Archive for the ‘January 5’ Category

That Old Sweet Song of Angels   Leave a comment

nativity-and-annunciation-to-the-shepherds

Above:  Nativity and Annunciation to the Shepherds

Image in the Public Domain

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Long ago the angels vanished–

But their song is sounding still!

Millions now with hope are singing,

“Peace on earth, to men good will.”

Sing, my heart!  Tho’ peace may tarry,

Sing good will mid human strife!

Till that old sweet song of angels

Shall attune to heav’n our life.

–William Allen Knight (1863-1957), “Come, My Heart, Canst Thou Not Hear It” (1915), quoted in The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931/1935), Hymn #77

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Part of the mystery of the Incarnation is its counterintuitive nature:  a vulnerable baby was God incarnate.  This truth demonstrates the reality that God operates differently than we frequently define as feasible and effective.  Then again, Jesus was, by dominant human expectations, a failure.  I would never claim that Jesus was a failure, of course.

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;

and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;

for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,

and the LORD will reward you.

–Proverbs 25:22, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Speaking of counterintuitive ways of God, shall we ponder the advice of St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 12:14-21?

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them, if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

That old sweet song of angels will not attune to heaven our life if we ignore this sage advice–if we fail to overcome evil with good.  How we treat others indicates more about what kind of people we are than about what kind of people they are.  If we react against intolerance with intolerance, we are intolerant.  We also add fuel to the proverbial fire.  Is not a fire extinguisher better?

As the Master said,

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

–Matthew 5:43-48, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Perfection, in this case, indicates suitability for one’s purpose, which is, in the language of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,

to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

–Quoted in The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, The Book of Confessions (1967)

As the annual celebration of the birth of Christ approaches again, may we who follow him with our words also follow him with our deeds:  may we strive for shalom on a day-to-day basis.  Only God can save the world, but we can leave it better than we found it.

Merry Christmas!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 21, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Feast of St. Genoveva Torres Morales (January 5)   Leave a comment

morales

Above:  St. Genoveva Torres Morales

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES (JANUARY 3, 1870-JANUARY 5, 1956)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels

St. Genoveva Torres Morales served Christ in the poor while she struggles with her own problems, both physical and spiritual.

Morales was a native of Almenara, Castille, Spain.  She, born on January 3, 1870, was the sixth of six children.  By her eighth year she was not only an orphan but one of two surviving siblings.  Her brother became her guardian.  By the age of 10 years our saint had become accustomed to solitude and spiritual reading.  She knew that the purpose of all life is to follow God.  At the age of 13 years Morales had to have a leg amputated (without anesthesia) due to gangrene.  For the rest of her life she walked on crutches.

In 1885, at the age of 15 years, Morales had to move to the Mercy Home operated by the Carmelites of Charity.  She remained there for nine years, during which she deepened her spiritual life and learned how to sew.  Our saint hoped to join the order, but she was too ill to do so.  So, in 1894, Morales and two other lay women became housemates, supporting each other and spending much time in prayer.

Morales perceived a vocation to help poor women.  In 1911 she founded the first community of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels in Valencia, Spain.  Pope Pius XII granted his approval for the order in 1953.  Over the decades our saint served as the Mother General of the order, increasing the number of communities while struggling with her infirmities and her desire for more solitude.  In 1954, by which time she was deaf, our saint resigned her leadership role.

Morales died, aged 86 years, at Zaragoza, Spain.  Pope John Paul II declared her a Venerable in 1991, a Blessed in 1995, and a saint in 2003.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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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 Saint Genoveva Torres Morales,

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 :57-62

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

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Feast of St. John Nepomucene Neumann (January 5)   1 comment

neumann

Above:  St. John Nepomucene Neumann

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN (MARCH 28, 1811-JUNE 5, 1860)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia

St. John Nepomucene Neumann made a mark on the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, especially in Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Neumann was a native of Bohemia, now the Czech Republic.  His father, Philip, was German; his mother, Agnes, was Czech.  Our saint, one of six children, studied theology, botany, and astronomy at Budweis, Bohemia.  Then he studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University, Prague.  Neumann did not become a priest in Europe due to the illness of the bishop on the day set aside for the ordination and because of the glut of priests in his area.

