Friday, May 4, 2018Monnica
Lesser Feasts and Fasts tells the story:
Monnica’s life story is enshrined in the spiritual autobiography of her eldest son, in The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Born in North Africa about 331, of Berber parents, Monnica was married to a Latinized provincial of Tagaste named Patricius, whom she won to the Christian faith before his death. In her earlier years she was not without worldly ambitions and tastes. She grew in Christian maturity and spiritual insight through an ever-deepening life of prayer.
Her ambition for her gifted son was transformed into a passionate desire for his conversion to Christ. After his baptism in Milan in 387, by Bishop Ambrose, Augustine and his mother, together with a younger brother, planned to return home to Africa. While awaiting ship at Ostia, the port of Rome, Monnica fell ill.
Augustine writes, “One day during her illness she had a fainting spell and lost consciousness for a short time. We hurried to her bedside, but she soon regained consciousness and looked up at my brother and me as we stood beside her. With a puzzled look, she asked, ‘Where was I?’ Then, watching us closely as we stood there speechless with grief, she said, ‘You will bury your mother here.’ ”
Augustine’s brother expressed sorrow, for her sake, that she would die so far from her own country. She said to the two brothers, “It does not matter where you bury my body. Do not let that worry you. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord.” To the question, whether she was not afraid at the thought of leaving her body in an alien land, she replied, “Nothing is far from God, and I need have no fear that he will not know where to find me, when he comes to raise me to life at the end of the world.”
Recent excavations at Ostia have uncovered her original tomb. Her mortal remains, however, were transferred in 1430 to the Church of St. Augustine in Rome.
While Monnica is sadly missing from sermons in our online sermon archive, there are of course many references to Augustine. You might be interested in this one:
To be Transformed, Present your Body (2008) by Fr Austin
O Lord, who through spiritual discipline didst strengthen they servant Monnica to persevere in offering her love and prayers and tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine their son: Deepen our devotion, we beseech thee, and use us in accordance with thy will to bring others, even our own kindred, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, May 6, 2018THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
The Sixth Sunday of Easter is often called Rogation Sunday, as it precedes the three rogation days that always fall on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Day. You'll notice hints of prepartion for the rogation days in the morning services today, when at times there is an emphasis on God our creator and provider. For example, pay attention to the words of the psalm and the hymns. See also the words of the collect, which, through petition and gratitude, approaches God as the provider of all things.
Among the sermons in the archive that can help you understand God as creator and provider, consider these:
The Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth (2011) by Fr Spurlock
On Providence (2010) by Fr Austin
Bread and Life, Freedom and Friendship (2009) by Fr Austin
All Ours as Gift (2008) by Fr Austin
Food in the Wilderness (2003) by Fr Mead
O God, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee in all things and above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018Julian
Dame Julian of Norwich
Believed to be the first woman to write a book in the English language (see Norwich Cathedral's website), Dame Julian authored Revelations of Divine Love after her experience at age 30 of having fifteen visions of the Passion when she suddenly recovered from a deadly illness.
Lesser Feasts and Fasts has a detailed descrption of her life, which ends: Lady Julian’s book is a tender and beautiful exposition of God’s eternal and all-embracing love, showing how his charity toward the human race is exhibited in the Passion. Again and again she referred to Christ as “our courteous Lord.” Many have found strength in the words the Lord had given her: “I can make all things well; I will make all things well; I shall make all things well; and thou canst see for thyself that all manner of things shall be well.”
Lord God, who in thy compassion didst grant to the Lady Julian many revelations of thy nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek thee above all things, for in giving us thyself thou givest us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Friday, May 11, 2018
Sunday, May 13, 2018THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
The Seventh Sunday of Easter is also called The Sunday after Ascension Day. Because Ascension Day is always the 40th Day of Easter and Pentecost is always the 50th Day, The Sunday after Ascension Day is always the Sunday preceding the Day of Pentecost.
These last 10 days of Easter are called Ascensiontide, the period of time after Christ ascended to the Father, yet before the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. To the contemporaries of Christ, it was therefore a time of waiting.
O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Savior Christ is gone before; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Friday, May 18, 2018
Saturday, May 19, 2018Dunstan
Archbishop of Canterbury
From Lesser Feasts and Fasts of the Episcopal Church:
In the ninth century, under King Alfred the Great, England had achieved considerable military, political, cultural, and even some ecclesiastical recovery from the Viking invasions. It was not until the following century that there was a revival of monasticism. In that, the leading figure was Dunstan.
Dunstan was born about 909 into a family with royal connections. He became a monk and in 943 was made Abbot of Glastonbury. During a year-long political exile in Flanders, he encountered the vigorous currents of the Benedictine monastic revival. King Edgar recalled Dunstan to England in 957, appointed him Bishop of Worcester, then of London; and, in 960, named him Archbishop of Canterbury. Together with his former pupils, Bishops Aethelwold of Winchester and Oswald of Worcester (later of York), Dunstan was a leader of the English Church. All three have been described as “contemplatives in action” — bringing the fruits of their monastic prayer-life to the immediate concerns of Church and State. They sought better education and discipline among the clergy, the end of landed family interest in the Church, the restoration of former monasteries and the establishment of new ones, a revival of monastic life for women, and a more elaborate and carefully ordered liturgical worship.
