Archive for the ‘October 1’ Category

Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (October 1)   4 comments

Above:  St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

Also known as Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, and the Little Flower of the Child Jesus

Alternative feast day = September 20

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, born Françoise-Marie Thérèse Martin at Alençon, Normandy, France, on January 2, 1873, came from a devout family.  Her parents were saints–literally.  Louis Martin (1823-1894), a watchmaker, and his wife, Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin (1831-1877), had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  The Roman Catholic Church declared them Venerables in 1994, beatified them in 2008, canonized them in 2015, and set July 12, their wedding day, as their feast day.

St. Thérèse led a brief and pious life.  Her mother, known informally as Zelie, died when St. Thérèse was just four years old.  The widower father raised his five daughters.  St. Thérèse, the youngest of the children, was the baby of the family; her father and sisters were very attentive to her, to the point of spoiling her.

St. Thérèse had a conversion experience at the age of 14 years and became Carmelite novice at the age of 15 years.  On Christmas Eve 1886 the 14-year-old saint, who had played a nun as a girl, had a vision of the infant Jesus.  Her vocation, she realized, was to pray for priests.  Our saint, seeking to give her whole life to God, gained the necessary special permission to enter the Carmelite convent (the same one where two of her sisters were nuns) in Lisieux.  She became Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

In the convent St. Thérèse obeyed the order’s rule to the letter, felt intimacy with God, and suffered failing health and spiritual difficulties with outward good cheer.  Our saint was, by nature and conditioning, neurotic.  St. Thérèse’s determination to be love and

to make Love loved

compelled her as she offered to God her devotion and suffering in the hope that God would credit them to souls in greater name than she.  The author of The Story of a Soul understood herself to be a

little flower of Jesus

who glorified God in her metaphysical garden.

St. Thérèse, aged 24 years, died of tuberculosis at the convent on September 30, 1897.  She had, for a time, felt abandoned by God as she struggled with despairs.  She had lost all certainty.  At the end, however, faith remained.  Her last words were,

Oh, I love Him!…My God,…I love you.

The Church recognized St. Thérèse.  Pope Benedict XV declared her a Venerable in 1921.  Pope Pius XI beatified her in 1923 and canonized her in 1925.  Pope John Paul II declared St. Thérèse a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

At the end of her life St. Thérèse had faith, not certainty.

Faith, when it is what it should be, is never about objective, historical-scientific certainty, in the style of Enlightenment Modernism.  Much knowledge of that variety exists and is valid; intellectually honest people should embrace it.  Enlightenment Modernism does have limits, though.  At that point faith takes over; a different form of certainty is present.






Gracious Father, who called your servant Thérèse to a life of fervent prayer,

give to us the spirit of prayer and zeal for the ministry of the Gospel,

that the love of Christ may be known throughout the world;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Judith 8:1-8

Psalm 119:1-8

Luke 21:1-4

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018



Feast of Marie-Joseph Aubert (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert

Image in the Public Domain



Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion

Also known as Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert and Meri

Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  There is also a cause for her canonization in the Roman Catholic Church.  The irony of that is wonderful, given how often Aubert was at odds with the hierarchy of her Church, especially in New Zealand.

(Marie Henriette) Suzanne Aubert, born in Saint-Symphorien-de-Lay, Loire, near Lyons, France, on June 19, 1835, was devout from an early age.  Her father was Louis Aubert, a bailiff.  Our saint’s mother was Henriette Catherine Clarice Périer.  Suzanne, disabled for a long time due to a childhood accident, recovered.  The experience contributed to her decision to spend her life helping the disabled, the deformed, and the seriously ill.  So did contact with Marists in Lyons.  St. Jean Baptiste Vianney (1746-1859) mentored Suzanne spiritually from her teens into her early twenties.  She became a nurse and served during the Crimean War.  Our saint also studied piano under the tutelage of Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  In September 1860 the 25-year-old saint, resisting family opposition to her intention to become a nun, joined the missionary expedition of Bishop François Pompallier to New Zealand.

Our saint spent most of the rest of her life in New Zealand.

She taught Maori girls in Auckland from 1860 to 1869.  During this period Suzanne Aubert became Sister Marie-Joseph of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, in June 1861.  The French-Irish order divided in 1862; the French nuns formed the Congregation of the Holy Family.  Bishop Pompallier left New Zealand in 1868 and resigned in March 1869.  His financial troubles caused the school to close and the Congregation of the Holy Family to disband.  Bishop T. W. Cooke, the next bishop to whom Aubert answered, ordered her to return to France.  Our saint disobeyed, replying,

I have come here for the Maoris, I shall die in their midst.  I will do what I like.

