Archive for the ‘March 12’ Category

Feast of Henry Walford Davies (March 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, 1842

Image in the Public Domain



Anglican Organist and Composer

Sir Henry Walford Davies comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Methodist Hymnal (1966).

Davies, of Welsh ancestry, was a maestro.  He, born in Oswestry, Shropshire, England, on September 6, 1869, joined the choir of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, at age 12.  At St. George’s Chapel, our saint studied under Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924).  From 1885 to 1890, Davies served as an assistant to Sir Walter Parratt (1841-1924), the organist of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.  Next, our saint was the organist at St. Anne’s, Soho, from 1890 to 1895, then a member of the faculty of the Royal College of Music (1895-1903).  Davies, the organist of the Temple Church, London, from 1898 to 1919, taught Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977).  Our saint also conducted the London Church Choir Association (1901-1913) and the London Bach Choir (1903-1907).  Davies served as the musical director of the Royal Air Force, with the rank of Major, during World War I.  He was Professor of Music at the University of Wales from 1919 to 1926.  He became Sir Henry in 1922.  In 1924, our saint began pioneering music education broadcasting on BBC radio; this work occupied him for a decade.  Meanwhile, he accepted the position of organist at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 1927.  Finally, in 1934, Davies succeeded Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) as the Master of the King’s Music.

Volumes Davies wrote or edited included:

  1. Hymns of the Kingdom (1923),
  2. Hymns of Western Europe (1927),
  3. The Church Anthem Book (1933), and
  4. Music and Worship (1935).

Davies was more of a teacher than a composer.  He also favored the “speech-rhythm” method of chanting psalms.  His family’s Congregationalist background influenced our saint; he advocated for congregational hymn singing, over the traditional Anglican metrical psalms.  Davies also composed hymn tunes, including:

  10. ST. ANDRÉ,
  11. TEMPLE,
  12. VISION, and
  13. WALLOG.

Davies’s other compositions included the Royal Air Force March; the Symphony #2; Solemn Melody; Royal Thanksgiving Music; The Holly and the Ivy; King of Glory, King of Peace; Festal Service in G; and anthems and chants, including God Be in My Head (included in The Methodist Hymnal, 1966) Blessed Are the Pure in Heart, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in G, and settings of Psalms 121, 130, and 137.

Davies, aged 71 years, died in Wrington, Somerset, England, on March 11, 1941.









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

we bless your name for inspiring [Sir Henry Walford Davies]

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), 728


Feast of John H. Caldwell (March 12)   2 comments

Above:  First United Methodist Church, Newnan, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth



U.S. Methodist Minister and Social Reformer


We have sinned, and God has smitten us.

–John H. Caldwell, Newnan, Georgia, June 1865



The great Galileo Galilei warned many who were conventionally orthodox and sat in judgment on him for making shocking and revolutionary statements (such as that the Earth revolves around the Sun), that they may actually be heretics.  John H. Caldwell, in the middle of his life, concluded that he had been a heretic regarding slavery.  He chose actual orthodoxy.

Caldwell came to my attention years ago, when I was a graduate student at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia.  I was researching Methodist history regarding slavery; my focus in graduate school was the intersection of race and religion in the U.S. South.  Slavery was the rock upon which the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939) split in 1844-1845.  I knew that already, but I wanted to know more details.

I was a United Methodist from 1980 to 1991.  Then I became an Episcopalian.  I have never looked back, for I have concluded that I am on this planet to be an Episcopalian.  Besides, my theological development subsequent to my confirmation (St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, December 22, 1991) has led me to become a Single Predestinarian Anglican-Lutheran, contrary to Methodist theology.  My increasingly liberal and inclusive social views have placed me substantially to the left of where many of the more conservative elements of society are.  So be it.  I affirm that all human beings with both a pulse and brain waves possess unalienable natural rights, including civil rights and civil liberties.  Call me a radical, if you wish, O reader, but there I stand.  I will do no other.

I write this so that you, O reader, will understand that (1) I know whereof I write, and (2) I have no animosity toward The United Methodist Church.

I recall, as early as the middle 1980s, talk of The United Methodist Church being two denominations in one.  If the General Conference 2020 plays out the way I predict it will, 2020 may echo 1844.  Even if the General Conference of 2020 does not play out the way I predict it will, The United Methodist Church will continue to live into the typographical error and Freudian slip “Untied Methodist Church.”  This is an objective statement.  To quote William Butler Yeats in The Second Coming,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The big tent encompasses only those who choose to live within it.  Donatism did not die in norther Africa long ago.  No, it is alive and well, unfortunately.

As The United Methodist Church comes asunder and as the United States of America observes the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday, pondering another schism–that of 1844-1845–as well as the cause of it, should lead us to sober-minded contemplation of orthodoxy and heresy, actual and alleged.


John Hollis Caldwell as a white Southerner.  He, born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on June 4, 1820, was a son of James Caldwell (1768-1825) and Jane Wardlaw (1772-1822).  His family moved to Georgia when our saint was an infant.  He converted to Christianity and to Methodism, in particular, at the age of 16 years.  Six years later, the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) licensed Caldwell as an exhorter.  Our saint joined the Georgia Conference as a full minister in 1844.

