Archive for January 2011

Feast of Joan of Toulouse and Simon Stock (March 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Simon Stock (Kneeling on the Left)

Image Source = Giovanni Dall’Orto

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BLESSED JOAN OF TOULOUSE (DIED IN 1286)

Carmelite Nun

Her Feast Day Transferred from March 31

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SAINT SIMON STOCK (CIRCA 1165-1265)

Carmelite Friar

His Feast Day Transferred from May 16

The English-born St. Simon Stock was a Carmelite friar, who, according to certain accounts, lived for a time in a hollow tree trunk.  Becoming the Carmelite General in 1247, he spent the rest of his life expanding the order throughout Europe, including the British Isles.  He did this despite opposition from within the Roman Catholic Church, although a Papal bull (issued by Innocent IV in 1252) helped greatly.

St. Simon Stock was devoted to Mary, Dei Mater, who, according to accounts, appeared to him on July 16, 1251 and revealed the brown scapular to him.  There is much doubt in many contemporary Roman Catholic quarters with regard to the veracity of this vision, but the brown scapular has long been a sacramentary of great significance among the Carmelites.

The saint died in 1265.

He crossed paths with Blessed Joan of Toulouse in 1265, when visiting that city, the site of a Carmelite monastery.  Joan approached the saint and asked to become a Carmelite.  St. Simon Stock, as head of the order, had the authority to consent to this request, which he did.  She made her vows in his presence, thereby becoming the first Third Order Carmelite.  Blessed Joan, not having a convent, continued to live in her home.  She devoted her life to God and good works, including daily Mass and devotions, running errands and performing other tasks for the elderly and the ill, visiting the poor, the sick, and the lonely, being cheerful, and training boys to help others.

The meaning of life is to love God with one’s entire essence, to love oneself as a bearer of the image of God, and to love one’s fellow human beings in the same way.  The ultimate guides for this are the Golden Rule and the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  St. Simon Stock and Blessed Joan of Toulouse devoted most of their lives to this purpose.  How ought this goal to play out in your life?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 27, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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A Collect and the Associated Readings for a Monastic from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), of The Episcopal Church:

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:  Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servants Blessed Joan of Toulouse and Saint Simon Stock, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34 or 34:1-8

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of Sts. Jonas and Barachisius (March 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  King Shapur II of Persia (Reigned 309-379)

Image Source = British Museum

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SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS (DIED IN 327)

Roman Catholic Martyrs

King Shapur II of Persia was a great empire builder and a cruel man.  He persecuted Christians within his realm, forced one King of Armenia to commit suicide, and killed most of the inhabitants of the city of Susa.  And that is a partial list of his offenses.

In 327, King Shapur II was busy persecuting Christians and ordering the destruction of monasteries and church buildings.  Jonas and Barachisius, two Christian brothers from the city of Beth-Asa, traveled to the city of Hubaham to encourage the Christians there, who were under a death sentence.  The brothers encouraged their fellow Christians to remain true to the faith, even to martyrdom.  Jonas and Barachisius met the same cruel fate in ways I choose not to describe.  There is little to no point in vivid descriptions of tortures.

Church history is replete with accounts of potentates attempting to crush Christianity with violence.  They kill people.  Sometimes they drive the church underground for a long time.  But they cannot succeed in their ultimate goal.  Love, you see, is more powerful than any weapon or campaign of persecution.  And the ultimate victory belongs to God alone.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULA, CONFIDANTE OF SAINT JEROME

THE FEAST OF CHARLES MATHIAS, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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The Collect and Assigned Readings for Martyrs from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), hymnal and service book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.  Inspire us with the memory of Saints Jonas and Barachisius, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Posted January 26, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 21-31, Saints of the 300s

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Feast of St. Tutilo (March 28)   4 comments

Abbey of St. Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Image Source = Roland Zumbuhl, of Picswiss

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SAINT TUTILO (DIED IN 915)

Roman Catholic Monk, Scholar, Artist, and Composer

While an undergraduate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, I spent considerable amounts of time at the Wesley Foundation.  I had ceased to be a United Methodist by then, having already converted to The Episcopal Church.  But I moonlighted at the Wesley Foundation.  Long conversations with the Director have influenced my thinking profoundly.  Gene, now retired, was (and presumably remains) a committed Christian who dared to ask great questions and to contradict the local prevailing “wisdom.”  So he was correct about a great many things, I am convinced.  Yet he was quite mistaken regarding the matter of monasticism.  Monks and nuns, he said, were useless.