Aubert moved to Napier in February 1871; there she served in a lay capacity in the Marist Order’s Hawke’s Bay Mission, at the invitation of Father Euloge Reignier.  At that time our saint was a sister of the Third Order Regular of Mary.  At the Hawke’s Bay Mission she worked as a nurse, a catechist, and a teacher.  She, fluent in Maori, prepared and published a Maori-language catechism and prayer-book in 1879 and a Maori grammar in 1885.  She, known to the Maori as “Meri,” studied Maori herbal remedies and used them to supplement Western medicines.  Our saint also proved vital to the revival of the Marist mission in the Diocese of Wellington.  The mission, devastated by war during the 1860s, was short on priests.  Aubert’s persistence in lobbying Archbishop Francis Redwood and the leaders of the Marist Order led to the presence of more priests, including Father Christophe Soulas.

Aubert, Soulas, and three Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth arrived at the Jerusalem Mission on the Wanganui River on July 8, 1883.  Personality and philosophical differences became evident quickly, leading to the departure of the Sisters of Saint Joseph the following year.  Soulas and Aubert, allies, eventually received permission to found a new diocesan order, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (1892).  Aubert served as the first Superior of the order.  The members of the order initially focused on education and health care for Maori.  The nuns operated schools, dispensed medicine, and cared for disabled people and the chronically ill.  Aubert raised funds for the order by marketing herbal remedies.

At the Jerusalem Mission, starting in 1891, Aubert’s work also involved taking in abandoned and neglected children.  In the space of a decade she accepted responsibility for 70 children.  In the context of politics in New Zealand, European-style founding institutions were controversial.  Aubert, partially dependent on yet distrustful of civil authorities, refused to open the books for government inspectors.  Also, the geographically isolated mission was not the best place for the foundling institution.

Thus, it came to pass that, in January 1899, Aubert and three sisters did arrive in Wellington.  While the Jerusalem Mission continued our saint opened a new front in her work–helping urban poor people–invalids, the hungry, the unemployed, the incurably ill, et cetera.  The soup kitchen was controversial because, according to the colonial Department of Labour, it allegedly discouraged people from seeking employment.  Aubert’s rebuttal was that she was meeting a need.  The affordable daycare was popular with mothers.  Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington, opened in 1907, accepted the unwanted, handicapped, and seriously ill children, as well as chronically and terminally ill women.

Aubert founded St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in Auckland in 1910.  This institution attracted the ire of the government and of certain Protestants alike.  Why was the order so secretive, protecting the privacy of children?  Yet Aubert and her defenders replied that the policy was necessary, to reduce the likelihood of infanticide.

Aubert also had enemies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in New Zealand.  Certainly diplomacy was not her defining characteristic.  Neither was obedience.  (Nor should they have been.)  Aubert had, for example, ignored Archbishop Redwood’s order that she help only Roman Catholics.  As she told donors, her work was

salvation of souls, not the sanctification of Catholics.

Furthermore, Henry Cleary, the Bishop of Auckland, thought that our saint should have restricted her work to efforts to help women.  He arranged for the closing of St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in 1916.

Aubert spent 1913-1919 in Europe.  She went there to seek papal approval for her order, but stayed until after the end of World War I.  Our saint, who worked as a nurse during the Great War, obtained the desired papal approval and became the Superior General of her order in April 1917.

Aubert spent her final years in her adopted country.  She, aged 91 years, died at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington.  Mourners at her funeral included many politicians and leaders of a variety of denominations.  It was the largest funeral for a woman in New Zealand.

Aubert loved her neighbors as she loved herself.  The Golden Rule, seemingly simple and inoffensive, has proven to be neither simple nor inoffensive.  That has been unfortunate, reflecting the immorality and amorality of those who have found it offensive.








God of love, we remember with thanksgiving Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert,

whose devotion to the needs of others transcended race or religion;

touch us deeply with your love,

enlarge the boundaries of our compassion,

and keep us in the way of Jesus, for your name’s sake.  Amen.