The Methodist Episcopal Church concluded its General Conference of 1844 with a divorce agreement.  The cause of the divorce was slavery.  In particular, the question was whether James Osgood Andrew, the bishop assigned to the Georgia Conference, should continue as a bishop, despite owning slaves, in violation of church law.  He had not owned slaves in 1832, when he had become a bishop.  Yet Andrew had received slaves as inheritances over the years.  State law forbade him from freeing his slaves during his lifetime.  Slavery was still morally wrong, of course.  The MEC had been backing away from this moral truth since just a few years after its founding, as slaveholders joined.  The denomination finally issued a firm antislavery message again in 1864, shortly before the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution went to Congress.

One week apart, in May 1845, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) formed, for the same reason:  slavery.  The SBC formed because Northern-controlled missions boards of the Triennial Convention did not permit slaveholders to become missionaries.  Andrew became one of the founding bishops of the MECS, and continued to preach to slaves that they should obey their masters.

Caldwell joined the MECS and rose through the ranks to become a prominent member of the Georgia Conference thereof.  He accepted the conventional wisdom of his culture and the dominant theology thereof.  Caldwell believed that God supported and ordained slavery.  He quoted the Bible chapter-and-verse to defend this position.  He preached to slaves, telling them to obey their masters.  Opponents of slavery were heretics, fanatics, and radicals, according to Caldwell.  He insisted that they sought to destroy not just slavery, but the freedoms of press, speech, religion, and thought, too.  As Mark A. Noll has written in The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (2006), support for slavery became caught up with the authority of scripture.  Many, if not most, of those who argued for slavery theologically believed they were morally correct.

Above:  Old Main Building, Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

Caldwell also helped to found Andrew Female College (now Andrew College), Cuthbert, Georgia, which opened in 1854.  He taught moral and mental science there.  He, a slaveholder (via inheritances), sold one of his slaves to pay the college’s debts.  Caldwell’s father-in-law, a wealthy planter, insisted that a Methodist minister should not own slaves.  Our saint owned up to four slaves at a time, though.

Caldwell, by 1860 the pastor of Trinity Church, Savannah, had moved to Newnan to by 1864.  During the Civil War he supported slavery and the Confederacy.  He assumed that God was pro-Confederate States of America.


Then the proverbial scales fell away from Caldwell’s eyes in early 1865.  Confederate defeat threw many white Christian Southerners into a theological crisis.  They reasoned that surely God had supported slavery and the Confederacy, so how could they make sense of their reality?  Caldwell took a different position.  Over a few Sundays in June 1865 he alienated his congregation and most of the other people in Newnan by condemning slavery, secession, the Confederacy, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  He acknowledged, as he had in 1861, that the cause of the Confederacy had been slavery.  President Jefferson Davis had said as much in his Inaugural Address.  Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, speaking in Savannah in March 1861, had called slavery the cornerstone of the Confederacy.   He was proud of this cornerstone.  Caldwell surveyed the destruction of the Civil War and pronounced the judgment of God.  He also stated that the end of slavery was just.  The Confederacy had been sinful, too, the minister preached, and slavery tainted the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Caldwell’s time left at Newnan was brief.  The Presiding Elder (District Superintendent, in contemporary Methodist terms) removed our saint from the pulpit, at the request of the leaders of the congregation.  U.S. Army General George H. Thomas, who had authority in Georgia, reinstated him in September.  Thomas also ordered local U.S. Army personnel to to protect Caldwell.  Our saint left the Georgia Conference of the MECS in November 1865, after that annual conference voted to condemn the contents of his sermons.

Then Caldwell rejoined the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to begin rebuilding it in the former Confederacy.  He became a charter member of the new Georgia Conference of the MEC in January 1866.  He ministered to former slaves, helping them build churches, not telling them they should have obeyed their masters.  Predictably, the new Georgia Conference of the MEC was mostly African-American; it was politically and theologically suspect, according to most Southern Methodist neighbors.  Caldwell remained in Georgia until 1871, shortly after “redemption,” of the return of the antebellum ruling class to power.  He helped to found schools for former slaves.  Our saint, a religious scalawag, favored the Radical Republicans’ ambitious civil rights platform and worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to help his flock.  Caldwell attended the state constitutional convention (December 1867-March 1868) and served in the state legislature.  He opposed the expulsion of all his African-American colleagues from that body.  Caldwell and his fellow religious scalawags were, according to Edward H. Myers, the editor of the Southern Christian Advocate,

miserable traitors to their brethren, their church, and their country.

–Quoted in Daniel W. Stowell, Rebuilding Zion:  The Religious Reconstruction of the South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 133


Caldwell and his family to Delaware in 1871.  He had married Elizabeth Thurston Hodnett (1826-1902) on January 2, 1849.  The couple had had five sons and four daughters from 1849 to 1869.  Our saint joined the local conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and served as a pastor, a presiding elder, and a college president.

From 1885 to 1888 Caldwell served as the President of Delaware College (now the University of Delaware), then a men’s institution.  His time as a college president was unhappy for everybody involved.  Personality clashes abounded, and his inexperience created more problems.  Our saint perceived that people were conspiring around him.  They may have been, perhaps justifiably.  Caldwell was simultaneously of his time and ahead of it.  His antiquated moral disapproval of dancing led to some conflicts; he forbade it on campus.  Yet he favored admitting women to the student body; that was progressive.