So Neumann came to America.  He arrived in the Port of New York in 1836.  On June 28 of that year he became a priest.  Given the option of serving in Buffalo or a rural area, our saint chose the latter, which was more difficult.  He lived simply in a log cabin, walked miles from farm to farm, and used his 12 spoken languages effectively when relating to his multi-ethnic flock.  Neumann also defended Roman Catholicism in debates with hostile Protestants; he relied upon the combination of logic and his mild manner to defeat his opponents verbally.  In 1840, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Neumann became a Redemptorist; he took his vows at Baltimore, Maryland, the following year.  For a time our saint was a missioner in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  In 1844 he became the pastor of St. Philomena Church, Pittsburgh.  Three years later Neumann became the Vice-Regent and Superior of the order in the United States.  Then, in 1852, he became the Bishop of Philadelphia.  As bishop our saint oversaw the construction of 50 churches and the beginning of the construction of the cathedral.  He also opened about 100 parochial schools and increased enrollment from about 500 to about 9,000.

Neumann, the author of newspaper articles and two catechisms, died at Philadelphia on June 5, 1860, after a stroke.  He was 49 years old.

Pope Benedict XV declared Neumann a Venerable in 1921.  Pope Paul VI declared him a Blessed in 1963 and a saint 14 years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Father, you called St. John Nepomucene Neumann to labor

for the gospel among the people of the New World.

His ministry strengthened many others in the Christian faith:

through his prayers may faith grow strong in this land.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Samuel 16:1, 6-13

Psalm 146

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Matthew 28:16-20

–Adapted from Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), pages 1062-1053 and 1423; and The Vatican II Weekday Missal for Spiritual Growth (1975), pages 1613 and 1908-1926

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Feast of Antonio Lotti (January 5)   1 comment

lotti

Above:  Antonio Lotti

Image in the Public Domain

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ANTONIO LOTTI (CIRCA 1667-JANUARY 5, 1740)

Roman Catholic Musician and Composer

Antonio Lotti, born at Venice circa 1667, was a great composer.  He came from a musical family; his father, Matteo Lotti, was the kappelmeister at Hanover in 1667.  Our saint’s wife, Santa Stella, sang soprano.  Antonio began to sing alto at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, in 1687.  Three years later he began to play the organ there.  Lotti was away in Dresden from 1717 to 1719; then he returned to his home city.  In 1736 he became the maestro cappella at St. Mark’s Basilica.  Our saint composed both sacred and secular works–operas, oratorios, masses, madrigals, Crucifixus, and Miserere Mei.  His great talent was evident in his compositions.  Some of that talent led to the merely beautiful and ennobling.  Other talent also glorified God in sacred masterpieces.

One might listen to Lotti’s Missa Sapientiae, for example, and understand that our saint combined deep faith and great skill as a composer, and that the beauty he shared with the world in his day continues to spread.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 12, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSAPHAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF POLOTSK, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARY SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF RAY PALMER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ARTHUR DUNKERLEY, BRITISH NOVELIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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

We bless your name for inspiring Antonio Lotti and all those

who with music 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

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Feast of Margaret Mackay (January 5)   1 comment

Inverness from the Castle

Above:  View of Inverness, Scotland, from the Castle, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-07611

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MARGARET MACKAY (1802-JANUARY 5, 1887)

Scottish Hymn Writer

Details of the life of Margaret Mackay seem to be scarce.  We know that she, a native of Hedgefield, Inverness, Scotland, was the only daughter of Captain Robert Mackay of the Royal Army.  We do not know the date of her birth, just that the year of her birth was 1802.  We also know that, in 1820, our saint married one Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) William Mackay, a distinguished officer of the Royal Army and a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars.  We also know that he died in 1845.  Our saint’s religious affiliation remains uncertain, beyond the general category of “Christian.”  I have attempted to discover or discern that detail.  The best I can do is to rule out the possibility of Roman Catholicism as Mackay’s spiritual home, based on her comments regarding sentimentalism (on pages 85 and 86) in “Thoughts Revealed:” or, Lays of Leisure Hours (1854), a volume of 72 original poems and hymns.