This reform movement was set forth in the “Monastic Agreement,” a common code for English monasteries drawn up by Aethelwold about 970, primarily under the inspiration of Dunstan. It called for continual intercession for the royal house, and emphasized the close tie between the monasteries and the crown. This close alliance of Church and State, sacramentalized in the anointing of the King, was expressed liturgically in the earliest English coronation ceremony of which a full text survives, compiled for King Edgar by Dunstan and his associates.
The long-term effects of this tenth-century reform resulted in the development of two peculiarly English institutions: the “monastic cathedral,” and “monk-bishops.”
Dunstan is reputed to have been an expert craftsman. His name is especially associated with the working of metals and the casting of bells, and he was regarded as the patron saint of those crafts.
O God of truth and beauty, who didst richly endow thy bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we beseech thee, to see in thee the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, May 20, 2018THE DAY OF PENTECOST (WHITSUNDAY)
Today we mark the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Comforter, an arrival which (2,000 years ago) transformed fearful and self-conscious men and women into fearless and selfless evangelists for Christ. Pentecost is, in many ways, the birthday of the Church. But it is not merely that. It is the acknowledgement and celebration of the on-going action of God in our lives, through the Spirit.
To gain a richer understanding, consider these sermons:
I Believe in the Holy Ghost (2011) by Fr Daniels
A Sermon for the Day of Pentecost (2010) by John Polkinghorne
The Holy Spirit Gives us a Future (2010) by Fr Austin
From Pentecost to Pop Hale to Fifth Avenue (2009) by Fr Mead
Three Points about Pentecost (2008) by Fr Mead
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Freedom (2006) by Fr Austin
O God, who on this day didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Friday, May 25, 2018Bede the Venerable
Priest and Monk of Jarrow
Lesser Feasts and Fasts describes Bede in this way:
At the age of seven, Bede’s parents brought him to the nearby monastery at Jarrow (near Durham in northeast England) for his education. There, as he later wrote, “spending all the remaining time of my life. . . I wholly applied myself to the study of Scripture, and amidst the observance of regular discipline, and the daily care of singing in the church, I always took delight in learning, teaching, and writing.”
Bede was ordained deacon at nineteen, and presbyter at thirty. He died on the eve of the Ascension while dictating a vernacular translation of the Gospel according to John. About 1020 his body was removed to Durham, and placed in the Galilee, the Lady Chapel at the west end of the Cathedral nave.
Bede was the greatest scholar of his time in the Western Church. He wrote commentaries on the Scriptures based on patristic interpretations.
His treatise on chronology was standard for a long time. He also wrote on orthography, poetic meter, and especially on history. His most famous work, The Ecclesiastical History of England, written in Latin, remains the primary source for the period 597 to 731, when Anglo-Saxon culture developed and Christianity triumphed. In this work, Bede was clearly ahead of his time. He consulted many documents, carefully evaluated their reliability, and cited his sources. His interpretations were balanced and judicious. He also wrote the History of the Abbots (of Wearmouth and Jarrow), and a notable biography of Cuthbert, both in prose and verse.
His character shines through his work — an exemplary monk, an ardent Christian, devoted scholar, and a man of pure and winsome manners. He received the unusual title of Venerable more than a century after his death. According to one legend, the monk writing the inscription for his tomb was at a loss for a word to fill out the couplet:
Hac sunt in fossa
Bedae — blank — ossa
(This grave contains
the — blank — Bede’s remains)
That night an angel filled in the blank: Venerabilis.
Heavenly Father, who didst call thy servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to thy service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship; Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of thy truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make thee known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, May 27, 2018TRINITY SUNDAY
Trinity Sunday fittingly comes one week after the Day of Pentecost, which marked the arrival of the Holy Spirit, who, in the words of the Nicene Creed, "proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified..."
It is actually the Athanasian Creed, not the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed, which most aggressively affirms the nature of the Trinity. We never say the Athanasian Creed in church, but yet it can be found in the 1979 Prayer Book on page 864 in the historical documents section. Here is the portion pertaining to the nature of the Trinity:
And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
If you struggle with this doctrine, you're not alone: it took the Church several centuries to clarify its teaching on the nature of the Trinity. These sermons may be of help also:
The Athanasian Creed (2010) by Fr Mead
Love is All You Need (2009) by Fr Mead
The Strong Name of the Trinity (2008) by Fr Mead
The Trinity: The God of Jesus (2007) by Fr Mead
The Trinity is Our Story (2005) by Fr Austin
Three Persons in One God (2003) by Fr Mead
The Holy Trinity (2002) by Fr Mead
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity: We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see thee in thy one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.