Jesus of Jerusalem, in your compassion, Marie-Joseph visited and fed

the taurekareka, the unwanted, the desperate and the criminal;

give to your whole church, we pray, your caring, pioneering spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 107:1-22

James 2:14-18

Mark 6:34-44

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia


Feast of St. Romanus the Melodist (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Romanus the Melodist

Image in the Public Domain



Deacon and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint Romanos the Melodist and Saint Roman the Melodist

Alternative feast day = October 14

St. Romanus the Melodist comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.  Many details of his life are lost to us in 2018, but enough are available.

St. Romanus, author of hymns, entered the world in Emesa, now in Syria, circa 490.  His parents were Jewish.  Whether they were also Christian has become lost in the ravages of time.  Our saint, baptized at an early age, grew up in the church; he loved God and the church.  St. Romanus, as a youth, lit lamps and prepared the censer at this parish.  Eventually our saint moved to Beirut, where he, ordained a deacon, served in the Church of the Resurrection.  Later the deacon relocated to Constantinople, the imperial capital, where he spent the rest of his life.

St. Romanus was a humble man and an ascetic with a devotion to the Mother of Our Lord and Savior.  He was, for many years, self-conscious about his singing voice and his public reading ability, both of which he considered substandard.  One Christmas Eve, however, after a vision of St. Mary of Nazareth, St. Romanus had a much improved singing voice and public reading ability.  He also began to write kontakia, or hymns for saints’ days and major feasts.  Our saint composed in excess of 1000 kontakia, about 80 of which have survived to 2018.

St. Romanus died in Constantinople circa 556.

The loss of 920 or so kontakia of St. Romanus has been a terrible one.  Those kontakia still extant have remained in use, however.

St. Romanus sought to honor God with his life.  He succeeded.

May we succeed in that goal also, by grace.








Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Saint Romanus the Melodist 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








Feast of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, and British Humanitarian (October 1)   2 comments

Houses of Parliament, London, England, United Kingdom

An Image in the Public Domain



Lord Shaftesbury

Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury

Member of Parliament


Social Reformer

Anthony Ashley Cooper, born in London on April 28, 180, was a son of Cropley Cooper, brother of the Fifth Earl of Shaftesbury.  Cooper’s mother, Anne, was daughter of the Fourth Earl of Marlborough.  The Fifth Earl of Shaftesbury died in 1811, so Cooper’s father became the Sixth Earl and Cooper became Lord Shaftesbury.  Our hero succeeded his father as Earl of Shaftesbury in 1851.

Born into nobility and educated at Oxford, Lord Shaftesbury represented successive constituencies most of the years from 1826 to 1851, when he transferred to the House of Lords.  While in the House of Commons, he began his work of improving the lives of vulnerable people.  For example, residents of lunatic asylums, as people called them at the time, were social outcasts subject to notorious abuses.  Cooper, however, was able to remove most of the worst abuses.  Lunatics, he said, were ill, therefore in need of treatment, not abuse and ostracism.  He took up this cause in 1828 and continued it for many years.

Other vulnerable people Lord Shaftesbury helped included factory and mine workers.  He secured government regulation of working hours, reducing the workday to ten hours.  This happened in 1847, after years of negotiation and strong opposition.  And mine owners opposed the Mines Act of 1842, which outlawed  the employment of all women and girls plus all boys younger than thirteen years in such conditions.

Lord Shaftesbury also lobbied for public health after an 1841 tour of the East End of London.  He believed that all people should have access to proper housing, clean water, and what the 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica called politely “the disposal of nuisances.”  From this portion of Cooper’s career came a series of public health laws, including the building and annual inspection of clean, safe, and sanitary housing for members of the working class.

Cooper continued the good work as a member of the House of Lords, for he worked on housing issues (just to offer one example) until the end of his life.  He also took an interest in free public schools for poor children.  These were the “rugged schools” and, for four decades, Lord Shaftesbury served as President of the Rugged School Union.

Why did Lord Shaftesbury engage in these works?  He said it best in 1828, in the context of his effort to reform asylums:  “By God’s blessing, my first effort has been for the advancement of human happiness.”  And, as he told his biographer many years later, while speaking of a man’s religion, “if it is worth anything, [it] should enter into every sphere of life, and rule his conduct in every relation.”

The Episcopal Church added Lord Shaftesbury to its calendar of saints in 2009, pairing him with William Wilberforce on July 30.  Wilberforce, of course, worked long and hard for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery within the British Empire.  So this is a logical pairing, for Cooper, like Wilberforce a member of the Evangelical wing of The Church of England, also opposed slavery strongly.  Yet I think it appropriate to give Lord Shaftesbury, who died on October 1, 1885, his own feast day.