Caldwell returned to parish ministry in 1888.

He, aged 78 years, died in Dover, Delaware, on Mach 11, 1899.


Caldwell may have been, as one of his adversaries at Delaware College claimed, “cranky,” but he possessed courage, too.  Our saint had enough courage to change his mind on a central issue of his time and to contradict conventional wisdom, as well as to speak up at great risk to himself and his livelihood.  He had the courage of his convictions.  History has rendered its verdict in Caldwell’s case; it has ruled in his favor.

As one should know, presenting evidence is frequently the least successful method of changing a person’s mind, especially in matters that pertain to one’s self-image.  Facts should matter, but ego protection often overrules objective reality.  Human beings are usually more irrational than rational, sadly.

By grace, Caldwell found the moral courage, starting in June 1865, to admit that he had been wrong–horribly, sinfully wrong.  Then he repented, paid the price, and made the world a better place for many of the “least of these.”

That is sufficient reason to honor him.


God of justice, we thank you for the example of your servant, John H. Caldwell,

who turned his back on the sins of slavery and, in the face of hostility,

labored for the civil rights of former slaves, his neighbors.

May we, by grace, confront our prejudices and, when necessary and proper to do so,

expose the foolishness of “received wisdom” and other ubiquitous assumptions,

for your glory and for the benefit of all people.

May the Church be on the vanguard of the struggle for social justice,

never on the side of the oppressors,

regardless of the price she will pay for standing with the “least of these.”

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

Amos 2:6-8

Psalm 71:1-6

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 6:20-26









Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany (March 8-April 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of the Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain


A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies, not a calendar of observances with any force or a popular following.  It does, however, constitute a forum to which to propose proper additions to church calendars.

Much of the Western Church observes January 18 as the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle, the rock upon which Christ built the Church.  (Just think, O reader; I used to be a Protestant boy!  My Catholic tendencies must be inherent.)  The celebration of that feast is appropriate.  The Church does not neglect St. Martha of Bethany, either.  In The Episcopal Church, for example, she shares a feast with her sister (St. Mary) and her brother (St. Lazarus) on July 29.

There is no Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany, corresponding to the Petrine feast, however.  That constitutes an omission.  I correct that omission somewhat here at my Ecumenical Calendar as of today.  I hereby define the Sunday immediately prior to Palm/Passion Sunday as the Feast of the Confession of St. Martha of Bethany.  The reason for the temporal definition is the chronology inside the Gospel of John.

This post rests primarily on John 11:20-27, St. Martha’s confession of faith in her friend, Jesus, as

the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.

The combination of grief, confidence, and faith is striking.  It is one with which many people identify.  It is one that has become increasingly relevant in my life during the last few months, as I have dealt with two deaths.

Faith frequently shines brightly in the spiritual darkness and exists alongside grief.  Faith enables people to cope with their grief and helps them to see the path through the darkness.  We need to grieve, but we also need to move forward.  We will not move forward alone, for God is with us.  If we are fortunate, so are other people, as well as at least one pet.


Loving God, who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth

and enjoyed the friendship of Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

We thank you for the faith of St. Martha, who understood that

you were the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was coming into the world.

May we confess with our lips and our lives our faith in you,

the Incarnate, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, and draw others to you;

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

Jeremiah 8:18-23

Psalm 142

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

John 11:1-44





Feast of Sts. Sylvia of Rome, Emiliana of Rome, Trasilla, and Gregory the Great (March 12)   8 comments


Above:  St. Gregory the Great

Image in the Public Domain




Also known as Saint Silvia of Rome

Her feast transferred from November 3

mother of


Bishop of Rome

His feast day = March 12

Alternative feast day = September 3

nephew of



Her feast transferred from September 3

sister of



Her feast transferred from December 24


Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” was a pious man and a major saint whose vocation overlapped with difficult times in Italy.  His piety, which served him and many others well, grew out of his family.

His great-grandfather (through his father’s side of the family tree) was Pope St. Felix II (sometimes listed as St. Felix III), who reigned from 483 to 492.  St. Felix had to contend with the monophysite heresy (that Jesus had only a divine nature), intertwined with the politics of the (Eastern) Roman Empire shortly after the gradual demise of the Western Roman Empire, complete in 476.  According to J. N. D. Kelly, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986), St. Felix was intransient, harsh, and authoritarian (page 47).


Above:  The Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 565

Image Source = Florida Center for Educational Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida

Image used in accordance with licensing rules at the website of FCIT, which requests that I include this link


St. Gregory I’s father was Gordianus, a Roman senator.  (Emperor Justinian I “the Great” had presided over the temporary reconquest of portions of the former Western Roman Empire.)  St. Gregory I’s mother was St. Sylvia of Rome (circa 515-circa 592).  The family resided in a mansion in Rome.  Then household included the future Pope’s aunts–sisters of Gordianus–St. Trasilla, and St. Emiliana of Rome at least.  According to some sources, there was a third sister, Gordiana.  The holy sisters/aunts had devoted their lives to God and chosen to live as ascetics in their brother’s household.  St. Gregory I also had a brother, whose name has not survived.  St. Sylvia, as a widow, joined her sisters-in-law in the ascetic life at the estate.

