Archive for the ‘February 9’ Category

Feast of St. Porfirio (February 9)   Leave a comment


Above:  St. Porfirio

Image in the Public Domain




Among the most notable characteristics of Christian martyrs during the Roman imperial period was the manner in which they died–that is, courageously.  They therefore helped to convert many observers.  This was the case with regard to St. Porfirio, originally an executioner in the service of the Roman Empire.  Our saint came to faith knowing that doing so might cost him his life.  It did so at Magnesia, Asia Minor, in 203, during the reign of the Emperor Septimus Severus (193-211).

Those of us who are fortunate enough to live where we have the freedom to practice our religion freely, without the threat of martyrdom, especially at the hand of the state, cannot imagine the courage required for St. Porfirio to confess his Christian faith.  Unfortunately, many people can grasp that concept, due to their experiences.





Almighty God, who gave to your servant Saint Porfirio boldness

to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die to for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 713



Posted November 30, 2016 by neatnik2009 in February 9, Saints of the 200s

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Feast of St. Alto of Altomunster (February 9)   Leave a comment


Above:  St. Alto of Altomunster

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Hermit

Also known as Saint Alto of Ireland

Alternative feast day = September 5

St. Alto, a native of Ireland, became a hermit in the forest outside Augsburg and Munich.  He, like many a hermit with a reputation for holiness, was frequently not alone, for a plethora of people flocked to learn from him.  To accommodate them St. Alto founded a monastery circa 750.  Eventually that abbey became known as Altomunster, around which a town of the same name developed.  St. Alto died of natural causes circa 760.  The monastery closed in 1803.







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 servant St. Alto of Altomunster,

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,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

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

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722


Feast of Adelaide Anne Procter (February 9)   Leave a comment

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain



English Poet and Feminist

Adelaide Anne Procter was the daughter of Bryan Waller Procter (November 21, 1787-October 5, 1874), a London lawyer and published poet.  Family friends included Charles Dickens, a frequent guest in the Procter home.  Adelaide initially wrote poems under the pseudonym “Mary Berwick.”  Dickens, who published many of her early poems in Household Words, assumed for a long time that “Mary Berwick” was a household servant.  The discovery of the truth was a pleasant surprise for him.

Adelaide became a Roman Catholic in 1851.  She devoted her short life (one which tuberculosis ended) to worthwhile pursuits.  She was a skilled linguist, for she was proficient in French, German, and Italian.  Adelaide’s poetry was a worthy artistic vocation, of course.  She published two volumes of Legends and Lyrics, A Book of Verse (1858 and 1862) and was Queen Victoria’s favorite poet.  Adelaide also had the distinction of being the second-bestselling Victorian poet; Alfred, Lord Tennyson was number one.  James Moffatt, in his 1927 companion volume to the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnary, praised the poet while criticizing her Roman Catholicism:

…but her spirit was in the true sense catholic, and it is difficult to tell from her hymns to which communion she belonged.  (Page 463)

The 1962 Encyclopedia Americana was less kind:

While her work is not great, it is marked by deep feeling and tenderness.  (Volume 22, page 631)

Adelaide was a feminist.  In the English Victorian context that meant, for her, advocating for the cause of women becoming professionals.  In 1858 she co-founded The English Woman’s Journal (ceased publication in 1864) for that purpose.  And, beginning in 1859, she worked with the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science to do more to advance the noble cause.

Adelaide died in her mother’s arms.  Her final words were

It has come at last.

Dickens wrote effusively of her and contributed a biographical sketch of her to the tenth edition (1866) of Legends and Lyrics.

One method by which one might encounter some of the poet’s work is to pay to attention to hymns at a church with good musical taste.  One hymn which Adelaide wrote follows:

My God, I thank Thee, who hast made

The earth so bright,

So full of splendor and of joy,

Beauty and light,

So many glorious things are here,

Noble and right.

I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made

Joy to abound,

So many gentle thoughts and deeds

Circling us ’round,

That in the darkest spot of earth

Some love is found.