Lord Shaftesbury was able at least to ease the burdens and suffering of many vulnerable people.  He could not outlaw all child labor, for example, but he could and did ban much of it.  To do something positive is better than doing nothing for others.   It matters that we do what we can–play our part–and pass the baton to others, who will continue our work.  What will your contribution be?  How will you leave your corner of the world better than you found it?

By way of giving credit where it is due, I acknowledge my great debt of gratitude to the 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica and the 1962 Encyclopedia Americana.  (I knew that keeping them was a good idea!)  The collect and choice of readings, however, originate with me.


Loving God, who sent a succession of prophets to remind people, potentates, and societies of the obligation to care for the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, thank  you for the holy example of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury.  May we also persist in seeking to help others, and may we succeed, by grace, for the benefit of others, and for the glory of your holy Name.  Amen.

Isaiah 1:1-31

Psalm 8

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Luke 8:26-39





Saints’ Days and Holy Days for October   1 comment


Image Source = Alvesgaspar

1 (Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury, British Humanitarian and Social Reformer)

  • Marie-Joseph Aubert, Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion
  • Romanus the Melodist, Deacon and Hymnodist
  • Thérèse of Lisieux, Roman Catholic Nun and Mystic

2 (Ralph W. Sockman, U.S. United Methodist Minister)

  • Carl Doving, Norwegian-American Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator
  • James Allen, English Inghamite then Glasite/Sandemanian Hymn Writer; and his great-nephew, Oswald Allen, English Glasite/Sandemanian Hymn Writer
  • Petrus Herbert, German Moravian Bishop and Hymnodist

3 (George Kennedy Allen Bell, Anglican Bishop of Chichester)

  • Alberto Ramento, Prime Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church
  • Gerard of Brogne, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • John Raleigh Mott, U.S. Methodist Lay Evangelist, and Ecumenical Pioneer

4 (Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Order of Friars Minor)

  • William Scarlett, Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

5 (David Nitschmann, Sr., “Father Nitschmann,” Moravian Missionary; Melchior Nitschmann, Moravian Missionary and Martyr; Johann Nitschmann, Jr., Moravian Missionary and Bishop; Anna Nitschman, Moravian Eldress; and David Nitschmann, Missionary and First Bishop of the Renewed Moravian Church)

  • Cyriacus Schneegass, German Lutheran Minister, Musician, and Hymn Writer
  • Francis Xavier Seelos, German-American Roman Catholic Priest
  • Harry Emerson Fosdick, U. S. Northern Baptist Minister and Opponent of Fundamentalism

6 (George Edward Lynch Cotton, Anglican Bishop of Calcutta)

  • Heinrich Albert, German Lutheran Composer and Poet
  • John Ernest Bode, Anglican Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • William Tyndale, English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Martyr; and Miles Coverdale, English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Bishop of Exeter

7 (Wilhelm Wexels, Norwegian Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator; his niece, Marie Wexelsen, Norwegian Lutheran Novelist and Hymn Writer; Ludwig Lindeman, Norwegian Lutheran Organist and Musicologist; and Magnus Landstad, Norwegian Lutheran Minister, Folklorist, Hymn Writer, and Hymnal Editor)

  • Bradford Torrey, U.S. Ornithologist and Hymn Writer
  • Johann Gottfried Weber, German Moravian Musician, Composer, and Minister
  • John Woolman, Quaker Abolitionist

8 (Erik Routley, English Congregationalist Hymnodist)

  • Abraham Ritter, U.S. Moravian Merchant, Historian, Musician, and Composer
  • Richard Whately, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland
  • William Dwight Porter Bliss, Episcopal Priest; and Richard Theodore Ely, Economists

9 (Denis, Bishop of Paris, and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs)

  • John Leonardi, Founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca; and Joseph Calasanctius, Founder of the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools
  • Robert Grosseteste, English Roman Catholic Scholar, Philosopher, and Bishop of Lincoln
  • Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, Medical Missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador

10 (Johann Nitschmann, Sr., Moravian Missionary and Bishop; David Nitschmann, Jr., the Syndic, Moravian Missionary and Bishop; and David Nitschmann, the Martyr, Moravian Missionary and Martyr)