To the contrary, they are some of the most useful people on the planet.  Historically they have devoted their lives to prayer, medicine, education, scholarship, and the care of orphans and of children whose parents could not care for them adequately.  Today many faithful monks and nuns devote their lives to prayer.  That is an excellent way to spend one’s time on Earth.

Consider the case of St. Tutilo.  He spent much of his life at the Abbey of St. Gall, a center of learning, music, and art during the Middle Ages.  (Monasteries and convents developed and preserved such treasures during that difficult period of time.)  At the abbey St. Tutilo was in his element.  There he worked on illuminated manuscripts, many of them books of Gregorian Chants, many of which he composed.  Details of his life remain sketchy, but, according to surviving accounts, all of the following words described him:  scholar, teacher, monk, composer, school master, goldsmith, builder, sculptor, builder, painter, poet, musician, genius, and humorist.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question #1, says it best:

What is the chief and highest end of man?

Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

St. Tutilo fulfilled that description.  May you do so also, as God directs.

May we never underestimate the power of a holy life.  Names may fade into history and documentary evidence may crumble and become lost forever, but God remembers.  The full record of the holy saints of God is not lost; it is merely not entirely accessible in this life.

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Loving God, the memory of most of those who have trusted in your promises is lost to recorded history, if ever it was part of the historical record.  And most of us who live today and affirm you with our faith will join them in historical anonymity.  Of others, such as St. Tutilo, there is scant available information.  We thank you for the examples of St. Tutilo and all others who are nearly or entirely forgotten to us.  People understood their witness in their times; may we likewise function as beacons of divine light, for your glory and the benefit of others.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 44:1-15

Psalm 29

Philippians 4:2-9

Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULA, CONFIDANTE OF SAINT JEROME

THE FEAST OF CHARLES MATHIAS, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of St. Ludger (March 26)   1 comment

St. Ludger’s Abbey (Founded Circa 800 and Rebuilt in the 1600s), Helmstedt, Lower Saxony, Germany

Image Source = Times

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SAINT LUDGER (CIRCA 742-809)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster

There was a time when Christianity was young in much of Europe.  Today the faith is fading in many places, but let us take courage.  The Kingdom of God is like a mustard plant, which goes where it will.  The mustard plant is really a glorified weed.  I write this post from northern Georgia, U.S.A., where we have a similarly stubborn plant, kudzu.

The existence of many of the churches, convents, and monasteries, and therefore the good works which people who lived, worked, and worshiped there committed, is due to the good work of many faithful missionaries, bishops, priests, abbots, monks, nuns, and lay people.  Among these faithful souls was St. Ludger, who, while a boy, in 753, met St. Boniface of Mainz, who impressed St. Ludger greatly.

Educated at the Utrecht Cathedral School, where he excelled in his studies, St. Ludger entered the diaconate in 767.  He studied under St. Alcuin of York  for a year then returned to Utrecht and continued his studies there.  The two saints maintained their friendship for years.

In 772, conflict between Frisians and Anglo-Saxons forced St. Ludger to take shelter, along with his precious books, to the abbey at Utrecht, where he remained for three years.  Then St. Ludger traveled to Deventer, in the modern-day Netherlands, to rebuild a church the pagan Saxons had destroyed and to conduct missionary work there.  He succeeded.