St. Gregory I, who served as the Prefect of Rome in 573 and 574, sold his property, donated the proceeds to the poor, lived ascetically, and became a monk at the estate in 574.  He also founded seven monasteries.  Pope Pelagius II removed St. Gregory I from the monastery in 578 and ordained him to the diaconate.  The following year the Supreme Pontiff dispatched him to Constantinople, the imperial capital, to request military aid in defending against incursions of the Lombards, who were building a kingdom in Italy.  Emperor Tiberius II (reigned 574-582) offered little help in defending his own territory in Italy, for he had other borders to defend too.  He recommended that the Italians seek help from the Franks and bribe the Lombards.  Our saint knew that he could not expect much help from Constantinople in the present time and in the future.  He returned to Rome and his monastery/estate in 585.  There he served as abbot while functioning as an advisor to Pope Pelagius II.

Pope Pelagius II died on February 7, 590.  Much to his chagrin St. Gregory I won election–unanimously, too–to the papal office.  The deacon would have preferred to continue as an abbot.  Despite all his attempts to evade the papacy, St. Gregory I became the Bishop of Rome on September 3, 590.  The 50-year-old saint, who was not in the best of health for much of the ensuing nearly 14 years, tended to his duties.  He, for example, enforced the celibacy of priests, established new rules for electing bishops, upheld papal supremacy, encouraged the veneration of authentic relics, established a school for singers, resisted Donatism in northern Africa, and wrote sermons and biblical commentaries.  Also, in 596, he sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and his retinue to England.  St. Gregory also found himself forced to perform civil functions, due to the breakdown of government and the negligence of imperial officials.  He, for example, negotiated treaties, appointed generals, paid soldiers, and coordinated the feeding of starving masses in war zones.  He was the de facto ruler of much of Italy.  St. Gregory I, unable to walk at the end of his life, died on March 12, 604, during a siege of Rome.  His canonization was immediate and a matter of public acclamation.

What might St. Gregory I have been without the influence of his family?  And, had he not accepted his responsibilities, how might the lives of many others been worse?  Perhaps another person would have stepped forward and acted at least as capably.  Perhaps not.

Sometimes one’s duty includes dealing with a bad situation and improving it, without making it good.  That description certainly applies to the circumstances with which St. Gregory I had to contend.  May we, like this great saint, rise to the occasion whenever presents itself.








Almighty and merciful God, you raised up Gregory the Great to be a servant of the servants of God,

and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people:

Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught,

that your people, being fruitful in every good work,

may receive the crown of glory that never fades away;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1a, 6-8

Psalm 57:6-11

Colossians 1:28-2:3

Mark 10:42-45

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 269


Feast of Rutilio Grande (March 12)   4 comments


Above:  Father Rutilio Grande Garcia

Image in the Public Domain


Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in El Salvador


It is a dangerous thing to be a Christian in our world.

–Father Grande, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 113


Father Rutilio Grande Garica, born into an impoverished family at El Paisanal, El Salvador, on July 5, 1928, identified with and worked among the poor and the oppressed, who were numerous in El Salvador, a nation-state with a long history of repressive military rule and a veneer of representative government.  His activism cost him his life.

Grande knew when he was an adolescent that he had a vocation to the priesthood.  At the age of 17 years he joined the Society of Jesus.  Our saint, ordained a priest in 1959, thought at first that his priestly vocation was to model perfection.  During the 1960s, however, he changed his mind.  His priestly vocation, he concluded, was actually to model loving service and self-sacrifice.

Grande became a leftist priest unpopular with the conservative Roman Catholic establishment that supported the repressive governments of El Salvador.  In 1965 he began to serve as the director of social action projects at the seminary in San Salvador, the capital.  Our saint, who held that position for nine years, used it to encourage future priests to not to seek prestige but instead to spend time with the rural poor and to identify with them.  This alarmed enough prominent people to lead to our saint’s reassignment as parish priest in the small town of Aguilares.  There he trained catechists and preached against social injustice, such as that of the variety that was government policy.  This angered local elites, who sought to have him silenced.

Grande preached a crucial sermon at a Mass in honor of Father Mario Bernal, a Colombian-born priest whom the government had recently arrested and deported without charges.  On February 13, 1977, our saint condemned the government of El Salvador, the feudal conditions under which it condemned the majority of the people to live, and the hypocrisy of professing Christians who tolerated these realities.  He said, in part:

I’m quite aware that very soon the Bible and the gospel won’t be allowed to cross our borders.  We’ll get only the bindings, because all the pages are subversive.  And I think that if Jesus himself came across the border at Chalatenango, they wouldn’t let him in.  They would accuse the Man-God, the prototype of man, of being a rabble-rouser, a foreign Jew, one who confused the people with exotic and foreign ideas, ideas against democracy–that is, against the wealthy minority, the clan of Cains!  Brothers, without any doubt, they would crucify him again.  And God forbid that I be one of the crucifiers!

