Archive for the ‘Constantius II’ Tag

Feast of St. Zoticus of Constantinople (December 31)   1 comment

Above:  Roman Imperial Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED CIRCA 350)

Priest and Martyr, Circa 350

St. Zoticus of Constantinople comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in America.

St. Zoticus cared for the poor and the sick, and became a martyr.  He was a wealthy man in the service of Emperor Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337).  In 330, when Constantine I moved the imperial capital to Constantinople (the former Byzantium), St. Zoticus also moved to Constantinople.  He became a priest and began to take care of poor people and orphans in his home.  Thus began a homeless shelter, built and maintained at least partially with imperial funds.  St. Zoticus objected to the customary practice by which the military drowned lepers.  He rescued the lepers and cared for them at the shelter.

Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361), an Arian, crossed theological paths with the orthodox St. Zoticus.  The immediate cause of the martyrdom of St. Zoticus, however, was much like that of the martyrdom of St. Laurence of Rome about a century earlier.  When Constantius II, assuming that St. Zoticus had used imperial funds to purchase luxury items, tried to claw back the funds.  St. Zoticus presented sick and homeless people.  Constantius II ordered the execution of our saint, dragged over stones, behind wild mules.

St. Zoticus agreed with St. Laurence, who asserted that the poor are the treasures of the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR.; AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Sts. Maximilian of Antioch, Bonosus, and Maximianus the Soldier (August 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Empire, 330

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH (DIED CIRCA 353)

SAINT BONOSUS (DIED IN 362)

SAINT MAXIMIANUS THE SOLIDER (DIED IN 362)

Roman Soldiers and Martyrs

These three saints were soldiers of the Herculean Legion of the imperial Roman Army.

The first to die was St. Maximilian of Antioch.  In 353 Constantius II (reigned 337-361) sat on the throne.  He was, for orthodox Christians, a troublesome figure, given his Arian sympathies and policy of exiling certain prominent orthodox bishops, including St. Athanasius of Alexandria.  St. Maximilian received an order to remove the monogram of Christ, the Chi-Ro, from the legion’s standard.  He refused, and became a martyr.

Above:  The Chi-Ro

Image in the Public Domain

A few years later, the pagan Julian the Apostate (reigned 361-363) launched an empire-wide persecution of Christianity.  It was not a full-scale persecution, such as that Diocletian had started in 303, but it was still persecution.  Julian did sent St. Athanasius of Alexandria into another exile and found ways to make life unduly difficult for Christians.  He, for example, ordered that Christians found guilty of crimes receive harsher sentences than non-Christians convicted of the same offenses.  Julian also forbade Christians to hold teaching jobs.  He sought to restore the empire to its religious state prior to the time his kinsman Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) had legalized Christianity, a growing religion.  Officially Christianity remained legal.  Officially Julian’s policy was religious toleration.  Actually, his policy was the opposite of toleration.  Julian, in his mind, had a mission from the gods to heal an ailing society.  In 362 Sts. Bonosus and Maximianus the Soldier received orders to replace the Labarum of Constantine, which included the Chi-Ro with a pagan banner.  They refused, became prisoners, endured tortures, and died.

Christianity outlived Constantius II and Julian the Apostate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Maximilian of Antioch, Saint Bonosus, and Saint Maximianus the Soldier

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of Sts. Alexander and Athanasius of Alexandria (May 2)   5 comments

Above:  The Council of Nicaea (325)

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALEXANDER I OF ALEXANDRIA (CIRCA 250-328)

Patriarch of Alexandria

His feast transferred from February 26

mentor of

SAINT ATHANASIUS I OF ALEXANDRIA (295/298-MAY 2, 373)

Patriarch of Alexandria and “Father of Orthodoxy”

Also known as Saint Athanasius the Great

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We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a bend of creative and created being.  It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved.  Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things.  God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

–Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, First Letter to Serapion; quoted in Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (New York, NY:  Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1976), page 2011

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We believe in one God,

the Father Almighty,

maker of all things, visible and invisible,

and in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten of the Father,

that is, of the substance of the Father,

God from God,

light from light,

true God from true God,

begotten not made,

of one substance with the Father,

through whom all things were made,

those things that are on earth,

who for us men and for our salvation,

came down and was made man,

suffered,

rose again on the third day,

ascended into the heavens

and will come

to judge the living and the dead.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit.

–Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, 381; quoted in Karen Armstrong, A History of God:  The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (New York, NY:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), page 111

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One of my goals during the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize influences and relationships.  This post replaces two former posts, thereby telling the stories of Sts. Alexander and Athanasius better.

Certain points of Trinitarian theology seem rather abstract.  Although that statement is accurate, abstractions are not necessarily trivial.  Many of them are of the utmost importance, actually.

Arianism is a heresy.  It (very much alive among the Jehovah’s Witnesses) that the Second Person of the Trinity is a created being.  The name of the heresy comes from Arius of Alexandria (died in 336), a priest whom Patriarch St. Alexander (I) of Alexandria (in office from 313 to 328) excommunicated in 321.

Meletius of Lycopolis, bishop of that city in Upper Egypt, became a schismatic leader.  In 306, after the death of Emperor Diocletian, Patriarch St. Peter I of Alexandria (in office 300-311; feast day = November 26) established guidelines for readmitting lapsed church members who had renounced their faith during the Diocletian persecution.  Meletius, objecting strenuously, made so much trouble that St. Peter I excommunicated him.  Renewed persecution led to the martyrdom of the Patriarch in 311 and the sentencing of Meletius to mines.  After Meletius returned to Egypt he founded a rigorous sect in opposition to the allegedly lax ways of St. Alexander (I) of Alexandria.  The Council of Nicaea (325) forbade Meletius to ordain and restricted him to Lycopolis.

St. Alexander (I), mentor to St. Athanasius (I), was an important member in the development of Trinitarian theology.  St. Alexander (I) and his protégé helped to lay the foundations of the Nicene Creed (technically the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed), finalized at the Council of Constantinople (381).

St. Athanasius, born at Alexandria, Egypt, in 295/298, outshone his great mentor.  St. Alexander also opposed the Arian heresy vigorously and contributed to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, but St. Athanasius became known as the “Father of Orthodoxy.”  He studied at the catechetical school at Alexandria.  St. Athanasius, a deacon in 318 and a priest the following year, composed theological treatises as early as his twenties.  In the 320s he served as the private secretary to St. Alexander.  In that capacity St. Athanasius attended the Council of Nicaea (325) and played a prominent role in making the creed nearly unanimous.  It seemed natural, then, that, upon the death of St. Alexander in 328, St. Athanasius succeeded him while in his early thirties.

Meletius disagreed.  In 328 he became a schismatic leader again.  His movement survived until the 700s.

Arius and some of his followers also disagreed.  Political machinations led to our saint’s first exile, to Treves, in Germany, from 335 to 337, at the end of the reign of Emperor Constantine I (reigned 306-337).  The offense of St. Athanasius, according to the Emperor, had been to disobey imperial orders to reconcile with Arians.  That which was political convenience for Constantine I was an intolerable compromise for St. Athanasius.

Four more exiles ensued.  Our saint was back in Alexandria from 337 to 339.  Then he had to leave again.  St. Athanasius avoided arrest and escaped the city in 339.  While the usurper Gregory of Cappadocia occupied the Patriarch’s position, St. Athanasius fled for Rome, where Pope Julius I supported him.  Our saint returned to Alexandria in 346, after the violent death of Gregory.  St. Athanasius was back on the job of building up his diocese and its dependent dioceses, of encouraging monasticism, and opposing heresies for about a decade before his third exile began.  Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361) arranged for the deposition of our saint, who spent 356-361 away from Alexandria.  After the death of Constantius II the reign of Julian the Apostate began.  Julian allowed orthodox bishops to return from exile.  However, he also presided over another phase of persecution, hence the fourth exile of St. Athanasius in 362-363.  Imperial politics also led to our saint’s fifth exile, from October 365 to February 366.  St. Athanasius lived in Alexandria for the rest of his life, dying on May 2, 373.  His handpicked successor was St. Peter II (in office 373-381; feast day = February 27), who also opposed Arianism vigorously.

St. Athanasius was one of those men who preserved the Christian faith for his and subsequent generations.  He, a Christian Platonist who drew from Johannine and Pauline theology, championed sound Trinitarian theology.  For St. Athanasius this matter was related to the Atonement; the Logos of God could not be a vulnerable creature and created being (as a person was), for human participation in God, via the Logos, was the only way for people to avoid annihilation due to sin, our saint argued.  St. Athanasius affirmed the transformational power of the Incarnation in human lives.

The Son of God became man so that we might become God.

