Thursday, August 29, 2013

St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop: 24 August 2013

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.  Disappointed 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.  Inspired, 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 father’s 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 a 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 Unshackled (, 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

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)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

St. Bernard of Clairveaux, 20 August 2013

St. Bernard of Clairveaux was born to a noble Burgundian family. He was given a good education, and entered the monastery 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)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blessed Miriam, Theotokos: 15 August 2013

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 traveled with him to Ephesus, where she died on the 15th of August. 


    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

Monday, August 12, 2013

Clare of Assisi

St. Clare of Assisi  (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253)

            Born in Assisi, Clare’s father tried to marry her off to a wealthy young man when she was twelve.  She requested that he wait until she was 18.  Clare was devoted to prayer, and to some extent followed in her mother’s steps who made many pilgrimages.  When Clare turned 18,  she was transformed by St. Francis’s preaching.  On Palm Sunday, she ran away from home to follow Frances, who cut her hair and dressed her in a black habit and veil.  For a time she lived with the Benedictine Nuns.  She was soon joined by her sister, Agnes, and together they moved to a place near St. Damian’s which Frances had rebuilt. 
            Soon other women joined them, and they were known as the “Poor Ladies of St. Damiano.”  The house at St. Damians became the centre of the order.  Recent scholarship suggests that the network may have preexisted St. Damian’s, having been founded by Hugolino, who wanted St. Damian’s to join them because of its prestige.
            St. Damian’s became the most important house, and at first was directed by St. Frances, until Clare was named Abbess.  Clare’s chief fight during much of her life was keeping prelates from downgrading the strict rule that they followed. In addition to encouraging her nuns and other  nuns in different orders, she also encouraged St. Frances and nursed him on his death bed.  She continued the fight for corporate poverty of her order. 
            We might note, that Clare, like Francis, was dedicated to Lady Poverty, and both the Franciscans and Poor Clares have a constant battle to maintain that standard.  To understand the times of Clare and Francis, I would suggest reading  “In the Name of the Rose.”

  Father, as you raised up Clare to serve you and your church, raise up in this and every generation men and women who will learn truly to put aside the things of this world and serve you truly, this we ask though him who gave up his glory for us, your son, our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach.  Amen.  (white)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

St. Dominic, Friar, Presbyter

St, Dominic (1175-6 August 1221), Presbyer, Friar*

            St. Dominic, like St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in Spain, in what was then the Kingdom of Castille.  Little or nothing is known of his family.  He was educated in Palencia, and when suffering famine in 1191 Dominic sold many of his possessions to help feed the poor.  In 1193 he joined the Canons Regular in Osma.  In 1215, he established a monastery with six followers in Toulouse, and was given permission by the bishop to preach throughout the district.  In 1216 and 1217 he was given permission by the Pope to establish the Order of Preachers (O.P.)  By 1220 he and his friars were established in the Basilica  of San Sisto Vecchio, although Dominic himself spent little time there, being occupied with preaching all over Europe.  He later moved to Bologna, and working to the end died there as well.
            He didn’t eat meat, he observed the churches fasts and took the meanest chambers for himself. He resisted efforts to be made bishop, and continued with his vision to form a religious order to combat heresy through teaching, and to propagate religious truth.   On his deathbed he exhorted his followers to practice charity, guard humility and make poverty their treasure. 
            He founded the Dominican nuns to protect women from the heresy of the Albigenses and to educate women in general. 

Lord, you raised up your servant Dominic to preach and encourage others to teach the true faith.  Help us and all your church seek always the truth, which is Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

*As we celebrate the Transfiguration on the last Sunday before Lent, we now celebrate St. Dominic on the actual date of his death.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Joseph of Arimathea

            Very little  is known for sure about Joseph of Arimathea, except that he buried our Lord Yeshua.  Legends thought make a certain amount of sense, that he was rich from being a tin trader.  Since Britain was the major source of tin for the Roman Empire, it would be logical for Joseph  to visit.  In addition, there was a Jewish colony in Cornwall at the time.  It is interesting to note that these Jewish Colonies in Africa, India, and other places helped the Gospel to spread quickly.  It is said that the thorn tree growing in Glastonbury grew from Joseph’s staff.  This tree bloomed at Easter, but sadly was cut down by Cromwell as being a snare of idolatry.  Genetic analysis of the thorn trees in Glastonbury though, show them to be not of British origin, but from the Mediteranean.
            As to the Holy Grail, that most likely is only of legend.

Dear Lord, as you guided Yosef of Arimathea to follow and bury the Messiah, and to eventually carry the Gospel to Great Brittain, raise up in this and every land missionaries who would publicly serve Yeshuah and truly proclaim the Gospel.  This we ask in the name of him who was buried by Yosef, only to rise from the dead on the third day, Yeshuah, our risen Saviour.  Amen.  (white)