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), page 114

Within a month Grande was dead.  He was driving a campesino and an adolescent boy in his van when government gunmen used machine guns to kill them.  This was the first time the El Salvadoran government had murdered a priest; it was certainly not the last.  Grande’s death prompted his friend, Oscar Romero, the new Archbishop of San Salvador, to speak out against government brutality toward the people.  Romero followed our saint in martyrdom three years later.

Our Lord and Savior commanded his followers to take up their crosses and follow him.  Rutilio Grande Garcia took up his cross and followed Christ to his own Golgotha, one with bullets, not nails.








Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Rutilio Grande Garcia,

to work for justice among people and nations,

for the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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


Feast of St. Theophanes the Chronicler (March 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Triumph of Orthodoxy Icon

Image in the Public Domain



Defender of Icons

St. Theophanes the Chronicler came from a wealthy family in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.  He grew up in the household of Emperor Constantine V (reigned 741-775), a supporter of Iconoclasm.  This position earned Constantine V the hostility of many clerics, hence his Greek nickname Kopranymos, or “dung-named,” for supposedly defecating during his baptism.  Scatological insults have long existed, even among some professional religious people.  The saint and his wife separated by mutual agreement; she became a nun and he a monk.  He built monasteries on Kalonymos Island and Mount Sigriana.  The saint became abbot at the latter in six years.

St. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicea in 787, opposing Iconoclasm.  This position brought him into conflict with Emperor Leo the Armenian (reigned 813-820), an Iconoclast.  The saint suffered from a scourging, two years of imprisonment, and banishment to Samothrace, where he died on March 12, 817, soon after arriving.  Ill treatment in prison caused the saint’s death.

The saint carries the nickname “the Chronicler” because of his history of the years 284-813.





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 Theophanes the Chronicler,

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 or 34:1-8

Philippians 3:7-15

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

–Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), pages 249 and 927


Revised on December 23, 2016


Feast of St. Maximillian of Treveste (March 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Numidia in 200 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Conscientious Objector

The Roman Empire had been engaged in on-and-off persecution of Christians since the first century C.E., with occasional empire-wide persecutions yet mostly regional yet not constant ones.  Christians, with much justification, thought of the Roman Empire as the force which had killed many of their coreligionists and might do the same to them.  Thus many of them refused to join the Roman Army.  Among these Christians was one St. Maximillian, who refused miliatry induction at Treveste, Numidia (now Tebersa, Algeria).  Taking this stance led to his beheading.

The state is essential; I am far from being an anarchist.  And the state must have sufficient power and funds to function effectively; I not a full-blown Libertarian either.  Yet I acknowledge that coercion is an inescapable element of the state.  If this were not true and accurate, there would be no law enforcement or incarceration.  This is necessary to a certain extent, given the realities of society.  Yet even that does not justify executing or otherwise punishing a conscientious objector.





Grant, O God,

that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart,

that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease;

that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 42:1-7

Psalm 72 or 72:1-4, 12-14

James 2:5-9, 12-17

Matthew 10:32-42

–The Book of Common Prayer (1979), pages 823 and 931


Revised on December 23, 2016


Saints’ Days and Holy Days for March   Leave a comment


Image Source = Bertil Videt

1 (Anna of Oxenhall and Her Faithful Descendants, Wenna the Queen, Non, Samson of Dol, Cybi, and David of Wales)

  • Edward Dearle, Anglican Organist and Composer
  • Edwin Hodder, English Biographer, Devotional Writer, and Hymn Writer
  • George Wishart, Scottish Calvinist Reformer and Martyr, 1546; and Walter Milne, Scottish Protestant Martyr, 1558
  • Richard Redhead, Anglican Composer, Organist, and Liturgist
  • Roger Lefort, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bourges

2 (Shabbaz Bhatti and Other Christian Martyrs of the Islamic World)

  • Aidan of Lindisfarne, Celtic Missionary Bishop; Caelin, Celtic Priest; Cedd of Lastingham, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Bishop of Essex, and Abbot of Lastingham; Cynibil of Lastingham, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest and Monk; Chad of Mercia, Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of York/the Northumbrians and of Lichfield/the Mercians and the Lindsey People; Vitalian, Bishop of Rome; Adrian of Canterbury, Roman Catholic Abbot of Saints Peter and Paul, Canterbury; Theodore of Tarsus, Roman Catholic Monk and Archbishop of Canterbury; and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, Celtic and Roman Catholic Monk, Hermit, Priest, and Bishop of Lindisfarne
  • Daniel March, Sr., U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Poet, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
  • Engelmar Unzeitig, German Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945
  • John Stuart Blackie, Scottish Presbyterian Scholar, Linguist, Poet, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Ludmilla of Bohemia, Duchess of Bohemia, and Martyr, 921; her grandson, Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, and Martyr, 929; Agnes of Prague, Bohemian Princess and Nun; her pen pal, Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Poor Clares; her sister, Agnes of Assisi, Abbess at Monticelli; and her mother, Hortulana of Assisi, Poor Clare Nun

3 (Katharine Drexel, Founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament)

  • Antonio Francesco Marzorati, Johannes Laurentius Weiss, and Michele Pro Fasoli, Franscican Missionary Priests and Martyrs in Ethiopia, 1716
  • Gervinus, Roman Catholic Abbot and Scholar
  • Henry Elias Fries, U.S. Moravian Industrialist; and his wife, Rosa Elvira Fries, U.S. Moravian Musician
  • Teresa Eustochio Verzeri, Founder of the Institute of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