–St. Athanasius

St. Athanasius, being a brilliant theologian, frequently couched his thoughts in terms that prove confusing to twenty-first century laypeople accustomed to sound bites and not trained in Platonism.  His preferred wisdom has proven timeless, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 18:  THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT SALVIUS OF ALBI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF MORDECAI JOHNSON, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT NEMESIAN OF SIGUM AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

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Uphold your Church, O God of truth, as you upheld your servants Alexander and Athanasius,

to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition,

trusting solely in the grace of your divine Word,

who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity;

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

Ezekiel 3:1-14a

Psalm 71:1-8

1 John 5:1-5

Matthew 10:22-32

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 357

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Feast of Sts. Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours (January 13)   3 comments

roman-gaul

Above:  Map of Roman Gaul

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS (CIRCA 315-CIRCA 367)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers, “Athanasius of the West,” and Hymn Writer

mentor of

SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS (CIRCA 330-NOVEMBER 11, 397)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours

His feast transferred from November 11

Alternative feast day = July 4

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One theme in this post is influence, whether direct or indirect.  We, as Christians, have a mandate to be positive influences in the world.  We will, if we pay attention, detect the influences of Sts. Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours in the Church today.

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Sts. Hilary and Martin were converts to Christianity.  St. Hilary came from a wealthy and cultivated family in Roman Gaul.  Hilarius Pictaviensis, born circa 315, eventually became a Christian.  He also married and had a daughter.  In 350, when he was 35 years old and still married, he became the Bishop of Poitiers, his hometown and place of birth.

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St. Martin was the son of a Roman soldier.  The saint, born in Sabaria, Pannonia (now Hungary), grew up in Pavia, Italy.  The military was not his vocation.  He attempted unsuccessfully to evade the draft when he was 15 years old; authorities inducted him in chains.  Years later, when he was serving at Amiens and was a catechumen, St. Martin, according to a legend, encountered a nearly naked beggar.  The saint used his sword to cut his military cloak in half and gave half a cloak to the man.  That night, in a dream, Jesus, wearing half a cloak, appeared to St. Martin.  Saints and angels surrounded Christ, who told them,

Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.

The saint completed his catechesis and became a baptized Christian.  Circa 339 he requested a military discharge, saying,

I am Christ’s soldier; I am not allowed to fight.

He received that discharge, along with an accusation of cowardice.  The former soldier dwelt in Italy and Dalmatia before becoming a hermit on an island off the coast of Luguria.

Between 350 and 353 St. Hilary ordained St. Martin to the priesthood; this set the stage for St. Martin’s great influence in the Church.  St. Martin founded the monastery at Liguge; this was the first monastery in Gaul.  His influence had just begun.

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St. Hilary was the leading opponent of the Arian heresy in the West.  He was, in fact, “the Athanasius of the West.”  He was so vigorous in his denunciation of the idea that Christ is a created being that Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361), who interjected himself into theological disputes, exiled St. Hilary to Phrygia (in modern-day Turkey) in 356.  The exiled bishop continued his campaign against Arianism.  He wrote On the Trinity and made himself sufficiently inconvenient to Arians in the East that some of them returned him to Gaul in 360.

The restored bishop tended to the needs of his diocese while engaging in theological debates.  He was, by all accounts, a compassionate and friendly man, as well as a vigorous controversialist and able debater.  Aside from treatises he composed biblical commentaries (on the Book of Psalms and the Gospel According to Matthew) and catechetical hymns.  (Certain modern hymnals, the editors and committees of which had good taste, include translations of some of these hymns.)

St. Hilary died at Poitiers circa 367.  He was orthodox by the standards of his time.  Nevertheless, he was, by the standards of subsequent developments in Christology, as ecumenical councils defined them, heterodox.  (Ex post facto heresy happened to more than one of the Church Fathers of the first five centuries of Christianity.)  In 1851 Pope Pius IX declared St. Hilary a Doctor of the Church.

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In 372, against his will, St. Martin became the Bishop of Tours.  He accepted the post on the condition that he continue to live ascetically.  As bishop the saint founded monasteries in Gaul.  Among these was the great abbey at Marmoutier; that monastery influenced Celtic monasticism in Britain.  The vigorous missionary preached orthodoxy while opposing the violent suppression (including the execution of people accused of practicing magic) of heresy.  He was not averse to destroying pagan shrines, however.  His asceticism and opposition to the harsh treatment of heretics made him unpopular with some of the other bishops.  St. Martin also defended the interests of the poor and the hopeless.