I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept

The best in  store;

We have enough yet not too much,

To long for more;

A yearning for a deeper peace

Not known before.

I read those words and wonder why one would heap faint praise on the poet.







Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Adelaide Anne Procter

and all those who with words and image have filled us with desire and love for you,

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728


Revised on November 29, 2016


Feast of Benjamin Schmolck (February 9)   Leave a comment

Europe 1648

Above:  Europe in 1648

Image in the Public Domain



German Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer

Benjamin Schmolck entered the world at Brauchitzchdorf, Silesia (now Chrostnik, Poland).  He studied at Laubon and Leipzig before becoming a Lutheran pastor, assisting his father at Brauchitzchdorf.  Schmolck transferred to Schweidnitz, Silesia (now Swidnica, Poland), the next year.  There he labored under difficult circumstances for the next thirty-five years, for the Peace of Westphalia imposed restrictions on Lutheranism.  Schmolck and two other pastors had to serve thirty-six villages; more churches and pastors were forbidden.

Schmolck found the time to write over 900 hymns and the texts of many cantatas.  Robert Guy McCutchan, in his 1937 companion volume to the 1935 U.S. Methodist Hymnal, quoted an unidentified source, which said of Schmolck’s hymns:

A deep and genuine personal religion, and a fervent love to the Saviour, inspire his best hymns; and as they are not simply thought out but felt, they come from the heart to the heart.

Among Schmolck’s hymns were “Blessed Jesus, Here We Stand,” “My Jesus, as Thou Wilt,” and “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty.”

Schmolck died at Schweidnitz on February 12, 1737.  Many of his hymns remain popular.







Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant Benjamin Schmolck,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Epheisans 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Revised from November 29, 2016


Saints’ Days and Holy Days for February   Leave a comment

Winter, by Hendrick Avercamp

Image in the Public Domain

1 (Henry Morse, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr)

  • Benedict Daswa, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr
  • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Roman Catholic Composer and Musician
  • Sigebert III, King of Austrasia


3 (Anskar and Rimbert, Roman Catholic Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen)

  • Alfred Delp, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Charles Seymour Robinson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnologist
  • Nicholas Kasatkin, Orthodox Archbishop of All Japan


5 (Martyrs of Japan, 1597-1639)

  • Avitus of Vienne, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Jane (Joan) of Valois, Cofounder of the Sisters of the Annunciation
  • Phileas and Philoromus, Roman Catholic Martyrs

6 (Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, Poet and Hymn Writer)

  • Mateo Correa-Magallanes and Miguel Agustin Pro, Mexican Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs
  • Vedast (Vaast), Roman Catholic Bishop of Arras and Cambrai
  • William Boyce and John Alcock, Anglican Composers

7 (Helder Camara, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife)

  • Adalbert Nierychlewski, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Mitchell J. Dahood, Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar
  • Moses, Apostle to the Saracens

8 (Josephine Bakhita, Roman Catholic Nun)

  • Jerome Emiliani, Founder of the Company of the Servants of the Poor
  • John of Matha and Felix of Valois, Founders of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity
  • Josephina Gabriella Bonino, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family

9 (Benjamin Schmolck, German Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer)

  • Adelaide Anne Procter, English Poet and Feminist
  • Alto of Altomunster, Roman Catholic Hermit
  • Porfirio, Martyr

10 (Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola; and her twin brother, Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino and Father of Western Monasticism)

  • Benedict of Aniane, Restorer of Western Monasticism; and Ardo of Aniane, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Henry Williams Baker, Anglican Priest
  • Philip Armes, Anglican Church Organist and Composer


12 (Absalom Jones, Richard Allen, and Jarena Lee, Evangelists and Social Activists)

  • Charles Freer Andrews, Anglican Priest
  • Christoph Carl Ludwig von Pfeil, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Michael Weisse, German Moravian Minister and Hymn Writer and Translator; and Jan Roh, Bohemian Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer


14 (Abraham of Carrhae, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs
  • Johann Michael Altenburg, German Lutheran Pastor, Composer, and Hymn Writer
  • Victor Olof Petersen, Swedish-American Lutheran Hymn Translator