  • Christian Ludwig Brau, Norwegian Moravian Teacher and Poet
  • Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Louis FitzGerald Benson, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Hymnodist


12 (Martin Dober, Moravian Bishop and Hymn Writer; Johann Leonhard Dober, Moravian Missionary and Bishop; and Anna Schindler Dober, Moravian Missionary and Hymn Writer)

  • Cecil Frances Alexander, Irish Anglican Hymn Writer
  • Edith Cavell, English Nurse and Martyr, 1915
  • Nectarius of Constantinople, Archbishop

13 (Christian David, Moravian Missionary)

  • Claus Westermann, German Lutheran Minister and Biblical Translator
  • Herbert G. May, U.S. Biblical Scholar and Translator
  • Vincent Taylor, British Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

14 (Callixtus I, Anterus, and Pontian, Bishops of Rome; and Hippolytus, Antipope)

  • Roman Lysko, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1949
  • Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Episcopal Bishop of Shanghai, and Biblical Translator
  • Thomas Hansen Kingo, Danish Lutheran Bishop, Hymn Writer, and “Poet of Eastertide”

15 (Teresa of Avila, Spanish Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Reformer)

16 (Albert E. R. Brauer, Australian Lutheran Minister and Hymn Translator)

  • Augustine Thevarparampil, Indian Roman Catholic Priest and “Good Shepherd of the Dalits”
  • Gaspar Contarini, Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal and Agent of Reconciliation
  • Hedwig of Andechs, Roman Catholic Princess and Nun; and her daughter, Gertrude of Trzebnica, Roman Catholic Abbess

17 (Charles Gounod, French Roman Catholic Composer)

  • Birgitte Katerine Boye, Danish Lutheran Poet, Playwright, Hymn Translator, and Hymn Writer
  • John Bowring, English Unitarian Hymn Writer, Social Reformer, and Philanthropist


19 (Jerzy Popieluszko, Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1984)

  • Claudia Frances Ibotson Hernaman, Anglican Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Congregation of Discaled Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion

20 (Philip Schaff and John Williamson Nevin, U.S. German Reformed Historians, Theologians, and Liturgists)

  • Friedrich Funcke, German Lutheran Minister, Composer, and Hymn Writer
  • Mary A. Lathbury, U.S. Methodist Hymn Writer
  • Pavel Chesnokov, Russian Orthodox Composer

21 (George McGovern, U.S. Senator and Stateman; and his wife, Eleanor McGovern, Humanitarian)

  • David Moritz Michael, German-American Moravian Musician and Composer
  • James W. C. Pennington, African-American Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, Educator, and Abolitionist
  • Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena, Foundress of the Works of the Indians and the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary and of Saint Catherine of Siena

22 (Frederick Pratt Green, British Methodist Minister, Poet, and Hymn Writer)

  • Emily Huntington Miller, U.S. Methodist Author and Hymn Writer
  • Katharina von Schlegal, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • Paul Tillich, German-American Lutheran Theologian


24 (Rosa Parks, African-American Civil Rights Activist)

  • Fritz Eichenberg, German-American Quaker Wood Engraver
  • Henry Clay Shuttleworth, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

25 (Philipp Nicolai, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer)

  • Proclus, Archbishop of Constantinople; and Rusticus, Bishop of Narbonne

26 (Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons)

  • Arthur Campbell Ainger, English Educator, Scholar, and Hymn Writer
  • Francis Pott, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Henry Stanley Oakeley, Composer

27 (James A. Walsh and Thomas Price, Cofounders of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers; and Mary Josephine Rogers, Foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic)

  • Aedesius, Priest and Missionary; and Frumentius, First Bishop of Axum and Abuna of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
  • Dmitry Bortniansky, Russian Orthodox Composer
  • Harry Webb Farrington, U.S. Methodist Minister and Hymn Writer


29 (James Hannington, Anglican Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa; and His Companions, Martyrs)

  • Bartholomaus Helder, German Lutheran Minister, Composer, and Hymn Writer
  • Joseph Grigg, English Presbyterian Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Paul Manz, Dean of Lutheran Church Music

30 (Hugh O’Flaherty, “Scarlet Pimperel of the Vatican”)

  • Marcellus the Centurion and Cassian of Tangiers, Roman Catholic Martyrs, 298
  • Oleksa Zarytsky, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1963
  • Walter John Mathams, British Baptist then Presbyterian Minister, Author, and Hymn Writer