St. Martin died at Candes, near Tours in 397.  He was among the earliest non-martyrs venerated as a saint.

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Each of these saints has his separate feast day (or days, in the case of St. Martin) on official ecclesiastical calendars.  Nevertheless, I have decided that the better way to tell their stories here at the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to cover them in one post and to emphasize what they had in common.  We Christians are supposed to encourage each other in our vocations from God and influence one another for the better, to the glory of God.  We can look to Sts. Hilary and Martin as role models in that regard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER WOLLE, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER; THEODORE FRANCIS WOLLE, U.S. MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND JOHN FREDERICK “J. FRED” WOLLE, U.S. MORAVIAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND CHOIR DIRECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

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O God our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servants

Sts. Hilary of Poitiers and Martin of Tours

to be bishops and pastors in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister

in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 719

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Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (March 18)   Leave a comment

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Above:  St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (CIRCA 315-MARCH 18, 386)

Bishop, Theologian, and Liturgist

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a foundational figure in Christianity.

Many of the details of St. Cyril’s life are sketchy.  Sources even vary regarding the year and location of his birth.  They agree, however, that his birth occurred somewhere in Palestine–perhaps in Jerusalem–in the temporal vicinity of 313-315.  Sources also agree that our saint became a priest in 345 and the Bishop of Jerusalem in 349 or 350.

St. Cyril, a staunch opponent of Arianism, experienced hardships because of his orthodoxy.  The proposition that Christ was a created being was one he refused to affirm.  Our saint’s orthodoxy brought him into conflict with some of his superiors and with two Eastern Roman emperors, leading to three exiles from his diocese:  in 357, 360, and 367-379.  The last period of exile occurred by the order of Emperor Valens (reigned 364-378), an Arian.  The imperial politics of Christology depended on the whims of emperors.  Constantius II (reigned 337-361) was an Arian.  He removed some prominent critics of Arianism from their episcopal sees and replaced them with Arians.  Constantius II also used two regional councils of bishops in 359 to make a moderate form of Arianism official.  Officially, Christ was “like the Father.”  Valens continued the policy of exiling prominent critics of Arianism and added the execution of some of them to his tactics.  Salminus Hermias Sozomen (circa 400-447/448), a historian and a Christian, regarded the death of Valens in battle against Visigoths in 378 to be divine retribution.  The accession of Theodosius I “the Great” (reigned 379-395) made the return of St. Cyril to his diocese possible.   The Second Council of Constantinople (381), which St. Cyril attended, recognized him as a “Confessor of the Faith” even though he had critics to his right.  Our saint never affirmed every detail of Trinitarian theology which emerged from the Council of Nicaea (325).  Nevertheless, he was sufficiently orthodox.

Surviving works by St. Cyril provide helpful glimpses into the liturgical life of the Church in and around Jerusalem in the fourth century C.E., or, as he knew it, the latter eleventh and early twelfth centuries A.U.C.  (The B.C./B.C.E.-A.D./C.E. dating system did not exist yet.)  These works prove especially useful in understanding Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.  For example, one reads of the washing of the hands of the celebrant, the use of the Lord’s Prayer at the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer, and the receiving of the host in one’s palm, with the left hand supporting the right hand.  Such information fascinates those of us who care deeply about liturgy and the development thereof.  One also learns that St. Cyril defended the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

Our saint influenced the development of rites for Palm Sunday and the other days of Holy Week.  He pioneered such rituals at Jerusalem, a center of pilgrimage.  Many pilgrims took those rituals back to their homes.  Thus similar observances took root elsewhere in Christianity.

The Church remains in St. Cyril’s debt.  The Holy Week practices of my denomination, The Episcopal Church, owe much to our saint.  The rituals for Holy Week in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) are closer to the rites of St. Cyril than are those in The Book of Common Prayer (1928).  Once again, as in many other cases, the break with one tradition constitutes a return to an older tradition. And, when I receive the host, I do so with my right hand supporting my left hand and my left palm open.  I know of this consistency with ancient tradition because of St. Cyril.

Unfortunately, Arianism thrives.  It lives, for example, among the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

St. Cyril died in Jerusalem on March 18, 386.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY ANN THRUPP, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Strengthen, O Lord, the bishops of your Church in their special calling

to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, so that they,

like you servant Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct your people

in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them,

may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 47:8-10

Psalm 122

Hebrews 13:14-21

Luke 24:44-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 275

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