15 (New Martyrs of Libya, 2015)

  • Francis Harold Rowley, Northern Baptist Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Writer
  • Michael Praetorious, German Lutheran Composer and Musicologist
  • Thomas Bray, Anglican Priest

16 (Philipp Melanchton, German Lutheran Theologian and Scribe of the Reformation)

  • Christian Frederick Martin, Sr., and Charles Augustus Zoebisch, German-American Instrument Maker
  • Louis (Lewis) F. Kampmann, U.S. Moravian Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Translator
  • Norbert of Xanten, Founder of the Premonstratensians; Hugh of Fosses, Second Founder of the Premonstratensians; and Evermod, Bishop of Ratzeburg

17 (August Crull, German-American Lutheran Minister, Poet, Professor, Hymnodist, and Hymn Translator)

  • Francis Serrano, Roman Catholic Priest and Missionary
  • Janani Luwum, Archbishop and Martyr
  • Marie Adolphine Dierks, Roman Catholic Nun, Missionary, and Martyr

18 (Ben Salmon, Roman Catholic Pacifist and Conscientious Objector)

  • Barbasymas, Sadoth of Seleucia, and Their Companions, Martyrs
  • Colman of Lindisfarne, Agilbert, and Wilfrid, Bishops
  • Guido di Pietro, a.k.a. Fra Angelico, Roman Catholic Monk and Artist

19 (Nerses I the Great, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Mesrop, Bible Translator)

  • Bernard Barton, English Quaker Poet and Hymn Writer
  • James Drummond Burns, Scottish Presbyterian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Samuel Davies, American Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer

20 (Johann Heermann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer)

  • Henri de Lubac, Roman Catholic Priest, Cardinal, and Theologian
  • Karl Friedrich Lochner, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Wulfric of Haselbury, Roman Catholic Hermit

21 (John Henry Newman, Cardinal)

  • Arnulf of Metz, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Germanus of Granfel, Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr
  • Robert Southwell, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Samuel Wolcott, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Writer

22 (Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst, Anti-Nazi Martyrs at Munich, Germany)

  • Eric Liddell, Scottish Presbyterian Missionary to China
  • Margaret of Cortona, Penitent and Foundress of the Poor Ones
  • Praetextatus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Rouen

23 (Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishops and Martyrs)

  • Alexander Akimetes, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
  • Willigis, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Mainz; and Bernward, Roman Catholic Bishop of Hildesheim


25 (Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder, Nonna, and Their Children:  Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger, Caesarius of Nazianzus, and Gorgonia of Nazianzus)

  • Felix Varela, Cuban Roman Catholic Priest and Patriot
  • John Roberts, Episcopal Missionary to the Shoshone and Arapahoe
  • Theodor Fliedner, Renewer of the Female Diaconate; and Elizabeth Fedde, Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess

26 (Antonio Valdivieso, Roman Catholic Bishop of Leon and Martyr)

  • Emily Malbone Morgan, Founder of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross
  • Paula of St. Joseph of Calasanz, Foundress of the Daughters of Mary

27 (Nicholas Ferrar, Anglican Deacon; George Herbert, Anglican Priest and Metaphysical Poet; and All Saintly Parish Priests)

  • Anne Line and Roger Filcock, Roman Catholic Martyrs
  • Gabriel Possenti, Penitent
  • Luis de Leon, Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

28 (Thomas Binney, English Congregationalist Minister, Liturgist, and “Archbishop of Nonconformity”)

  • Andrew Reed, English Congregationalist Minister, Humanitarian, and Hymn Writer
  • Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, African-American Educators
  • Elizabeth C. Clephane, Scottish Presbyterian Philanthropist and Hymn Writer

29 (John Cassian and John Climacus, Roman Catholic Monks and Spiritual Writers)

  • Bernhardt Severin Ingemann, Danish Lutheran Author and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Hopper, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Jemima Thompson Luke, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer; and James Edmeston, Anglican Hymn Writer

Lowercase boldface on a date with two or more commemorations indicates a primary feast.