Mackay also wrote prose in the realms of fiction and non-fiction.  Those books were the following:

  1. Sabbath Musings (1844),
  2. The Wycliffes, or England in the Fifteenth Century (1846),
  3. The Family at Heathdale (third edition, 1854), and
  4. False Appearances (1859).

Mackay wrote at least three hymns.  “Asleep in Jesus! Blessed Sleep” (1832) has become her most popular hymn.  “Gracious Spirit, From on High” (1854), also an excellent text, has fallen into obscurity.  A reference (but no text) to the hymn at hymnary.org provided the necessary clue to lead me to archive.org, where I found an 1871 hymnal containing the text, which I copied by hand.  (I adore the Internet!)  Archive.org also provided the text of a third hymn, published in The Psalms of Life:  A Compilation of Psalms, Hymns, Chants, Etc. Embodying the Spiritual, Progressive and Reformative Sentiment of the Present Age (1857), edited by John Stowell Adams (1823-1893).

Saints above hold sweet communion

With the loved ones yet below,

Blending in unfettered union

Thoughts that none but angels know.

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Oft when weary hearts are aching,

Star-light glimpses of their peace

Angels bring us, sad ones making

Sharers of their blessedness.

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When o’er all soft slumber reigning

Chases sordid cares away,

Then the sorel from earth unchaining

Seeks the light of upper day.

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Guardian angels vigils keeping,

Sing in gentle strains the while,

And the burdened heart and weeping

Often of its griefs beguile.

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Guide us, angels, oh, instruct us,

Gently chiding if we roam;

When our change arrives, conduct us

To the blissful spirit-home.

One might also profit spiritually from reading Thoughts Redeemed.”

Mackay died at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, on January 5, 1887.  She was either 84 or 85 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SUNDAR SINGH, INDIAN CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, EPISCOPAL DEACON

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Margaret Mackay and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Revised on November 13, 2016

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Saints’ Days and Holy Days for January   Leave a comment

Snow in January

Image in the Public Domain

THIS IS THE RESET VERSION OF THE CALENDAR FOR JANUARY, PENDING FURTHER REVISION.

1 (EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Holy Name of Jesus
  • World Day of Peace

2 (NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, Bavarian Lutheran Minister, and Coordinator of Domestic and Foreign Missions
  • Narcissus, Argeus, and Marcellinus of Tomi, Roman Martyrs, 320
  • Odilo of Cluny, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Sabine Baring-Gould, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

3 (TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Edward Caswall, Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Perronet, British Methodist Preacher
  • Gladys Aylward, Missionary in China and Taiwan
  • William Alfred Passavant, Sr., U.S. Lutheran Minister, Humanitarian, and Evangelist

4 (ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Elizabeth Ann Seton, Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity
  • Felix Manz, First Anabaptist Martyr, 1527
  • Gregory of Langres, Terticus of Langres, Gallus of Clermont, Gregory of Tours, Avitus I of Clermont, Magnericus of Trier, and Gaugericus, Roman Catholic Bishops
  • Johann Ludwig Freydt, German Moravian Composer and Educator

5 (TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS)

  • Antonio Lotti, Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Genoveva Torres Morales, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels
  • John Nepomucene Neumann, Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia
  • Margaret Mackay, Scottish Hymn Writer

6 (EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST)

7 (François Fénelon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cambrai)

