.  Cranmer was the most vigorous in fighting against the King’s changes, especially relating to faith alone and predestination.  From 1536 to 1544 there were many ups and downs involving Cranmer which he survived.  In 1544 he printed the first legal services in English, being the Exhortation and the Great Litany, which is still found in many Anglican prayer books today (and indeed in the liturgy used by the diocese of La Porte, Christian Church, Synod of St. Timothy).  Fifteen forty-seven saw the introduction of the Book of Homilies to all parishes (4 written by Cranmer).  As many of the reformers were suffering persecution, Cranmer invited them to England and put them to work training clergy.  (Reina and Valera who composed the first Bible in Spanish were among these).

It is unknown just how much Cranmer actually wrote in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549.  His sources include the Sarum Rite, Hermann von Wied, Ossiander, Justus Jonas (and several other Lutherans), and Quiñones.  What we do know is that he was the final editor of this and the 1552 Book of Common Prayer (not used because of Mary accession to the throne.  In 1550 he printed an Ordinal, and in the same year: Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ , the only book actually printed in his own name.  In 1552 he came out with the Articles of Religion.

After Mary took power, Cranmer was imprisoned and during the course of his imprisonment, recanted his Protestant faith.  On the day of his death however, he recanted his recantations, and was burned at the stake, placing his right hand in the centre of the fire as a sign of repentance regarding the written recantations. 

Cranmer’s greatest influence on the church was the Book of Common Prayer, which was the basis of all Anglican Books of Common Prayer into the 1960’s.  His Eucharist also found its way into the Methodist liturgy, and his marriage and burial services are the base services of many denominations.  The English used in his BCP has affected the English language as much as the language of the King James Bible and Shakespeare.  His second work of genius was transforming morning prayer and evening prayer into something that could be used by any family or by individuals.  His third act of genius was slow transformation, which produced a book which has lasted over 450 years. 

Collect:  Heavenly Father, you granted to your Bishop Thomas Cranmer great gifts in ordering the worship and prayer life of the English people, and though he slipped, you led him to repent of his recantations.  Grant that we would truly seek to worship you in the spirit of holiness, and be ready to give up our lives for you.  This we ask through Yeshuah, who lives and reins and is worshipped with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Cuthbert of Liindisfarne: 20 March 2013
St. Cuthbert (c. 634 – 20 March 687)

Cuthbert was probably from Dunbar at the mouth of the Firth of Forth in what today would be Scotland, but in Northumbria when he was born.  As a youth he was a shepherd, but having had a vision of a soul borne to heaven by angels on the night of St. Aiden’s death, he resolved to be a monk and joined the monastery of Melrose in Northumbria.  He became a soldier for a short period (he was a cousin of the king of Northumbria) before returning to Melrose.  He became famous for his piety, diligence and obedience and as a consequence was assigned to the new monastery at Ripon.  He returned to Melrose, and became prior.  During this time he was faithful in visiting the people, serving their spiritual need, going on missionary trips, and performing miracles. 

After the Synod of Whitby, he adopted the Roman ways and was asked to introduce them to Lindisfarne, which he did. He continued his missionary journeys from Berwick to Galloway, leading many to Christ, and diligently working with the poor.  In 676, he moved into a cave on one of the Farne islands.  In 684 he was elected Bishop of Lindisfarne.  Reluctantly he went to be consecrated by Archbishop Theodore of York in 685, and was bishop for two years before his death in 687. 

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)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Joseph: 19 March 2013

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. 

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)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cyril, Patriarch of Yerushulayim: 18 March 2013

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:  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:  or viewed here:

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 12, 2013

Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome: 12 March 2013
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 praised the life of the monks (he was the first Monastic bishop of Rome). 

Gregory is most well known 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)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gregory of Nazianuzus: 9 March 2013

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 twice by the Aryans, but continued to be a strong defender against their teaching.

Friday, March 8, 2013

St. Thomas Aquinas: 8 March 2013

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)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

St. Perpetua and Companions: 7 March 2013

Perpetua and her companions were martyrs in the third century.  The group consisted of Perpetua, a noble woman, Felicitas a slave, Revocatus, another slave, and two freemen, Saturninus and Secundulas.  They were catechumens and were later joined by their catechist, Saturis. 

Though implored to abandon the faith, the small group was baptized before being imprisoned.  Encouraged by dreams and visions the group was offered up to wild animals to be tortured by a boar, a bear and a leopard for the men, and a wild cow for the women. They were severely wounded by the animals, and gave each other the kiss of peace before being killed by the sword.  The swordsman assigned to Perpetua was inept and at first only caused her pain.  She had to guide the sword to the proper place, and it is said in the Martyrlogy regarding her, that “perchance so great a woman could not else have been slain had she not herself willed it. 

Collect:  Dear Lord, you gave Perpetua and her companions boldness to confess your name before the rulers of this world, and courage to encourage one another.  Grant us boldness to proclaim your name, and help us to always build up one another in the true faith and perseverance in that faith.  This we ask through the author of our faith, Yeshuah haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen

The Holy Cross: 6 March 2013

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. 

Psalm 98 or 98:1-4;
Isaiah 45:21-25
Philippians 2:5-11 or Galatians 6:14-18
John 12:31-36a
Daily Office:
AM Psalm 66;
Numbers 21:4-9
John 3:11-17

PM Psalm 118;
Genesis 3:1-15
1 Peter 3:17-22

Collect:  Dear Lord, as you on this day miraculously helped Helena to discover your cross and nails, daily remind us that each day we must take up our own cross and follow you.  Help us to remember that when we sin, we help nail you to the cross and grant us grace to turn away from our sins and to turn to you.  This we ask in the name of our Lord Yeshua, who lives and rains with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

John & Charles Wesley: 4 March 2013 (transferred from Sunday)

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 
Isaiah 49:5-6
Romans 12:11-17
Luke 9:2-6 

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)