31 (Reformation Day)

  • Daniel C. Roberts, Episcopal Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Gerhard Von Rad, German Lutheran Biblical Scholar
  • Paul Shinji Sasaki, Anglican Bishop of Mid-Japan, Bishop of Tokyo, and Primate of Nippon Sei Ko Kei; and Philip Lendel Tsen, Anglican Bishop of Honan and Presiding Bishop of Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui


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

Proper 21, Year A   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Francis of Assisi Kneeling (1635-1639), Painted by Francisco de Zubaran

Against All Pretenses

The Sunday Closest to September 28

Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 28, 2014

OCTOBER 1, 2017



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 78:1-14, 12-16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Hear my teaching, O my people;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2  I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.

3  That which we have heard and known,

and what our forefathers have told us,

we will not hide from their children.

4  We will recount to generations to come

the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD,

and the wonderful works he has done.

12 He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers,

in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

13  He split open the sea and let them pass through;

he made the waters stand up like walls.

14  He led them with a cloud by day,

and all the night through with a glow of fire.

15  He split the hard rocks in the wilderness

and gave them drink as from the great deep.

16  He brought streams out of the cliff,

and the waters gushed out like rivers.


Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 (New Revised Standard Version):

The word of the LORD came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live.

Psalm 25:1-8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

my God, I put my trust in you;

let me not be humiliated,

nor let my enemies triumph over me.

2  Let none who look to you be put to shame;

let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

3  Show me your ways, O LORD,

and teach me your paths.

4  Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

in you have I trusted all the day long.

5  Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love,

for they are from everlasting.

6  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;

remember me according to your love

and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7  Gracious and upright is the LORD;

therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8  He guides the humble in doing right

and teaches his way to the lowly.


Philippians 2:1-13 (New Revised Standard Version):

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete:  be of the same mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death–

even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord,

the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.


Matthew 21:23-32 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, `From heaven,’ he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, `Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, `I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”

The Collect:

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


I have become convinced that following a lectionary is one of the best, if not the best, way to study the Bible.  There is a place for studying just one text, but placing two or more of them side-by-side and identifying common threads is wonderful, too.  And that is one purpose of the orderly reading of scripture per a lectionary.

The common thread here is the necessity of obedience to God.  What stands in the way of that?  Various issues do.  Sometimes we misunderstand God, as did many of my Antebellum forebears who used the Bible to justify slavery, based on a literal reading of some passages (or parts of passages) but not others, as well as their own economic interests, racist views, and other cultural baggage.  They were sincerely wrong, which means that they were still wrong.  We have cultural blinders today, so we need not to content ourselves with condemning our benighted forebears, for each of us is severely mistaken in some ways, too.

Others do not try, at least as much as they ought to do.  Consider the case of the Israelites in the wilderness.  They focused on what they lacked, not what they had.  I have done a similar thing many times, and probably will do so again.  Or maybe the fault is that one operates out of selfish motivations.  I have seen this dynamic hobble more than one congregation.  When a person of influence, if not title, in a congregation, especially a small one, does not check his or ego at the church doors, the results are unfortunate.  Paul understood the assembly of the faithful to function much like the human body; everybody is necessary and the tasks differ according to each member.  What matters most is to identify one’s proper role, fulfill it, and to be content to do that–all for the improvement of the body and the glory of God.

We cannot and will not do this if we are taking ego trips and using our pretenses as crutches.  This is why Jesus said that some prostitutes would enter Heaven before certain Pharisees would.  The former had no pretenses, unlike the latter.  In another story, the wealthy young man relied on his money and possessions.  They insulated him from full knowledge of his reliance on God.  That was why Jesus told him to give them up.

We get one crutch–God.  This is the God who has become incarnate as Jesus, who, Paul tells us, did not let anything stand in the way of his faithful obedience.  Our Lord did not stand on ceremony, flaunt pretenses, or take his identity from others.  No, his identity was internal, as is yours, and as is mine.  Jesus was the Son of God.  I am, through Jesus, a member of the household of God.  You, O reader, are also one, I hope.  Knowing who we are–children of God–and whose we are–God’s–may we, using the one proper crutch, abandon our false egos and pretense.  May we journey toward God, supporting each other as our paths converge, for our individual and common good, and for the glory of God.


Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 15, 2011

Posted May 9, 2011 by neatnik2009 in October 1, Revised Common Lectionary Year A

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