4 (Charles Simeon, Anglican Priest and Promoter of Missions; Henry Martyn, Anglican Priest, Linguist, Translator, and Missionary; and Abdul Masih, Indian Convert and Missionary)

  • Christoph E. F. Weyse, Danish Lutheran Organist and Composer
  • Henry Suso, German Roman Catholic Mystic, Preacher, and Spiritual Writer
  • John Edgar Park, U.S. Presbyterian then Congregationalist Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Marie-Louise-Élisabeth de Lamoignon de Molé de Champlâtreux, Founder of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Louis
  • Thomas Hornblower Gill, English Unitarian then Anglican Hymn Writer

5 (Karl Rahner, Jesuit Priest and Theologian)

  • Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle, English Roman Catholic Convert, Spiritual Writer, and Translator of Spiritual Writings; Founder of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey
  • Christopher Macassoli of Vigevano, Franciscan Priest
  • Eusebius of Cremona, Roman Catholic Abbot and Humanitarian
  • Ion Costist, Franciscan Lay Brother
  • John S. Stamm, Bishop of The Evangelical Church then the Evangelical United Brethren Church

6 (Martin Niemoller, German Lutheran Minister and Peace Activist)

  • Chrodegang of Metz, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Fred B. Craddock, U.S. Disciples of Christ Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Renowned Preacher
  • Jean-Pierre de Caussade, French Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Director
  • Jordan of Pisa, Dominican Evangelist
  • William Bright, Anglican Canon, Scholar, and Hymn Writer

7 (James Hewitt McGown, U.S. Presbyterian Humanitarian)

  • Drausinus and Ansericus, Roman Catholic Bishops of Soissons; Vindician, Roman Catholic Bishop of Cambrai; and Leodegarius, Roman Catholic Bishop of Autun
  • Edward Osler, English Doctor, Editor, and Poet
  • Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, Founder of the Daughters of the Divine Savior
  • Paul Cuffee, U.S. Presbyterian Missionary to the Shinnecock Nation
  • Perpetua, Felicity, and Their Companions, Martyrs at Carthage, 203

8 (Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln)

  • Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John Hampden Gurney, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • John of God, Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God
  • William Henry Sheppard, Lucy Gantt Sheppard, and Samuel N. Lapsley, Southern Presbyterian Missionaries in the Congo

9 (Harriet Tubman, U.S. Abolitionist)

  • Emanuel Cronenwett, U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Frances of Rome, Founder of the Collatines
  • Johann Pachelbel, German Lutheran Organist and Composer
  • Pacian of Barcelona, Roman Catholic Bishop of Barcelona
  • Sophronius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem

10 (Marie-Joseph Lagrange, Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar)

  • Agripinnus of Autun, Roman Catholic Bishop; Germanus of Paris, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Droctoveus of Autun, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Alexander Clark, U.S. Methodist Protestant Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor
  • Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, Anglican Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • John Oglivie, Scottish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1615
  • Macarius of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop

11 (John Swertner, Dutch-German Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymnal Editor; and his collaborator, John Mueller, German-English Moravian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor)

  • Aengus the Culdee, Hermit and Monk; and Maelruan, Abbot
  • Eulogius of Spain, Roman Catholic Bishop of Toledo, Cordoba; and Leocrita; Roman Catholic Martyrs, 859
  • Francis Wayland, U.S. Baptist Minister, Educator, and Social Reformer
  • Mary Ann Thomson, Episcopal Hymn Writer
  • Pal Prennushi, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1948

12 (Trasilla and Emiliana; their sister-in-law, Sylvia of Rome; and her son, Gregory I “the Great,” Bishop of Rome)

  • Henry Walford Davies, Anglican Organist and Composer
  • John H. Caldwell, U.S. Methodist Minister and Social Reformer
  • Maximillian of Treveste, Roman Conscientious Objector and Martyr, 295
  • Rutilio Grande, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1977
  • Theophanes the Chroncler, Defender of Icons

13 (Yves Congar, Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian)

  • Heldrad, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • James Theodore Holly, Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, and the Dominican Republic; First African-American Bishop in The Episcopal Church
  • Plato of Symboleon and Theodore Studites, Eastern Orthodox Abbots; and Nicephorus of Constantinople, Patriarch
  • Roderic of Cabra and Solomon of Cordoba, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 857

14 (Fannie Lou Hamer, Prophet of Freedom)

  • Albert Lister Peace, Organist in England and Scotland
  • Harriet King Osgood Munger, U.S. Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • Nehemiah Goreh, Indian Anglican Priest and Theologian
  • Vincenzina Cusmano, Superior of the Sisters Servants of the Poor; and her brother, Giacomo Cusmano, Founder of the Sisters Servants of the Poor and the Missionary Servants of the Poor
  • William Leddra, British Quaker Martyr in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1661

15 (Zachary of Rome, Bishop of Rome)

  • Jan Adalbert Balicki and Ladislaus Findysz, Roman Catholic Priests in Poland
  • Jean Baptiste Calkin, Anglican Organist and Composer
  • Ozora Stearns Davis, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Vethappan Solomon, Apostle to the Nicobar Islands

