Wednesday, July 31, 2013

St. Ignatius of Loyola, presbyter, theologian

St. Ignatius of Loyola (ca. October 27, 1491 – July 31, 1556)Presbyter, theologian

            Ignatius was born in Aizpeitia in the Loyola Castle in Basque Country, Spain.  He was raised by the blacksmith’s wife after his mother died.  He became a knight and was inspired by stories about El Cid, the Knights of Camelot and Chanson de Roland.  He began challenging Muslims who denied the divinity of Messiah killing them in duels.  IN 1512 he was severely injured and during his convalescence, read De Vita Chirsti by Ludolph of Saxony.  Ludolph advocated Simple Meditation, where one places him or her-self in the Gospel story.  Ignatius took up this method in his Spiritual Excercises.
            In addition to De Vita Christi, he also reads lives of Jesus, and the lives of various saints, and resolved himself to converting non-Christians in the Holy Land.  After his recovery he visited the Monastery of Sta. Maria de Monteserat, and then retreated to a cave where he practiced asceticism..  He had several visions in daylight in the hospital, that left him disconsolate.  He undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was not allowed to stay but a few days.  Twelve years later he appeared to the Bishop of Rome asking to be sent to the Holy Land once again.  He and his companions.  Returning to Spain, he and his companions tried to develop a group of female Christina witnesses for the inquisition.  The religious authorities found some of these women to be questionable in some of their activities (falling senseless to the ground and rolling around while Ignatius and his companions were preaching), and Ignatius was detained for a time.  He also studied at the University of Paris.
            In 1534 he gathered six companions, and they pledged themselves to be missionaries directly under the Pope’s authority.  Ignatius was the creator and first Superior General of the Jesuits, or Society of Jesus.  They began their work by establishing schools, colleges and seminaries across Europe to  train missionaries.  In 1548 his Spiritual Exercises were published (Ignatius once again imprisoned, but released.  IN 1554 he finished the Jesuit Constitutions which stressed obedience to authorities, and doing all for the greater glory of God.  He died July 31st from Malaria in Rome.
            The Jesuits and Spiritual Exercises are his chief legacies.  The Jesuits were very important in the counter-reformation, and in the Evangelisation of Latin America, Goa, Japan, and China.  The Jesuits also worked hard to protect the Indians of Latin America from slavery and set up religious communities for the Indians.  The Jesuits were frequently at odds with Rome and the colonial powers.  At Rome, because they demanded reform in the church, which they understood could only come from repentant hearts, and with the colonial powers, because of the way the American Indians were treated.  At its height, the Jesuits had more than 30, 000 members, and are still important today. 

Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest;
     to give, and not to count the cost, 
     to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
     to toil, and not to seek for rest,
     to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
     save that of knowing that we do thy will.

Collect:  :  Heavenly  Father, you raised up Ignatius of Loyola to found the Society of Jesus.  We pray with him, that you would take us away from ourselves, and let us belong completely to you, take away from us everything that keeps us apart from you, and grant us everything that draws us closer to you, this we ask, through Yeshua, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wilbur Wilberforce (abolitionist, moral reformer) 30 July 2013

William Wilberforce, (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833), politician, abolitionist

            Wilberforce was born in Yorkshire, England and became an independent MP (Member of Parliament) for Yorkshire in 1780.  In 1784, he became an evangelical Christian resulting in deep lifestyle changes, and a concern for reform.  This change was not easy for him as “religious enthusiasm” was frowned upon by society at this time. 
            Indeed he considered leaving public and political life, and consulted with John Newton (former slave trader and author of Amazing Grace.  Newton and William Pitt convince Wilberforce to continue in Parliament, which he did, with a new zeal for Christianity and for Christian ethics, both in public and private.  He was very conservative (unlike many evangelicals of his time) and focused on issues such as keeping the Sabbath and eradication of immorality through education and reform. 
            In 1783 Wilberforce was exposed to the true conditions of slavery.  IN 1787 the abolitionists asked Wilberforce to introduce a bill to abolish the slave trade.  This began a colabortation between Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson that was to endure for fifty years.  Wilberforce agreed in principle but wished to consult with William Pitt(Prime Minister) who encouraged him.  Wilberforce decided to fight the immoral and unchristian slave trade, and to reform the morals of the land.
            A committee of Anglicans and Quakers was founded to abolish the slaver trade (they felt slavery itself would vanish in time after the abolition of the slave trade.)  The committee started the first massive human rights campaign, and soon was organized internationally.  William Pitt began the campagne in Parliament to end the slave trade in 1788.  Wilberforce continued the fight until 1807, when the bill was finally signed by the sovereign, eliminating the British slave trade.   During this time Pitt helped begin the colony of Sierra Leone, where all men regardless of race could live together in equality, and from where British naval forces could attack the slave trade.   
            Among other things that Wilberforce supported, politically, financially or both were: Catholic Emancipation, prison reform, restricting capitol punishment, Sunday Schools, getting rid of rotten boroughs, the SPCA, opposed dueling, the Church Missionary Society, Missionaries for India,  and others.
One month after his death, slavery was abolished in the British Empire, and the government approved paying twenty million Pounds to the slave owners for the freedom of their slaves.
            Amongst Wilberforce’s writings was A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes of This Country Contrasted With Real Christianity, which called for a revival of New Testament Christianity in Britain. 
            Wilberforce is buried in Westminster Abbey, near his friend, William  Pitt.