Ordained a priest in 777, St. Ludger tended to the missions in East Frisia, in Lower Saxony.  For seven years the saint did this work and returned to Utrecht each Autumn to teach at the cathedral school.  In 784, however, the Frisians expelled the missionaries, burned the churches, and committed apostasy.  The saint entered a brief retirement at the abbey of Monte Cassino, beginning in 785.  After two years of this, however, St. Ludger returned to the territory now called the Netherlands, where he rebuilt the Christian presence.

In 793, St. Ludger declined an offer by Charlemagne to make him Bishop of Trier but accepted the challenge of evangelizing the Saxons.  The building of abbeys was crucial to this work, for they provided many missionaries among the Saxons in what we call Germany today.  He also built many churches and convents, thereby providing firm foundations for the Church in that region for a long time to come.  This missionary work occupied the rest of St. Ludger’s life, including his tenure as Bishop of Munster (805-809).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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The Collect and Lections for a Missionary, from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and service book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant St. Ludger, who made the good news known in Germany and The Netherlands.  Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love, and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Posted January 25, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 21-31, Saints of the 700s, Saints of the 800s

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Feast of Didacus Joseph of Cadiz (March 24)   Leave a comment

Trinity Symbol

Image Source = Ryan Thomas Jones

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BLESSED DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ (1743-1801)

Capuchin Friar and “Apostle of the Holy Trinity”

Born in Cadiz, Spain, Didacus Joseph grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family.  He dedicated his life to God, for he became a Capuchin friar and eventually a priest and popular preacher.  The Blessed’s relative lack of education was an initial obstacle to his admission into the order, but he overcame this difficulty.

Didacus Joseph was devoted to the Holy Trinity, a theme he worked into his popular, powerful, and life-changing sermons frequently.  He also heard many confessions, spent many nights in prayer, and visited many in prisons and hospitals, in addition to committing many other charitable works.  Didacus Joseph’s work was so effective that, when he died in 1801, people hailed him as a second Paul, the savior of the faith in Spain, and the apostle of his century.

There were also accounts of Didacus Joseph levitating above a pulpit from time to time, requiring assistance to descend to the floor.  I doubt the veracity of such stories.  As a high-ranking Vatican official said regarding St. Joseph of Cupertino, another alleged leviatator, in a middle-1990s U.S. cable television documentary about saints, the law of gravity applies to saints.

But the great legacy of the life of the Blessed Didacus Joseph of Cadiz is his love of the Trinitarian God, a devotion he expressed in his preaching, his praying, and his caring for the practical and spiritual needs of others.  A man is as he thinks; a woman is as she thinks.  Based on the words and deeds of the Blessed Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, I conclude that his thoughts brought him into frequent communion with God.  May yours do likewise, and lead to the spiritual fruits God dictates.

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Blessed God, we thank you for the life and legacy of Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, who overcame obstacles and fulfilled his sacred vocation, for your glory and the benefit of many.  May we also live for you and the improvement of our fellow human beings, showing God to them, as you enable us.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Isaiah 6:1-8

Psalm 63

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Feast of St. Deogratias (March 22)   3 comments

Above:  Carthaginian Ruins

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DEOGRATIAS (DIED IN 457)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage

History records that competing forces tore the Western Roman Empire apart.  Among these was the group called the Vandals, Slavic and Germanic tribes.  They, along with many others, embraced the Arian heresy.  But their Arianism did not weaken the Empire; their military campaigns of conquest did.  They had conquered Spain by 439, when they took the city of Carthage, in northern Africa.  They exiled the bishop, Quodvultdeus, and most of his clergymen.  There was no bishop in the city for fourteen years.

Emperor Valentinian III (reigned 425-455), toward the end of his reign, persuaded the Vandals to permit the appointment of a new bishop, circa 454.  This bishop was a priest named Deogratias, whose Latin name means “Thanks be to God.”