16 (Adalbald of Ostevant, Rictrudis of Marchiennes, and Their Relations)

  • Abraham Kidunaia, Roman Catholic Hermit; and Mary of Edessa, Roman Catholic Anchoress
  • John Cacciafronte, Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, Bishop, and Martyr, 1183
  • Megingaud of Wurzburg, Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop
  • Thomas Wyatt Turner, U.S. Roman Catholic Scientist, Educator, and Civil Rights Activist; Founder of Federated Colored Catholics
  • William Henry Monk, Anglican Organist, Hymn Tune Composer, and Music Educator

17 (Patrick, Apostle of Ireland)

  • Ebenezer Elliott, “The Corn Law Rhymer”
  • Henry Scott Holland, Anglican Hymn Writer and Priest
  • Jan Sarkander, Silesian Roman Catholic Priest and “Martyr of the Confessional,” 1620
  • Josef Rheinberger, Germanic Roman Catholic Composer
  • Maria Barbara Maix, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

18 (Leonides of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Martyr, 202; Origen, Roman Catholic Theologian; Demetrius of Alexandria, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Alexander of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Theologian, and Liturgist
  • Eliza Sibbald Alderson, Poet and Hymn Writer; and John Bacchus Dykes, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Paul of Cyprus, Eastern Orthodox Martyr, 760
  • Robert Walmsley, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer


20 (Sebastian Castellio, Prophet of Religious Liberty)

  • Christopher Wordsworth, Hymn Writer and Anglican Bishop of Lincoln
  • Ellen Gates Starr, U.S. Episcopalian then Roman Catholic Social Activist and Reformer
  • Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra, Founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Jesus
  • Samuel Rodigast, German Lutheran Academic and Hymn Writer
  • Simon William Gabriel Bruté de Rémur, Roman Catholic Bishop of Vincennes

21 (Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach, Composers)

  • Lucia of Verona, Italian Roman Catholic Tertiary and Martyr, 1574
  • Mark Gjani, Albanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1947
  • Nicholas of Flüe and his grandson, Conrad Scheuber, Swiss Hermits
  • Serapion of Thmuis, Roman Catholic Bishop

22 (Deogratias, Roman Catholic Bishop of Carthage)

  • Emmanuel Mournier, French Personalist Philosopher
  • James De Koven, Episcopal Priest
  • Thomas Hughes, British Social Reformer and Member of Parliament
  • William Edward Hickson, English Music Educator and Social Reformer

23 (Gregory the Illuminator and Isaac the Great, Patriarchs of Armenia)

  • Meister Eckhart, Roman Catholic Theologian and Mystic
  • Metodej Dominik Trčka, Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1959
  • Umphrey Lee, U.S. Methodist Minister and President of Southern Methodist University
  • Victorian of Hadrumetum, Martyr at Carthage, 484
  • Walter of Pontoise, French Roman Catholic Abbot and Ecclesiastical Reformer

24 (Oscar Romero, Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador; and the Martyrs of El Salvador, 1980-1992)

  • Didacus Joseph of Cadiz, Capuchin Friar
  • George Rawson, English Congregationalist Hymn Writer
  • George Rundle Prynne, Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Paul Couturier, Apostle of Christian Unity
  • Thomas Attwood, “Father of Modern Church Music”


  • Dismas, Penitent Bandit

26 (Margaret Clitherow, English Roman Catholic Martyr, 1586)

  • Austin C. Lovelace, United Methodist Organist, Composer, Hymn Writer, and Liturgist
  • Flannery O’Connor, U.S. Roman Catholic Writer
  • James Rendel Harris, Anglo-American Congregationalist then Quaker Biblical Scholar and Orientalist; Robert Lubbock Bensly, English Biblical Translator and Orientalist; Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson, English Biblical Scholars and Linguists; Samuel Savage Lewis, Anglican Priest and Librarian of Corpus Christi College; and James Young Gibson, Scottish United Presbyterian Minister and Literary Translator
  • Ludger, Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster
  • Rudolph A. John, German-American Evangelical Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator

27 (Charles Henry Brent, Episcopal Missionary Bishop of the Philippines, Bishop of Western New York, and Ecumenist)

  • Nicholas Owen, Thomas Garnet, Mark Barkworth, Edward Oldcorne, and Ralph Ashley, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 1601-1608
  • Peter Lutkin, Episcopal Composer, Liturgist, and Music Educator
  • Robert Hall Baynes, Anglican Bishop of Madagascar
  • Rupert of Salzburg, Apostle of Bavaria and Austria
  • Stanley Rother, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Guatemala, 1981

28 (James Solomon Russell, Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Advocate for Racial Equality)

  • Elizabeth Rundle Charles, Anglican Writer, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer
  • Guntram of Burgundy, King
  • Katharine Lee Bates, U.S. Educator, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Richard Chevenix Trench, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin
  • Tutilo, Roman Catholic Monk and Composer

29 (Charles Villiers Stanford, Composer, Organist, and Conductor)

  • Dora Greenwell, Poet and Devotional Writer
  • John Keble, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • Jonas and Barachisius, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 327
  • Julius Ewald Kockritz, German-American Evangelical Minister, Hymn Writer, and Christian Educator