  • Aldric of Le Mans, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Angela of Foligno, Penitent and Humanitarian
  • Gaspar del Bufalo, Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood
  • Lucian of Antioch, Roman Catholic Martyr, 312

8 (Thorfinn of Hamar, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Arcangelo Corelli, Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, Scientists
  • Harriet Bedell, Episcopal Deaconess and Missionary
  • Syncletica of Alexandria, Desert Mother

9 (Pepin of Landen, Itta of Metz, Their Relations, Amand, Austregisilus, and Sulpicius II of Bourges, Faithful Christians Across Generational Lines)

  • Adelard of Corbie, Roman Catholic Monk
  • Julia Chester Emery, Upholder of Missions
  • Philip II of Moscow, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, and Martyr, 1569
  • William Jones, Anglican Priest and Musician

10 (John the Good, Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan)

  • Allen William Chatfield, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Translator
  • Mary Lundie Duncan, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • William Gay Ballantine, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Educator, Scholar, Poet, and Hymn Writer

11 (Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Roman Catholic Monk)

  • Charles William Everest, Episcopal Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Miep Gies, Righteous Gentile
  • Paulinus of Aquileia, Roman Catholic Patriarch
  • Richard Frederick Littledale, Anglican Priest and Translator of Hymns

12 (Benedict Biscop, Roman Catholic Abbot of Wearmouth)

  • Aelred of Hexham, Roman Catholic Abbot of Rievaulx
  • Anthony Mary Pucci, Roman Catholic Priest
  • Henry Alford, Dean of Canterbury
  • Marguerite Bourgeoys, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame

13 (Hilary of Poitiers, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers, “Athanasius of the West;” and Hymn Writer; mentor of Martin of Tours, Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours)

  • Christian Keimann, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • George Fox, Founder of the Religious Society of Friends
  • Mary Slessor, Scottish Presbyterian Missionary in West Africa
  • Samuel Preiswerk, Swiss Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

14 (Macrina the Elder, Her Family, and Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger)

  • Caesarius of Arles, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Caesaria of Arles, Roman Catholic Abbess
  • Kristen Kvamme, Norwegian-American Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Sava I, Founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and First Archbishop of Serbs

15 (Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader and Martyr, 1968)

  • John Cosin, Anglican Bishop of Durham

16 (Roberto de Noboli, Roman Catholic Missionary in India)

  • Berard and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs in Morocco, 1220
  • Edmund Hamilton Sears, U.S. Unitarian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Richard Meux Benson, Anglican Priest and Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist; Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Priest, Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and Bishop of Fond du Lac; and Charles Gore, Anglican Bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and Oxford; Founder of the Community of the Resurrection; Theologian; and Advocate for Social Justice and World Peace

17 (Antony of Egypt, Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism)

  • Pachomius the Great, Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism
  • Rutherford Birchard Hayes, President of the United States of America
  • Thomas A. Dooley, U.S. Roman Catholic Physician and Humanitarian

18-25 (WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY)

18 (CONFESSION OF SAINT PETER, APOSTLE)

19 (Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Humanitarians)

  • Deicola and Gall, Roman Catholic Monks; and Othmar, Roman Catholic Abbot at Saint Gallen
  • Henry Twells, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

20 (Fabian, Bishop of Rome and Martyr, 250)

  • Euthymius the Great and Theoctistus, Roman Catholic Abbots
  • Greville Phillimore, English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Harriet Auber, Anglican Hymn Writer
  • Richard Rolle, English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

21 (Mirocles of Milan and Epiphanius of Pavia, Roman Catholic Bishops)

  • Alban Roe and Thomas Reynolds, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1642
  • John Yi Yon-on, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Korea

22 (John Julian, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymnologist)

  • Vincent Pallotti, Founder of the Pallotines

23 (John the Almsgiver, Roman Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria)

  • Charles Kingsley, Anglican Priest, Novelist, and Hymn Writer
  • Phillips Brooks, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, and Hymn Writer