Gaiseric, the Vandal leader, sacked Rome in 457.  He returned to northern Africa with many enslaved captives, including family members, whom he sold apart from each other.  Bishop Deogratias, full of compassion, sold much of the material wealth of his diocese to raise funds to ransom as many of these slaves as possible and to distribute food daily.  He also converted two large Carthaginian churches into shelters for these unfortunate people.

Members of the Arian faction, resentful of Deogratias, tried and failed to assassinate him.  He did die soon, however, apparently of exhaustion.  The Vandals did not permit the appointment of another bishop for twenty-three years.

Today “vandal” has passed into language as a negative term and the humanitarian legacy of St. Deogratias survives.

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Compassionate God, we thank you for the heroic and humanitarian legacy of your servant, St. Deogratias, Bishop of Carthage.  Inspired by his example, may we, as opportunities present themselves and we are able to help, assist those in dire circumstances, such as captivity.  May we see Jesus in them, and may we show Christ to them.  Amen.

Isaiah 61:1-4

Psalm 142

James 2:14-26

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF OXFORD

THE FEAST OF JESSIE BARNETT, SOCIAL ACTIVIST IN ATHENS, GEORGIA, U.S.A.

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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Posted January 23, 2011 by neatnik2009 in March 21-31, Saints of the 400s

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Feast of St. Serapion of Thmuis (March 21)   1 comment

Above:  Ruins of Mud Brick Structures at Thmuis, Egypt

Image Source = http://www.unreportedheritagenews.com/2010/12/2300-year-old-temple-discovered-at.html

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SAINT SERAPION OF THMUIS (DIED CIRCA 360)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Thmuis; Liturgist

Information about many of the early saints is scant.  This is a problem for those who study antiquity, for many, if not most, germane written sources have not survived to the present day.  We do know, however, that St. Serapion was Bishop of Thmuis, a city in Lower Egypt, that is the region close to the Mediterranean Sea.  Today Thmuis is a collection of ruins, but it was an important urban center at the time.  We know also that St. Serapion was a good friend of St. Antony of Egypt and an ally of St. Athanasius of Alexandria in his defense of Christian doctrine against the Arian heresy.

Few of the saint’s many writings have survived the ravages of time, people, and elements.  A partial Sacramentary does exist, however.  This interests me greatly, for liturgical practices have caught my attention for most of my life.  So, as I read the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article about the Sacramentary of St. Serapion, I geeked out.  Then I found his prayer for healing in The Oxford History of Christian Worship.  Really, I follow these details the way some people obsess over baseball statistics.

Above all, let us never underestimate the importance of a holy life–in this case, one devoted to pastoral care, the defense of basic Christology (in this case, the proposition that Christ was not a created being), and the orderly conduct of Christian worship.  Arianism has not gone away, for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others, have nurtured it, but it is no less a heresy than it was in the Fourth Century of the Common Era.  And, as an Episcopalian, I affirm the value of a certain level of ritualism; it feeds my soul.

The Book of Sirach, a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus, says in 44:9-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

But of others there is no memory;

they have perished as if they had never existed;

they have become as though they had never been born,

and their children after them.

But these also were godly men,

whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;

their wealth will remain with their descendants,

and their inheritance with their children’s children.

Their descendants stand by the covenants;

their children, also, for their sake.

Their offspring will continue forever,

and their glory will never be blotted out.

Their bodies are buried in peace,

but their name lives on generation after generation.

The assembly declares their wisdom,

and the congregation proclaims their praise.

We modern Christians are the spiritual children of St. Serapion of Thmuis.  May we stand by the covenants, declare his wisdom, and ensure that people remember his name.

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Loving God, to whom no one is anonymous or forgotten, we thank you for the holy life and legacy of St. Serapion of Thmuis.  May love of you and your co-eternal Son, Jesus Christ, reign in our hearts and govern our lives, so that others may look and find Christ in us.  In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 44:1-15

Psalm 84

2 Corinthians 13:11-14

John 1:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ST. AGNES, MARTYR

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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