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  A Forest Scene in the Morning

The Light of the World

FEBRUARY 9, 2020


Isaiah 58:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

Shout out, do not hold back!

Lift up your voice like a trumpet!

Announce to my people their rebellion,

to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet day after day they seek me

and seek to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness

and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;

they ask of me righteous judgments,

they delight to draw near to God.

Why do we fast, but you do not see?

Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?

Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,

and oppress all your workers.

Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight

and to strike with a wicked fist.

Such fasting as you do today

will not make your voice heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose,

a day to humble oneself?

Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,

and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?

Will you call this a fast,

a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover them,

and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up quickly;

your vindicator shall go before you,

the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;

you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,

the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

if you offer your food to the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

then your light shall rise in the darkness

and your gloom be like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you continually,

and satisfy your needs in parched places,

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a parched garden,

like a spring of water,

whose waters never fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;

you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,

the restorer of streets to live in.

Psalm 112 (New Revised Standard Version):

Praise the LORD!

Happy are those who fear the LORD,

who greatly delight in his commandments.

The descendants will be mighty in the land;

the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are in their houses,

and their righteousness endures forever.

They rise in the darkness, as a light for the upright;

they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

It is well with those who deal graciously and lend,

who conduct their affairs with justice.

For the righteous will never be moved;

they will be remembered forever.

They are not afraid of evil tidings;

their hearts are firm, secure in the LORD.

Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;

in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;

their righteousness endures forever;

their horn is exalted in honor.

The wicked see it and are angry;

they gnash their teeth and melt away;

the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

1 Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16) (New Revised Standard Version):

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the human heart conceived,

what God has prepared for those who love him–

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. [And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

For who has known the mind of the Lord

so as to instruct him?

But we have the mind of Christ.]

Matthew 5:13-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus said,

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Collect:

Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Once I concluded a Saturday afternoons-only World History II course with a classroom screening of The Battle of Algiers, the great Italian film about asymmetrical urban warfare between French and Algerian forces in Algiers, Algeria, in 1956 and 1957.  Filmed in 1965 and released the following year, this movie shows how French and Algerian forces took turns attacking each other, always with lethal results, often the death of innocent people who were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.  One of my students commented during our discussion time that the cycle of violence was pointless.  She was correct.  Mohandas Gandhi stated that “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” rule leads to a world full of blind and toothless people.

The readings for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, flow naturally from those for the Fourth Sunday.  Likewise my thoughts for the Fifth Sunday fit well with those for the Fourth Sunday.  My thoughts for the Fifth Sunday are these:

To the extent that we are bound by our sins we have ourselves to blame.  The rope we use to tie up ourselves and each other most often is fear.  Many pundits, politicians, and well-meaning people who sit around “country kitchen” restaurant tables most mornings drinking coffee and pretending to solve the problems of the world tell us that we need be afraid–very afraid.  They tell us to fear those who disagree with us, and not to cooperate with them, even on matters of agreement.  They say that we must fear those who are different from us, whether linguistically, racially, ethnically, culturally, or according to another criterion.

There are dangerous people in the world, of course, and therefore legitimate reasons for healthy fear.  Some people want to kill, wound, or maim others, for example.  Certain individuals lack any conscience.  They are truly bad men and women.  Yet in this devotion I write of irrational, ideological, destructive, and needless apprehension.  That is my focus for now.

So certain media outlets–such as websites, radio shows, and television programs and channels–attract large audiences and reap huge profit margins by scaring people and spreading rumors.  Some politicians spread lies, which many of their constituents are willing to believe.  And the common good suffers.

All this runs contrary to love.  When we cease to fear each other needlessly and begin listen to each other and to help each other as able we find that we have more in common than we might have suspected previously.  We realize that the other person is really human, too.  We discover common ground upon which to build and to enact actions for the common good.  Disagreements will continue, but they need not lead to hostility.  Besides, no mere mortal is correct or incorrect about everything.  And this can help facilitate righteousness and bring us closer to the mind of Christ.