24 (Ordination of Florence Li-Tim-Oi, First Female Priest in the Anglican Communion)

  • Martyrs of Podlasie, 1874
  • Suranus of Sora, Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr, 580

25 (CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL, APOSTLE)

26 (TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE)

27 (Jerome, Paula of Rome, Eustochium, Blaesilla, Marcella, and Lea of Rome)

  • Angela Merici, Foundress of the Company of Saint Ursula
  • Caspar Neumann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

28 (Albert the Great and his pupil, Thomas Aquinas, Roman Catholic Theologians)

  • Henry Augustine Collins, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Joseph Barnby, Anglican Church Musician and Composer

29 (LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE)

30 (Lesslie Newbigin, Missionary and Theologian)

  • Bathildas, Queen of France
  • Frederick Oakeley, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest
  • Genesius I of Clermont and Praejectus of Clermont, Roman Catholic Bishops; and Amarin, Roman Catholic Abbot

31 (Charles Frederick Mackenzie, Anglican Bishop of Central Africa)

  • Menno Simons, Mennonite Leader

 

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

Second Sunday after Christmas, Years A, B, and C   Leave a comment

Above:  Diocesan Confirmation, Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia, December 13, 2009

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

A Glorious Inheritance

JANUARY 5, 2020 (YEAR A)

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Jeremiah 31:7-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

For thus says the LORD:

Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,

and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;

proclaim, give praise, and say,

Save, O LORD, your people,

the remnant of Israel.

See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,

and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,

among them the blind and the lame,

those with child and those in labor, together;

a great company, they shall return here.

With weeping they shall come,

and with consolations I shall lead them back.

I will let them walk by brooks of water,

in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;

I have become a father to Israel,

and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,

and declare it in the coastlands far away;

say,

He who scattered Israel will gather him,

and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.

For the LORD has ransomed Jacob,

and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

They shall come and sing aloud on the heights of Zion,

and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,

over the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and over the young of the flock and the herd;

their life shall become like a watered garden,

and they shall never languish again.

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,

and the young men and the old shall be merry.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

I will give the priests their fill of fatness,

and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the LORD.

Psalm 84 (New Revised Standard Version):

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints

for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,

ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca

they make it a place of springs;

the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

give ear, O God of Jacob!

Behold our shield, O God;

look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better

than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;

he bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does the LORD withhold

from those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts,

happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a (New Revised Standard Version):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,

Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet,

Out of Egypt I have called my son.

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,

Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.  But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.  And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.  There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled:

He will be called a Nazorean.

OR

Luke 2:41-52 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem every year for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him,

Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.

He said to them,

Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

OR

Matthew 2:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking,

Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him,

In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for from you shall come a ruler

who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying,

Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that so that I may also go and pay him homage.

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.  Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Collect:

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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“What is your favorite psalm?”  Someone might have asked you this question.  Among the usual suspects are 23, 100, and 150, which excessive repetition have rendered cliche in my mind.  So, when I began to ponder the question of my favorite psalm, I considered other parts of that book of poetry.  Once Psalm 121 was my favorite, but 84 has taken that place.

Psalm 84 is a hymn of adoration to God which expresses a desire to become closer to God.  This is the one God who allowed the Babylonian Exile to occur, engineered the return of exiles, and arranged for the Incarnation, by which we have access to adoption into the family of God.  This grace is staggering, and worthy of praise in words and deeds.

The details of the Christian vocation vary from person to person, according to a variety of circumstances.  Yet the guiding principle is constant across the board:  we are called to enjoy and glorify God, to follow Jesus.  Following is active, not merely intellectual or emotional.  Jesus loved us with everything he was and had; we have a mandate to follow that example.  Too often certain people (from Crusaders to Ku Klux Klan members) have used the cross as a symbol of hate, but divine actions have transformed the cross into a symbol of ultimate love.  And what shows love more than self-sacrifice?

The beauty of holiness is both aesthetic and intangible.  May we seek and find both.

KRT