God of the Covenant, your word inspires us to live in relationship to your call. Help us to follow the example of William Wilberforce, that we may constantly defend the poor, help those with no helper, and seek the kingdom.  Through Yeshuah who freed us from the slavery to our sins we pray.  Amen.  (white)

Recommended:  Amazing Grace, available on Netflix.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany (29 July 2013)

Miriam (Mary), Martha, and Eleazar (Lazarus) of Bethany
Mary &  Martha of Bethany were sisters, who together with their brother Lazarus were good friends of Yeshuah.  Mary or Miriam would sit at Yeshua’s feet listening (rather controversial this as women were not disciples, and sitting at the feet of the Rabbi was a sign of discipleship) while Martha served.  Martha was somewhat disgruntled that Miriam left her the housework, but Yeshua tells her that Miriam has chosen the better part.  Martha also is the one who comes to Yeshua after the death of  her brother, and expresses faith in the resurrection from the dead and Miriam expresses faith in Yeshua (If  you had been here my brother would not have died).  Miriam is also the one who pour expensive ointment over Yeshua’s feet to prepare him for his burial.  After Yeshua raises Lazarus from the dead, the family apparently continues on in Bethany until the persecution following Stephan’s death.  They fled Judah and ended up in Cyprus, where Lazarus became Bishop (appointed by Paul and Barnabus) of Kition (Lamaca) where Miriam and Martha continued helping him in his ministry until his death.  It is said that he almost never smiled after his resurrection, thinking about the unredeemed souls he saw in Hades while dead.  He would smile when he saw someone stealing a pot, when he would say with a smile, “the clay steals the clay.”  Legend also has it that he became Bishop of Marseilles, which is more unlikely.  Most probably, likes James in Spain, relics were transferred to Marseilles and became the root of legend. In passing too, some people think that Lazarus may have been the disciple Yeshua loved, and if so the author of the 4th Gospel. 

Romans 12:9-13
Luke 10:38-42
Psalm 36:5-10 or
Psalm 33:1-5,20-21

Blessed Father, you raised up Mary, Martha & Lazarus of Bethany to serve our Lord, each in therr own way.  Grant that we may serve you directly and though others with the same love that Mary and Martha had, this we ask through our Lord and Saviour, Yeshuah, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in Glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

James the Greater, Apostle, Martyr, 25 July 2013
James the Greater, Apostle, Martyr

            James or Ya’kov, the brother of John, was one of the first of Yeshua’s disciples.  He was a fisherman, and one of the three chosen to witness the transfiguration, and the healing of a young girl.  His mother was also the lady who asked Jesus to give her children seats at his right and left hand at the kingdom.  Together with his brother, known as Boanerges or sons of Thunder for their hot headedness.   Tradition holds that he was the first apostle martyred for his faith and he is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament. 
            Legend has it that he preached in Spain before returning to the Holy Land to be martyred.  Supposedly his remains are found in the Cathedral Church of St. James of Compestola in Spain. 

Heavenly Father, who permitted James to be the first of the twelve to witness to Yeshua through martyrdom.  Make us willing to give up all for the sake of Messiah, this we ask in his most precious name.  Amen.  (red)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thomas a Kempis: Presbyter, Monk, Author (24 July 2013)
Thomas a Kempis (c. 1380-25 July 11471)Monk, Presbyter

            Thomas a Kempis, born in Kempen, in what is today Germany, was well known for his writings.  He was educated in Devernter and followed his brother to the monastery of St. Agnes in Zwolle in 1406.  He was later ordained presbyter in 1413 and became sub-prior in 1429. 

            During his time there, he copied the Bible some two times, wrote biographies of New Deviotion members: Gerard Groote, Florens Randewijns, John van de Gronde, and John Brinckerinck.  He also wrote several other books, among which the most important was The Imitation of Chirst,  a book on Christian devotion that is still popular today, and is said to be the most influential book in the world after the Bible, and only the Bible has been translated into more languages.  We also have some hymns from him as well.
            It has been a while since I read The Imitation of Christ.  One thing that sticks out in my memory was that Thomas hated doing the dishes, but he learned to wash each plate as though it belonged to the Lord. 

Psalm 34:1-8 or 33:1-5,20-21
Philippians 4:4-9
Luke 6:17-23 (St2)

 Dear God, you raised your presbyter, Thomas a Kempis to write the Imitation of Christ.  Raise up others to inspire us, and inspire us to seek truly to imitate the Messiah.  This we ask in his most blessed name.  Amen.  (white)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mary Magdeline

Mary Magdeline, apostle to the Apostles

            Very little is know of the history of Mary of Magdelene, except that she was from Magdala, located on the sea of Galilee.  Yeshua cast seven demons out of here, and she was present for his crucifixion and burial.  She is known as apostle to the apostles, because she announced the resurrection of Yeshua, she being the first to have seen him.
            It is said that she witnessed to Tiberious Ceaser, who told her that “a man could rise from the dead no more than the egg in her hand could turn red,” and instantly the egg in her hand turned read.
            It is also said that she aided John the Evangelist in his work at Ephesus until her death.


Judith 9:1,11-14                                                                                                                                   Psalm 42:1-7                                                                                                                                Corinthians 5:14-18                                                                                                                                John 20:11-18

Collect:  Heavenly Father, your son, Yeshua delivered Mary Magdalene of seven demons that she could serve him and be one of the first witnesses to his resurrections,.  We pray that you would remove all things from our lives, spiritual, mental, physical which would keep us from serving you.  This we ask in the name of him to died to free us form our sins, our Lord Yeshua haMoshiach.  Amen.  (white)