30 (Innocent of Alaska, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of North America)

  • Cordelia Cox, U.S. Lutheran Social Worker, Educator, and Resettler of Refugees
  • John Wright Buckham, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Writer
  • Julio Alvarez Mendoza, Mexican Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1927
  • Maria Restituta Kafka, Austrian Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1943

31 (Maria Skobtsova, Russian Orthodox Martyr, 1945)

  • Ernest Trice Thompson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Renewer of the Church
  • Franz Joseph Haydn and his brother, Michael Haydn, Composers
  • Joan of Toulouse, Carmelite Nun; and Simon Stock, Carmelite Friar
  • John Donne, Anglican Priest and Poet
  • John Marriott, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer



  • The Confession of Saint Martha of Bethany (the Sunday immediately prior to Palm Sunday; March 8-April 11)


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

Third Sunday in Lent, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Jacob’s Well in 1934

The Water of Life

MARCH 12, 2023


Exodus 17:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said,

Give us water to drink.

Moses said to them,

Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?

But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said,

Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?

So Moses cried out to the Lord,

What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.

The Lord said to Moses,

Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.

Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying,

Is the Lord among us or not?

Psalm 95 (New Revised Standard Version):

O come, let us sing to the LORD;

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the LORD is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and the dry land, which has hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,

let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!

Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Masah in the wilderness,

when your ancestors tested me,

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

For forty years I loathed that generation

and said,

They are a people whose hearts go astray,

and they do not regard my ways.

Therefore in anger I swore,

They shall not enter my rest.

Romans 5:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

John 4:5-42 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her,

Give me a drink.

(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him,

How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?

(Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her,

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.

The woman said to him,

Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?

Jesus said to her,

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.

The woman said to him,

Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.

Jesus said to her,

Go, call your husband, and come back.

The woman answered him,

I have no husband.

Jesus said to her,

You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!

The woman said to him,

Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.

Jesus said to her,

Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The woman said to him,

I know that Messiah is coming

(who is called Christ).

When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.

Jesus said to her,

I am he, the one who is speaking to you.

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said,

What do you want?


Why are you speaking with her?

Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people,

Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?

They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him,

Rabbi, eat something.

But he said to them,

I have food to eat that you do not know about.

So the disciples said to one another,

Surely no one has brought him something to eat?

Jesus said to them,

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,

He told me everything I have ever done.

So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman,

It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Water is precious, especially in the desert.  Modern-day Israel and surrounding nations, the locations of most of the Biblical narrative, are mostly desert.  So think of the Biblical references to water.  (Psalm 1 comes to mind immediately.)  Water can make the difference between life and death.

H2O can make the make the difference between physical life and death, just as spiritual water can make the difference between spiritual life and death.  That is my theme for this entry.

God had delivered the Israelites (through water) out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom.  This liberty entailed a nomadic life in the desert of the Sinai Peninsula.  God provided the Israelites everything they needed for survival, yet many people grumbled, waxing nostalgically about Egyptian table scraps and pressing Moses about where to find more water. They found it inside rocks.  Indeed, the presence of water inside rocks is a fact of nature.  The main issue with the Israelites was their faithlessness, fed by a lack of gratitude, patience, and vision.

Often we (including the author of this post) are impatient of God, unaware of how fortunate we are.  Human nature does not change.

Samaritans were half-breeds and heretics by orthodox Jewish standards.  So why did Jesus deign to carry on an intelligent, non-judgmental conversation with one of them?  And with a woman!  Women were the social inferiors of men in that patriarchal society.  This Samaritan woman had more faith than did many Israelites shortly after the Exodus, though, and she received spiritual water and rejuvenated faith.  She went away justified.

Truly all people who seek and find God, who demonstrate living faith in the one true deity and his only Son, Jesus, are acceptable to God–regardless of ethnic origin or sex.  Some heretics have more faith than certain observant people.  Some of my most productive and interesting theological discussions have been with refugees and exiles from organized religion.  I think especially of a young woman I knew as a classmate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, in the early and middle 1990s.  Brittany (not her real name) had grown up in a conservative, Charismatic congregation of an old, mainline Protestant denomination.  She cared deeply about epistomology, or how we know what we know.  Brittany’s congregation did not encourage her epistomological quest, equating it with faithlessness.  So, wounded and unwelcome, she left organized religion.  That was were she was spiritually when I spoke to her last, in early 1996.  Yet she was more faithful in a healthy way than those other students who attended fundamentalist churches weekly (or more often) and who discouraged my questions, telling me they would lead me to damnation.

Receptiveness to God is not the sole province of those who seem orthodox.  Sometimes the alleged heretics are closer to God.  Penitent prostitutes (not St. Mary Magdalene, who was not a prostitute), unlike some Pharisees, welcomed the message of our Lord and Savior.  The Samaritan woman at the well found much more than she expected, and led others to Jesus.  And Gentiles found God throughout the New Testament.  Perhaps the pivotal difference between those who embrace God and those who think they do is that the former population knows fully of its need for God, and therefore does not cling to false pride.

So there you have it.  May we welcome healthy faith in the only God wherever we find it, in whomever it lives.